Pastoral Ministry; Book Critique
MacArthur, John and The Master’s Seminary Faculty, Pastoral Ministry. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc, 2005.
The book is centered on a running theme of character that is above reproach as a pastor in the call to lead the church. Two broad views are expounded on and broken down into four perspectives from which he gives a more detailed discourse. Integrity and leadership are two themes which are interlinked and which of necessity cannot be divorced from each other. Integrity must be above reproach (1 Timothy 3: 2, ESV), implying deadness to self and not moral perfection .He says “anything else is an abomination to God and spells doom for the life of the church”.
Leadership is elevated to giving moral direction and also providing spiritual protection as a shepherd. The pastor has the responsibility to invigorate the church by inspiration and motivation with himself as the role model. Alex D Montoya writes: “It is not enough to be at the front of the pack; the leader must do also inspire the pack and do it with a willing and enthusiastic attitude.”
The above themes are the foundational themes on which the perspectives are expounded. Biblical, Preparatory, Personal and Pastoral perspectives are discussed and the way they affect leadership in the church. In the preparatory perspective, sexual morality is emphasized as being a cornerstone in benchmarking the character of a pastor.
The ability of a pastor to effectively govern his household is given prominence in Personal perspectives, as failure to do so would affect the ministry negatively The importance of living by example off the pulpit is highlighted in Pastoral perspectives. Practical Christianity by the pastor brings a good image to the church.
I agree with the author’s position of leadership and humility which is a trait frowned upon in the American society today. He emphasizes the need to lead by serving with humility as Christ taught the church. This is lacking in todays so called “mega churches” where pastors are taken as small “gods”.
Sexual sin which is damaging to the image of the church is another point in which I concur with him. This sin has made many churches to diminish in congregational membership as well as retiring once promising clergy who fell into sin. Impurity of the sexual nature is not only limited to sex, but also watching pornography and “sexting” which all sins are. Public integrity is equally important to private integrity, as one is interlinked with the other. Pastors need to embrace and practice both of them.
Two points of divergence are on the radical position taken on sexual purity before ministry and children who may reject the truth. The author states that there must be no sexual immorality even before one got saved. Then where is mercy and grace applicable, since all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God? (Romans 3:23, ESV).The essence of Christianity is based on a fallen humanity which needed a savior.
The call into ministry is followed by a process of justification and perfection. (Romans 8:29, ESV) Impure sexual thoughts would disqualify all pastors if an honest survey was to be undertaken to gauge purity before ministry.
Another point I differ with the author is if children of a pastor reject the truth, then he is disqualified from serving as a pastor. Many good men would fall short of this bar, yet the same children can reform and embrace Christ down the line. The family is the smallest unit of the wider church and differences in opinion between a pastor and his children will be expected. Rejection of the truth could be as result of rebellion against authority as a teenager, but later accepts Christ with maturity and introspection.
MacArthur and his team have contributed to academic discourse which is both practical and pastoral. This book has value in reading by both the church congregants and pastors, but can also be used in Bible Colleges and Seminary in their course work. His book adds value in the preparatory perspective of leadership training with concise and academically and reasoning.
The book is not a long and boring academic presentation of facts and figures, but it challenges the reader to take action. Its approach enriches the academic literature on leadership with a strong emphasis on integrity. His work carries the hallmark of excellence academically, since the author is both a pastor and a tutor in a Seminary and his work-life balance can be practically interrogated.
Many scholars base their work on theory, majoring on the academic treatise only, having value only inside the classroom and nothing else.5This author has balanced academic quality with practical significance.
DISSERTATION NOTICES. The Journal of Applied Christian Leadership, 8(2), (2014).110-115. Retrieved from https://search.prquest.com/docview/1754574556?accountid=45049 MacArthur, John and The Master’s Seminary Faculty, Pastoral Ministry. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc, 2005.
 MacArthur, John and The Master’s Seminary Faculty, Pastoral Ministry. How to Shepherd Biblically. Thomas
Nelson, Inc, 2005. Pp. 68
 Ibid, pp. 30.
 Ibid. pp. 230-231