Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed

Pastors Teaching Pastors

EugPet.jpgFree book offer at bottom of this post!

Pastors need to hear from fellow pastors. There’s a place for pastors listening to biblical experts — when they study the Bible. There’s a place for pastors listening to theologians — when they need to study theology. But there’s a place where only a pastor can speak to another pastor. I’ve been there, and I have to sit back and listen and sometimes I can’t even enter into the conversation because it’s out of my (pastoral) depth. I know what the words mean, but they don’t resonate with my experience.
Hence, I recommend two recent books on pastoral work. The first is by Mel Lawrenz, pastor at Elmbrook outside Milwaukee, and his new book addresses bringing the whole church into a whole ministry: Whole Church: Leading from Fragmentation to Engagement (J-B Leadership Network Series)
. His vision is for a “whole” church — with God, God’s people, the community, and the world. This book is for pastors and by a pastor who has been there: with fragmentation and the concrete steps involved in healing and bringing back to wholeness. I really liked part two:


It addressed closing the gap with God through worship and teaching;
closing the gap with people through real fellowship;
closing the gap with the community through more than a thousand points of light;
closing the gap for the whole world by engaging the world.
One of the illuminating features of this book for me was about the dynamics and how Mel emphasized fostering a culture of change and shifting. His last section was on choosing wise leaders, and I don’t know that I’ve read anything quite like this.
Now here’s the point: pastor, you can trust Mel; he’s been there; he’s experienced it after all these years at Elmbrook; he’s been there and he’s been through it and he’s lived to guide others through that experience.
The second book is a full education in pastoral formation: The Power to Comprehend with All the Saints: The Formation and Practice of a Pastor-Theologian
. The books has short chapters by pastors about theological and pastoral topics — all shaped by an institute at Princeton — the Pastor-Theologian Program. Again, the studies are by pastors, astute pastors, and they cover topics pastors want to hear from pastors about.
I mention a few: the Bible, children, college, seminary, doubt, reading, struggles, significant events, the call, preaching, teaching, psychology, administration, sacraments, evangelism, prayer, and death. All by pastors.
This book is a course in pastoral theology and the theology of pastoring in the dimension of formation. I will send this book — free — to the pastor who writes the best one paragraph essay on spiritual formation and the pastor. 
And I will ask my pastor friends — Jim Martin and John Frye — to be the judges.
Comments read comments(18)
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Clay Knick

posted October 16, 2009 at 9:14 am

Praise be! More books! Thanks Scot! BTW, I love McEntyre’s book.

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posted October 16, 2009 at 10:02 am

Maybe you should send it to the pastor that writes the worst paragraph.

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posted October 16, 2009 at 10:22 am

Not looking for a free book but just wanted to say thanks for mentioning Mel’s book in your post. I’m in my 2nd year here at Elmbrook and have come to greatly appreciate Mel and his genuine care for those that call Elmbrook home, for those in our community and for the world more broadly. I actually received a free copy of Mel’s book a couple months ago but haven’t read it yet – your post will probably motivate that to happen more quickly. Thanks.

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John W Frye

posted October 16, 2009 at 10:55 am

T has a point, don’t you think? LOL

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Steve S

posted October 16, 2009 at 1:01 pm

If you’re looking at ‘pastors on pastoring’ you gotta go with Petersen. I vote he gets the free book…

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posted October 16, 2009 at 2:55 pm

Thank you for the refreshing reminder that pastors speaking to pastors is a vital, even essential, component in shaping pastors. We need it in our preparation and in our daily perspective.
Here?s an attempt to respond to your challenge regarding pastors and spiritual formation. And, yes, I know I disqualify myself by including more than one paragraph.
Spiritual formation and leadership are mutually exclusive concepts. Leadership does not require spiritual formation. One can certainly lead without giving any thought to spiritual formation. Of course, whether one thinks of it or not, all hearts are spiritually formed. The point here is that one can lead without any conscious effort toward spiritual formation.
In the same way spiritual formation does not require leadership. One can pursue all manner of spiritual disciplines to reform one?s heart and never lead in any way. Well formed character does not include the requirement to take initiative to lead. The question of will I lead can always be answered, no.
However, if pastors take initiative to lead, important questions surface. Pastors aspiring to be servant leaders ask and answer the question: how will I lead? Similarly a pastor who cooperates with grace and allows his heart to be continually reformed asks and answers the question: am I a servant leader?
May the Lord of the church always provide his people with such pastors!

