not in category mode for script check
Serving alongside a half dozen student pastors since 1987, I have come to greatly appreciate what you do and want to express that appreciation on behalf of all the other pastors, parents, and students you have blessed.
Thank you, student pastors, for the many hats you wear. I want to recognize a few of your responsibilities here:
You Are a Pastor
If you have been ordained by God and a local church, then you should see yourself as much of a pastor as that guy at the top of the org chart.
You Are a Teacher
You teach to the toughest crowd in the church on Wednesdays and Sundays. Although most of my ministry friends have served as student pastors at some point, I never had the guts to venture outside of the senior pastor role except once when I volunteered to teach a middle school boys class between worship services. I grinded it out for a measly month before I wimped out. Thank you for being a consistent disciple-maker.
You Are a Cop
To read the rest of this post, go here.
One of the greatest surprise blessings of my ministry to pastors has been how much Janet has helped by ministering to pastors' wives through Pastor Date Nights and marriage retreats. It was inevitable that our paths would cross with Kathy Ferguson Litton, who is one of the preeminent voices to pastors' wives across the country. I am honored to have that voice on my blog today!
6 Mother's Day Gift Ideas For Your Wife
The Bible says, “live with your wife in an understanding way….” (1 Peter 3:7).
This Mother’s Day, here are six gifts you can give your wife that she will gladly receive:
1. Work hard to learn her. (Note: I didn’t say understand her, because she doesn’t always understand herself.) You don’t need to be able to explain her but actively study who she is, her unique personality, her love language and her soul. Know her wounds and vulnerabilities. Her spiritual life should be your number one priority as a shepherd. It is the foundation of building intimacy. When you learn her you will be able to love her, serve her and shepherd her well.
2. Say, “You are my priority.” As a man, father, pastor or leader in the community people will look into your life and assess pretty quickly what your priorities are. Do not under estimate this. They know how you spend your time. What do you do that demonstrates clearly that she is your priority? People know the order of your priorities. So does she.
3. Take the time to listen to her. Yes, we ramble a bit. You are looking for the Cliff’s Note version of our issues and then give us a quick fix. That is your preferred painless option. (Women we would do ourselves a favor and edit details. Attention spans may wane.) She feels very loved and significant when you make eye contact and engage her. You value her ideas. If you have small children this item gets moved up higher on list.
4. Provide the sacrificial leadership she longs for. Ironically it’s a sad secret that it’s tempting to lead well at work or church but coast at home. And we get it. You come home tired, drained and wanting a respite from the demands of leadership. We want and can fill many gaps in the demands of your life but if we get this area reversed it is not good for anyone. Even in a well-meaning way. Your kids will figure out pretty quickly that dad shepherds at church but not at home. Pastors it’s a confusing signal to them if dad is bold in the pulpit but passive at home.
It must be hard to lead women. It has to be tricky. We probably send many confusing signals but we want you to lead.
5. Free her. Your wife is mommy, mate, lover, CEO of day-to-day operations of “Litton” enterprises, serves at church and community plus perhaps 40-hour employee somewhere else. What blows wind in her sails? Free her to do that. (If you don’t know what blows wind in her sails skip back up to Point #1) Encourage her to pursue life-giving relationships with other women. Or make space for refreshing experiences. Make those opportunities available. If you see she has no things that refresh, recharge her—help her find some.
6. Pursue personal holiness. Not because you’re supposed to. Or because you are a pastor and have to—but because of these two critical things:
1- You possess an authentic vibrant walk with Christ.
2- For her and the sanctity of your marriage.
She longs to see an authentic faith from you. Remember she has a front row seat to the reality of it, especially as you demonstrate a strong, sexual ethic, which includes appropriateness with other women, resisting pornography, monitoring what you read/watch and what you allow into your life.
I have been married to two men both pastors: Rick Ferguson and Ed Litton. These are things I knew about these men: they would be tempted in these areas like any other man and yet they were men who genuinely feared God.
Does your wife know you are a man who fears God? When she knows you authentically personally fear God her trust and respect for you will grow.
Love her well but it still would be wise to find a Mother’s Day gift!
Kathy lives in Mobile, AL with her husband Ed Litton, Pastor of Redemption Church. Both lost former spouses in car accidents, and God uniquely gave them new love and life together in 2009. Kathy enjoyed 26 years of life and ministry alongside pastor Rick Ferguson. She has 3 children and 7 grandchildren. Presently, Kathy serves at NAMB as National Consultant for Ministry to Pastor’s Wives.
