Brothers, We Are Not Professionals: A Plea to Pastors for Radical Ministry

ISBN: 0805426205
ISBN 13: 9780805426205
By: John Piper

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About this book

A senior pastor pleads with his colleagues to abandon the secularization of the pastorate and return to the primitive call of the Bible for radical ministry.

Reader's Thoughts

CJ Bowen

Very helpful thoughts on pastoral ministry. The updated edition contains several new chapters, one of which humbly corrects an imbalance in the first edition by arguing that God does in fact make much of us in Christ. Another new chapter addresses the homiletic issue of matching the tone of the message to the tone of the text, which for me has been an instructive way of examining a message beyond simple textual faithfulness. Chapter 27, on the value of bodily exercise, humanizes the book in an important way. Overall, a very good book that has only gotten better.I received an ARC of Brothers, We Are Not Professionals as part of the Librarything Early Reviewers program.

Levi Booth

Though provoking and inspiring. My only beef with this book is that some of the later chapters don't really fit the topic or tone of the book. It feels as if they were thrown in to up the page count and/or allow Piper to vent a bit. But hey, it's his book!

Mark Ward

Brothers, We Are Not Professionals is not a new book. It's been reviewed before. But the second edition is new, and six chapters in it are, too. So I will focus this review on those new chapters: 4, 6, 13, 18, 22, 27.Those chapters were added for various reasons:• Piper added chapters 4 and 6 "for theological reasons where I felt I needed greater clarity or correction."• He added chapters 13 and 18 "in pursuit of being a better preacher."• He added chapter 22, he writes, "for family reasons relating to my own sanctification."• And he added chapter 27 for unspecified "personal reasons."Chapter 4: Brothers, God Does Make Much of UsEarly in his ministry Piper perceived a lack, a pretty massive oversight, in much of evangelical theology. Most of his writing ministry has been dedicated to filling up that void, and it boils down to this sentence: "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him." Though human satisfaction is always present in Piper's thought (he is, after all, a "Christian hedonist"), it holds a decidedly second place. God is in supreme first place: Piper takes a radically God-centered approach to this universe. Piper uses numerous rhetorical devices to communicate this truth, and one of them is this question: "Do you feel more loved by God because He makes much of you or because, at great cost to His Son, He frees you to enjoy knowing Him and treasuring Him and making much of Him?" In other words, even the deepest joy God can give humans still resolutely keeps God first, not man.This truth, Piper says, he still believes ardently. But chapter 4 of Brothers We Are Not Professionals issues a "mid-course … corrective" (one Piper has made elsewhere) in order to make sure he doesn't "fall off the horse on the other side"! (16) He's concerned that he not be seen to deny that God does "make much of us." Simply put, God's God-centeredness doesn't somehow utterly obscure humanity. God does, He really and truly does, love us.The reason it took comparatively long for Piper to perceive his need to make this correction is revealed in this chapter: he has always been more concerned about nominal Christians headed for hell than about genuine Christians who doubt that God truly loves them. (17) But there is a problem on the other side of the horse, a problem experienced by confused but genuine Christians, and this is Piper's new way of getting at it: "Why does God perform His acts of love toward us in a way that reveals He is loving us this way for His own glory?" Piper is concerned to answer this question in order to demonstrate that God's God-centeredness doesn't make it impossible for Him to truly love human beings.It's classic Piper, the root of his real strength as an author, that his default method for answering such an apparently philosophical question is careful appeal to Bible statements. He finds exegetical connections between God's love and His own self-glorification, and he explains them. Connections like this: "In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace." (Ephesians 1:4-6 ESV) In other words, God's love for us has as its ultimate end the praise of His glorious grace. But this doesn't lead Paul to feel in any way nervous about saying God loves His children.Piper marshals numerous passages that demonstrate this point—and then numerous passages that demonstrate a related point, that God makes much of us by various means. For example, Piper notes that "God makes much of us by ascribing value to us and rejoicing over us as His treasured possession" (Matt 10:29, 31; Zeph 3:17). (22) He also makes much of us "by granting us to sit with Christ on His throne" (Rev 3:21; Eph 1:22–23). (23)I used to read a lot of Piper; he's had a major impact on me. But as I got older I felt I had imbibed his perspective and I largely set his books aside (he has said before that you only need to read one of his books, because he always says the same thing!). And, interestingly enough, I began to come toward the problem he addresses in this chapter by another route. I began to wonder whether or not Piper's radically God-centered viewpoint ends up in a kind of monism, a view in which God is so big that humanity is entirely swallowed up. In other words, if God really loves us only because we bear His image, does He really love us—do I have an identity in any sense apart from or in addition to being an image-bearer of God like everyone else? Does God really love me?I kept telling myself that there can be no other source of value in this universe than God Himself. That I can't separate my existence from His. And then, to get practical, a young upstart theologian (namely, one younger than I) once complained to me that Piper can be so God-centered that he erases concern for the masses of unredeemed humanity. Yes, "missions exists because worship doesn't," the opening line of Piper's missiology book, and in scriptural terms, God desires worshipers (John 4:23). But that