Baseball, Bowties, and Ecclesiology

Rod Frohman, Temporary Pastor/Head of Staff

“When in the course of human events…” a particular church needs a pinch-hitter, they sometimes call someone off the bench who has had previous playing experience on the same team—someone familiar with the players, the coaches, and the fans.

An interim pastor can be understood as a baseball player/manager. This means that on Sunday the pastor is up to bat, but the rest of the week s/he spends their time managing the team. Third Church is a great team to play for and a great team to manage. We have a wonderful staff team as well as a wonderful team of congregational leaders. 

So where does the bowtie come in? If the bowtie is symbolic of thinking analytically and accurately, then it may symbolize a specific theology of the church, or to use a 75-cent word, an “ecclesiology,” that is, the study of the ecclesia, the New Testament Greek word for church.

A congregation has many moving parts. So how does one accurately measure what a congregation does as it attempts to wrestle with a myriad of issues, everything from the care of hurting members to eradicating racism?  We need a “perspectival” approach to being the church. 

Here are five perspectives which constitute the calibrations of a yardstick for measuring the mission and ministry of a congregation.  

  1. Worshiping and Preserving
  2. Communicating and Educating
  3. Caring and Restoration
  4. Theological and Ethical
  5. Administrative and Organizational

Each of these perspectives is “loaded.”  As we move forward as a congregation into the future, frequent use of this yardstick (ecclesiology) will help us objectively measure what we are doing. 

When I was your Associate Pastor for Church and Society, my perspective was mainly #4 and #5: “Theological and Ethical,” and “Administrative and Organizational.” But now I will need to look at the big picture and understand how all five perspectives are interlaced and at play in the life of the church.

As we face any problem or issue we need to ask the question, “Which perspective is the dominant one in this situation?” For example, repairing the roof may be an “Administrative and Organizational” issue, but it also concerns “Worshiping and Preserving.” Or, as we engage in “Theological and Ethical” issues in our community, such engagement has significant “Communicating and Educating” issues embedded in it, such as whether we have vital and effective avenues of communication within and outside of the congregation about what we are doing in the community.

A perspectival approach is both a method and an outcome.

  1. The method is; reflect on our practice of ministry; “stop, look, and listen” before we cross the street into a new era with a new pastor.  
  2. The outcome is to “Equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:12)

So, to borrow a phrase used by Dan Mason, the General Manager of the Rochester Red Wings, before every game, “Let’s play ball and let’s have some fun!”

Cordially yours,
Rod (a.k.a. Satchel Paige)