Posts Tagged ‘pastor’
S being another popular initial initial, as it were, for writers of pastoral theologies,today I offer you the Rs from the list and the first smattering of Ss (esses? Ssss?). The full list to date continues to be available here or from the sidebar under “Pastoral theology.” Comments and further recommendations are appreciated , and if you could put them on the full page, I will be able to keep track of them more readily. Enjoy and profit!
Reymond, Robert L. The God-Centered Preacher: Developing a Pulpit Ministry Approved by God. Coming from a slightly different stable to some of the other volumes, this book comes in two parts, the former a survey of eight needs for the modern pulpit, and the latter a selection of ‘approved’ sermons intended to demonstrate the model established in the first part. Fairly technical at points, and interacting with some significant opponents, this Scripture-saturated, theologically acute, historically aware volume has much to offer. (Westminster / Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com / Monergism)
Reynolds, Gregory Edward. The Word is Worth a Thousand Pictures: Preaching in the Electronic Age. Essentially a homiletical work developed out of some post-graduate research (I think), Reynolds sets out not to rehash some of the older classics, but to supplement them taking into account the rise of modern media. The bulk of the book is fairly typical academic hoop-jumping, all good stuff and very interesting, but interacting by obligation with things for the sake of racking up some scholarly points. In the latter portion of the book the pastor-preacher takes over and scores some good hits. Despite it being ten years old (and therefore not taking account of a decade of high-speed development) it covers a lot of ground and brings out some excellent principles. (Westminster / Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com / Monergism)
Ryle, J. C. Simplicity in Preaching. Reminding us that in his collections of essays and addresses Ryle has a wealth of sound advice on preaching, this little booklet is concerned with simplicity, and – modelling its own counsel – gives us a series of pointed counsels as to how to develop it. Many a seminarian who has yet to discern the difference between his classroom disquisitions and his pulpit productions would benefit from this. (Westminster / Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com / Monergism)
Shaw, John. The Character of a Pastor According to God’s Heart Considered. An ordination sermon grounded in Jeremiah 3.15, this is one of those more Puritanical treatments which drives at the heart of the ministry: the character of the minister. Short, simple, searching, will flush the spiritual system out. (Westminster / Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com / Monergism)
Shedd, W. G. T. Homiletics and Pastoral Theology. Boy, how these 19th century gents liked to churn these things out! This one combines a series of lectures on sermon preparation and delivery and a survey of pastoral theology as it has to do with the various spheres of ministerial character and labour. Again, the style is of its time, but the counsels, directions and warnings are always substantial, Scripturally solid, often sweet, sometimes righteously severe, and properly searching. Will cover much of the ground that others cover, but these men have flashes of insight and turns of phrase that can make each individually valuable. (Westminster / Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com / Monergism)
Smith, Steven W. Dying to Preach: Embracing the Cross in the Pulpit. A passionate and persuasive plea to preachers that they must embrace the cross in their pastoral ministry, dying to self so that others might live in imitation of Christ and, following the Lord, Paul. The focus is really on one’s theology of preaching. The author’s vigorous spiritual probing calls us back to self-examination as to whether we preach a crucified Lord in a crucified style. Review. (Westminster / Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com / Monergism)
Banner of Truth, 1998, 160pp., paperback, £6.50
We might imagine that we know Simon Peter. His character seems to lie splayed on the pages of the New Testament. Yet, at the same time, we may think that a few bold strokes capture him entirely, leaving us with a limited, one-dimensional, perhaps too-readily-dismissed caricature. Here, Ted Donnelly provides a corrective, surveying the Scriptural data to give us a portrait of Peter as disciple, preacher and pastor. In this way, the author draws out principles and applications for all believers: any Christian will appreciate the realism and encouragement of the first section, while the latter two shine light on the role of pastors and preachers in a way that helps both those who labour in the pulpit and listen in the pews. Exegeting insightfully, as well as extrapolating sensitively from the white spaces in the Biblical narratives and epistles, with penetrating applications, here is a book which models the very truths and virtues it declares. It is not an easy volume to classify: you will not, for example, find it in many lists of pastoral theology, and yet the portions on Peter as preacher and as pastor would certainly merit its place. It is more than a mere character study, and yet you come away appreciating Peter better. It is not just a work on discipleship, although you understand better what it means to follow Christ having read it. Simple in its style, sweet in its tone, sweeping in its reach, substantial despite its brevity, it is an excellent book for any believer, and might be especially well-placed in the hands of any man entering or exiting seminary.
