Why are you in the ministry? How are you to conduct yourself as a minister? How are you to reach your goals in ministry? A pastor's ministry will be defined by the answer to each of these three questions. In Rediscovering Pastoral Ministry, Dr. John MacArthur, Jr. and the faculty of The Master's Seminary address these questions and challenge readers to evaluate their ministry according to the answers.
The initial question focuses on the essence of one's motivation for entering into Christian service. The pastorate by its very nature demands that a person should look inwardly and scrutinize what has driven him to take up the gauntlet of ministry. The authors guide the reader to earnestly consider the biblical and personal requirements for becoming a pastor. Appraising the process of self-examination, Alex Montoya articulates that "before one can learn how to lead, one must know why." The question of motivation moves the same author to observe that the New Testament "tells a man what he must be, before he can be." It is obvious that the only clear justification for entering into pastoral ministry according to the contributors of the book is God's call rather than personal agenda or selfish ambition.
The second question the book addresses is the manner in which the pastor is to conduct ministry. How a pastor leads can either be a great blessing to God's people or become a stumbling block of contention that will lead to an eventual disruption in the life of the church. Dr. MacArthur teaches plainly that "humility is thus the benchmark of any useful servant of God." The authors succinctly point out that the Shepherd/Servant model of leadership is the only justifiable manner of pastoring according to Scripture. The development of this ministerial philosophy finds fullest expression in Dr. George Zemek's chapter on modeling. The clearest challenge laid before any pastor is to consistently maintain the highest level of integrity in one's character and conduct. Dr. Zemek asserts that a pastor "cannot just be faithful in teaching the truth; he must live the truth."
The authors also indicate that a person's motivation and manner must be questioned before the final query as to method can be answered. In a world that has subtly prompted many churches to make concessions through societal pressure, Dr. MacArthur encourages pastors to remain firm in the biblical command of confronting sin and preaching the healing power of the gospel without compromise. Throughout this work the authors urge pastors to examine ministerial methods in light of the demands of Scripture, rather than cultural or contemporary influences. The last quarter of the book is dedicated to achieving a biblical understanding concerning the responsibilities of the pastor in relation to both the church and the world. The contributors demonstrate thoroughly the necessity for leading in such a fashion that every function performed by the pastor finds its origin in the Word of God.
The overarching theme throughout this work suggests that no matter where we have been or what we have achieved there will always be room to grow. In a world that judges by what is on the outside, we are reminded that God is more concerned with what is on the inside. Though this book is an easy read, the process of evaluating one's motivations, manner, and methods is not. Rediscovering Pastoral Ministry is an exemplary work that is essential reading for any pastor or person desiring to enter into Christian ministry. If the leaders in God's church are to further impact the world today, it will require self-examination of our faithfulness to God's leadership and fidelity to His Word.
Morgan Kerr is pastor of First Southern Baptist Church of Cañon City, Colo. Rediscovering Pastoral Ministry by John MacArthur, Jr. is published by Word Publishing.