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Rob Peterson

posted October 16, 2009 at 3:21 pm

Here is my (Canadian) entry. I love books. And I love free books even more.
At no other time in history have pastors had access to seminars and books on how to hone their leadership skills. But too few guide pastors in how to excavate their souls. Soul work, which is vital for long-term healthy ministry, is anything but easy. It is the intentional arduous interior journey toward a holy absolute unmixed attentiveness to the Trinity?s love. Soul work or soul formation with God is a mysterious Spirit dependent endeavor that calls forth courage and vulnerability. Maybe this is why pastors, why I, prefer the surface matters of organizational effectiveness and ingenuity. Many days soul connection with God is just to frightening! Yet, a longing remains to ground pastoral work in God and God?s redemptive work in the world. May this longing increase.
Prayer: ?God, I pray that at this time in history where the greatest need is for your people to be truly a ?set apart community of mission? that You will call us to a depth of relationship with You where we taste, see, and know that we are loved in Christ by the Spirit. May we hear again Your call, Your invitation to center our lives, our ordinary human lives, in Your presence and care. And from that place oh God, may we be true to our vocation of leading people to know You well and as a result join You in Your mission of love and re-creation. Amen.?

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posted October 16, 2009 at 4:44 pm

My take on spiritual formation and the pastor
When on thinks of pastors at this day and age one ascribes him to someone running the affairs of the church. This idea gives a false norm and tells the pastor that his work largely deals with outward projections of things and thus the major work of the pastor is largely neglected, which deals with the inner dimension. This is where spiritual formation comes in. The first task for the pastor is to be spiritually formed himself. The self must be led in depth following Jesus. In the journey of being spiritually formed he embodies the out workings of what being led by Jesus means to his congregation, and thus this is where i believe spiritual formation and the pastor converge.

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David Young

posted October 16, 2009 at 5:03 pm

What I’ve written at this link is much more than a paragraph so I’m not exactly looking for the free book. Nevertheless, I thought this might be an appropriate place to share these thoughts.

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Elika Kohen

posted October 16, 2009 at 6:29 pm

“As iron sharpen iron, so does a man sharpen the favor of his friend.” “The whole body, fitted and joined together providing that which every member lacks.” …
How in the world have the Christian and Jewish communities contented themselves to not have any form of accountability other than intellectual arguments and fear for being thrown out of … Read Morethe “good-ol-boys club”? The again, there is the fear of having their little paper ordainations torn up. …
True accountability, true Biblical accountability, submission to true authority. True Biblical authority is established by the favor of God–established by His evidentual presence, and power–all of which are far removed from Judaism and Christianity today. Where is the anointing where God Himself publically and evidently confirmed–even before unbelievers–who it was HE had appointed to have authority?

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Brandon T Milan

posted October 16, 2009 at 7:49 pm

Churches that are actually building the kingdom by being an incarnational, missional presence of Christ in their communities are churches that are led by pastors who set as their primary goal being a true and deep and committed follower of Christ. I’m not saying that it is a magic formula, but how can we expect the church to be spiritually formed if the pastors aren’t. I sit at a weekly pastors’ breakfast each Tuesday. The conversation usually erodes into us gossiping, griping and complaining about how our churches don’t do anything but gossip, gripe, and complain. And we wonder what the problem is. I think Scot said it best a few weeks ago in another post: “(Too many) evangelical leaders have become too enamored with management skills and techniques and have neglected the nitty-gritty of soaking themselves in the great texts of the Old and the New Testament.” Pastors aren’t spiritually formed because they are more busy about dealing with the business, affairs and scandals of the church rather than soaking themselves in God’s word.
How can we expect the congregation to do what we say and not what we do?

