A Personal Reformation: Duane W.H. Arnold

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26 Responses

  1. Linn says:

    Thank you, Duane! Two years ago I was very concerned about the church I attended as the rhetoric from the pulpit tended towards “everyone is ‘agin’ us.” I was doing zoom church at the time, so I prayed much and wondered if I needed to change churches. Praying didn’t just change me; it totally changed how the church dealt with both COVID and politics. The church did open a couple of months before churches could officially open in my state, but with many good precautions in place. The ranting from the pulpit ceased. We got more updates from the full body of elders, not just the senior pastor, who was the main source of the rants. I would love to know what actually happened with the leadership, but I do know my prayers were answered! The church also made better use of the online platform, which has brought a bunch of new people into the church who are very involved. Prayer definitely works! Prayer also worked on this “pray-er.” I started looking at my own attitudes and less at the pulpit, realized where I could agree to disagree without being divisive. I’m still working on this journey, but I’m glad I didn’t jump ship two years ago.

  2. Michael says:

    I would heartily amen this list…almost.

    Ideally, church is essential.

    However, you could not drag me into one of the local assemblies under the threat of hell or mayhem.

    There is a point when the messages and the culture are so toxic that they work against faith and we’re there in too many places.

    That doesn’t mean you can’t find brethren to gather with…I think the next move of God may be informal meetings of believers “outside the camp”.

    On the other hand, I may have finally become so jaded I can’t hear the Lord on this matter…

  3. Duane Arnold says:

    Michael

    As in all things, discernment is needed. One can avoid the toxic and find smaller situations. I would only differ with you in that I consider church to be essential… Christianity is not a “lone ranger” faith. Of course I’m willing to be proven wrong on the basis of scripture, reason and tradition…😁

  4. Michael says:

    My only concern with informal gatherings of believers is the administration of the sacraments…which is a critical issue.

    It is true that I cannot defend my position on the basis of reason, scripture, or tradition…which is a consideration as I consider withdrawing from any sort of public ministry.

    Some heresies are best kept to oneself…

  5. Michael says:

    The one thing I would add to the list..find someone or someones to serve.

    Whether in your own home or outside it…nothing changes us more than to participate in the Incarnation through serving someone who needs us.

  6. Duane Arnold says:

    Michael,

    Yes, service is essential…

  7. LInn says:

    I do believe church is essential. It’s the only program that I see God gave in the NT for “growing” His people. A couple of times in my life I’ve been where a good church within 20 minutes of my home hasn’t been a reality, but I have attended church on the “periphery”, politely visiting services as a lurker but not getting too involved. It wasn’t ideal, but worked for temporary situations before I moved on.

  8. Duane Arnold says:

    Michael,

    As to your “consideration”… we all are engaged in that task…

    “Let our ‘seeking,’ therefore be in that which is our own, and from those who are our own, and concerning that which is our own, – that, and only that, which can become an object of inquiry without impairing the rule of faith.”

    Tertullian

  9. Duane Arnold says:

    Linn

    I’ve done the same…

  10. Xenia Moos says:

    Duane, this article of yours is one of the best things I’ve read on the PhxP.

  11. Em says:

    IF the pastor is preaching (heats flowers and prosperity) not teaching from God’s Book,, it probably isn’t a good place… IMNSHO

  12. Em says:

    Heats? No ! “hearts”

  13. Duane Arnold says:

    Xenia

    Many thanks! It’s basic, but I think it is true…

  14. Xenia Moos says:

    I remember the day of my daughter’s funeral. Almost our entire parish showed up, and none of them had ever met Rachel, although they knew we had a very sick daughter. Everyone came and I will never forget their generosity of heart that led them to give up a Saturday morning to come and share in our sorrow. How can I not love these people? I would not trade this for anything.

  15. Michael says:

    I had a couple of inquiries in light of this article wondering what I do for “personal reformation”.

    For me…it begins with the Daily Office.

    Even if I’m just following along with another priest via an app, morning and evening prayer helps to hold me in place.

    I also have a rosary where each bead represents someone that has requested prayer.

    I still have a small church and thus I’m always doing sermon preparation.

    I read as much as I’m able and have used audio books and classes every night for twenty years.

    My ambition for my entire life has been to learn.

    I do not watch TV news, nor do I listen to talk radio.

    Most importantly, my life and faith have been shaped by calls to serve and to serve as Jesus did…sacrificially, lovingly, and without complaint.

