Life and Work of a Priest by John Pritchard- Book Review

Book Description:

Based loosely on Robert Martineau’s The Office and Work of a Priest which was written in the 1970s, this new practical guide is for those considering whether they have a call to the priesthood, and those newly ordained who are tackling a new job and want wise advice on how best to set about the many different aspects of parish life.

Book Review:

I found this book easy to read and I really enjoyed it. I liked the structure of the book in how each chapter was a category of what defines a priest and each section had in-depth knowledge of each role. It was a refreshing eye opener into the many roles- not just the typical Sunday’s, weddings, baptisms and funerals! Some of the notes that stood out to me for each role were:


Leader of worship


They have the responsibility of helping worship to represent and express the life of the congregation- needs to be competent and aware of many factors when preparing worship and designing it for everyone. They need to be attentive and great at multitasking!


Person of prayer


To be Visible and to do prayer privately so they can demonstrate that it’s comfortable and natural in a rage of situations.




That they are in charge to proclaim the Word and engage in Gods wisdom. The sermons are co-written by the Holy Spirit (I love that line). Also to help people grow and to be prepared for hard questions- handle with sensitivity, judge responses and defend the faith.


That priests need to read and listen to the culture of the world and adapt to it.




To help make connections between the Word and the world




To bear the pain with others  and move it on- difficult but rewarding. To help the community stay on its feet which can be overwhelming but your not alone. I love the quote “keeping vigil with a damaged world until God comes to put it right” speaks volumes.


The pastoral side of it is such a huge blessing and responsibility as they are given access to people’s lives and struggles at their most vulnerable points in life. They get to see each encounter as unique.


But need to know own limitations – refer those and know a range of services available.  To “steward my enthusiasm” felt that line spoke to me.


As an apostle


The whole identity as a representative of Christ- big one!  As an icon of the church and open for conversations (Like the Operation Insasmch idea of helping the community for a weekend page 96))


I liked the Jewish sabbath example on page 157.


Team leader


That they will have many distractions so never loose sight of the big picture! Everything is important so delegate if can. Focus on people and thank them- it will go along way.




Don’t need to know all the answers! Help connect faith to everyday issues by asking connecting questions such as “where do you think God might be in all that” and “what would be the Christian like thing to do?) abit like What Would Jesus Do. Christian maturity is a life long task and That they are Christ teaching assistants! It’s how they help people to learn and


Be the church but stay human! Page 151 liked “ vocation is what’s left over when the thrill of being called vicar has gone” I have to say I’m still thrilled and excited and not sure if that will ever go anytime in the future (unless he meant once you’re a vicar it might go?)


All in all a practical guide and a great introduction to starting the process. I can see myself re reading it and keeping it close by as references.  It has highlighted my calling even more. This book has many low and high moments (personal stories added that extra nice touch) and spoke  all truth not skipping over the nitty gritty (such as the future of the world chapter 14 and the future of the church chapter 15)) but included everything. Some bits such as p159 where it said it’s mentally and physically draining worried me slightly as to how will I be fit for the job and could I do it but the last chapter was uplifting (just like the calling)


The book is all what a priest IS and not just a job. I also enjoyed the images and prayers given to help make this book fun and entertaining. I liked the advice of the family to let them be them, to have their freedom to choose and that they are the first church , especially the question at ordination snippets (the book gives a few out) that I need to take it as it’s richest meaning.

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