What They Didn’t Teach You in Seminary
James Emery White
Baker Books, 2011, 188 pp., $17.99
Anyone who spent time in theological seminary knows that even with all the knowledge you gained, the list of things you didn’t learn is even longer. That’s why What They Didn’t Teach You in Seminary is such a valuable resource for pastors and church leaders.
James Emery White is one of the sharpest thinkers and writers on the contemporary church scene, and his books and blog are must-reads. White knows seminaries, and he knows churches; and in this book, he draws on his extensive experience with both to help bridge the gap in practical knowledge needed for ministry today.
While testifying to the value of his seminary education, White explains that it didn’t take long in ministry to realize the things he was learning in the classroom were vastly different from the issues he faced on the front lines of ministry. He said, “I needed to raise money to meet the church’s budget, and I never had a class on that. I wanted to try to grow the church numerically by reaching out to the unchurched, and my course work had never touched on it. I had a problem with a combative and disagreeable deacon, and I searched through my seminary notes and found nothing. I found I needed to be in the office for administration, in my study to prepare my talks, in people’s lives to stay connected to the community, and in my home to raise my family—and there hadn’t been any instruction on how to manage that.”
Looking back from the perspective of more than two decades in ministry—including pastoring a traditional church, serving as a seminary president, and planting a church has become one of the nation’s largest—White addresses a cornucopia of ministry topics. Among the topics he deals with: hiring staff, talking about money, setting ministry priorities, establishing fences to protect you from sexual temptation, dealing with pastoral envy, confronting destructive people, casting and nurturing vision, reaching young adults, managing expectations, and the list goes on. In less than 200 pages, White offers valuable counsel on one issue after another that pastors face.
From vision to values, from calling to communication, Jim takes readers on a guided tour of the way real-life ministry can and should be lived. The book is packed with timely insights that will help church leaders build strong, effective ministries. This book deserves a place on every pastor’s bookshelf.