Fifty years ago, a man I’ve never met, Kent Keith, wrote a little booklet in which he included ten “Paradoxal Commandments.” They’ve made their way around the world and have often been separated from their author’s name.
Last month I attended the Ohio Independent Baptist Preacher’s Fellowship in Delaware, Ohio. I had the privilege of being one of the preachers at this meeting. It was attended by approximately ninety preachers or full-time ministry workers from across Ohio, and Kentucky. In addition, there were another 150 or so lay people in attendance. The spirit of the meeting was wonderful from beginning to end. I thoroughly enjoyed preaching and attending this meeting. It was a day well spent.
Several years ago, I wrote a blog that cautioned fundamental leaders about unbiblical attitudes and actions that are driving younger ministers from the ranks of fundamentalism. The article attempted to correct abuses within our movement—abuses that presented us as bitter rather than kind and unscholarly rather than exegetical. Although the article was warmly received, there still is a somewhat alarming exodus. And one of the attracting magnets is The Gospel Coalition.
When I first became a pastor, I faced fewer administrative responsibilities than I do today. It’s not that my schedule wasn’t full. (In those early days, I preached three times per week, taught Sunday school and soulwinning, and knocked on a minimum of five hundred doors each week as well as following up with guests from services.) It’s just that the week-to-week responsibilities of ministry were primarily sermon preparation and personal outreach and followup.
This past summer, God opened the door for us to be able to have a summer ministry intern come serve in our church. For the past couple of years, it has been something that I had wanted to do, but was uncertain about whether it was worth the financial burden on our church and the administrative burden on me.
It seems there is a good amount of talk these days about people “collaborating.” Both collaboration and cooperation are legitimate and good words. To collaborate means to “co-labor, or to labor together.” To cooperate means “to operate together.”
Modeling Your Ministry and Philosophy after Christ
What happened? I often contemplate this question when I consider the condition of many young leaders in my generation (and many in the generation before mine as well). It seems like my social media feeds often have reports from friends made in high school and Bible college or ministry colleagues who have gone hook, line, and sinker for some trendy, new philosophy of ministry.
We are frequently told that these are terrible times for the work of God and that little if any progress is possible for those who take a sound and scriptural position. The most we can hope for, some suggest, is to maintain our ministries until Jesus comes.
Dr. Bobby Roberson, a faithful servant, great pastor, and a friend to pastors across America, went home to be with the Lord this past Monday. To say that he will be greatly missed is an understatement.
We Must Not Ignore Biblical Principles of Separation in Our Desire to Work with Others
When I was growing up in the 70s, the watchword among independent Baptists was separation. And with good reason. Many of my mentors were men who had come out of denominations that denied the inerrancy of Scripture, miracles of the Bible, and even the virgin birth of Christ.
In the early days at Lancaster Baptist Church, I gave a “Visit with the Pastor” almost every Sunday night in which I tried to infuse our young church with the DNA of New Testament Christianity. Usually these were a brief topical lesson on topics ranging from how to lead someone to the Lord, to having family devotions, to encouraging new Christians.
Several months ago, I attended a convention where the speaker talked about his feelings when asked to fill the shoes of a leader he greatly respected and admired. His initial thought was simply this: “Lord, help me not to mess this up.” He then recounted how the Holy Spirit rebuked that spirit of fear within him.
Each year at Lancaster Baptist Church, on the first Sunday of January, we reveal to our church family a new scriptural theme for the coming year. This theme flows out of much prayer and preparation that has taken place for six or seven months in advance of the new year.
Without question, the greatest responsibilities a pastor carries are prayer and preaching. Even so, administration is part of the leadership package as well. In fact, this administrative aspect is captured in the New Testament word for pastors of bishop, which means “overseer.”
Early in my ministry, I assumed pastorates where the previous pastor had been involved in ministerial misconduct. In the later years of pastoring, however, I had the privilege of succeeding two men whose lives were characterized by unsullied integrity.