Monday, June 17, 2013

Necessary vs. unnecessary pastors

More from Eugene Peterson in The Unnecessary Pastor: Rediscovering the Call:
  • A necessary pastor seeks to control Scripture, wielding it for his or her own ends. An unnecessary pastor finds a home and country within the Scriptures and is shaped by them.
  • Necessary pastors operate within the known and the controlled, majoring in explanations and problem solving. Unnecessary pastors need not figure everything out but live in the awe of the God of mystery, glad to know that there is more going on than they see or can get their minds around.
  • Necessary pastors used language to define and dispense parcels of truth. Unnecessary pastors evoke and engage what must not be pinned down.
  • Necessary pastors manage people, putting them in boxes and groups by age, gender, ethnicity, and so on. Unnecessary pastors engender communities in which they themselves participate.

Necessarily so!

Soon I will celebrate 25 years as an ordained pastor. I'm (mostly) happy to report that I in no way think I've arrived and, moreover, that I continually strive to be all that God wants me to be.

So it's appropriate--not to mention highly exhilarating--that I'm reading The Unnecessary Pastor: Rediscovering the Call. It's co-written by authorial faves Eugene Peterson and Marva Dawn--the latter an LCMSer, by the way. Peterson lays the groundwork for the book's "leading premise...that pastors are 'unnecessary', but unnecessary in a defined sense:
  1. ...unnecessary to what the culture presumes is important: as paragons of goodness and niceness... [Oh, goodie! I don't have to be good and nice anymore!]
  2. ...unnecessary to what we ourselves feel is essential: as the linchpin holding a congregation together... [That's a toughie!]
  3. ...unnecessary to what congregations insist that we must do and be: as the experts who help them stay ahead of the competition." [As Peterson says elsewhere, using people for economic ability or institutional effectiveness.]
Hmmm... God empower me to be more necessary!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Better is Bigger!

Not that I am speaking of being in need,
for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.
Philippians 4:11

"If you are praying 'Lord, make me bigger', you are probably miserable, although prayerful. Did you know you can be prayerful and still be miserable? Anytime you use prayer to change God, who is perfect, instead of using prayer to change yourself, you are miserable. Instead, try praying this: 'Lord, make me better.' I admit that better is harder to measure and not as noticeable to the eye. But better will overcome bigger every time"--another nugget from TD Jakes in his Hope for Every Moment devotional.

Sometimes it is difficult not to be bitter because we are not better. Then again, what can one-up being God's child?

Lord, needy though I am, help me not to be greedy--
especially for things that don't matter and last. Amen!

Saturday, March 2, 2013


You have failed, but you are not a failure.

You are a product of your past, but you don't have to be a prisoner to it.

These words jump out as me as I'm reading Destiny: Let God Use You Like He Made You by Tony Evans.

Evans opines that "Joseph delivered the Bible's greatest statement on destiny":


Friday, February 15, 2013


Wouldn't it be nice if the music was better? The sermons more relevant? The people friendlier?

I wonder if God ever wonders that. Or if he just non-critically accepts well-intentioned musical, sermonic, and people offerings, tasteless or baseless though they sometimes be.

Maybe the music, the sermons, and the people aren't ultimately about us. What we like or prefer. What we feel. Hmmm... Aren't such offerings all ultimately for him?

Let's taste less and thank more--that God receives our sometimes less-than-perfect offerings--so we will less critically refuse and abuse others' and others.

It's all good--with God, anyway!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Today's Special!

"The Church is a whore,
but she's my mother."
Dorothy Day?

This quote is most definitely my new response to those who complain about the Church. I love how it accentuates the Church's human side.

Warts and all, in one way or another the Church gave, and gives, us birth. (It's not just an institution, after all, but whoever and wherever are God's people!) It stood, and stands, by us no matter how far and where we wander and roam. Most of all, we all will one day fully return to it.

Wandering though we be, we are not lost!

I give them eternal life, and they will never perish,

and no one will snatch them out of my hand.
John 10:28

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Lighten(ing) up!

If the world seems dark, might it be because the Church is not sharing God's light?

Adapted from something I just read, imagine my chagrin when I sat in my car at a traffic light behind a van with a bumper sticker that read "Those who plan to consider God at the eleventh hour die at 10:30".  A little Gospel, please!

I got it just a few minutes later--thank you, God!--passing an electric reader board in front of a business which bannered the Aaronic blessing of Numbers 6:24-26: "The LORD bless you and keep you..."! My next task is to write the company a thank-you note.

Yes, a little more Gospel/grace, please, Christians. Reminds of another bumper sticker: "Jesus, save us from your followers!" Well-intentioned Law-givers though we be, let's always ultimately accentuate the Gospel. As I also once read, give people whatever grace and mercy you're expecting for yourself.

Whatever, thankfully God has the last word. What may look like too late to us and for others isn't necessarily so, no? I feel lighter already!