The second letter to the Corinthians is a touchstone for pastors seeking advice on effective ministry. It is a revealing window into the tumult of Paul’s relationship with this congregation that shows Paul’s concern for the spiritual welfare of a local church. Although he loved the Corinthians dearly and labored for them intensely, their relationship was marked by the tensions and challenges that are acutely familiar to church leaders today: unclear expectations, comparison to other pastors, criticisms of ministry style, vocational stresses, disputes over money, and more. Reuben Bredenhof expertly unpacks these complexities and reveals Paul’s vision for Christ-shaped gospel ministry—a vision that can help you, too.
Table of Contents:
Introduction: Searching for a Model of Ministry
Afterword: Traveling from Corinth to Today
Reuben Bredenhof serves as minister of the Mount Nasura Free Reformed Church in Western Australia.
“The premise of this book is straightforward: ministers today can learn much from the ministry of the apostle Paul in first-century Corinth. No clever, but soon-outdated pragmatism here. 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. Generous-hearted laypeople would do well to consider providing a copy for their pastor. Any pastor who receives a copy should be grateful for it, for in these pages is much helpful wisdom.” — Donald S. Whitney, professor of biblical spirituality and associate dean at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, KY. 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 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 M. Wingard, associate professor of pastoral theology, Reformed Theological Seminary, and author of Help for the New Pastor
“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
“Reuben Bredenhof gives us a fine, thoughtful, engaging, and readable study of 2 Corinthians that 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 experienced 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!” — Steve Walton, professor of New Testament, Trinity College, Bristol