Weak Pastor, Strong Christ
Developing a Christ-Shaped Gospel Ministry
Weak Pastor, Strong Christ explores Paul’s stormy yet affectionate relationship with the church of Corinth through a study of 2 Corinthians. Though written nearly two millennia ago, Paul’s letter offers contemporary pastors a compelling and encouraging portrait of Christian ministry.
Paul’s relationship with the Corinthians was marked by challenges and tensions that are still familiar to church leaders in the 21st century: comparison with other pastors, unfair criticism of ministry style, vocational stresses and hardship, disputes over money, and more. In Weak Pastor, Strong Christ these complexities are unpacked, and Paul’s vision for a Christ-pleasing ministry is explained. His ministry among the Corinthians is presented as a model for Christian pastors today who are dealing with the various pains and joys of ministry.
This book draws important lessons about pastoral ministry for Christian leaders who are engaged in preaching, pastoring, and praying for their congregations both in times of peace and strain. Together, Paul’s view of his relationship with the Corinthians and his ministerial style among them provide encouragement for weak pastors to persevere in ministry through a full reliance on God’s strong grace in Christ Jesus.
This is a book from a seasoned pastor that is solidly grounded in the God-inspired words of Paul about his pastoral labors in a difficult place. Any minister who longs to serve the Lord in accordance with His Word will profit from this volume. Laypeople—especially those who serve as elders or on a pastor search committee—will find it insightful as well. Any pastor who receives a copy should be grateful for it, for in these pages is much helpful wisdom.
-Donald S. Whitney
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Author of Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, Praying the Bible, and Family Worship.
Many books analyze the apostle Paul’s theology and missionary work. Reuben Bredenhof examines the ministry of Paul the pastor in his new book, Weak Pastor, Strong Christ. His careful study of 2 Corinthians unfolds an apostolic model for pastoral work. Here, ministers straining under the burden of unbiblical expectations will find relief; those unsure of how to model their ministry will find godly help. He summons all pastors – in joy or trial – to rely upon Christ’s all-sufficient grace, saying with Paul, “when I am weak, then I am strong.”
-Charles Malcolm Wingard
Associate Professor of Practical Theology
Reformed Theological Seminary (Jackson, Mississippi)
Author of Help for the New Pastor: Practical Advice for Your First Year of Ministry
Reuben Bredenhof gives us a fine thoughtful, engaging and readable study of 2 Corinthians which opens up the apostle Paul’s pastoral mind and heart to today’s pastors and church members. Those in pastoral ministry will find this book immensely encouraging, realistic and practical, as will church members. Reuben both opens up the difficulties and joys Paul experiences in pastoring the Corinthian Christians in the first century, and bridges the gap between then and now so that the importance and relevance of Paul’s teaching for today’s churches and pastors is clear. This wise and practical book goes well beyond the superficiality of ‘how to’ books on Christian ministry to dig deep into theology and ministry. Read it—you’ll learn much from it!
-Professor Steve Walton
Associate Research Fellow and Tutor in New Testament, Trinity College, Bristol
In church contexts that define leadership in terms of image, personality, and technique, Paul’s theology of pastoral ministry in 2 Corinthians is uncomfortably counter-cultural: humiliating in transparency about weaknesses, resolute in integrity, and—above all—exalting Christ instead of Self. Pastor Bredenhof’s exploration of the glorious gospel paradox—Christ’s strength is displayed through weak pastors, God’s priceless treasure conveyed in jars of clay—will both challenge and encourage pastors in our new covenant ministry. Pastor, whether you are discouraged by criticism or tempted to self-congratulation by fruitfulness, Weak Pastor, Strong Christ will bring biblical clarity to your view of yourself and of the service to which your gracious Lord has called you.
-Dennis E. Johnson
Professor Emeritus of Practical Theology
Westminster Seminary California