Ray Ortlund relies on Gardiner Spring to press home the pastor’s dependence on the prayers of his people, reminding us that the failures and victories of pastors are also the failures of those who fail to pray or the victories of those who plead for the blessing:
And who and what are ministers themselves? Frail men, fallible, sinning men, exposed to every snare, to temptation in every form; and from the very post of observation they occupy, the fairer mark for the fiery darts of the foe. They are no mean victims the great Adversary is seeking, when he would wound and cripple Christ’s ministers. One such victim is worth more to the kingdom of darkness than a score of common men; and on this very account, the temptations are probably more subtle and severe than those encountered by ordinary Christians. If this subtle Deceiver fails to destroy them, he artfully aims at neutralizing their influence by quenching the fervor of their piety, lulling them into negligence, and doing all in his power to render their work irksome. How perilous the condition of that minister then, whose heart is not encouraged, whose hands are not strengthened, and who is not upheld by the prayers of his people! It is not in his own closet and on his own knees alone that he finds security and comfort and ennobling, humbling and purifying thoughts and joys; but it is when his people also seek them in his behalf that he becomes a better and happier man and a more useful minister of the everlasting gospel.
Gardiner Spring, The Power of the Pulpit (Edinburgh, 1986), pages 223-224.
“You have been called as minister in this congregation and you have been ordained in pursuance of that call. There are many functions which devolve upon you in that particular capacity, but I want to draw your attention particularly to two of these functions because I believe they are the two main functions which devolve upon the minister of the Gospel. And these two functions are the preaching of the Word and pastoral care.
“Now first of all there is this duty of preaching or teaching the Word. You are to labor in the Word and doctrine. And in connection with that function I want to mention three things.
“First, do not burden yourself and do not allow others to burden you with other business so that you are deprived of the time and energy necessary to prepare adequately for your preaching and teaching administration. The Word of God indeed, in all its richness and in all its sufficiency, is in your hands. It lies before you. But in order that you may discover the richness of that Word and bring forth from its inexhaustible treasure for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for the instruction which is in righteousness, there must be the blood and toil and sweat and tears, the earnest labor, and the searching of that Scripture, and in application to its proper understanding, so that you may be able to bring it forth in a way that is relevant in your particular responsibility.
“The second thing I want to impress upon you is that you realize deeply and increasingly, your complete dependence upon the Holy Spirit for understanding of the Word and for the effectual proclamation of it.
“Now that is not the counsel of sloth. That is not to be an alibi for your earnest labor and the study of the Word of God and your earnest application to effective proclamation, and neither is that a counsel of defeat. Your absolute dependence upon the Spirit of God – this is the counsel of encouragement and confidence. It is the Spirit and the Spirit alone who gives the demonstration and power by which the Word of God will be carried home with effectiveness, with conviction, and with fruitfulness to the hearts and the minds and lives of your hearers. It is He and He alone who produces that full assurance of conviction, and it is your reliance upon the Holy Spirit that in the last analysis is your comfort.
“The Holy Spirit was given at Pentecost. And do not be so God dishonoring as to pray for Pentecost. Pentecost is in the past. Pentecost was a pivotal event in the unfolding of God’s redemptive touch, when the Holy Spirit came. The Holy Spirit abides in the church. He came and He abides in order to perform those functions which Jesus himself foretold: ‘When He, the Spirit of Truth’ is come, He will convict the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment, and that He will also glorify Christ by taking of the things which are Christ’s and showing them unto us.’
