Tag Archives: pastoring

Concluding Thoughts on Malachi

Yesterday, I ended my preaching series on Malachi. Pastor Matt preached one of the sermons, of which I am grateful.  This is the second time I have preached through Malachi; the first being back in 2011 at a church I pastored then.  I must admit, this time it was much more difficult to preach through this book.  There are many reasons why this would be so, but I want to mention three main reasons:

  1. I have a different preaching style now than I had then.  In 2011, my preaching style42505271_1962338703860138_385242529043316736_n was very factual, but not practical.  Today, I think my preaching is much more applicable, while remaining factual.  At least I hope it is. To preach through Malachi, which is very much a “prophetic” book set in the 5th century B. C. (indictments and condemnations of post-exilic Jews), and to apply that to modern lives was quite the challenge.
  2. I have grown as a pastor. I do not say that in any braggadocio way, but simply as a matter of what the Holy Spirit has done in my soul. I have sought to love and care about the people I pastor in the past, but often it was in a buddy-buddy, friendship way.  That isn’t to say that friendships within the church are wrong or bad for pastors, Norris it to say that I do not have friendships within the church, but rather to say that shepherding a people is different than befriending a people.  Shepherding a flock through such a book as Malachi has been heart-wrenching to the soul knowing that much of what is preached may not be liked, may not be appreciated, may not be welcomed, but absolutely is necessary for the good of the people.
  3. I preached through it at a faster rate. I don’t recall how many weeks I spent in 2011 going through this book, but this time, we only spent 6 weeks in Malachi.  There was a lot to cover and not much time to do so.  I probably wearied many a person with my near hour-long sermons, and for that I apologize. I would venture to say that Malachi would probably be an 8 or 9 week series.  As someone said once, the mind can absorb only as much as the seat can endure. I was well aware of how long my sermons were going to be before ever stepping into the pulpit (in fact, I told Pastor Matt just before service one day that the sermon would be about 5 minutes shorter than the previous week. After looking at the video length it was just over 5 minutes shorter). Every Sunday I stepped into the pulpit fully aware that service would go late, and no matter what people say, they eventually get tired of services ending later than expected.

That being said, preaching through Malachi developed some doctrines for me, personally. That means that I cannot be wishy-washy on certain subjects and toss it up to the fact that I hadn’t had time to study this or that.  It strengthened my convictions on other doctrines as well.  I hope and pray that I was faithful to the text, and I hope and pray that God’s name was magnified.  “For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense will be offered to my name, and a pure offering. For my name will be great among the nations, says the LORD of hosts,” (Malachi 1:11, ESV).

Book Review: The Pastor’s Ministry

Pastor Brian Croft of Auburndale Baptist Church in Louisville, KY and founder of Practical Shepherding wrote a trilogy of books for the pastor.  I read them completely out of order, reading The Pastor’s Soul first (here is my review), then The Pastor’s Family (here is my review), and now finally The Pastor’s Ministry.  The others were good; I gave them both four out of five stars on GoodReads, but this book was stupendous. At only 180 pages, it is probably the most practical of all pastor-help books I have ever read (and I’ve read plenty).  Published by Zondervan in 2015, The Pastor’s Ministry dives into the nitty-gritty details of, well quite frankly, a pastor’s ministry.

Pastor Croft divided the book into three parts (as any good Baptist preacher will do). Part one: foundation; two: focus; three: faithfulness (it’s even alliterated!). Seriously though, I found myself underlining wonderful truths to take away in every chapters.  The first three chapters that make up part one deal with the whys of ministry.  “Pastors are the appointed guardians of God’s truth, and above all else they must hold firm to it, boldly refuting those who come against it and passing it on to the next generation of appointed guardians,” (p. 27).  He reiterated, “If we lose the truth, we have nothing left. But if we guard the truth and make it the lifeblood of our ministry, we labor in the work that the Spirit empowers and through which he breathes life to our souls and the souls of our people,” (p. 36).  Thus, preaching the word and praying for the flock are the foundation to any ministry.

By the time we get to the second part, the author has pressed upon the reader the importance of doing ministry correctly and faithfully.  The question is how does one do the ministry of the pastorate?  This is where things got good; as I said this is the most practical of all pastor-help books.  Parts two and three deal with the hows of ministry.  How are we to set an example? How should a pastor act and what should he do when visiting the sick? How can he comfort those who have lost loved ones?  And my personal favorite: how to care for widows.  In fact, this one chapter was so helpful, it gave me an overwhelming desire to read his book on this very same subject. Again, these are practical guides that are given and so he deals with spending time, sending notes, giving gifts, etc.  “Ministering grace to a widow with a gift is about more than just the gift; it is also about the message you communicate by giving the gift. . . .Such gifts can powerfully remind a widow that she is not forgotten,” (p. 123).

Part three is still a continuation of how, but in a different scope. These are the hows of spiritual guidance.  How and why should one confront sin? How does encouraging the weaker sheep help them, the pastor, and the flock? “Compassion is most clearly displayed in our care in those moments when we are frustrated and ready to give up–but then we don’t. We press on. We try again. We speak the same encouraging words we’ve spoken many times before in the anticipation that the Spirit of God will one day allow them to stick,” (p. 155). And of course at last–because it is so important–how to find the next generation of appointed guardians?

I truly believe that any Bible College and Seminary should at very minimum use this trilogy as supplementary books for their pastoral students.  These books, if read and heeded, will save young (and old) pastors much heartache and a few headaches as well.  I wish these had been written earlier, but I am so happy to have them now.  One book reviewer on GoodReads gave this book two stars, claiming it was basic and what was written in these pages could and should be learned by shadowing a pastor. Perhaps so, but not everyone has the ability to shadow a pastor. That’s why we have books. Face to face teaching is best, but when that is not possible due to time, distance, or ability, a book like The Pastor’s Ministry is a good substitute.