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Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor: The Life and Reflections of Tom Carson Paperback – February 5, 2008

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Crossway (February 5, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1433501996
  • ISBN-13: 978-1433501999
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 6.1 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #316,724 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"This account gives us valuable insight into the life of a man who accepted the challenges of ministry with both integrity and grace, and into the life of a Protestant pastor in French Quebec. A powerful reminder that there are no little places if we are faithful to the God who called us."
Erwin W. Lutzer, Senior Pastor, The Moody Church, Chicago, IL

"How can the application of a Bible-saturated mind (Don's) to a Bible-saturated life (Tom's) produce an even more helpful story to encourage pastors? Let the 'mind' be carried on a river of love because the 'life' is his father's. Then add a kind of narrative creativity. That's how."
John Piper, Founder,; Chancellor, Bethlehem College and Seminary

"A rare and precious gift from one of evangelicalism's greatest scholars. How generous of Dr. Carson to bequeath his father's quiet legacy to us all."
C. J. Mahaney, Senior Pastor, Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky

"Carson strikes at the heart of what's wrong when we forget that, as servants, we were meant to live ordinarily under the gospel of grace. Read this book. You will be deeply encouraged in your life and ministry."
Michel Lemaire, Pastor of Eglise Baptiste de la Foi, Drummondville, 1984-2005

"This personal testimony is a healthy reminder of heavenly priorities in the pastorate and Christian ministry."
Pierre Constant, Associate Pastor, Eglise Baptiste Montclair de Hull, 1982-1997

"Read this book and be strengthened. You hold in your hands history, humor, and an amazing amount of wisdom for the Christian life (especially for pastors!)."
Mark Dever, Senior Pastor, Capitol Hill Baptist Church, Washington DC; President, 9Marks

About the Author

D. A. Carson (PhD, Cambridge University) is research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, where he has taught since 1978. He is president of The Gospel Coalition, and has written or edited nearly 60 books including Scandalous, Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor, and The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God. He and his wife, Joy, have two children and live in the north suburbs of Chicago.

More About the Author

D. A. Carson (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. He is the author or coauthor of over 45 books, including the Gold Medallion Award-winning book The Gagging of God and An Introduction to the New Testament, and is general editor of Telling the Truth: Evangelizing Postmoderns and Worship by the Book. He has served as a pastor and is an active guest lecturer in church and academic settings around the world.

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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Read this book for a glimpse into the life of an extraordinary man.
The Parson
He faithfully prayed for and loved his congregation, and sought to redeem every relationship for good.
This book was refreshing, encouraging, eye-opening, and convicting.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

52 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Tim Challies TOP 500 REVIEWER on February 29, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
There are some Christians whose ministries God blesses in extraordinary ways. They preach to thousands and their books are read by millions. But this is the exception far more than the rule. Most Christians labor in relative obscurity, largely unseen and unnoticed. In the past couple of years I have read biographies of some truly great men--William Wilberforce, William Tyndale, George Whitefield, Jonathan Edwards. It is good to study the lives of great men and to seek to understand how they were able to gain such prominence. Biographies teach so much about character, opportunity and just plain hard work. Rarely, though, do we read biographies of ordinary men--men who gained no earthly fame and who lived their lives in the shadow of obscurity. In Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor, theologian D.A. Carson shares the life of his father, Tom Carson. He was an ordinary man, an ordinary pastor, who labored in a unique mission field surprisingly close to home.

Tom Carson served the Lord in Quebec--the French-speaking province in Canada. He ministered there during an extraordinary time where the population transitioned from being among the most religious people on earth, held firmly by the grasp of the Roman Catholic Church, to a population almost entirely secular. He labored there faithfully, despite adversity and despite both pain and failure.

Part of the appeal of this book is its sheer "ordinary-ness" (I couldn't find just the right word so decided to coin one). I may have to admit a measure of bias toward the book as the area in which Carson labored is Les Cantons de l'Est or the Eastern Townships. This is the region of Quebec where my mother grew up and it is not far from Montreal where my father was born and raised.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Rebecca Stark on March 26, 2008
Format: Paperback
I've listened to quite a few of D. A. Carson's sermons and lectures (Okay, I'll be honest. I've heard every single one I can download for free.), so I already knew some of his stories about his family and upbringing. I already knew that there were at least a few parallels between my own upbringing and his. My dad, for instance, was a small church pastor and missionary like Carson's father, Tom Carson, and some of what I'd heard Don Carson say about his father made me think that he might have been a bit like my dad. My own mother used old adult-sized clothing to create cute clothing pieces for my sister and me, while Margaret Carson, Tom Carson's wife, remade hand-me-down suits for her husband. And like D. A. Carson, I grew up poor, but unaware how much less we had than most people around us until later.

This is the reason I was hoping I'd be able to read and review Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor, Carson's new book on the life of his father, who was a missionary pastor in Quebec. I can't pass up a good biography, anyway, and if there are similarities between the people portrayed and the people I know and love, so much the better. And this was a good biography. I received my review copy in the mail on Thursday and finished it a couple of nights later because I stayed up reading until 2:30AM on Easter morning.

As it turns out, Tom Carson was different than my own father in many ways. Still, the parallels are notable, making the book all the more engrossing for me. Like my dad, Tom Carson was a faithful, ordinary pastor. His congregations were small; he wrote no books. His circumstances were often difficult, but he kept on serving and loving God, serving and loving his family, and serving and loving God's people.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Staci Eastin on April 6, 2008
Format: Paperback
In Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor, New Testament scholar D.A. Carson says his book is "a modest attempt to let the voice and ministry of one ordinary pastor be heard, for such servants have much to teach us."

He has succeeded in his purpose. This little book, obviously a labor of love, is a jewel. This account was pieced together using excerpts from his father's journals, the author's own memory, and recollections from friends and family. Carson follows the career of his father as he served as a pioneer Baptist church planter in French Canada from the 1930s until his death in 1992.

There were a few times I felt slightly bogged down in all the backstory. A good portion of his father's life and career was affected by things that happened in his denomination during that time. Explaining these things was essential to understanding the rest of his father's career. They couldn't have been left out.

Church politics, whether it's denominational or just in the local church itself, are part of life (a sad part of life that reflects our sinful natures, but part of life nonetheless). I doubt there is a pastor alive whose life hasn't been affected by these things. To leave them out would leave the story incomplete.

This is a wonderful biography that can edify any Christian who is occasionally discouraged by the ordinariness of his or her life. There are plenty of books about people who thrill the world with great an amazing things. To read the story of a man who lived a lifetime of faithfulness in the small things, who labored diligently without seeing a lot of earthly rewards, is a refreshing change from most biographies, and the kind of thing there needs to be more of.
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