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Pastor: The Theology and Practice of Ordained Ministry [Paperback]

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Pages   386
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 1" Width: 6" Height: 8.75"
Weight:   1.2 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jan 1, 2002
Publisher   Abingdon Church Supplies
ISBN  0687045320  
EAN  9780687045327  

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Item Description...
A comprehensive, provocative overview of what it means to be a pastor in today's world, concentrating on those core concerns of preaching the Word, caring for souls, and celebrating the sacraments. Outlines the pastoral roles of priest, preacher, teacher, evangelist, counselor, prophet, and leader.

Publishers Description

Ordained ministry, says Willimon, is a gift of God to the church--but that doesn't mean that it is easy. Always a difficult vocation, changes in society and the church in recent years have made the ordained life all the more complex and challenging. Is the pastor primarily a preacher, a professional caregiver, an administrator? Given the call of all Christians to be ministers to the world, what is the distinctive ministry of the ordained? When does one's ministry take on the character of prophet, and when does it become that of priest? What are the special ethical obligations and disciplines of the ordained? In this book, Willimon explores these and other central questions about the vocation of ordained ministry.

He begins with a discussion of who pastors are, asking about the theological underpinnings of ordained ministry, and then moves on to what pastors do, looking at the distinctive roles the pastor must fulfill. The book also draws on great teachers of the Christian tradition to demonstrate that, while much about Christian ministry has changed, its core concerns--preaching the word, the care of souls, the sacramental life of congregations--remains the same.

Ordained ministry is a vocation to which we are called, not a profession that we choose. To answer that call is to open oneself to heartache and sometimes hardship; yet, given the one who calls, it is to make oneself available to deep and profound joy as well.

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More About William H. Willimon

William H. Willimon The Reverend Dr. William H. Willimon is Professor of the Practice of Christian Ministry at the Divinity School, Duke University. He is recently retired after serving eight years as Bishop of the North Alabama Conference of The United Methodist Church, where he led the 157,000 Methodists and 792 pastors in North Alabama. For twenty years prior to the episcopacy, he was Dean of the Chapel and Professor of Christian Ministry at Duke University, Durham, North Carolina.

Dr. Willimon is a graduate of Wofford College (B.A., 1968), Yale Divinity School (M.Div., 1971) and Emory University (S.T.D., 1973). He has served as pastor of churches in Georgia and South Carolina. For four years, beginning in 1976, he served as Assistant Professor of Liturgy and Worship at Duke Divinity School, teaching courses in liturgics and homiletics and served as Director of the Ministerial Course of Study School at Duke, and Presiding Minister in the Divinity School Chapel. When he returned to the parish ministry in 1980, he was Visiting Associate Professor of Liturgy and Worship at Duke for three years. He has been awarded honorary degrees from a dozen colleges and universities including Wofford College, Lehigh University, Colgate University, Birmingham-Southern College, and Moravian Theological Seminary. In 1992, he was named as the first Distinguished Alumnus of Yale Divinity School. He also serves on the faculties of Birmingham-Southern College as Visiting Distinguished Professor and as Visiting Research Professor at Duke Univeristy Divinity School.

He is the author of sixty books. His Worship as Pastoral Care was selected as one of the ten most useful books for pastors in 1979 by the Academy of Parish Clergy. Over a million copies of his books have been sold. In 1996, an international survey conducted by Baylor University named him one of the Twelve Most Effective Preachers in the English-speaking world.

His articles have appeared in many publications including The Christian Ministry, Quarterly Review, Liturgy, Worship and Christianity Today. He is Editor-at-Large for The Christian Century. He has served as Editor and Expositor (with his wife, Patricia) for Abingdon’s International Lesson Annual. He has written curriculum materials and video for youth, young adults, and adults. His Pulpit Resource is used each week by over eight thousand pastors in the USA, Canada, and Australia. A 2005 study by the Pulpit and Pew Research Center found that Bishop Willimon is the second most widely read author by mainline Protestant pastors.

William H. Willimon currently resides in Birmingham, in the state of Alabama.

