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Professional Christian: Being Fully Yourself in the Spotlight of Public Ministry

"Professional Christian successfully marries an academic approach, including primary interviews with church professionals of all stripes, with a practical understanding gleaned from serving as a music leader in worship from a young age."

Sarah Bereza
Westminster John Knox, 198 pages 
Published March 22, 2022

The role of a ministry professional is filled with pitfalls. Fail to laugh at an off-color joke and you’re the stodgy pastor … laugh too hard and you have no sense of decorum. Hold back too much and you’re inauthentic … share unreservedly and you risk embarrassing yourself and possibly hurting others with poorly thought-out commentary. What’s a pastor to do?

Sarah Bereza has, if not all the answers, a useful lens through which “professional Christians” (as she names all those who share the gospel for a living) can understand how the full self relates to the self we share with the world. Professional Christian successfully marries an academic approach, including primary interviews with church professionals of all stripes, with a practical understanding gleaned from serving as a music leader in worship from a young age.

As Bereza moves from theory to practice, she tackles the value that our current climate places on authenticity, analyzing what it means while gently pushing back on its commodification (in everything from selling jeans to branding churches). Bereza then introduces sincerity, authenticity’s “conceptual cousin,” as a way of sharing oneself appropriately while avoiding both hypocrisy and excess.

Bereza is clear that ministry professionals ready to be their fullest selves must first do their interior work, most likely working with a spiritual director, therapist or both. Her book, however, could be an eye-opening part of the process, helpful in a field site or classroom as well as for seasoned professionals presenting themselves in the changing context of ministry today.

Presbyterian Outlook supports local bookstores. Join us! Click on the link below to purchase Parenting for a Professional Christian: Being Fully Yourself in the Spotlight of Public Ministry from BookShop, an online bookstore with a mission to financially support local, independent bookstores. As an affiliate, Outlook will also earn a commission from your purchase. 

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