Field Pastoring vs. Sanctuary Pastoring (Part One)

As you might imagine, the rules of medicine change (for better or for worse) in the battlefield of war.

There is no x-ray machine, blood laboratory, or nice waiting room furniture (at least, not until they make it back to a field hospital). These are values and expectations of medicine within civilian life in an area without conflict; they are not things that can be carried on a soldier’s back ready for constant movement.

Instead, the protocol, processes, and, perhaps most importantly, the priorities of medicine as a practice must adapt to circumstances in which resources, time, and energy are severely limited.

Similarly, the key question for pastors in the Coronavirus Age is, “are you a field pastor or a sanctuary pastor?”

“Sanctuary pastoring,” means making sure that the property is well-maintained, that static systems are in place for discipleship, and that the sacraments are administered on a workday/weekend schedule that the congregation can depend upon.

In “field pastoring,” the priority is in ensuring that the disciple can make it through the day.  Spiritual practices are less about regularity and more about efficacy and impact for the situation.  And, in whole, the goal of ministry is to remind individuals of the mission; that everything that they are going through is, in the end, worth it.

For the next few posts, we will be talking more about what it means to be “field pastoring,” particularly in digital-first, multi-ethnic, and lay-centric ways.