    This is a goal…I haven’t achieved it yet…but the service is more important than anything else I do.

  16. Duane Arnold says:

    Michael,

    I think the point is, “it doesn’t just happen”. There is grace, but there is also intention.

  17. Officerhoppy says:

    Good advice. One question or maybe better and observation, I have been in church leadership as an elder and pastor for about 38 years. I stepped down from the pastorate and an an elder in Sept. of this year.

    When it come to going to church, I find little hat is beneficial for me from the sermon. As a musician and a worshipper, I find very little virtuosity in musicianship and the popular worship tunes are poorly written—at last to me.

    My learning style is more Socratic in nature and have found the three small groups I lead to be more inspiring and informative than sitting thru a 40 minute sermon.

    All that said, I am looking for a body of believers of no more than 250 in size where I can serve in teaching (not from the pulpit) counseling, discipleship and prayer without wearing a title of pastor or leader.

    In other words a church where I can serve. While important, I don’t want to sit on another subcommittee, write another white paper, attend a strategy session, or sit thru another 3 hour staff meeting. I just want to do the things that made me a church leader in the first place.

    So I am currently working thru those issues and searching, and communicating with my current lead pastor.

    Any advice?

  18. Kevin H says:

    David French wrote something yesterday along a similar vein. While his spotlight was on what we can do to “save” the country as opposed to “reforming” the church as Duane has written here, there would seem to be a similar approach in the principles espoused.

    https://frenchpress.thedispatch.com/p/john-adams-fear-has-come-to-pass?s=r

  19. Duane Arnold says:

    Officerhoppy

    No advice, just my own experience… I’ve been in the ministry for 40 years. I have seven degrees inclusive of three master’s degrees and an earned PhD. I’ve written ten books and dozens of juried articles. The pastor of my parish is less than half my age. I attend on Sundays and sit in a back pew. I offer no advice unless I am specifically asked. Any conversations advising my pastor (when he asks) are done one on one… and if he takes my advice, I always make sure that it is “his idea and initiative”. The point for me is to serve and not in any way to “lead”. While not always easy to do, I’ve found it a useful exercise…

  20. Duane Arnold says:

    Kevin H

    “When our crisis is one of hatred, anxiety, and despair, don’t look to politics to heal our hearts.”

    Yes…

  21. Linn says:

    Just another thought about churches…when everyone was streaming I tried a few different churches in my community. One of them really might be a place for me if something happens at my current place of worship (although I am very optimistic that things will continue to go well). I couldn’t find a small group at my church where I fit (mostly scheduling issues), so I joined an international online women’s study. Mine happens to be in Spanish with members from four different countries. The point being-there is stuff out there if you look for it.

  22. filistine says:

    pray–your suggestion is broader and deeper, and therefore more intentional than many have practiced, and therefore worth the effort to try it.
    go to church–the hardest for me to do. I think a good part of it is engrained habit at this point, but a lot still has to do with the shortage of options. Sitting silently in the back may be my only option.
    ethical boundaries–the focus of my so-called deconstruction/reconstruction efforts are exactly what you’ve suggested.
    read broadly–the second hardest, but due mostly to heavy demands on my time. I do listen to a number of podcasts primarily in the car while traveling and some offer much to weigh, consider, and sort.
    thanks for the article and your thoughtful suggestions.

  23. Duane Arnold says:

    fil

    Many thanks… BTW, Audible is a Godsend…

  24. pstrmike says:

    What do I do for my own personal reformation? Hopelfy it is something that occurs each day. I try to see God in all things and situations, an awareness, taught to me by the Quakers, Benedictines, Eugene Peterson and Leighton Ford among others. I use a Franciscan Prayer book, and a Celtic Prayer book. I read a Benedictine devotional most nights. I read poetry by people like Malcolm Guite and those who he recommends such as John Donne, Christine Paintner, Wendell Berry and a few others. I read sayings of the Desert Fathers and Mothers. I spend more time in the Psalms for devotional reading and prayer. I teach twice a week and give much time to study and reflection of the passage that I am teaching.

    I rarely watch TV. Reading stimulates my imagination so much more than watching TV or a movie.

  25. Duane Arnold says:

    “Finding God in all things…” The foundation of Jesuit education and the Spiritual Exercises…

  26. pam says:

    these are so diverse and helpful even tho so very different from Keep your relationship with Jesus foremost . Its after all about that relationship its got to be personal and read your bible every day always . I must confess I like the above devotionals so much better and the serving .

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