After my first six months of vocational ministry, my wife gift wrapped this spectacular gift for me to open on Christmas. I could immediately see that The New Pastor’s Handbook by Jason Helopoulos was much more worthy for excitement than the pajamas I opened on New Year’s Eve as a kid. There was no disappointment whatsoever when I unwrapped this treasure.
Whether you are just getting your feet wet in vocational ministry like me, or whether you have tread in the safer waves of the first few years of ministry, this book is jammed packed with helpful wisdom that will provide refreshment to the palate of your ministry soul.
Helopoulos loads 47 chapters of joy saving, strength building, and faith encouraging insight in no more that 203 pages. That means you find the delight of a new chapter every few pages. If you are like me learning to tread the waters of Church ministry, you will find the succinct and pointed information in each chapter to be like floaties on a kid until he learns to swim freely in the depths.
After a few chapters of being reminded of the nature of the pastoral calling, you will enjoy wading through refreshing encouragement for a significant portion of this book. As I read through Helopoulos’ encouragements, I was challenged to read more often and more broadly. I reflected on my own use of time. I found assurance for areas I was starting well in ministry. And I was reminded of some of the challenges that lie ahead, including learning to become a better listener, embracing the ministry that God gives me, and learning to suffer in a way that will honor Jesus Christ.
Helopolous will teach you to avoid the pitfalls of young pastors that can cause us to drown in discouragement and pain. There were moments when I had to honestly evaluate my own start to ministry. I was grateful for the advice to be careful to get to know my congregation and its history as I consider and encourage change. One of the most resonating chapters was a gentle admonishment to not take myself too seriously. I am not Jesus. Helopolous writes, “…we are not indispensable. We are critical, but we are not essential.” Every pastor could stand to take a bite of that wisdom, swallow it and allow it to feed to the fringes of his ministry.
You will finish this book before you know it, being aptly reminded of the great joy and privilege of ministering to others.
If you are in your first five years of ministry, then I highly recommend this book to you. You will find that even in your busy schedule, you will want to make time to get through these pages. I promise! The chapters are short. The spaces between each line on the pages are generous. So that means you get to get the “short and skinny” quick and to the point and easy to digest.
So do yourself a favor and invest some of your budget into this gift of wisdom that you too will greatly treasure. Blessings to you my co-laborers in Christ.