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Austin Tucker: A Primer for Pastors

Austin B. Tucker, A Primer for Pastors: A Handbook for Strengthening Ministry Skills (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 2004), 221 pages, ISBN 9780825438868.

This book is “A Handbook for Strengthening Ministry Skills,” it is a guide full of good counsel about what pastors will encounter in their careers. Pastor Tucker writes from the perspective of one who has been there and done that. My first reaction was that the book was perhaps targeted more to the new minister, but as I read on, I found myself comparing my own experiences with Tucker’s, and appreciating his insights to the challenge of being all things to all people.

Tucker writes, “Sinful humanity’s twin problems are alienation from God and estrangement from others.” As a pastor, he has spent a lifetime helping people who suffer from those two problems and want relief from them. He was successful in that endeavor, though not every time, and his words will help you be more successful.

I have worked at solving problems and helping others resolve disputes for many years. Often, fortunes accumulated over a life time were at stake. Emotions of every kind resonated through the life of the dispute. I found that in almost every case, the disputants needed to go back to the basics to understand what was really involved in the situations that they faced. Those that were able to deal with the implications of the basics were winners even when they seemingly lost what they sought.

Sinful humanity’s twin problems are alienation from God and estrangement from others.

— Austin B. Tucker

Tucker takes his readers back to the basics in a way that makes you appreciate his counsel. His advice covers such topics as your first pastorate; care and counseling; pulpit ministry; problem-solving preaching; pastoral leadership; conflict management; weddings and funerals; ethics; the pastor as evangelist and as a teacher; baptism and the Lord’s Supper; stewardship of time and the pastor’s personal life. I particularly enjoyed the chapter on weddings and funerals.

Austin Tucker is a Southern Baptist with more than 30 years of experience. He is not Pentecostal/charismatic or from a holiness tradition in doctrine or experience, and he does close his book with his version of the Spirit-filled life. This discussion concludes with his admonition that we are to ensure we are rightly related to God the Holy Spirit. Tucker tells us that we do this by seeking a Person, not an experience, however great and blessed spiritually that experience may be. Tucker states that we are seeking God the Holy Spirit. Scripture never calls us to seek an experience in Tucker’s view, scripture calls us to seek God. We do not want divine power but to come under divine control. However, I believe we should desire God’s power when we are rightly under His control. Nonetheless, Tucker’s thoughts and perspective on a God-controlled life are worthwhile.

I enjoyed this book and recommend it.

Reviewed by H. Murray Hohns

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Category: Ministry, Winter 2007

About the Author: H. Murray Hohns went home to be with Jesus on November 28, 2012. He was on staff at the largest church in Hawaii and served on his denomination's investment committee from 1999 until his death. Hohns held two degrees in Civil Engineering, an MA in Theology from Fuller Seminary, and served as an instructor at Foursquare's New Hope Christian College (formerly Pacific Rim Christian College) in Honolulu. He wrote six engineering books and hundreds of articles in every type of newspaper, magazine and journal.

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