Hansen, The Art of Pastoring

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David Hansen, The Art of Pastoring: Ministry Without All the Answers, Revised Edition. InterVarsity Press, 2012.

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LifeandLeadership.com Summary

Eugene Peterson calls this the “freshest and most honest book on pastoral work you’re ever likely to come upon.” The book begins with a personal story of Hansen during his first ministry at a remote rural church in Montana during the dead of winter, feeling alone, unprepared, and unmotivated. Out of his experience emerges an image of the minister becoming a parable of Christ through the challenges, celebrations and day-to-day experience of ministry. He tells how he found meaning by immersing himself into the lives of those to whom God called him. It is not a book about “doing” but about “being” a person whose life becomes the presence of Christ. See also his other volume, Loving the Church You Lead: Pastoring With Acceptance and Grace. Baker, 2004.

Hansen is especially appreciated among leaders of small churches, and others who feel called to be what he dubs “an old fashioned pastor.” With disarming authenticity, he narrates his ministry of 17 years in a small town in Montana, and recounts his struggle over a decision to leave that pastorate for a larger church in Cincinnati.

This is a revision of the original 1994 edition. The main difference are the two sections at the end. “Sightings” describes his efforts to be “parable of Jesus” in both Montana and Cincinnati. “Beneath the Surface” revises an original essay on how to be a parable of Jesus to persons with Alzheimer’s, stroke victims and those with cognitive disabilities.

From the Publisher

Hundreds of books, tapes, workshops and seminars promise to answer these impossible questions. Some offer a set of practical guidelines; others suggest a system or pattern to follow. Some stress various ministry functions; others feature case studies as models of success or failure. Some are helpful. Others are not. But in The Art of Pastoring, David Hansen turns pastoral self-help programs on their heads. He tackles the perennial questions from within his own experience.

From the Inside Out

Hansen’s fresh, bold narrative grows from nearly a decade of ministry. He draws you into his life and into the lives of Florence-Victor Parish in the mountains of Montana, including unforgettable encounters with unforgettable people—a stubborn pioneer woman who still chops her own firewood though she’s blind and 90 years old, a championship rodeo cowboy who was baptized in his boots, and many more.

Hansen’s goal is to help you discover “that pastoral ministry is a life, not a technology … [that] life as a pastor is far more than the sum of the tasks I carry out. It is a call from God that involves my whole life.”

From Calling to Living Parable

Every pastor has encountered those who struggle to hear God’s voice in a hospital room, who reach for Jesus in the sacraments. No systematic answers can meet their deep, eternal needs. What can touch them, Hansen contends, is a life itself, a life lived as a parable of Jesus. “As a parable of Jesus Christ,” Hansen writes, “I deliver something to the parishioner that I am not, and in the process I deliver the parishioner into the hands of God.”

It is this knack for getting to the heart of things that makes The Art of Pastoring valuable for pastors in any setting—rural, suburban or urban. Parachurch workers, missionaries, church leaders and ministry volunteers will also find inspiration here.

In this significantly revised new edition, Hansen includes new insights into his view of pastorate as parable and adds a new postlude in which he comes clean on his “constant attempts to leave the ministry.”

About the Author

David Hansen is pastor of Heritage Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. He has also pastored in Montana, the setting for many of the stories in his book The Art of Pastoring: Ministry Without All the Answers (IVP). Hansen is also author of Loving the Church You Lead: Pastoring with Acceptance and Grace (Baker).

In 1999, Hansen was awarded an honorary doctor of divinity degree from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He has been a contributing editor for Leadership Journal, and is a frequent speaker at pastoral ministry conferences.

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