Eugene Peterson, author of The Message, spent a day with the delegates of Classis Yellowstone, a regional group of Christian Reformed churches.
Peterson was part of a continuing education event at this meeting in Missoula, Mont.
“When you have someone who is almost 80 years old, filled with wisdom of years of pastoring, church planting, teaching, you are humbled,” said Del Vandenberg, stated clerk of the classis. “More so you are blessed with the living proof that God is faithful to those who serve him.”
Peterson has a number of connections in Classis Yellowstone, one being his longtime friend Tom McClanahan, a member of First Christian Reformed Church in Salt Lake City, Utah.
McClanahan said Peterson didn’t want to spend the day talking about stuff he’d already written, but that he wanted to have a conversation with the pastors and elders.
Peterson spoke about pastoral excellence and church planting. “One of the things I really liked about our meeting was that we got to see how, in their ministry, he and his wife have embodied a discipleship of presence,” said Mark Hofman, pastor of Bethel Christian Reformed Church in Manhattan, Mont. “They don’t sit detached, somewhere high up, spewing information. [They] were almost more interested in hearing our stories than they were in telling us theirs, which was incredibly humbling.”
Hofman found Peterson’s reflections from his book The Pastor especially helpful. “What he did so well in that book was talk about pastoral identity as a process. As someone who recently graduated, we were bombarded with the need, before we graduated, to have a pastoral identity,” Hofman said. “What I appreciated was hearing from someone with as much experience as Eugene saying, ‘this takes an entire lifetime.’”