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The changing role of pastors in the information age

by Brad A. Greenberg

June 16, 2008 | 4:25 pm

My old college pastor, Rhett Smith, whose final day on the job was Friday the 13th, pointed me last week to an interesting discussion about how changes in the ways we interact socially are changing the nature of pastoring. (Rhett should know: He spoke last year at GodblogCon about using new media as a ministry tool.)

In this conversation with Collide magazine, Craig Detweiler, a screenwriter and Fuller professor, says traditional seminaries are now antiquated. They were simply built to put knowledge into the hands of pastors, but that’s not enough in the information age:

we’re now dealing with an age of too much information. And so, the job is to help people sort through all of the inputs to find out what matters amongst the avalanche of information. It’s about pointing people to reliable sources, pointing people to credible interpretations, inviting people into ongoing dialogue with their friends, neighbors, and coworkers around the pop cultural expressions. So, it’s moving the seminary education from pastor as most informed to pastor as most insightful because people no longer have an information problem. It’s not about lack of information. It’s about lack of discernment. Information is available to all. Wisdom and discernment remain rarer than ever.

This is clearly apparent when looking at the emergent church movement that has redefined “church” by its more biblical definition: “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.”

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