My regular reader will know that I have all sorts of questions about what ordained ministry means, and whether we have constricted our understanding of church leadership through our doctrines of ordination. However, as well as reading the contemporary missional texts that for me provide most of the challenge in this direction, I have wanted for a while to read some more classic material. Eugene Peterson is a master of profundity about the pastoral task, with titles such as ‘Working The Angles‘, ‘The Contemplative Pastor‘, ‘Five Smooth Stones For Pastoral Work‘, ‘Under The Unpredictable Plant‘, ‘The Unnecessary Pastor‘ and many others.
But who to read in my own tradition? The initial answer for me has been to cross the Pond again in my thinking, and read William Willimon‘s book ‘Pastor: The Theology and Practice of Ordained Ministry‘. I bought it a couple of months ago, and began it last night. While I don’t think I’m going to agree with everything he says (Does Hippolytus win over Scripture in chapter 1? Do the chapter headings indicate that the pastor must also be apostle, prophet and evangelist?), I’m already finding it wonderfully stimulating. I wouldn’t be surprised if I end up sharing several quotes on the blog. Here is something to encourage younger preachers, frmo page 21:
The clergy’s representative burden can also be a great blessing, a source of pastoral wisdom and power. A parishioner emerged from a little church on a Sunday, muttering to her pastor, “You are not even thirty, how could you know?”
Her pastor drew himself up to his full height, clutched the stole around his neck, and said, “Madame, when I wear this and I climb into that pulpit, I am over two thousand years old, and speak from two millennia of experience.”
Willimon observes, ‘The man may have been somewhat of an ass, but still his point was well taken, ecclesiastically speaking.’
I hope you are encouraged.