Friday, April 15, 2011

Great Book on Pastoring

"A sermon is not thoughts about the Bible. Preachers make war on the human heart."

"Computer chips get hot--they use energy--because processing the input and rearranging it into a new form is a lot of work. Likewise, sermon meditation takes time, and it is hard work. Just sitting there (looking like you're doing nothing), contemplating the Scriptures, is some of the hardest work of the week. Rushing through Scripture meditation causes shallow sermons."

"The people of God will follow the pastor who feeds them the Word of God.... Even the delinquent son has an uncanny sense of when dinner's on, and he knows he will not be refused."

Those are some thoughts on preaching from one of my favorite books on pastoral ministry, The Art of Pastoring: Ministry without All the Answers, by David Hansen.

The Art of Pastoring is simply divided into various aspects of a pastor's ministry, such as "Call," "Eschatology," "Preaching," "Prayer," "Friendship," "Sacrament," "Leadership," etc.

His argument is that the key to successful pastoral ministry is authentically following Jesus: "The thesis of this book is that people meet Jesus in our lives because when we follow Jesus, we are parables of Jesus Christ to the people we meet. This book is a description of the pastor as a parable of Jesus Christ" (11).

For 10 years Hansen served as pastor, simultaneously, of two small churches but very different churches in the Bitterroot Valley of Montana. Each chapter is helpfully illustrated with his experiences during that time.

Hansen does for me what Eugene Peterson's books on the same topic do for me; he gives me perspective on pastoring, a refreshing perspective, which provides encouragement and joy in my pastoral task. I benefit from every chapter (this was my second time through the book). Even his chapter on Leadership, a topic I generally deplore, is brilliant.

Two other of my favorites are The Contemplative Pastor (Eugene Peterson) and Left Behind in a Megachurch World: How God Works through Ordinary Churches (Ruth Tucker) [only $2.99 at CBD!].

My rating (out of 5): 5

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