I’ve got a gift for overcomplicating things. I’ve a Zen Master of hyper-configuration. I could confuse Bill Nye about the properties of water, Dwayne Johnson about how to lift a dumbbell and Rosanne Barr about the tastiness of cake.


Case in point? My model for “how to do ministry.”


I based it off an orrery, a medieval mechanical model of the solar system.


You can find the early accounts of my experimentation here and here and here  and here. I began almost a year ago, and was constantly thwarted, stymied, and face-palmed in my quest for an acceptable solution.

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Ministry is hard. And weird. No one can teach you, in advance, how to be a pastor. Seminaries have little-to-no bearing on pastors’ actual jobs. They focus on abstractions and are run by people who have all the social skills of your average abacus salesman. They focus more on archaeology and linguistics than ministry or crises of faith. It’s only in the worse-regarded, least-accredited institutions where you learn how to do practical things, like run a funeral, pray for the sick, or care.


Actually, in smarty-pants pastor land, funerals are the kind of thing deemed beneath your education. You can, however, learn to parse the Greek word for funeral in all its variations, as well as explain the Ancient Near Eastern funereal customs of both Hittites and Sumerians, so you can contrast those with the legal code in Deuteronomy.


Then you’re awarded a free kick in the face.


Because of this type of education, it took me nearly a decade to figure out what to do with my time. I had good employers and good peers give me plenty of help along the way. And I always worked hard, sought expert advice, and read the best materials I could find to further my development. But I often wondered: Is this what I’m supposed to be doing?


I had no way to evaluate priorities. I had no way to understand which activities would bear fruit. I had no way to discern what kind of pastor I was, what kinds of opportunities I should pursue, or what kinds of counsel actually helped people.


It was a frustrating, anxiety-ridden decade of confusion.


I’d like to spare others that confusion, so I’ve created something like “pastoring for dummies.”