I was half-thinking of riffing on my last book review and titling this “So Simple, Even a Senior Pastor Could Do It.” I eventually thought better of that idea, but my reasoning was sound… granted, someone could also have fun misconstruing the title I ultimately landed on….
Anyway: In this book, David Holt talks about the privilege and responsibility of pastoring in a way that’s eminently spiritual and yet thoroughly sensible. Even if you just want to better understand your pastor—or at least understand what your pastor ought to be doing—this book is well worth your time.
The premise that drives Pastoring With Passion is a simple one, and yet so many churches and pastors miss it that it bears repeating—and heeding. And we start to get it in the very first paragraph, courtesy of Bill Hybels: “The greatest gift you can give your congregation is a spiritually alive pastor.” The entire book is built around that one simple yet often elusive premise.
Holt draws extensively from his 17 years’ experience as senior pastor at First Evangelical Free Church in Onalaska, Wisconsin, which grew from a congregation of 80 to 1,500 during his tenure there. We repeatedly see someone (and a community of leadership) who has no choice but to lean on God, and repeatedly sees the fruits of that leaning. And yet you don’t some away feeling like, “Well, that’s just him.” The path is tough and less traveled, but it’s fairly well-marked, and Holt puts up a few more road signs to help leaders at every level to rely on God.
In a lot of ways, much of what’s here will feel familiar to pastors. That doesn’t mean, however, that Holt’s just recycling the same old stuff. There’s a freshness to the writing here—this isn’t just someone sharing past experience that he’s moved on from but the feel of someone who’s “in it” saying “Here’s how I keep my relationship with God, and with each person in my church, alive and vital on a daily basis.” And that’s a refreshing thing to read, in more ways than one.
And keeping one’s passion for God, while maintaining a sense of perspective, is at the head of all this. Thus, each chapter focuses on one aspect of that passion, while closing with practical ideas to walk each of them out—passion for God, family, church, purity, word and spirit, humility, identity, preaching, worship, building and capital campaigns (yeah, I thought that too when I first saw it—but once you read it, it all makes sense), and finally, perseverance and longevity (something far too few pastors these days get to reap the benefits of).
Both appendices focus on serving out of our identity in Christ, and seem like the basis for a good book in themselves (maybe the next one?).
Pastors, leaders—you’re not as alone as you often think you are. And Pastoring With Passion will remind you why it’s all worth it.