Given the many viable approaches to ministry scenarios David Hansen offers contemporary pastors in his book The Art of Pastoring: Ministry Without All the Answers, why does the thrust of treatise emphasize practicing ministry without all the answers? At the time of the books printing in 2012 the author was pastor of heritage Community Church in Cincinnati. What’s more, he has pastored churches in Montana, written as well as edited articles in Leadership Journal, and regularly speaks at pastor conferences. As a veteran minister with a body of work spanning more than thirty years, David Hansen candidly shares of how his dependence on God has provided all the answers he has ever needed throughout his pastorate.
Even though the title suggests that Hansen will not be putting forward any answers for pastoral ministry, the opposite is the case. From the beginning to end The Art of Pastoring: Ministry Without All the Answers deeply reflects the reservoir of Hansen’s life as a minister who sincerely loves God as well as his fellow man and woman. Just as with any reflection, it is an honest spirit-deep deliberation that addresses methods he considers unfruitful prior to discussing at lengths his favored style. Namely, Hansen appraises trend-driven and task-driven methods in light of pastoral ministry as following Jesus Christ. His summation in this regard is that trend-driven, i.e. “following Christian movements,” and task-driven, i.e. “subjugating our life with Christ to management technologies,” pastoral ministry methods alone will not produce the spiritual results God desires (pp.19-20).
In contrast, Hansen advocates that the most powerful modus operandi of pastoral ministry is a life-styled after the ways of Jesus. He develops this further by likening a pastor’s life to a “parable of Jesus” (p.24). According to Hansen, a parable is intended to reveal an unforeseen and unknown thing to the hearer. Just as Jesus Christ was parable of God the Father (John 14:9), pastors are meant to be parables of Jesus Christ. Just as Jesus Christ lead people to God the Father, pastors are to lead people to Jesus Christ (p.26) and empower them in ministry. For the pastor this means choosing the Way of the Cross, surrendering self-centered ambitions and embracing the necessary sacrifices of servanthood (pp.30-31). Once this point of reckoning has been settled in the pastor’s spirit, he is at liberty to appropriate from trend- and task-driven fads (p.31).
The pastor’s life as a parable of Jesus is sown throughout the twelve chapters of the book. On the whole, I appreciate The Art of Pastoring: Ministry Without All the Answers for several reasons. First, and foremost, I delight in the fact Hansen promotes dependence on God through reading of the Bible and prayer. I truly believe that his dependence on God is the key to his enduring over thirty years as an effective pastor. I would do will to depend on God as well. Second, I can relate to the parable of Jesus metaphor. It has inspired me to be more mindful of my words and actions. Other than that, Hansen’s brief yet poignant broaching of Calling, the Holy Spirit, Temptation, Eschatology, Preaching, Prayer, Friendship, Sacrament, Leadership, Leaving (i.e., surrendering a church to another pastor), and Reward furnished me with insights and perspectives have already born fruit through my ministry agency.
At any rate, the entire read was an encouragement to a budding young pastor such as myself. Cheers!