The updated and expanded edition of Brothers We are NOT Professionals: A Plea to Pastors for Radical Ministry by John Piper is a blessing to all pastors who read it. It will inevitably and necessarily be a blessing to their local churches as well.
Piper writes in a straightforward and penetrating manner. Pastor John has said that books don’t change people, sentences do. There are dozens of sentences here that have the potential to do just that. The tone is warm because in Christ we are adopted by our Father so we are all fundamentally “brothers.” There is no authoritarian “I’m-the-expert” impression here.
He has six new chapters in this updated and expanded edition. Chapter 4, “Brothers, God does Make Much of Us” balances the statement that God is God-centered and primarily aims to enable us to make much of him by saying that God does indeed make much of us. Chapter 6 explains the gospel and gives the goal of the gospel that is often minimized, assumed, or forgotten in many gospel presentations, namely that God himself is the goodness of the gospel. His contrast between “Bible-oriented and entertainment-oriented preachers” in chapter 13 was helpful but I did think the bible-oriented preacher who still presses his church (and those he trains) to be “in the know about the ever-changing entertainment and media world” (p. ix) wasn’t really confronted. Mark Driscoll is not entertainment-oriented but has exhorted others to be in the know. Perhaps this lack of confrontation was by intention, but the current temptations I face are a bit more nuanced and not commented on by the chapter. Chapter 18 exhorts us to pursue the tone of the text. Piper has modeled this throughout his ministry and many pastors would be better expository preachers if they pursued and communicated the particular tones of specific texts (and genres!) they preach. This is lacking in the neo-reformed evangelical (i.e. The Gospel Coalition, Together for the Gospel, 9Marks, Shepherd’s Conference) movements though there are more and more examples cropping up. The chapter on sanctification in chapter 22 on acting the miracle is the best of Calvinistic and Reformed theology applied to the daily fight of sin for growth in holiness. Chapter 27 exhorts us to exercise, eat well, and rest for the sake of gospel ministry.
The book is practical and clear on actions and pathways for pastoral growth and change. We should communicate God’s love for his glory, his nature as loving, and his love for us. This book is theology at it’s best since theology may be thought of according to John Frame as “the application of the Word of God by persons to all areas of life.” This is theology applied and exhorted to the pastor.
Personally, I was challenged to master the biblical languages, to make progress in personal and pastoral prayer, to make time to read in general and biography in particular, and to take greater care of my physical body as a stewardship for gospel ministry.
This book serves as a great refresher or introduction to many of Pastor John’s God-centered and Christ-exalting writings and emphases in his ministry. Capsules of Desiring God, Future Grace, God is the Gospel, and Let the Nations Be Glad! are contained in its pages. I highly recommend the book to pastors, church leaders, and all motivated church members. You will not only benefit in regard to your participation in gospel ministry, you will be encouraged by the glorious God of all things including ministry.
Full disclosure: I was given a complimentary copy this book with the understanding I’d write a review, but I loved the first edition (paid for with my own money!) and was delighted even more with this new edition!
Here are two videos by John Piper on the book: