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Straining at the Oars
Case Studies in Pastoral Leadership

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POD; Published: 3/26/2013
ISBN: 978-0-8028-6866-4
Price: $ 19.50
138 Pages
Trim Size, in inches: 5.5 x 8.25
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A common complaint of recent seminary graduates is their lack of preparation in practical theology, especially in the tasks of leadership. New pastors encounter a host of challenges that can seem overwhelming.

Biblically oriented, wise, and reassuring, Dana Fearon presents twenty-one difficult situations that young ministers are likely to face on the job, including prayer in the hospital room, a request to baptize a dead infant, handling conflict and criticism, entering dangerous areas to reconcile hostile groups, and others. As part of his discussion, Fearon presents and reviews his own response to such situations, using his theological education and long experience in church ministry to instruct others.

Read a blog post by Fearon on EerdWord.
John Buchanan
— Fourth Presbyterian Church of Chicago; Editor/publisher of The Christian Century
"This book is a treasure, written out of a lifetime of faithful and very effective ministry, full of hard-earned wisdom, grace, and practical insight. I wish I had read this book years ago."
David A. Davis
— Nassau Presbyterian Church
"With a theological depth that could only come from decades of experience, Dana Fearon offers insight and reflection on the expected challenges of ministry and on some that no one could have ever anticipated. Rarely have I come upon a work that so resonates with my life as a pastor. After reading this, pastors will start thinking about even the most mundane realities of pastoral leadership in a freshly theological way."
Cynthia A. Jarvis
— The Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill
"Honest, humble, wise, discerning, thoughtful, evocative, accessible. . . . Though written for the recently ordained, these reflections also have much to teach those of us who have been 'straining at the oars' for decades as well as the seminarians we supervise, the officers we train, the adults we teach, and the congregations we serve."
Allan Hugh Cole Jr.
— Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary
"Why didn't the seminary teach us the things we needed to know? Stirred by that enduring question, this gem of a book offers wise and faithful reflections on pastoral leadership and pastoral life. Exploring numerous pastoral situations and challenges, it aptly points to the necessary partnership between seminaries and faith communities for the education and formation of their leaders — a never-ending process."
Presbyterian Outlook
"In this brief book, Dana Fearon provides practical wisdom that is sorely needed by newly ordained pastors. He also gives eloquent reminders to seasoned pastors about the ministry that is so beautiful and so demanding. . . . This book should be given to every pastor on the day of ordination. It is that essential."
Theology Today
"There is insight to be gained even by well-seasoned pastors and memories that will be sparked by reading about challenges already encountered. . . . An insightful book on parish ministry and pastoral leadership."
In Trust
"Sure, seminaries could do more to teach us to be savvy, wise, self-aware, humble. But so too could churches and every other institution working with human beings on our planet. Reading Dana Fearon's book is a way for us all to take another step toward that great end."
Ashland Theological Journal
"Probably the two greatest strengths of the book are its appeal to practical wisdom gained through decades of walking with congregations and the inclusion of great discussion questions at the end. . . . The study questions at the conclusion of each brief chapter are worth the price of the book."
Southwestern Journal of Theology
"This is not another book taking cheap shots at the seminary for unrealistically expecting that three years of training will be sufficient to cover every conceivable issue a pastor will face in a lifetime of ministry. Instead, Fearon affirms the great value of and need for seminary training, but concedes that many of the lessons pastors learn about ministry will only be learned while doing ministry. Readers will enjoy the easy-to-read writing style and young pastors will appreciate the timely and cogent advice throughout. All ministers will appreciate the wisdom revealed or learned through real-life experiences of the author."