“Sin is not a mistake. Our sin is our willing unlawfulness, our purposeful breaking of God’s law. In attitude and in deed, we rebel against God, and we have for that reason forfeited our right to live. We deserve to die for our sins. That’s what the death of Jesus is for; our deliberate unlawfulness.

We all make mistakes, and we can all brush them off. But our dilemma caused by our offense against God, the removal of the penalty we deserve, can only be solved by the act of God. God must provide the solution…

Jesus didn’t die for your mistakes; he died for your sin.”
— David Hansen, The Art of Pastoring

Book Review — The Art of Pastoring

The Art of Pastoring (Revised Edition) by David Hansen.

I have had the first edition of The Art of Pastoring on my shelf for several years and picked at it a couple of times, but never got into it for one reason or another. The revised edition allowed me a fresh look, and it is a look I have enjoyed. There are no firm answers in this book, and I have found in over 25 years of ministry that anyone claiming to have answers just hasn’t been in ministry long enough. Hansen sets the myth of “having all the answers” aside and just gives us real life stories.

Most of his stories come from his rural pastorates in Montana, but I found the stories applicable in my own urban setting.

The refreshing attraction to Hansen’s book is his incredible honesty. I found my story in this book.

When he describes his calling to ministry, he said his first desire was to be a history teacher.

“I had two options. I could be a history teacher; I couldn’t be a pastor. One was possible, the other was impossible. Since being a pastor was impossible, I decided to do that. I prayed: ‘Lord, being a pastor is impossible, so if you will be with me all the way to help me, I will be a pastor.'”

That is so similar to my own calling it was uncanny. I had grown up planning on being a historian or a journalist. When I was called into ministry on a student missions trip my senior year in high school, I was completely thrown off. No one else was surprised, but I was totally shocked. It was, to me, the impossible.

For those with a few years in ministry, this book is a great encouragement. For those going into ministry, this book is a MUST read. 

I teach in a college that has about half the students preparing for Christian ministry. They are fed dreams of megachurches. When I get any opportunity to pour into their lives in a practical level, I try to temper those dreams with the realities of living life in a much different way. It is a life that can be enjoyed

The Art of Pastoring (Revised Edition) by David Hansen was sent to me for review by InterVarsity Press. I am under no obligation to give it a positive review.

Following Christian Movements Instead of Christ

I was delighted to receive a copy of the revised book, The Art of Pastoring, from IVP. It was unsolicited, and I look forward to reading this new edition. Early on I find it intriguing.

When the author, David Hansen, began his ministry in Montana, he inherited an entire library from the previous pastor. That pastor had left the ministry and as a result, just abandoned the library he had built in the church office.

As Hansen perused the nice selections, he wondered why the previous pastor had abandoned the ministry. His conjecture: Maybe the previous pastor confused following Christian movements with following Christ.

Great observation. It’s such a temptation. As a pastor, the temptation is to plug in the formulas as quickly as possible so the numbers start coming in and there is a sense of satisfaction. If we move from one formula to another, we will find ourselves off-track in a hurry.

A few years ago I watched an interview with Dr. George Wood, general superintendent of the Assemblies of God. The question asked was the value he saw in furthering his theological education. The Assemblies of God has had a love/hate relationship with theological education since its founding. Dr. Wood said he was fortunate to advance his education, and he understood not everyone would get that opportunity. In his own life, he found that if he had not learned to think theologically, he probably would not be in ministry today.

If we follow fads and programs, when those fads and programs don’t work out… we tend to quit.

But if we follow Christ, and can work through the painful conversations from other pastors about “How many you running?” there is hope.

Next year are two significant milestones for me. I will celebrate 25 years of marriage with my incredible wife and it will also be my 15th year at my current church. I love this church, as I think about ministry.

There have been my moments when I thought ministry might not be for me, but this church has anchored me. I don’t have all the answers, and they know it. I follow Christ as best as I possibly can, and I want them on that journey as well. I wish I could report the fabulous numbers. What I can report is we have a church following Christ as best as we know to do at this moment in time.

The current fad in my movement is “satellite” campuses. It’s “working” in many spots.

That comes on the heels of the “seeker sensitive” model.

That came on the heels of the “Brownsville Revival” model.

And so on.

Each of those movements have their place somewhere and for some reason. But if I follow only those things and try to build my church off of that method, what do I do when that method is on the trash heap and the next thing is coming down the road?

We keep following Christ. It may not look great all the time, but it’s what I know to do best.