The Sacred Wilderness of Pastoral Ministry
Pastors often find themselves struggling to survive in the wilderness of the contemporary church scene. How do they remain faithful in light of the marginalization of organized religion, denominational strife, rapid demographic change, falling numbers and a general malaise among church members? Many pastors feel helpless, others hopeless. Sociologists and pollsters diagnose the problem but can't seem to come up with a solution. Is there hope?
Author and pastor David Rohrer believes there is. John the Baptist also lived in the wilderness, yet crowds journeyed there to hear him. Why? Because John "affirmed what people already knew: that they were in desperate need of something more than the mundane practices of a religion that had been cut off from its source of life." John called people to remember their covenant relationship with God, which was established in the wilderness, and to let God guide them once again across the Jordan and into the Promised Land.
Pastors, says Rohrer, "don't primarily exist to build and maintain the institution of the church. We exist to do a particular work through the church. In short, we don't simply have an institution to create, refine or maintain; we have a gospel to preach." John's prophetic voice prepared hearts to be receptive to Christ's work among them, to be transformed by the power of God. Herein lies hope!
Using illustrations from everyday church life and decades of ministry experience, Rohrer carefully crafts a lively and realistic pastoral theology for ministry in the sacred wilderness. If you are a new pastor you have a sure guide here. If you are a veteran preacher you'll find just the refresher course you need to invigorate your ministry.
"David Rohrer writes like Eugene Peterson. Just as Peterson used Jonah's story to call a generation of pastors to 'vocational holiness,' so Rohrer uses John the Baptist's story to call this generation of pastors to point to Jesus. In our look-at-me culture where congregations glorify pastors, this book should be required reading for all who wish to 'make ready a people prepared for the Lord.'"
"I work with pastors and seminarians every day and truly believe that there are few vocations which are more challenging. David Rohrer not only captures an authentic portrait of the often conflicted life and work of a pastor but points us in a direction of new vision, hope, healing and joy for the journey--all birthed from the unlikely story of John the Baptist. This is a refreshingly honest and biblically faithful book, and I will be recommending it not only to pastors and seminarians but also to anyone who loves the church and church leaders."
"This is a quiet and compelling witness of a pastor who has the courage to go against the consumer-driven, anxious and statistics-obsessed fashions that are a plague on the American church. Pastor David Rohrer doesn't underestimate the difficulties and challenges that face churches and pastors today but has chosen to cultivate a pastoral presence rooted in treating congregations with dignity and souls with holy respect. And he has lived to tell the story. Pastors, read this book. Friends, it is possible to do this."
"Being a pastor is a hard, weird and wonderful privilege of God's grace. Dave Rohrer honestly explores these realities in ways that hold together the tensions and hopes of a pastoral vocation. This candid book is as encouraging as it is sobering."
"From beginning to end, Rohrer is honest and transparent. He speaks openly from his own mistakes through nearly 30 years of ministry, his own temptations to 'settle for providing people with the religion they want rather than the truth they need.' All of this makes The Sacred Wilderness of Pastoral Ministry a timely invitation into a richer and deeper calling of giving witness to Christ and his kingdom."
1. Consolation: Being the Parson Versus Making Ready a People
2. Call: God?s Work Versus Our Vision
3. Covenant: Proclaiming the Good News Versus Managing the Message
4. Commission: Accepting Our Office Versus Cultivating Loyalty
5. Context: Inhabiting a Place Versus Propagating a Program
6. Confrontation: Inviting Awareness Versus Administering Anesthesia
7. Conflict: Trusting Truth Versus Fearing Instability
8. Confusion: Risking Doubt Versus Denying Dissonance
9. Confidence: Receiving God?s Blessing Versus Seeking Approval
Postscript: It's Not About You. . . . Or Is It?