What Might a Prophet Look Like?
Posted October 15, 2014on:
I’ve served as an Associate in Ministry (AiM) in the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) for over 25 years. I served as a professional church musician for 25 years. Then in 1995, I was hired to head up Alternatives. I began transitioning from pastoral ministry to prophetic ministry when I got a nasty case of carpel tunnel syndrome. I said,”OK God, I can take a hint.” After two masters degrees in music and two national certifications, I retired from my music career and haven’t looked back.
Prophetic ministry shows people the logical consequences of their life choices. It is quite different from pastoral ministry, which focuses on worship, education and outreach. Pastoral ministry tends to avoid controversy. Prophetic ministry embraces controversy. Pastoral tends to be general; prophetic, specific.
Prophetic ministry is also called in some denominations “lifetyle” ministry because it shows the faithful how their lifestyles affect people around the world. Extravagant American lifestyles – by global standards – have a negative effect of people in the developing world.
This is particularly relevant to my current conversation with Bob Sitze on the latest SLW! Podcast #31. Prophets speak up. Bob has a reputation for that. Once while standing in chow line at a church convention, I was speaking to the Presiding Biship of the ELCA – know fondly as “Super Bish.” I was praising Bob’s work. The bishop replied, “You never know what that guy’s going to say.”
Although lifestyle ministry is largely prophetic – urging and equipping people of faith to walk their talk – it focuses on two of the five Life Standards of “Living More with Less” – “Do Justice” (#1) and “Non-conform Freely” (#5). More about the Five Life Standards.
Over the years I have personalized those, just as we all personalize our faith life.
- I have vowed never to leave the house without wearing a Message Shirt. Some are secular some are faith-based. I want people to know what I stand for. I get some responses, usually positive. You might wonder, “What good is that?” It doesn’t just confront opponents, it comforts allies. Simple livers – shy or bold – need support.
- I recommend new titles to my local public library. They have purchased over 100 of my recommendations in the past three years. But I don’t just let them gather dust. I publicize those new titles in my monthly regional eNewsletter – Siouxland Social Justice eNews.
- Prophetic Message stickers are part of this Advent’s “WHOSE Brithday?” podcast series this Nov. and Dec. Use them on packages and letters. Send a Message! Try distributing fliers, applying stickers to letters and packages, inserting thought-provoking quotations and art in emails, blogs, etc.
- By reaching out through the internet instead of publishing resources on paper, CD’s and DVD’s, I save trees and oil. Blogs, podcasts, eNewsletters and social media tend to reach a young adult audience. If you want to try some of these, read Jerry’s Excellent Adventure in “Simple Living 101.”
- I check out charities on CharityNavigator.org. Then I give only if the organization has at least four (of five) stars and reasonable administrative salaries.
- We “Learn from the World Community” (#2) by promoting Fair Trade, primarily through SharingTheDream.org. We host several display/sales of handicrafts each fall in our congregations and tell the stories of the indigenous Mayan artisans.
- We “Nurture People” (#3) by funding the Iversen Family Fund through InFaith Community Foundation. Our hope is that this fund will make life more tolerable for our grandchildren’s generation during the Great Implosion of the natural environment beginning about 2050.
- Since we now live largely in a desert (California), we “Cherish the Natural Order” (#4) by using creative was to save water – xeriscaping and ultra-low flush toilets – and encourage others to do the same. We’ve installed solar panels on our home to greatly reduce our use of coal-fired and nuclear-generated electricity — and encourage others to do the same.
- We “Non-conform freely” (#5) by avoiding the compromised commercial media and trust alternative media, such as FreeSpeech.org and LINKtv.org and selective podcasts.
- What would you add to this list from your life? Be prophetic!
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