Baker Academic has a brand new website! Click Here To Visit:

The Pastor in a Secular Age

Ministry to People Who No Longer Need a God

series: Ministry in a Secular Age

Cover Art Request Exam Copy

Where to Purchase

More Options


Academy of Parish Clergy 2020 Top Ten Book for Parish Ministry

In Faith Formation in a Secular Age, the first book in his Ministry in a Secular Age trilogy, Andrew Root offered an alternative take on the issue of youth drifting away from the church and articulated how faith can be formed in our secular age. In The Pastor in a Secular Age, Root explores how this secular age has impacted the identity and practice of the pastor, obscuring his or her core vocation: to call and assist others into the experience of ministry.

Using examples of pastors throughout history--from Augustine and Jonathan Edwards to Martin Luther King Jr. and Nadia Bolz-Weber--Root shows how pastors have both perpetuated and responded to our secular age. Root turns to Old Testament texts and to the theology of Robert Jenson to explain how pastors can regain the important role of attending to people's experiences of divine action, offering a new vision for pastoral ministry today.

This is the second book in Root's Ministry in a Secular Age series.


Part 1: Welcome to the Pastoral Malaise
1. A Historical Map of the Pastor in Our Secular Age
2. The Lifting Fog of Enchantment: Thomas Becket and Pastoring in a Disenchanted Age
3. Keeping Enchantment from Flaring Up: Pastoring to Private People
4. The Force Field of the Buffer: Augustine and Pastoring to Selves
5. When Ordinary Life Becomes So Much More Than Ordinary: Jonathan Edwards and Pastoring to Those Who Don't Care
6. When a Pastor Was America's Greatest Celebrity: Henry Ward Beecher and Pastoring by Personality
7. The Pastor as Chaplain of a Secular Age: Harry Emerson Fosdick and Pastoring at the End of the Denomination
8. When Purpose Becomes Mine and Authenticity Becomes King: Rick Warren and Pastoring in a Post-Durkheimian Age
Bridge: Winter Lectures in Paris
9. Foucault and the Rise of Pastoral Power
Part 2: The God Who Is a Ministering Pastor
10. The Weird God of Israel Who Arrives
11. Encountering a Speaking God Who Identifies with Events
12. A Run into the Wild: Meeting the Ministering God Who Sees
13. Say My Name, Say My Name: The God of Exodus
14. When Dry Bones Live Again: The God of Resurrection
15. Invisible Gorillas and the Practice of Prayer


"We are embedded in and pervaded by what Charles Taylor called a 'secular age.' The implications of Taylor's analysis of secularity are enormous, but few have taken up the challenge to look through Taylor at ministry in our world. Andrew Root has, and he has done so successfully and spectacularly. We need to take up the challenge with Root, listen to him, and extend his insights into our local churches."

Scot McKnight, professor of New Testament, Northern Seminary

"This book is a must-read for anyone preparing for pastoral ministry or currently in ministry. Highly readable, it seeks to reclaim a pastoral identity that is rooted in the divine action of a ministering God. Building on the work of Charles Taylor, Root first lays out the historical evolution of the current hollowing out of pastoral identity through an excellent exploration of six pastors from Augustine to Rick Warren. Then, turning to Foucault, Jenson, and Old Testament texts, Root boldly asserts the identity of God as one who ministers to his people. Root encourages pastors to reclaim an identity based on their participation in God's acts of ministry. It is in these very acts of ministry that a window is opened to the transcendent and ministering God in a secular age."

Annette Brownlee, chaplain and professor of pastoral theology, Wycliffe College, University of Toronto

"Good books help you see what you couldn't see before--like why pastoring is so difficult. Better books help you see the work of God despite the millennia of obstacles we have thrown up against divine agency. Andrew Root thinks the living God can break through our pastoral malaise. Reading him, I found myself not only agreeing but learning and delighting and looking anew for the God who pastors us all."

Jason Byassee, Vancouver School of Theology; coauthor of Faithful and Fractured: Responding to the Clergy Health Crisis

"In a world longing for enchantment but too cynical to accept it, pastors can understandably feel irrelevant and confused. In The Pastor in a Secular Age, Andrew Root provides a helpful overview of how our world became so disenchanted and what it might look like to attend to God in a world that has forgotten how to do so. As a spiritual director, I continually encounter people who are longing to sacralize their lives and who desperately need help learning to find God in the events and emptiness of life. Root harks back to the holy event of God's presence and asks us to consider the power of a ministry that can both sit in the silence of emptiness and point to the sacred in wonder."

Danielle Shroyer, spiritual director and author

"Andrew Root's The Pastor in a Secular Age is an inspiring read and a wonderful resource for ministers and others who care about the role of the church and the vocation of ministry today. As institutional churches and denominations in the West continue a steady decline of social influence, ministers face a crisis of identity. This work situates and explains that feeling of crisis, and articulates a powerful vision for recapturing a sense of ministry as the conduit of God's presence, of divine action, in the world. Drawing from his in-depth understanding of Charles Taylor's philosophical insight, and utilizing case studies of pastors from history and the present, Root offers a compelling portrait of a fresh and invigorating way to approach the vocation of ministry. This is a timely and significant resource for churches, seminaries, and pastors, a vision for ministering in the immanent frame."

Kyle Roberts, dean and professor of public theology, United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities

The Author

  1. Andrew Root
    Caroline Yang

    Andrew Root

    Andrew Root (PhD, Princeton Theological Seminary) is Carrie Olson Baalson Professor of Youth and Family Ministry at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota. He is the author of more than twenty books, including Faith Formation in a Secular Age, The...

    Continue reading about Andrew Root


Academy of Parish Clergy 2020 Top Ten Book for Parish Ministry

"In the fantastic second volume of his Ministry in a Secular Age trilogy, [Root] analyzes the 'vocational identity crisis' faced by many contemporary pastors. . . . Examining how the clerical role has changed, coinciding with changing perceptions of the supernatural, Root traces the pastoral identity across the centuries and provides a composite template for how a pastor can navigate modern concerns. . . . Identifying many challenges facing clergy today, Root offers a persuasive vision for how pastors can effectively reach their audience."

Publishers Weekly