Sunday, February 26, 2012

Pastoral Ruins

Eugene Peterson is a poet and a story-teller extraordinaire. If you don't believe me, pick up a copy of The Message.  Dh aksed for his book; The Pastor this Christmas. It's a beautiful book, full of rich and vibrant stories about Petersen's life and calling as a Pastor. I've just read snatches here and there, but it's going to be a wonderful read. On Sunday, dh and I were reading our individual books, together (I'm still loving my latest find- Lord Peter Wimsey) and he read this out to me:
Men and women who are pastors in America today find that they have entered into a way of life that is in ruins. The vocation of pastor has been replaced by the strategies of religious entrepreneurs with business plans. Any kind of continuity with pastors in time past is virtually nonexistent. We are a generation that feels as if it is having to start out from scratch to figure out a way to represent and nurture this richly nuanced and all-involving life of Christ in a country that "Knew not Joseph".....Many pastors, disappointed or disillusioned with their congregations, defect after a few years and find more congenial work. And many congregations , disappointed or disillusioned with their pastors, dismiss them and look for pastors more to their liking. In the 50 years that I have lived the vocation of pastor, these defections and dismissals have reached epidemic proportions in every branch and form of church.
I think this is interesting given Willowcreek's very public apology in 07.'  Willowcreek has been the church de rigeur in America for the past 30 years, pushing the market place model on the emerging post modern American church. Hybel's daughter, a best selling author, writes as one would expect having been raised up front and personal on the church as business model.  Bittersweet, by Niquest (Hybel's dd) is a beautifully written collection of essays chronicling Shauna's situational heartache. I wrote about that  here and here. Great, phenomenol, cosmic power, little bitty Christian living. Judgemental, I know. But it was another great read- fantastic wordsmithery, with very little substance. Reminds me of many church services I've gone to. Excellent show with little thought to TRUE discipleship, or relational congregational life. It's heirarchy and hipdom. Scenerio II:  battle cry sounded, now everyone get in thier very nice cars and go out to eat; middle class business as usual folks.

I hesitate to post this because it IS judgemental.  But I know in my bones (creaky as they are) that there is a movement underfoot, and it's outside the established system, much like the educational movement we've been involved with for over 2 decades. Petersen is  much more of a craftsman than I; he states the obvious without being extreme or insulting. He's a poet. I'm just a middle aged, creaky woman, looking at the signs of the times.

How do we apply what Schaeffer exhorts us to do; understand the spirit of the age in which we find ourselves, when our established practices no longer do the job? Thoughts?

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