young theologian pointed out that compassion for the lost can be unhealthily overshadowed by too much emphasis on God's own God-centeredness.So I like this chapter 4 of Brothers, We Are Not Professionals. Because in the end what I need is a scriptural balance: I need to say "what the Bible says, in the way it says it, to the degree it says it." And this is what Piper tries to provide (admittedly in the short space of a chapter) by going back to Scripture. This is a chapter, and these are verses, that I need to spend some time meditating upon.Chapter 6: Brothers, God Is the GospelIn this chapter Piper argues in brief space for the thesis of his 2008 book,  God is the Gospel . In short, God Himself is "the highest and best and final good that makes all the other good things promised in the gospel good" (47). In other words, forgiveness of sins, redemption from slavery to sin, rescue from hell, eternal life, heaven, deliverance from pain—none of these are truly good unless you get the final good, "the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" (2 Cor 4:6). Christ died "that he might bring us to God" (1Pe 3:18).Piper is here at his most Edwardsean, his most God-centered (and his most Augustinian, I'd add). The ultimate end of every choice be God's glory because the only ultimately righteous motivation for every act is the will's attraction to God. I think this is an excessively important point, and I'm indebted to Piper for, once again, marshaling scriptural arguments for his God-glorifying theology. Biblical commentaries can be famously dry because they never move from exegesis to theology. Devotional literature can be famously vapid because it skips over exegesis to a theology that is scripturally baseless. But Piper does the work of building from careful, scriptural exegesis to carefully formulated theology.Chapter 13: Brothers, Be Bible-Oriented—Not Entertainment-Oriented—Preachers"Unbroken seriousness of a melodramatic or somber kind will inevitably communicate a sickness of soul to the great mass of people. This is partly because life as God created it is not like that." (86) "But we live in a day when, it seems to me, few pastors are falling of their horses on the side of excessive seriousness. The trend is all in the other direction—toward the flippant, casual, clever, and hip feel of entertainment. The main problem with this is that it is out of sync with the subject matter of the Bible and diminishes our people's capacities to discern and feel the weight of glorious truth." (87)True to form, Piper does not leave us with this clearly valid thought. He goes to Scripture. And also true to form, he starts with God. God, he points out from Isaiah 66, looks to someone "who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word."He moves from God to sin to hell to the cross to perseverance to preaching, showing how every one of those topics brings with it scriptural reasons for dead earnestness.The fundamental difference, Piper says, "between an entertainment-oriented preacher and a Bible-oriented preacher is whether there is a manifest connection between the preacher's words and the Bible as what authorizes what he says." (90) Even the "stories and illustrations [of the Bible-oriented preacher] are constrained and reined in by his hesitancy to lead the consciousness of his hearers away from the sense that this message is based on and expressive of what the Bible says." (91)Chapter 18: Brothers, Pursue the Tone of the TextThis point summarizes the chapter pretty well: "Texts have meaning, and texts have tone. Consider the tonal difference between, "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden" (Matt. 11:28), and "Woe to you, blind guides…. You blind fools!" (Matt. 23:16–17). The preacher should embody, not mute, these tones." (121) This means that, guided by the text, "in one sermon more than one emotional instrument should be played." (123) Piper offers some probing thoughts on this theme, thoughts borne of decades of expository preaching.Chapter 22: Brothers, Help Them Act the MiracleThis is a chapter of the moment, but one that every Calvinist needs to hear no matter the moment. Here Piper explores the implications of a God-centered view of sanctification—and how he failed to be fully biblical in his own approach. It boiled down to this: he was willing to actively fight lust, but he somehow felt that other sins—selfishness, sullenness, anger—would change naturally as God changed him from the inside out. "Out of the abundance of the hear the mouth speaks." No effort would be required.This, he realized after a lengthy sabbatical for healing his life and improving his marriage, was not the teaching of the Bible. And true to Piperian form yet again, he plumbs various Bible passages to make the point. He camps longest on Philippians 2:12–13 (ESV): "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure." The work and effort are real, but God is the ultimate worker. Piper shows from other verses that God intends to use a Spirit-empowered will—but a human will nonetheless, exercised in godly directions—to bring sanctification to someone's life. "If by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live." (Rom 8:13 ESV)This was very helpful for me. As a firm believer in God's sovereignty I have definitely fallen into the trap of assuming that if I don't change, it was somehow God's fault for not willing it before time began!Chapter 27: Brothers, Bodily Training Is of Some ValuePiper applies Scripture and mines his own experience for some helpful thoughts on the role of healthy eating, exercise, and rest.ConclusionThe chapters added to this book are all classic Piper, and in the very best way: they mine Scripture and probe it, comparing verses and lifting them up to the light, then pressing them helpfully into daily practice. Chapters like "God Does Make Much of Us" probably won't make good sense to someone unfamiliar with Piper's ouevre, likewise with "God Is the Gospel." So I recommend starting with his most God-centered and most important book,  The Pleasures of God  before reading anything else he writes. But with that foundation, these chapters and this book are helpfully brief meditations and probings on significant issues for those of us who work in ministry.

