Practicalities for Young Ministers
By I.K. Cross
Recognizing the call
Can I be mistaken?
Where does God want you to Preach
In the Public Eye
Paul told Timothy to be an “example” among the people whom he lived and ministered. In a very real sense you begin to “live in a goldfish bowl”. People begin to watch you – some admire, some criticize, but don’t let this alarm you. Just look at this new situation as an opportunity to influence people in the right way and be thankful for new opportunities.
Most young ministers have a preacher they admire. Just be careful not to pick up his bad points instead of the good ones, because these are not what made him a success.
There are two other matters that a young minister can not learn too soon – proper conduct around women and responsible attitude about finances. Failure in these areas will damage your life and ministry, they are two things that have taken out more preachers than most anything else.
Preparation for your Life’s Work
Some things you will need in the beginning
Build your library – get good books
Once out of school continue to build your library and use it – it isn’t the quantity of books you have but the kind of books you have and how you use them.
Set your library in order early and keep it organized so that you can easily find what you are looking for when you need it.
Get you a good file of some kind
Now that you have Graduated
It is interesting seeing how a man, called of God to preach, can get an education and then be content not using it.
Don’t dishonor the ministry by claiming the honor of a call from God to preach unless you intend to preach at every opportunity
If God calls you, He will have a place for you in His own good time
Nothing beats learning to do something better than doing it
If God doesn’t place you in a place the day after you graduate, don’t get discouraged, He is saving for you where you may just fit for life
You may stumble many times and make mistakes as a preacher, but stay close to God and learn from each experience. Just remember that babies are not born walking, they have stumble and crawl – “you have to crawl before you can walk.”
Don’t let discouragement get you down, it’s a new day tomorrow. In a few years you will be able to laugh at the mistakes you have made
Go where God sends you with confidence – but confidence that God will see you through and supply your need as you apply yourself dedicatedly to your work. Confidence that He will do what He has promised to do.
On the Field
The Bible speaks that you are the shepherd of the flock, working under the authority of the chief shepherd Jesus Christ, to whom you must finally account (I Pet 2:24-25; 5:1-4).
You are responsible for welfare and safety of His flock
You are gentle with the sheep so they trust you
You are also firm to the flock so they will heed to you
I Tim 3:1-7 – the Bible mentions 15 characteristics
Remember that as a pastor you will be on call 24 hours
You will be faced with many happy experiences along the way, but also, be prepared to face some surprises and shocking experiences as well
If you are not willing to give it your best, you will achieve limited results. God has no use for a lazy preacher, but He will bless the man who is faithful to his duties
You will be very wise to have some trusted deacon or other minister friend present to assist you and witness such dealings.
Always remember that your top priority is Prayer and the Study and Preaching of the Word. Acts 6:2-4 the apostles made this very clear to the church. However there are many ways to preach the Word other than your church pulpit
There is no way to give a job description for a pastor. He must deal with both the educated and the illiterate, the saint and the sinner, the humble and the self-righteous, the “senior citizen” and the new mother with the infant in her arms for the first time. He must be both a counselor and a good listener; he must be firm as the Rock of Gibraltar and as tender as a lamb; he must give enouragement where there seems to be none to give; he must rebuke when it hurts him worse than those he rebukes; he must visit the sick when he is in more need of a doctor than those he visits; he must be able to week with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice. He is indeed a shepherd to his flock. I repeat, you must love your flock, and a good shepherd will search out the lost wherever they may be found. The commission you must lead your congregation to carry out is a command to make disciples and the first step in making a disciple is to win the lost to Christ, then you can begin the process of development.
Your Fellow Ministers – learn to conduct yourself properly to fellow ministers. You can either make them lifetime friends or you can make them lifetime enemies.
A man who cuts wood for a living doesn’t sharpen his saw or ax once and forget about it. If he did he would soon find himself working with very dull tools and cutting very little wood.
You need to study constantly!!! Keep your mind sharp and fresh with the study of the Scriptures. Read every good book you can get your hands on, but measure what you read in books by what you read in the Bible – everything checked carefully with the Scriptures.
Keep your ax sharp by constant study and prayer
You can very easily become involved in other affairs that you are caught in the pulpit without anything fresh for your congregation worth listening to. Don’t let this happen to you!
Spurgeon said, “We are, in a certain sense, our own tools, and therefore must keep ourselves in order.”
