We Believe in Christ. We Belong to Christ. We Serve Christ.
David F. Wells, Eerdmans, 1993
Now and then you read a book that you sense will help form your worldview and chart a course forward in ministry. This is one of those books for me. I came across this book almost by happenstance—it was in a box of books being passed on by an older Christian—I happened to see it and receive it, and now I believe it was providential.
This book is the first in what would become a series of thoughtful biblical/sociological examinations of the church and our world by David F. Wells. It begins with a fascinating history of a church in New England and its transition from a village church to a suburb of Boston—that in itself is worth the read. But it goes on to discuss worldviews, theology, the disappearance of theology in Christian churches and the modern individuality movement. He presents two models of pastoral ministry which have been vying for the Protestant mind—this book helped me to discern this battle and to choose a side in my pastoral ministry. I am very grateful to have read this early in my church ministry and it has only proved to be prescient over time.
One other memorable chapter discusses the professionalization of ministry, its corrupting influence in the seminaries and churches, and the rise of D.Min ‘degrees’ to facilitate this longing for status and standing by pastors. I believe it was quite controversial and not much welcomed by seminaries that were making some serious money by developing this new stream for mature students, long out of school.
I will be reading this book once again as I have many times—it is foundational and a book for our times—to understand our times, ourselves as Christians in these times, and in particular, our calling as pastors to these times.