Jeff Elliott

Piper's thinking is clear and solid in his message to pastors. Some chapters are better than others (this is most likely because of my personal interest in them). I appreciated the earlier chapters better than the latter. He writes on a number of topics of value: preaching, prayer, worship, marriage, abortion, bible interpretation, etc;...Some quotes:The peace and satisfaction of our aching souls—and our hungry churches and the waiting nations—flow not from the perks of professional excellence but from the pleasures of spiritual communion with the crucified and risen Christ.There is an infinite difference between the pastor whose heart is set on being a professional and the pastor whose heart is set on being the aroma of Christ,(p. 3). many people are willing to be God-centered as long as they feel that God is man-centered. It is a subtle danger. We may think we are centering our lives on God, when we are really making Him a means to self-esteem. Over against this danger I urge you to ponder the implications, brothers, that God loves His glory more than He loves us and that this is the foundation of His love for us. pp. 6-7). the goal of spiritual leadership is to muster people to join God in living for God's glory.(p. 11). One way to highlight the meaning of God's holiness is to compare it with His glory. Are they the same? Not exactly. I would say that His glory is the shining forth of His holiness. His holiness is His intrinsic worth—an utterly unique excellence. His glory is the manifest display of this worth in beauty. His glory is His holiness on display.(p. 13). God would be unrighteous and unreliable if He denied His ultimate value, disregarded His infinite worth, and acted as though the preservation and display of His glory were worth anything less than His wholehearted commitment. God acts in righteousness when He acts for His own name's sake. For it would not be right for God to esteem anything above the infinite glory of His own name.(pp. 13-14). For God to be righteous, He must devote Himself 100 percent, with all His heart, soul, and strength, to loving and honoring His own holiness in the display of His glory. (p. 14).Everything in our salvation is designed by God to magnify the glory of God. (p. 14). His holiness is the absolute uniqueness and infinite value of His glory. His righteousness is His unswerving commitment always to honor and display that glory. And His all-sufficient glory is honored and displayed most by His working for us rather than our working for Him. (pp. 14-15).This is why justification by works would not put an end to boasting. If you work for your justification, what you are doing is trying to put God in your debt. And if you succeed in getting God to owe you something, then you can boast before men and God. If you worked for justification and you succeeded, you would not get grace, but a wage. God would owe it to you. (p. 25). When faith is born in the soul, we are still ungodly. Faith will begin to overcome our ungodliness. But in the beginning of the Christian life—where justification happens—we are all ungodly. Godly works do not begin to have a role in our lives until we are justified. (p. 26).Gratitude is a species of joy which arises in your heart in response to the goodwill of someone who does or tries to do you a favor.(p. 36). Whenever we experience joy, it is because our hearts have esteemed something we regard as valuable. The cause of joy is always a perceived value. The greater the value to us, the greater our joy in receiving it. But not only that. All joy is gregarious. It has in it a demonstrative impulse. It likes to gather others around and savor the value together. Is it not a psychological impossibility to feel intense delight in something good yet feel no impulse to demonstrate to others the value which caused that delight? (p. 36).Any attempt to express a gratitude by paying God back would contradict the nature of His gift as free and gracious.(p. 38). Disinterested performance of duty displeases God. He wills that we delight in doing good and that we do it with the confidence that our obedience secures and increases our joy in God. (p. 48).the heart is ripped out of worship by the notion that it can be performed as a mere duty. There are two possible attitudes in genuine worship: delight in God or repentance for the lack of it.(p. 50). As Christian hedonists we know that every listener longs for happiness. And we will never tell them to deny or repress that desire. Their problem is not that they want to be satisfied but that they are far too easily satisfied. We will instruct them how to glut their soul-hunger on the grace of God. We will paint God's glory in lavish reds and yellows and blues, and hell we will paint with smoky shadows of gray and charcoal. We will labor to wean them off the milk of the world onto the rich fare of God's grace and glory.(p. 52). there is one thing God loves to do more than bless the world. He loves to bless the world in answer to prayer. (p. 54). A pastor who feels competent in himself to produce eternal fruit—which is the only kind that matters—knows neither God nor himself. A pastor who does not know the rhythm of desperation and deliverance must have his sights only on what man can achieve. But brothers, the proper goals of the life of a pastor are unquestionably beyond our reach. The changes we long for in the hearts of our people can happen only by a sovereign work of grace.