Eugene Peterson, in contradiction to my last post, is one of the best speakers you could find anywhere.
He framed his speaking in the general session today around this question: What are pastors good for? He shared his early romantic and militaristic views of that. He absolutely destroyed the way business thinking, marketing, and consumerism have co-opted the role of pastor in the church. Then he came to the heart of what he believes now: pastors are good for loving and accepting the current congregation they find themselves in, finding ways to help God transform the ordinary and the broken into the miraculous.
Until I have more time to churn his words inside me, I’ll leave you with some of my favorite quotes from him today:
“Don’t find models, find companions. The root word of companion is bread. Companions eat bread together, share stories together, live life together. Refuse to be competitors. Competitors are failed companions.”
“Embrace THIS congregation as a gift to be received, not something to be fixed. Renovate my imagination, not the congregation.”
“We have plenty of models of perfect churches. How about the church as stumbling blocks, as foolishness?” [loved that, just like my favorite Marva Dawn book, Powers, Weakness, and the Tabernacling of God.]
“The church we want becomes the enemy of the church we have.”
“There are no successful churches in scripture.”
“The main thing pastors do is to prove the bible is liveable.”
“Pastors are good for guarding mystery-for nurturing a quiet attentiveness for what we do not understand.”
The goal is… “a congregation of embarrassingly normal people in whom God is visible.”