Andy Falleur
Original Review:
How did I get this book?
Well, my friend Earl posted it on Twitter and I asked him for a copy and he sent me one. I met Earl over 10 years ago at a Pastor’s Conference in Canada. We hit it off, had a great conversation, and I had the joy of serving on the Board of his church while it got going. We’ve stayed in contact over the years and I was delighted to see that he wrote a book and wanted to read it.

What’s it about?

It’s Earl’s reflections on ministry so far. There’s lots of stories and lots of good solid encouragement. His perspective has shifted on quite a few things and the journey is helpful.


What did I think about it?
First, let me say that Earl has something significant to contribute on the subject of fear. He writes about it a couple of times, and each time, it’s obvious that he has a gift to speak to that very real issue. I was deeply encouraged every time I came across that topic in his book.


Second, Earl has a story to tell and it needs to be told and it needs to be read. He had a significant experience in life in the context of ministry. That experience altered him and it will positively alter anyone who reads about it earnestly and honestly.


Lastly, we need more books like this one. Here’s why. It’s from someone who’s been in ministry over 20 years. It’s from someone that has planted churches from scratch. It’s from someone that’s been bivocational or covocational. It’s from a Canadian. Lastly, it’s from someone that’s genuine and honest in their perceptions. And, it’s not a long book.


I wish a major publisher would have picked this up. The story itself is worthy of a screenplay.

Kristine L.
Original Review:


Must read Hearty doses of insight & authenticity season down to earth ministry advice flavored with glistening gulps of grace. A breath of fresh air!

In this practical and eminently inspiring work, pastor and church planter Earl Buchan takes readers on a rich and real ride through the ups and downs of Christian ministry, offering down-to-earth insights and advice buoyed by grace and grit.


“This book isn’t about tearing into the church,” writes Buchan in the Introduction.  “It’s about building up the person, you, me, those of us who know we are called to a kingdom life. This is all about rewilding ministry from he inside out.”


Honest and uplifting, there’s no fire-breathing dragons or hellfire and brimstone here. No legalistic list of Dos and Don’ts. Just a heaping helping of “battle-hardened lessons” about “how to do the ministry in which you are called.”


Sensitive and sensible, Real is saturated in Scripture and soaked in hard-won sagacity. The tone is warm and winsome. Note that this isn’t a “How to” book on how to build your church, boost church attendance, or implement the latest whiz bang ministry paradigm. It’s not a dry and dusty theological treatise on church planting or a compilation of abstract theory that looks good on paper but fizzles and fades in the real world. Nor is it one of those dot all the Is and cross all the Ts just so recipes. Add water. Stir. And voila! You too can have a “mega-church” and instant ministry “success”!


Nope. It’s much deeper than that. More thoughtful. More authentic. More deliberate.


There is so much to love about this book. At just over one hundred pages, it’s relatively brief and written in down-to-earth terms that everyone can understand, both lay and clergy. Chapter 5, Broken, may be the stand-out chapter of the book. “Mariella.” (You’ll have to read the book to get that.) Recommended Reading and a FAQ section are also included (Dietrich Bonhoeffer! Miguel de Cervantes!).


The material is cogent and crisp. A few choice tidbits include: “Be real, fail, get back up and try again. You are not alone, there are others like you and me.” “Adapt. Improvise. Overcome.” “What are you called to pick up or lay down for the sake of sharing the gospel?” “Ministry demands an authentic person with a heart submitted to Jesus Christ… There needs to be a change, a rewilding of the pastoral heart.” “The only thing we carry with us into Heaven is our character, nothing more and nothing less.” “You gotta trust the gear.” And, “We live in a world dying of thirst that only Jesus can satisfy. “


Topics include the two pillars of love – patience and kindness. Loving without reward. The daily grind. Disappointment and disenchantment in ministry. What to do when you feel like giving up. Spotting wolves in sheep’s clothing and how to deal with them. Distractions. Fighting behind enemy lines. The difference between “career pastors” and “called pastors.” Flexibility and creativity in ministry. Perils and pitfalls to beware. Balance. “Let’s get real.” Making “Pauls” instead of “Timothys.” He wins. Framily. “Lift up your eyes to Him…” And leaving well. Onward.


The text is challenging in places. It’s forthright. Clear eyed. Refreshing. No pre-packaged, cellophane-wrapped sermons or pie in the sky by and by here. Real asks the reader some pretty pointed questions about the condition of their own heart. It also tells it like it is – that sometimes ministry is difficult, thankless, and dull. Meanwhile, page after page offers gentle, practical insights illustrated with personal life experiences and lessons learned. Each chapter glides seamlessly into the next, with smooth transitions that are natural and relaxed. Indeed, reading Real is like sitting down at the kitchen table with a hot cuppa and sharing a conversation with an old friend.

Talk about a breath of fresh air.

Additionally, a central theme of Real is simple, yet profound. And very much needed in today’s world with its own unique set of ministry challenges: “You are not alone, and God wins.” The text conveys the theme with a strong undercurrent of camaraderie and compassion, offering readers not only practical advice but also glistening gulps of grace. I loved it!


Things just got real…
This could be one of the most raw Christian non-fiction books you’ll ever read. I’ll say something a little controversial here… So many people will be encouraged by this book, but some people will be offended. Those encouraged will likely be in ministry or considering a life in ministry. Those that are offended will be those who likely need a little rewilding! I could imagine a pastor reading this book shaking his head thinking “no, that’s not me at all” and I would then wonder; how REAL are you being with yourself? John the Baptist was the first recorded to declare Christ as the Messiah, and he is the first person recorded to doubt the very claim he made. A REAL pastor acknowledges these doubts and knows Who to turn to.


This book covers SO MANY topics that there is going to be something in there for everyone. And “Real” covers topics seldom shared regarding ministry in a church. Ever wonder what goes on in the mind of a Pastor? It’s not all Scripture and Faith as some may lead you to believe from the pulpit. There’s doubt, struggle, rejection, hurt, fear, and so much more and Earl bleeds out his heart onto these pages. He shares his own extensive experiences in ministry all in hopes to encourage you to find your place in ministry, which should ultimately be at the Master’s feet.


I don’t mean to be silly by writing “this book is REAL!” If you’re in ministry, you’ll enjoy the encouragement this book has for you regarding God’s heart for you and your calling. If you’re thinking of going into ministry, you’ll appreciate the warnings Earl gives you, and you’ll find yourself tested, asking yourself “do I really want that kind of life?” but for those truly called, the answer will be “here I am, send me.” This is a great book to read over a few times and great to share with friends and family and ask “what did you think?” I don’t think anyone will respond the same way which speaks to the diverse, encouraging, and challenging message of this book.

Charles Gallagher


“Real” is a book that doesn’t hold back. There’s a refreshing openness to it: from the very first page to the last, Earl is completely candid about his experiences in ministry. In it you’ll find his faults and failures, his regrets, his missed opportunities, and mistakes. But you’ll also find moments of daybreak, where God’s grace has shone through in his life and ministry.


If you want a book on robust apologetics to support your ministry, you’re in the wrong place. If you want a book telling you about all the lovely, positive moments in church planting, don’t buy this book. But if you want a book that will be real with you, challenging your precepts on what ministry is and delve into its tough, isolating, and often messy depths, then pick up a copy of “Real.”