Letters to a Young Congregation: Nurturing the Growth of a Faithful Church

Reviewed by:

G. Connor Salter, Professional Writing alumnus from Taylor University, Upland, IN.


Letters to a Young Congregation: Nurturing the Growth of a Faithful Church


Eric E. Peterson


NavPress (in alliance with Tyndale House Publishers)


Publication Date:

June 2, 2020




224 pages


Pastoring churches is a hard job. As Eric Peterson notes in his introduction, congregations don’t just occasionally fall into problems caused by bad theology or bad behavior; those issues frequently come up and pastors have to always be ready to address them. In an attempt to help the young church plant he was pastoring, Peterson wrote monthly letters to his congregation. The letters, written over a period of twenty years, combine practical and inspirational advice to help congregants think about their spiritual priorities. This collection reprints many of those letters, organizing them into the following sections:

  • What My Life is About
  • What God is About
  • What the Church is About
  • What Following Jesus is About

This book was released at the same time as Letters to a Young Pastor, a collection of letters that Eric’s famous father Eugene wrote to him about pastoral work. Eric touches on many of the same topics his father explored, and their writing styles are fairly similar. Since Eric wrote these letters to a large group of people, they don’t have the same intimate style and he doesn’t go into the ideas as deeply as Eugene’s letters do. Where Eugene spent four or more pages developing an idea, Eric uses two to three pages. These limits aside, there is plenty of gold here. Throughout each chapter, Eric radiates humility and honesty, pushing readers to be honest with themselves. He addresses how tempting it is to avoid any pain in life, when in fact pain can be the best tutor sometimes. He considers how much subjective experiences affect us, and how part of the Christian life is realizing how much we don’t know in order to become more like Christ. Many times he considers the mystery of how God not only puts up with us, but loves us in spite of our foolishness. Other topics covered include learning to accept limits with age, practicing “mutual forbearance” with other Christians, and the need to be daily renewed by the Holy Spirit. Each time, Eric expresses his ideas in a refreshing way that nudges readers back to setting their eyes on God rather than on themselves.

Whether read alongside its companion book or by itself, Letters to a Young Congregation is an insightful piece of work.


Rating (1 to 5 stars)

4 stars

Suggested Audience

Readers interested in the life of a pastor and how pastors relate to their congregations.

Christian Impact

In pushing his readers to be honest with themselves and humbly rely on God, Peterson creates a vision for church communities where congregants can help each other carry their burdens.

Note: Readers interested in getting the full context of this book may wish to read it alongside Letters to a Young Pastor, a collection of letters between Eric Peterson and his father, Eugene. To read ECLA’s review of that book, go to: https://eclalibraries.org/2021/01/29/letters-to-a-young-pastor-timothy-conversations-between-father-and-son/

Letters to a Young Congregation: Nurturing the Growth of a Faithful Church

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