Book Review: The Pastor's Family

Review by Gary L. Hamburger

When my wife and I headed to our first church, just after finishing seminary, we consulted a book. It was a book mostly for my wife about being a pastor’s wife. Though doubtless good for its day, the book seemed outdated in much of its advice. We decided that my wife should just be herself, and that worked well for 36 years of full-time pastoral ministry—with thanks to the three churches we served.

Thus, I had some misgivings about the Crofts’ book. I rather expected it to be one of those “preachy” books on “why can’t you get it together?” But Brian and Cara are right there with their readers, in the trenches. I sensed a humble and sensitive attitude throughout and was pleasantly surprised at the book’s accuracy and usefulness.

The book begins with The Problem: The “squeaky wheel gets the grease.” Too often, those squeaky wheels are members of the congregation. Therefore, the pastor can get into the wrong habit of meeting everyone’s needs except those closest to him—his wife and family.

The questions at the end of each chapter serve as a useful feature. Yet they mostly seemed too predictable. After some field testing of this book, a revision of the questions would be helpful.

Cara is very honest about being called to Brian as his wife but not necessarily to being a pastor’s wife. (Brian came to his ministry calling later.) This will resonate with many. How Cara worked it out is worth reading. In an appendix, Cara also gives a transparent testimony of her struggle with depression. It is truthful and forthright, with some solutions.

If I could, I’d place this book on the reading lists of the practical theology departments of seminaries. Superintendents would also do well to supply this book to the pastors and wives under their charge.

Gary Hamburger served three EFCA churches in Nebraska, California and New Mexico for a total of 36 years—most recently as senior pastor at Hope EFC in Albuquerque, N.M.

Review by Will Turner

As a husband, father of four and bi-vocational church planter, I was excited to see The Pastor’s Family. But I have to admit that I am a bit underwhelmed. Part of the problem is that I’ve read Dangerous Calling by Paul David Tripp, and this book read like Dangerous Calling for pastors’ families. So there really wasn’t much new. The basic idea is a good reminder: Pastors and their families need Jesus and God’s grace just as much as everyone else.

There are two take-a-ways that I appreciated. First, the story of the pastor who gave his wife a calendar with a year of future husband-wife dates already mapped out. That’s a good idea. And secondly, I was convicted to work on spending weekly individual time with each of my children. Another helpful idea that’s a bit harder to implement.

Will Turner is pastor of Redemption Church (EFCA) in Philadelphia.

Review by Nathan Hogan

This is a book written for pastors and their wives, by a pastor and his wife. It’s invaluable to have the perspective of both. While the content is wonderful, it may be surpassed in quality by the conversations it creates between pastors and their wives. My wife and I took this book with us one day on a lunch date and used some of the prescribed discussion questions to fuel our conversation. This allowed us to flesh-out principles in the book in our specific family and ministry context.

Nathan Hogan is preaching pastor at Lake Murray Community Church (EFCA) in La Mesa, Calif.

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