This book was written twenty five years ago but is timeless in its application.  It is the first of three books written on the work of pastors in North America.  The others are ‘Working the Angles’ and ‘Under the Unpredictable Plant’.  As the titles suggest these books are focused biblical exposition but they are full of spiritual theology, the author does not handle texts necessarily in a conventional way.  For some his style may need much concentration, but that discipline will repay rich dividends. This book calls for a return to the old resources that should be used in pastoral work.  In our day the quest to be effective stresses up to date training which stems from business practices and from new techniques developed from the behavioral sciences.  This book considers five core works of the pastor, first, prayer directing, secondly story making, then pain sharing, fourthly nay saying and finally the work of community building.  Some of these expressions may seem unusual but a reading and re reading of the book will make things abundantly clear and vital also.  The author handles these aspects of pastoral ministry by thoughtfully unfolding truths from the Song of Songs, the books of Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes and Esther.  He adapts common Jewish religious tradition as revealed in these books and applies the lessons to contemporary pastoral practice. In a day which is fascinated with fads and gimmicks with the church all to eager to get on the band wagon of whatever may appear to produce results, the books of Eugene Peterson are a breath of fresh air from ancient wisdom which God has always been willing to impart to those who will seek Him.  Often in the churches of today the biblical foundations are absent, there has been an erosion of the work of counsel, guidance, comfort and prayer, not to mention the building up of the body of Christ and this book encourages us to return to the ways which shall see churches established and nurtured as communities of God in the earth. 

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