The year before I graduated from seminary and went into pastoral ministry, John Piper wrote the book, Brothers, We Are Not Professionals: A Plea to Pastors for Radical Ministry. The title alone got my attention because I knew exactly where he was going. There was in the 1990’s a kind of zenith in thinking about ministry as a profession. Secular books on business were more popular than books on theology, counseling, or exegesis. In the midst of that, came these words: “We pastors are being killed by the professionalizing of the pastoral ministry . . . The more professional we long to be, the more spiritual death we will leave in our wake” (p. 1). Hearing that message clear at the outset of my own efforts in pastoral ministry was incredibly formative for me.
Now, I’m pleased to find a revised and expanded edition of Brothers, We Are Not Professionals. In addition to a new preface, there are six new chapters:
- Brothers, God Does Make Much of Us
- Brothers, God is the Gospel
- Brothers, Be Bible-Oriented—Not Entertainment-Oriented—Preachers
- Brothers, Pursue the Tone of the Text
- Brothers, Help them Act the Miracle
- Brothers, Bodily Training Is of Some Value
Each of these new chapters reflect what Piper has been thinking about and writing on since the original publication. Each of these new chapters also fit well with the feel of the original ones. Each chapter is short, helpful, and easily something that could send you into a time of further reflection or study. The book as a whole bounces around issues of theology and ministry, always hitting life in the nitty-gritty. This is no ivory tower doctrine, but biblical teaching that meets pastors where they live and minister.
Of the new chapters, the one that meant the most to me was “Brothers, Be Bible-Oriented—Not Entertainment-Oriented—Preachers.” My dad used to always say “It’s easy to like someone who agrees with you.” And on one level that’s true here. My convictions about ministry lead me to be more Bible-oriented. But there was also conviction from this chapter. As I thought about Piper’s descriptions of the entertainment-oriented preacher, it occurred to me that I am probably quicker with a quote from a movie or a television show than I am with a Bible verse. I’m tempted to want to put a good illustration in just to break-up the sermon’s weightier parts rather than have it effectively illustrate the point. All of this to say, even after ten years of ministry, I don’t have it all figured out and I’m not as good as I should be. This new edition—like the original—has been helpful in leading me to think again about God’s calling to pastoral ministry and how I’m fulfilling it.
I highly recommend this book for anyone in ministry. I think it would be especially helpful for a group of ministers to read and discuss together.
Here are two videos that might further entice you to grab the book:
*NOTE: I received this book free for review from the publisher. This did not affect the content of this review.