Preaching is about translation, ministering is about mediating. In the speech-act of preaching, the call is to translate a text from its scriptural context to ours and do so in a way that somehow speaks to the diverse experience of those hearing—by planting seeds and opportunities for hearers to do a critical part of the translation themselves, connecting the dots to their own lives. In the relational act of ministry, the goal is to mediate the presence and call of Christ in human interaction, to share the experience in a way that makes the presence a lived presence. Yet preachers are seldom translators and ministers seldom mediators. Preachers instead seek to tell, ministers to do. But it is neither exposition nor tasks that matter in the end. It is about interconnecting, networking, binding together. How are we thinking about the interconnectedness of our ministries, of our communities? Instead of telling or directing, can we share stories or metaphors that might better capture the realities in which we live our faith? How can we see what we do tied to what is done elsewhere in the world church today, or across the centuries? How can we connect it to the surplus of meaning in scripture or the unfolding of our collective history or our own lives? © 2009, Bryan Froehle.
Authors Bryan FroehleRestricted
Even though politicians in general may be often held in low esteem, one's local political representatives may be held in high esteem. While trust in the church as a whole might decline, confidence is one's own pastor or bishop might continue to be high. The observation of a wise Catholic politician—"all politics is local"—could be applied to church life as well. What does that imply for the preacher or pastoral leader? Consider how much energy is spent on connecting to questions and concerns that are far beyond the local—when it is precisely the local that energizes and sustains the community. In the case of a family, parents might have terrific respect as people outside the family but are hardly building a healthy one. A bishop might make great contributions to the church universal yet not attend to the life of the local church with wise and effective leadership. A pastor might preach beautifully in abstract terms yet fail to cultivate the intuition and pastoral engagement necessary, one person, situation, and sacramental moment at a time, for the parish to flourish. If that is not done, religion will not be experienced, because all religion is indeed local. Religion, re-ligare, re-linking, re-connecting, needs a wise, engaged, pastoral word. It is not about structures in the abstract but relationships in the concrete and particular, in their messiness and localness. © 2009, Bryan Froehle.Restricted
Religion is about connecting, not control. We know this intuitively, yet how often in history has religion been more about control or only the “shall nots” of faith? How often have we ourselves wanted to control people—our children, for example, teens and young adults, new immigrants—in making them go to church or be the kind of Catholic we want them to be? That attitude is not surprising and not altogether bad—a distortion of a basically good instinct. After all, it reflects our passion for church and our conviction about how life-giving church is for us. Yet perhaps as a result so many people today see church as a place that forces, controls, and fails to listen. Shame on us. Re-ligare means to “re-connect.” There are other ways of looking at the word religion, too. Re-legere means to “re-read”; re-lego refers to a “choice.” Religiens itself is merely the opposite of negligens, that is, “diligence” in place of “negligence.” Religion rightly understood is about our faithfulness, not the faithfulness of others. It is about connecting, not controlling. © 2011, Bryan Froehle.Restricted