Scanning over the endorsements of this book, the reader will find one recurring theme sung out by popular pastors and church leaders about this book, summed up well by Tim Challies: “Where was this book when I was first ordained?” A number of these pastors have called this required reading for new pastors and ministry leaders, and as someone who fits into that category, I definitely echo their endorsements. Jason Helopoulos has written a concise, helpful, and pastoral exhortation to young ministers like myself and given me immense help as I enter the door of ministry.
There is a lot to like about The New Pastor’s Handbook, but I think my favorite feature of the book is its devotional approach. There are lots of books geared toward newer pastors that is very “Do this, don’t do this.” Sometimes these books try to be so comprehensive that they end up becoming extremely technical, and overwhelming. Helopoulos has been sure to write not a textbook, but a handbook, something that is certainly wide in its lens, but also easily accessible and so easy to relate to. There is definitely a shepherd’s heart behind the words in this book, as it is evident on every page that Helopoulos aims to encourage, exhort, lead along, and protect. It is awfully intimidating at times to be in my position, just getting your feet wet in ministry, not knowing what all it truly entails until you’re twenty or so years in. Helopoulos knows that, and he makes sure to remember it throughout The New Pastor’s Handbook. This would serve as a great devotional for a new pastor or minister stepping into ministry, due to its fairly small size and short chapters.
Its small size does not take away from its quality, however. Because this isn’t a mega-treatise, The New Pastor’s Handbook cuts away the fluff, gets honest and direct from the get-go, and tells us like it is. We find this most especially in chapters like “Hospital Visitations.” Instead of providing an exhausting theological address on how to do hospital visits, what we have in The New Pastor’s Handbook is wisdom, council, and shepherding in every page. You cannot speed read this book, because every single sentence is trying to communicate something unique to you. Take your time with this book, and you will be greatly rewarded with a fresh and encouraging understanding of ministry.
One more word: The New Pastor’s Handbook, while definitely geared toward pastors and church leaders, is not reserved for that narrow audience. Many laypeople can and will benefit from this book, because the truth is, we’re all at times a pastor to someone. We all need to think about leadership, personal holiness, and zeal for ministry. If you have no desire to preach, don’t fret too much over the sections on sermon prep and preaching, but don’’t ignore the whole of what The New Pastor’s Handbook is trying to teach us all, that ministry can be hard but it is so worth it. The layperson also benefits from this book in that this is such a great way to learn about the challenges posed to your pastor, how you can pray for him, and maybe even encourage him with this book!
I would definitely recommend The New Pastor’s Handbook to anyone interested in ministry, walking into ministry, or any current pastor or minister. Just because you have been a pastor for a long time doesn’t mean you don’t need the words in this book. There are so many helpful reminders for all of us as we enter or continue in ministry, and I’m grateful for Jason Helopoulos’s desire to share these encouraging words with us.