Book Review: The Art of Pastoring

The Art of Pastoring: Ministry Without All the AnswersThe Art of Pastoring: Ministry Without All the Answers
by David Hansen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In The Art of Pastoring, David Hansen gives counsel to pastors by telling his own story.  It was a refreshing read.  The book was far different from what I expected.  I’m used to reading how-to books about being a pastor (how to lead with integrity, how to grow your Sunday School, etc).  But this book gripped me from the beginning because it’s nothing like that.  I enjoy that sort of book as well, but The Art of Pastoring reads more like a friend telling a story rather than a professor presenting information.

Perhaps the subtitle would have been more fitting as the title: Ministry Without All the Answers.  The author repeatedly assures the reader that ministry can be hard, but that God work through the pastor who humbles himself before the Lord.  It’s okay not to have all the answers in ministry.  In fact, we should be able to admit that we don’t have all the answers.  But God is still good.

Although I’m reluctant to do so, I should point out that I don’t agree with the author on every point.  Most specifically, how we should view, practice, and explain the ordinances (the author calls them sacraments).  Hansen is fine practicing infant baptism, and doesn’t think it’s necessary to explain that the sacraments are symbolic rather than having grace applied through them.  He believes the ordinances have more impact on the church if they are simply practiced without explanation.  I think they have their proper place and impact in the church if they are understood correctly.

But The Art of Pastoring is not a theological textbook.  Nor does the author ever imply that we must agree with how he practices ministry.  It is more a simple message to pastors that says, “I know what you’re going through.  It’s okay.  God will use you.”  And I think that’s both a very encouraging and needed message.

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