Mastering Pastoral Care

By Bruce Larson, Paul Anderson, and Doug Self
Portland : Multnomah (1990). 144 Pages.

Reviewed by Dr. Alex Montoya
3.2 (Fall 1992) : 227-228

Another training volume in the "Mastering Ministry" series by Leadership, Christianity Today, Inc., and Multnomah Press, the focus of this book is the variety of pastoral care pastors get to practice. The epilogue sums it up this way,

That variety has been manifested in this book. To encourage lay people to care for one another and to reach out to the world is one aspect of pastoral care. To prompt people to go deeper in the Spirit is another. To encourage people in their homes and on the job is another still (144).

Hence the book is about the "other side" of pastoring, the personal ministry to people aside from pulpit ministry. To do this, the authors draw from their expertise and experience in pastoral work. Bruce Larson, on staff at the Crystal Cathedral, draws from his experience at University Presbyterian Church in Seattle, Washington, where he had extensive involvement in small group ministry. Paul Anderson, a Lutheran minister, comes from a rich tradition in the use of worship for pastoral care. Doug Self draws from his rural/mountain experience as pastor of The Church at Redstone in Redstone, Colorado.

The twelve chapters touch briefly on many concerns of pastoral ministry: home visitation, laity involvement, worship, ministry in the job, caring for leaders, inactive members, pastoral counseling, strengthening the personal life, and mobilizing people to help people.

Two factors make this book very helpful. Some pastors are not great pulpiteers and do better at personal care. They will find this book extremely helpful in the development and execution of their skills. In addition, some pastors have a more rural or small town ministry where all the problems of the big city are found, but not the masses of people. These pastors need special training in pastoral care where contacting, nurturing, and keeping people in the fold is extremely vital.

The chapter "Strategies for Ministering to Inactives" by Doug Self was especially insightful. Self draws attention to the need of "listening" to the reasons people give for being inactive members of churches. His other chapter on "The Art of Pastoral Listening" shows how to make better use of a pastor's time with his parishioners.

Pastoral visitation, care, and discipleship is extremely difficult, if not discouraging work. This volume should help to lighten that load and hopefully make pastors more successful in the execution of their vital task of shepherding the flock of God.