Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Book Review of The Art of Pastoring by David Hansen (Revised Edition)

The Art of Pastoring (Revised Edition)
by David Hansen
ISBN 978-0-8308-4104-2
IVP Books
Praxis Imprint
Reviewed by Clint Walker

The first time I read the Art of Pastoring I was just out of seminary and interviewing for a church in Montana. The church in Montana was pastored by David Hansen, and he had mentioned in passing that he had written three books. I went out, purchased the books, and read them right away. I was immediately intrigued with Dr. Hansen's approach to pastoral ministry. Centered in love, prayer, study, and a theology of the cross, Dave struck me as someone who was doing things right, and someone who I could learn from. And so I packed up my stuff, and headed to Montana to serve Belgrade Community Church and to learn a little bit about what a pastor was in the process.

I worked with Dave for his last 9 months of pastoring in Montana as the Assistant Pastor to Youth and Young Adults. In those 9 months I got to work with Dave a learned a few things about him. First, he was one heck of a pastor. He ministered to others by simply loving them, loving the Lord, loving the Word and teaching and preaching it faithfully. He was a good pastor to me. He invited me into his life, nurtured my gifts, encouraged me on the right path in ministry. I still go back to the study I did with Dave, and some of the conversations I had with him about faith, the Word, and ministry. I still remember many of the sermons I heard him preach...probably the only pastor I can say that about.

It is now 15 years since I first read The Art of Pastoring and met Dave. And I must say, the book still encourages me and it haunts me. It encourages me because it reminds me of God's faithfulness, and it challenges me to return to the basic relational realities of the call to ministry and living it out everyday. It haunts me because every time I read the book I am so haunted by my sins, my shortcomings, my attempts to do things the easy way instead of the right way, that I wonder if I am ever going to do any of this "ministry stuff" right.

For me books like Nouwen's In the Name of Jesus, Peterson's The Contemplative Pastor, and Hansen's The Art of Pastoring are like North Stars. They need to be read every couple of years just to help me orient myself back to the the true direction of my call, and the ministry of the church I serve.

This new, revised edition of the book refines an already powerful story into an even better one. There were parts of the first edition of the book where portions of the text were phrased a little awkwardly, or needed a little more clarification. I don't get that feeling when I read through the revised edition. There are also some extra materials from Dave, including some articles he has written and an updated epilogue at the end of the book.

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