Time to give a nod to another book that, from where I'm sitting, looks can't-miss.
Ever since reading a blurb about a new title by Derek Tidball, I was interested in cracking this book and exploring his premise. From the intro of the disarmingly titled Ministry by the Book:
This book seeks to open the imagination about ministry, not to close a discussion down. It seeks to sketch several models of ministry, all of which have their origins in the New Testament, and challenge the stunted understanding of ministry that so often characterizes our churches today. I hope it provides a number of "models of permission" that enable a freer approach to ministry and the way it is conducted, and provides encouragement for those who don't fit the "McDonaldized" version of ministry so common today.
It became obvious fairly early in my life that I wasn't going to grow into one of the soft-spoken, bleeding-heart pastor-counselors I saw in churches around me. I wished I could, and speculated about whether I could pump up enough tender, gentle qualities to qualify for ministry.
When I entered seminary, I once again felt the bite of square peg/round hole syndrome, as I struggled through classes that tried to groom me for a suit-and-tie-wearing, Sunday school-class organizing, business meeting-driven model of church leadership. This also was not happening, and at times it made me wonder what the heck I was doing.
During these years, I began to realize that leadership and ministry was not homogeneous in the New Testament, shouldn't be homogeneous today, and that I didn't need to fit myself into various homogeneous existing models of ministry. So I stopped trying, continued to read the Bible carefully, and did my best to figure out Jesus' vision for my gifts and ministry instead of taking my cues from various church cultures.
Now, as I start through Derek Tidball's Ministry by the Book, I'm thinking, This one would have saved me a lot of angst, confusion, and wasted time if it had existed 5 years sooner and, say, been required reading at my seminary. Hopefully it will prove as eye-opening and liberating for readers today as it would have for me back when I was trying to change myself into a soft-spoken, tie-wearing, pastor-counselor. (Who I'm not, but who of course have a place in the church.)
X-posted on arieljvan.com.