for pastors and those who hire them

I’m finally able to get back to my normal reading schedule, and the first book I read was written by my good friend, Chris Brauns. Chris was my older brother in seminary—two years ahead of me and about ten years wiser—and I’ve always looked to him as a model for how to be a man of God who shepherds God’s people. If you ever have the privilege of having Chris Brauns—or someone like him—as your pastor, you have been exceptionally blessed by God.

I use Brauns’ pastoral and clear headed book on forgiveness (Unpacking Forgiveness) as required reading for my class on systematic theology, and his new book, When the Word Leads Your Pastoral Search, is equally helpful. This book is specifically targeted to search committees, but I found that Brauns’ insights are also beneficial to pastors. One of the most difficult aspects of being a pastor is figuring out what your job is, knowing when it’s sufficiently done so you can go to bed, and knowing how well you did. Because When the Word Leads Your Pastoral Search tells search committees what to look for in a pastor—essentially laying out the job description—it also can be used by pastors who want to meet that description.

Brauns contends that the most important part of the pastoral calling is the need for expository preaching. He explains that preaching the Word is about more than delivering content, for this could be accomplished by other means. The fact is that “Preaching is God’s specifically appointed means for the proclamation of His Word” (p. 183), and this hasn’t changed even in our technologically advanced age. Brauns concludes: “God specifically tells pastors to preach the Word. While we may choose at times to do other activities, they cannot replace preaching. Nothing can” (p. 184).

It’s hard to read this book and not want to pick a paragraph of Scripture, exegete and then preach it on Sunday. So while When the Word is mandatory reading for search committees, it is also inspiring for pastors. This book will encourage you in the job you are already doing, but it will also motivate you to become even better. And should you fail so miserably that the church asks you to leave, you can always do two things.

1. Take heart, knowing that if Jonathan Edwards was fired by his church, then it’s not surprising that you might be too. You’re in really good company on this one.

2. Leave them your copy of Brauns’ book as a parting gift of love. If they were so blind as to let you go, then they’re probably going to need it.

6 Comments

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  1. Hi Mike,

    I recently received the announcement regarding your new book, Christ Alone. I’ve only read a couple of reviews of Rob Bell’s book– and watched the MSNBC interview by Martin Bashir! I’ve read/heard enough to recognize the significance of this. So, just a quick word to express appreciation for your allowing the Lord to use your gifts, and for jumping into the fray in hopes of guarding the faith! I’ve also heard great reports about your recent Sunday School series at Berean.

    Keep on keeping on,

    Steve Dye

    P.S. Thanks so much for the support you and Julie have sent our way over the last few months!

  2. What about the ability to “pack the house on a Sunday?” How about preaching the word in way that everyone walks away feeling great about themselves?

    I’m in my 2nd year as a (Senior) Pastor and find that driving through whole books of the Bible have really served to define our community and the stages we’re in as far as transition. I had someone once accuse me of “picking Scripture that fits my agenda,” because the word has framed our situation so well.

    There are many weeks where I start out wondering, “Now, why did I put this passage on the schedule again?” And I’m tempted to work around it. But way more often, those are the best and most challenging sermons I offer — because I’ve really had to fight for it.

    I’ll be looking for Unpacking to add my Amazon wishlist. But remember, you owe me a gift anyway.

    .sg

  3. Thanks for the reminder. It comes at a time when I am being tempted to cut corners in prep time to administrate. Balance is still important, but I needed to be reminded how important exposition really is. Especially since it is such a time consuming process!

  4. sg:

    I heard a rumor that you might be the son-in-law of a future state senator. Are you coming home to run the campaign?

  5. Mike,

    I ordered this book before it was released to the stores. As a search committee chairman I can tell you this book has been extremely useful for us as a committee. The descriptions of biblical exposition and how to evaluate sermons has been very insightful. Chris gives a very helpful tool to sytematically score a sermon and then provides a weighted system to compare messages one to another.

    This is not an end all solution but for it’s main emphasis on preaching and commitment to the biblical text I believe it is excellent. His sampling of suggested interview questions are quite helpful as well.

    Larry

  6. Mike,

    Thanks for your book, I read it in parallel with Bell’s book.

    The overall impression I get from Bell is a reaction against the historical church and the doctrinal legacy it has given us. I have seen this manifested in other areas over recent years, such as, in preaching, worship and the overall mission of the church. Would you agree this reaction is more predominate today and if so why now?
    PS The whole thing has made me appreciate Dr. Joe C, writing confessions and catechisms.

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