Perhaps many of you are already aware that I am currently enrolled in a continuing education program of the first rank called “Doxology: The Lutheran Center for Spiritual Care and Counsel” or simply “Doxology” for short. This program is centered on improving the pastor’s skills as a caretaker of souls, particularly in counseling and spiritual care.
I attended the first of three retreats last November in Donaldson, IN. This first retreat was for pastors only, and laid a foundation for the rest of the program. We discussed a variety of topics essential for the work of being a shepherd of souls including the relationship between Word and Sacrament ministry and psychotherapy, good and bad models for the pastoral ministry, beneficial vs. essential roles of the pastor, burnout, depression, emotional intelligence, spiritual ethics, and spiritual warfare. Perhaps the most helpful part of this first retreat was the insights shared by Dr. Beverly Yahnke, a licensed Christian psychologist and LCMS member, who helped clarify the relationship between spiritual care and psychology. I hope in a future newsletter article to talk about that in detail!
This month, I wanted to make you all aware of the next retreat, which will be held February 7-9, again in Indiana. The first retreat was for pastors only and the final retreat will be for the pastor and his wife. But the second retreat is for the pastors and a lay leader or leaders.
This next retreat will focus on the mutual support that pastors and lay people can give to each other as we work together to carry out the mission of the church. In particular, this retreat will help our lay leaders to appreciate the unique ministry of the pastor as the servant of Christ in Word and Sacrament ministry at Zion and support that ministry with their gifts and service. We will also discuss and collaborate with other pastors and lay leaders on the real challenges that we face as a congregation and as a church body, and how to meet those challenges. In particular, I am excited to discuss with our lay leaders and other attendees the challenges of stewardship and outreach and mission in our local context.
My hope is that this training will have a ripple effect at Zion, not only for me personally as I improve my skills as your pastor, but also on our lay leaders as they also learn how they can better lead and support the work of our church and on each and every member of Zion, as you continue to grow in the Word and in your understanding of the ministry of the church. I look forward to sharing much more with you as I go through this program!
I will announce in the near future the lay leaders who will be attending Doxology with me, but for now I would simply ask that you pray for safe travels for us to Indiana, and for God’s blessing on me, our lay leaders, and our congregation through this event. Thank you for your constant support of your pastors and lay leaders at Zion!
The LORD bless and keep you,