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Pastor: The Theology and Practice of Ordained Ministry Paperback – Feb 15 2002

5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 392 pages
  • Publisher: Abingdon Press (Feb. 15 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0687045320
  • ISBN-13: 978-0687045327
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.2 x 22.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 499 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #125,667 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Format: Paperback
This was one of the best pastoral books I have read. Willimon's book contains great depth while at the same time explaining what may be difficult theological language for those who have not studied at seminary. His vision of the church as a community of accountability striving toward a focus on God's kingdom is exactly the vision of the church given to us in the Bible. Willimon gives us practical ways in which we can carry this mission out. He does not water down the gospel, but also leaves room for human sinfulness. This is a must-read for all pastors- giving us back the vision of the way the church should be and a reminder about why we're in this ministry to begin with!
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By A Customer on Feb. 19 2004
Format: Paperback
I was recently ordained into the ministry and began reading this book shortly thereafter. Willimon provides a sophisticated and theologically-sound approach to defining ministry as well as touching on the personal life of the minister. He addresses the "hush-hush" issues of ministry burnout and women in pastoral ministry. This is a well-written handbook for ministers. Strongly recommended!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0xa6716ea0) out of 5 stars 36 reviews
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa65a1900) out of 5 stars What is a "Pastor?" July 28 2005
By S. A. Garno - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Throughout "Pastor," it is easy to tell that the author, William Willimon, has 25+ years as a church pastor with all the ups and downs that come with that particular calling. From beginning to end, this book is filled with encouragement for pastors, and lay leaders alike, as they struggle through the bad times and breeze through the good times.

One of the key aspects of this book is Willimon's emphasis on the fact that pastors are fallible human beings just as much as anyone else in this fallen world. Pastors cannot, and their people should not, expect them to do everything right or have the perfect answer to every question. This helps pastors remember that they are still just people. On the other hand, Willimon also reminds us that pastors are also people who are called out by God. According to Willimon there are two basic views of the pastor: "...the first view leads to a `high' theology of ordination in which the minister is `appointed by Christ to take Christ's place as host at the table.' The other view leads to a `low' theology of ministry where someone is merely `called out from among the people to help.' We need not choose between the two. ...The first stresses the gifted, grace-filled quality of ministry...the second asserts the functional, community-derived quality of Christian ministry" (39).

I found Willimon's discussion of "the needs of the people" extremely helpful. He argues that as pastors we try to meet all of the needs of our people all of the time. However, what we should be doing is trying to educate our people as to what are real needs in life and what are wants and desires. As the author points out, "...in this culture desire becomes elevated to the level of need...and because we tend to be a pit of bottomless desire, there is no end to our need." Willimon goes on to argue that this is why many clergy experience burn-out. Pastors, too often, are "expending their lives, running about in such busyness, attempting to service the needs of essentially selfish, self-centered consumers, without critique or limit of those needs" (95). Pastors have to be able to differentiate and discern the real needs from those desires which are elevated to the level of needs.

The single major problem I see in this work is its length. It felt that Pastor Willimon could have said in 200 or so pages what he said in 300+. The book seemed to drag on and the author could get somewhat rambly at times. However, if one has the time to devote to this book and the ability to see past the droning, there is a lot of great advice that could save a number of pastors from the fatigue that so many face.
15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa65a1954) out of 5 stars Why be a pastor? Aug. 1 2005
By William J. Doiron - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
As I read "Pastor", I was constantly asking the question, "Why would anyone ever seek to be a pastor after reading this book?" My thoughts surrounding my answer seemed to fluctuate around whether a pastor can say "no" to his/her calling from God. Willimon rightly states that pastors are called by God to be leaders. And if we believe in an omnipotent God, His will will be done. So, I continued to read with an open mind the thoughts Willimon had to say.

On one hand, Willimon provides a thorough analysis of the qualities that pastors should exhibit, although at times he seems to be a bit long winded in his discussion. He, however, displays an overly high view of the way church is done as well as an extraordinarily high view of the role of the pastor in relation to the church. Throughout the book, he describes the pastor's duties as being burdensome. While in once case "being" Christ to an essentially self-centered world can be burdensome Willimon leaves little room for the pastor to also be a person, sinful along with the rest of humanity. One example, "The pastor bears the chief burden of lifting up that story to the church on a weekly basis, to `open the Scriptures'" (81) leaves little room for lay involvement in opening Scriptures. He also seems to advocate that worship and opening of Scriptures can only take place in the formal church setting and only on Sundays. He diminishes the success and functionality of small groups in being able to transform among its members as well as to the society around them citing the diversity between members creates an atmosphere of "live and let live" in order to avoid confrontation (233).

