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Meeting People’s Needs

From William Willimon’s “Pastor: The Theology and Practice of Ordained Ministry”:

“My colleague Stanley Hauerwas has accused the contemporary pastor of being little more than ‘a quivering mass of availability.’ Practicing what I have called ‘promiscuous ministry’–ministry with no internal, critical judgment about what care is worth giving–we become the victims of a culture of insatiable need. We live in a capitalist, consumptive culture where there is no purpose to our society other than ‘meeting needs.’ The culture gives us the maximum amount of room and encouragement to ‘meet our needs’ without appearing to pass judgment on which needs are worth meeting. The capitalist, big-is-better mentality infects our pastoral work as we labor to increase the size of our congregation through our care, to move up the ladder of pastoral appointments, to be a ‘success’ as this culture defines it. In this vast supermarket of desire, we pastors must do more than simply ‘meet people’s needs.’ The church also is about giving people the critical means of assessing which needs give our lives meaning, about giving us needs we would not have had if we had not met Jesus.”

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