Tuesday, February 21

Chalmers Conference

Thomas Chalmers believed in pastoral care. He believed it should be personal, intentional, covenantal, and incarnational. In other words, he believed that it should be strategicly designed to run counter to our natural inclinations in this poor fallen world. He said, "Show me a people-going minister and I will show you a church-going people."

Of course, for that sort of thing to actually work, pastoral care had to be done on a human scale. As Chalmers often asserted, "Gargantuanism and the care of souls cannot coexist."

So, how can the modern evangelical congregation put into practice these insights? That is the very thing we will be exploring Friday and Saturday at the Parish Life Conference here in Franklin. I am excited both for the clarity it will bring to my own thinking (remember: thoughts tend to disentangle themselves as they flow over the tips of pen or tongue) and to my own covenant community's practical agenda for ministry.

9 comments:

Andrew & Alaina said...

Do you have any recommendations where I can find the works of Chalmers? I have looked several places and have struck out each time.

George said...

Alas, everything is out of print--something I am trying to remedy during the course of this next year. But for now, the only places you can find his work are in antiquarian bookshops--most often in the UK.

John D said...

Alan Newble has a lot of scottish divine writings posted online.

Chalmers is hosted here: http://www.newble.co.uk/chalmers/

Michael said...

I'm intrigued by Chalmers comment that "gargantuanism and the care of souls cannot coexist." I have often thought that the large mega churches cannot possibly achieve a true covenantal community within today's culture because our culture militates against such. We too often forget that the large mega-church is a rather recent anomaly. Is part of the answer to plant many more smaller parish bodies and seek to dissolve the large churches? How can modern Christians purport to live in covenant community when most of us only see one another on Sunday and have little to no interaction together during the course of a week?

George said...

Those are precisely the issues Chalmers' parish model sought to address--and what we'll discuss at the conference.

Kent Will said...

I wonder how our present-day mega churches compare to the early-church model of a single bishop presiding over an entire city?

Highland Host said...

I am horrified that none of Chalmers' works are in print. THis is not a 'wow! I didn't know that!' comment, but a long-held gripe. I know of no better work of its type than Chalmers' 'Lectures on Romans' (4 vols, 100 expository sermons), which I read often. Go forward! All the support of Free St. George's is with you!

Lawrence Underwood said...

"Gargantuanism and the care of souls cannot coexist."

What a wonderful insight! If only the leaders of todays congregations could understand such a truth. By divine default the congregation I serve was stripped to the very core three years ago. It has been the most wonderful and trying time of my life. Now the fellowship is 'dreadfully small', as one denom leader put it. It is wonderfully large in community, however. I'm amazed at the beauty of real Christian community.

I think that I will make yard signs of this quote and put them in megalopimanical congregation yards.

Thank you again, Dr. George.

George said...

Kent Will: I think it is possible to have a kind of bisopric model in a large church. But, it is more than a little difficult because it would require intense and intentional organization downward--with small groups or parishes built in with all of the means of grace afforded. I think that the history of the church demonstrates that such an organizational strategy has only occurred during times of extraordinary unity or smothering centralization.