It is still early in 2015, but it appears that we are watching as a generation of important and influential Christian leaders passes from us. First it was Marcus Borg, then Fred Craddock, and now Lyle Schaller (who lived longer than either Borg or Craddock) has died on Wednesday at the age of 91. Schaller's name might not be as well known today, but when I was in college and seminary everyone read Schaller on church life and ministry. As Leith Anderson notes in his tribute at the Christianity Today website, Schaller stayed away from theological issues and conflicts. He saw himself as a consultant not a conflict mediator. Thus, although he was Methodist and Mainline, he was read by people from across the religious spectrum, from right to left and in between.
It has been awhile since I spent time reading Schaller, but he helped me think about what it meant to be a pastor, what it means to be a change agent (one of his books has that title), how to be an administrator of church, how to grow the church, and how to staff it. I can't necessarily pinpoint everything I learned from him, mainly because it has been awhile since I read him. But there was a time when he was a mainstay of my reading and that of many others. So, in many ways he helped form me as a pastor.
Let us therefore commend him to God's care and affirm him to have been a good and faithful servant of Christ.