F’s personal story
F, is a man in his early forties and comes from a lapsed catholic background. When he was about 20, he went to the States and was considering either business studies or else becoming a professional sportsman.
While in the USA he went to an Evangelical Church, discovered the Bible and felt a personal call to follow Christ. He joined the community and as soon as he returned to France sought the necessary training to become a minister of religion.
He contacted the Bible Institute of Geneva, which offers a 4 year training course :
- 1 year of study,
- 2 years of practical training, alternating studies and work experience,
- 1 year spent in a community with a ‘teaching pastor’.
For F, this final year was spent in Gennevilliers. After this, he worked for the Evangelical Church in La Défense, both belong to the Evangelical Alliance Mission : 18 official churches, 22 places of worship – it received great support from American missions, who wanted to aide Asian refugees.
Life in the parish of V
V is a traditional town in the Paris region with a Catholic Church, a Reformed and an Evangelical parish, where F is the pastor. His church is made up of members of the Reformed and Evangelical Churches, Protestants from Alsace and non-believers; there are few immigrants.
F has been a pastor here since 2000. At the moment there are 50 members, including children; they all come to church and give financial support to the community, which also receives contributions from the Americans.
In V., the service takes place on Sunday afternoons in the Eglise Réformée de France building.
People are given a warm welcome on arrival: this duty is carried out by a different member of the congregation every time: both men and women are involved.
The liturgy varies every Sunday according to the themes of the readings and the sermon, which is often influenced by recent events and can last between 25 and 40 minutes. Hymns are led by the same parishioner who is responsible for the welcome duty; the words are displayed on a screen and the music is played on the piano or a synthesizer. Prayer is spontaneous and can be accompanied by physical as well as spiritual forms of expression.
Holy Communion takes place twice a month and during the service there is a collection and notices.
The pastor never wears vestments or preaches from the pulpit.
Every week there is a Bible Study or a Prayer Meeting.
Sunday School for children takes place during the service.
The pastor only accepts to do a wedding preparation for believers – these consist of 3 or 4 sessions. He refuses to bless a wedding with one or other who is not a believer.
Baptisms are by immersion.
Although the pastor carries out visits, he can be usually found at his office in town, which is easily recognizable from the street. Most parishioners receive news of the parish by email.
There are several parish weekends every year.
F makes it clear that his Church is unlike the most extreme charismatic neo-conservative American churches.
How F spends his time
20 per cent of the pastor’s time is spent in the Union of Churches of which his parish is a member; he is the treasurer of this official body.
He spends 10-15 hours a week preparing the sermon.
F has one day off every week, the Wednesday, when he does sporting activities with his children.
He has a good relationship with other religious communities and the Town Hall. They interact in the realm of social work, but without infringing on each other’s opinions.
F’s aims for his parish and for his Church
F would like to buy a Catholic chapel in order to have complete independence.
He would like to have a great many more members in his parish.
He would like to support a missionary project hoping to plant new communities when they are needed: 20 new churches by 2020.
And above all, « to see God at work in someone’s life and to be able to transmit the Gospel message more and more effectively. »
The life of a pastor in a Reformed Church situated in Central France
Being a pastor today
Pastors appointed to a parish have many points in common: their vocation, their theological training and the tasks they have been given to do. However, each protestant Church has different expectations regarding its pastoral ministry.
Testimony of a pastor of the Reformed Church
Testimony of a Lutheran woman-pastor