William H. Willimon has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Belief Matters
  2. Horizons in Theology
  3. Interpretation: A Bible Commentary
  4. Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching & Preaching
  5. Pastor's Handbook
  6. Preaching About-- Series

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Richard Baxter Rehash   Mar 13, 2006
It is a sad reflection of the church in the 21st century that a book like this could be published by a church leader. Willimon reveals himself as stuck in a Christendom institutional view of the church in which the ecclesiastical equivalent of the one man band hogs the limelight whatever passing condiscension he makes about giving ministry to the "laity."
Just look at Willimon's chapter headings

"Pastor as Priest, Pastor as interpeter of scripture, pastor as pastor, pastor as preacher, pastor as counselor, pastor as teacher, pastor as evangelist, pastor as prophet, pastor as leader, pastor as character, pastor as disciplined Christian."

After reading that list, I wanted to add another one, PASTOR AS SUPERMAN, because you would need to be to do all that! Willimon's list is a far cry from the NT picture of the Body of Christ. I wanted to ask Willimon, why can't a pastor be a pastor, and a prophet a prophet, and an evangelist an evangelist? Why does the pastor have to do it all. Of course the answer is, they are ORDAINED. Willimon has a "high view" of the ordained ministry and so what ever he says, functionally the rest of the people of God come off badly in this instiutional understanding of the church where ministry is basically the perogative of the professional christian. Willimon's perspective on ministry sets up a bad codependent relationship in the church where one group of Christians (the clergy) assume responsibility for ministry that is not theirs and most of the rest of the people of God abdicate responsibility for ministry that should be their's!
The truth is that this book is basically a rehash of Richard Baxter's "The Reformed Pastor" written by an English puritan a couple of hundred years ago. I believe this view of ministry that Willimon is perpetuating is a major obstacle in the church regaining her missional nature.It is perhaps not an unconnected fact that Willimon is a Methodist Bishop, one of the fastest declining denominations in the States, and with this understanding of ministry in the church I can see why!
Do yourself a favour, buy Paul R Stevens "The Abolition of the Laity" (also published as "The Other Six Days") instead, it has a far better theology and model of ministry than you will find in this book.
From a Deep Well  Feb 18, 2006
I was introduced to William Willimon through his sermons. He is a genius preacher and a prolific writer, having published hundreds of sermons and dozens of books. The insights in Pastor are the fruit of a life long lived in God's service. It is not easy being a pastor amidst the cultural mega-shifts underway. Many of us find ourselves in the throws of a vocational identity crisis. What in the world are pastors to give themselves to? Are they primarily preachers, Chief Executive Officers, ones who empower the laity, counsellors in the clinical vane or spiritual directors in the Catholic tradition? Drawing from a deep well of theological and historical insight, as well as years of pastoral experience, Willimon tackles these and other questions arranged in thirteen well-crafted chapters covering the full spectrum of pastoral theology.
Pastor balances theory and practice, and is full of real-life examples from Willimon's own experience. One example is the way he comes against the individualist spirit of North American Christianity, and calls for pastors to see themselves as participants with all of God's people in transformative communities of faith and not merely as religious managers. I only wish that I had this resource twenty years ago.
A Job Description for Pastors  Feb 1, 2006
William H. Willimon's comprehensive and insightful, Pastor: The Theology and Practice of Ordained Ministry, should be read by all entering or currently working in ordained ministry. Willimon examines the multi-faceted roles of the ordained pastor-worship leader, care giver, interpreter of Scripture, servant, counselor, teacher, evangelist, and prophet-through the lenses of Scripture, Christian history, and post-modern American culture. Although Willimon's elucidation of pastoral ministry is verbose, and at times convoluted, seminarians will nevertheless benefit from gaining a deeper understanding of the nature of pastoral work. Both novel and seasoned pastors will also benefit from this book and find subsequent occasion to use it as a periodic reference to check the content, focus, and health of their ministry.

Willimon begins his book with a persuasive apology for the rationale of ordained ministry based on Hippolytus' ordination liturgy. Willimon's organizes each successive chapter around the aforementioned images of the pastor and disperses six interludes throughout these chapters, addressing issues highly pertinent to ministry such as "The Wonderful Thickness of the Text", "Sin in Christian Ministry", and "Failure in Christian Ministry".

