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Five Smooth Stones for Pastoral Work Paperback – October 22, 1992


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 241 pages
  • Publisher: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company; Reprint edition (October 22, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802806600
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802806604
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #142,116 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Peterson, now retired, was for many years James M. Houston Professor of Spiritual Theology at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia. He also served as founding pastor of Christ Our King Presbyterian Church in Bel Air, Maryland. In addition to his widely acclaimed paraphrase of the Bible, The Message (NavPress), he has written many other books.

Customer Reviews

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This book should be in the library of every pastor.
Amazon Customer
We're loved by a Lover who knows us, who calls us by name, who desires us to become one with Him in the intimacy of love.
Gerard Reed
This book by its very nature necessitates an emphasis on practical pastoral application.
John Stevenson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

67 of 70 people found the following review helpful By Harold Berciunas on May 29, 2000
Format: Paperback
Eugene Peterson is my mentor's mentor, and has become mine as well. His insight and mastery at the art of crafting words makes all of his books easy, enjoyable and highly challanging resources for spiritual formation, especially for the pastor.
In Five Smooth Stones, Peterson challanges us as pastors to lead our people through five somewhat obsure books of the Old Testament. These five books, Song of Solomon, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Ruth and Esther are wonderful tools for discovering some of the most important elements of Christian community.
In Song of Solomon, Peterson illuminates the challanges for us to seek intimacy in our personal relationships - but most of all intimacy with our God through prayer. In Lamentations, we are led to give validity to suffering. We are challenged to live out the full scope of suffering with each other in the midst of community, ultimatly being fully dependant upon the God who sustains us.
In Ecclesiastes, everything under the sun/Son is given meaning and time.
In Ruth, our commitments to community and to each other are emphasised. The power of going beyond what is required or expected are powerful tools that God uses to build true community, and even bring forth Messiah.
Esther is the call to community through taking risks for the sake of God's people, realizing that God would raise up another, if we choose not to not be a part of God's plan.
I have used this book as a primary resource for preaching these texts. As a pastor of a small rural church, and having worked in large suburban churches, I highly recomend this powerful resource to all who want to grow in spiritual depth and Christian community.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE on March 8, 2004
Format: Paperback
Eugene Peterson does not call us to practical ministry. He offers much more, a pastoral theology. In this particular volume he digs into several Old Teatament texts and encourages pastors to engage the work of Prayer-Directing, Story-Making, Pain-Sharing, Nay-Saying, and Community-Building. These themes have the capability of reigniting that inner passion for ministry and restoring that God-given youthful vision to the pastor who has become worn down from trying to run the church as a business. This book should be in the library of every pastor.
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful By John Stevenson on December 27, 2006
Format: Paperback
The title of this book is somewhat misleading. It was a pleasant surprise to learn that the various chapters are a pastoral tour through the Megilloth, the five short books that are read at five of the Jewish annual religious observances.

This book by its very nature necessitates an emphasis on practical pastoral application. The various books of the Megilloth are studied insofar as they contribute to this emphasis. The Song of Solomon directs our congregations in prayer and praise, Ruth reminds them that they are part of God's ongoing story, Lamentations speaks to them in their pain, Ecclesiastes speaks to a life of wisdom (in page 154 a late date is accepted for the writing of this book for which Solomon has no part), and Esther is said to speak to community-building.

Peterson still seems to have the same chip on his shoulder that was expressed in his book "Working the Angles." In his introduction he states his opinion that Christian writers of the 20th century have little to commend themselves in assisting in the development of the pastoral craft. One wonders if this lack of commendation also applies to his writings, or only to everyone else's. Once he enters the body of his subject, he succeeds in finding pastoral applications to the five books of the Megilloth. At the same time, he seems to take no pastoral responsibility for the growth of a church, instead claiming that "congregations are large when there is social approval to be part of a religious establishment, small when there is not" (Page 209). Perhaps he has not read Carl George's book.

This books succeeds in reminding us to use these and other books of the Bible in the work of shepherding; to always connect such study to the congregation. Or as Peterson puts it: "After the Bible, the church roll is the most important book in the pastor's study" (Page 48).
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Format: Paperback
In the first of his several books on pastoral ministry, Peterson encourages pastors to return to the "old resource," the Bible, as the sole authoritative source for the task. Instead of looking to the latest ministry fad or to modern-day behavioral sciences such as psychology and sociology, the Bible should be the basis or "foundation stone" (page 239) for all of pastoral ministry. In support of his argument, Peterson gives concrete evidence of how five particular books of the Bible have a definite pastoral tone to them.

Instead of using the Pastoral Epistles or other more obvious pastoral-themed books of the New Testament, Peterson instead uses five Old Testament books to prove his point. The five "gem stones" (239) he uses are the "more modest materials" (14) known as the Megilloth, the five scrolls in the Hebrew Bible that Jews and Christians recognize as Song of Songs/Solomon, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes and Esther. Since the 8th or 9th-century A.D., or even as far back as the Second Temple period (516 B.C.-70 A.D.), one of these books were read at a particular and annual Jewish act of corporate worship. According to Peterson, each book contained a certain pastoral theme whereby a historical event gave a contemporary meaning (14-17).

While readily admitting that these five, less prominent Old Testament writings are not "cornerstones" for pastoral work, Peterson argues that they are not "inconsequential pebbles" either. The books, which cover a "remarkable amount" (but not everything) of what a pastor does, are "substantial and useful as foundation stones under pastoral work," and therefore, "are highly serviceable for pastoral use" (17).
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