Today I’ve been re-reading a few chapters of Eugene Peterson’s ‘Five Smooth Stones for Pastoral Work’ (which by the way he describes as: Prayer-Directing, Story-making, Pain-sharing, Nay-saying, and Community-building). In the introduction Eugene gives the following wonderful description of the importance of Pastoral Ministry:
Pastoral work takes Dame Religion by the hand and drags her into the everyday world, introducing her to friends, neighbors, and associates. Religion left to herself is shy, retiring, and private; or she is decorative and proud– a prima donna. But she is not personal and she is not ordinary. The pastor insists on taking her where she must mix with the crowd.
When pastoral work is slighted, religion tends, among some, to become gaudy with ceremonial, among others to get cubbyholed as a private emotion. In either case she still does many things well: her theology can be profound, her meditations mystic, her moral counsels wise, her liturgies splendid. But until she is dragged into the common round she is not alive with Good News nor does she have a chance to put her ideas and beliefs to use, testing them out in actual life-situations.
Pastoral work is the aspect of Christian ministry which specalizes in the ordinary … It is the ministry in mufti.”