Advice For Pastors

I'm currently reading The Curate's Awakening by George MacDonald. It fits nicely into the "Books I Would Never Read Unless Someone Forced me to Read Them" category; It's fiction, the cover is a cheesy pink color with characters who look like victorian seedy romance novel characters, and I don't know anyone who has read it except the person who recommended the book. Fortunately, that person was a professor who required the reading, so I'm reading the book.

MacDonald was a major influence on C.S. Lewis and Francis Shaeffer. In fact, Lewis wrote of MacDonald "I know hardly any other writer who seems to be closer, or more continually close, to the Spirit of Christ Himself!" That's not a bad thing to put on your resume.

I'm only about halfway through this book, but it's tremendous. And early on through one of the characters, MacDonald offers some advice to pastors concerning their research in preparing for a sermon. The question is posed, "Should a pastor make up his sermons from the books he reads?" That is, should he rely on the insights of commentaries or just the insights which are original to him.

The answer MacDonald gives is, "Yes, [he should rely on books,] if he can do no better. But then I would have him read much, not with his sermon in his thoughts, but with the people in his heart.

I'm a young pastor but think that's great insight. If the only study we do is to help us develop great sermons, they'll be impotent sermons clearly delivered. If we study with the hearts in the mind we are much better positioned to develop Christ-centered people.