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The New Guidebook for Pastors

B&H Books / 2007 / Paperback

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Product Description

Senior Professor Jim Bryant (Criswell College) and Senior Pastor Mac Brunson have compiled a guidebook in the tradition of W.A. Criswell's Guidebook for Pastors (1980). Their purpose and desire was to create a work that is relevant to the postmodern twenty-first century milieu in which pastors find themselves. It is a text which covers a breadth of topics and circumstances a pastor faces throughout his or her ministry.

Product Information

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 320
Vendor: B&H Books
Publication Date: 2007
Dimensions: 9.00 X 6.00 X 0.83 (inches)
ISBN: 0805444297
ISBN-13: 9780805444292
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Publisher's Description

The New Guidebook for Pastors is written in the tradition of classics like Criswell’s Guidebook for Pastors. But since most pastoral guidebooks available today date back to 1980 or earlier, this new resource by Mac Brunson and James W. Bryant will offer fresh experience-based encouragement to all pastors in their pursuit of excellence and development in their God-called profession.

Among the twenty chapters are "The Pastor and His Call," "The Pastor and His Family," "The Pastor and His Staff," "The Pastor and Worship," "The Pastor and Finances," "The Pastor, Wedding, and Funerals," "The Pastor, Politics, and Moral Issues," and "The Pastor and His Denomination."

Author Bio

Mac Brunson is senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida. He holds degrees from Furman University (B.A.) and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (M.Div., Ph.D.). Brunson and his wife have three children.

James W. Bryant is senior professor of pastoral theology at The Criswell College in Dallas, Texas. He holds degrees from Wheaton College (B.A.), and SouthWestern Baptist Theological Seminary (M.Div., Ph.D.). Bryant and his wife have two children.

Product Reviews

4.3 Stars Out Of 5
4.3 out of 5
4 out Of 5
(4 out of 5)
4 out Of 5
(4 out of 5)
Meets Expectations:
4 out Of 5
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of customers would recommend this product to a friend.
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  1. Marion, OH
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: male
    4 Stars Out Of 5
    Very Practical Guide
    January 20, 2012
    Marion, OH
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: male
    Quality: 4
    Value: 4
    Meets Expectations: 4
    The heart of the pastor's ministry is his preaching, but every pastor first serves the Lord and then serves the church, and must do all things with integrity of heart as well as skillfulness of hand.

    Bryant and Brunson have added a volume into the pastor's library that will guide him in his preparation for and work in ministry. The authors' clear intention was for this book to be practical and helpful to the pastor. The introduction suggests this book could be used as a seminary textbook or given as a gift to a pastor. The goal seems to be to put a volume in the pastor's hand that will educate and encourage him.

    The topics covered include some expected ones such as ministry preparation, the church ordinances, prayer, preaching, church leadership, weddings, and funerals. However, The New Guidebook for Pastors includes some contemporary topics that give it a refreshing element that makes it unique from other pastor's handbooks. Those topics include discussions on technology in the church, pastors and politics, retirement, and the final chapter that addresses the pastor's reward.

    The book sets a high, serious tone by beginning with a discussion of the pastor's calling to ministry. The authors do not shy away from making bold, truthful statements such as saying if a man can do anything other than ministry, he should. They are firm in saying that if God has not called a man, then he should have the integrity to leave the ministry. Viewing the pastor's calling to shepherd God's flock so seriously lets the reader know that all of the content should be taken seriously and humbly considered as the authors share their wisdom on relevant topics.

    As Bryant and Brunson navigate through the heart of the pastor's work, they use Scripture and personal examples to teach the reader. Many chapters teach through passages of Scripture that relate to the topic, often explaining the biblical languages and their applications. The chapters on the pastor's calling, preparation, and family life nearly present an exposition of biblical texts, which gives more authority to the writing.

    The authors achieved their purpose for this book to be practical and helpful to the pastor. Pastors could read this volume and find necessary instruction and helpful ideas to assist them at any stage in their work. The man considering ministry work would be greatly aided by the chapters on the calling and preparation for ministry, as well as thoughts on going to his first church. The inexperienced pastor could learn how to organize his staff better, conduct a wedding ceremony, and visit a family who just lost a loved one. The experienced pastor would gain ideas in leading his church's evangelistic efforts, counseling church members, and even gaining wisdom if he is changing churches. Older pastors would benefit from the chapter on retirement, and possibly could be aided by the chapter on technology if they are uncomfortable with some of the newer technologies they are seeing in their church. All pastors will benefit visiting all pages of this book.

    A unique factor in this volume is Bryant and Brunson's down-to-earth, personal writing. Overall, it is easy to read through this book without having to deal with difficult language or difficulty in the content's flow. Even the scriptural teachings are explained in ways that are biblically accurate and are not worded in ways that require the aid of Bible dictionaries.

    However, one repeated wording that occasionally broke the smooth flow of the book is "this author. . ." Using first-person references would be preferred over third-person references to fit the personal theme of writing throughout the book. The repetition of third-person references is baffling because there are many first-person references throughout the book as well. Consistency in first-person references would have improved the flow, but the book is written in a style that makes the reader feel like the authors are talking directly to him with a helpful spirit.

    The personal stories illustrating the authors' content leaves the reader persuaded that this volume could assist him in his ministry. For example, when Brunson writes that a church should have a strategy for evangelistic visitation, he does not just command it but he shares the strategy of his church's Sunday School being grouped by zip code to provide an idea and prove that he is speaking from experience (page 120-121). Providing the resources in the appendix also persuade the pastor that he would benefit from this writing because the authors have taken this specific measure to be helpful. Pastors will not just read that they should conduct funeral services, but they will receive a sample order of such service. Readers would understand the authors' love for him and desire for him to be well in his ministry when viewing the appendix resource called "Where Does A Pastor Go For Personal Counseling?"

