Defense Against The Dark Arts for Pastors

“You’re the best Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher we’ve ever had!”     Harry Potter (about Remus Lupin, pictured below)

Among the subjects seminarians study are Hebrew, Greek, Old Testament, New Testament, church history, administration, Christian education, leadership, worship and sacraments, preaching, and theology.  There is precious little time for Defense Against the Dark Arts classes, although I increasingly believe they should be required. 

God bless the Revs. Jerald Borgie and Greg Hoffman who have both been identified as the home pastors of alleged Aurora shooter James Holmes.  The Rev. Borgie – who last talked with James Holmes about six years ago – remembers him as a shy, bright young man.  He says that, while he sometimes engaged James Holmes in conversation, Holmes didn’t initiate conversations with him or mingle with other parishioners.

Usually, troubled people approach pastors, not the other way around.  They might seek us out for counseling or to volunteer for something.  Or we might literally find them hanging out in our church buildings or parking lots.

The darkness manifests itself in a variety of ways.  As a parish pastor, I have dealt with:

  • People with bipolar disorder and psychosis (who don’t take their meds)
  • Bullies
  • Domestic abusers
  • Pedophiles
  • The Demon-possessed
  • Trauma victims
    In spite of taking four units of Clinical Pastoral Education (including one in a mental hospital) I was not equipped to deal with issues that many church pastors deal with in one way or another.  Perhaps those enslaved by darkness will be among your flock or maybe their loved ones or victims will.  In pastoral episodes I never imagined would become a part of my resume, I have been asked to cast demons out of parishioners and – in one memorable moment in the church parking lot – was taught how to offer this ministry after a stranger from Texas saw a vision that I would need this kind of training.  Long story, but true.
    What Defense Against the Dark Arts training have you needed in your ministry?  And is on-the-job training the best way to prepare?



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