Reflecting in Times of Transition

Dear Friends,

We are in a time of transition at Good Shepherd. We are thankful for three and a half years of ministry that Pastor Dan Dornfeld shared with us, and we pray for him as he discerns where God is leading him next. Good Shepherd is a healthy and vitalized congregation and has journeyed through staff transitions before. In every transition, we continue to live out our mission: to Gather, Grow, and Go, so that ALL may know the Good Shepherd.

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In times of transition, it is good to revisit how to BE the church in the “in between” times of change. One way to do that is to remember healthy faith practices! The faith practices that I find most helpful come from Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He was a Lutheran pastor and professor in the time leading up to and during World War II in Germany. He led an underground movement of pastors that opposed Adolph Hitler. He wrote about this experience in a book called Life Together.

His community tended to seven key faith practices, or ministries, that helped them hang together as a community and deepened their faith in God during the uncertain times they found themselves in. Here are his seven ministries (I teach them to the Confirmation students, and I have actions connected to each one):

1. The Ministry of Holding One’s Tongue. Bonhoeffer said that learning how to hold one’s tongue teaches us how to stop harshly judging our brothers and sisters and helps us to see them as valuable. (Action that goes along with this discipline: Literally holding your tongue)

2. The Ministry of Meekness. Meekness is NOT to be confused with weakness. Meekness is restrained strength! It means being strong enough to hold others up! (Action: Raise the roof gesture)

3. The Ministry of Listening. See James 1:19. Bonhoeffer said, “He who can no longer listen to his brother will soon be no longer listening to God either.” (Action: Hand to the ear)

4. The Ministry of Helpfulness. Bonhoeffer challenges us to be “interrupted by God” and to help those who cross our paths. (Action: Patting your neighbor on the back)

5. The Ministry of Bearing. Galatians 6:2 tells us to bear one another’s burdens. As I tell my Confirmation students, each one of us is annoying in our own way, and so this is a gift we can offer to one another. (Action: Growl like a bear!)

6. The Ministry of Proclaiming Christ. The first 5 ministries lay the foundation for this practice! We need to witness to Christ in how we treat one another. In other words, walk the walk! (Action: Make a cross sign with your two pointer fingers)

7. The Ministry of Authority. All authority belongs to God! Bonhoeffer wanted his community to not place their faith in their leader, but in their Lord. No matter who leads a congregation, we all need to remember that God is the Lord of this church!

Thank you for being part of this community of faith! I am looking forward to where God leads us this year!

God’s Peace, Pastor Mary