Minister’s Toolbox: A Handbook To Help Church Leaders Stay Strong In Their Callings, by Casey Sabella
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by ReedsyDiscovery in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]
If I do not entirely agree with the content of this book, I have to say that the author does a great job here in pointing out matters that are of interest to paid ministers and which deserve to be taken seriously. As a lay believer myself, I am not the intended reading audience of this book, but at the same time I can certainly well understand the complicated interests that the author is seeking to serve in being so strongly worded in his discussion to ministers about how they can demand to be paid what they are worth and to educate members on the obligations to tithe so that a minister is able to avoid the bi-vocational trap and serve the interests of their family as well as the educational aspirations in reading and study that allow them to be better pastors and to be involved in the well-being of the community as a whole, which all requires a certain amount of time.
This book is between 250 and 300 pages and it is divided into several sections. The first section discusses calling, asking whether the church ministry is for the reader, what vision is, and the most important ministry one has, to God, as well as club membership. After that the author talks about teaching, including ideas on how to get one’s teaching right, Jesus’ teaching method, and training one’s congregation to tithe. There is a discussion of duties like praying for the sick, casting out demons, and using weddings to advertise one’s church. A discussion of challenges includes a complaint on bi-vocational ministry, what success in ministry looks like, and goal setting. There is a section on media that discusses the need for social media savvy, blogging, and writing books based on one’s sermons. There is a discussion of private life, including ministers keeping a sabbath for themselves as well as how to stay encouraged, dealing with reputation, and mastering one’s schedule. The chapters in general are short and snappy and filled with entertaining discussion drawn from the author’s own observation and experience to lighten the tone a bit.
The most interesting aspects of this book are the way that the author discusses his own experience as a pastor who worked in various jobs to support his ministry to supplement a low ministerial income, to counteract the envious tendency of people–including other pastors–to think that ministers should not be paid well enough to acquire notable skill in golf, and to at least get people to think seriously about awkward topics relating to money and one’s responsibility to one’s own family as well as the congregation. Again, I do not agree with all of the author’s positions, some of which appear to be in tension with each other. If the author strives to be open-minded when it comes to questions of faith and denominational identity (or lack thereof), he is definitely not open-minded when it comes to attacking those who enjoy old-fashioned music and appreciate the greater depth that one can give through a long message as opposed to the author’s desire to pander to the lack of biblical knowledge of the young. Even so, this book is thought-provoking whether one agrees or disagrees with and as a result this is certainly well worth reading, especially for the non-denominational pastor who has to justify his salary to a local board and congregation.