Is the Pastor a Shopkeeper and is the Church a Shop?

Pastor: Are you keeping a shop or leading your people spiritually?(Image courtesy of pixabay.com)

Pastor: Are you keeping a shop or leading your people spiritually?(Image courtesy of pixabay.com)

(In my last post I presented Jesus’ statement of “Feed my Sheep” as a primary purpose of a pastor in contrast to the “entertainment” model as held forth by the Church Growth Movement [CGM] philosophy).  

What do you think is the purpose of a church and its ministers?

I want to continue my critique of the CGM by an extensive quotation by long-time pastor Eugene Peterson.  Peterson has painted a very sobering picture of the pastor as “shopkeeper” and the American church as “shops.”

See if you agree, or not, with Peterson’s estimation.

American pastors are abandoning their posts, left and right, and at an alarming rate. They are not leaving their churches and getting other jobs. Congregations still pay their salaries. Their names remain on the church stationery and they continue to appear in pulpits on Sundays. But they are abandoning their posts, their calling. They have gone whoring after other gods. What they do with their time under the guise of pastoral ministry hasn’t the remotest connect with what church’s pastors have done for most of twenty centuries

The pastors of America have metamorphosed into a company of shopkeepers, and the shops they keep are churches. They are preoccupied with shopkeeper’s concerns–how to keep the customers happy, how to lure customers away from competitors down the street, how to package the goods so that the customers will lay out more money.

Are we more concerned with buildings, bodies, and budgets, or the spiritual status of our people? (Image courtesy of pixabay.com)

Are we more concerned with buildings, bodies, and budgets, or the spiritual status of our people? (Image courtesy of pixabay.com)

Some of them are very good shopkeepers. they attract a lot of customers, pull in great sums of money, develop splendid reputations. Yet it is still shopkeeping; religious shopkeeping, to be sure, but shopkeeping all the same. The marketing strategies of the fast-food franchise occupy the waking minds of these entrepreneurs; while asleep they dream of the kind of success that will get the attention of journalists…

The biblical fact is that there are no successful churches. There are, instead, communities of sinners, gathered before God week after week in towns and villages all over the world. The Holy Spirit gathers them and does his work in them. In these communities of sinners, one of the sinners is called pastor and given a designated responsibility in the community. The pastor’s responsibility is to keep the community attentive to God. It is this responsibility that is being abandoned in spades” (Eugene Peterson as quoted in J.R. Briggs’ book “Fail” pg. 60-62-all bold is Billy’s emphasis).”

I’d love to have your feedback in the “Comment” section below! Do you think Peterson is fair in his critique or not?

Question:

  1. What has been your experience in your own church and your own pastor? A shopkeeper keeping a shop, or a spiritual leader pointing the congregation toward God?

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