The Cure of Souls: Duane W.H. Arnold, PhD

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19 Responses

  1. Michael says:

    This describes my ideal for what pastoral ministry should be…I believe it could transform communities one section at a time…I just wonder if it can come back as a model…

  2. Duane Arnold says:


    First we have to get away from the idea of a local church somehow being a franchise of a chain…

  3. Michael says:

    I wonder if this would be valuable to people…or if we’re so isolated that it would be considered off-putting…

  4. Duane Arnold says:


    It’s a good question. Although, there are small communities that I know where a certain pastor has been there so long that he somehow is considered a “fixture” of the town… That, however, is increasingly not the case…

  5. Jean says:

    Hi Duane,

    Thanks for the article. I have three questions regarding how this paradigm for ministry might have to be modified (or not) given our contemporary context:

    First, during some historical periods, a town might have only one church tradition. Therefore, if someone was a Christian, he or she would be of the same tradition as everyone else in that town.

    Second, having to do with the time commitments of a pastor/priest, how did he fulfill all his responsibilities to his family, parish and wider community? I know in some places in Germany, the pastor was paid by the prince, not by offerings of the congregation. Therefore, he could make a living with a small congregation and not have to work a second job. On the other hand, in some of today’s larger churches, the pastor doesn’t even know all the names of the people in his church, much less give pastoral care across the board on an intimate level.

    Third, I get the impression that even among unbelievers, the vast majority of people in the past though well of clergy, both there motives as well as their ethics. Today, due to several factors, including, without limitation, the attachment of high profile Christian leaders to political causes, a wide swath of unbelievers in a community might not see clergy in a favorable light.

    Could you comment on how our current context would need to be taken into account?


  6. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    The unchurched keep pastors around for superstitious reasons.
    I was speaking to my pastor a couple of weeks ago about a town ministerial group he belongs to. Among other things he said they answer calls from city / county groups who invite pastors to come and pray at the opening of the meetings.
    I asked him why he caters to such requests? Isn’t there some on the council / board or in the audience who can open in prayer? I told him they think of him (or others in the group) as the town shaman.

    It’s hard anymore to get a footing. I know at my church, we sit right in a neighborhood – all houses and one church. We have gone door to door offering ourselves up as the neighborhood parish and that we were there to help in any spiritual and temporal needs – not too many folks were buying it – it is a different mindset from centuries past. I think that era died with the last Pat O’Brien movie 🙂

  7. Duane Arnold says:


    Of course…

  8. Duane Arnold says:


    Denominational life makes it more difficult, but it amazes me how much ministry is simply “contained” within varying churches. Plus, I think some prefer this…

    As to the second concern (bi-vocationalism) there are no easy answers. Then again, in the past (and to some extent now) denominations essentially subsidized smaller churches, especially those that were considered vital to the life of the community.

    For the third concern, it is a self-inflicted wound. Clergy need to be trained for ministry… not entertainment.

  9. MM says:


    “First we have to get away from the idea of a local church somehow being a franchise of a chain…”

    History shows this will be very very difficult.

    Why? I ask myself.

    My answer is the denominations sell themselves as such., “Come to our church and have faith in what we teach…”

    Why is it so many seem to not teach, “have faith in God, the creator of all, and Jesus our Christ and Lord. Listen to Him and His teaching.”

    It would/should be so much simpler and yet the schisms continue to grow.

    Oh well, MLD will let us know. 😉

  10. Duane Arnold says:


    Yes, it is continual…

  11. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    “Come to our church and have faith in what we teach…”
    If your church has a statement of faith, then they do the same thing. “Here is what we believe and teach.”

  12. MM says:


    Yes, but I’m finding most of our “statements of faith” are far too long and restrictive. Generally, it is my opinion, and yours will vary, Christianity seems to be more about siding with the right schism rather than learning and walking with the God who created all.

    Again, in my opinion, like Abraham faith is a lifetime and daily walk with Him and not a method of worship designed to please Him. My personal study of scripture tells me God is more interested in how I walk, and live within His creation than my practice one or two days a week.

    But your mileage is (or may be) different, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

  13. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    “and not a method of worship designed to please.” In the Lutheran Divine Worship Service there is not a thing done that is done to please God (except perhaps showing up) – it is all about God giving to us his good gifts of grace and forgivness – Jesus pleasing us.

    “and live within His creation than my practice one or two days a week.” Perhaps you know who they are but I have never been a part of a church (CC, SBC, Lutheran) where there was any thought that the showing up to church was the totality of the Christian life. All of them have been that going to church is the refueling station for the Christian to live out the Christian life the remainder of the week.

    Do you really know churches that teach this?

  14. MM says:


    It’s not what they say, write as some sort of slogan, pledge, or chant it’s what church do that counts.

    I have never been to a church that didn’t say something like you wrote:

    “ All of them have been that going to church is the refueling station for the Christian to live out the Christian life the remainder of the week.”

    But, the reality all too often negates this statement.

    Most churches I know of struggle to Attract people and keep their doors open. This seems to cause the main focus to be more about one day rather than helping to train people for the week to come. The ability to get a return crowd seems to be the emphasis.

    I’m sure yours is different and I will wager your ideas about what the “refueling” is comprised of varies from mine. Again that’s ok with me.

    Let’s just leave it at that.

  15. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    MM, I was just trying to get clarification on your own statements. If this isn’t just bellyaching on the church in general, let me ask this – is your church listed among those ‘not doing it right’?

    Is there actually a ‘right way to do church? Is a church with no statement of faith the ideal?
    But we can just leave it.

  16. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    One last thing just for the idle curious here. We do see the divine service as a refueling stop of sorts. We come in Sunday morning on empty and Jesus fills us back up through the absolution pronounced on us, the word spoken in our ears and his body and blood poured down our throats.
    A little Bible study and fellowship to top us off and we are pushed out like Dale Earnhardt Jr. leaving pit row!
    Sundays are exciting, but nothing compared to what awaits us in our homes and communities.
    I hope your experience is similar. 🙂

  17. MM says:


    I can only do my part in the circle(s) I live in.

    And there was nothing for you to clarify, you’ve made yourself very clear on this blog about your Sunday services.

    And to answer your question, yes my circle(s) always needs to improve and learn what it means to walk and fellowship with Him. It’s a lifelong process we struggle with.

  18. MM says:


    One more thing, Deut 6, reaffirmed by Jesus Himself, is the statement we need to live out and teach our sons and grandsons.

  19. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Just for clarification 🙂 I wasn’t trying to clarify anything, I was trying to get clarification from
    you on your statements I quoted – I think I have it.
    “Walk and fellowship with him” puts me at a disadvantage. I don’t know what that means as that is evangelical language. I serve Christ through my vocation to my neighbor. If that is what you mean, then I’m with you.

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