Pastor: The Theology and Practice of Ordained Ministry is not light, leisurely reading. Indeed, if Willimon had condensed his content and reduced his illustrations, his book would have possessed more force and clarity. In addition, on a few occasions Willimon's book discouraged me because of the enormous burdens and responsibilities that fall upon ordained ministers. Yet, Willimon consistently interjects anecdotes and reassurances of God's grace and presence. In the end, it's better to be realistic about the harsh realities of pastoral ministry than naïve and starry-eyed.

Thus, because of Willimon's realistic and comprehensive treatment of ordained pastoral ministry-both in terms of a minister's role and in terms of how Scripture, church history, and post-modern America perceive the minister's role-I highly recommend this book.
Why be a pastor?  Aug 2, 2005
As I read "Pastor", I was constantly asking the question, "Why would anyone ever seek to be a pastor after reading this book?" My thoughts surrounding my answer seemed to fluctuate around whether a pastor can say "no" to his/her calling from God. Willimon rightly states that pastors are called by God to be leaders. And if we believe in an omnipotent God, His will will be done. So, I continued to read with an open mind the thoughts Willimon had to say.
On one hand, Willimon provides a thorough analysis of the qualities that pastors should exhibit, although at times he seems to be a bit long winded in his discussion. He, however, displays an overly high view of the way church is done as well as an extraordinarily high view of the role of the pastor in relation to the church. Throughout the book, he describes the pastor's duties as being burdensome. While in once case "being" Christ to an essentially self-centered world can be burdensome Willimon leaves little room for the pastor to also be a person, sinful along with the rest of humanity. One example, "The pastor bears the chief burden of lifting up that story to the church on a weekly basis, to `open the Scriptures'" (81) leaves little room for lay involvement in opening Scriptures. He also seems to advocate that worship and opening of Scriptures can only take place in the formal church setting and only on Sundays. He diminishes the success and functionality of small groups in being able to transform among its members as well as to the society around them citing the diversity between members creates an atmosphere of "live and let live" in order to avoid confrontation (233).
This disturbing point along with many others gives me reason to cautiously recommend this book. The reader should keep in mind that Willimon seems to speak to a very specific worldview which advocates the Christendom model in an age where many believe that Christendom is progressively becoming a "flat-lined" institution.
What is a "Pastor?"  Jul 28, 2005
Throughout "Pastor," it is easy to tell that the author, William Willimon, has 25+ years as a church pastor with all the ups and downs that come with that particular calling. From beginning to end, this book is filled with encouragement for pastors, and lay leaders alike, as they struggle through the bad times and breeze through the good times.

One of the key aspects of this book is Willimon's emphasis on the fact that pastors are fallible human beings just as much as anyone else in this fallen world. Pastors cannot, and their people should not, expect them to do everything right or have the perfect answer to every question. This helps pastors remember that they are still just people. On the other hand, Willimon also reminds us that pastors are also people who are called out by God. According to Willimon there are two basic views of the pastor: "...the first view leads to a `high' theology of ordination in which the minister is `appointed by Christ to take Christ's place as host at the table.' The other view leads to a `low' theology of ministry where someone is merely `called out from among the people to help.' We need not choose between the two. ...The first stresses the gifted, grace-filled quality of ministry...the second asserts the functional, community-derived quality of Christian ministry" (39).

I found Willimon's discussion of "the needs of the people" extremely helpful. He argues that as pastors we try to meet all of the needs of our people all of the time. However, what we should be doing is trying to educate our people as to what are real needs in life and what are wants and desires. As the author points out, " this culture desire becomes elevated to the level of need...and because we tend to be a pit of bottomless desire, there is no end to our need." Willimon goes on to argue that this is why many clergy experience burn-out. Pastors, too often, are "expending their lives, running about in such busyness, attempting to service the needs of essentially selfish, self-centered consumers, without critique or limit of those needs" (95). Pastors have to be able to differentiate and discern the real needs from those desires which are elevated to the level of needs.

The single major problem I see in this work is its length. It felt that Pastor Willimon could have said in 200 or so pages what he said in 300+. The book seemed to drag on and the author could get somewhat rambly at times. However, if one has the time to devote to this book and the ability to see past the droning, there is a lot of great advice that could save a number of pastors from the fatigue that so many face.

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