Shepherding the Church into the 21st Century

By Joseph M. Stowell
Wheaton, IL : Victor (1994). 274 Pages.

Reviewed by Dr. Alex Montoya
6.2 (Fall 1995) : 260-261

Joseph Stowell knows ministry, pastoring, preaching, and the times and the culture. So Joseph Stowell is qualified to write Shepherding the Church into the 21st Century, a book on effective spiritual leadership in a changing culture. Here is a pastoral ministries manual in a conversational style for a contemporary Christian leader.

Stowell is president of Moody Bible Institute, has pastored churches in Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan, and is a writer and gifted communicator. The book reflects the experiences, personality, and passion of the author. It reads like a well-written sermon, artistically arranged, and uplifting intellectually as well as emotionally.

The author covers four major areas of pastoral work and life. The first is entitled "Perspective" where he discusses the philosophy of pastoral ministry and seeks to lay out the priorities of ministry. The second section is "Personhood," where he stresses the importance of a minister's character as the basis for ministry. The third section is "Proclamation" and serves as a contemporary primer on preaching. The preacher will find some timely hints on transformational preaching. He calls the last section "Proficiency." It is a short but potent appeal to run the race with endurance so as to end well.

The author summarizes his work by writing,

Shepherding the church into the twenty-first century requires a fixed focus on creating a ministry worthy of respect through paying close attention to ourselves, and demonstrating observable progress in our personhood, the effectiveness of our preaching, and the proficiency of our work through the exercise and maximizing of our gifts (272).

This reviewer read the work with great delight, and as a pastor, found the book extremely helpful and encouraging. Joseph Stowell is a pastor's friend and mentor. His book should adorn the shelf of every minister of the gospel!