Review: The New Pastor’s Handbook

Jason Helopoulos, 2015, Baker, 208 pages, 4 of 5 stars

Summary: forty-eight brief chapters of warning and encouragement for new pastors

The genius of this book by Helopoulos (current pastor of University Reformed in Michigan) isn’t necessarily the insight or profundity but the short, direct, biblical, and practical chapters. One can imagine a busy pastor having a young pastor-to-be that needs mentoring. What resource could he turn to?

He grabs the Handbook along with the young intern, bows in prayer, reads the Scripture heading, and then studies the 2-4 page chapter together. Once the parson provides the necessary explanations and fillers on calling, leadership, sermon prep, candidating, hospital visits or whatever the topic may be, an hour and a half has flown by and the meeting is over.

Overview: I found the following chapters most helpful: Ch. 5 “As an Assistant Pastors” (“If you are willing to listen, some may even whisper in your ear that you would make a better senior pastor”, 44;) Ch.6 “As a Church Planter” (seven marks of a church planter); Ch. 14 “No One is Looking Over Your Shoulder” (“Expect to work a minimum of fifty hours per week, 82).

Ch. 26 “Dual Purposes” (“A well-organized…pastor will repurpose material in multiple ways”, p. 121); Ch. 32 “Beginning Too Fast” (“Begin by preaching through a small book of the Bible”, 144), Ch. 34 “Discouragement (“Evidence of our hard work is sometimes impossible to see”, 150); Ch. 38 “Giraffe Syndrome” (“We need fewer aspiring conference speakers and more faithful pastors committed to their local churches”, 164).

In sum, this is a an excellent resource for interns, new pastors and even veterans.

Excerpts:

  1. “In our day, it is more common for pastors to tell their wives too much.” (p. 70)
  2. [On knowing your wife] “The pastor across town may read a new book every evening because his wife need less conversational time.” (p. 71)
  3. “Endure…suffering silently, which is often a mark of good leadership in the church.” (p. 115)
  4. “Wrestle with discouragement—but don’t allow yourself to be devastated.” (p. 171)

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