Pastors are called to take care of people, so turning the tables may seem counterintuitive to the average church member. So how can church members prepare for the inevitable opportunity to reciprocate when their pastor is the one in need?
Three terms summarize a pastor’s ministry: Loving, Leading, and Feeding. Consider these terms your job description for when you find yourself stepping up to the plate of pastoring your own pastor. Try not to overthink your response and just treat your pastor like a family member.
Love Him Like a Brother
I am writing this post on a Saturday morning because I just received a text that my childhood pastor’s son just died unexpectedly. My pastor is thirty years older than I am, so I was not quite sure what I should do.
I started with an immediate text at 7am, which expressed my love, prayers, and availability. A text may seem cold, but some people do not process well early or while juggling other important calls and visits. An hour later, I felt like the Holy Spirit was nudging me to call him and pray over the phone, which I did, and he appreciated. If we didn't live over 600 miles apart, I would have made a brief visit in person to check on him and his wife.
If your pastor or his wife is in need, silence is never an appropriate response. Reach out immediately in a small way and follow-up later when some fog clears. Mostly, treat him like your brother, because he is.
Feed Him Like a Son
When our son comes home from college later this week, I can assure you that he will eat well! We are also going to say “yes” to almost anything he wants. Our daughter and son in-law get the same treatment.
When in doubt, just bless your pastor and his wife like you would your own kids. Food is a great first response, as are handwritten notes.
Pleasant words are a honeycomb: sweet to the taste and health to the body (Prov. 16:24).
The Bible also warns us about having too many words (Prov. 10:19), so less is usually best. Love him like a son, but talk to him like a father.
Lead Him Like a Father
Pastors need to have at least three other pastors in their lives: A “Paul” to mentor them; a “Barnabas” to partner with them; and a “Timothy” to be mentored by them.
Most pastors are father-figures, which can make caregiving somewhat awkward for both you and your pastor. If your pastor is younger than you, this principle still applies. He is in authority over you (Heb. 13:17), so be sensitive to over-reaching (1 Tim. 4:12).
Depending on the gravity of the situation, your pastor may not be clear headed and needs to be led as you would an elderly parent - with love and patience and respect. Perhaps someone else from your church is better suited to lead him, but your support is still important, nonetheless.
Keep in mind that most pastors don’t know how to be pastored by their own people. There are no seminary classes or even books that I know of that map out this process. So when you are not sure what to do, just love him like a brother, feed him like a son, and lead him like a father.
This open letter to worship pastors/leaders is on behalf of the 350k preachers out there who serve alongside you every weekend. In case you didn’t read last week’s letter to Discipleship/Ed pastors, these are staff letters of appreciation, not rebuke.
Dear Worship Pastor,
As a former lead pastor, I have served alongside some of the best and worst worship leaders in world history. Sounds like a stretch, unless you met my first one thirty years ago whose affection for hair-gel and disdain for “choruses” was epic. My most recent worship leader, on the other hand, had no hair and could/would play any song or instrument we pitched at him. The one before that is one of my best friends who has been formally mentoring me for several years.
I learned something from each of the worship leaders I served with, which I hope will encourage you today.
Your Job is No Less Important than Ours
WPs are doing much more than “preparing us for the message.”
To read the rest of this post, go here.
One of my favorite parts of this job is visiting seminaries across North America. I not only get to minister to ministry students, but I also meet many sharp seminary leaders like Jason Duesing. I immediately liked Dr. Duesing, which was surprising since I was raised by a Longhorn with a bias against Texas A&M Aggies. This post is an excerpt from his recent book which I highly recommended and reviewed last week called 7 Summits in Church History.
Carl Ferdinand Howard Henry was born to immigrant parents in January 1913 in Long Island, New York. In the recent years following the celebration of the centennial of Henry’s birth, thankfully many are gaining a reintroduction to Henry’s works and thinking. After all, this is the man Billy Graham described as “intellectually the most eminent of conservative theologians.” And about their friendship would add, “I would say he’s been the professor and I’ve been the student.”
However, a lesser known part of the Henry legacy is the role of the persistent prayers of a widowed secretary in the converting work of God in Henry’s life.
