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Many years have passed since the congregation of the Mount Pleasant Baptist Church of Ambler, Pennsylvania, gave a reception for me and my family. I was their new minister, fresh out of seminary, eagerly pursuing graduate study at the University of Pennsylvania, ready to set the church and world aright.

While welcoming me during that event, the spokesman for the board of deacons, a Christian along in years, concluded with these words: "You have become our minister; so our Sunday bulletins and stationery state. While you are here, I hope you will also become our pastor."

As a young man, I regarded the metaphor of "pastor" lightly. The minister as counselor? Excellent. Teacher? Superb. Administrator? Prestigious. But pastor? Quaint. We no longer lived in a rural world, but in a technological society. Shepherding imagery, I reasoned, was archaic.

How mistaken I was! Life increasingly has become dominated by things and those who make, fix, adjust, or destroy them. Many have a growing sense that ...

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