May 20, 2010


Category: Theology - Pastoral :: Permalink

The pastors of America have metamorphosed into a company of shopkeepers, and the shops they keep are churches. They are preoccupied with shopkeeper’s concerns — how to keep the 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, pull in great sums of money, develop splendid reputations. Yet it is still shopkeeping; religious shopkeeping to be sure, but shopkeeping all the same. The marketing strategies of the fast-food franchise occupy the waking minds of these entrepreneurs; while asleep they dream of the kind of success that will get the attention of journalists. — Eugene Peterson, Working the Angles: The Shape of Pastoral Integrity, p. 2.

This quotation at the outset of Peterson’s book hits the nail on the head, and perhaps especially for church planters (such as I was until recently), for whom the thought “How can I get more people to attend church?” is never far away. This is the second of Peterson’s books on pastoral ministry and I’ve enjoyed it even more than the first, Five Smooth Stones for Pastoral Work, valuable as that was. I’d recommend it for every pastor. Expect more quotations from it from time to time, now that I’m back to regular pastoral work and back to blogging.

Posted by John Barach @ 3:08 pm | Discuss (2)

2 Responses to “Shopkeepers”

  1. stoddart Says:

    Thanks for this, John. You really made me want to go out and buy this book. I’ve read *Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places*, but this sounds like it needs to go on my reading list.

  2. John Barach Says:

    Actually, I’d recommend buying Eugene Peterson’s Pastoral Library if you can find it. It contains four books: Five Smooth Stones for Pastoral Work, Working the Angles, Under the Unpredictable Plant, and The Contemplative Pastor — and then follow it up with Peterson and Marva Dawn’s The Unnecessary Pastor.

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