'Letters to My Students,' a guide for ministers
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Through the years, Jason Allen has kept up with his correspondence and questions about ministry – some of it in the form of letters, emails, classroom lectures, phone conversations, or conference sermons and presentations.
This material helped fuel a new book project, "Letters to My Students," authored by Allen, president of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. B&H Publishing released the book July 30.
Allen noted his interest in and interactions with the book "Lectures to My Students," by renowned British pastor Charles H. Spurgeon, helped inspire the 175-page work. The new book is the first of a three-volume series that aims to provide a biblical, accessible guide for ministers and ministers-in-training.
This first volume, "On Preaching," focuses on bringing both biblical and practical wisdom to bear on the minister's responsibility of preaching.
Within the book, Allen explains in three broader categories how one prepares for the calling to preach, how the preacher then prepares his sermons, and lastly how the preacher progresses and grows in the art of preaching.
Ultimately, Allen said, his goal in penning this first volume is to provide pastors, in any phase of their ministries but particularly those in the early stages, with advice and guidance about the most crucial aspect of their ministries – preaching.
Allen explained that as time has passed and his ministry has progressed, certain questions on the topic of preaching continually arise.
"Answers to these questions have found their way into my class lectures, and still others have migrated all the way to my website, where I often write on preaching and pastoral ministry," he said.
"In my role as a seminary president, I'm now giving my life to equipping those called by God for more faithful and effective ministry," he said. "While that preparation is essential, it doesn't end when one walks across the graduation stage. Growing in ministry is a lifelong pursuit and growing as a preacher is to be the same. This book is intended to help its readers toward these ends."
Allen also noted he is an inquisitive person, and early in his ministry he had mentors who answered his many queries and pointed him to others who could do the same. He now often finds himself on the other end of such questions and conversations. So, in compiling these questions, and his responses, he desires to impact the lives of his readers in the same way his mentors impacted him.
As to the role Spurgeon's Lectures to My Students played in his formulating this book project, Allen explained that its significance is great.
"Spurgeon's Lectures to My Students is brimming with biblical and practical advice for the minister," Allen said. "In publishing the book, Spurgeon gave his students a near-comprehensive text on the full range of issues related to preaching and pastoral ministry. Lectures to My Students has proven to be a timeless work, benefitting most every minister who reads it.
"This volume (Letters to My Students) – and the entire series – is written in the venerable tradition of Spurgeon's Lectures to My Students. I know how much Spurgeon helped me, and I want similarly to help the readers of this book."
Another aspiration Allen has for readers of Letters to My Students is that they may acquire a keen sense of stewardship.
"It is likely that you have benefited from strategic investments by many others," he said. "Perhaps your home church, a kind pastor, a supportive spouse, or countless other influencers have brought you to this place.
"Through this book, I have an opportunity to add my word of encouragement and counsel to you as well," Allen said. "I pray that Letters to My Students, along with the many other influences in your life, will come together to be a source of great gospel good. And I pray that after reading this book, you'll move forward with a greater sense of the stewardship to preach the gospel that has been entrusted to you."
Allen also expressed gratitude to the men and women who worked alongside him to publish the book, saying, "It has been a privilege to partner with the B&H Publishing team to produce a book that, I pray, will benefit the next generation of pastors to develop and grow in their preaching ministries."
For more information on the book, go to jasonkallen.com/letterstomystudents.
Written by Baptist Press, the official news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.
See comments about the book (below) from those within the Southern Baptist and greater evangelical world.
"What a great read. Academics tend to forget that most of us who labor in the pulpit need to be mindful of our firm foundation. Jason Allen has not forgotten the call to equip those who labor each Sunday. His writing is clear, and his words are very encouraging. I especially commend the preacher's checklist. Read this and be motivated to sweat in service of the calling and work of preaching." – Steven Smith, senior pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Little Rock, Ark.
"Jason Allen knows preaching, preaching students, and the 'Prince of Preachers.' So there's no one better equipped to give us a volume that extends this great preaching legacy. With the feel of a fireside chat, this book makes for a buffet from which all of us who preach can and should feast repeatedly. Whether you're running your first leg or your last leg of the preaching race, mine this gem for its potent, practical, and timely treasures." – Jim Shaddix, W.A. Criswell Professor of Expository Preaching at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.