    A negative quality of The New Guidebook for Pastors is that it is unable to provide comprehensive discussions on its topics. Incomprehensiveness could partly be expected since it is a handbook, and the authors do not boast their volume to be exhaustive in all topics, but there are chapters that would leave a pastor wanting to go further. For example, the second chapter on preparation addresses the role of the Holy Spirit in the pastor's work. While it is informative and accurate, there are entire books written on the Holy Spirit's power in our lives. The same is true of the chapters on prayer, preaching, missions, ethics, and others.

    Although the content is not exhaustive, a positive quality of this book is that it presents new information instead of a summary of similar content that other books would offer on the same topics. For example, the chapter on leadership presents seven instructions of how pastors lead most effectively (pages 78-82). This specific application of leadership to the pastor distinguishes this chapter on leadership from other writings on leadership. Similarly, the chapter on preaching includes a simplified list of the steps of exegesis (pages 38-39) that is appreciated when books on preaching would take a longer approach in providing similar content.

    Scripture is used well throughout the book as the basis for the authors' content, giving the pastor assurance that he is reading solid biblical content to inform his methods. However, there are some parts of the book that state unnecessary opinions as if they are scriptural. On page 111, the authors write, "use digital audio boards." It was not presented as an opinion, but just stated, and there are other types of audio boards that could be effective. Such a statement seems unwarranted. Another example is on page 134 where the authors state that the pastor and deacon chairman should have chairs behind the Lord's Supper table. The Lord's Supper can be served in many ways, but the authors state it in a way that an inexperienced pastor might think it was the only way to serve communion.

    The unwarranted statements could stem from the author's obvious bias toward Pastor W.A. Criswell, and the geographic region of the American southern states. The constant mention of Criswell and the location of the authors' ministries (south) can be disadvantageous in two ways: first, relying on Criswell leaves the book lacking more diverse viewpoints on methods. Secondly, the authors' southern mentality might not be applicable to a reader in other regions of America. Church culture in the South differs from the church cultures of other American regions. As with any reading, the pastor must discern the content of this book and apply it to his church setting.

    The New Guidebook for Pastors should be added to any pastor's library. It might be educational, helpful, and even refreshing for any pastor to read through. The chapter contents and appendix resources are practical, easily readable, and biblically faithful, making it a resource pastors can revisit throughout their ministries. Bryant and Brunson should be commended for their contribution to pastoral ministry.
  2. 4 Stars Out Of 5
    March 13, 2008
    Bob Balla
    I have found the book very insightful, it will definitely change my ministry. I recommend this book to anyone considering full time ministry.
  3. 5 Stars Out Of 5
    July 16, 2007
    Dr. Franklin Kirksey
    The New Guidebook for Pastors by Dr. James W. Bryant and Dr. Mac Brunson provides a well-spring of fresh encouragement for those pursuing the high and holy calling to preach the Word. In the pages of this book the pastor will find helpful information and heavenly inspiration. These two men of God share their experience, education and enthusiasm for the ministry of the Gospel with the reader. I highly recommend it! Dr. Franklin L. Kirksey, pastor First Baptist Church of Spanish Fort, Alabama, teacher, mentor, writer, author of Sound Biblical Preaching: Giving the Bible a Voice
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Author/Artist Review

Author: James W. Bryant
Located in: Dallas, TX
Submitted: July 14, 2007

    Tell us a little about yourself.  I am a native of Atlanta, Georgia. I graduated from Wheaton College in 1958. I was ordained to the Gospel Ministry in 1959. I hold two degrees, the Master of Divinity and the Doctor of Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. I have been preaching since I was 16 and served at a pastor or an assistant pastor in churches in Georgia, Texas, New Mexico, and Arkansas. I have served as the President of Luther Rice Seminary in Atlanta, and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Criswell College in Dallas, Texas. Since 2004 I have been in the classroom as Senior Professor of Pastoral Theology at Criswell. Ruby and I have been married since 1959. We have two sons and two grandchildren.

    What was your motivation behind this project?  The publishers were talking with Mac and me about revising Dr. Criswell's guidebook, published by them in 1980. Mac and I decided to write our own. Both of us saw the need for pastors to have a new guidebook that was up-to-date and was reached a balance between the spiritual and the practical.

    What do you hope folks will gain from this project?  This book was written to guide pastors from the time they first acknowledge a call of God to preach until they go to their reward in heaven. There is an intergenerational uniqueness about the book in that the co-author, Mac Brunson, was a member of my church in Fort Worth, Texas when he was a seminary student back in the 1980's. Then he became my pastor at First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas when I moved back to teach at Criswell College. No similar guidebook has been published by Baptist authors since 1980. The 14 appendices (not shown in the Table of Contents on line) cover practical subjects such as: What to Do if You Are Fired; Where Does a Pastor Go for Counseling; How to Build a Preaching Library; and How to Give an Invitation in a Public Service, just to mention a few. In these appendices web sites are given to add to the richness of pastoral resources found in the extensive bibliography. The book would be a great gift for laymen to give to their pastors, for pastors to give to young men called to preach, and, because of the documentation, could be used as a textbook in Pastoral Ministry courses. Several seminary professors have already indicated they will use it as a textbook. May God bless it in the lives and ministries of many pastors and church staff members through the years!

    Who are your influences, sources of inspiration or favorite authors / artists?  The book is patterned after W. A. Criswell's guidebook for pastors published in the 1980's. I worked for Dr. Criswell in the late 1960's and early 1970's before becoming a pastor myself.

    Anything else you'd like readers / listeners to know:  Both of the authors are committed to expository preaching and seek to relate that commitment in each chapter. Although we both are Southern Baptists, the book is written for any evangelical minister. In other words, the book is trans- denominational.


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