Writings on Christianity

Book Review: Charles Bridges’ “The Christian Ministry”

Bridges Christian Ministry

For the past several months I have been working my way through a stack of pastoral theology books.  Recently, I finished Charles Bridges’ “The Christian Ministry—with An Inquiry into the Causes of its Inefficiency.”  First published in 1830, the work has managed to remain surprising relevant for all who wish to consider the task of Christian ministry—that is, being a pastor of a local church.  In a day heavily influenced by business leadership principles and psychological techniques, Bridges’ calls us to be biblically grounded and theologically minded in our approach to the pastorate.

Clocking in at 390 pages, “The Christian Ministry” demands serious time and effort to absorb content and learn from.  Yet, for all who undertake the task, there is much to be gained.  The book is organized into five sections: (1) general view of the Christian ministry (p 1-71); (2) general causes for the want of success in the Christian ministry (p 72-105); (3) causes of ministerial inefficiency connected with our personal character (p 106-187); (4) the public work of the Christian ministry—PREACHING (p 188-343); (5) the pastoral work of the Christian ministry (p344-383).  Bridges is a Reformed evangelical (notice his emphasis on preaching, and use of the LAW/GOSPEL distinction) who constantly quotes either from the Scriptures or from a myriad of historical theologians.   He has taken some of the best insights into the work of the pastorate from the past 1800 years and given us treasure trove of quotations and insights.

I found Bridges’ book to be very helpful and encouraging as I seek out the task of vocational ministry.  Bridges reminded me of the dignity of being called to pastor–a calling that is from God Himself. Such an admonition brings a holy fear and energetic vigor to the work of Christian ministry, and is a great comfort as the world censures and casts its harangues toward Christian pastors.  Bridges is also very practical, and helps the pastor consider reasons for why success in the pastorate may be withheld, how to prepare for the ministry, how to preach the gospel with different categories in mind (doctrine, practice, experience), and how to provide pastoral care to different types of individuals (unbeliever, the self-righteousness, the new believer).

In the following posts I’ll leave you with some of my favorite quotes from the book.

By Tom Schmidt

Christian, husband of Rach, Church Planter,musician,

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