(p. 54). But brothers, the proper goals of the life of a pastor are unquestionably beyond our reach. The changes we long for in the hearts of our people can happen only by a sovereign work of grace.(p. 54). A cry for help from the heart of a childlike pastor is sweet praise in the ears of God. Nothing exalts Him more than the collapse of self-reliance which issues in passionate prayer for help.(p. 55). Those incessant knocks at our door, and perpetual visits from idle persons, are so many buckets of cold water thrown upon our devout zeal. We must by some means secure uninterrupted meditation, or we shall lose power. CHARLES SPURGEON The great threat to our prayer and our meditation on the Word of God is good ministry activity. JOHN PIPER(p. 59). The great pressure on us today is to be productive managers. But the need of the church is for prayerful, spiritual poets.(p. 66). Some of his recommended reading:Jonathan Edwards’ Religious Affections, or Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, or Sibbes’ Bruised Reed, or Baxter's Saints’ Everlasting Rest, or Boston's Fourfold State, or Burrough's Christian Contentment, or Ryle's Holiness, or Bridges’ Christian Ministry, or Brook's Precious Remedies, or Flavel's Method of Grace. John Piper, “Biblical Exegesis: Discovering the Original Meaning of Scriptural Texts”It is difficult to preach week in and week out over the whole range of God's revelation with depth and power if you are plagued with uncertainty when you venture beyond basic gospel generalities. (p. 82).We preach so that saints might persevere in faith to glory. We preach not only for their growth, but because if they don’t grow, they perish.(p. 112). When our people cast fear to the wind and spend themselves and risk their lives and fortune in the cause of God's truth, and in love for other people, then God is revealed for who He really is: infinitely valuable and satisfying—so much so that His people don’t need the fleeting pleasures of sin in order to be content. (p. 120).Genuine evangelical contrition—as opposed to legalistic, fearful sadness simply owing to threats—is a sorrow for not having holiness. (p. 123).The only true sorrow for not having holiness comes from a love for holiness, not just from a fear of the consequences of not having it. Or a more precise way to say it is this: true remorse over not having holiness is remorse over not enjoying God and living by the impulses of that joy. (p. 123). true evangelical contrition, true repentance, must be preceded by a falling in love with the all-satisfying God. (p. 124).On written prayers, emotion and spontaneity...genuine, heartfelt expression of our deepest emotions does not require spontaneity. (p. 147). we can no longer believe that unpondered prayers are more powerful or real or passionate or heartfelt or genuine or alive than prayers that are thoughtfully and earnestly (and painfully?) poured out through a carefully crafted form.(p. 147). legalism means treating Biblical standards of conduct as regulations to be kept by our own power in order to earn God's favor.(p. 153). The second meaning of legalism is this: the erecting of specific requirements of conduct beyond the teaching of Scripture and making adherence to them the means by which a person is qualified for membership in a local church.(p. 154).This one is slightly out of context. Soon after he argues against this idea in saying (There was no consensus in this country on the person-hood and rights of slaves.)One of the strongest arguments against legal enactments to protect the unborn is the claim that legal constraints without wide-spread social consensus is tyranny. (p. 228).the essence of worship is not external, localized acts, but an inner, Godward experience that shows itself externally not primarily in church services (though they are important) but primarily in daily expressions of allegiance to God. (pp. 232-233). It will transform your pastoral leadership in worship if you teach your people that the basic attitude of worship on Sunday morning is not to come with your hands full to give to God but with your hands empty to receive from God. And what you receive in worship is God, not entertainment. Teach them that they ought to come hungry for God. (pp. 238-239).Nothing makes God more supreme and more central than when a people are utterly persuaded that nothing—not money or prestige or leisure or family or job or health or sports or toys or friends—is going to bring satisfaction to their aching hearts besides God. This conviction breeds a people who passionately long for God on Sunday morning. They are not confused about why they are here. They do not see songs and prayers and sermons as mere traditions or mere duties. They see them as means of getting to God or God getting to them for more of His fullness. (p. 239). Nothing keeps God at the center of worship like the Biblical conviction that the essence of worship is deep, heartfelt satisfaction in Him and the conviction that the pursuit of that satisfaction is why we are together.(p. 240).

