J.R. Briggs
Downers Grove: IVP, 2014, 208 pp., $13.68

Fail: Finding Hope and Grace in the Midst of Ministry Failure is the work of the founder of Epic Fail Conference for Pastors. J.R. Briggs begins the book with the story of why he initiated this organization. As many of us have experienced, he recalls driving home from a conference feeling as if he were a total failure. He had just heard speaker after speaker describe their amazing successes in ministry, and that only deepened his sense of failure. He decided to organize a conference to gather pastors who needed to learn how God uses ministry failure as a vehicle for maturation in hope and grace. The result has been overwhelming. Fail is a thumbnail sketch of the content of his Epic Fail event. The book is saturated with startling statistics and unvarnished statements about personal failure, shame, guilt and empathy. His reflections on seminary education and ordination were personally challenging! Briggs is fearless in his willingness to speak about feelings of failure many pastors have but would be reticent to discuss. The book offers practical process in recovery. The section on the five stages of grief as they relate to ministry failure is insightful, and the eight practical steps to reentering after ministry failure are spot-on. If you’re a pastor feeling lonely, insignificant, insecure or a failure in ministry, be assured you are not alone. Pick up this book, and start reading today.

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Not every church becomes a megachurch, and not every pastor hops from success to success. In Fail: Finding Hope and Grace in the Midst of Ministry Failure (InterVarsity Press), J.R. Briggs shares his own struggles and invites fellow pastors to face up to the realities of pain and failure in ministry so they can find healing. As Eugene Peterson reminds us in the Foreword, “Failure is not the last word in a pastor’s life. But you can’t deal with it by yourself.”

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