James Emory White is a church planter, lead pastor and former seminary president, so he’s uniquely qualified to write, “What They Didn’t Teach You in Seminary: 25 Lessons for Successful Ministry in Your Church.”
It arrived on my front porch late last week -its an easy read, short chapters with absolute nuggets of gold about the realities of church leadership and how to navigate them. Dr White is refreshingly frank and concrete in the book. He writes in an overall optimistic tone, but also addresses the massive challenges of church leadership. Best of all, he addresses the dual challenge of your own internal heart issues and external resources/people etc. This whole combination is the genius of the book and why, if you’re a church leader, you should buy this book and read it!
Two quick rabbit trails:
1) I loved my seminary experience – all of it. This book is not a reactionary book against seminaries, but is instead a needed addition from the trenches of ministry. I suspect the title is intentionally provocative.
2) I find an alarming trend at some pastor workshops where the workshop leader speaks disparagingly about the congregation. The hassles, the let downs, the frustations, the congregants who “just don’t get it” etc. These workshop leaders speak in broad terms about the congregation being “sheep” as if we as leaders are not also prone to sheep like tendencies. Baa.
What about the members of your church who are life giving? What about those who are the very model of Christ following, what of those who are teaching you about following Christ? I suspect most congregations are pop
White doesn’t make this deadly mistake. He writes frankly of the joys and challenges of local church ministry. He has dedicated chapters to: critics, staffing, budgeting, systems and structures, sustainable preaching, family priority. It really is an all encompassing academic, practical look at thriving in local church leadership. I recommend it to everyone.