Re-calibrating the Soul of Pastoral Ministry

Skye Jethani. Immeasurable: Reflections on the Soul of Ministry In The Age of Church, Inc. (Moody Publishers, Chicago. 2017) 215 pgs.


The American Evangelical church is easily tempted by shiny things. For decades now we have taught ourselves a theology of church and the spiritual life that is only tenuously connected to Scripture. In his collection of essays, Jethani calls this way of doing church, “Church, Inc.” and it is the thread that holds his series of wide-ranging reflections together.


Most pastors are honest enough to agree that the pressures they feel include the constant burdens of building a church that acts more like a successful (and franchised) business than a healthy flock of spiritual sheep. Gather pastors together, and it probably won’t be long before the metrics are brought out or the celebrity rises to the surface as the center of attention. Like everyone else, pastors and their congregations are drawn to typical definitions of success.


It follows that if a pastor, or any follower of Jesus Christ, wants to re-calibrate to Scripture and fellowship with their living Savior, they need other voices speaking into their situation. We need the minority report to be heard (and if we are blessed, it will become the majority view over time). Jethani capably talks about the shortcomings of the Church, Inc. way of doing things and provides wisdom and guidance in its place.


Jethani’s description of “Church, Inc.” is telling: “I call this sub-spiritual, mechanical approach to ministry ‘Church, Inc.’ It is shorthand for ministry devoid of mystery, for pastors who assume that the exercise of their calling is a matter of skill more than the gravity of their soul” (10). That is an important description for pastors in all shapes and sizes of ministry to hear. We are pressured by Church, Inc., so what does it look like and how can we combat it?


He wrestles with a wide-array of topics from ambition and effectiveness, to rest and celebrity. Most of the essays are short and can be read in a few minutes, leaving plenty of room for reflection. The book can be read in bits and pieces as an issue arises for the reader, or from cover to cover. There is a lot here that contemporary evangelical pastors need to work on. Immeasurable is a welcome addition to the much-needed, under-heeded minority report among pastors.

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