Bendick Ong

Excellent book addressing many core issues in which a pastor must stand firm in today's world. I love especially chapter 6 (makes me think what it means when we say we "serve. God" what it means then when we say a person is serving mammon?); 7(if one wants a 10 pages summary of Christian hedonism - this will be a concise one, identifying the roots and defending the notion); 10 (best write-up I have read on the need for Christians - and esp church leaders - to READ. And yes! No time is not an excuse! Love the chapter title - fight for your life); 21 (on Christian liberty - why legalism is as bad as, or even worse than alcoholism); and 23 (is it legitimate for a Christian to buy a bigger house or a nicer car for his own comfort instead of giving to the poor? - a question that has been troubling me for quite a while and am glad Piper offers a good answer.)In addition, we also get to read Piper's opinions on prayers, difficult Bible texts, hell, baptism, humility, disasters, missions, racism, abortion, worship, wives, seminaries etc.Though I think the title may be a little misleading - well it boils down to how we define "professionals". If we take it negatively to mean secularisation and in contrast to "brothers" like how the 30 chapters in this book do, then there is no problem. By highlighting these concerns, Piper calls for a radical ministry which requires conviction and courage. By drawing a line between a radical pastor and a professional minister, Piper presents God's servants with strong anchor points to stay afloat in the billows of this world.

C Hughes

A must read for every Pastor, but especially for those who are young or in the early stages of ministry life. Piper will help to ensure that you keep the main thing, the main thing. This book deals with many practical Pastoral topics, and gives an easy to read summary of the biblical dealings with each. Having this book is like having Piper as a sort of mentor.

Josh Crews

Thesis: I see the American pastorate trying to maximize their efficiency, focus on numbers, please customers, and follow the maxims of business. But how can God's calling be to be "professional". How does one professionally pant after God? How can you professionally weep over your sins?"Brothers We Are Not Professionals" is actually one essay pleading with pastors in the book. There are many more pleadings in the other chapters. One of my favorites is called "Bilder was a Banker" and it's about a layman who knew his Greek and Hebrew for the joy of it; and how pastors don't think it's that necessary to study the languages. After hearing Piper make the case for learning the Greek/Hebrew I've already started amateurly studying Greek with an inter-linear New Testament. I've already received rewards of treasures discovered in the text that I wouldn't have seen without trying to know the Greek.

Joseph Louthan

I know. Five stars. Five stars says : Crème de la crème. Why did I rate this so high? Because I believe the author accomplished what he sat out to do and did it in a fantastic way.Imagine my perspective: Newly saved, called to be a pastor, has barely started on the path to becoming a pastor and by God's grace, I read this book.This is clock-filled with not only practical after practical insight to undo the executive, CEO business mindset of the American Evangelical megachurch of the last 50 years but it is a higher call to change our mindset of what we are called to do. My friends, this is not another job and I get sick when I see people treating this like it is job. Do we not see the qualifications of an elder in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1? Are we to have the mentality to know nothing except Christ and Him crucified? Are we not charged in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching?The calling of a pastor is not just another job. The church staff is not another corporate ladder to climb. Your end is not to get to the “top” but rather, run the race that is set before us and keep our eyes on the finish line, that is, Jesus Christ who is the author and finisher of our faith.This book is perfect for the newbie pastor-to-be.This book is perfect for the grizzled old veteran.This book serves well for all the saints who are looking to do the work of the ministry.Brothers and sisters, we are not professionals. We have been called to behold the absolute truth and it is our faithful duty to reveal the timeless beauty of God. If we heed to what the Scriptures tell us, we know that we desperately need his Spirit to carry out the gospel of Christ for the glory of God and our joy until Christ comes and gets us or we drop six feet into the ground.May God help us all. Amen.

