Thursday, August 29, 2013

Pastors and the Centrality of The Gospel

Jared C. Wilson. The Pastor's Justification: Applying the Work of Christ in Your Life and Ministry. (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway 2013). 187 pages.

I really do believe the pastoral vocation is at a crisis moment. For too long we have been unable to biblically and faithfully answer the question, "Who is a pastor, anyway?" and so we have succumbed to models of leadership more suited to ice cream stand franchising than gospel proclamation.  Beginning with his own call to the ministry as a young age, and referencing his own evolution as a pastor, Jared Wilson does a wonderful job of dealing with the one thing necessary for the pastor's job - Christ and him crucified.

Jared Wilson is now all about the gospel though it wasn't always that way.  He notes that for a long time he was subject to the seeker sensitive model's way of  crafting a sermon and building a church.  His reflection on those years reveals that he was simply a moralist using Scripture to support his own wisdom.  But so it is, he argues, with any form of pastoring or preaching that does not begin and end with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

In two parts of the book he takes 1 Peter 5:1-11 and then the five Solas of the Reformation to talk about the vocation of pastor and the centrality of the gospel.  He writes with a great deal of clarity and unblinking honesty.  He warns pastors against being "lily-livered" more than once, gets after the leadership cult in evangelicalism (an insidious temptation!), speaks bravely about the temptation to power, and presses the pastor to find their right place under Christ and the gospel.  And throughout it all he encourages ministers to let the truth and power of the gospel permeate their entire ministry, not just their preaching.  Throw out the "how-to" models and "7 Easy Steps" in favor of the never-changing good news of Jesus Christ.

I have a great appreciation for a book like this because it is both accurate and timely.  It begins with God's Word and then builds a genuinely useful model of pastoral work.  Pastors would do well to give the ideas in this book a long hard look and see where they may need to alter their course in the direction of the gospel.

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