Book Recommendation: The Young Shepherd

Many young pastors have found themselves in over their heads during their first couple of years in pastoral ministry. Just last week, I spent some time praying with one of my students who is pastoring his first church and facing a very difficult shepherding situation. While Christian colleges and seminaries do their best to prepare rookie pastors for the various scenarios they could face, it’s simply impossible to cover everything. Even seasoned pastors mentoring younger ministers can’t cover every situation that might come up. It can especially be difficult for a young man serving as a solo pastor in a smaller church, because often he is the only person providing any (formal) pastoral care and leadership to the church.

My friend Wayne McDill has co-authored a new book to help young pastors navigate the early years of ministry. Wayne has experience as a pastor, church planter, state convention evangelism coordinator, and—for 21 years—preaching professor at Southeastern Seminary. He is the author of numerous books on preaching, pastoral ministry, and personal evangelism. His co-author Austin Tucker is also a longtime pastor, professor, and author. Their new book, The Young Shepherd: Nathan Murray’s First Year as Pastor (CreateSpace, 2013), offers a treasury of wisdom for new pastors who are still a little wet behind the ears. It would also be a helpful read for veteran pastors.

The Young Shepherd is a fictional account of a young pastor’s first year serving New Hope Church, a rural congregation in the North Carolina Piedmont. Nathan Murray’s story is inspired in part by the experiences of Wayne’s son, Matthew McDill, as well as the experiences of Wayne himself and many other young pastors over the years. During the course of his first year of ministry, Pastor Nathan struggles through the nuts and bolts of shepherding God’s flock, some of the pitfalls and temptations that befall pastors (especially rookies), and how to navigate balancing church and family responsibilities. Along the way, he receives ongoing advice from his father, a veteran pastor, and other wise folks, both from inside and outside the New Hope family.

Students preparing to be pastors would do well to read this book before they tackle their first official church ministry position. But again, even those who are already involved in pastoral ministry, perhaps for many years, would benefit from this book. The discussion questions at the end of each chapter and the recommended readings at the end of the book make The Young Shepherd a helpful resource for associational reading groups, mentoring relationships, or classroom use.

An Invitation to Study Preaching at Southeastern

At the heart of the pastor’s task is the proclamation of the Word of God to the people of God. We are called to be ready to preach, in season and out of season (2 Tim 4:2) because human proclamation is God’s ordained means to making known the gospel of Jesus Christ. John the Baptist preached repentance to prepare for the coming Messiah, Jesus (Mk 1:4-8). Jesus came preaching the “gospel of God” (Mk 1:15). This gospel is the declaration that Jesus-the only name in whom there is salvation (Acts 4:12)-is the Messiah and Lord, and it was this declaration that Peter, Paul, and the early church heralded in Acts. In light of Jesus’ identity as Messiah and Judge, and the divine origin of Scripture, Paul charged Timothy to proclaim the Scriptures in all circumstances, in order to defeat false teaching and to protect the church of God (2 Tim 3:14-4:5). In sum, preaching is vital to the mission and health of the church.

For this reason, Southeastern has worked to build a faculty that will prepare our students to preach the gospel both faithfully and meaningfully. By faithfully, we mean that one will be prepared to expound the Christian Scriptures accurately. By meaningfully, we mean that one will be prepared to communicate it in such a way that the audience understands it in the way the biblical author intended and with an application that fits the particular social and cultural contexts of the hearers.

In this installment, we will give a brief overview of the preaching faculty at Southeastern, followed by an invitation to study preaching at the undergrad, grad, and post-grad levels.

Danny Akin is the President of SEBTS and Professor of Preaching. He is the author of the commentary 1, 2, 3 John (NAC), co-author of Engaging Exposition, and co-editor of Text-Driven Preaching: God’s Word at the Heart of Every Sermon. He has pastored churches in Texas, Florida, Alabama, and Virginia, and he brings this pastoral experience to bear in the classroom, where he teaches Hermeneutics, Bible Exposition, Sermon Delivery (M.Div.), Expository Preaching and Theoretical & Foundational Issues in Expository Preaching (D.Min.), and the PhD Seminar in Expository Preaching.

