We recently interviewed Jared C. Wilson about his latest publication, Gospel-Driven Ministry: An Introduction to the Calling and Work of a Pastor. The new book is a comprehensive, practical guide to pastoral ministry that prepares new pastors and equips those currently serving for long-term, healthy ministry. Gospel-Driven Ministry is available now from Zondervan online or wherever Christian ministry books are sold.
FTC: Jared, your latest work, Gospel-Driven Ministry, serves as a sort of prequel to your previous work with Zondervan, The Gospel-Driven Church. How do the two projects relate to one another?
This book is a prequel in that it’s published after Gospel-Driven Church of course, but it really lays the foundational stuff at work in that previous book. Gospel-Driven Ministry is really about the specific life and work of the pastor, while Gospel-Driven Church is more applicationally about leadership—leading a church to greater gospel-centrality. So, in a sense, the grounding philosophy in action in GDC is laid out and greatly expanded in GDM.
JCW: You’ve referred to Gospel-Driven Ministry as your “ministry magnum opus.” What is significant and/or unique about this volume when considered alongside the rest of your work?
It really encompasses just about everything I’ve learned along the way in the last twenty-five years of ministry. I’ve tried to make it as much of an “everything and the kitchen sink”-type book as possible, while not making it too long! But it really represents a culmination of all the stuff I’ve experienced and all the stuff I’ve been teaching and writing about in my public ministry, my ministry coaching, the pastoral residency I direct at Liberty Baptist Church, and of course the classes I teach at Midwestern Seminary. I also think it’s significant among pastoral literature, more generally, in that it is a look at the work of a pastor from the gospel-centered perspective. What does a gospel-driven pastorate look like? That’s what I’m trying to answer in the book.
The volume covers aspects of both the calling and work of a pastor. Can you describe the balance you hope to strike between the reflective aspects of pastoral ministry and more practical elements?
I really wanted Gospel-Driven Ministry to be a kind of one-stop shop for exploring the whole work of pastoral ministry. It’s not exhaustive, of course, but in my experience, modern books on pastoral ministry tend to lean more toward either the reflective, personal, relational aspects of the pastorate or toward the nuts-and-bolts and how-to’s (preaching, leading, etc.). I’ve tried to do both in this book, attempting to give a fuller picture of the pastorate. So, there are lots of personal stories and reflections, the kinds of honest anecdotes I’ve offered in a lot of my books, but it also includes things like how to translate an exegetical outline to a homiletical outline for preaching, how to preside over funerals, how to negotiate conflict, how to think about the ordinances, and other practicalities like that. My hope in all that, as I said, is to have produced a more fully-souled portrait of pastoring.
What is your hope for the book and how it might be used within local church contexts?
I hope that pastors far and wide will read it and be reminded and refreshed, of course. It shares the same spirit of grace for the pastorate that a previous book of mine called The Pastor’s Justification brought to the pastor’s sense of self and calling. But the way I’ve organized the book very much has my own residency and classroom contexts in mind, so my hope is that the book would get used as a guiding and formational text in churches for internships, elder training, residency programs, and the like. I would also love to see it used in seminary and Bible school classrooms, as well. It is set up to be used along the way, beginning with the pastoral office and qualifications and proceeding through gospel-centrality as the biblical philosophy of ministry to preaching, counseling, leadership, and even pastoral endurance and longevity. And there are discussion and reflection questions at the end of every chapter, as well as recommended reading for further study. The way I’ve structured the book is intentionally designed for the training and discipleship of aspiring pastors.