The Contemplative Pastor


Author Eugene Peterson (The Message Bible) has long been a voice for reformation in pastoral ministry within the westernized church. His book, The Contemplative Pastor: Returning to the Art of Spiritual Direction (1989), was one of the first tools Jesus used several years ago to get my undivided attention. I’m sure there might have been other ways the Master could have revealed my long-time 3-B Pastor condition; where I measured my success (or failure) by measuring the size of (B)uildings my church worshiped in, the amount of (B)ucks collected in the weekly offering, and the number of (B)utts in the seats. But thanks to Eugene Peterson, I now have a viable option (becoming a contemplative pastor) once I decided that I now longer wanted to be the 3-B Pastor I had been for nearly 30 years!

So, for those of you who just might be considering dropping out of the 3-B pastoral race or have already done so, I invite you to blog your way along with me through Peterson’s classic. We’ll take 37 sessions and I truly welcome your comments and feedback along the way. Heck, as a spiritual director to pastors, I’d love to walk you through the book in that capacity as well. Regardless…enjoy the challenge and pass it on. As I see it, Peterson was serving as a prophet to the Americanized church when he wrote this book back in 1989. His words are as pertinent today as they were 25+ years ago.


Pastor Marty Boller

Below, you will find a complete list of all 37 blogs in our series through The Contemplative Pastor. All of these blogs are stored at You will need to register for a free account with them to access the files. Go to to begin the process and then, we suggest you bookmark this master page for ease of use. Enjoy!


Session One.    An Introduction.

Session Two.    A Seed-Planter of Well-Doing.

Session Three.   Job One: Simply Being There.

Session Four.   Living in the Mature Wholeness of the Gospel.

Session Five.   Lives Operating in Grace.

Session Six.   Two Pastors Recognizing Amazing Grace.

Session Seven.   Speaking God into God-less Situations.

Session Eight.   And God Then Said, “Let There Be Creativity”.

Session Nine.   Specific Acts of Christian Subversion.

Session Ten.   Forsaking the 3-B’s of Church, Inc.

Session Eleven.   It’s All About Me. NOT!

Session Twelve.   Stop Chasing God’s Chickens.

Session Thirteen.   The Pastor: What’s In the Name?

Session Fourteen.   The Pastor: Give Me Three Words.

Session Fifteen.   The Unbusy Pastor: Blasphemous Anxiety, Anyone?

Session Sixteen.   The Unbusy Pastor: Facing Vanity & Laziness.

Session Seventeen.   The Unbusy Pastor: Leading Others Beside Still Waters.

Session Eighteen.   The Unbusy Pastor: Praying. Preaching. Listening.

Session Nineteen.   The Subversive Pastor: Undercover for Jesus.

Session Twenty.   The Subversive Pastor: Undermining the Kingdom of Self.

Session Twenty-One.   The Subversive Pastor: The Fine Art of Subversion.

Session Twenty-Two.   The Subversive Pastor: Shadow Work.

Session Twenty-Three.   The Apocalyptic Pastor: Thunder & Lightning Anyone?

Session Twenty-Four.   The Apocalyptic Pastor: Avoiding a Career in Religious Sales.

Session Twenty-Five.   The Apocalyptic Pastor: A Man or Woman of Prayer.

Session Twenty-Six.   The Apocalyptic Pastor: Crafting Our Words Carefully.

Session Twenty-Seven.   The Apocalyptic Pastor: Keep Showing Up.

Session Twenty-Eight.   A Pastoral Reformation: The Care & Cure of Souls.

Session Twenty-Nine.   Praying With Eyes Wide Open.

Session Thirty.   Real Church 101. Learning How to Practice the Presence of God.

Session Thirty-One.    Humble Boldness – Bold Humility.

Session Thirty-Two.    ‘Tis the Gift to Be Simple.

Session Thirty-Three.   The Issues of Sin and Sinner.

Session Thirty-Four.   The Hireling vs. The Shepherd.

Session Thirty-Five.   Sabbaticals: Not Just for Wimps.

Session Thirty-Six.   Pastors and Poets.

Session Thirty-Seven.   Closing Thoughts.

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