James D. Berkley, ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1992,499 pages.
This book is intended to be the first of a three-volume set. If the other two measure up to the quality of this one, the set will be a valuable reference source for anyone involved in pastoral ministry. The list of contributors to this volume include several dozen of the best-known and most-trusted authors in die field. In addition, scores of other authors provide sidebars and short articles.
The book contains seven main sections (a most biblical number!): preaching, worship, music, the Lords Supper, Baptism, weddings, and funerals. Each section deals with its material thoroughly and clearly, and is organized well for easy reference.
The volume is striking in its comprehensiveness, giving careful attention to the myriads of issues that arise in pastoral ministry. If you are crafting a definition of worship, writing a bulletin, selecting a hymnal, evaluating your preaching, wondering about copyright laws, designing communion for shut-ins, clarifying the role of musicians, facing a funeral, taking a fresh look at your preaching, or most anything else—you will find something of value in this volume.
The material in this handbook will be stimulating and refreshing to those who have been involved in pastoral ministry for many years and, for the sake of freshness, need to reevaluate the patterns they have developed. Those who are just entering ministry will find this book a handy tool for quickly checking on some issue that confronts them for which seminary didn't prepare them (or it did and they forgot) and for exploring new issues. In fact, while this volume was compiled with pastors in mind, anyone involved in ministry and in committees that supervise and plan ministries can benefit from this resource.
While affirming great diversity in method and style among churches, the book never violates basic convictions. It draws from a wide variety of traditions with full respect for each. Its method is resourceful description, not argumentative prescription, making it valuable for all.