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Comment: TITLE: PASTOR AS MINOR POETAUTHOR: BARNES, M CRAIGISBN 10: 0802829627ISBN 13: 9780802829627BINDING: PaperbackPUBLICATION DATE: 2009PAGES: 138DESCRIPTION: Used book in good or better condition. Transit time: 5-24 Days.
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The Pastor as Minor Poet: Texts and Subtexts in the Ministerial Life (Calvin Institute of Christian Worship Liturgical Studies) Paperback – December 30, 2008

4.8 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Walter Brueggemann
"Barnes knows all about being a pastor, how to use authority, how to lead, how to listen, and how to provoke. He knows, moreover, that it finally all comes down to faithful words that can conjure alternative scenarios of the future. In a society cold with technical reason, this summons to poetic truth is of huge importance."

About the Author

M. Craig Barnes is pastor of Shadyside Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His previous books are Yearning, Hustling God, and When God Interrupts.
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Product Details

  • Series: Calvin Institute of Christian Worship Liturgical Studies
  • Paperback: 154 pages
  • Publisher: Eerdmans (December 30, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802829627
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802829627
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #101,615 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Christopher Dorn on August 5, 2010
Format: Paperback
I read this book in almost one sitting. I was braced by it, finding many of its insights both instructive and helpful. I would recommend it to any pastor or aspiring pastor.

There are several of these insights worth pointing out. The phrase "it's just church" stood out to me. Barnes is right, it seems to me, in reminding us not to expect too much from the church, as if the church is Christ. He helped me in this connection to see the value of the distinction between the "visible" and "invisible" church, a distinction that in my opinion ecclesiology needs to recover.

I was especially impressed by his observation about the contemporary obsession over identity. I determine who I am by what I do; I cannot have a secure identity unless I find a profession that fulfills me. Whenever ones see the language of "calling" or "vocation" in the NT, it is always in reference to belonging to Christ. Our calling is to enjoy communion with Christ. This recognition could relieve the pressure under which many people labor in their pursuit of that spouse or that profession they believe constitutes their "calling."

The idea of pastor as minor poet is very helpful. When Barnes describes the task of the pastor as discerning the grace of God in the ordinary routines of people's lives, I found myself concurring with him. He's right in stressing that a pastor connects with people when he is able to participate in their mundane conversations about concerns which strike the idealistic recent seminary graduate as petty. The grace of God is found in the "petty." Christ is at work in the ordinary routines of people's lives, sanctifying them precisely in and through their routines. The examples he gives from his own pastoral experience were moving.
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Format: Paperback
Craig Barnes' new work, The Pastor as Minor Poet, says things that all pastors know, experientially and intuitively, but are afraid to say out loud! He pries open the interior life of the pastor as well as the life of the 21st century North American congregation. And the entrails of both seemed inflamed and in need of cure. The cure, for Dr. Barnes, is in the Word of God, the redemptive life of Jesus Christ, offered through "portals" from Scripture. Through these portals the pastor, the Minor Poet, seeks the cure. He connects the story of his life and the people' lives to the story of Christ's life as told, inspired by God, by the Major Poets, the Bibles' writers. Craig Barnes offers a hope and a vision for ministry that is at once vocationally satisfying and Scripturally faithful. I read it and smiled as I found the common places of ministry shared. I then repented as I saw where I had taken wrong approaches in treating the wounds of the flock of Christ. Sometimes I even paused and asked for courage to go on. In the end, I then thanked God for the calling to speak forth the Major Poets' words into this oftentimes dreary, verse-less world. I have been blessed by Barnes' books in the past, but I like this one the best. It is now a required reading for my students in pastoral theology class.
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Format: Paperback
Clearly based in real parish work, Barnes gives a thoughtful and creative image of the pastoral task. Of all the descriptions of pastoral work available out there (CEO, leader, shepherd, teacher, administrator, therapist, theologian, etc.), this is the only one I have found which simultaneously knows the deep frustrations and even deeper joys of pastoral work, and gives a image which can withstand them both. I would highly recommend this for any pastor, particularly those newly ordained or seeking a lasting and powerful understanding of the task.
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In my perfect world the kinds of books ministry majors in Bible colleges and seminaries would read are exemplified by this offering by Barnes. Instead of the corporate style leadership models and the slick gimmicking of church growth seminars, future pastors would soak in views of pastoring that begin and end with biblical influences and remain solidly against the reigning cultural models. Barnes has written such a book.

The goal, it seems, is to clarify a confusion pastors live with right now - what it means to be a pastor. It seems to be a great problem if men and women are entering professions they can't properly or deeply define, but I think he is right. We have simply let the role of pastor be defined for us in recent decades and we need to work to recover its true meaning.

The image Barnes uses to control the book is that of pastor as a "minor poet." Major poets are the larger-than-life biblical and historical figures who change almost everything, but the vast majority of us fit into the "minor poet" role as we work on translating the truths of God into a fuzzy and broken world. All in all, I think the metaphor is a helpful one. From time to time it seems a bit stretched, but it really comes home in some of the final chapters as Barnes uses T.S. Elliot's "The Three Voices of Poetry" to help define the pastoral vocation. I was surprised at how helpful that rubric was.

The book is short but important. If you are a pastor, I challenge you to pick up this book and others like it to re-ground your vocation and break away from the definitions placed on you from the outside. If you know someone wanting to be a pastor, give them this book and see how it strikes them. I found it encouraging, helpful and needful at the same time.
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