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A Pastoral Rule for Today: Reviving an Ancient Practice

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The pastoral office has always been a difficult calling. Today, the pastor is often asked to fulfill multiple roles: preacher, teacher, therapist, administrator, CEO. How can pastors thrive amid such demands?

What is needed is a contemporary pastoral rule: a pattern for ministry that both encourages pastors and enables them to focus on what is most important in their pastoral task.

This book, coauthored by three experts with decades of practical experience, explains how relying on a pastoral rule has benefited communities throughout the church’s history and how such rules have functioned in the lives and work of figures such as Augustine, Calvin, Wesley, and Bonhoeffer. It also provides concrete advice on how pastors can develop and keep a rule that will help both them and their congregations to flourish.

Key Features

  • Focues on prayer, studying Scripture, theological reflection, and service to the world
  • Explores several classic rules from Christian history
  • Examines how Christ binds us together with past saints and wise elders


  • The Grace of Theological Friendships: Augustine
  • “The Work of Obedience”: Benedict
  • The Holiness That Stoops to Serve: Gregory the Great
  • “All the Ministers Shall Meet Together”: John Calvin
  • Choosing Your Words Carefully: John Wesley
  • The Pastor's Study: John Henry Newman
  • The Gift of Physical Presence: Dietrich Bonhoeffer
  • A Contemporary Pastoral Rule

Praise for the Print Edition

If you are a pastor who is feeling overwhelmed by responsibilities, intimidated by social challenges, or simply uncertain about your priorities for how to spend your time and energy, then please read this book. It will relieve you of false burdens, embolden your ministry of the Word, and energize you for your true pastoral vocation. And, for those contemplating a call to become ministers of the gospel, this book provides a rule of ‘plumb’—namely, a practical plan for stewarding the mysteries of God and for making the potentially crooked pastoral path straight. Highly recommended.

—Kevin J. Vanhoozer, research professor of systematic theology, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

This book will be especially welcomed by busy pastors who can take time to look back toward the past as well as ahead to the future. What they will find is encouragement of the very best sort from historical exemplars who, though facing great challenges, embodied biblical insight, found Christian stability, and carried out unusually effective ministries. The book is a treasure that gives much-needed dignity and hope to the pastoral calling today.

—Mark Noll, author of The Rise of Evangelicalism

Rather than lament the well-documented and much-discussed crisis of spirituality in western Christendom, especially among pastoral leaders, Burgess, Andrews, and Small provide a rich resource to bring about radical change. Their proposal is revolutionizing. They introduce six ecumenically diverse mentors of the holy life and build workable bridges to their spiritual legacies. We are led into the adventure of reclaiming these great traditions of spiritual discipline as resources and models for our own spiritual rule. The book is an invitation to pastoral leaders to engage, celebrate, and imitate these and other great exponents of spiritual discipline. The venture could bring about unexpected change, perhaps even the conversion of communities. It’s a risk worth taking.

—Darrell L. Guder, professor emeritus of missional and ecumenical theology at Princeton Theological Seminary, author of The Continuing Conversion of the Church and Called to Witness

Product Details

  • Title: A Pastoral Rule for Today: Reviving an Ancient Practice
  • Authors: John P. Burgess, Jerry Andrews, and Joseph D. Small
  • Publisher: IVP
  • Publication Date: 2019
  • Pages: 208
  • Resource Type: Monographs
  • Topic: Pastoral Theology

In the Logos edition, this volume is enhanced by amazing functionality. Important terms link to dictionaries, encyclopedias, and a wealth of other resources in your digital library. Perform powerful searches to find exactly what you’re looking for. Take the discussion with you using tablet and mobile apps. With Logos Bible Software, the most efficient and comprehensive research tools are in one place, so you get the most out of your study.

About the Authors

John P. Burgess (PhD, University of Chicago) is James Henry Snowden Professor of Systematic Theology at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. He is the author of several books, including Holy Rus’: The Rebirth of Orthodoxy in the New Russia, Encounters with Orthodoxy: How Protestant Churches Can Reform Themselves Again, and Why Scripture Matters: Reading the Bible in a Time of Church Conflict. His experience as a Fulbright Scholar to Russia and as a Luce Fellow in theology fueled his research on the role of the Russian Orthodox Church in shaping a new national identity for post-communist Russia.

Jerry Andrews (PhD, University of Chicago) is senior pastor of First Presbyterian Church in San Diego, California. He was born and raised in Detroit and pastored churches in the Pittsburgh and Chicago areas before moving to San Diego in 2009. Among his interests are all things biblical, theological, historical, and especially classical. He loves to teach on patristic literature and the reformed faith. Jerry graduated from the Detroit Bible College (BRE), Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (MDiv), Princeton Theological Seminary (ThM), the University of Pittsburgh (MA in Classics), and the University of Chicago (PhD in the Ancient Mediterranean World). He and his wife Lois live in downtown San Diego and love spending time with their three children and four grandchildren.

Joseph D. Small is the retired director of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Office of Theology and Worship. He is the author of several books, including To Be Reformed: Living the Tradition, Proclaiming the Great Ends of the Church, Conversations With the Confessions, and God and Ourselves: A Brief Exercise in Reformed Theology.

Sample Pages from the Print Edition


Digital list price: $18.99
Save $4.00 (21%)