Wayne McDill is Senior Professor of Preaching at SEBTS. He is the author of several books, including The Moment of Truth and The 12 Essential Skills for Great Preaching, both of which have served as textbooks for preaching courses in numerous seminaries. The 12 Essential Skills has been translated into Spanish and Romanian. In more than forty years of ministry, he has pastored several churches, served as an SBC staffer for evangelism and church growth, and taught at the college and seminary level. He has been at SEBTS since 1989.

Greg Heisler is Associate Professor of Preaching and Speech at SEBTS. He is the author of Spirit-Led Preaching: The Holy Spirit’s Role in Sermon Preparation and Delivery (named Book of the Year by Preaching Magazine) and teaches Bible Exposition, Sermon Delivery, The Pastor and the Preaching Ministry, Women & Communication (M.Div); Practical & Strategic Issues in Expository Preaching (D.Min.); and serves as a major professor to PhD students in Expository Preaching.

Tony Merida is a new member of SEBTS’s faculty, coming to Wake Forest from New Orleans to serve as Associate Professor of Preaching. He is the author of Faithful Preaching: Declaring Scripture with Responsibility, Passion, and Authenticity (B&H) and Orphanology (New Hope Publishers). Before coming to SEBTS, Merida served as Dean of the Chapel and Assistant Professor of Preaching at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, and later as Pastor of Temple Baptist Church in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. He brings a wealth of preaching and pastoral experience to the faculty.

Bill Curtis is Adjunct Professor of Preaching for SEBTS, teaching courses in expository preaching (M.Div.) and is Senior Pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Florence, South Carolina. He is the co-author, with Danny Akin and Stephen Rummage, of Engaging Exposition.

Southeastern offers several degrees with an emphasis in the kind of faithful preaching these men seek to teach and practice. The B.A. Christian Studies with a minor in Preaching introduces undergraduate students to the knowledge and skills central to the work of pastors, particularly in the area of preaching. The M.Div. with Expository Preaching prepares students for pastoral ministry in the local church with a special emphasis on preaching by focusing elective courses in preaching. The D.Min. with Expository Preaching combines the emphasis on preaching with the cohort model, so that colleagues in this area take seminars in preaching over a five-day period. The D.Min. student then seeks to apply what is learned in these seminars through the Contextualized Learning Experience, preaching in their church setting. Finally, the Ph.D. in Applied Theology with an emphasis in Preaching prepares students to teach preaching to college or seminary students, and to write about the kind of faithful preaching taught here.

We invite you to come study with our preaching faculty in the B. A., M.Div., D.Min., or Ph.D. programs of Southeastern. For more info visit our website ( and check out the Admissions and Academics links.

Making Friends for Christ: A Practical Approach to Relational Evangelism

Wayne is best known for being a practitioner, advocate, and teacher of expositional preaching. His most well-known books are probably his two preaching textbooks: The Twelve Essential Skills for Great Preaching, 2d. ed. (B&H Academic, 2006) and The Moment of Truth: A Guide to Effective Sermon Delivery (B&H Academic, 1999). Both of these textbooks are used in numerous seminaries and colleges. Wayne has also mentored dozens of doctoral students over the years, most of whom serve as pastors of local Southern Baptist churches.

Recently, Wayne has authored a second updated edition of his 1980 book Making Friends for Christ: A Practical Approach to Relational Evangelism (Xulon Press, 2010). This is a very good book. Rather than arguing for another outreach program that focuses on impersonal, spontaneous evangelism, Wayne argues that we should befriend others for the sake of the gospel. He also provides some practical advice for how we can be better friends, neighbors, listeners, and ultimately evangelists. While the entire book is helpful, many readers will especially resonate with his exposition of the Great Commission (a timely topic among Southern Baptists!), his advice for how to overcome relational barriers, his discussion of the relationship between prayer and evangelism, and his wisdom about the role that families and churches play in relational evangelism.

The basic information of the book can be found below. I would urge you to purchase a copy of Making Friends for Christ for yourself and maybe consider using it in your Sunday School class, small group, or local church outreach ministry. I would also encourage you to check out Wayne’s personal website,, for other helpful resources related to preaching and evangelism.

Author: Wayne McDill
Title: Making Friends for Christ: A Practical Approach to Relational Evangelism, 2d. ed.
Publisher: Xulon Press
Pages: xi + 168
Chapters: 10 + preface and conclusion
Retail: $14.99 $11.69 (22% off)