John PritchardJohn Pritchard is Bishop of Oxford, and has spent many years either serving in parish ministry, training others to serve in parish ministry, or overseeing the parish ministry of others. His book, The Life and Work of a Priest, is thus written with a great deal of practical wisdom and experience.

Accordingly, it’s a very practical book. His purpose is not to examine the biblical and theological issues in depth, and then to use them to argue for some particular model of ordained ministry. Rather, he seeks to hit the ground running, taking in turn various aspects of the life and work of a typical Church of England vicar, and offering some comments and advice about each. As such, it’s perfectly relevant for those who wouldn’t normally use the word priest, it’s pretty relevant for those serving other churches as the equivalent of a vicar, and it’s not particularly relevant for Church of England priests who are not serving in parish ministry. The book provides an attractive, colourful and concise portrait of life as the minister of a parish church.

The book is structured around what someone once said were the only things a priest had to be concerned with, namely, “the glory of God, the pain of the world and the renewal (repentance) of the Church” (p.x). You can get a feel for the book’s contents by the following list of the subject matter of each chapter. After an introduction, we have:

The glory of God

  • The priest as leader of worship
  • The priest as person of prayer
  • The priest as preacher
  • The priest as apologist
  • The priest as theologian

The pain of the world

  • The priest as intercessor
  • The priest as pastor
  • The priest as apostle
  • The priest as parson
  • The priest as prophet

The renewal of the Church

  • The priest as team leader
  • The priest as evangelist
  • The priest as teacher
  • The priest as pioneer
  • The priest as manager

And finally:

  • The priest as a Christian

Clearly a daunting but enormously stimulating role!