David Hansen, The Art of Pastoring: Ministry Without All The Answers, Revised Edition. (Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Press, 2012). 219 pages.
I read this book in a day and a half. I never do that, but the Forward intrigued me and the book quickly pulled me in. I am interested in the role of Pastor - how to define it, what it looks like from day to day, who the Pastor stands responsible to, and so on. I am convinced that with the past 30 years (at least) of the corporatization of the pastoral vocation, we stand in an arid landscape and don't know exactly where to find water.
Hansen's book is water in a dry land. Hansen refuses to be boxed in by the all too common expectations every modern pastor knows, and instead, has his eyes on Christ and Christ's ministry to people. My experience resonates with his when he says, "When I began the pastoral ministry, I had lots of books prescribing pastoral ministry - the so-called how-to books. I had books on how to preach, how to administrate a church, how to do pastoral counseling and how to lead small groups. They didn't help me" (pg 11). Each chapter addresses an important component to the pastor's ministry as he discusses things like the pastor's call, preaching, prayer, and leadership. Within each chapter his experiences as pastor of a yoked parish in Montana plays the central role, but as he makes clear the stories he relates are about the theology that shape them.
Pastors need to leave the dry land of management techniques and rediscover the fertile soil of Christ's kingdom among us. Hansen is clear about his relationship with what we would call vision and mission statements, and he would rather see a pastor reading theology and preaching Christ. You can't go wrong if you learn how to preach Christ from the pulpit.
In my opinion Hansen wrote a necessary book 20 years ago and I am thankful for its new edition and my fortuitous discovery of this gem. From now on I will refer my pastor friends to this book and refer myself back to it when I need a course correction back to the good country.
If you find my review helpful, please say so on Amazon.