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Calvary Chapel WinnipegReview: Earl Buchan’s book “Real.”

Review: Earl Buchan’s book “Real.”

Earl Buchan, a pastor and church planter with Radiant Church in Winnipeg, shares encouragement for all those looking around and saying to themselves “there must be more than this.” It all begins with a fearless searching of our hearts to rewild ministry from the inside-out.

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!

Kristine L.
Lifelong bibliophile. Library Board Member.


Real can be purchased at any major bookstore. For more information, check out

Radiant Church is located at 241 Vaughan Street, downtown Winnipeg. We are happily affiliated with Calvary Chapel in Canada.