What Every Pastor Should Know

When I was a kid I enjoyed reading our family’s Compton’s Encyclopedia. What should I look up today?  Maybe it’s time to pull out “B” and read about baseball. 

Unfortunately, there is no encyclopedia for congregational life. Sure there are encyclopedia entries about congregations. For various religious disciplines there are dictionaries for subjects like the Bible or systematic theology. But there is no encyclopedia that you can go to in order to get fast and accurate information. 

PastorWhere does a pastor go to learn about a particular congregational issue?  Where does laity go if they want more information about a particular challenge their congregation is facing?

One book I recommend, that isn’t an encyclopedia at all yet covers many topics, is a recent publication by Gary McIntosh and Charles Arn titled What Every Pastor Should Know: 101 Indispensable Rules of Thumb for Your Church

The authors cover 15 different congregational issues. These subjects include worship, revitalization, evangelism, care, change, connecting with newcomers and so forth. The advice offered is practical and applicable to many kinds of congregations.

I caution the reader that the authors assert that many of their observations are rules. I suggest what they call rules are very good suggestions, but are not necessarily laws for every context. Each clergyperson and layperson will need to adapt the rules and suggestions to his or her ministry setting. 

Yet, it is good to have some place, some resource to which you can turn when you have a question regarding congregational life. Since there is no Wikipedia yet just for congregational life, this fine book is a good place to start.

Tim Shapiro