As a pastor, do you ever get the feeling that no matter what you try, nothing much seems to change? That is because the ministries themselves are not redemptive--they are not up to you. Only Jesus' ministry is redemptive. Jesus has to "show up." Theologian Andrew Purves explores at the deepest level the true and essential nature of Christian ministry. He says that the attempt to be an effective minister is a major problem. Ministers are "in the way." He radically claims that ministries need to be crucified. They need to be killed off so that Christ can make them live. Rooting church service in Christ's own continuing ministry, Purves provides a vision for students and practicing clergy to reclaim the vital connection between Christ and participation in his ministry today, even if it means letting Christ put to death the ministries to which pastors cling so closely. A radical appraisal for a critical malady affecting the life of the Christian church written in plain, down-to-earth language.
Andrew Purves (PhD, University of Edinburgh) is Jean and Nancy Davis Professor of Historical Theology at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania. He is the author of numerous books including and He is an ordained Presbyterian minister and has three grown children with his wife Catherine, who is minister of the Bellevue United Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh.
"Every pastor and Christian leader needs to read this book--about once a year. It is a much-needed wake-up call to remember what we all so often forget: it's Christ's ministry, not ours, and for his ministry to manifest itself through us, we must first die to ours. Written with clarity and passion, there is much here that is theologically rich, spiritually challenging and practically relevant. The North American church today desperately needs to heed the message of Andrew Purves's book."
Containing only five chapters, this book is packed with a lot of truth, helpful ideas, and suggested practices. A book like this will help current seminarians and future miniters to avoid some of the pitfalls of ministry. Purves does a great job in going to the text in numerous places to get the reader to see the biblical truth instead of the author's ideas.
Certainly worth recommending to pastors and others in full-time ministry.
All in all, the significance of the subject matter and its general readability make this book an important read for those wishing to locate their practical ministry on the horizon of the doctrinal tradition of the Church.
Purves challenges pastors to look deeply at their ministry and realize that it is not theirs but Gods. He encourages pastors to allow themselves to be used by God rather than attempt to do things for God. His simple argument is stated eloquently and most certainly bears repeating to an individualistic world.
"Andrew Purves has peeked inside our ministerial closets. He has pulled aside the façade of our pastoral garb. He exposes the fear and exhaustion so many of us feel but none admit. Then he offers us pastors the real hope found in reconnecting to the true Source of all ministry. The church would be transformed if pastors dared to read, and practice, this book."
"I have been in Professor Purves's classes as he lectured on this theology of pastoral ministry. I watched our seminarians move from dismay to embracing it as a surprising new vision of ministry. It was like witnessing the crucifixion and resurrection, which is his point. I have been a pastor long enough to know that without this vision of what Jesus Christ is doing in human lives, no one will last long in the ministry."
"This book is exactly what we in pastoral ministry have needed for a long time: 'strong medicine' to not only keep us from the burnout so many are facing in our time, but also, and primarily, to enable us to thrive in the service of Jesus Christ. Andrew Purves takes us into the heart of ministry, into the heart of the only ministry that actually 'works,' into the ministry of the risen Jesus, and teaches us how to participate in Jesus' vicarious humanity and, in union with him, to cooperate with Jesus' ongoing work in and for the world. As I read these pages, everything in me cries, 'Yes! This is the way to live and serve.'"
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