on large churches

Eugene Peterson shares in his book, The Pastor: A Memoir,  a letter he wrote to someone who abandoned a study group he was in for a pastorate in a large congregation (the quote is only a portion of the letter):

I certainly understand the appeal and feel it frequently myself.  But I am also suspicious of the appeal and believe that gratifying it is destructive both to the gospel and the pastoral vocation.  It is the kind of thing America specializes in, and one of the consequences is that American religion and the pastoral vocation are in a shabby state.

It is also the kind of thing for which we have abundant documentation through twenty centuries now, of debilitating both congregation ad pastor.  In general terms, it is the devil’s temptation to Jesus to throw himself from the pinnacle of the temple.  Every time the church’s leaders depersonalize even a little, the worshipping/loving community, the gospel is weakened.  And size is the great depersonalizer.  Kierkegaard’s criticism is still cogent: “the more people, the less truth.”

The only way the Christian life is brought to maturity is through intimacy, renunciation, and personal deepening.  And the pastor is in a key position to nurture such maturity.  It is true that these things can take place in the context of large congregations, but only by strenuously going against the grain.  Largeness is an impediment, not a help  (133).

What do you think?

Don’t forget about Japan…

the need there is still VERY GREAT and DIRE beyond probably what we can handle emotionally or psychologically… even so, don’t forget about the people.

It looks like the area where the nuclear plant is is set to become shut down and permanently unlivable.   It is as bad if not worse than Chernobyl.

They also had major tremors on the anniversary of the first massive earthquake and tsunami.  It’s not over folks so don’t go on and act like it’s time to move on…

the linked article closes with:

A month after the disaster, more than 145,000 people are still living in shelters. The quake and tsunami are believed to have killed more than 25,000 people, but many of those bodies were swept out to sea and more than half of those feared dead are still listed as missing.

keep praying.

cleaning the snake pit….

is it kind of like doing pastoral ministry?

HT: George P. Wood’s Facebook page who followed up the posting with the following:

Like all metaphors, we need to be careful how this one is used. For me, what it symbolizes is this: Pastors sometimes fail to do something out of fear for how their parishioners will respond. In my experience–and in the case of this cobra-pit cleaner–that fear is exaggerated.

of course and indeed is fear often exaggerated though too many churches have man venomous snakes in them (who are supposed to be Christians)… and it’s too bad really.

…. and of course the snakes are upset because the cleaner is taking their young (the eggs….)