While so many older books offer classic, timeless help for those in the ministry, that in no way precludes the fact that some homerun volumes are still coming out today. I would like to share three that I have read recently plus two from last year:
1. Under The Predictable Plant by Eugene Peterson
His subtitle “An Exploration in Vocational Holiness” tells us where he is going in this incredible book. He uses the story of Jonah to chart a course for us where Jonah’s struggles show us the pitfalls before us today. He guides us to see that we have a well-defined vocation if we could cast off the fog of the world that would re-define it if we would allow. In a majority of pastors, sadly, this switch has already robbed us of our calling.
He nails it when he tells us our marketing mindset has run off the spiritual. We attempt a spiritual vocation without the spiritual and we were doomed from the start! Following modern trends he equates to idolatry. He says, “Our actual work takes shape under the pressure of the marketplace, not the truth of theology or the wisdom of spirituality.”
He takes needed shots at performance-based ministry. There he says, “The taste for God is debased into greed to be God. Being loved by God is twisted into a lust to God-performance.”
I love how he relates flashy Tarshish to the ministry of today as many perceive it. But he explains: “ …pastoral vocation is not glamorous vocation and that tarshish is a lie.” If this gets out, many may leave the ministry if they can’t squeeze glamour out of it! In fact, in every place possible he reminds us of how human congregations really are.
There is so much more and he relates how he learned some of this the hard way in his own pastorate. I plan on getting other Peterson books on the ministry!
- 2. The Sacred Wilderness of Pastoral Ministry by David Rohrer
Here is a book that seeks to remind us what the pastorate is really all about as we live in a world where pastors have lost their way. As he says, “We have a gospel to preach.” He uses John the Baptist to share these concepts with us. He places an emphasis where it should be: we are “preparing a people for the presence of the Lord.”
He warns against turning into a pretender. He says, “… we occasionally fall prey to those insecure moments when we allow the approval and disdain of our congregations to define us. When this happens, our goal in ministry degrades into making people happy or avoiding their wrath.”
When he writes about conflict, he gives great help. He shows that we often blow it because we see the conflict as against us personally and not against the Lord. That error will greatly raise your stress level.
He ends asking us if we can be like John and let it be only about Christ. This is likely the worst mistake we could make to fail here. He also says, “Yet humility allows us to acknowledge that neither the complimentary accolades nor the derisive criticisms are ever the final evaluations of our ministry.”
This is a great book!
3. The Six Deadly Sins of Preaching by Robert Reid and Lucy Hogan
I’m amazed this book is so good. I imagine I would disagree with the theology of these two writers on many points. Still, it holds we who preach to account and is incredibly convicting.
It will be enough to entice you for me to list these six sins:
The Pretender (The Problem on In-Authenticity)
The Egoist (The Problem of Self-Absorption)
The Manipulator (The Problem of Greediness)
The Panderer (The Problem of Trendiness)
The Demagogue (The Problem of Exploitation)
The Despot (The Problem of Self-Righteousness)
The sad part was that I felt traces of myself in almost every one of these! I suspect churchgoers would love for all of we pastors to read this volume!
4. Dangerous Calling by Paul Tripp
Every pastor needs to read this book. He pierces us until he gets our hearts. This book brought major conviction to my life.
Read here for a fuller, earlier review I did.
5. Leading On Empty by Wayne Cordeiro
Here was another book that met a personal need for me. Read it to be prepared for burnout that may come, or run and buy it if you already feel it.
Again, read here for an earlier review.
More in Series:
You can find all posts and books reviewed in this series in the Introductory Post.
<a title="Books On The Ministry #1" href="http://reaganreview.wordpress.com/2013/06/20/books-on-the-ministry-1/” target=”_blank”>Introductory Post