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Managing Interfaces

There are many interfaces that have to be managed in ministry, some are more complex than others, and some are more open to misundertsanding and misinterpretation than others.  Sometimes I wish language was more precise and less prone to changing its meaning over time.  The 'theological integrity' - 'pastoral pragmatism' interface is a tricky one, and there are no absolute answers on which way one should err; rather it has to be a case-by-case consideration, avoiding knee-jerks, entrenchment, stubborness and emotional responses.

Perhaps the way we tend to lean depends on personality - whether we are more 'head', 'heart' or 'gut' people.  Perhaps it is shaped by experience, how similar negotiations were, or were not, played out in other contexts.  Perhaps it is somehow tied up with issues of power and authority - not just who shouts the loudest, but who is permitted to make which calls.

Anyway, the last few days have seen me once again managing this interface, trying to hold together creatively pastoral and theological aspects, my experiences elsewhere, others' experiences here, matters of personality and persuasion in relation to something very specific and potentially very exciting... It is demanding and tiring work, and the outcome may well not reflect that in any great degree - but maybe that's the point, that the outcome seems somehow natural and normal, effortless and obvious.

I believe and trust that God has been moving the hearts and minds of all involved in this bit of interface wrangling, and that the proposed outcome is good.

I debated whether or not to post this, since among my readers are some of those involved, and undoubtedly others who will wonder what on earth I am talking about.  It is all good stuff, nothing controversial or heretical (or no more heretical than usual anyway) and I think I have learned quite a lot through it.  Posting has involved me trying to manage another interface - the public-private one, and risking getting that horribly wrong.  In deciding to post, my aim is simply to demonstrate just something of the complex, and usually invisible aspects of pastoral ministry.

So, to Gatherers reading this - you'll have to wait and see, but there is nothing to fear and much to look forward to.  And non-Gatherers, well, you'll just have to wait and see too!

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