Pastoral lifestyles and co-living

A lot of thoughts are in my mind these days.  Some I am sure are placed there by the Holy Spirit. My only struggle with that is that most thoughts come in the same timbre and  sound of voice as the one I use to speak to myself.  The chatter up there can be deafening sometimes, making it hard to be clear which voice is God’s.

Yes, I hear voices.  I talk to them sometimes too.  The volume and the shear quantity has multiplied as my heart has softened toward God and toward His fiance.  My heart has softened through this whole adventure to the point that I am willing to consider serving in any capacity, even if that means serving in a pastoral role. While being a pastor had its successes, it was also a place of great injury to myself and a bit to others as well.  It was the one place that I swore I would never again return.  “Yep, that went well!”

In a bit of a shift from my previous life and pastoral calling I am beginning to open myself up to a pastoral lifestyle rather than a positional pastoral “ministry”.  I prefer the lifestyle measure of ministry effectiveness as opposed to the rubrics usually applied to a more classical pastoral ministry.  Rather than counting the nickles and the noses I am simply being there, being available and letting the relationship be as the Holy Spirit chooses rather than defining it as such.

The result of letting the Holy Spirit direct and quantify His use of my life is that I have had several people come into my “orbit” needing a pastor, or co-pastor in various degrees.  Some have needed personal counsel in life skills in addition to their identity in Christ, while others simply need some encouragement or to know that they have been heard.  This diversity is broader and without nearly as many conceived walls as I encountered in the role of Pastor.

One thought that has been sort of threading its way through the tapestry of envisioning and praying about the future is the concept of pastoral ministry through co-living.  I have been processing this idea with my wife as well as in prayer.  My first thought is that it looks a lot like my early days as a Christ Follower.  I got saved through an outreach of Youth With A Mission and I early on moved into a co-living situation that was modeled after a typical YWAM base.  Basically it was a medium range life commitment to living together for the purpose of training for outreach.  Even though I failed in the discipleship process by leaving early I find that the very core of my life as a Christ Follower was formed and is still influenced by the good and the wholesome aspect of living together with a common purpose.

My wife has a different perspective on co-living than I do.  Mine looks like YWAM, worship, community and outreach with the focus on processing through discipleship, internship and into leadership.  That places the focus more on single folk who are by nature more flexible in their lives and lifestyles to follow Jesus by moving into a co-living discipleship program.  My wife’s looks more like a long term or even lifetime arrangement of people of faith living cooperatively in close proximity.  Both examples have merit.

This pastoral lifestyle has led me to believe that God will bring ministry our way as we are both fit and dependent on Him to offer ministry.  Co-living or any other form of pastoring will come in the form that He chooses.  While a staff position might be nice, simply being available has it’s own advantages as well.  As a couple redeemed by Christ, we live by faith.  It is not because we are super spiritual.  We don’t know how to live successfully any other way.  We have finally found success in this sort of a serendipitous walk through the new life we enjoy in Christ.   Trusting that we will come out of our tents each and every day and find just enough of His providence to make it through the day has never once disappointed.

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