“It is necessary, it is indispensable, however, that you earnestly pray for the unction and the power and the blessings of that Holy Spirit. Because it is only if there is that accompanying demonstration of the Holy Spirit and the power that men and women will be arrested and stunned with the conviction of sin. And it is then that they will give expression to the word of another, ‘What shall we do to be saved?’ Likewise, in that particular situation of overruling, overwhelming conviction produced by the demonstration and power of the Holy Spirit, that you will be able, by the understanding given by the Spirit, by the unction imparted by the Spirit, to bring into that conviction of need, that conviction of sin, that conviction of misery, the unsearchable riches of Christ.
“That is my second aspect of this charge. To realize more and more your complete dependence upon the Holy Spirit. It is as you will realize your complete dependence upon the Holy Spirit, that you will be more diligent in the discharge of all the duties that devolve upon you in the understanding of God’s Word and in its effective proclamation.
“Third, I wish to mention, in that precise connection, that you are to think much of the privilege. You are to think indeed of the responsibility, and I have said enough with respect to that responsibility already. I want particularly to impress upon you now the appreciation of your privilege.
“It is yours to be a fellow of the Gospel – of the glorious, the blessed Gospel. It is yours to proclaim the unsearchable riches of Christ. It is yours to be the ambassador of the King eternal, immortal, invincible. It is yours to be the ambassador of him who is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, of whom you have heard already that He walks among the candlesticks. There is no greater vocation on earth. There is no greater vocation that God has given to any than the vocation of proclaiming the whole counsel of God – proclaiming the gospel of the glory of the blessed God, and proclaiming the unsearchable riches of the Redeemer. Think much of your privilege.
“Now second, you have the pastoral care. That is an all important aspect of a minister’s responsibility and privilege.
“There are likewise three things that I want to mention in connection with that particular function, and the first is this: Shepherd the church of God. I personally cannot understand those men who have been called as pastors of churches who neglect the pastoral care of the people committed to their charge. I cannot understand it. And I’m not expected to understand it, because it is part of the mystery of that iniquity which too frequently has overtaken those who have been called into the ministry.
You do not get your sermons from your people, but you get your sermons with your people. You get your sermons from the Word of God, but you must remember that the sermons which you deliver from the Word of God must be relevant. They must be practical in the particular situation in which you are. It is when you move among your people and become acquainted with their needs, become acquainted with the situation in which they are, become acquainted· with their thoughts, become acquainted with their philosophy, become acquainted with their temptations, that the Word of God which you bring forth from this inexhaustible treasure of wisdom and truth will be relevant and will not be abstract and unrelated.
“Second, in connection with this very same subject of pastoral care I charge you to be ready always to give an audience to your people. I mean an audience to them as individuals, or an audience to them as families. Be in such a relation to them that they will make you their confidant, and take good care that you will be their confidant. And as you will be their confidant, they will pour out to you the bitter experiences of their heart, the bitter experiences of their souls, of their lives. I charge you, my very dear friend, to be the instrument of dispensing, I say the instrument of dispensing the ‘oil of joy for mourning and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness’ to those who are broken in heart and weary in the body.
“Now there is more, of course, involved in that ministration of comfort to the people of God in the temptations and the trials which necessarily overtake them in this life. You must also bring the counsel of God, the whole counsel of God, to bear upon them where they are. And it is just as you bring that whole counsel of God to bear upon them in your pastoral visitation, that you bring it to bear upon them precisely where they are. Remember that there are many who, in accordance with the address which you have heard already tonight, are going astray or are on the verge of going astray, or perhaps have always been astray. And remember the inestimable privilege that is yours, to convert the sinner from the error of his ways, to save a soul from death, and to hide a multitude of sins. ‘Reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all long-suffering and doctrine.’
“Now thirdly and finally, I charge you to remember that you are the servant of Christ in this pastoral care which you will exercise. Oh, be friendly to your people, and be humble. Be clothed with humility for ‘God resisteth the proud and giveth grace to the humble.’ Be clothed with humility in the pastoral visitations and the pastoral duties that you discharge because, if you are not humble, you will not only be offensive to God, but you will soon become offensive to all discerning people. Be friendly, be humble, realize your own limitations and be always ready to receive from those who are taught in the Word as they communicate unto you who teach. But remember that you are the servant of Christ and do not seek to please men, for if you should seek to please men, you are not the servant of Christ. And again, I repeat in that very same connection: Don’t be afraid to reprove, don’t be afraid to rebuke, just as you may not be afraid to exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine.
