Book Review – The Art of Pastoring by David Hansen

Ministry Without All The Answers

I enjoy reading books that go against the natural grain of my personality. They challenge me and give me a fresh perspective. For me, this was one of those books. My personality is very analytical, process driven, and task-oriented. Most books on pastoral ministry fit well with what my personality naturally gravitates to as they deal with the process and programs to grow a church or the principles of leadership to lead a congregation. This book, however, deals with the heart of pastoral ministry.

The focus of the book is not what a pastor does so much as what a pastor is. It is relational. It is practical, although it doesn’t give you ten steps or an outline. It is about being, not about doing. This is a side of pastoral ministry, I would dare say, we all need to pay more attention to; for our sake and for the sake of our family and the precious people we pastor.

I will leave you with a few quotes that I thought especially notable and a recommendation to read the book if you desire to have the heart of a pastor. [Buy the book on Amazon.]

The pastoral ministry is a life, not a technology.

My life as a pastor is far more than the sum of the tasks that I carry out. It is a call from God that involves my whole life.

Task-driven ministry elevates the method above the Spirit. It subjugates our life with Christ to management technologies. Our day is divided into hours and tasks rather than opportunities to do God’s will. The problem is that when I fine-tune my week I am out of harmony with the kingdom of God.

The pastoral ministry cannot be employer-driven, trend-driven, or task-driven. Pastoral ministry must be following Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ called me to this work, and following Him must be integral to realizing His calling.

Jesus understood from the beginning that His was a life of sacrifice. His life flowed toward the cross at all times. He never climbed ladders of success. The devil showed Him plenty. The people begged Him to climb. But Jesus rejected ladders and consistently chose the downward road to sacrifice.

Sent to See

John 9

The sent One sends one to wash in the waters called ‘sent.’

The one sent went his way blind but came His way seeing. From the waters the one sent returns to the sent One, seeing now who He is.

Now those who knew the one sent couldn’t believe their eyes. Is this the one who cannot see? It looks like him but cannot be. Until the one sent spoke, ‘I am he.’

Now we have the Pharisees who think they see but are actually blind and cannot see from where the sent One came.

But the one sent by the sent One who once was blind but now can see can easily tell that He was sent by God even if the Pharisee was blind to see that this truth was plain.

If when One is sent the Light is seen, then naturally, from God the sent One and the one sent must have came.

This Truth I was sent to see!

Review: The Apache Wars

The Apache Wars: The Hunt for Geronimo, The Apache Kid, and the Captive Boy Who Started the Longest War in American History

It appears that the length of the title and subtitle of a book is directly correlated to how long it will take me to read the book. I have been working on this one for months. Not because it is poorly written; for the history enthusiast it is thrilling. Perhaps the length is partly to blame as it is four hundred plus pages. Let’s blame my busy schedule and bad habit of starting twenty-three books at a time.

Paul Hutton is considered one of the great scholars of western Americana and he writes with great knowledge and detail. He brings every story to life on the pages. This is the story of the Apache’s long fight against Mexico and the United States with a focus on several of the major players. You certainly did not learn it all in history class.

If you enjoy American history, you will enjoy this book. If you enjoy tales of bravery, you will enjoy this book. If you enjoy the quest to understand the deep ironies of history and how they always seem to repeat themselves, you will enjoy this book.

Happy Reading!

Knowing Facts Will Not Save You

A chemist, lost and wondering in the sun baked desert, crazed with thirst, can mumble with thick tongue through cracked lips the chemical formula for water. The facts he knows well. But the facts won’t save him. He longs for the influence of water, the refreshment rushing through him like a river as water pours down his throat, washing the heat from his body and the madness from his brain. Only the influence of water will save him.

Likewise, knowing the facts of the Gospel will not save you. You must be influenced by its soul saving power and continue to be influenced. 

Do not settle for knowing where the well is. Go to the well. Drink deep. Drink often.

Book Review: Reaching Millennials by David Stark

In Reaching Millennials: Proven Methods for Engaging a Younger Generation, David Stark writes from his personal experience in church leadership and church consulting alongside information and statistics from interviews and research. His writing is easy to read and the book is brief.

I struggle with a good bit of Stark’s conclusions in this book. While I believe that Stark is correct in writing that outreach to millennials requires a change in some thinking patterns, I do not believe that churches should change to fully accommodate any particular demographic. There should be a clear distinction between message and method. The message never changes. And the methods that the church uses to proclaim the message should represent a balance of tradition and relevance that meets the needs of a particular community.

I am undecided whether I would recommend Reaching Millennials. While Stark shares some important thoughts and statistics, his approach seems like it could further encourage the entitlement of millennials. Church leaders could learn from Reaching Millennials, but should not forgo Biblical tradition, firm doctrine, and the interests of other demographics.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Praise for Pleasure

Let them praise his name in the dance: let them sing praises unto him with the timbrel and harp. For the LORD taketh pleasure in his people… Psalm 149:3-4

If I never had another reason to praise, this should be enough. God takes pleasure in His people when they are dancing and singing to the praise of His name!

We struggle when we make praise and worship about us; when we seek our own pleasure or benefit rather than the pleasure of God. Praise must not be based on my feelings or circumstances. It is based only on His being worthy.

Don’t (just) praise Him because you feel good. Don’t (just) praise Him because you want to feel good. Don’t (just) praise for your pleasure. Praise Him for His pleasure. 

He loves it when you sing and dance to the praise of His name!