Book Review: ‘Some Pastors and Teachers’

Recently someone asked me which pastors and writers have been most influential in my life. In my top three, I listed Sinclair Ferguson. Later that night I was reflecting on what particular resource has left such a mark. While his books have certainly been influential, I think it was his preaching ministry that was it. I have listened to Ferguson preach for well more than a decade now, and it has had a profound shape upon my ministry.

It is for this reason I was so excited to pick up a copy of his new book, Some Pastors and Teachers. The title reflects Ephesians 4:11, where the Apostle notes that God gave some pastors and teachers. The subtitle of the book is, “reflecting a biblical vision of what every minister is called to be.” Naturally, you can see why the publication of this book would get me salivating.

What’s in the book? In the introduction, we learn that the majority of what is included has already been published elsewhere. The author concedes that their original publication was relatively obscure. This book provided the occasion to intentionally select and reorganize the material into a coherent whole. The content of the book focuses on men who influenced Ferguson himself, and then some essential elements of pastoral ministry. In the former, the focus is on the “Three Johns,” that is, Calvin, Owen, and Murray (with honorable mention to Flavel and some other Puritans). In the latter, Ferguson ferrets out key themes that should be present in a pastor’s ministry. Some include chapters on biblical theology, Reformed theology, and sanctification. In the final section, the author provides us with detailed consideration of preaching. With chapters like Preaching to the Heart and Preaching Christ from the Old Testament Scriptures, any pastor will be well-served to steep in this book for a season. In summary, the book moves from the study of three great pastors who have influenced Ferguson, to reflections on specific doctrines, and then on to the work of preaching and teaching the Bible.

Some Pastors and Teachers is less like having Ferguson for a seminary professor and more like having him for coffee. He disciples readers with his characteristic tenderness and biblical fidelity.

I should offer fair warning: this is not a small book. And you shouldn’t expect it to be. It’s a rich gift to any pastor. The author, anticipating the grimace by even the most hearty Reformed pastor, concedes the length of the book but, demonstrating the wisdom of his years in ministry, turns this into a charming positive.

While this is a big book, it only seems long! For each chapter is an entity on its own. Readers can enter and leave at any point they choose. No chapter is completely dependent on the previous chapter, or for that matter on any other chapter in the book. I hope, therefore, that it may be a volume that readers will enjoy dipping into, here and there.

In what I’ve come to expect from Ferguson, he pulls at your heart a bit in the introduction. Without needing to he relays the reason for the book by telling readers, “Some Pastors and Teachers simply a way of saying, ‘These are some of the gifts that the Lord has given to me for others who have an interest in and a concern for the ministry of the gospel. I know the parcels are small; but I hope there will be something inside them that will be a blessing and an encouragement to you.’”

I think he hit the mark.

Pick up a copy of Some Pastors and Teachers for yourself or your pastor. You won’t be disappointed.