Peter Scazzero stands on the steps outside New Life Fellowship in New York City swilling coffee between services. Queens Boulevard is a sidewalk away, and the people ascending and descending the steps seem to come from every nation under heaven. Scazzero breaks from a conversation momentarily to flag down a passing church member. "Hey, Miao!" he shouts to a woman on the other side of the sea of people. "Good to see you again. Let's talk later!"
This is where the Italian-American, New York-born-and-raised pastor seems most comfortable. But he wasn't always this at ease. Twenty years ago he was in his mid-30s, already pining for retirement, a ministry workaholic in a church rife with conflict.
That's when a series of events led him to what he calls "emotionally healthy spirituality." The new focus revitalized him, his marriage, and his church. Drew Dyck spoke with Scazzero about his journey and the kinds of practices that led to his transformation.
Early in your ministry you had some experiences that compelled you to seek emotional health and spiritual transformation. What were they?
What precipitated my transformation was simple: things were not going well at church or at home. Five or six years after planting New Life we were growing and people were coming to Christ. But people were not changing deeply. It really showed when there was stress and conflict in the church. It was clear to me that we had a big problem. Initially I looked at everybody else and said, "They aren't changing!" We had a lot of people saying they were on fire for Jesus, but they were still arrogant, still proud, still nursing conflicts like they were 12 years old. I thought to myself, Something's not right here.
So I started doing everything I could to help ...