“I give you these charges, in the humble expectation and the hope that you will become an example, that you will be an undershepherd, realizing at all times, that you will one day give an account to the great Arch-shepherd who himself gave, as the Shepherd of his sheep, His life, ‘that they might have life and have it more abundantly.’
“And I charge you, in constant dependence upon the Holy Spirit to be the minister, the administrator in Christ’s name, of that life which is nothing other than life everlasting.”
- A charge to Wayne F. Brauning, DMin 1993, at his ordination and installation as pastor of the Fifth Reformed Presbyterian Church, Phila., PA on October 13, 1960 by John Murray, prof. of systematic theology at Westminster.
Dan Philips challenges us to stop looking to unreal ‘paper pastors’. Wise words and a right reminder.
The Gospel Ministry by Thomas Foxcroft
Soli Deo Gloria (RHB), 2008 (87pp, hbk)
This unusual but highly profitable little volume is a preacher’s own ordination sermon. It was preached in 1717 by Thomas Foxcroft as he set out to demonstrate to the congregation that he was to serve the minister that he ought to be, to impress upon himself and others the standard which he ought to be pursuing and which the church ought to be demanding.
Taking Colossians 1.28 as his starting point – though ranging far and wide through the Scriptures – Foxcroft sets out four key doctrines: that Christ is the one grand subject which the ministers of the gospel should mainly insist upon in their preaching; that the ministers of the gospel need to be very wise and prudent in all their administrations; that laborious diligence, fervour, and indefatigable application should be the character of every gospel minister; and that, in all their ministerial labours, pastors should make the conversion and edification of men in Christ their governing view and sovereign aim.
Even taking into account that this portrait of a pastor takes a few minutes to delineate and a lifetime to cultivate, happy indeed the congregation whose young preacher set out this model at the beginning of his ministry as his goal, in dependence on God’s Spirit!
The book is full of that earnest, earthy pastoral theology that is so much bypassed in our day. It is written by a man who intends to know, love and serve Christ’s people with a Christlike spirit and through a Christ-soaked ministry. There are high points of insight and fervour throughout the work (see here, here and here, for example), and a thoroughly evangelical tone permeates the whole. The author determines to put Christ at the centre of his work by putting him at the centre of his life. Christ is not only the topic of the minister, but the source of all his power. The congregation is enjoined to earnest prayer for those who seek so to serve them.
Pastors will find this a short, sharp shock, and yet also eminently sweet: a powerful, brief reminder of what we are about, of whom we serve and how we serve. The teaching is mainly positive, and so the rebukes are incidental, and yet they hit home as we see how far short we fall of the standard of diligent godliness and sincere and outworked care that the Scriptures establish. At the same time, there is encouragement, both with regard to the first things of pastoral ministry and its development over time, with instruction along the way.
Congregations will also find here an outline of the kind of ministry that they should pursue and expect. The standard is not impossibly high, but the goal is distinct and the flavour clear. Not only will this book be helpful in that respect, but it is also a call to intelligent prayer for the gospel ministers who already serve the churches, and for more men of this stamp to be raised up and thrust out by the Lord of the harvest.
Ligon Duncan at the T4G blog gives us seventeen suggestions as to how we can pray for our pastors. All those who serve Christ vocationally would surely delight to know that those whom they serve for Jesus’ sake are praying for them in this way:
Because I have a congregation that loves me more than I deserve, I am often asked by them: “how can I pray for you?” I’ve tried to put some thought into how I answer that question. So, maybe these ideas will help you pray for your pastor, or tell others how they can pray for you.
1. That [your pastor] would know and love the living God, would have a saving interest in Christ, being purchased by His blood, and thus would be bound to the Lord by the indissoluble bond of the Holy Spirit.
