Being a pastor is a unique role in our world with unique challenges to your faith and life that can become difficult during seasons when you feel isolated or alone – for whatever reasons. David Roher wrote this book, The Sacred Wilderness of Pastoral Ministry out of his own experiences as a pastor to help isolated pastors overcome the common hurdles of ministry and to have joy in the calling that God has trusted them with.
I picked this up primarily because I am fascinated right now with the forming nature of the wilderness in the story of the people of God. It seems to me that the wilderness is where God changes people; where our baggage becomes heavy enough that we finally put it down and we move in new ways because of the experiences we have living so close to nature and to God.
Ends up, this book is more of an encouragement for solo pastors in traditionally-minded churches to stay the course, love the people and bring them into God’s presence in community. So, being as I have never been in a solo pastor situation, much of this book wasn’t written with me in mind. I imagine, though, that it would be an encouragement to pastors whose calling is to a smaller community and/or a smaller church, where the connections between people have long histories and deep loyalties. It would be a great book for you if that is the situation you are in – or as an encouraging gift for a pastor you know who goes it alone.
Here’s some goodness for you,
- p.15, “It may be that we have to do more thinking than we’d like to about matters of organizational development and the character of contemporary ecclesiastical institutions. Yet we cannot allow our answers to those questions to define the essence of our work.”
- p.61, “When we come to believe that our primary task is to build or save congregations, it is easy to slip out of the place where we sound like prophets and into the place where most of what comes out of our mouths sounds like what might be said in a creative meeting at an advertising agency. If our focus is merely the attempt to get people to ‘buy’ our church, then I submit we are directing people’s attention to a product rather than a personal relationship with the living God.”
- p.89, “Even a quick survey of the role of the wilderness in the Bible reveals that, in God’s scheme of things, it is anything but a barren and unproductive place. It is a place rich with opportunities for encounter with the truth. It is a place where God’s people are invited to wake up both to themselves and to God…we have to acknowledge how adrift and unstable our lives really are.
- p.98, “It’s hard to imagine Jeremiah saying, ‘I have a passion for preaching and that’s why I’m willing to take all this abuse.’ Instead, what we find in both the Old and New Testament is the description of a group of people who would rather have been doing anything but preaching, yet found themselves in those figurative and literal pulpits because they couldn’t dodge the call of God.”