Category Archives: formation

Clergy Renewal before Lent


clergy-renewal-1Come away and rest awhile.
Be renewed in Body, Mind and Spirit.

Lent and Easter are a busy time in the life of a congregation, and most especially for clergy and other ministry leaders.  Now that your planning is done (or nearly so) take a day for yourself. Get some rest. Visit with colleagues. Pray.

You are encouraged to come and stay for the entire day, but you are certainly free to come or as much or little as you are able. See the schedule below.

This day is being offered as a gift to you, so that you might be more ready to serve those Christ has given you to accompany into this coming season.

Please RSVP so that we can plan accordingly.
214-526-7291 or

Proposed Schedule:

  • 8:30am – Building opens – coffee and conversation
  • 9am – Gather for introductions and morning prayer
  • 10 am – Tai Chi, or individual / group prayer and conversation
  • 11am – Sharing our hopes for the Lenten Journey
  • Noon – Lunch
  • 1pm – Silent meditation or small group discussion
  • 2:30 – Prayer Exercises
  • 3:30 – Closing

Lunch and snacks will be provided during the day.
You are encouraged to bring friends and colleagues, from your own congregation or other settings.


2015 Year End Ministry Update

ivm Mailchimp card12015 was a year filled with rewarding ministry, meaningful accomplishments, and major transitions. Thanks for your support along the way.


Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! As we continue to journey together through the Christmas season, I want to share a brief update on my ministry during 2015.

The year began with me completing my research and the first draft of my doctoral thesis. You can read the abstract and introduction here: The research focuses on the relationship between faith and vocation, and in particular how clergy are creating sustainable and faithful ministries that are multifaceted and include income from multiple sources. This will be increasingly important as the cost of education rises, the ability of congregations to support fulltime pastors decreases, and a higher percentage of the population remain outside of traditional faith communities. These three factors necessitate increasing emphasis on ministry outside the walls of the church, requiring new ways of training, conducting, and funding such ministries.

I took another step in response to this need by formally launching the Institute for Vital Ministry (iVM – through a three year agreement with the Missional Wisdom Foundation (MWF – as my fiscal sponsor for my 501c3 status. The goal of iVM is to serve as a platform that supports clergy and laity who are leading congregations and community organizations. We will do this through training, education, retreats, coaching, spiritual direction and pastoral care, along with the production of print, audio, video and digital resources for these activities. I am joined by a small and growing team of collaborators and partners. We are scheduling speaking events, workshops and retreats for 2016, so if you would like to host or participate, please let me know.

In May of 2015 I earned Doctor of Ministry with Honors from SMU. Since that time I have been primarily focused on conducting research and laying the groundwork for this new ministry. My own multivocal ministry includes serving part time as pastor of St. Paul’s E&R Church UCC ( and helping to launch a social entrepreneurship coworking space with MWF ( My hope is that iVM can provide an increasing percentage of my family income, freeing me up for this most important and underserved work.

2016 will include two new projects along with continuing the current work:

  • AltrCall …. A gathering and exploration of stories of calling that include but go way beyond the norm and the expected. Clergy and Laity who are finding new ways to live out their call to ministry. Some will bear a family resemblance to things you already know. Others will be as if seeing ministry for the first time.
  • MultiVocal …. Discover how vocation is manifest through the six domains of human flourising, and how you can become more fully yourself, more fully whole, by discovering, developing and deploying your vocational identity in each part of your life.

You have already provides support in one or multiple ways – through collaboration, encouragement, prayers, or financial gifts. My hope is that you will continue and expand your support as 2015 ends and 2016 begins. To receive a 2015 contribution letter gifts must received by December 31st – you can send a check or contribute online. You can accelerate the pace at which this work grows and serves more leaders and organizations by making a sustaining pledge of a monthly gift in 2016. However you give, I thank you. Please tell the story of the work being done and invite others to come along on the journey – and remember, “Wherever your road leads… you don’t have to travel alone.”

Yours in Christ,

Rev. Dr. Ken G. Crawford
Pastor, St. Paul’s E&R Church (UCC)
Executive Director, Institute for Vital Ministry
iVM: Companions on your journey.
“Wherever your road leads… you don’t have to travel alone.”

Vocation – Fredrick Buechner

Fredrick Buechner wrote the following about vocation…

IT COMES FROM the Latin vocare, to call, and means the work a man is called to by God. There are all different kinds of voices calling you to all different kinds of work, and the problem is to find out which is the voice of God rather than of Society, say, or the Super-ego, or Self-interest. By and large a good rule for finding out is this. The kind of work God usually calls you to is the kind of work (a) that you need most to do and (b) that the world most needs to have done. If you really get a kick out of your work, you’ve presumably met requirement (a), but if your work is writing TV deodorant commercials, the chances are you’ve missed requirement (b). On the other hand, if your work is being a doctor in a leper colony, you have probably met requirement (b), but if most of the time you’re bored and depressed by it, the chances are you have not only bypassed (a) but probably aren’t helping your patients much either.

Neither the hair shirt nor the soft berth will do.
The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.

– Originally published in Wishful Thinking


“The way of the cross.” or “Why you shouldn’t run toward a firing squad.”

