I’m reading Eugene Peterson’s memoir, “The Pastor” these days. It’s an excellent book, and quite timely for my own soul. There is so much that I would like to share, but what I just read struck me as especially poignant.

In a letter to a pastor friend who was pursuing a career in the megachurch world, Eugene wrote,

Classically, there are three ways in which humans try to find transcendence [God meaning]…apart from God as revealed in the cross of Jesus: through the ecstasy of alcohol and drugs, through the ecstasy of recreational sex, through the ecstasy of crowds. Church leaders frequently warn against the drugs and the sex, but, at least in America, almost never against the crowds. …But a crowd destroys the spirit as thoroughly as excessive drink and depersonalized sex.

What do you think of his diagnosis? Are crowds really as bad for the soul as drunkenness and fornication? He continued in the same letter,

I really do feel that crowds are a worse danger, far worse, than drink or sex, and pastors may be the only people on the planet who are in a position to encourage an imagination that conceives of congregation strategically not in terms of its size but as a congenial setting for becoming mature in Christ in a community, not a crowd.

What is the difference between a community and a crowd? Can a person become mature in Christ in a crowd?