Monday, August 23, 2010

Religious Shopkeepers

The following is an excerpt from the recently published Shepherds Balm devotional for pastors. Copies may be acquired at

American pastors are abandoning their posts,
left and right, and at an alarming rate.
They’re not leaving the churches and getting other
jobs. Congregations still pay their salaries. Their
names remain on the church stationery and they
continue to appear in pulpits on Sundays. But they
are abandoning their posts, their calling. They have
gone whoring after other gods. What they do with
their time under the guise of pastoral ministry hasn’t
the remotest connection with what the church’s
pastors have done for most of 20 centuries.
The pastors of America have metamorphosed into
a company of shopkeepers, and the shops to keep are
churches. They are preoccupied with shopkeepers
concerns – how to keep customers happy, how to
lure customers away from competitors down the
street, how to package the goods so that the
customers will lay out more money.

Some of them are very good shopkeepers. They
attract a lot of customers, pulling great sums of
money, develop splendid reputations. It is still shop
keeping; religious shop keeping, to be sure, but shop
keeping all the same. The marketing strategies of the
fast food franchise occupy the weak minds of these
entrepreneurs; while asleep they dream of the kind
of success that will get the attention of journalists. “A
walloping great congregation is fine, and fun,” says
Martin Thornton, “but what most communities
really need is a couple of saints. The tragedy is that
they may well be there in embryo, waiting to be
discovered, waiting for sound training, waiting to be
emancipated from the cult of the mediocre.”
The biblical fact is that there are no successful
churches. There are, instead, communities of
sinners, gathered before God week after week in
towns and villages all over the world. The Holy
Spirit gathers them and does his work in them. In
these communities of sinners, one of the sinners is
called pastor and given a designated responsibility in
the community. The pastor’s responsibility is to keep
the community attuned to God. It is this
responsibility that is being abandoned in spades.

— Eugene Peterson, Working the Angles, pp. 1-2

Therefore I urge you to reaffirm your love to him.
— 2 Corinthians 2:8 (NKJV)

No comments: