We have lost imagination in ministry

I have no sense of imagination. I will miss Eugene Peterson.

Peterson saw pastors moving from church to church, often in exhaustion, and identified the problem—a sense of pastor as program director for a church that often viewed the gospel as a way to success, or at least avoidance of suffering. His answer was a paradigm shift, but not the kind found in ministry self-help bestsellers.

“The paradigm shift is not accomplished by a change of schedule, attending a ministry workshop, or getting fitted in a new suit of spiritual disciplines—although any or all of these might be useful,” he wrote. “It is the imagination that must shift, the huge interior of our lives that determines the angle and scope of our vocation. A long, prayerful soak in the biblical imaginations of Ezekiel and St. John, those antitheses to flat-earth programmatics, is a place to start.” From this article.

Psalms and prayer

To pray is to first listen. Prayer is about giving attention.

Eugene Peterson notes in As Kingfishers Catch Fire that there are five books of Psalms and each book has a concluding thought. Five books in one. Five conclusions.

We realize our Hebrew ancestors wisely arranged this book of prayers to protect us from presumptuous prayer. Presumptuous prayer speaks to God without first listening to him. Presumptuous prayers obsessively, anxiously, or pretentiously multiply human words to God with, at best, a distracted, indifferent, or fitful interest in God’s words to us. But God speaks to us before we speak to him. If we pray without first listening, we pray out of context. — Eugene Peterson

prayer mary