Ryan Adair

I first read Brothers, We Are Not Professionals by John Piper in January of 2010 (yes, eight years after it had been published). And it was rich food for my soul and health to my bones. John Piper pleaded with pastors, who are constantly surrounded by leadership books and professional tips to better themselves, to stay true to the supernatural aspect of the ministry. We are not professionals in the sense of “education, a set of skills, and a set of guild-defined standards which are possible without faith in Jesus,” writes Piper (x). He was faithful to this endeavor in 2002, and he added to that faithfulness with this updated and expanded edition. Adding six new chapters to the 30 already fantastic ones of the first edition, these are nothing new if you’ve followed Pastor John over the years. Two of them were added (chaps. 4 & 6) to further clarify theological points he had previously made, namely on the subjects of God making much of us and God being the gospel (of which Piper has written a book about, published in 2005). Chapters 13 & 18, which are new additions as well, are focused on being a better preacher in our modern age. Being a Bible-oriented preacher, not an entertainment-oriented preacher, is one of the best exhortations to pastors about being faithful to the Word of God, not giving in to the current trends and flippancy of the day. Chapter 18, subsequently, challenges pastors to pursue the tone of the text. By that he means “the feel that it has. The spirit it emits. The emotional quality. The affectional tenor. The mood” of the text (121). These are invaluable for any pastor, but especially us younger ones. Another addition sprang from his eight-month leave of absence from Bethlehem Baptist Church where he didn’t preach, didn’t write, didn’t blog or tweet, but just pursued his own sanctification in the midst of his family (chap. 22). There are some intimate moments shared here that he had yet to go through in the first publication, chronicling some of the besetting sins he had and how he put them to death. In this leave of absence, he did a lot of soul-searching and processing with his wife so he could grow in godliness. And, finally, the last chapter he added to this book is about health, and about glorifying God with our body for the purpose of longevity (chap. 27). In it he talks about the need to eat well, exercise often, and rest on a consistent basis, sharing a lot of his own habits and how aging has affected him. Though this doesn’t seem like it should be in a book of this caliber, Piper’s exhortation is “not [for] your maximal physical health. Nor is it to help you find ways to get the best buzz for your brain. My aim is that you will find a way of life that enables you to use your mind and your five senses as effective partners in seeing the glory of God and that you be so satisfied in Him that you are willing to risk your health and your life to make Him known” (185). Though these are practical realities that every pastor must face (due to a more sedentary lifestyle), they are no less important in the overall pursuit to make much of God in one’s life. Though Piper has been in the ministry over 30 years, there is still a richness and a depth to his writing that moves me every time I read one of his books. And this one is no exception. His writing focuses me on the glory of God, saturates me with Scripture, increases my affections for Christ, and causes me to ruminate on every word he writes. He writes with love, humility, tenderness, and most of all, depth. Every word has been carefully chosen, placed on the page for the edification of our souls. And he is a man who thinks deeply, which, in turn, causes him to write with clarity. Investing in this new and updated version of Brothers, We Are Not Professionals is a worthwhile investment—one with, I’m sure, eternal significance.

Brian Algie

An easy and important read for anyone in or planning on entering the ministry. The chapters are short enough and laid out in such a way that you can read a chapter or two and come back to it later. Some chapters will be review while other chapters will hit you between the eyes and cause some action in your steps. The version I read is older while the newer one has about six more chapters.

