Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Book Review of Resilient Ministry by Bob Burns, Tasha D. Chapman,and Donald C. Guthrie

Resilient Ministry: What Pastors Told Us About Surviving and Thriving
by Bob Burns, Tasha D. Chapman  and Donald C. Guthrie
ISBN 978-0-8308-4103-5
IVP Praxis
Reviewed by Clint Walker

Recently I had a conversation with a friend of mine who is a denominational executive. We were discussing people that we both knew, and one of the people that came up was a person who I knew in seminary that was no longer in local church ministry. That led to a conversation about the people I went to seminary with, and a discussion about how many of them have left pastorates and leadership positions in ministry, never to return to ministry service in congregational life. It turned out, at least half of the people I studied for the ministry with are no longer in church leadership.

I share this, not in judgment, but to make the point that the work that Burns, Chapman and Guthrie have done in Resilient Ministry is important work. What these three ministers and scholars have done is engage in a five year study among ministers that helps them understand what contributes to longevity and resiliency in ministry, and what mitigates against it. What they discovered was not earth shattering, but it was deeply insightful.

Resilient Ministry, according the authors, in defined by healthy practices in five key areas. Those areas are spiritual formation, self-care, emotional and cultural intelligence, marriage and family, and leadership and management.

There is a lot of good insight to read, but this book is just as good to read in small chunks. I read little sections at a time. What formational practices sustain pastors? What to pastors who cannot endure in ministry share in common in their formational practices or lack of them? What stressors does ministry put on a marriage, and how is that addressed?

What is even more compelling are the stories and the descriptions that come directly from the study throughout the book. Some of the confessions are so raw that the reader is emotionally moved to examine their own life. Others are practical enough to be put into practice immediately after reading the quote.

I think this book deserves to be read in every seminary, and should be on every pastor's bookshelf. It has that much insight and truth into the professional and personal experience of ministry life.

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