"What Every Pastor Should Know" by Gary L. McIntosh and Charles Arn

McIntosh, Gary L. Arn, Charles. What Every Pastor Should Know: 101 Indispensable Rules of Thumb for Leading Your Church. Baker Books, 2013.

What Every Pastor Should Know is just the reference book it sounds like. 101 rules of thumb divided into 15 sections covering such topics as evangelism, small groups, revitalization, and more. These rules of thumb, which McIntosh and Arn are very careful to offer with appropriate cautions in the introduction (all churches are different, these are just guidelines, etc.), are each given in four parts: the rule itself, a brief introduction, a longer explanation, and a set of practical suggestions. 

Though the subtitle of this book indicates that the rules are about "leading" a church, it really should have read "growing" a church. This is not a criticism, merely a clarification. The rules offered here are very much a product of the church growth movement. Thus, the underlying assumption that leading church is really about growth. This does not mean that other topics are completely neglected; you will find rules covering the topics of prayer, taking care of staff, guiding volunteers, and so on. It simply means that within each subject there is a definite slant towards the question of what will make your church larger. 

With that clarification in place, let me share a few thoughts on this book. It is a reference book filled with rules of thumb. That means that they are not intended to be strictly accurate or applicable in all situations. Any reader of this book needs to take what is offered, not more. It is not a complete book on being a pastor. Many important questions are not addressed here at all. There is very little theology, other than one rule about spending 15 hours or more preparing a sermon there is little about preaching, etc. In general, the personal and spiritual side of thing is left out. Still, for what it is, it is good. In terms of metrics of growth, there are a lot of ideas here. In terms of getting a pastor thinking about things they might try or ideas that might lead to a healthier church, there are lots of ideas here. Each section is short, a blessed gift in itself. The ideas are practical and the diagrams are helpful. Given the nature of the book, that is good enough for me. 

Conclusion: 4 of 5 Stars. Conditionally recommended. The condition is that you use this book for what it is, recognizing what it is not. I also recommend that anyone reading this book also read books on being a pastor; perhaps by Eugene Peterson or William Willimon. 

Book has been provided courtesy of Graf-Martinc Communications and Baker Books in exchange for an honest review