Resources on pastoral ministry are legion. From blogs, ministries, conferences, articles, podcast, and more—pastors today have more resources at their disposal than at any time in the history of the world. While there will be no slow down on the release of material available for pastors and Christians anytime soon, I’m truly thankful for a new resource The Pastor’s Book: A Comprehensive and Practical Guide to Pastoral Ministry by R. Kent Hughes and Douglas Sean O’Donnell. This is truly a unique book in that a Reformed Baptist and a Presbyterian have joined together to write a book that will help pastors from across the Reformed tradition to learn to minister from that framework.
The book is organized into three parts with an appendix, books for further reading, and links to downloadable resources at the back of the book. In part one, the authors consider how to organize Sunday worship, annual services, weddings, funerals and use poetry to enhance preaching and worship. This section will help pastors and elders learn how to order Sunday worship, worship in a way that glorifies the Lord, and more about liturgy. For those wanting to learn more about how to preach a Christmas, Good Friday, Easter, or even a wedding, or funeral sermon this section is for you. The authors provide helpful instruction and examples that will help pastors to lead their people through these seasons of life in a way that honors and glorifies the Lord.
Part two considers parts of the worship service such as public prayers, the historical Christian creeds, hymns and songs, baptism, and communion. Pastors and elders will receive instruction on the place and importance of public prayer, along with invocations, the place of confession, and pastoral prayer. The place of music is also considered in this section of the book. Chapter eight looks at believer’s baptism and practice along with infant baptism view and practice. Communion is covered in chapter nine, along with special communion sermons and the frequency of communion.
Part three considers ministerial studies such as pastoral visitation and hospital visitation. Here pastors will learn how to engage in effective pastoral counseling along with special situations in pastoral counseling such as premarital counseling, marriage counseling, and counseling unbelievers. I personally felt the section on hospital visitation was particularly helpful in this section including the list of Scriptures for hospital visitation on the brevity of life, comfort, confidence, death, God, heaven, resurrection, and suffering.
You might notice that the authors have seemingly neglected a section on preaching in their book. This wasn’t because they don’t believe in the need for preaching. Both men have modeled expository preaching in their ministries and have written on this need extensively. This book has a section of the book for further reading that includes recommended books on calling to ministry, personal character, family life, preaching, leading a pastoral staff, working with elders, church discipline, and church planting.
The Pastor’s Book: A Comprehensive and Practical Guide to Pastoral Ministry is easily one of the most helpful books on pastoral ministry that I’ve ever read. This is a book that covers what you won’t learn in seminary especially information about how to engage in hospital visitation. To read this book and grapple with what it teaches is to get a degree in practical ministry. I highly recommend this book and believe every Bible College, seminary students, pastor in training, and new pastor will benefit from this book. Seasoned pastors will find encouragement, examples, and lots of food for thought. This would be a tremendous gift to give to your pastor and one that he will cherish and use for years and years.