Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Book Review: Preparing the Pastors We Need

The parish is changing and there is no doubt about it. Demographics, finances, peoples' interest in congregational life is waning, and there are other factors too. Future pastors and clergy need as much experience as they can get both in and outside of seminary so that they can meet the every increasing challenges in both today's and tomorrow's parish.

George Mason, the senior pastor of Wilshire Baptist Church has offered us some good food for thought regarding training future pastors in his new book Preparing the Pastors We Need: Reclaiming the Congregations Role in Training Clergy (Alban Publishing, 2012). This book deals with the practical issues regarding resident clergy training or pastors in training as they are sometimes called. Pastors in training are pastors who take one to two years, sometimes more and sometimes a bit less, to apprentice with a well seasoned pastor and their congregation. This training period, usually after seminary education, provides the practical, pastoral, and formation that they will need before they go out on their own.

Most people think that you learn everything you need in seminary. Well, nothing can be farther from the truth. It is one thing to learn about preaching and homiletics but quite another to stand in front of a congregation week after week, season after season, year after year and preach the good news so that it doesn't sound old and tired. It is one thing to learn about the theology of marriage and weddings but quite another to perform them. This pertains not just to pastors but to lawyers and doctors as well. One can only learn so much in school, you need to have practical hands on training.

Mason outlines in very basic easy to read narratives the steps it takes to set up a training parish program for clergy. He talks about things such as preparing the parish, creating a budget, providing guidelines and goals, to follow up.

Preparing Pastors We Need is a wonderful resource to have as professors, pastors, and lay leaders navigate the bumps, hills, mountains, and valleys of parish life. Hopefully Preparing Pastors We Need will also help seminaries rethink the way that they train future clergy, as we all try to re-equip ourselves for the parish of the 21st century.

For more information about Preparing the Pastors We Need click here 

Also, a Happy New Year to everyone as we celebrate the great gifts of God that He has bestowed upon us this past year and the year to come.