Flourishment: Clergy and Microcultures Part 1, Attentively and Urgently, Slowly

Author: Philip Amerson

Clergypersons flourish in relationship to the microcultures in which they live and work. Emotionally healthy faith leaders can and do contribute to the creation, and sustaining, of strong and resilient congregations and communities. It is also the case that strong and resilient congregations and communities contribute to the wellbeing of a clergyperson. Congregations are one of our societies clearest examples of a microculture

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Flourishments: Pastors and Friendship

Author: Philip Amerson

The 2013 Flourishing in Ministry Project document contains an evocative summary passage.  In it there are significant clues as to how transformation is best undertaken with pastors and within congregations. These insights have become foundational to my understanding as I listen to the stories, dreams and plans of pastors facing the daily challenges of parish life.  The passage confirms lessons learned from my years of pastoral experience and is even more resonant when I hear pastors and laity share honest confusion, discouragement or disappointment in ministry.  Regarding change, the report finds: …

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Flourishments and Faith

Author: Philip Amerson

Flourishment: Seeing the Embarrassment of Riches

In thinking about how persons flourish in various “service vocations,” I have often mused on our tendency to be overly serious and self-critical.  It was fifty years ago this past summer, 1966, that I was ordained as a clergy person in the United Methodist Church.  Along the way there was graduate study in the social sciences and teaching in university and theological seminary settings.  It has been to my benefit to act as what anthropologists call a “participant observer.”  As such an “insider” I am aware of what can be learned by our professional foibles and “mistakes.”  In fact, being embarrassed is a way to capture what might be called a “liminal” or “view from the margins of normality” to better understand both the limits and joys of one’s calling.  Let me share some narrative that can help with what I am suggesting.…

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Flourishments and Faith

Author: Philip Amerson

Called, Yet Born Raw

Here is the assumption: each human being is born with a vocation, a “calling.”  I take it as a universal -- that at our best, a fulfilled human life involves a journey toward discovering and fulfilling our “calling.”  The language of vocation is derived from the Latin vocare, meaning a voice or a call.  Human vocation is the idea of an inner voice, an alignment of our capabilities and interests with a larger purpose, a purpose that stands beyond the humdrum of everyday routine.  …

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Flourishments and Faith

Author: Philip Amerson

Confessions of a Romantic

What do we know about the wellbeing of clergy in their work?  What things contribute to a sense of satisfaction, fulfillment and joy?  What can be discovered about the thriving of any human being in his or her work? 

The Flourishing in Ministry research project at the University of Notre Dame is a scientifically based gathering of data to better understand wellbeing of clergy.  The research also focuses on comparative data with other professionals.   New insights are emerging.  We are discovering the significance of a clergy person’s calling, identity, sense of transcendence and important relationships.  Based on questionnaires, in depth interviews and the reflections of theological faculty and experienced pastors we are better able to understand the sources of clergy wellbeing.…

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