Following the practices of American Episcopalianism, Henry ventured through confirmation at the age of twelve but later, in his words, abandoned “all that institutional religion could offer.” Upon graduation from high school, Henry took a position at The Islip Press, and there he would meet one of the most important people to impact his life.
Mrs. Mildred Christy “a white-haired, middle-aged lady” served as a secretary to the editor and would regularly tell Henry she was praying for him.
“I knew she was a widow. What I did not know was that her teenage son, whom I apparently resembled, had recently died in California in a motorcycle accident. Nor did I know that she prayed God to give her a son in the ministry, or at least, in the Lord. What’s more she alerted two friends in Ohio—with whom as a teenager she had often sung gospel songs in churches and rescue missions—to put me, of all people, on their prayer list. To be on the prayer list of that triumvirate, of local believers like Martha Gorton, too, was like being at the mercy of an air assault.”
Four years later, a persistent Mrs. Christy would offer Henry regular invitations to church and then finally to meet a special guest speaker. After a series of excuses and rebuffs, Henry finally agreed to meet the man and he both challenged Henry and answered the burdening questions of his heart.
On June 10, 1933, Carl Henry trusted Christ.
The testimony of the loving and long-suffering witness of Mrs. Christy should encourage us all to “not grow weary of doing good” (Gal 6:9) toward those around us that we might think will never come to Christ. Much like the parable of the persistent widow who gained justice from a judge due to her continual petitions, the faithfulness of Mrs. Christy in the life of Carl Henry should like move us “to pray and not lose heart” (Luke 18:1-8). Our organized “air assaults” of unceasing prayer for those God brings along could very well be the means for seeing the conversion of the next Carl Henry.
For before Henry became the premier evangelical theologian of the twentieth century, founding editor of Christianity Today, stalwart defender of the doctrine of revelation and Christian cultural engagement, and even Billy Graham’s “professor,” he first was a nominal Episcopalian in need of the mercy of God. Thankfully that mercy came through the air assault of a persistent widow.
If you’d like to learn more about Carl F. H. Henry and other great figures from church history, take a look at the newly released Seven Summits in Church History from Rainer Publishing. Written as a brief introduction for churches and all readers, Seven Summits is a book that Pastor J. D. Greear calls “a delight to read.”
Seven Summits in Church History
Jason G. Duesing
Rainer Publishing, 2016
Available today at Amazon from Rainer Publishing.
Jason G. Duesing serves as provost and associate professor of historical theology at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He writes regularly at JGDuesing.com and you can follow him on Twitter or Instagram at @JGDuesing.
This is an open letter to discipleship/education pastors on behalf of over 350,000 lead pastors in the U.S. This won’t be that letter that slaps your hand about what went wrong last Sunday. Actually, this is a genuine letter of appreciation, and I’m guessing you don’t get many of these.
You are Important to Me as a Person
In my pastorates, these discipleship leaders were all men who had a variety of gifts, personalities and titles like: Discipleship Pastor, Executive Pastor, Education Minister, and Sunday School Director. Most of them were paid, but none of them had the opportunity to focus exclusively on discipleship because their jobs also carried other responsibilities.
The one thing they all had in common was their proximity to and influence on me, their lead/senior pastor. These were my right hand men who I loved and depended on.
In my last church, I had two associate pastors, so I know what Moses felt like when Aaron and Hur were lifting up his arms during the battle with the Amalekites. These two men, and several before them, held me up when I was down and celebrated a few victories along the way as well. They were more than pastors with me, they were pastors to me as well. I let myself get close to each on a friendship level which sometimes backfired, but was more than worth it because ministry is too hard to do alone.
Your Ministry is Our Core Mission
Disciple-making is the core to the success of the Great Commission, so it follows that your ministry is the very core of your church's mission. I want to make a bold and somewhat controversial assumption: your pastor probably doesn’t know that much about discipleship.
To read the rest of this post, go here.
Robby Gallaty is my pastor at Long Hollow Baptist Church in greater Nashville. He and his staff are hosting a two-day workshop on April 28-29 in Hendersonville, TN called Discipleship Blueprint.
I am looking forward to spending time with the Longhollow staff in the context of that particular church. Here is what we will be learning:
How to plan, formulate, and develop a disciple-making culture in your church and its ministries (missions, women and men).
How to study Jesus’ and other historical models for making disciples.
How to develop a comprehensive plan for raising up leaders in your church.
How to navigate issues that arise in your D-Groups.
