Over the years, Jared Wilson has written quite a collection of books that deal with the nature of the church and with ministry within the church. The latest, Gospel-Driven Ministry is, according to the subtitle, “An Introduction to the Calling and Work of a Pastor.” “This book,” he says, “is about the ways in which those given the stewardship of this mystery [the gospel of Jesus Christ]—pastors of local churches—must meditate on it, proclaim it, and adorn it with their lives (and their deaths).” It is, in other words, a book for pastors who want to prove faithful stewards of the most precious gift of God’s grace.
The first two chapters deal with The Pastor and The Power—the character, calling, and commissioning of the pastor himself, and the power he is given to carry out his work before the Lord. The task of the pastor is to speak to people’s souls, and to do that, he must have real power available to him. “There is only one place the pastor can find supernatural power—the Spirit of God working through the message of the gospel, the finished work of the Son of God.” The key to successful ministry lies not in technique and not in programs, but in the gospel, for pastors “are called primarily to the gospel—to believe it, to dwell in it, and to proclaim it.”
From these foundational matters, Wilson advances to worship, for the pastor is to be the lead worshiper, and to preaching, for one of the pastor’s most sacred tasks is to proclaim the truths of Scripture. “As pastors we are lead worshipers. We may not know how to read music or carry a tune in a bucket, but this is not ultimately about singing. It is about the passion of our hearts and the concerted interest of our ministry. What and how we’re worshiping will catch on. Note well, pastor, that our people won’t necessarily get excited about what we tell them to be excited about. They will instead, over time, become excited about what we ourselves are excited about.” If the pastor is excited about the gospel, that will manifest itself in preaching that is exultational—that rejoices in what Christ has done and, therefore, proclaims his praise.
The pastor is also called to care, to lead, and to fight. He is called to care for the spiritual needs of the people in his charge. He is called to lead the congregation decisively but still humbly, to take upon himself many responsibilities but also to freely delegate. And he is called to fight against spiritual enemies, against his own flesh, and against the wolves that so often threaten to savage his flock.
And then the pastor must live and die in a way that is worthy of imitation—to live a meaningful, dedicated life as a Christian, church member, family man, and citizen, then to joyfully leave it all behind so he can go and be with the Lord. “Christian ministry is not built on religious know-how or leadership strategies. Christian ministry is the overflow of the mystery of God in Christ coming to bear on your soul and, through yours, on the souls of others. Pastoral ministry is the intentional and careful stewardship of the mystery of the gospel. When you feel intimidated by that reality, you might be ready.”
This book is at once theoretical and practical, at once a textbook and a guidebook. It is another strong entry in a growing body of work that is meant to guide pastors into a ministry that is centered upon the gospel and driven by it. I’m glad to recommend it, along with Wilson’s many other titles that have come before it. It will prove worthy not only of a read, but of repeated re-reads.
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