Tag Archives: teaching

Book Review: The Minister as Moral Theologian: Ethical Dimensions of Pastoral Leadership, by Sondra Wheeler

The Minister as Moral TheologianFor the aspiring, new, and even seasoned shepherd/pastor/preacher, I cannot recommend enough Sondra Wheeler’s The Minister as Moral Theologian: Ethical Dimensions of Pastoral Leadership. This is not a book on ethics, as some would academically approach the subject, although Wheeler does offer a brief primer on types and methods; it is an encouragement and guidebook on being ethical for those shepherding the church. Pastors are not merely prayers, preachers, and teachers; we are (ought to be!) shepherds who model the life of a disciple of Christ and guide others to do the same. This means we “walk the talk,” so to speak, and come alongside others—beginning where they are—and guide them in the same.

Life is messy and often encountered in the grey, which makes how we “do ethics” vitally important in our greater task. Regardless of how much some may want or force it to be, it’s usually not as easy as “yes or no” or “do this to fix that.” In such a small book, Wheeler helpfully discusses with much wisdom the “what, when, why, and how” of living, preaching, teaching, and counseling—or not, as the case may need be. While written in a way that often presumes a more traditional, western and liturgical church, particularly with clergy, its application is by no means strictly understood and confined therein. As a longtime pastor of smaller and home-based churches, as well as a mentor, teacher, and guide to those who come from other churches for pastoral care, I found Wheeler’s book to be an exceptionally helpful and encouraging reminder. I learned from her scholarship and wisdom, as I suspect will any reader open to Spirit of God.

Wheeler is already working on a follow-up, also to be published by Baker Academic: Sustaining Ministry: Foundations and Practices for Serving with Integrity. I look forward to reading that, too!


*I received a temporary, pre-published digital copy for review from Baker Academic via NetGalley.

Book Review: How to Preach and Teach the Old Testament for All Its Worth, by Christopher J. H. Wright

How to Preach and Teach the Old Testament for All Its WorthI have yet to read anything by Christopher J. H. Wright that I didn’t like and couldn’t recommend. His The Mission of God and The Mission of God’s People continue to be my most recommended texts. I now add How to Preach and Teach the Old Testament for All Its Worth to that list for seminary students and those already in Bible preaching and teaching roles. Practical to its core, Wright guides the reader in approaching and handling the Old Testament with pastoral care, keeping his writing accessible to a broad range of readers while maintaining the same quality of method and depth for which he’s known.

The book is written in two parts. Wright begins by arguing for the importance of preaching and teaching the Old Testament and encourages the reader to do so, noting its increasingly limited exposure and the pitfalls that lie therein. He also corrects some commonly held misconceptions and sayings about the OT that are perpetuated by poor reading, exegesis, and sloppy books (e.g., the OT is not “all about Jesus,” as we often hear; it “points to Jesus”). We need to remember that the OT is comprised of different types of writing for different purposes, and that they each have their place and importance within the greater narrative. We should preach and teach them for what they are as they are and refrain from attempts at making them all fit into a simple “Jesus message,” which does not help others actually understand the OT—and thus rightly understand the New Testament—and is likely indicative of a preacher or teacher who does not properly understand the OT. The second part of the book—the bulk of the text—helps the reader to understand the different sections of the OT and then how to preach and teach from them. Wright offers many helpful checklists for sermon and lesson prep throughout the text, and he even includes easy-to-follow outlines and notes for several key Bible passages at the end of relevant chapters.

I highly recommend this for any and all preachers and teachers of the Bible. I imagine it will quickly find its way into Bible college and seminary syllabi everywhere.


*I received a temporary digital copy for review from Zondervan via NetGalley.

Book Review: Essential Questions: Opening Doors to Student Understanding, by Jay McTighe and Grant Wiggins

Essential QuestionsMcTighe and Wiggins effectively and succinctly define, explain, and pave the way toward a culture of inquiry that may be applied to virtual any field of learning. Rather than focusing merely on rote memorization and regurgitation of material for exams to be graded based solely on “right or wrong” answers, we aid our students (and one another) by considering larger concerns—what McTighe and Wiggins call Essential Questions, those that require continued thought and inquiry. By encouraging better thinkers, we encourage better learners and doers. Packed with helpful charts, examples, Q&As, problems and resolutions that address a number of fields (the arts, English, history, literature, and mathematics, to name a few) this will prove to be helpful for any educator, regardless of field, venue, and age/level of student. I recommend this book as a “must read” for any educator, and I would go so far as to encourage students to read it, as well. It will likely cause a complete reassessment of one’s own teaching and learning experience!

A fellow teacher gave me the gift of Essential Questions by McTighe and Wiggins when I was sitting in on a brainstorming and planning session he and my wife were having in preparation for a class they are tag-teaming. He has several copies on a bookshelf in his office, I imagine just for this purpose, and I’m grateful for being one of the recipients!