Rediscovering Pastoral Ministry by John MacArthur and the Master’s Seminary Faculty

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This is a relatively fine book geared toward, as the title would indicate, the pastor and his ministry. Many excellent concepts and scriptural instructions are given that would surely enhance the ministry of any pastor. I would recommend the reading of this four hundred-page book to both novice and veteran pastors, but not without some cautions and concerns. I will devote the rest of this review to those concerns with the reader keeping in mind that my overall endorsement is positive.

First there is the problem that usually accompanies any volume with multiple authors – an unevenness in both the writing and the content. Twelve different men contributed to Rediscovering Pastoral Ministry , and I would suspect that many of them would not agree with some of the things their co-authors wrote. There is also the problem of overlap as the authors often take up the same subjects in their various articles. But more problematic are the following:

1. A repeated emphasis on an inward mystical call to ministry. This began in the introduction written by MacArthur (p. xvii) and continued throughout the book (pp. 26,104,106,107,134,137,138). Chapter six and much of chapter eight are actually devoted to this “call,” and yet, as should be expected, produce no Scripture that teaches an inward, subjective call to ministry. But without this call, we are assured, no man should be in, or will be able to continue in the ministry.

2. I found chapter 8 on the subject of prayer to be quite mystical and alarming in places. Some quotes: “We need to be in such a close relationship with the Lord and have such an understanding of His will that we are sensitive to what He desires” (p. 191). “Enter into His presence…” (p. 192). “We should feel free to stop a conversation for the purpose of pausing to recognizing the presence of the Lord” (p. 193). Additionally, we find the implication that in prayer God will reveal His will (p.197), and that “an hour a day in prayer is minimal at best” (p.192). All of these statements go beyond the clear teaching of Scripture and reveal a mystical and/or pragmatic bend by the author.

3. Of lesser consequence are the selections of pastors given in chapter 3 who are to serve as examples of men who have shepherd or pastored well. Without exception these men were great preachers but men who left the actual pastoring of the people in their churches to others. Perhaps this is the best the author could have done given the fact that very few true shepherds are famous, but pastors of megachurches hardly serve as good examples of shepherds.

4. On page 227 the author promises, “The shepherd who does not slight his teaching of the Word of God ‘in order to serve tables’ can expect the same outcome as from the Acts strategy.” No such promise is given in Scripture. Even the apostles often met with outward failure. We are to preach the Word and let God’s sovereignty determine the outcome.

Apart from these, and few other glitches, I found this effort by The Master’s Seminary to be well worth reading and applying.

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