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

4.3 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews
Book 1 of 4 in the Pastoral Series

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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

Originally published in 1980 and now being reprinted to meet continuing demand, 'Five Smooth Stones for Pastoral Work' shows how five Old Testament books provide a solid foundation for much of what a pastor does.

About the Author

Eugene H. Peterson was a longtime pastor and is professor emeritus of spiritual theology at Regent College, Vancouver, British Columbia. His many other acclaimed books include Tell It Slant, The Jesus Way, Eat This Book, and the contemporary translation of the Bible titled The Message.,
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 251 pages
  • Publisher: Eerdmans; Reprint edition (October 22, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802806600
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802806604
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #157,477 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I needed this book for a course and loved it. Peterson's writing is poetic while at the same time down to earth. He teaches profound wisdom in simple ways. I think that description would make a good job description for pastors if we could only learn to do so as well as Peterson does. I have a better idea of the kind of pastor I want to be and how to be that pastor, thanks to Peterson's writing. In the book, Peterson looks at five books of the Bible (Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, and Esther) that are often, sadly, overlooked and shows us the wonders they offer. He applies the truths of these books to the role of the pastor. The wisdom within these books touch the heart of the day to day work of a pastor in relation to those in the congregational community.
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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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Every clergy needs a planned strategy for work and personal life. Ranks well with other self-help books on the topic. Peterson is a descriptive, honest, and positive author.

Sender did good job getting it out on time.
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Format: Paperback
Eugene Peterson is a man with immense wisdom and experience in pastoral matters. In this book, he passes on a portion of this in an engaging and thoughtful way. There is much in this book that is helpful to ministers, even though Peterson's practical advice is not matched in quality by his biblical exegesis.

I was thrilled at the very idea of this book, but felt that it did not live up to its promise. Peterson examines the five "Megilloth" scrolls. These are Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes and Esther - all books in the Writings, the third section of the Hebrew canon. In his very readable introduction, Peterson compares pastoral work to constructing a building using stones already on the site. He notes that the Megilloth, though seemingly modest, were 'recycled' in this fashion, each being read annually at the five main acts of worship.

Peterson views Ecclesiastes and Songs of Songs as being in tension with the feasts on which they were read, while Lamentations and Esther were read in a context of commemorating the events referred to in those books. This suggests that Peterson may be forcing the issue in attempting to connect the five scrolls to their corresponding settings. We do not, in fact, know how the choice was made with some of the Megilloth, and Peterson is indulging in speculation.

Even though Peterson's methods of deducing practical lessons may be questionable, his pastoral wisdom is not. Clever as his analysis might be, the practical advice that can be garnered from Five Smooth Stones is superior to its exegesis. In his chapter on Lamentations, for example, Peterson argues that one's response to suffering must be anchored in the appropriate historical context.
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