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Stan Toler's Practical Guide for Pastoral Ministry: A Book Review Presented to Dr. William D. Bryant Liberty University

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STAN TOLER'S PRACTICAL GUIDE FOR PASTORAL MINISTRY

________________________________________

A Book Review

Presented to

Dr. William D. Bryant

Liberty University

________________________________________

In Partial Fulfillment

of the Requirements for PLED350-B01

________________________________________

by

Shannon M. Crapps

March 5, 2012

Toler, Stan. Practical Guide for Pastoral Ministry: Real Help for Real Pastors. Indianapolis, IN: Wesleyan Publishing, 2007

Dr. Stan Toler has written another book drawing on his forty-plus years of ministry experience. Dr. Toler is currently a Church of the Nazarene general superintendent with the Global Ministry Center office in Lenexa, Kansas. As of now, he has authored over eighty books, many of which are best sellers. He has also been noted as a motivational and leadership trainer. In this book, Dr. Toler forwards the notion that a pastor never stops learning and having a mentor helps. "We are always working to sharpen our skills so that we can motivate others to be their best for God." (Toler, Preface) So the book goes, mentoring, teaching and motivating, sharpening the skills of the reader. Clearly, this is the purpose of the book - to sharpen the skills of the reader. The books purpose is exactly why it should be read. Dr. Toler is correct; you never stop learning. This book is full of practical and very useful insights, advice, and helps, not just for the new pastor, but also for the pastor well established in his career.

The six sections of Stan Toler's book cover the gamut of topics for the minister. These topics range from personal growth to coaching, and of course, ministry. Toler addresses a wide range of topics in this first section, Personal Growth. These topics provide a well-rounded list of things that the pastor will face in his ministry on both a personal and public level. This section provides somewhat of an overview of the other sections of the book. The chapter on pastoral health relates in ways to the next section, "Family Life," and the fourth chapter has implications for Parts Three and Four.

Part Two begins a more concentrated look at the different areas the pastor's life that were in varying degrees, touched on in the chapters of Part One. Here Toler takes on the family life of the pastor. The pastor's family life and its importance are probably not thought of by most congregants and perhaps even many pastors. Great advice is given to the pastor on managing his household from making the house a home to making others in your home feel important. Through the different chapters in this section the pastor is shown how to make his family happy in the face of what can be a very stressing occupation. Dr. Toler writes, "Set a reasonable schedule. Take a day off religiously...Guard your free evenings jealously. Let your children know that their time with you is a high priority."

What would be expected in a book of this type is found in Part Three. The reader now is presented with Toler's thoughts and advice on ministry. This section covers a wide scope of things such as, caring for your congregation, special services like weddings, bringing in more people to your church, evangelism, and even how to lovingly correct someone or dealing with members leaving. While it is difficult to quote anyone sentence from any of the chapters in this section that sum it up, Chapter 24's title does an admirable job: "Delivering Consistent Pastoral Care".

Moving into Part Four, "Leadership," Dr. Toler takes a look into how the pastor can be an effective leader both in and out of the church. Chapters 40 and 41 set the tone for the rest of Part Four. The reader is taken through the prerequisite for leadership of a church to those things that mark an effective leader before several chapters discussing the recruitment and training of leaders. Finally in the last few chapters of the section, Toler deals with leadership issues that are related directly to the pastor himself.

A natural transition from discussions on leadership to those on coaching happens between Parts Four and Five. In Part Three, the last chapter spoke of recruiting volunteers. Volunteers are the backbone of many things that the church does. Part Five is a short, but important section, offering council to the pastor on coaching those people whom he has recruited. The pastor learns how to build teams and get them to work together. He learns how to inspire others to dream, succeed, and follow.

The last of the sections, Part Six, deals with the absolutely essential quality of communication. What is a pastor who cannot effectively communicate? Dr. Toler guides the pastor through aspects of preaching. In what might be the pastor's most difficult Sunday morning challenge, Toler offers tips on capturing the attention of the audience. Facets of the sermon are looked at in other chapters. Other things addressed include: talking about money, communicating in writing, and staying on the cutting edge of knowledge and technology.

What an awesome and wonderful book! In this book, Dr. Toler's thesis is that a pastor never stops learning and that having a mentor helps in the growth process. His book helps to accomplish learning, mentoring and growth in the reader. Chapter after chapter is filled with material that works toward these ends. Dr. Toler writes with a style that provides ease of reading as well as ease of understanding. His thoughts are conveyed in language that is not on such an intellectual level as to confuse the reader, but at the same time does not leave the reader feeling less intelligent for having read this book. Take for example, Dr. Toler's closing statement in Chapter 24. "Your sermon or lesson preparation is important. Your administration skills are vital. But your personal care for others will have the longest impact of your ministry." (Toler, 106) Another great thing about this book is the way Dr. Toler takes topics that are common to ministry and brings out points that might not be frequently thought of in each. In the part of the book dealing with ministry, he brings up the issue of expanding your influence as a pastor. Obviously, ministry is common to itself, but how often

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