Last week, Religion News Service blogger, Jonathan Merritt, posted an interview he had with Eugene Peterson.
As I’ve shared plenty of times, I appreciate the pastoral writings of Peterson. I’ve read a few of his books and reviewed them: Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places, Eat This Book, and The Contemplative Pastor. And I plan on reading quite a few others.
I’d encourage you to read Merritt’s interview with the now 81-year old Peterson. He asks 8 particular questions, and I really appreciated the final question and answer:
JM: Eighty-one years is a long time. As you enter your final season of life, what would you like to say to younger Christians who are itchy for a deeper and more authentic discipleship? What’s your word to them?
EP: Go to the nearest smallest church and commit yourself to being there for 6 months. If it doesn’t work out, find somewhere else. But don’t look for programs, don’t look for entertainment, and don’t look for a great preacher. A Christian congregation is not a glamorous place, not a romantic place. That’s what I always told people. If people were leaving my congregation to go to another place of work, I’d say, “The smallest church, the closest church, and stay there for 6 months.” Sometimes it doesn’t work. Some pastors are just incompetent. And some are flat out bad. So I don’t think that’s the answer to everything, but it’s a better place to start than going to the one with all the programs, the glitz, all that stuff.
This, too, is my heart. Please know that I am not saying larger churches with multiple programmes are inherently bad. But when people seek out a church community where they can definitely 1) be in close, familial relationships and 2) serve with all of their hearts, then I believe you will find maturity in such people. This can happen in a larger context. But it’s the smaller context where such relationships and serving is honestly needed.
No glitz and glamour, but family and serving.
Read the full interview here.