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Category Archives: Ministry

Pray for your pastor

NIcholas Batzig of Ligonier Ministries has written an article entitled, “5 Ways to Pray for Your Pastor in 2020.” I can certainly identify with what he states in his second paragraph.

Pastors need the saints’ prayers because they are ever the object of the flaming arrows of the evil one. In addition, the world is eager to run them over at any opportunity. As one of my seminary professors so illustratively put it, “Ministers have a bull’s eye on their backs and footprints up their chests.” Sadly, this is even a reality for pastors within the context of the local church.

Click on the link to read the full article and his five specific ways to pray for your pastor.

 
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Posted by on January 4, 2020 in Ministry, Prayer

 

It’s hard to be famous when no one knows who you are

In his book, The Heart of the Preacher: Preparing Your Soul to Preach the Word, author Rick Reed identifies one of the tensions that I wrestle with periodically—the desire to be significant.

In a chapter entitled, “Insignificance,” the author explains,

Most pastors will always be relatively unknown. We may serve a city church lost in a larger metropolis. We may serve a rural church, located on the outskirts of obscurity. Sure, we’ll be known to the people in our congregations. But beyond that—not so much. Our sermons may be on our church website, but they won’t go viral.

Most of the time, that’s just fine. Most of the time, when busy serving Christ and his people, we don’t think too much about it. We enjoy our calling and find satisfaction in serving. Besides, we went into ministry to be faithful, not famous.

But sometimes, unexpectedly, something will surface our latent insecurity, hearing about the exponential growth happening at a friends’ church or reading an article by a seminary friend who now leads a high-profile ministry. We can feel diminished by a comment made at a pastors’ lunch, or even the well-meaning words of one of our kids in the backseat. As we compare ourselves with others or with our own unspoken hopes and dreams, we suddenly feel small and unimportant. We find ourselves facing the heart test of insignificance.

I can certainly identify with what the author has presented. When I graduated from seminary 35 years ago, I aspired to be on a church staff for 5-10 years and then teach in a college or seminary. When I became a senior pastor, I aspired to lead a church of 500-1,000 and train pastors around the world. When I published my first article, I aspired to write and publish best-selling books. I have realized very few of the dreams.

Today, I pastor a church under 200 people. The magazines I used to write for are now out of print. I wrote a book manuscript that received several, “Thanks, but no thanks,” responses from publishers. I have never been invited to speak in a college or seminary chapel as a “successful” pastor. I do teach an occasional online course as an adjunct professor and go to Russia once a year to teach a 3-day course for pastors and leaders.

I recently reread a book by Pastor R. Kent Hughes, Liberating Ministry From the Success Syndrome. It reminded me that God has called me to be faithful, not successful. Ultimately, he is the one who will evaluate my ministry when I stand before him, not my peers or the general public.

Author Rick Reed concludes his chapter on Insignificance with a helpful thought.

What should we do on days when feelings of insignificance darken our outlook and diminish our joy? How should we respond when our hearts become restless and discontented with our ministry placement? We must preach to our own hearts. We must remind ourselves that it is too soon to know the significance of our service. Serving with passion and faithfulness is what God asks of us today. This is what makes a Christian well-known to Jesus. This is how we become, like Paul, a well-known unknown.

I need to take the lessons from Rick and Kent to heart and focus on serving Christ faithfully.

 
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Posted by on January 2, 2020 in Ministry, Preaching, Quotes

 

Workload vs. Heartload

One of the Christmas gifts I received was a book by Rick Reed, President of Heritage College and Seminary entitled, The Heart of the Preacher: Preparing Your Soul to Proclaim the Word. In the Foreword, Pastor Bryan Chappell introduces the concept of “heartload” as an explanation for pastoral burnout.

A decade ago, about thirty percent of all North American seminary graduates were leaving pastoral ministry within the first five years. It was assumed that the main reason was pastoral burnout—being “expected to work long hours to serve declining congregations with diminishing finances, weakening denominational commitments, lower biblical literacy, and smaller staffs.” While fatigue was certainly a factor, it was discovered that “workloads were not as damaging as ‘heartloads.’ The Moses factor that more and more preachers were facing was heavy workloads combined with a sense of being unappreciated for bearing them. It is one thing to feel the weigh of the burdens of ministry, but quite another to be blamed for the burdens.”

Chappell goes on to point out that it’s not just fatigue that leads to failure.

Good research over the last decade has disclosed that such factors are still at work in modern ministry. At the same time that pastors’ workloads have been increasing, they are easy-target explanations for the diminishing congregations, finances, and loyalties. Local preachers are increasingly compared to the master communicators on radio and the internet. As lessening denominational loyalties lead to increased church shopping and hopping, ministry are too often judged for their “effectiveness” rather than their faithfulness. As pastor respect diminishes throughout the culture for a variety of reasons, pastors and their families experience increased scrutiny and insecurity. Ministry seems increasingly dangerous, and ministers feel increasingly unappreciated.

Chappell concludes the foreword with a personal statement. “I know the pain of personal attack, the pressure to succeed, and the disappointment of not meeting others’ expectations. I know how bitterness can grow in me when complaints about me multiply in others.”

The sentiments expressed in the foreword certainly captured my attention as they resonate with my own experience. I look forward to reading the book and seeing what the author suggests as a means of strengthening my own heart.

 
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Posted by on December 30, 2019 in Books, Ministry, Preaching, Quotes

 

Women’s Christmas Friendship Dinner – 12/14/19

Saturday evening was the annual Women’s Christmas Friendship Dinner at First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA. The Women’s Leadership Team did a fabulous job in planning the event. There was beautiful music from Alicia Smith and an encouraging message from Sue Ann Jarvis. There was even a delicious hot cocoa bar prior to the event. The gym was transformed into an elegant, fun setting.

 

Sprucing up the gym

This Saturday is the Women’s Christmas Friendship Dinner at First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA. Yesterday, we had a crew helping to decorate the gym. With some hard work and creativity, it is possible to transform a gymnasium into an elegant setting.

 

How to pray for your pastor

Jeramie Rinne gives a number of practical ideas you can pray for on behalf of your pastor. Read his article, How to Pray for Your Pastor, to find his suggestions. Then strive to put them into practice as you pray for your pastor.

 
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Posted by on November 15, 2019 in Ministry, Prayer

 
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Wise words for pastors

 
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Posted by on November 13, 2019 in Ministry, Quotes, Tim Challies