A Thought From My Old Buddy, Eugene…


Everyone be prepared: I just started reading another Eugene Peterson “pastoral” book. I’m sorry, but you might be inundated with a thousand references to Peterson for a while…

The book is titled, The Unnecessary Pastor, a book Peterson co-authored with Marva Dawn. I’m not giving a book review – I’m still in the Introduction (page 4). But, as is often the case with Peterson, he wrote something that grabbed me so hard I laughed out loud, had to set the book down and share the thought with someone.

Here’s what he wrote: I am in conversation right now with a dozen or so men and women who are prepared to be pastors and who are waiting to be called by a congregation. And I am having the depressing experience of reading congregational descriptions of what these churches want in a pastor. With hardly an exception they don’t want pastors at all – they want managers of their religious company. They want a pastor they can follow so they won’t have to bother with following Jesus anymore.

Prompt any thoughts from anyone out there?


8 Responses to “A Thought From My Old Buddy, Eugene…”

  1. Michael Lasley Says:

    Hey Al, I can honestly say I’ve never read an advert for a pastor. What might one look like? How do they read? Sorry to be such an idiot.

    On the other hand, it is kind of good that that they are at least honest about what they’re looking for. I mean, maybe they don’t know they’re being honest. I’m sure that’s Peterson’s point. But still. Rambling. No point. Etc.

  2. Al Sturgeon Says:

    I don’t know what denomination Peterson might have been dealing with (his background is Presbyterian), but here’s you a CofC one posted at your very own Pepperdine’s website:

    Type: Pulpit Minister
    Salary: $28,000 – $32,000 doe
    Description: Pulpit Minister Wanted: The Everett Church of Christ is located in Everett Washington, a City of about 150,000 + and growing, 30 miles north of Seattle in the Great Pacific Northwest. The building is located about 2 miles from the Naval Station Everett, where the USS Abraham Lincoln and several other Naval ships are stationed. We are a multi nationality congregation of 110 and growing, we are praying for a family man that can work well with the 2 elders, help develop the men of the congregation spiritually and reach out to the community to help further the growth of the church. They must be spiritually mature (1 Timothy 4:12) Christian with a passion for serving the Lord and one who speaks the truth from God’s word. This man must be married, one who loves people and can related to all ages. Reasonably expect a wife who is supportive of her husband’s work, who can play an active roll within the church. We are praying for a family with an evangelist drive, with experience as a pulpit preacher, minimum of 4-year education or have completed a preaching school certification within the Church of Christ brotherhood. We will do our best to structure a financial package that is fair, based on experience and training. We provide a 5 bedroom 2.5 bath home with a large fenced in yard, in a quiet neighborhood, located about 10 miles for the church building. If these qualities describe you, Please send your resume, photo, two or more references, 2 recent audio sermon tapes / CD and a brief statement of your philosophy of ministry to: Everett Church of Christ 2431 Rucker Ave Everett, WA 98201 Attention: Elders Or E-mail resumes and references to Tom Stark – jtswwjd@aol.com James Evans – pookiewa2@msn.com

  3. juvenal_urbino Says:

    Photo? What possible valid reason could they have for asking for a photo?

    As for Peterson’s snippet, it sounds to me like churches are just becoming more aware of what they’ve always wanted in a pastor (or any other church leader). Church leadership in American denominations has long been modeled more on the corporation than on Jesus.

  4. Terry Austin Says:

    I’m intrigued by any ministry position in which one of your elders’ e-mail address handles is “pookie.”

    Clearly, they ask for a photo so they know if they’re dealing with a Good Christian Man (TM), or a perverse mongrel from a marked tribe. Er, that’s what I would suspect if this church were in the South, anyway. The real reason, most likely, is that they ask for a photo because every other church ad does. They’re just Campbellite copycats. When in Cane Ridge…

  5. Terry Austin Says:

    “Reasonably expect a wife who is supportive of her husband’s work, who can play an active roll [sic] within the church.”

    (Curtain opens to show church library. Two older men sit on one side of a long conference table, and a younger man, in coat and tie and visibly uncomfortable, sits across from them. They are surrounded by shelves full of Jule Miller filmstrip canisters and several hardbound volumes of “Why I Am A Member of the Church of Christ,” all of which sit in two inches of dust. We join the men mid-conversation.)

    ELDER POOKIE: Good. Because we do not feel it is wise for our preacher to have facial hair of any sort, particularly long unwieldy sideburns.

    CANDIDATE: I have low testosterone levels. (Pauses.) But not too low, of course. Plenty high enough to maintain safe levels of heterosexuality.

    ELDER STARK: (Exhales loudly and relaxes) Thank gosh!

    CANDIDATE: Yes, yes. I do have a fine appreciation for the feminine form.

    ELDER POOKIE: About your wife… Dorcas, is it?

    CANDIDATE: Yes. She changed her name while at Fred-Hardscomb University.

    ELDER POOKIE: About Dorcas: Will she support your work as a preacher?

    CANDIDATE: The house has five bedrooms?

    ELDER STARK: That is correct.

    CANDIDATE: Yes. She will support the work.

  6. juvenal_urbino Says:

    Yes, yes. I do have a fine appreciation for the feminine form.

    MEB is applying for this job?

    Thanks for the ride in the Wayback Machine, Les.

  7. juvenal_urbino Says:

    They must be spiritually mature (1 Timothy 4:12)…but not too spiritually mature, if you know what we mean. (And if you don’t, you are.) We like a nice middlin’ spirituality. No more than $28k-32k will buy. We like a bargain as much as the next steward (Proverbs 13:22), but, you know, don’t do us any favors (Proverbs 22:7).

  8. Terry Austin Says:

    Well, now I’m convinced we should post a totally phony preacher ad in one/some of the brotherhood publications or websites. The responses could be a durned hoot.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: