What They Didn't Teach You in Seminary

25 Lessons for Successful Ministry in Your Church

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Finally--everything you really need to know about surviving and thriving in a life of ministry

You learn a lot of important things in seminary. But what you can't learn in a classroom is what ministry is actually like on a day-to-day basis. There are no classes called Taking a Day Off, Maintaining Sexual Fences, or Emotional Survival 101. In this immensely practical book, veteran pastor James Emery White provides the kind of mentoring pastors desperately need. His insights will help you transform your relationships with staff and church members, develop healthy boundaries, deliver hard truths, avoid spiritually hazardous situations, use your time effectively, and much more.


"James Emery White offers an insightful, no-nonsense look into the real trenches of ministry life. I appreciate Dr. White's authenticity and candor in sharing his life's experiences. The practical applications of this book make it a must-read; not simply for those beginning their journey, making that difficult transition between the walls of the seminary and the walls of the Church, but for those of us who have been in the game for some time."--Mark Batterson, lead pastor, National Community Church, Washington, D.C.

"Wow. What started as a brief skim to give an informed endorsement turned into a mesmerizing read. If you want a book to tell you what ministry is really like then this is your best shot. While reading I regularly found myself saying, 'I guess I'm not the only one.' Or, 'It is about time someone said that.' Or, 'What I wouldn't have given to know that before Crossroads started.' This book is true. Read it and treasure it."--Brian Tome, founding and senior pastor of Crossroads Church, Cincinnati, Ohio

"You can learn a lot about ministry by attending church, and even more by going to seminary, but there are some things you can only learn by leading a congregation day after day, week after week. James Emery White gives us all a back-stage pass to accompany him in his pastoral ministry. It's a real education."--Marshall Shelley, editor, Leadership Journal; vice-president, Christianity Today International

"At last, a book that tells it as it really is. Jim is a rare combination--an academic and a church leader. Through the book, he shares with us his successes and failures that we might learn, acknowledge our own pain, and try and do it differently next time! Here is someone who remains in the trenches of church leadership. And he gets it--the pain, the privilege, the pride (good and bad) --that are unique to leading a church. Take time to read this book; its pages contain hard lessons and real insight. And they might just save your life, your church, your ministry, and your family."--Dave Richards, rector, St. Paul's and St. George's Church, Edinburgh, Scotland

"Jim White is more than a superb pastor and leader, he is a coach and mentor with a keen mind and kingdom heart. While I have forgotten more than half of what I learned in seminary, I continue to recall, put into practice, and pass along the many lessons I have learned from Jim through the years. In this book he has provided an incredible gift for today's ministry leaders, be they just starting out or seasoned and ready for renewal."--Chad Hall, director of coaching, Western Seminary, Portland, Oregon

"Anyone who spent time in seminary knows that, even with all the knowledge you gained, the list of things you didn't learn is even longer. That's why What They Didn't Teach You in Seminary is such a valuable resource for pastors and church leaders. James Emery White knows seminaries and he knows churches, and he draws on his extensive experience with both to help bridge the gap in practical knowledge needed for ministry today. From vision to values, from calling to communication, Jim takes readers on a guided tour of the way real-life ministry can and should be lived. The book is packed with timely insights that will help church leaders build strong, effective ministries. This book deserves a place on every pastor's bookshelf."--Michael Duduit, executive editor of Preaching magazine; dean of the College of Christian Studies, Anderson University, Anderson, South Carolina

"A very good friend of mine said, 'theory is theory and reality is reality and every once in a while they actually meet.' James Emery White brings solid biblical theory and marries it to reality so that there is a practical theology for ministry. White is that rare blend of theologian/practitioner that can span the gap that too often seminaries leave when their students graduate. If you are serious about leading biblically and making impact practically then What They Didn't Teach You In Seminary is a must read. Don't leave seminary without it."--Rodney L. Cooper, PhD, Kenneth and Jean Hansen Professor of Discipleship and Leadership, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, Charlotte, North Carolina

The Author

  1. James Emery White

    James Emery White

    James Emery White, PhD, is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church, a suburban megachurch in Charlotte, North Carolina, often cited as one of the fastest-growing church starts in the United States. Former president of Gordon-Conwell...

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