Pastor: The Theology and Practice of Ordained Ministry

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Ordained ministry, says Willimon, is a gift of God to the church--but that doesn't mean that it is easy. Always a difficult vocation, changes in society and the church in recent years have made the ordained life all the more complex and challenging. Is the pastor primarily a preacher, a professional caregiver, an administrator? Given the call of all Christians to be ministers to the world, what is the distinctive ministry of the ordained? When does one's ministry take on the character of prophet, and when does it become that of priest? What are the special ethical obligations and disciplines of the ordained? In this book, Willimon explores these and other central questions about the vocation of ordained ministry.

He begins with a discussion of who pastors are, asking about the theological underpinnings of ordained ministry, and then moves on to what pastors do, looking at the distinctive roles the pastor must fulfill. The book also draws on great teachers of the Christian tradition to demonstrate that, while much about Christian ministry has changed, its core concerns--preaching the word, the care of souls, the sacramental life of congregations--remains the same.

Ordained ministry is a vocation to which we are called, not a profession that we choose. To answer that call is to open oneself to heartache and sometimes hardship; yet, given the one who calls, it is to make oneself available to deep and profound joy as well.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780687045327
  • Publisher: Abingdon Press
  • Publication date: 1/1/2002
  • Series: Vision and Planning Series
  • Pages: 392
  • Sales rank: 485,929
  • Product dimensions: 6.14 (w) x 8.94 (h) x 0.85 (d)

Meet the Author

Feeling most at home behind a pulpit, William H. Willimon’s deepest calling is to be a preacher and truth-teller of Jesus Christ. Willimon is Professor of the Practice of Christian Ministry at Duke University Divinity School and retired Bishop of the North Alabama Conference of The United Methodist Church, after serving for 20 years as faculty member and Dean of the Chapel at Duke University. He continues to give lectures and teach at universities around the world. Willimon earned a doctoral degree from Emory University and has been honored with 13 additional doctorates. He lives in Birmingham, Alabama.

A study by the Pulpit and Pew Research Center found that Willimon is one of the most widely read authors among mainline Protestant pastors. An international survey conducted by Baylor University named him one of the "Twelve Most Effective Preachers" in the English-speaking world. With over a million copies of more than 60 books sold, his popularity is undeniable.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 11
1 Ordination: Why Pastors? 27
2 Ministry for the Twenty-first Century: Images of the Pastor 55
3 The Pastor as Priest: The Leadership of Worship 75
4 The Priest as Pastor: Worship as the Content and Context of Pastoral Care 91
5 The Pastor as Interpreter of Scripture: A People Created by the Word 111
Interlude: The Wonderful Thickness of the Text 133
6 The Pastor as Preacher: Servant of the Word 141
Interlude: Preaching in Acts 161
7 The Pastor as Counselor: Care That Is Christian 171
Interlude: Augustine's Confessions as a Word-made World 186
8 The Pastor as Teacher: Christian Formation 203
9 The Pastor as Evangelist: Christ Means Change 225
Interlude: Evangelism and the Irresistibility of Jesus 237
10 The Pastor as Prophet: Truth Telling in the Name of Jesus 249
Interlude: Sin in Christian Ministry 265
11 The Pastor as Leader: The Peculiarity of Christian Leadership 275
Interlude: Failure in Ministry 288
12 The Pastor as Character: Clergy Ethics 299
13 The Pastor as Disciplined Christian: Constancy in Ministry 315
Notes 337
Index of Names 377
Scripture Index 381
Subject Index 385
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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2005

    An Artful Guide to Tranformational Ministry

    Pastor: the Theology and Practice of Ordained Ministry by William Willimon is a comprehensive guide to pastoral ministry outworked in reform theology. Creating a tapestry for pastors, the author has artfully threaded the needle to work the many hues of pastoral ministry, whose threads include: the pastor as priest, preacher, counselor, teacher, evangelist, prophet, leader, and disciplined Christian. The text rests on a twin-pillared theme: Word and Sacrament. Faith is known by its object: the risen Christ. Believing the pastor priest to stand at intercession between Christ and humanity, Willimon vividly recalls both joys and pitfalls of pastoral ministry in his lifetime. Into the mix are woven Scripture and much wisdom from great patristic fathers such as Nazianzus, Augustine and Anselm. Willimon defines ministry is an act of God to have a human family and to maintain that family into eternity. Pastoral ministry is driven from the top down, and a pastor must obey God rather than any human authority. Yet, ministry is two sided, an act of the church, from the bottom up. Therefore, ordained ministry is a call from the church for leadership of its own family. Ordination, a gift from God, is for both pastor and people, brought through the church. The pastor is tied in a unique way to both biblical text and the historic faith of the church. The pastor is yoked, in both success and failure, to Christ, as He is present in the Word and Sacrament. Yet, true pastoral integrity transforms the present by offering God¿s people more than love and service. The first task of the pastor is to call the people out from the world to worship and into a community of fellowship. This is to provide a means for them to learn the story of God and his hand over human history. This is to dig the heart soil to make it a fertile ground for the Holy Spirit, so that the people might meet the living Christ. Pastors are world makers. Through Word and Sacrament, they open new worlds for people, helping them to journey toward God. These are worlds where people do good, worlds where the oppressed can be healed. The Christian world is one where suffering is legitimate and people learn what it is to be human in the shadow of the cross. In God¿s world, life is a gift, not a right, for all pastoral ministry ends upon a cross. The text gets 5 stars. In a world drowning in a sea of self- help programs, it promises no magic formula. Ultimately, the pastor¿s is a call to Gospel service and daily prayer. According to Willimon, ordained ministry is neither a profession, nor a path to personal advancement, nor private contentment. It is a vocation. A call to labor et orans, to a God given, grace filled way of life as both leader and servant to others within God¿s family, the church. #####

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