Letters to Timothy


After nearly fifty years in ministry, Letters to Timothy is John Bisagno’s retirement gift to younger and older pastors alike. A voluminous and comprehensive work, it is full of useful advice to ministers covering the “things that might have fallen through the cracks in seminary.” It contains 100 plus small, short, devotional chapters on relevant leadership topics.

First published in the 20th century, Bisagno, who continues to counsel and prepare pastors in his retirement years, has worked with Rick Warren to update the content for the 21st century in the newest printing of this classic. The current title is Pastor’s Handbook. You may want to consider using the updated version.

Key Topics or Truths

Christian Leadership
Church Structure
Staff Development
and so much more…

This Book is Good For...

This book is good for those beginning their journey into church or mission leadership.

How I Use this Book to make disciples

This is a long read but not a difficult read. Based on the reading level of my group, I divide the book into three, four, or five weeks and review it weekly in my discipleship meeting. I leave enough time for the guaranteed push-back on some old ideas and the search for the underlying truths that are timeless.

I love this book because it provides a quick look at hundreds of ministry leadership topics in short devotional chapters. It is what I call an “old guy” book where I get to learn from someone with over fifty years of success.

Real Life Story

I found this book at a conference when I was trying to figure out how to pastor a church. There were things that did not fit my style or experience. There were things that I challenged and checked against scripture. There was a lot of seeming political and “standard church” type advice for dealing with situations, boards, and committees. I scoffed at some of his thoughts, thinking, “We will never be like that.” Until I was like that. I have found the underlying heart and truth of this book to be extremely valuable as a different, seasoned, perspective that gives great advice and causes you to evaluate your approach.

Know Issues or Controversies

No known issues.

However, some of the content in this original printing is a bit dated. Our culture and context have changed much since Bisagno first published this book. Much of the old Sunday School structures are gone, many churches now are led by staff and not boards, social media abounds, and churches have multiple campuses. Bisagno teamed up with Rick Warren and others to update the examples and context for the timeless truths. As Solomon said, there is not anything new but the context of things changes. You may want to consider using the current version of this book, Pastor’s Handbook.

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John Bisagno
Book Details
Reading Time
Two to Three Weeks
Related Reads

A great compliment to this book is Spiritual Leadership by Oswald Sanders.

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