Friday, February 04, 2011

Review: When the Word Leads Your Pastoral Search

It’s a pleasure to read a good book that you don’t have to.

My latest such pleasure was reading When the Word Leads Your Pastoral Search by my online friend, Chris Brauns.

I’m thankful that I’m neither on a pastoral search team nor searching for a new pastorate.  So, I don’t have to read this book.  But I’m glad I did.

Brauns offers an excellent practical theology of searching for a vocational pastor.  The chapters are warm and readable, practical and theological–just what a search team needs.  If you are only going to read one book about the topic, this is the one to read.

That makes two for two for Brauns.  His first book is my go-to book on forgiveness, as well.

And this one is better than the last.  More readable, more focused, better organized, and immediately applicable (the topic is easier, of course, much less fraught with confusion).

Brauns makes the case for two major things to look for in a candidate: a godly shepherd and a good expository preacher.  But he doesn’t assume that we know what good expository preaching is.  He gives search teams a very helpful definition (with helpful exposition!) and then makes it practical.  I love how he explains preaching to non-pastors!  This is the first book I’ve seen that does that well.  Most books on preaching are written for preachers or wannabes.  This is different–and very helpful.

At least half of the book is dedicated to expository preaching–and I think that’s probably the right balance, though given my bent towards biblical counseling, I would have liked to see more about how the pastoral candidate submits to and uses the Word in all of the rest of his ministry–not just in the pulpit.  But I quibble.  I was happily reminded of and very encouraged to think about what I do week in and week out and how important it really is.

There is a lot more to like in the book–including a defense of word-centeredness for your search team, a lack of Chris’ denominational or tribal distinctives yet not being anti-denominational or anti-network, practical questions to ask the candidate, a call to trust in God throughout the searching process, and doses of happy humor dolloped throughout.

I’d like to write a book like this someday.  And I’m glad I could read it for pleasure this week.

Thank you, Chris!