I have been reading Eugene Peterson’s memoir The Pastor for a couple of weeks now and am approaching the end. Previously I had read a couple of his pastoral/spiritual books and knew he penned The Message, but I didn’t know much about him as a person. My plan is to write several posts on what I’ve gleaned from the pastor and his experiences. But suffice it to say for now, he’s ruining my life.
That is to say, he is further ruining the tidy picture of pastor I had framed and sitting on my desk. The work of pastor is not tidy. It’s not clean. It’s not boxable (new word). For years I have been growing weary of the American church and the consumerism that has so pervasively overtaken the bride of Christ. If I were an Old Testament prophet, I would say that many in the church have prostituted themselves out rather than being faithful to Christ, but I’m not a prophet so I won’t say it.
Peterson does not have much validation in terms of having grown a megachurch or headlining innovative conferences. I resonate with Eugene there; for I’ve yet to receive my speaking invitation at any conference, and I’m not the pastor of a megachurch. Peterson’s words have been like kindling on a fire of re-imagining the call of pastors and the community that is the church. Perhaps I am alone, but I have a hard time reading this book and being satisfied with the status quo of how we ‘do church’ in the states and the way pastors see their roles. I look forward to sharing more in the coming days and weeks.
Until then, if you’re a pastor please read it. If you don’t like pastors, you too should read this and see if it’s pastors you don’t like or the kinds of pastors you’ve experienced. If you aren’t a pastor but you like pastors, I would also encourage you to read it. I wonder if it would help you understand what your pastor probably feels week in and week out. Peterson is a pastor for pastors–that is, for pastors who will bravely disassociate with the status quo of pastoring a successful church, whatever successful is.