Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Mea Culpa: Learning from Mistakes in the Ministry

Rate this book
From the Foreword by Brian Kyle McClellan has gone into a church "with guns blazing" and he was quickly fired. He has experienced the disappointment of unmet expectations and left because of this. He has pastored a destructive church that chewed him up and spat him out. He has felt the pull of the bigger and better church trying to woo him away. He has faced the burnout and fatigue that many pastors experience that causes them to bail. Read this book. Learn from him. Receive the essential lessons from a wise, broken man who has lived it, possesses the scars from it, owns the T-shirt and yet by the grace of God still stands.

128 pages, Paperback

First published January 13, 2015

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
26 (27%)
4 stars
32 (34%)
3 stars
31 (33%)
2 stars
4 (4%)
1 star
0 (0%)
Displaying 1 - 20 of 20 reviews
Profile Image for Jonathan Roberts.
1,885 reviews36 followers
December 11, 2021
Such a good book! I love the honesty and the authenticity by Kyle McClellan in this book. It really blessed me and I learned a ton. As a second year pastor I pray I can learn from his mistakes and successes. Thank you Kyle for your book! Highly recommended
Profile Image for Ryan Linkous.
344 reviews27 followers
September 23, 2020
A good book for young, hard-headed pastors to read. Even though it's anecdotal, the anecdotes are ones I'm sure many pastors will be able to identify with.

I was particularly struck by his comments on ecclesiology affecting one's ability to pastor a church. He touched on some Baptist distinctives that I also have reservations about.

Also, as a younger millennial pastor reading this book, some of his concerns seem to be more centered around Generation X style of church: the machismo, church planting enthusiasm, novelty for the sake of community. I don't feel the same pressures or have the same desires.
Profile Image for Nathanael Barr.
25 reviews
May 27, 2022
Quite possibly one of the most helpful books there is. There is a wonderful level of honesty and wisdom within these pages. Not everyone will find themselves facing every challenge or mistake mentioned in this book, but we will all face one or another, and there is much to be gleaned here. I highly recommend to anyone involved in ministry.
Profile Image for Dan Sudfeld.
62 reviews5 followers
May 20, 2019
My best one-word description of this book would be "raw." I'm a pastor. This book is written by a pastor, to pastors. The subtitle is what makes this raw. The writer chronicles his mistakes. But through those mistakes, he also gives warnings and prescriptions. This book gave me a much-needed self-examination. Very helpful.
Profile Image for Jon Pentecost.
288 reviews25 followers
March 30, 2020
Not what I thought it was from the title. Much less focus on actual mistakes or ways he treated his congregations. Much more focused on character and lessons about the nature of ministry he learned through the humbling season of going from seminary "golden boy" to pastor churches didn't want.

The writing of the book is very raw, but genuine. Given his own process, this is a book much more aimed at (and I think useful for) someone beginning to pursue full-time ministry (eg seminary student). Most of the lessons he speaks about are ones you are made to learn after a year or two of ministry no matter who or where you are. So I would recommend it to brothers considering full time pastoral ministry, and particular;y those in seminary, who didn't have a lot of direct investment from their pastor before going to seminary.

Here's the thing: the most tragic part of this book in my mind is that the reason guys going into the pastorate don't know these things is because churches and pastors have failed to see it as their responsibility to prepare and direct a man who is considering full time ministry. Most of these lessons are best learned from an older, wiser pastor equipping you for ministry. And the sad fact is, many guys who aspire to ministry never get that kind of investment. And as a result, they fall prey to the same kind of foolish thinking and prideful patterns McClellan describes in this book.

So I'd recommend this book to men in that situation. If you're not in that situation; if you've been discipled in significant and concrete ways by your pastor in the process of pursuing ministry, then I think you'll have already gotten the meat of this book in a much better form of instruction.
July 23, 2018
This is an honest, open, from-the-heart little book on common mistakes in ministry. It comes very much from the author's experience and his willingness to share his mistakes is very helpful.
Nonetheless, there are better books that deal with these issues. The problems mentioned are real ones, but the book does not help you see your own heart, or how you personally might struggle with them, nor really offer much help in how to change or learn. It doesn't even spend much time showing how each problem works out in practice, nor why they are such a problem. So there is little to change your mind or heart.
It's also extremely American - I actually couldn't understand substantial bits, because they were so full of colloquial US idiom, and the pop culture/sports/etc. references were even worse. And then the church situation that causes so much of the trouble - self-selected people putting themselves through theological studies and then being hired by independent churches who fire them a couple of years in - just doesn't exist in the UK in the same way. So, there are better books to read here!
Profile Image for Will Turner.
216 reviews
January 28, 2021
A short, but helpful book. If I had read it at another time in my life I am not sure it would have been helpful. But it was what I needed to read at this time. It was helpful in clarifying some things. Two things in particular: the importance of preaching ministry for my own soul (p. 48) and the value of developing a definition of preaching (78). That is what I am working on now. Something I need to do to clarify the importance, purpose, and process of preaching. Also helpful: the importance of place (ch. 2) and the necessity of knowing what you can and can not do (47-49, playing to strengths and owning weaknesses).

