Here are four more excellent titles–two for preaching and two for pastoring; two newer titles, one about 20 years old, and one from the 1920s. This makes 40 reviewed in this series. Be sure to click on the link at the bottom to see the previous entries.
1. The Art Of Pastoring by David Hansen
I have enjoyed on occasion a good how-to book, but I am thrilled to read of “ministry without all the answers.” It is good to read that is how it really is, especially as it so matches my own experience. He shows how neither trend-driven ministry nor task-driven ministry are the same as the pastoral ministry given us by Christ. Read what he means when he says the pastor is a parable of Jesus Christ and you will both agree and be challenged. He says, “Jesus’ ministry is so simple that most pastors consider it naive. Word. Prayer. Friendship. Sacrament. Leadership. That’s all.” He’s right!
On our call he says, “Preparation for pastoral ministry involves two things: learning to listen to the Bible and learning to listen to a human being.” Some things are more simple than we have imagined, aren’t they? Further, he says, “At issue is self-denial. Those who will suffer self-denial are parables of Jesus and are pastors. Those who will not are hirelings and thieves.” Blunt? Yes. True? Yes.
He says too, “It is easy to confuse loving being around people with actually loving people. The two are very different. Love of the experience of people is a form of self-gratification.” Ouch! Or how about “Ministry without love is vanity”?
He is so honest, so real. He accurately describes the ministry as going through the wilderness unprotected. There is so much beyond our control. We must be led by the Holy Spirit. There is so much more.
His chapter on preaching alone is worth the price of the book. I pretty much underlined the whole chapter.
We should all hear his discussion on though we can be a parable of Christ, we can’t be a symbol of God. That discussion would rescue many a misspent ministry.
How on earth did I just recently find this 20 year old book? It is pure gold!
2. The Life of Alexander Whyte by G. F. Barbour
Never overlook biography when seeking out great reading on the ministry. Particularly, as the case is here, if the ministry is the focal point of the biography. There is much to learn from those who simply gave their lives to the preaching of God’s Word. Alexander Whyte was such a man. Warren Wiersbe wrote of the value of this book and I am glad I took his recommendation. He warned that it starts a little a little slow and then becomes a joy to read. He is right.
Wiersbe also praised the chapter “Dr. Whyte In Study And Pulpit.” I agree with his commendation. Whyte said, “The pulpit is a jealous mistress, and will not brook a divided allegiance.” How seriously he took the arduous task of making worthwhile sermons! He felt laziness in study was the one “unpardonable sin” of the ministry. He, the pastor of a good-sized congregation, said we have time for study if we will be “Sufficiently jealous” of that time. You will be challenged!
At over 650 pages, this will not be read in an hour, but the time invested will yield great benefit.
3. He Is Not Silent by Albert Mohler, Jr.
Dr. Mohler is well-known for his perceptive analysis of Christianity in the postmodern era. Beyond the quirks of this generation that we preachers should understand, the timeless need remains: preaching. In trying to reach this culture we are robbing it of the answer: expository preaching. We are losing by giving felt-needs drivel instead of the life-changing Word of God!
Addressed from the angles of worship, theology, doctrine, and the mysteries, he makes a trenchant case for expository preaching. He contends that expository preaching is the only real preaching there is. The epilogue on Spurgeon is fine too.
This volume may or may not be a classic in 100 years, but it is spot on about our day.
4. The Pastor’s Guide to Leading & Living by O.S. Hawkins
Here is a real How-To book. It covers most aspects of the ministry quite well. It is like an updated Criswell Guidebook For Pastors will a little more big-picture perspective. In fact I call your attention to the chapter on perspective (5), the one on parenting (16), and especially the one on the prize (26).
Read it through, or keep handy for a reference, and you will be blessed either way.
Find all articles in the series here.