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Pastoral Lessons from Oprah Winfrey?

I am a bit late in posting this but a couple of weeks ago USA Today ran a story entitled, “The Divine Miss Winfrey”. This is not really surprising but it was a revealing look at typical views of spirituality in our culture. What first caught my attention though were the letters to the editor a day or two later. The letters were printed under the title, What preachers can learn , and since I do not know how long the link will work I have pasted in the full text of the last letter:

Though I do not think Oprah Winfrey is the “spiritual leader for the new millennium,” I am sure she is making, and will make, a significant contribution to the spiritual lives of many people who do not find what they should be getting from their churches.
Further, I anticipate a backlash from this article from preachers who are not cutting it. But instead of denouncing the premise that Oprah has a spiritual contribution to make, they should be embracing an opportunity to study what Oprah is doing that is making such a significant impact on the lives of so many people.
Perhaps Ms. Winfrey would be kind enough to offer seminars throughout the country for preachers who want to regain contact with the people they feel called to serve. If she would, I would like the opportunity to be the first to sign up.
The Rev. Brian A. Mahoney, Rockville, Md.

This is another example of the decline in the concept of what a pastor is and how the office is being shaped by the culture rather than by Scripture. “Making an impact” is a slippery category for measuring success. It tends to mean “drawing a crowd” and “getting positive reviews.” This though is not our goal. May we be deaf to the siren calls of culture and devote ourselves to the biblical tasks for us, as Eugene Peterson powerfully put it, word and sacrament.

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