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Leadership of the church, particularly during a challenging time of transition in mainline Protestantism, has become a pressing concern for pastors. This book shows how the practices, skills, and intentions of Christian preaching can be helpful to the leadership of a congregation. It will also show how leadership is an appropriate expectation for sermons. In preaching, pastoral leaders can help a congregation face its problems and coordinate its God-given resources to address those problems.

Beginning with his childhood in a segregated South and moving through his student years, Willimon gives candid, inspiring, and humorous testimony to his experiences as a seminary professor, rural pastor, globe-trotting preacher, bishop, and popular theologian and writer. Above all, he shows how God has constantly had a call on his life. By turns poignant, hilarious, and thought-provoking—but always irresistibly engaging— Accidental Preacher is sure to join the well-remembered, classic memoir of our time. So I am relieved to say that his memoir in retirement is no more and no less honest than his preaching has been.

Willimon is one of the least obvious persons I have ever known. The joy and humor at the heart of this memoir not only make it a wonderful read but also indicate how Christians can live well as resident aliens. It is all here in this compelling memoir: Will Willimon the storyteller, the wit, the sage, the prophet, the pastor, the preacher.

But most of all, we encounter Willimon the servant of the church and the unrelenting follower of Christ. This is the story of how, out of the South, with its monuments already crumbling, and out of a family challenged to its core, comes an eloquent and bold proclaimer of the gospel. Purchase from Eerdmans.

Effective 21st century preaching demands a more perceptive understanding of both race and Christian faith. How do pastors of white, mainline Protestant churches preach effectively in situations of racial violence and dis-ease? Who Lynched Willie Earle? Purchase from Abingdon Press. Tolerate one another.

Not only is the one whom Christ loves Other but God is Other. The ground beneath us shakes the walls that divide us.

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It will screw up your world. Do you realize what baptism really means? Through the Holy Spirit we become part of the Body of Christ! Hauerwas and Willimon are among the most reliable teachers of the church.

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Ours is a time when faithful teaching is urgent in the church that is compromised, bewildered and domesticated. This book is an invitation to fresh learning, to repentance, and to the recovery of missional nerve. Hope Church—its clergy and its people—are quite a congregation, an unforgettable cast of saints and sinners.

While serving a heavenly realm, they also have their feet plainly planted in the muck and mire of the real world. Here is an Easter story of ordinary folk caught in the gracious grasp of an extraordinary God. In this rollicking, hilarious, sometimes pathetic, fast-paced, and always entertaining journey through a month of Sundays at Hope Church, we meet a wild cast of characters in church people surprised to be the body of Christ. Sex, violence, greed, grunge, lust, and lies—all in church! Saints and sinners all, caught within the embrace of a God who refuses to make proper distinctions.

Seasoned ministers in this corporate church world are opportunists intent on crowd-pleasing performances that advance their careers. When inevitable missteps expose their manipulative ways, like their counterparts in the corporate world of business, protecting the corporation becomes their prime concern.

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But reckless ambition leads to compromises that bring about a final tragic accounting. There is still God after all. Imagine a touch of madness and mystery and the chance for grace. Imagine the narrator of this novel has a keen sense of irony and humorous insight into his cast of characters. Purchase from Wipf and Stock. In sixty previous books Will Willimon has worked the first two.

"IS Vocation of Ministry" by Stuart L. Palmer

Many believe the long decline of The United Methodist Church is a crisis of effective leadership. Willimon takes this problem on. As an improbable bishop, for the last eight years he has laid hands on heads, made ordinands promise to go where he sends them, overseen their ministries, and acted as if this were normal. Here is his account of what he has learned and — more important — what The United Methodist Church must do to have a future as a viable movement of the Holy Spirit. 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?

William H. Willimon

Given the call of all Christians to be ministers to the world, what is the distinctive ministry of the ordained? What are the special ethical obligations and disciplines of the ordained? It 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. Four examples illustrate amply how this book addresses the needs of our times.

I cannot echo this point strongly enough, adding that this counsel should apply to more than the pastoral theology departments of our seminaries. If pastoral theology is an entry-level teaching position in a seminary rather than a vital part of the curriculum, and if every area of the curriculum is not ordinarily taught by men with pastoral experience, then we run the risk of becoming theological degree mills rather than seminaries training future pastors.

Far too many men desire to teach men to be pastors but have no desire to serve as pastors themselves. I have often been the first one to discourage such a course in the lives of many young men. If we applied this practice to the medical profession, then the results would be disastrous. It is past time that we realize pastors should train future pastors just like doctors should train future doctors. Second, evangelistic zeal needs to characterize ministry in Reformed churches once again. Martin observes,. I find it disturbing, when attending evangelical and even Reformed churches where there is a robust commitment to confessional and biblical orthodoxy and expository preaching, and yet preachers find no avenue out of the text or subject to address the unconverted passionately and plead with them to be reconciled to God.

One has to question why men like that are in the ministry. It is all too common in Reformed churches to treat the means of grace as machines through which the Holy Spirit effectually calls sinners to Christ as long as the right elect materials go into the machine. This usually comes through the Spirit working in the affections of the preacher as well as in the affections of those who hear him preach.

Third, ministers must preach Christ. Yet preaching Christ cannot be a technique; it must flow from devotion to Christ. Martin notes,. If Christ does not fill our hearts in our times alone with Him, in our walking with Him, so that for us to live is Christ, speaking about Him with glowing hearts will not be natural for us. We dare not attempt to artificially and insincerely insert Him into our sermons in an effort to hide our loveless hearts. Have our approaches to preaching become too technique driven? Is that one of the reasons why modern debates over preaching often oscillate between exegetical precision with application or retelling redemptive history while trying to steer clear of moralism?

Whether expounding Scripture, unfolding the historical development of the gospel, applying biblical principles, or exhorting people to worship, preachers should preach Christ inescapably because they love Christ pervasively. A minister should not need to be told to extol the virtues of his Savior any more than an engaged couple should need to be told to look forward to their wedding day.

This characterized Paul and the other apostles, as well as virtually every manual of pastoral theology that has stood the test of time in the history of the Christian church.

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Fourth, ministers must prioritize their families above their ministries if they hope not to be disqualified from their ministries.