This short book contains edited versions of six addresses given at the 2009 gathering of the Gospel Coalition, with each address given by a well-known American preacher. The six preachers are John Piper, Philip Ryken, Mark Driscoll, Edward Copeland, Bryan Chapell and Ligon Duncan, and each of them was given a section of 2 Timothy to expound.
Such collections of addresses inevitably provide diversity of style and level of content. There is also great variety in length in the chapters, and the shortest chapter is by the best-known of the expositors, John Piper, who provides a sermon of about thirteen pages, whereas Mark Driscoll’s sermon, which is the longest, takes up thirty-five pages. Of course, such distinctions may have been due to the requirements of the conference programme.
I began the book assuming it would cover most of 2 Timothy. It did not take long to note that what the contributors did was to focus on what they took to be important aspects of pastoral ministry. Inevitably, given the limitations of each having to cover several verses in one address, most aspects are only touched upon in a very brief manner (it would have been useful if information had been included concerning fuller treatments of these areas of pastoral ministry).
Each of the chapters is written in an easily understood manner, with frequent illustrations helping that outcome. However, the relevance of the book is reduced for British readers because the world mainly dealt with in the book is American evangelicalism.
I was helped personally by Bryan Chapell’s chapter in which he described the Bible as God’s voice that comforts his people, God’s hand that guides them, and God’s heart that provides living water for them, with Jesus as the provider of the comfort, guidance and living water. I also appreciated Ligon Duncan’s warning about adopting inappropriate methods, drawn from contemporary emphases in society, rather than having methods drawn from the gospel itself.
The book is beneficial in that it highlights important areas of pastoral ministry. Church leaders could give the book to laypeople who wish information about the work in which their pastor is involved so that they can pray for him and his work.