There are some things to disagree with (his love for Wendell Berry. I read Berry once and was bored out of my mind) :) Some things to agree with (his view on seminary eduction, 108). Some hobby horses he unnecessarily rides (62-64 discussion on violence, working out, etc. I agree with him, but it doesn't fit in my mind). Some false dichotomies he makes (lecture hall, concert hall, and banquet hall, 73-77 - preaching has elements of all three).

But overall, for me at this time - a helpful read.
Profile Image for William Brannon.
33 reviews
February 3, 2020
A book by or about a pastor or pastoring: Mea Culpa is an incredibly helpful book for pastors...as long as you understand what you are reading. There are multiple things you WON'T find in Mea Culpa: a lot of "war stories" or background on McClellan's previous churches, detailed wrestling/explanation of biblical texts, an overview of pastoral life or ministry. Instead, you will find: an easy to read book that feels like sitting across from a pastor at a coffee shop, a lot of practical insight, and honesty. In those areas, the book shines and is helpful. It would have been even more helpful, I believe, if McClellan spent more time examining and pointing his readers to the Scriptures. Read this, but know what you are (and aren't) getting before you do.
Profile Image for Guilherme Nunes.
26 reviews131 followers
May 4, 2017
Um bom livro!

Lição um: Muita teologia não vencerá um coração pecaminoso e egoísta quando você é um pastor.

Lição dois: O que Wendell Berry pode nos ensinar sobre lugar.

Lição três: O mito dos surtos proféticos.

Lição quatro: A importância da amizade autêntica no ministério.

Lição cinco: Jesus deseja que eu exercite a força.

Lição seis: Encontre o seu modo de pregar — não o de outra pessoa

Lição sete: Viva em autenticidade e piedade.

Lição oito: Tentando não ser um desastre como marido e pai

22 reviews3 followers
January 9, 2023
"Mea Culpa" is an honest, open look at some of the common mistakes made in ministry. Kyle is forthright and frank, witty and winsome. As he acknowledges, the tone and pacing of the book can be uneven at times, but his views on place and people resonate deeply. It is easy to imagine each chapter as a weekly conversation over coffee, with the concerns of the week's work shaping each conversation. Throughout, there is a common thread of God's redemptive work. I found "Mea Culpa" to be a helpful and encouraging read, and one I'll recommend in the future.
Profile Image for Joel Gilbert.
21 reviews1 follower
March 22, 2023
I didn’t star out liking this book. As a part of the Practically Trained Pastors book, one of the final chapters was assigned reading. Frankly I initially found Kyle’s style difficult or adjust to. His random side comments and cultural references sometimes need explanation (which he often provides). That being said, I enjoys reading this book. Kyle’s hard-learned lessons are helpful instructions for Pastora at a variety of stages in ministry.
Profile Image for Steven Evans.
222 reviews5 followers
February 12, 2022
I really benefited from this book. The author explores the lessons learned from failure and how God has brought him to a more healthy place. I thought his lessons learned from trying to transfer an argumentative seminary training to a pastoral setting of growing the people practically in Christ was particularly helpful for me.
Profile Image for Brian.
104 reviews
June 28, 2019
This is a very good book that provides insights into the mistakes and failings of one pastor in the early years of his ministry. This book will help a new pastor avoid the pitfalls that often plague the early years of ministry and it will reinforce good practices for the seasoned minister.
Profile Image for David Cowpar.
Author 3 books6 followers
July 28, 2020
Honest and insightful look into pastoral ministry and learning from mistakes. Really easy to read and I really enjoyed it and have learned a lot in a way that felt more like listening to short stories than sitting in a classroom.
486 reviews2 followers
July 24, 2022
Some good advice on how not to be a pastor, humorously written.
Profile Image for Chuck.
132 reviews12 followers
January 16, 2016
Sometimes it's really helpful to know an author. In this case, that's true. Kyle is open, transparent, vulnerable, honest, a little "cheeky" and deeply committed to ministry. His writing reflects all of that. Coming out of a series of "failed" ministries, Kyle shares his lessons and offers practical advice of what might have redeemed those situations.

Not as personally revealing as I expected when I heard the description of the book, I was pleased to see that enough detail was given to know why the title was justified. While owning his own mistakes, he doesn't throw anyone else under the bus. On the other hand, he doesn't allow himself to own responsibility that isn't his.

McClellan offers seven valuable lessons to anyone seeking to serve effectively in ministry. Anyone of those lessens might redeem a ministry...or at least a minister...and his/her family.

You should read this book if you are thinking of going into ministry, are currently in ministry, or--you are in the leadership of a church where someone else's life is in your hands.
115 reviews1 follower
June 19, 2015
Really good, very clear and practical. Same aim as Tripp's dangerous calling, even refers to it a few times.
Displaying 1 - 20 of 20 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.