Just finished reading Resident Aliens for the first time after Jordon mentioned it a couple of months back. What really bugs me is that Hauerwas and Willimon wrote this back in 1989 and I’m only reading it now. Reading this book earlier could have saved me from making many mistakes over the past 17 years.
It’s now on my must-read list of pastoral theology books, and it’s one I’ll return to often. It ties together some of the themes that have occupied me in the past few years (such as theocentric preaching and dying to ourselves as churches). If you haven’t read it yet, it’s worth picking up.
Pastors with half a notion of the gospel who get caught up in this web of buying and selling in a self-fulfillment economy one day wake up and hate themselves for it. We will lose some of our (potentially) best pastors to an early grave of cynicism and self-hate. What a pastor needs is a means of keeping at it, a perspective that enables the pastor to understand his or her ministry as nothing less than participation in the story of God.
To the extent that the church and its leaders are willing to be held accountable to the story which is the gospel, ministry is the great adventure of helping to create a people worthy to tell the story and to live it. The faithful pastor keeps calling us back to God. In so doing, the pastor opens our imagination as a church, exposes us to a wider array of possibilities than we could have thought possible on our own.