Spurgeon the Pastor
Recovering a Biblical and Theological Vision for Ministry
by Geoffrey Chang
Pub Date 09 Aug 2022
B&H Publishing Group \(B&H Books, Holman Bibles, B&H Español, and B&H Kids\),B&H Books
Christian| Religion & Spirituality
B&H Publishing Group and Netgalley sent me a copy of Spurgeon the Pastor to review:
What would it take to get more than 5,000 people to your church?
There's a lot of pressure on pastors to get people in. Having more people means more success, more stability, and more influence from God, right? Often, pastors and church leaders adopt worldly methods for church growth that undermine the very calling God gave them.
Spurgeon, the Prince of Preachers, pastored over 5,000 people before mega-churches were a thing. You might be surprised to know that Spurgeon's vision for ministry wasn't pragmatic. He didn't borrow "best practices" from business leaders. Rather, his ministry vision was decidedly and staunchly biblical and theological-and one we should embrace more than a century later.
Using preaching, baptism and the Lord's Supper, meaningful church membership, biblical church leadership, leadership development, and more, Geoff Chang, director of the Spurgeon Library at Midwestern Seminary, explains how Spurgeon models a theological vision of ministry.
Don't get caught up in worldly methods to grow your ministry. Entrust your ministry to the sovereignty of the Prince of Peace, like the Prince of Preachers.
I give Spurgeon the Pastor five out of five stars!
Wonderful look on who Sturgeon was. You do not see many books like this and the author also had a great story on how he got into studying Spurgeon. This is a must read
This book was amazing. It showed a sign of Spurgeon I had never seen anywhere else in other books about him. I appreciate the author's hard work in understanding of Spurgeon as a Pastor, to help Pastors today to understand the tradition behind his ministry. If you are in ministry, this is a must read.
Remarkable research and engagement with Spurgeon’s works and words. Effectively maps his theology of the church by placing the sum total of Spurgeon’s work in context. Interacting with Spurgeon’s own words was the best part of this book.
This is one of the best books about Spurgeon that I have ever read. Most books focus on his preaching, giftedness, impact as a leader, or a particular part of his life like the downgrade controversy. This book is laser-focused on his work as a local church pastor. It gave me a clearer look at Spurgeon that I had not ever seen before.
The thesis of the book is that "Spurgeon's approach to these church matters was driven by biblical and theological convictions, rather than by pragmatism or convenience." The book examines preaching, Sunday gathering, membership, leadership, and ministries all through the lens of how Spurgeon approached them as a pastor. It is interspersed with quotes from Spurgeon so you get to hear him in his own words.
I think this book is invaluable. I was particularly impressed with how seriously Spurgeon took church membership. Every potential member had to have a membership interview and Spurgeon conducted many of these himself. Even at the height of the church's success, he found time to care about church membership. You even get insight as to how the church handled communion, or how they made sure members had seats each Sunday despite all of the visitors. You will get insight, not just into these areas, but also into his preaching, the school, elders, and more.
You will walk away from this book having an idea of what Spurgeon was actually like as a pastor. His theological and biblical convictions will be worth wrestling with even if they lead you to different conclusions or applications. The book does not try to convince you to adopt Spurgeon's methods. Instead, it presents them to you along with things to consider and potential ways to apply them. This protects the book from being a simple how-to manual and in turn gives it more power.
If you want to know what Spurgeon was actually like in the day-to-day grind of local church work, then this is the book for you. If you are wanting a more general biography or introduction for Spurgeon, then this might be a good place to start. Just be prepared to focus mostly on the local church. This is especially useful for pastors, but I think even lay people interested in Spurgeon will find much to appreciate.
Charles Spurgeon is one of the most popular individuals from Church history; one of the reasons he has remained popular is his ability to explain various theological concepts in ways that are easy to understand and remember, so when I saw Geoffrey Chang’s Spurgeon the Pastor I was interested to see what helpful bits of wisdom could be gleaned from Spurgeon’s understanding of ministry.
Chang organizes the book into four general movements: the church gathered for worship (chapters 1-2), the church organized (3-5), the church’s leadership (6-7), and the church living out her faith (8-9). Early in his book Chang explains the reason for this organization around the church is that “for Spurgeon, the church was not optional to the Christian life. It was the place in which the Christian life was meant to be lived out. This was the vision he sought to implement in his own church and promote in his pastoral training” (4). Since Spurgeon believed that “No matter how industrious of an administrator or counselor a pastor was, if he failed in his preaching, the church would also fail.” (16) the first chapter focuses on how Spurgeon prepared for and delivered his sermons. While these first two chapters, which focus on preaching and the various types of church services offered at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, provide a lot of helpful guidance to pastors who may be thinking about what happens during their services and how their services are organized the reader is reminded that “to us, as ministers, the Holy Spirit is absolutely essential. Without Him our office is a mere name” (36). This emphasis on relying on the Holy Spirit, and not just general principles, is seen throughout the book as Chang shows the reader how Spurgeon emphasized the preached Word, prayer, and living out one’s faith during the week. I appreciated learning more about these core themes to Spurgeon’s ministry and how he tried to emphasize them throughout the successes and challenges which he faced. While there are a lot of general principles throughout this book there were moments, especially in some of the middle chapters on church membership, which focused a little more on how and why Spurgeon organized his church the way he did rather than principles which could be universally applied (especially if the reader does not follow Spurgeon’s Baptist convictions).
As with any book on Spurgeon, one of the highlights is the numerous quotations from him which fill each chapter. Chang does a wonderful job of not just explaining what Spurgeon did or believed but allowing him to speak for himself in a manner which inspires and challenges the reader to think about their own ministry.
Chang writes in an easy to follow manner, and his organization helps the book to flow very naturally from one aspect of the church to the next. He does a wonderful job of letting the reader dive into the quotes and ideas of Spurgeon while also providing his own memorable summaries before directing our focus to the next aspect.
I would recommend this book to anyone who is wanting to be challenged to evaluate the core aspects of their own ministry or who is wanting an introduction to Spurgeon’s ministry at the Metropolitan Tabernacle.
Disclosure: I received this book free from B&H Publishing Group through their blogger review program. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255