Miller has been around for seventy-four years, pastoring, learning, making mistakes. “So walk with me,” he says, “and will tell you the whole truth.” (16) He's been through all the ministry fads of ministry so his advice is just down to earth and practical. He writes thirty five letters, sharing his insight how on as many subjects. He writes about his own “call to preach,” the importance of a denomination (and how to get along in one), the mopes, how to deal with eros (use your brain and no other part of your anatomy), parenting (he thought the nursery workers would put his son's picture up at the post office), the emergent church (a heresy without any arguing points), Jesus (how He has been made a political issue), mission (“Churches that ignore their communities will not grow, and churches that will not globalize don't matter much.”), bulletins (how they reveal who the church is: bowling leagues, or, mission projects), spiritual depression (the only way out, ministry!), team leading as player-coach (“Never ask your people to do anything you have never done and wouldn't do.”), vision, blah (playing it safe is the killer), nets (friends catch us), difficult people, sermons (there are no bad short ones), humility (it's amazing how much can get done in a congregation if we don't care who gets the credit), among others.
Miller adds some humor to this serious book. He mentions seeing “a man carrying a Tim LaHaye prophecy Bible, which is sort of like the NIV except it glows in the dark.” (38) He can also be blunt. “Teach your people they have an obligation to the world. Don't take them to the Holy Land where they will stay in five-star Western-style hotels and walk 'where Jesus walked.' … He walked among the sick and dying.” (111)
I received a copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.
Calvin Miller continues to produce fresh, practical, advice for church leaders, pastors, and congregants. His book “Letters to a Young Pastor” is no exception. The book comes highly endorsed by pastors, Christian leaders, and Seminary professors.
I think of Calvin Miller as authentic, transparent, and challenging. His writing is thought provoking, encouraging, and practical. “Letters to a Young Pastor” is arranged in five sections made up of narrative and “letters” addressed “Dear Young Pastor.” Chapters contain seasoned, sage advice on personal areas of ministry, exhortations on authenticity, warning of the danger despondency or the art of self-forgiveness. He also addresses the emergent church, orthodoxy, and politics in the church, the success syndrome, and the failures of church leaders. He talks about homiletics, the arts, and humility.
Calvin Miller writes in a literary style that blends the beauty of poetry with the power of prose resulting in a surprising harmony of acerbic humor and soothing empathy. “Letters to a Young Pastor” is classic wisdom for a new generation of church leadership.
A complimentary review copy of the book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.