The outer planets all focus on ministry itself. Jupiter, the largest planet with the most moons, represents leading volunteers (or, as I like to think about it, herding cats). Volunteers are the secret workforce of the church. They’re the ones who actually do the stuff that matters. Our job is simply to aim them, train them, and release them. Most people have no idea how rewarding volunteering can be. They have no idea how faith-affirming it can be. They have no idea that they will, actually, become better Christians who feel closer to Christ just by doing something like making coffee. So we need to persuade them, convince them, recruit them, honor and celebrate them, and train them in further formative competencies for transferable skills. We need to give them feedback, evaluate them, and sometimes call them up short without breaking their spirits.


I’ve associated Saturn with the elders/financiers of the church. The rings that have to keep spinning are church finances, church legality, church facilities, and church operations. The elders and finance team ensure these things keep working. They also ensure there is accountability for the pastor. But, because part of their job is regulatory, that means pastors need skills to demonstrate their trustworthiness to their board. You’ve got to lead the teams through issues, establish arguments, lead meetings, prepare agendas, sniff our dissension, dissolve conflict, advocate for change, allocate funds, report on expenditures and staff, identify and achieve key objectives, and find ways for your church business meetings to feel more church-like than business-like. Never fail to remind the elders, deacons, and finance team that they are spiritual leaders in their own right. Develop them as such, and celebrate them in that role also.

photo 2-1

Uranus represents the parishioners of your church. Core competencies here include counseling, conflict resolution, prayer, visitation, weddings, funerals, baptisms, and networking.


Neptune represents the congregants in your services. Whereas parishioners are people who generally attend, congregants are those people in the room during church right now. You’ve got to know how to lead from the pulpit and cast vision in the sermon and through the music and announcements. You need to know how to do altar ministry, pray from the stage, interrupt the sermon if God speaks, lead group prayer or meditation, read the Bible in public (either liturgically or in soliloquy), handle disruption, keep order, and shut someone down if they need to be removed.


Pluto is the smallest planet, but outsiders are hardly the least of our concerns. We must act as chaplains to the city and missionaries to our culture. We’ve got to learn how to do services for non-believers (weddings, baptisms, funerals), charity (feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, teaching the illiterate, etc), justice (advocating for change, shining light on corruption), build bridges (with the curious, the disenfranchised, the intellectuals and the creative), create partnerships (with city government, state government, community groups), and serve (in schools, overseas, downtown, etc). Additionally, we have to learn to manage our perception in the community. We have to work the media, respond to crisis, and speak to current events.


The orrery ministerial model is a hot mess, but if you take one thing away remember this: It’s not your job to keep the sun shining, only to stay in orbit.