I agree with Eugene Peterson

Pastoral ministry in America is being ruined.  With all the over-focus on leadership development and such, the church is creating CEO type pastors and not shepherd-pastors – little actual direct soul care takes place from the pastor to the parishioner anymore.  Additionally, with the CEO style leadership focus this leads to a focus on measures of “success” – the implication being that a successful church is one that is a numerically growing church (this isn’t necessarily all bad but we need to break ourselves from being too over-concerned about it).   More important to a strong pastoral ministry is a strong focus on following Jesus – living a faithful and obedient life and long (and short) term spiritual formation/growth of all in the congregations.

Of course we are to be evangelical and work faithfully at sharing the gospel with all in our communities and those we come in contact with – and then seek to integrate them in to the larger congregation – yet this is not all there is to it.

One thing I think I have been “getting” since learning pastoral ministry here at the Grand Canyon is that our congregations are “living communities of faith.”  Through simply being and living as a faithful congregation that too is a kind of witness to the community we live in – but also being a Christian doesn’t mean we can just stay in the same place spiritually all our lives. Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 3:18 that “we all are being transformed into his image with ever increasing glory…”  So at the heart of a solid pastoral ministry I think isn’t going to be “strong leadership” so much as it is going to be strong spiritual formation.  Hopefully I am not confusing the two (I am still new to pastoring and learning what it all means).

This is why I need to make Peterson my pastor/mentor by way of his books – I want to learn to be a true pastor and not just some corporate style leader – I want to learn what it means to lead in the Jesus way and style and teach others to do the same.  This is something that connects with me – I knew there was a reason I was not comfortable with the whole “you have to be a strong leader” approach to ministry – who says and why for?  All you have to do is follow Jesus faithfully and lead his way and it’ll all be good.

Thanks to Derek Vreeland for sharing his thoughts on his blog.


4 responses to “I agree with Eugene Peterson

  1. Amen! In the Evangelical world, everything revolves around “leadership, leadership, leadership” and then in my own Mainline there is the obsession with being “prophetic, prophetic, prophetic.” Both suck parishes dry. Just the other day I complained that we need more pastors.

  2. One of the online articles from the latest edition of Enrichment Journal says (in brief) much the same thing…we have emphasized “leadership” and utterly neglected “shepherding” (http://www.enrichmentjournal.ag.org/201004/201004_000_shepards.cfm), but what I found rather ironic is the number of resources listed in the same issue that speak of “leadership” with no mention of “shepherding” (even on the online-only edition[!]: http://www.enrichmentjournal.ag.org/ej_online/index.cfm). Thanks for the reminder…I agree fully!!!

    • Rick, there are really a terrible amount of books specifically on being a pastor are there – but there are tons and tons on being a leader (as if the two should be separate). interesting.

  3. I think what we call leadership is actually what the Scriptures call the gift of Administration.
    As Churches get bigger perhaps we need to distinguish between the two and allow the two separate giftings to work alongside one another.
    Currently within the AOG in Australia chaplaincy is becoming a huge movement where all chaplains are required to do a cert 1v in chaplaincy which is run by the Salvation Army.

    This course is really highlighting what good pastoring is all about.

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