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For Entering Wonderland

After the Pastor Search Committee is ready to call the new pastor, every other parishioner then is asking, ‘Can this person be my pastor?’ Bob Harris provides here an essential resource for every new pastor to methodologically discover the undercurrents in a congregation which will make or break a new pastor’s ministry. Every pastor starting in a new ministry context will benefit from these insights.

G. Wilson Gunn, formerly General Presbyter, National Capital Presbytery

Bob Harris has identified and mapped out a path through the early months of a pastorate that provide invaluable dialogue and insight into ministry in community. Armed with the guidance of this book, a new pastor should be able to navigate a way through the sometimes daunting and almost always rewarding task of being a Pastor.

Mike Cole, formerly General Presbyter, Presbytery of New Covenant

Bob Harris invites and coaches readers entering new congregations to treat the 'wonderland' of ministry as a place where wondering – sometimes out loud, sometimes not – can lead to good questions and helpful answers. Bob asks lots of questions, and shares some of his own answers, but he mostly presses pastors to '… emulate Alice. She was curious – sometimes a little frightened, but she kept asking questions.' I have used his 'Eleven Curious Questions' process in interim pastorates in two very different congregations. It works. Bob is by nature an optimist, but also a realist. In the realities of ministry, including my own, he helps his readers and coaching clients experience the wonder of it.

Richard L. Sheffield, pastor

From the Foreword to the book -

A thoughtful day with this book before taking the field of a new congregational challenge will help any pastor avoid some real pitfalls on the one hand and join the congregation in a new adventure in ministry together on the other.  This book is for pastors who are new to a congregation and not just for pastors who are just starting out and are new to the challenges of pastoral ministry. Whether you are in the beginning of a pastoral career or past the mid-point, you will find Bob’s words coaching you into a more fruitful future.

Over and over again Bob exhorts the new pastor to be curious and he offers tremendous help in this with his Eleven Curious Questions. After addressing some of the challenges of the first six months in a new place of service, the book goes on to give wise counsel for the rest of the first year and after.  The entire book is jammed full of some of the most practical, down-to-earth and do-able counsel in one volume on pastoral ministry that I have ever read.

E. Stanley Ott, Ph.D.
The Vital Churches Institute
Vienna, VA

From the Chairperson of a Mission/Vision Team: Bob helped me to guide our mission study team by his encouragement to look at the assignment in a new and exciting light.  His getting team members to identify and use their talents moved us forward, and his tools for study and outreach gave us opportunities to dig much deeper than we had expected.  His coaching made this a very positive experience.

From a pastor in Virginia: “Coach” Bob Harris is the true player coach in the tradition of professional football’s Tom Landry as well as an innovative teaching coach like the influential Bill Walsh. He brings a wealth of wisdom gained from his personal experience on the playing field of ministry into his role as a professional coach.  Through probing questions, keen observation, and skillfully guided conversations, Bob Harris both sharpens your leadership skills and empowers you for a more enriching and enabling ministry with your congregation. Though Bob Harris’ coaching, I am now beginning to realize the benefits on my own playing field of ministry through both a greater awareness of and confidence in my God given unique gifts for ministry.

From Bob’s mentor coach: Bob is committed to the coaching profession, his clients and colleagues. Bob is a very gifted human being — he is enormously insightful, brilliant, loving, generous, always willing to learn as well as teach.  I have had the opportunity to listen to Bob coach. He is clear, direct, and committed to his client’s progress.