This disturbing point along with many others gives me reason to cautiously recommend this book. The reader should keep in mind that Willimon seems to speak to a very specific worldview which advocates the Christendom model in an age where many believe that Christendom is progressively becoming a "flat-lined" institution.
11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa65a1d8c) out of 5 stars A Hard-Hitting Look at Pastoral Ministry Jan. 29 2005
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you are considering the ordained ministry, "Pastor" will either reinforce your call or knock you to your senses. Willimon examines both the theology and praxis of the pastoral role. He examines the traditional images of pastor and draws a clear and challenging picture of the ordained minister in the context of the counter-cultural mission of the church.

Co-author of "Resident Aliens," Willimon bases his understanding of the pastor on the assumption that the church's role is to proclaim a radical new reality. He calls us to expand our view of evangelism and conversion beyond the altar call to that of "the destruction and reconstruction of worlds." (p. 231) Specifically, he means, the destruction of a world formed by secular or pagan thought to one created by the proclamation of scripture. The purpose, he says, is to form a prophetic community that dares to speak the truth in love - both to one another and to society.

Willimon confronts the difficulties of pastoral ministry. It is not for the faint-hearted. The Good News, he says, is both attractive and repulsive. He describes the pastor's duty to preach boldly despite human ambivalence regarding their desire to be free of "the sin that clings so closely." (Hebrews 12:1)

I found this job description of shaping a robust community that builds up each other in truth and speaks prophetically to the world to be exciting and challenging. It is a ministry of the Word and Sacrament in its fullest sense - in that we are forming people by the Word to be sacramental signs and symbols to the world in which we live.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa65a1d74) out of 5 stars What the world and clergy ought to want! Jan. 31 2005
By bkmcvey - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Willimon's collection of essays regarding the vocational life of a minister has some beautiful reminders. I particularly loved Willimon's claim that vocational ministers are simply "the chief sinner in a ministry of sinners." If such an understanding does not knock one off a pedestal, nothing will! I felt the major benefit of the book was Willimon's discussion of what it means to be a pastor to God's people. Willimon does a concise job of explaining many of the various roles and activities expected of the clergy by any congregation. Further, he tends to show clearly some of the problems which clergy will encounter as they take up or refuse particular roles thrust upon them by the congregations which they will serve. Willimon's book ought to be required reading for any clergy who are feeling worn out, depressed, or otherwise spiritually assaulted. Willimon's emphasis that God calls all Christians to teach a world what is worth wanting rather than teaching a world how to get what it wants, his discussions that pastoral fatigue is a result of one's inability to enjoy the various and manifold intrusions of God into church lives, and his reminder that the role of the clergy is one of "attack" and "rearrangement" and not "relation to the average Joe" ought to serve as an instruction manual for one called to the vocational ministries in the post-Christian culture of the West.

I did find in the book, however, a presumption of the Gospel or an understood world view rather than a clearly defined summation of the teachings which the vocational minister is supposed to teach. This seems somewhat ironic given the author's emphasis on the fact that we no longer live in a Christian culture as well as the upheaval occurring in many mainline churches today. Having read other books by Willimon and having heard a few of his sermons, I have no doubt as to his theological assumptions. But I do wonder whether the teaching is plain for someone just picking up this book for the first time.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa65a5258) out of 5 stars A Job Description for Pastors Feb. 1 2006
By Christopher S. Royer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
William H. Willimon's comprehensive and insightful, Pastor: The Theology and Practice of Ordained Ministry, should be read by all entering or currently working in ordained ministry. Willimon examines the multi-faceted roles of the ordained pastor-worship leader, care giver, interpreter of Scripture, servant, counselor, teacher, evangelist, and prophet-through the lenses of Scripture, Christian history, and post-modern American culture. Although Willimon's elucidation of pastoral ministry is verbose, and at times convoluted, seminarians will nevertheless benefit from gaining a deeper understanding of the nature of pastoral work. Both novel and seasoned pastors will also benefit from this book and find subsequent occasion to use it as a periodic reference to check the content, focus, and health of their ministry.

Willimon begins his book with a persuasive apology for the rationale of ordained ministry based on Hippolytus' ordination liturgy. Willimon's organizes each successive chapter around the aforementioned images of the pastor and disperses six interludes throughout these chapters, addressing issues highly pertinent to ministry such as "The Wonderful Thickness of the Text", "Sin in Christian Ministry", and "Failure in Christian Ministry".

Pastor: The Theology and Practice of Ordained Ministry is not light, leisurely reading. Indeed, if Willimon had condensed his content and reduced his illustrations, his book would have possessed more force and clarity. In addition, on a few occasions Willimon's book discouraged me because of the enormous burdens and responsibilities that fall upon ordained ministers. Yet, Willimon consistently interjects anecdotes and reassurances of God's grace and presence. In the end, it's better to be realistic about the harsh realities of pastoral ministry than naïve and starry-eyed.

Thus, because of Willimon's realistic and comprehensive treatment of ordained pastoral ministry-both in terms of a minister's role and in terms of how Scripture, church history, and post-modern America perceive the minister's role-I highly recommend this book.