Tuesday
Oct252011

Fisher, The 21st Century Pastor

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David Fisher, The 21st Century Pastor: A Vision Based on the Ministry of Paul. Zondervan, 1996.

Referenced in: Pastoral Theology

LifeandLeadership.com Summary

In this pastoral theology, Fischer begins by echoing Seward Hiltner’s (1956) comment that there is no unifying theory by which ministry organizes itself. Hiltner proposed a psychological/sociological base, and many joined in. The result is that ministry no longer has a solid theological base. Fisher primarily addresses evangelicals:

“What is most curious to me is that evangelicals unquestioningly embrace non-theological ministry models. Some move the model to therapeutic and others to management models of ministry. In either case, evangelicals tend to think of both the church and ministry in human terms, an unreflective immanence. It is ironic that the liberal theological agenda that centered in anthropology and featured immanence is not implicitly championed by conservatives. The result is, more often than not, a failure of theological-biblical integration and, at the heart of it, a base for ministry that is not properly biblical or theological.” (11)

Over against this, Fisher offers a theology for contemporary ministry that it inspired by the apostle Paul. He shares this with James Thompson, Pastoral Ministry to Paul. Thompson looks at Paul in terms of his goal of transforming communities of faith. Fisher focuses less on the goal but on the metaphors Paul used that communicated his self-identity.

Fisher opens with four critical questions that define pastoral ministry, all of which must be grounded in Christology and the Incarnation:

  1. Who Am I? The Question of Pastoral Identity
  2. What’s My Address? The Significance of Geography
  3. What Time Is It? The Question of Date
  4. Whose Chuch Is This? The Question of Ecclesiology

From there, he offers a portrait of apostolic ministry, based primarily on Paul, emphasizing ten metaphors:

- Christ’s Prisoners, The Pastor’s Call (2 Corinthians 2:14)
- Jars of Clay, The Pastor’s Burden (2 Corinthians 4:7)
- God’s Penmen, The Pastor’s Impact (2 Corinthians 3:1-3)
- Both Mother and Father, The Pastor’s Heart (1 Thessalonians 2:7-12)
- Farmers and Builders, Growing Christ’s Church (1 Corinthians 3:5-9)
- Servants and Stewards, the Power of Pastoral Integrity (1 Corinthians 4:1-5)
- Ambassador and Preacher, the Pastor’s Authority (2 Corinthians 5:20)

Fisher provides perhaps the most accessible theology of ministry based on Paul’s apostolic work. Most ministers read through these biblical metaphors but feel so distanced from them because of the demands of ministry. Fisher brings them to the surface meaningfully.

**For a summary, click here for the Kindle Version, go to right column, and download the free sample. If you don’t have a free Kindle Reader on your computer, there’s a link for that too.

From the Publisher

The third millennium. It’s a time of tremendous opportunity for the church—and tremendous challenge. More than ever, pastors need a model for ministry that can equip them for the rigors of a restless, increasingly secularized culture. In The 21st Century Pastor, David Fisher explores the apostle Paul’s concept of ministry to offer a paradigm that is both biblical and relevant. Paul’s view is fleshed out with examples from Fisher’s own twenty-five years of pastoral experience, presenting a roadmap for today’s pastor that is scholarly, practical, dynamic, and inspiring.

The 21st Century Pastor first addressees crucial issues of pastoral identity, the significance of geography, time, and ecclesiology. It then explores Paul’s metaphors for ministry (jars of clay, farmers and builders, servants and stewards, and others) to reveal an accurate portrait of an effective, biblical pastor – the kind who will speak to the heart of modern culture rather than languish on its fringes. Filling the rare role of a pastor to pastors, Fisher’s sage insights help pastors answer their own identity questions, empowering them to minister to a deeply needy society. Says Fisher, “Pastors who know what time it is will, in the name and power of God, create communities of faith where the values of the Gospel are embraced, taught, and lived out.”

About the Author

David Fisher is senior pastor of Plymouth Church in Brooklyn, New York. He was formerly senior pastor of Colonial Church in Edina, MN.


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***For additional information on this resource, including reviews, click the bookstore links. Check the reference at page top or the links below for resource guides on related topics.***

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