A Third Way of Pastoring

One of the things that I discovered fairly quickly after becoming the pastor was that I did not know how to be a ‘pastor.’

The two pastoral models that I knew about was the small town pastor who did everything – or the mega church pastor who guided a large volunteer force.

Neither model would work at the Payette River Vineyard.

The first one was unhealthy as it created a sacred/secular divided and kept the people from being the hands and feet of Jesus. Instead of teaching people to live a life following the voice of Jesus, this model would teach folks that someone else – the pastor – would do it for them.

The second model was…well…good if you have a church of 2,000 or 3,000 members…but not so good if there are only 40 to 60 people in your church.

I was stuck.

Until I noticed a blog post by a friend about a Eugene Peterson’s newest book,  “The Pastor: A Memoir” – this friend, who has been a pastor for many, many years, even went as far as to recommend it to anyone looking at entering into the ministry.

I ordered it that day (thanks to a gift card given to me by another friend!! It is good to have friends, isn’t it?)

Wow…that is all I can say about this book. Eugene Peterson laid out an amazing pastoral model – one build on empowering the people to be the people of God.

Drawing from 30 years of experience as the pastor of a small 300 member church in Maryland, Peterson shares the tough times and the good times, the happy times and the not-so-happy times. And even better, he calls pastors to be pastors instead of managers or councilors or entertainers.

“I was not primarily dealing with people as problems. I was a pastor calling them to worship God….Congregations is a company of people who are defined by their creation in the image of God, living souls, whether they know it or not. They are not problems to be fixed, but mysteries to be honored and revered. Who else in the community other than the pastor has the assigned task of greeting men and women and welcoming them into a congregation in which they are known not by what is wrong with them, but by who they are, just as they are?”

“Therapy, fixing problems, fixing people, was about us. Worship, becoming whole, opening our lives to what we could not control or understand, was about God.”

I could quote the entire book – it is that powerful…

Peterson has given me a third way – a way to call people to worship; a way to be a pastor.

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