Pastoral Inefficiency

I have recently read Julia Duin’s Quitting Church: Why the Faithful are Fleeing and What to Do about It and I hope to post some thoughts from it. For now, I wanted to post this quote from Eugene Peterson. As usual, when talking about pastoral ministry, he is so good!

In a day when hard-edged efficiency is the buzz word, really living with, walking alongside people falls on hard times. The real life of human beings is messy, and we will not be able to minister in those lives if bottom-line efficiency is our high priority. Efficiency is a good tool but is harmful as a “greatest good.” Duin documents the dissatisfaction of church members who feel like their pastors run a well-oiled machine but do not know or shepherd them as individuals. In that context she references Peterson:

“It’s the job of pastors, he added, to know about their sheep and not dump the job on a subordinate. ‘People deserve to have their name known,’ he said. ‘They deserve to have somebody who is a spiritual guide and a preacher and pastor to them and who has had a cup of coffee in the kitchen. The is so much alienation, so much loneliness around us. Classically, that is what a pastor does. We’ve lost that. Of course some people think I’m out to lunch because we don’t do that in America. We do something big and influential and cost-efficient. Well, a pastoral life is not cost-efficient, I’ll tell you. You don’t spend three hours in a nursing home and come away feeling like you’ve been cost-efficient'” (p. 126).


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