STRENGTHENING AND RENEWING THE CALL TO CHRISTIAN MINISTRY
Part of the ministry resources on Burnout and Self-Care for Church Leaders.
- CLASSICS on Renewing the Call to Christian Ministry
- Spiritual and Theological Renewal
- Missional Renewal
- Renewal and Perseverance
- Dealing With Disappointment in the Church
- Related Areas
The following ministry resources focus on helping church leaders stay enthusiastically rooted in the call to Christian ministry, especially as it relates to theological renewal and dealing with discouraging features of ministry work. Each resource is listed in alphabetical order unless indicated. Hopefully each is described sufficiently for church leaders to assess the direct value for their situations.
Please consult the list of related ministry resources at the bottom of this page. See especially the strongly related guide in Pastoral Theology.
CLASSICS on Renewing the Call to Christian Ministry
- Seward Hiltner, Ferment in the Ministry — A hard-hitting address from the 1960s where ministers were demonstrating a “failure of nerve” by caving to pressure to redefine their ministries by sociological rather than biblical models. Sets for an unapologetic defense of the biblical nature of ministry.
- Kent and Barbara Hughes, Liberating Ministry from the Success Syndrome – Especially helpful for ministers experiencing discouragement because their ministries lack the tangible factors often associated with “success.”
- Reinhold Niebuhr and Martin Marty, Leaves from the Notebook of a Tamed Cynic – Remains one of the most widely recommended books to help young ministers find meaning in some of the mundane and discomforting realities of ministry.
- Henri J. M. Nouwen, In the Name of Jesus: Reflections of Christian Leadership – Discouragement in ministry often comes from a minister’s perceived inabilities or failures in the quest to be relevant, popular, and influential. Nouwen treats each of these quests as serious temptations that must be overcome by God’s healing grace.
- Henri J. M. Nouwen, The Wounded Healer: Ministry in Contemporary Society – Presents a hopeful model of ministry that compassionately identifies with the fundamental woundedness of human nature.
- William H. Willimon, Clergy and Laity Burnout — Suggests the fundamental problem with ministry burnout is lack of meaning and proposes ways of nurturing that meaning.
Spiritual and Theological Renewal (See also Pastoral Theology)
- Lynn Anderson, If I Really Do Believe, Why Do I Have All These Doubts? — An excellent resource for anyone who is weathering doubts, and quite valuable for ministers whose disillusionment about the church moves them to question their faith.
- Eugene H. Peterson, Under the Unpredictable Plant: An Exploration in Vocational Holiness – Peterson believes ministers experiencing burnout usually have some issue with self-absorption, self-protection, and self-pity. By contrast, he works from Jonah to develop a strong practical theology of vocational holiness.
- Andrew Purves, The Resurrection of Ministry: Serving in the Hope of the Risen Lord — Excellent theology that builds upon the nature of the resurrection as a theological basis for renewing one’s hope and sense of calling. A sequel to Purves’ The Crucifixion of Ministry.
- Thom Bandy, Why Should I Believe You: Rediscovering Clergy Credibility — A very direct address to remind ministers that the “functions of church leadership are driven by the needs of the mission field, not by the convenience of the institutional church.”
- Bill Easum, Put On Your Oxygen Mask First: Rediscovering Ministry — A hard-hitting effort to help ministers to “rediscover that primal, naïve, original moment with God that left us feeling as if we could change the world.”
- John Ortberg, Overcoming Your Shadow Mission — Frustrates, awakens, and encourages one into affirming the challenging God-ordained tasks for which they are truly equipped.
Renewal and Perseverance
- Blaine Allen, Before You Quit: When Ministry is Not What You Thought – Especially good at helping minister’s adjust their expectations, evaluate the roots of dissatisfaction, and honestly assess physical, emotional, and spiritual strength.
- Wayne Cordeiro, Leading on Empty: Refilling Your Tank and Renewing Your Passion – Cordeiro writes out of his own three-year experience of ministerial burnout and his recalibration that radically changed his lifestyle, values, goals, and calling.
- David Hansen, The Art of Pastoring: Ministry Without All the Answers. InterVarsity Press, 2012. – An authentic description of one minister’s struggles and joys of maintaining faithfulness in what he dubs an “old-fashioned pastorate” with a small church in Montana, as well as at another church in Cincinnati. Recognized as one of the freshest and most honest books on pastoral work, especially as Hansen comes clean with his “constant attempts to leave ministry.”
- Dean R. Hoge and Jacqueline E. Wenger, Pastors in Transition: Why Clergy Leave Local Church Ministry — Explains the seven main reasons pastors leave congregational ministry and suggests ways to prevent departures.
- Jeff Iorg, The Painful Side of Leadership: Moving Forward Even When It Hurts — Not on burnout and the call to ministry per se, but a good collection of hard-earned pastoral wisdom on how to deal with the difficult and painful aspects of pastoral leadership.
- Craig Brian Larson and David L. Goetz, Pastoral Grit: The Strength to Stand and Stay – Reflects a realistic but hopeful picture of congregational life and provides both the challenge and vision ministers need to persevere.
- H. B. London and Neil B. Wiseman, The Heart of a Great Pastor: How To Grow Stronger and Thrive Wherever God Has Planted You – Inspires the new generation of ministers as well as experienced servants to embrace the unique opportunities and joys God gives to those who accept the pastoral call.
- Hal West, The Pickled Priest and the Perishing Parish: Boomer Pastors Bouncing Back – Offers insights from Isaiah’s call to help boomer ministers renew their sense of calling.
Dealing With Disappointment in the Church
- J. LeBron McBride, Living Faithfully With Disappointment in the Church – Especially designed to provide substantive insight and genuine hope to faithful members of the church (not just ministers) who face spiritual disillusionment during difficult congregational crises.
- Philip Yancey on Disillusionment With Church — Two of Yancey’s titles, The Church, Why Bother? and Soul Survivor, are well-written and insightful journals of how Yancey renewed faith while affirming the harsh realities of the church’s failings.
Related Ministry Resources
Other Resources on Minister Self-Care and Preventing Burnout:
- Burnout and Self-Care in Church Leaders – Index
- Self-Care for Church Leaders
- Burnout in Church Leaders – Preventing and Overcoming
- Support Systems for Church Leaders
- Strengthening and Renewing the Call to Christian Ministry
- Pastoral Theology for Christian Ministry
See Other Resources on Christian Leadership Development:
- Christian Leadership Development in Congregations, Theory and Practice
- Christian Leadership Development Through Spiritual Formation
- Christian Leadership Development Through Character Formation
- Christian Leadership Development Through Life Experience
- Christian Leadership Development Through Self-Assessment
- Christian Leadership Development Through Life Effectiveness
- Christian Leadership Development Through Communication Competence
- Christian Leadership Development Through Failure and Setback
- Christian Leadership Development Over Life Span — J. Robert Clinton Leadership Emergence Theory
See Resources on Over 100 Areas of Christian Ministry: