Based on his 60 years in ministry, Bisagno's guide is a major expansion and revision of his former book Letters to Timothy. It now includes 162 brief yet powerful chapters of practical insight for handling real-life pastoral issues---working with church staff and elders, managing personal finances, conducting funerals, feeding God's sheep, dealing with relocation, and much more. 469 pages, hardcover from B&H.
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When you serve the Lord for 60 years, as has Rev. Bisagno, it seems obvious that the number of insights and practical tips that you would have for those who have never served, or have served for less time would be significant. Still, one is typically unprepared to read a book that contains 161 chapters, regardless of the content! Of course, the book is not really intended to be read as though it were a novel. It is intended to be a resource that can be consulted on occasion, reading ideas and suggestions from a ministry leader who has truly “done it all”.
From that perspective, this work is definitely helpful. Akin to picking up the phone and consulting with a seasoned mentor, accessing the wisdom it contains is easy and the various topics, while not covered exhaustively, are heavily referenced with scripture and anecdotes. The final product offers thoughts and ideas, insights that were hard won, through trial and error, and ultimately in the successful execution of evangelism and ministry. If you are on the cusp of ministry, using this book as a reference would not be wasteful – indeed, the few coins you spend acquiring this could save you hours of sweat and many dollars later.
That said, I did read the entire tome. I did not agree with all of Rev. Bisagno’s assertions or ideas, but since I understand the doctrinal differences we have, I was not surprised. I was actually amazed by the humility and grace with which he addressed many sensitive areas – including one that is near to me, which is the idea of women in ministry. Since I am just beginning to preach at my own church, I was delighted to discover that were it possible, Rev. Bisagno would not decline an invitation to hear me simply on the basis of my gender, and that he acknowledges that God can use the one He uses to bless and edify the Church.
At the end of the day, I believe this book has merit. There are many things I believe a young or experienced pastor, either one, could learn and use from its use. With humor, humility, and a great deal of wisdom, Rev. Bisagno offers a handbook that would assist those in ministry, regardless of their particular theological position, provided they are interested in advancing the Kingdom of God through the preaching of the Gospel.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255
The last time I read a rewritten classic, I was sorely disappointed. Happily, this was not the case as I read John Bisago's Pastor's Handbook.
I also found myself surprised at the style of the book – I expected to see sample worship service, sample prayers, sample sermon outlines. I found these – but I found so much more. The book is laid out as a series of devotionals – each about 2-1/2 pages in length. Each “devotional” is rooted in scripture, but it is also practical.
Beginning with a series of short devotionals (i.e. essays) on the nature and the origin of the church, the book moves on to more practical matters. The section headings provide a survey of the topics covered:
Part 1: The Church Part 2: The Pastor as God's Man Part 3: The Pastor as Spiritual Leader Part 4: The Pastor as Organizational Leader Part 5: The Pastor as Preacher Part 6: Worship Services Part 7: Programs and Ministries Part 8: The Church Staff Part 9: The Church Finances Part 10: Facilities and Operations Part 11: Other Important Matters Part 12: Issues/Taking a Position
A closer look at the table of contents will provide a more detailed look at the subjects covered.
Though the author is now a retired pastor, he does not speak for the graying church. He recognizes the need for the church to be more than it was it was – it will reach out to speak to people from various cultures and different generations.
Though I come from the Wesleyan Church, I found John Bisago's book interesting, helpful and encouraging. Pastors and leaders from across the ecclesiastical spectrum would be assisted in reaching their world for Christ as they take the time to study the 400 pages of the Pastor's Handbook.
I was glad to have the opportunity to read this book
This review is based on an electronic copy of the book provided without cost by the publisher for the purpose of writing this review.