2. That [your pastor] would know, embrace and ever more deeply understand the Gospel and be shaped by it in life and ministry.
3. That [your pastor] would be useful servant of the Lord, that he would know and love God’s word, God’s people, and God’s kingdom; that he would be used to build it up and so that it prevails even against Hell’s gates.
4. That [your pastor] would study, practice and teach the Word of the Lord, by the grace of the Holy Spirit.
5. That [your pastor] would love to pray, because he loves to commune with his God, and that he would be a man of prayer, characteristically.
6. That [your pastor] would be ever dependent upon and filled with the Spirit; and that he would possess true Spiritual wisdom.
7. That [your pastor] would be holy unto the Lord. That his tongue and heart would be wholly God’s.
8. That [your pastor] would be kept from pride, and especially spiritual pride. That the Lord himself would be gracious to slay pride in him, and that your pastor would endeavor to always be putting pride to death, by the grace of the Holy Spirit.
9. That God would give [your pastor] guidance as to where to focus his efforts in ministry.
10. That He would protect [your pastor] from himself, from the enemy of his soul, and from all earthly enemies.
11. That no decision which [your pastor] ever makes or desire that [your pastor] ever pursues would restrict his ability to pour his whole soul into the Gospel ministry.
12.That many would be converted and many built up under [your pastor]‘s ministry, to God’s glory alone.
13. That the Lord would bless [your pastor]‘s wife, [. . . ], with holiness and happiness, Gospel assurance and Gospel rest.
14. That God would make [your pastor] a decent husband and father.
15. That [your pastor] would be a good friend to his wife, and love her self-sacrificially,
16. That [your pastor] would be a good daddy to his children. That they would love God, their parents and the church.
17. That [your pastor] would be a testimony in the home so that his wife might be able to respect him when he is in the pulpit, and so that [your pastor] will be able to feed her soul, along with the rest of the congregation.
The following quote is from Benjamin Wadsworth’s introduction to The Gospel Ministry by Thomas Foxcroft:
The right performance of this work [of gospel ministry] is attended with many and great difficulties, partly from the various, frequent, furious assaults of Satan; partly from the lusts of men, variously discouraging or opposing it; and partly from the weaknesses and remaining corruptions of even the best of those who engage in it. Yet it is a work that is very honorable in itself, and of vast weight and importance. It must be thought so if we rightly consider that it is the infinitely great, glorious, holy and heart-searching God who (in His providence) calls and commissions men to this work; that the main scope of the work is to batter down Satan’s kingdom, to pull down the strongholds of lust in the hearts of men, to promote the glory of divine grace through Christ in saving men’s precious, immortal souls, one of whcih is more worth than a world; and that those who engage in this work must give a strict account of their management to that God who employs them, who can’t be deceived and won’t be mocked, and who will require at their hands the blood of those souls who perish through their neglect, as well as graciously and abundantly reward them if they are faithful.
What fearful and wonderful work this is! May God grant that his ministers be faithful in it, and spare us from making shipwreck of our own faith, and being mere sirens to call other men on to the rocks of eternal destruction.
I hope to bring some of Foxcroft’s own excellent counsels in the next few days.
Somebody slipped me the following a few days ago. From experience (my own and that of others), much more might be added, but that’s beside the point. What’s wrong with yours?
If his sermon is longer than usual, “He sends us to sleep.”
If it’s short, “He hasn’t bothered.”
If he raises his voice, “He’s shouting.”
If he speaks normally, “I can’t hear a thing.”
If he’s out visiting, “He’s never at home.”
If he’s at home, “He never visits.”
If he talks finance, “He’s too fond of money.”
If he doesn’t, “Nobody knows what he’s up to.”
If he encourages mission, “He wears everybody out.”
If he doesn’t, “The church is dead.”
If he takes time with people, “He goes on and on.”
If he is brief, “He never listens.”
If he decorates the church, “He’s spending too much money.”
If he doesn’t, “He’s letting everything go.”
If he is young, “He lacks experience.”
If he is old, “He ought to retire.”
And, if he dies?
Well, of course, nobody could ever take his place.