The pastoral office has always been a difficult calling. Today, the pastor is often asked to fulfill multiple roles: preacher, teacher, therapist, administrator, CEO. How can pastors thrive amid such demands?
What is needed is a contemporary pastoral rule: a pattern for ministry that both encourages pastors and enables them to focus on what is most important in their pastoral task.
This book, coauthored by three experts with decades of practical experience, explains how relying on a pastoral rule has benefited communities throughout the church's history and how such rules have functioned in the lives and work of figures such as Augustine, Calvin, Wesley, and Bonhoeffer. It also provides concrete advice on how pastors can develop and keep a rule that will help both them and their congregations to flourish.
"This book will be especially welcomed by busy pastors who can take time to look back toward the past as well as ahead to the future. What they will find is encouragement of the very best sort from historical exemplars who, though facing great challenges, embodied biblical insight, found Christian stability, and carried out unusually effective ministries. The book is a treasure that gives much-needed dignity and hope to the pastoral calling today."
"If pastors don't set the rule for their lives, everyone else is going to do it for them. This book invites the pastor back to the deep well of our tradition that offers profound insights for thriving in contemporary ministry. Ironically, it's the chosen rule that leads to freedom."
"Rather than lament the well-documented and much-discussed crisis of spirituality in western Christendom, especially among pastoral leaders, Burgess, Andrews, and Small provide a rich resource to bring about radical change. Their proposal is revolutionizing. They introduce six ecumenically diverse mentors of the holy life and build workable bridges to their spiritual legacies. We are led into the adventure of reclaiming these great traditions of spiritual discipline as resources and models for our own spiritual rule. The book is an invitation to pastoral leaders to engage, celebrate, and imitate these and other great exponents of spiritual discipline. The venture could bring about unexpected change, perhaps even the conversion of communities. It's a risk worth taking."
"Pastors in North America today face enormous challenges that imperil faithful, joyful ministry. In this engaging and accessible work, John Burgess, Jerry Andrews, and Joseph Small open the wisdom of the Christian past, showing how pastors and the congregations they serve can flourish by disciplined attention to prayer, Scripture, theological reflection, and service with friends in ministry. All those who seek to follow Jesus will find this a rich and rewarding book."
"If you are a pastor who is feeling overwhelmed by responsibilities, intimidated by social challenges, or simply uncertain about your priorities for how to spend your time and energy, then please read this book. It will relieve you of false burdens, embolden your ministry of the Word, and energize you for your true pastoral vocation. And, for those contemplating a call to become ministers of the gospel, this book provides a rule of 'plumb'—namely, a practical plan for stewarding the mysteries of God and for making the potentially crooked pastoral path straight. Highly recommended."
Introduction: Why Pastors Need a Rule
1. The Grace of Theological Friendships: Augustine
2. "The Work of Obedience": Benedict
3. The Holiness That Stoops to Serve: Gregory the Great
4. "All the Ministers Shall Meet Together": John Calvin
5. Choosing Your Words Carefully: John Wesley
6. The Pastor's Study: John Henry Newman
7. The Gift of Physical Presence: Dietrich Bonhoeffer
8. A Contemporary Pastoral Rule
Conclusion: Developing and Practicing a Pastoral Rule