Book Review: “A Practical Guide for Pastors”
Ministry and Money: A Practical Guide for Pastors
by Janet T. Jamieson and Philip D. Jamieson (Westminster John Knox Press, 2009) 226 pages
Available at Cokesbury
Pastors must deepen their knowledge of finances to truly lead, rather than simply maintain, their churches. The authors, a married couple, write from experience: Janet is a Certified Public Accountant and Philip is a pastoral theologian. At the time the book was published, they taught at the University of Dubuque and its seminary. Since then, Philip Jamieson has become the president of the United Methodist Foundation for the Memphis and Tennessee annual conferences. Janet Jamieson has served as the chief financial officer and treasurer of Discipleship Ministries, The United Methodist Church, since 2016. Philip is also the author of The Face of Forgiveness: A Pastoral Theology of Shame and Redemption, published by IVP Academic.
From a theological perspective, this book makes a compelling case for the Christian view of money as not good, bad, or even neutral. Instead, money is recognized as “a fallen power [that] has a tendency to lead people away from God” (8). This is a crucial insight to help people of faith interpret dynamics in our current reality. This understanding of the power of money explains why talking about finances in church can make people wary of a power struggle. Another strength of this book is the way it sheds light on the meaning and significance of biblical views of material resources.
From a practical point of view, this book provides helpful instruction on the three major accounting methods and how to interpret financial statements. It advises about what to watch out for in certain areas that may indicate unhealthy trends in congregational finances. The realistic examples and detailed explanations are appreciated by pastors who do not have a background in business. Balancing the technical information is an ongoing narrative that describes how a pastor can responsibly take leadership steps when financial concerns become evident.
Among the advice that the Jamiesons provide is to include more of the church membership in giving input for discerning God’s will for the church’s ministry and mission. They also discuss ways to align your church’s values with your operating budget as a “statement of faith” (101). This book is an excellent resource for seminarians, pastors, and laity serving on stewardship and finance committees.