Sermons should have real teaching in them and their doctrine should be solid, substantial, and abundant. We do not enter the pulpit to talk for talk’s sake; we have instructions to convey important to the last degree, and we cannot afford to utter pretty nothings.
Selecting your Message
As a pastor, you know better than anyone else the needs of the congregation. Yet even then there should be sincere prayer before determining what your message will be and how it will be delivered.
Matters in the church
Be sure your message is anchored to the Word and the text should be no problem.
The Bible is always right but your idea could be wrong. When we preach the Word, God promises to bless that. He doesn’t promise to bless everything you and I say about it. So in reaching for a text, reach for the Bible. There you will always be safe
The congregation does not have to be told when the pastor is prepared to preach and is not – they will know and it is very obvious to them.
A Matter of Doctrine
A pastor must guard his flock. In today’s world that means a thorough indoctrination of your membership
If you are not imparting some information every time you address your membership, you are wasting their time and yours as well.
Nothing can empty your auditorium more rapidly than you constantly entering the pulpit unprepared.
If you want your congregation to be edified, you must first be edified yourself.
Illustrations are always a help. Jesus taught His followers using parables
Great care should be exercised in using humor to carry your point across. The pulpit is not the proper place for a comedian
You can become a popular speaker with stories, but you may also become a failure in conveying truth by doing so.
Pressure on the Preacher
All feel the effects of the pressures of the ministry whether the show it publicly or not.
Although we do not want to show our depression in public, care should be taken not to let pressure destroy you because you want no one to know it either.
Even Jesus Himself went aside to rest occasionally (Go apart before we come apart – pastor Hill says)
A preacher of the Gospel is a man with human weaknesses. He must never forget this lest he become over confident and fall into Satan’s trap, which is often deadly.
As a part of the Baptist Team
Be like a sponge and soak up every idea your brethren can give you. Observe what is working in their churches and use it if you can.
Church Business Meetings
Approach all matters of church business with much prayer for the will of God to be done, teaching the church to do the same, and the Spirit of God can prevail.
To Keep Your Church Growing in Harmony
Keep an active youth program
Deal with their questions because these are important to them. Give them Bible instructions on the issues that confront them daily
Be a friend of the youth of your church and let them know you are ready to help when they need you
What you plant in their minds, both by teaching and example, will remain there for the rest of their lives, unless changed by some drastic impact.
Indoctrinate your youth before someone else does
Meet regularly with your teachers and staff
Stay close to your teaching staff. They are the eople on whom you depend to acquaint the congregation with the Word of God.
Give them your support and know what is going on
Keep as many people involved
Give equal attention to all
Be faithful to visit the sick and shut-ins
Endeavor to prevent factions in the church. Your personal ideas, apart from the Word of God, are not worth dividing the church over.
Keep your sermons and teaching program targeted on the church’s needs. Don’t preach without a purpose, and don’t teach without a goal
Promote your church
There are many ways to promote, but you gain little by minimum promotion – whatever approach you use, do it in a big way. You can toss a small pebble into the water and it makes a small ripple, but if you want to make a big splash, hit the water with a big rock.
Keep your church activities in the news: on the local radio stations, television stations, newspapers or whatever is available to you
Where do I go from Here
Never quit studying
Too many preachers have fallen into a rut from which they cannot extricate themselves because they cease to study the Word
The lack of desire to study produces a dull ministry
Your real work in acquiring knowledge begins as you begin to commit to others what you have learned. And if you do not stay fresh with the study urged on by an inquiring mind, you will soon have committed to them all you know. If the message from the pulpit grows dull, the congregation wither goes to sleep or simply one by one ceases to come back for the services, and you find yourself wondering why.
Sometimes they leave of their own accord, and sometimes they are asked to leave because the congregation simply grows tired of leftovers. Never cease to study and you will not grow dull and dry in your preaching. This will have much to do with the future of your ministry as well as how long you stay at a church and how well you build.
Stay on the Team
A final word: the call to the Gospel ministry is a lifetime calling
Retirement, with all its blessed and eternal benefits, comes when we have reached the end of life and go to be with the Chief Shepherd. There we will rest forevermore. Until then, give God your best in whatever situation He sees fit to place you.
Whatever your course may be, its ultimate goal is to reach the souls of men. If we fail to do this, through whatever means, we forget the reason for which God has left us in this world.