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John W Frye

posted October 16, 2009 at 9:13 pm

Without consulting Jim Martin, my friend and fellow pastor, I think Rob Peterson (#7) so far is aiming in the right direction of the pastoral ministry of spiritual direction. I like Rob’s phrase “excavation of the soul” and the hard, frightening often, work that it is. Jim may affirm another paragraph and that is OK with me.

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Andrew R

posted October 16, 2009 at 10:51 pm

As someone who has been a Pastor for 18 months after a previous career as an engineer, I have been on a journey of discovery and altered perceptions. I believe that one of the most important aspects of the pastoral role is to help people to connect with God. But for me to do this, I need to be connected with God myself and attuned to what God is doing. Any ministering I do must flow out of who I am and who God has called me to be. I need to be continually formed and recreated in all aspects of my life. This is the task of spiritual formation and it is something that is required for myself as well as for those in my congregation. It involves a deepness, and a richness that is countercultural. It’s working on God’s plan rather than mine. It’s both joyful and scary, being organised yet not being in control and being comfortable living in a paradox.

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Jim Martin

posted October 17, 2009 at 8:33 am

These are some wonderful comments. In fact, I read several of these comments twice.
Like John, I too think that Rob’s comment is moving us in the right direction toward the important, even vital, ministry of spiritual direction. (Especially, as we reflect on pastoral ministry.) I look forward to reading more of these comments as they are posted.

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John Patton

posted October 17, 2009 at 8:36 am

Who teaches attorneys? Practicing Attorneys. Who teaches Medical Doctors? Practicing Doctors. Who teaches teachers? Practicing Teachers. Who teaches Pastors? A Greek Scholar that hasn’t preached week after week since seminary. An Old Testament scholar that had a youth group of two while earning a degree. A Homiletics professor that hasn’t preached since his divorce in 1982. Some pastors “collaborate” but those situations seem to be a little bit like complaining sessions. Some pastors know the secrets but choose not to share them because of their competitive nature. The system is broken. A semester or two of field study with a pastor that retired when he could no longer minister to this generation just doesn’t cut it. Good pastors, pulling their Timothys alongside…that’s what the body of Christ needs.

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posted October 17, 2009 at 10:40 am

Thanks for this lovely article. I have read one book by Eugene Peterson – Christ Plays In Ten Thousand Places – which was somewhat refreshing. But I have heard he has some other good words like, The Contemplative Pastor.
Thanks again for the 2 book suggestion.

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Your Name

posted October 18, 2009 at 10:01 am

I’ve been a pastor for 2 years now. It is not like anything that I’ve ever done before, nor is like anything that I ever thought it would be. But most frightening of all I realized that I did not arrive at my calling without any spiritual formation, but with years of formation which had been forging my pastoral identity even before I first stood before my congregation. Some of the formation was positive, but sadly some of it was negetive and a reaction to looking at other pastors and thinking that I could do it better. These days I find my self standing in front of 150 people each week knowing that opinions of pastoral vocation are being formed and that each of them has their own understanding of me as their pastor… what I should be doing and what I should be saying. If I listen only to their voices my spiritual formation will become a reactionary and impulse. But if I discover the voices of those who have also held faithfully and truthfully to the pastoral vocation then I have an anchor that keeps me true to my pastoral identity and to developing it prayerfully and leisurely. This morning in church I preached from Mark 10, Jesus teaching on his death and James & John’s request. My conclusion was that our formation is not to be found in imitating the prevailing culture, but within the cross of Jesus. It is the same with our pastoral formation Jesus cross becomes the symbol and the power that creates life transforming possiblities.

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Daniel Mann

posted October 20, 2009 at 12:57 pm

Your Name,
I?m glad to see you came to the right and liberating conclusion. I too had been paralyzed by the opinions of others. The only thing that was able to break this addiction was an even greater addiction ? an “addiction” to the gracious opinions of God Himself!
?The fear [opinions] of man brings a snare, but he who trusts in the LORD will be exalted.? (Proverbs 29:25)

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