The New Pastor’s Handbook

newpastorsThere is definitely a surge of material coming out lately in support of pastors.  With The New Pastor’s Handbook: Help and Encouragement for the First Years of Ministry (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2015), Jason Helopoulos has written a helpful book that I expect will become required reading in many evangelical seminaries.  The angle of this book is to walk through a handful of issues that a new pastor will face in his first years in ministry.  The issue is not so much a series of case studies about what to do when you have a tough situation as instead a stark assessment of the fact that you sure will have tough situations to deal with, and those tough situations do not mean you have failed as a pastor.

The overall approach here is very gentle, matching the book’s subtitle of being “Help and Encouragement.”  It’s very easy to come into ministry and expect that it will simply be a matter of coming in and conquering new territory for the Lord.  The fact is, as a pastor you are dealing with real people – which is simply another way of saying sinners.  You’ll come fact to face with their sin, including ways they will personally disappoint you and betray you.  The fact that the sinners in your church still sin doesn’t make you a failure as a pastor.

Over and over, Helopoulos comes back to the amazing privilege and indescribable rewards of being a pastor.  It is a lofty role indeed.  And just as frequently, he reminds the new pastor of the real fuel of his ministry: the pastor’s personal walk with Jesus.  The book consists in 48 chapters which are probably 3-4 pages each, and while I read them probably 5-10 at a time, it would be profitable to read these one at a time, perhaps each morning as one begins a day of ministry.  I think this is a book that would reward multiple readings.

I would highly recommend using this as an introduction to the pastoral ministry, and then using some of the “Practical Shepherding” series by Brian Croft as a more detailed supplement for actual “how to do this” type advice.  Finally, Tripp’s Dangerous Calling is a great examination of the pastor’s heart.  Each of these is incredibly valuable and worth space on the new pastor’s bookshelf.

I was provided a complimentary copy of this book by Baker in exchange for an honest review.  I was not required to give a positive review, but I do so gladly!


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