The Shopkeeping Pastor

Thought this was such a thought provoking quote:

“The pastors of America have metamorphosed into a company of shopkeepers, and the shops they keep are churches.”

Eugene Peterson (@PetersonDaily)
12/29/14, 7:36 AM

It’s true on so many levels, from the way pastors care, maintain and treat everything from people and families and budgets, to physical buildings and possessions.

How we constantly try and think of new ways to serve a community, produce a constant stream of content, and pull off weekly “shows” that hopefully please both God and man.

How we’re are always looking to expand the kingdom’s influence and reach more people, expanding into “new markets.”

New ways to market what we’re doing, maintaining the integrity of what people experience (a brand).

Long hours, few reprieves.

Strategizing, praying, meeting, counseling, brainstorming, assessing, hiring, firing, accounting, resourcing.

We must have a clear mission, but never at the expense of our values. A mission without values leaves hurting people in its wake.

We’re spiritual shopkeepers in a material world. The correlations between being an entrepreneur and a pastor are too numerous to count, and the disciplines required for both are tightly bound.

Thank you, Pastors, for all you carry; thank you Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists and Teachers. May the five-fold positions of ministry continue to keep the shop lights on for those walking in the dark.

Christopher

  • Church, Inc. Not for me, anymore. I’m concerned that we’ve become the very Scribes and Pharisees that Jesus had to fight against….we magnify traditions of men and have lost our passion to chase God in a moment-by-moment adventure and show others how to do the same. The problem with Church, Inc., and even things like Ramsey budgeting, IMO, is that they presume on the one commodity we’re not guaranteed — time. The premium for stewardship should rest on immediate obedience and tolerating risk — we have a God who’s already guaranteed we won’t starve and insured our eternal life….so why aren’t we living dangerously and changing the world? Too often, “…because it’s not good business.” My ordination / calling wasn’t a commission to run a shop, it was a call to follow Him, and He’s global in reach and not a tame lion.

    • My only critique here is that your words assume I, for one, am not living dangerously, tolerating risk or being obediant to my unique commission of following Jesus is stewarding souls.

      • I was speaking of the generalized American church, not any one pastor in specific. 🙂 Sorry if that was unclear. IMO, the best way to “steward a soul” is to help its’ carrier in their daily passionate pursuit of Christ. This must happen with a keen recognition that we’re fellow travelers on the same journey, not masters of the path that have it all figured out. We must allow each other the freedom and space to resolve the tensions and crises God allows us to be drawn into, supporting the timeless standards and principles but also extending maximum freedom….it’s a life of tension and stretching, to be sure, but that’s how we grow. One’s frontier may be different than another’s, but we should be able to respect the qualities of character we have in common even if our local views are different. Testimonies are fun, hearing what God is doing on multiple arenas. 🙂

        • PS – I assume you’re on the right track, because your dad would call you to account if not! 🙂

          • I feel so fortunate to have him close by again, ministering together. It’s one of my life’s greatest joys.

  • The words about pulling off weekly “shows” make me wince, because that seems to be the unavoidable feeling and perception, both by us pastors and church critics. I hate the pressure–whether real or imagined–of having to pull off yet another good show week after week. I find myself living that paradox of feeling stretched and enlarged by being placed in the “church box”, when God knows I much prefer it outside the box. My ideal “church” is discussing theology and philosophy in a coffee shop with hipsters and skeptics. But one of the things that keep me ringing that church bell every Sunday is the thought of Jesus teaching “daily” in the temple. Talk about manmade tradition! Talk about the institution! Talk about Church, Inc! Having to sit there and listen to them miss the point, day after day, year after year. Why did He keep going back? Because at some point he had opportunity to take the scroll and read from it. Then to heal a withered hand. Thank God Jesus didn’t leave and start a home church. The problem I see is that the local church is like a hospital; while the doctors are in the break room discussing better ways of running the institution, or doing away with it altogether, babies are being delivered and left on the tables to die, while precious few of us “midwives” call frantically for help, hoping there’s someone out there who has not ditched the vision (people) along with their lofty New Testament church ideals.

    • Thanks for the comment, Faith. As with most things I write, the word “shows” was very intentional. More than ever, I’m aware of how unsaved and newly-saved people view what we do.

      Most recently, an unsaved guy came to church and said, “Man, your live-band Kareoke is incredible.” Ha – that made me smile.

      I think the tendency for critics—whether within or without of the church—is to take an either/or mantality, when both-and-more is actually what we need. I don’t personally know a single pastor who’s church is growing through reaching new souls and discipling current ones that isn’t totally sold out to the mission of laying their lives down for reaching others. It’s ussually the critics that cry destitution but can’t actually put more than one name to it. And yet we *must* be discussing how to reach people better (and thus making an “institution” a living organism)—we wouldn’t run anything without doing so and call that excellence. Anything but trying to be better is a lack of stewardship.

      My doctor, John Jepma, is always wanting his office to run better, but knows it’s about people. My pastor, Kirk Gilchrist, lays his life down for people, and constantly discuss how we can make the church border and healthier. Having a hard time with critics who can’t cite anything beyond their own hurt as proof of an argument.

      • Agree 100%. I know your use of “show” was intentional and I love the quote by Peterson. My comment was directed to what I think of as the “arm folders.” The critics who have a lot to say about the Acts 2 church and “koinonia, ” and come into our services hoping to find their version of a NT church, but never lift a finger toward the vision. That’s who I’m calling the doctors in the break room. I wasn’t real clear, I guess. Otherwise, I’m all for improvement, discussion, excellence, etc. My point is that too many people are busy debating the church instead of being the church. Your post is encouraging, btw, Chris. Thank you! (in other words, my comment wasn’t directed at you! 😉 )

        • Oh, sheesh. lol Gotcha now.

        • Oh, sheesh. lol Gotcha now.

          • Hehe. Also, I need to be careful to say I’m speaking in general about the critics. I’d never want anyone to think I’m pointing to individuals in our own congregation. We’re blessed with a great group who get the vision.

          • Understood, and I read ya. Id say the same about New Life. Out people are amazing, and our staff are the real deal.