Pastoral Ministry

What I've Learned As a Pastor (Part 1)

(From Voice magazine, Nov/Dec 2015. Used by permission.)

Shortly after I became a Christian at the age of 18, I sensed God’s leading into full-time ministry and I enrolled in a Bible institute to begin my preparation. During two of those summers I served as an intern in a small church plant in Utah, the second summer serving as “the pastor” when Ron (my mentor) left for a month of missionary deputation.

Before he left, Ron told me I would have to do everything in the church while he was gone “even a funeral if anyone died.” Needless to say, at 21 years of age I prayed like crazy for the good health of everyone in the church! Much to my relief, God answered those prayers and there were no funerals that month. The second month that followed felt like a breeze compared to the first month when I was all on my own.

It was during those summers in Utah forty years ago that I tasted what it meant to be the pastor of a local church. After graduation from the Bible institute, I continued my education in a Christian liberal arts college and at seminary knowing God was calling me into the ministry as a missionary church planting pastor. All along the twists and turns of the various ministry assignments God has given to us, we’ve loved every one of the last forty years.

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People Skills & the Pastor

Republished, with permission, from Voice magazine, Mar/Apr 2013.

I was talking to a young pastor recently, and after our lengthy conversation I commented on his wisdom and warmth. I told him many pastors fail in regards to dealing with people (something we often refer to as people skills). When I said this, the young pastor was surprised and asked me to elaborate further. So I provided him some specific sad examples of ungracious pastors and their interpersonal blunders. At the close of our conversation, he said something quite profound: “That’s so strange. Why would you become a pastor if you don’t love people?”

That young pastor asked a great question which summarizes the basis of pastoral interpersonal skills…love. Love is the bottom-line way to define people skills. And the pastor’s life must be characterized by love in the same way that Jesus’ life was characterized by love.

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2000 Sermons, 25 Years - Some Observations (Part 2)

Having reached, by the grace of God, the milestone of 25 years of pastoral ministry and 2000+ sermons, I am writing here a few things I have learned along the way. The first post was things I have learned about preaching.

My pastoral ministry has included serving in three different churches over a 25 year period. In the first I served as a youth pastor for 4 years. I served in the second as the senior pastor for 9 1/2 years and have been senior pastor at my current church for 11 1/2 years. Here are some things I have learned about ministry and churches. There are many observations that I could make. These are some that stand out to me, with minimal explanation. Each paragraph is a separate observation, in no particular order.

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2000 Sermons, 25 Years - Some Observations (Part 1)

My filing system shows that I recently preached my 2000th sermon. This year I will complete 25 years of pastoral ministry. Praise God for His grace. I want to write down some of the things I have learned along the way. I think I’ll do it in 3-4 separate posts, including what I have learned about preaching, about ministry and churches, about people, and about God.

Here are some things I have learned about preaching, in no particular order.

Preparing and preaching a sermon is like having a baby. You labor over it for many hours, sometimes right up until the minute you start speaking, and then it is born. If you’ve prepared diligently, something good will come out. It isn’t always pretty, but it has potential.

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