Ethan

An updated exhortation toward those in ministry regarding various subjects.The title is somewhat misleading: "Brothers, We Are Not Professionals" is only the first of 36 different subjects relating to the author's encouragement regarding proper ministry. The author does not envision ministers as amateurs or anything of that sort; his exhortation is to make sure that ministers do excellent work for the Lord rooted in what the Lord has said and not the "profession standards" of the world. The subtitle, "A Plea to Pastors for Radical Ministry," is also a bit sensationalistic, trendy, and not entirely accurate: little of what Piper has to say can be called "radical". That doesn't necessarily make it wrong; it's just not as out of the ordinary as one might be led to believe.There's a lot of great stuff in this book. His concept of "Christian Hedonism" is intriguing. He does well at telling ministers how they need to make time to pray and to continue their personal studies beyond the day-to-day/week-to-week study work. Much of what he encourages ministers to promote--Bible-based lessons, emphasis on God's glory, recognition of the challenges of the text, proper discussion of hell, repentance, and other subjects, avoidance of legalism, maintenance of humility not uncertainty, a proper view toward wealth, love for one's wife, and exhortation against racism and abortion, among other matters.Piper is a Baptist, and one on the Reformed side at that: his emphasis on justification by faith alone is there, along with great fealty to the Puritans. He recognizes the importance of baptism but resists what the text clearly indicates about what baptism does. One should be careful in these parts for the Protestant over-reach; while studying Puritan works can have value, one ought not neglect patristics, reformed, and more recent writings as well in order to obtain a more holistic understanding of the range of all matters Christianity (if one is so inclined for such a study). Nevertheless, save on these Protestant doctrinal matters, this book has a lot of good information for ministers to consider, and they should do so.**--book received as part of early review program

Scott

Purchased the revised and updated version by Baker publishing. This is essentially "Piper's Greatest Hits." There are 38 chapters that are all relatively short and each chapter covers an essential aspect of Piper's ministry, and specifically ordered to pastors. Want to read Piper but don't really know where to start? Read this book. The only downer was that I caught some pretty glaring typos a few times. Maybe trying to make a deadline proved difficult? Regardless, it's a minor quibble that can be fixed further on down the line. I am grateful for John Piper and his ministry, and thankful that he published this book for pastors and leaders alike.

Brian

Every so often a book comes to me at the right time and place. When this happens, it can be life-changing or at a minimum, life enhancing. Piper's "Brothers, We Are Not Professionals" is somewhere right between the life-changing/enhancing continuum. Piper focuses on 30 readings to recapture the passion of pastors for pastoral (as opposed to executive) ministry.I wouldn't say there is much in the way of "new" insight, particularly for its intended audience. Rather, Piper offers a potent, refreshing, reviving, call to arms that many will find useful when they face the unique challenges of modern ministry.Piper has a balanced approach to the concepts of pastor as shepherd vs. pastor as CEO, though it's clear where his heart is. In addition, the book is helpful in spurring some great sermon ideas thanks to the author's copious use of scripture references. The chapter on addressing racism from the pulpit is especially challenging. As a Reformed Presbyterian, I was intrigued by his baptist perspective on Infant Baptism. I also loved his poem included in "Brothers Love Your Wives." Piper's writing on materialism and legalism were thought provoking.Overall, this book was a great refreshment to me, and will be a good resource in the future for referencing concise insights on pastoral and church issues. It really is a must read for any one in ministry, especially pastors.

David

Preaching Magazine states that this is one of “10 best books every preacher should read.” I agree completely. The first chapter sets the stage for the book and reading it is worth the price of the book. In the first chapter he says: “We pastors are being killed by the professionalizing of the pastoral ministry. . . . Professionalizm has nothing to do with the essence and heart of the Christian ministry. The more professional we long to be, the more spiritual death we will leave in our wake.” Piper is not suggesting that we should do ministry in a slipshod, sloppy, lazy, lackadaisical manner. He compels us to Christ-exalting excellence in our ministries. His reaction is to doing things in such a way that our ministries will be seen by people as “professionally attractive,” yet completely devoid of the power of the cross. I bump into pastors that focus on business models and professional models. While they profess to preach the Bible, the aim is on professional method, not the Spirit’s power.Among the other 35 chapters, he exhorts to Bible-Oriented, not entertainment oriented ministry, to show your people why God inspired hard texts, to read Christian biography, to sever the root of racism, to blow the trumpet for the unborn and so on. While pastors might disagree, any who read will be challenged to think biblically with reference to their ministries in these areas.One of the values is that in 36 short chapters, he presses on pastors all that he understands as important to biblical ministry. In some ways, it is a capsulation of all he believes and teaches about God, the bible, and ministry. Highly recommended for experienced and newer pastors, along with any layperson who takes Christian ministry seriously.

Nick Thies

Won a copy of the updated version. A call for people to step up and start doing more for Jesus. Excellent Read

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