How to participate in a D-Group led by an experience disciple-maker.
How to consider principles and strategies for starting D-Groups and multiplying mature believers in your context when you return.
If you can’t attend this conference in a couple of weeks, get on their email list or keep your eyes open for a conference near you. Here is a short video of Robby sharing his vision for making disciples.
Additionally, here is a recent post that Robby wrote for Eric Geiger’s blog:
The first act of obedience for a Christian after baptism is to make disciples. I believe the purpose for the local church is the same. Joey Bonifacio, author of The Lego Principle, described to a group of pastors the reason we aren’t making disciples. He started his message by saying, “I’m going to say a brand name or a popular trademark. I want you to answer, with only one word, the business the company represents. Are you ready?”
Up to this point, everyone responded without hesitation. But the final trademark stumped the audience of pastors: “What about the Church?”
The room was silent. Minds were whirling, “Hmm, what is the ‘business’ of the church? What is the church’s ‘one word’?” There are many potential answers, but I would say it is discipleship.
One of the greatest setbacks of modern Christianity is that we have relegated ourselves out of the role of making disciples and depended on a handful of “full-time” ministers to do the job Jesus gave to us. We will never carry out the Great Commission if only full-time vocational ministers are making disciples.
Why Aren’t We Making Disciples?
I’ve spoken to thousands of people on the subject of discipleship through the years. I’ve led conferences that address the topic in diverse church contexts both in the U.S. and around the world. No matter where I go or whom I ask “Why aren’t we making disciples?” I get the same two answers: inexperience and uncertainty.
Many would say, “I haven’t been discipled, so I can’t lead others in discipleship.” When you don’t know what to do, you don’t do anything at all. Ignorance of what to teach and how to lead has paralyzed believers for centuries. I believe our people know more than they think they know. If you are further along the journey than someone else, you can at least lead him or her to where you are. I believe our people would engage in discipleship if someone taught them how to do it.
Even if you’ve been discipled in the past, you may feel uncertain about the process. It could also be that they don’t understand the benefits of discipleship. I think of the gym as an example of the spiritual discipline of disciple making. A person who has never worked out for an extended period of time will never fully realize the benefits of training; it’s only when they purchase a gym membership, wake up early, and begin training that they are sold on the benefits of working out. If I go a week without working out, I can tell a difference in my life—but I have worked out nearly every week for 25 years.
How can we overcome these issues?
Believers need an environment that lends itself to accountability and transparency. Jesus restricted nine-tenths of His ministry to discipling twelve men who would in turn disciple others. He was even more intentional with three of the twelve. To make disciples in our churches, we must foster these kinds of environments and model Christ’s intentionality.
We can help our people overcome uncertainty and ignorance about discipleship by walking alongside them, coaching them, and clarifying for them the process of preparing and leading discipleship groups. Regardless of the context of your church, small or large, rural or urban, traditional or contemporary, discipleship works because the very people in your context are the ones making disciples. We don’t have to lean on a process or strategy that is limited by resources, scale, or environment.
I believe most people would lead a group if someone taught them how to do it. As leaders in the church, it is our role to equip the saints to do the work of the ministry. I believe that no greater equipping can happen beyond discipling those we lead and unleashing them to disciple others.
The gospel came to you because it was heading to someone else.
God never intended salvation to be an end but a beginning. God saves us to be a conduit through whom His glorious, life-changing good news would flow to others. Every Christian is a link in the chain of 2 Timothy 2:2, which says, “And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, commit to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”
The practice of being a disciple and making disciples is how we can equip our churches to join Christ on mission, and this is how we can make Christ’s final words our first work.
Most pastors and church staff understand the need for and importance of disciple making, but many don’t know where to start. As I said before, When people don’t know what to do, they don’t do anything at all. We created the Discipleship Blueprint to address those issues and more. If you are interested in developing a contextual, reproducible, and comprehensive disciple-making strategy for your church context, visit discipleshipblueprint.com for more information. Scholarships are available for those who apply.
Robby Gallaty, Ph.D. is the Senior Pastor at Long Hollow Baptist Church as well as the President of Replicate Ministries (www.replicate.org). He is the author of Growing Up, Firmly Planted, Foundations, and Rediscovering Discipleship. Robby, along with the Replicate team, leads the Discipleship Blueprint, which equips church leaders with a reproducible, scalable plan to make disciples in the local church.