Thursday, 7 May 2009

Publish or Perish? OR Publish then Perish?

Some months ago, I had a rather interesting conversation with a faculty member teaching in a theological institution in the country. The conversation went something like this:

Lecturer A: "So what have you been busy lately?"
KY: "Proof reading my book, and at the same time, hoping to get my other book done by September."
Lecturer A: "Why are you so busy writing books?"
KY joked: "As an academician, its either publish or perish!"
Lecturer A: "You should stop writing and go and do some ministry."
KY: Speechless......

What is ministry? Isn't book writing also constitutes a form of ministry? Since when do we have such a narrow view of 'ministry'? Is this an indication of the health of our theological institutions in the nation?

Some food for thought

11 comments:

davinci said...

Lecturer A represents the maintream seminaries's mentality... I am not surprised!

But I am surprised you reveal such conversation in blog, since this is not "politically correct" post..hehe,,,akin to Sceptic's usual rhetoric,,,

In our seminary and congregation context, "no publish, will not perish",,,absolutely ok..we must recognise this...

but for KY, when you publish, you will not perish too! many ppl are backing your effort, I am one of them. 加油!

but I strongly urge you to publish with Fortress Press, becos I like this publisher...it major in literary studies...hehe

Kar Yong said...

Hi Davinci,

Thank you so much for your encouragement.

I don't think this is an issue of being "politically correct" or not. I guess my point here is that there is a large section within the church that still subscribe to such narrow understanding of "ministry".

What is Christian ministry? Does it only limit to preaching, leading bible study, and doing some teaching? What about within the context of a theological institution? Is ministry only limited to classroom teaching, providing pastoral care for studetns and preaching in chapel? What about academic research and writing - isn't this a form of ministry as well?

That's is my concern - that we subscribe to this dichotomy in our understanding of ministry.

Are we saying that those who in our congregation can only be involved in minsitry if he/she is serving in the church? Isn't fighting for integrity in the workplace also a form of ministry?

I wonder if the seminarians are indoctrinated with such understanding of "ministry" by theological educators, what kind of pastors are we producing? I believe a more holistic approach is required.

sp lim said...

Isn't it amazing to see people like John Piper who is a pastor writing and publishing so many books, some which are quite "chim" also.

The same can also be said of the late James Boice writing at a more popular level.

DA Carson though not a pastor (was one I think) is just as prolific. He reads 500 books a year. (Of course, not every book he read from cover to cover)

I just wonder if people like John Piper, Boice and Carson were to be born here, would they have become who they are? I doubt so. The soil is equally if not more important than the seed.

Kar Yong said...

Hi SP,
I think you have just nailed the issue by alluding to the metaphor of the soil and the seed.

I think we just need to recognise the different giftings in the body of Christ as well - those who can preach well should be encouraged to do so, and those who cannot should have the grace to accept this fact as well. Those who can teach well should be cheered to continue to do so, and those of us who cannot should not be envious of those who are blessed with the gift of teaching.

pearlie said...

I see here a clear case of the S vs. the N (oh I'm so into personality lately :)
The Sensors mostly into doing, into tangibles, facevalue.
The iNtuitives more into reflecting, possibilities, connections, interrelatedness.
We need both and acceptance from both parties to do what they are stronger in.

Kar Yong said...

Hi Pearlie,
Thanks for your thoughts. You have brought in another dimesion into the discussion. Yes, we need both - but unfortunately, more often than not, we fail to celebrate with others who are different from us. I think we certainly need more grace to accept one another, and not to make others conform to our views and standards.

Paul Long said...

Those who can write useful stuff and get published should do so.

Hehehe, Lecturer A may just be a tad jealous or insecure :-)

Florence said...

agree on your position on ministry.
not many have the privilege to do what you are doing now though.
keep it up...
i will be struggling w/ my new ministry here for the next few years, but it is an honor to serve Him diligently in anything that He has equipped and directed us to do.

Kar Yong said...

Hi Paul,

I don't think it's an issue of jealousy - I guess it's just difference in perspective on ministry :-)

Kar Yong said...

Hi Florence,
Thanks for your encouragement.

I am sure you will have a fruitful ministry in the US. Wish you every blessing from the Lord

不肖生 Sceptics said...

Hi KY,

according to postcolonial critic, you are deemed "the Other", as "power and dominance" manifested itself, embedded in structures of evangelical community/epistemology....

hehe,,,,