Friday, October 02, 2009

Some New IVP Books on Ministry

I get regularly get books in the mail from publishers and I have a batch of two little gems from IVP.

Derek Tidball
Ministry by the Book: New Testament Patterns for Pastoral Leadership
(Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 2009).

Derek Tidball is the former principal of London School of Theology and currently visiting scholar at Spurgeon's College. Tidball's contention in this book is that biblical ministry is "multicoloured, not monochrome" and he advocates "that the New Testament writers set before us a number of models of ministry, each one of which is shaped by the needs of the church they were serving and, no doubt, by their own individual personalities and interests as well". Tidball believers that "An in-depth review of the books of the New Testament on ministry will lead to a far richer understanding of the mulvaried forms of ministry that is customary among most churches today. It can prove a very releasing exercise for many pastors who struggle to fit into a current ecclesiastical mould even when they know their gifts do not quite match it, helping them to play to their strenghts. It can prove a very salutary exercise for church authorities, whether national or local, who have attempted to compress the variety of God's gifts into a dull uniformity" (pp. 14-15). I know exactly what Tidball means. I've seen some seminaries that are in effect clone factories where the graduates end up believing all the same stuff, preaching with the same style, and more scarily even end up dressing the same! I'm very grateful for the college that I trained at, but if I had to make one criticism, it is that I got the feeling that our sole purpose was to try to become the next Rick Warren. Tidball gives a good survey of the patterns of ministry in the NT.

Darrel W. Johnson
The Glory of Preaching: Participating in God's Transformation of the World
(Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 2009).

This book is a book to encourage preachers. I've never been a pastor, but I know what it's like to stand in front of people Sunday after Sunday and wonder to myself "Is anybody really listening to this? Are they gonna remember any of this after lunch? Would they rather be watching football or shopping than listening to me?" Johnson wants to emphasize preaching as the transformative moment where we encounter God. He quotes the second Helvetic confession: "The preaching of the Word of God is the Word of God". He believes that when God speaks, something happens. When the preacher speaks, God is speaking. When God speaks something happens like we get a clear vision of the living God in Jesus; a better understanding of the gospel; an alternative reading of reality; a new way of seeing things, feeling, and acting; and a new power to enable us to walk in this new reality. His book word is, hence, "participation". It's a book about "Dare to preach ... and see what happens". Most encouraging!

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