Hughes, R. Kent. The Pastor’s Book: A Comprehensive and Practical Guide to Pastoral Ministry. Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2015. 592 pp. $45.00. Purchase at Amazon or on Kindle for much less.
Dr. R. Kent Hughes is a well-known figure in the Christian publishing world having written and edited a number of commentaries. He has also published a number of other books for Christian leaders and and laymen. He is senior pastor emeritus of College Church in Wheaton, Illinois and a visiting professor of practical theology at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Hughes is also a founder of the Charles Simeon Trust, which conducts expository preaching conferences throughout North America and worldwide. He and his wife, Barbara, have four children and an ever-increasing number of grandchildren.
Divided into three parts, Dr. Hughes offers an in-depth look at the duties of a pastor. The first part is a manual for various Christian gatherings. The first chapter, looks at the weekly Sunday (Lord’s Day) worship service as well as annual gatherings, funerals, and weddings.
The second part dissects the worship gathering. Here, we find the importance of the public prayer, the historic Christian creeds, and the hymns and worship songs that we sing, He finally looks at the two ordinances given to the church by Christ Himself: baptism and Lord’s Supper (or communion).
The final part consists of only two chapters and explains the extent of the duties of the pastor. Specifically, he looks at counseling and hospital visitation. At the end of the book he offers wedding services from various Christian traditions as well as a recommended print resource list and even a downloadable resource list of free downloads mentioned in the book.
Wow! Where was this resource when I first started in the ministry? Dr. Hughes offers on one hand a seminary class on pastoral ministry in book form while on the other hand he is in essence sitting down over a cup of coffee with a young minister explaining to him the intricacies and expectations of the calling before him.
This book is nearly 600 pages and therefore is meant to be as close to an exhaustive guide as is practically possible. After all, he offers two tables of contents! The first is just the chapters. The second is comprised of all the subsections and is eight pages long!
He offers Scriptural support for everything the pastor does as well as some historical reasoning for why he does it. Each chapter is a how to with many examples of what has been used in the past. Ultimately, he shows that the wheel does not need to be reinvented by each pastor. Rather, you can truly stand on the shoulders of others who have gone before you.
This resource is breathtaking in scope and what it seeks to accomplish. The truth is, Dr. Hughes has accomplished his goal of offering a single resource to give to any aspiring pastor, or any pastor in the ministry regardless of age and experience, a handbook that will not leave their side. In time, I believe The Pastor’s Book will stand next to Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ Preaching and Preachers and Spurgeon’s Lectures to My Students as a go-to resource for all pastors.
I highly recommend this invaluable resource to all pastors. Specifically, to all those who are aspiring to be pastors. This book will be one that will be passed on for generations to come.