Ministry by the Book

Here we have a gold mine of a book in which Derek shares much distilled wisdom on the New Testament, leadership, ministry and pastoral work. He is widely read in various disciplines and so brings a knowledgeable breadth to the subject. He is also readable and gives lots of useful sermon and Bible study discussion material in over 250 pages.

I am rather sceptical of what gets put on the back covers of books but I can concur with these comments. “Tidball’s survey offers ‘models of permission’ that enable a freer approach to ministry and the way it is conducted, challenges the stunted understanding of ministry that can often characterise our churches today, and gives encouragement to those who do not fit a ‘ministry by numbers’ approach.

Well grounded in the relevant scholarship, Tidball’s fresh engagement with the biblical texts, stimulating analysis and wise application will be of value to all who are established in pastoral leadership, or training for it.”

There are many areas of our church life where what Derek writes will be helpful while also challenging. It has concerned me that new ways of ministry, including in Fresh Expressions, do not go back to the foundational documents of our faith and practice. We thank God that John Wesley was a man of ‘one book’ but we often shape our lives, even as professedly evangelicals, by contemporary management or leadership training or styles in Christendom that have not always served us too well.

This book will help us be Biblically fresh for all areas of ministry, so, from the President of Conference to local preachers, pastoral leaders, class leaders, worship leaders, get reading and talking about this book. It may help a breeze of fresh air enliven all we do to the glory of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. ‘How firm a foundation you saints of the Lord...’

Derek has been Principal of the largest Theological School in Europe. It is to be hoped that the hundreds of students he has helped to graduate in theology and ministry will be taking this, fresh yet old, wisdom around the world. As Hans Kung said, many ecclesiologies have really been ‘hierarchologies’. How much movement from charismatic to catholic church styles was there in the early church?

I read this book while preaching and lecturing in Burundi where some Christians have got together with a burden to see church done differently and they are seeking to be relevant for ministry today. Much in this book resonates with their thinking and praying. It was a privilege to be with them for a month and to seek to help them engage with Biblical models of ministry for the 21st century church in Africa. I learnt so much.