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Three Books For New & Aspiring Pastors

When someone is considering stepping up into spiritual leadership at our church we have them read three books. These books are required for interns considering ministry or ordination and for those becoming elders. If you're thinking about ministry as a vocation then I would strongly encourage you to read each one. Ideally read them with someone in ministry to hone your sense of call and your understanding of the vocation of ministry.

Under the Unpredictable Plant by Eugene Peterson is what you need to know about the leader's soul! Peterson uses the prophet Jonah as a model of ministry: flawed and used by God. He highlights the importance of God's word and prayer. Peterson lays out the importance of obedience to God in all things. Finally, he reminds us that ministry is geographical who and where we serve matters because people matter to God!

Blue Parakeet by Scot McKnight is a great survey on how to understand and apply scripture - the church  leader’s primary tool!  McKnight presents in clear, approachable language a coherent framework for interpreting the whole of scripture. He reminds us the Bible tells a meta-story and each individual passage must be placed in this great narrative of grace. We read scripture in the context of God's great story which has been lived out from the beginning of time. The past generations of faithful church leaders, interpreting and applying scripture, give us a tradition we can use to apply God's word to our generation. 

Deep & Wide by Andy Stanley outlines the leader’s mission. I love the way Stanley is a pragmatist. He doesn't have much time for people who say, "Things should be different..." Yes, they should be. They're not, so what will we do now? We go deep into God's word, into the lives of those around us, and we go wide. We work to reach everyone with Christ's love. We will fail when we try something new, but if we never try something new we've failed already. This book is a call to courageous leadership and every church leader should read it. 

These three books are very different and the authors in some ways are polar opposites. Peterson probably wouldn't have much positive to say about Stanley's mega-church. Having both perspectives gives future church leaders a wide view of ministry philosophy. This is why we pick these books from varied traditions to thoroughly equip our future leaders. 

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