When we remember Christ’s Passion, Death and Resurrection, it is tempting to get caught up in an over-exuberant faithfulness toward self-denial, embracing the Way of the Cross, that verges on a full-fledged Messiah Complex.

  • Yes, we are called to a life of self-denial. *
  • Yes, we are called to “take up your cross and follow me.” *
  • Yes, we are promised that we will only find life in our journey of releasing. *
    * Luke 9:23-24

And Yes, Jesus entered Jerusalem that final week and seemingly did everything he could to get himself crucified. He stirred up trouble with every group of religious leaders, and then refused to defend himself when given the opportunity. (Mark 11-15) It could be tempting to follow his example.

(Thanks to

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Remember that numerous times Jesus avoided conflict and trouble, slipping away from the crowd rather than letting them take him to martyrdom. At the wedding in Cana he initially declined to intervene (John 2). In Nazareth the crowd was inflamed and sought to throw him off a cliff, but he slipped away (Luke 4). His brothers invited him to join them in Jerusalem and he said no, and then went alone, secretly (John 7:10). He repeatedly tells people not to reveal who he is. He says this to the disciples (Matthew 17), those he heals (Mark 7), and even to the demons (Mark 1).

Jesus had likely visited Jerusalem numerous times and seen the terrible things taking place in the Temple but said nothing. He likely witnessed many forms of oppression and violence without intervening. This does not mean that he condoned these things, or that we should. It seems to suggest that he had a very clear sense of his own calling and purpose, and that he would not let anything derail that –

16 When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written: 18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, 19to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”  (Luke 4)

Jesus’ public ministry lasted for three years, and he was an adult leader in his community for 15 years prior to that. He had innumerable opportunities to embrace his destiny on the cross, and he let them pass by, because “his time had not come.” (John 7) When his time finally did come, he knew, and walked with faithfulness and hope, into Jerusalem and ultimately to Golgotha. But even then, this was an end he neither desired nor sought. He had no death wish, no need to be a martyr, no longing for the glory among humans or the honor from heaven that comes with laying down one’s life. Not until he recognized the time had come for God’s plan to unfold did he, willingly if regretfully, yield to those who sought to destroy the kingdom, “taking it by force.” (Matthew 11:12)

So, whatever else Holy Week means to you, don’t get confused into thinking that God wants you to martyr yourself for the cause. In the vast majority of cases you are far more likely to be of use and service to God’s kingdom by staying alive, by living humbly and quietly and graciously with a passion for justice and a love for all people that expresses the love and peace you have found in God.

Taking up your cross and following him is not about literally getting yourself killed, at least not for most of us. It is about the many little self-denials and rejections that we experience and embrace because Christ calls us to something that the world does not understand nor know that it needs.

Virtual Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday and Lent
the Spiritual Reset Button for your life.

reset-buttonSecular and religious people have many important things in common. One of those, that is being remembered and honored by Christians today, is the need to experience repentance and forgiveness. Who among us has not fallen short of the moral, ethical or relational standards we set for ourselves, to say nothing of the standards others try to set for us? When I fail to honor the sacredness of friendship and love. When I make a promise that I am unable to keep. When I speak words in anger or fear that assault and wound. When I neglect my duty to nurture and care. When I tear down rather than build up, degrade rather than construct, poison rather than nourish. When my silence supports systems of oppression, particularly when I then gain in the process.

When I do these things, what then? How can I move from this position to a status of restored relationship? What can I offer, what do I need to receive? Who can help?

In my own life, I have found the story of Jesus to be a compelling witness to my own brokenness and frailty and lack, because he shared in it, even to the point of death and fear of the same. For me the greatest pain in my own failures is not that I have committed them, but that I may be unable to experience restoration. What if things can’t be repaired (some can’t)? What if time runs out and I never get to say, “I’m sorry,” and hear, “You are forgiven”? What if… I live not in certainty, but in hope.

I hope that you know where to turn, to whom you can go, to find the help that you need when you face these issues in your own life. I also hope that you are able to extend compassion and mercy to others, not because they deserve it, but because you need it too.

S.L.O.W. Being struck by wonder. Or not.

Mark Yaconelli is reminded by his son, and then reminds us, of the value of ssslllooowwwiiinnnggg dddooowwwnnn.
Are you ready for slow club?

  • What would you need to change in your life in order to actually slow down like this?
  • What would change on its own in your life when you did slow down?
  • What would you loose? What would you gain?

I remember being on a a spiritual retreat several years ago at the Malvern Retreat House west of Philadelphia. They have several Stations of the Cross trails through the woods around the edge of the property, and I was taking time to walk a trail in the morning, at noon and in the evening. In my third session I realized I was speedwalking. Speedwalking my prayer walk through the Stations. Really?!? #facepalm. In that moment I began a new discipline that I practice periodically. I walk as slow as I can without falling over or distracting myself by the sheer difficulty of it. Take. My. Time. Take. My. Time. Take. My Time.

I can pray while I do other things – can and do. But multitasking prayer is not a sufficient diet for the soul. Like the body, and our relationships, the soul needs our undivided attention regularly. Actually, all six facets of our self need to be attended regularly and consistently, each in their own and various ways. When I try to do too many things at once, I end up missing the essence of each experience, like speedwalking through the Stations of the Cross.

I think I’m going to join the Slow Club. How about you join me?