"Clear vision but little depth perception." That's how I've heard Mark Dever characterize young pastors.
Young pastors see their doctrine with utter clarity. They know exactly what a church should look like. But they don't know how to assess what's important, what's really important, and what can be overlooked. Their gauges haven't developed.
Probably, the best solution for this is plain old experience. Yet a little battle wisdom from older men can't hurt, either. So we turned to several pastors who have walked a few miles down ministry's road, asking them to pass on a morsel or two of counsel.
Bob Johnson and Ken Swetland talk about getting started. Matt Schmucker, Mark Dever, and Phillip Jensen offer their thoughts on making changes. Philip Ryken and Robert Norris help us persevere to the end. And a couple of younger guys, like Aaron, Greg, and me, throw in our two cents.
One word of caution about an 9Marks Journal full of practical advice: Wisdom can be found in principles of the sort you'll find here. But wisdom always begins with a posture of heart—a heart the trusts and fears the Lord. Only this heart finds the wisdom to know which principles apply when: "Is now the time not to answer the fool according to his folly (Prov. 26:4)? Or is now the time to answer him according to his folly (Prov. 26:5)?"
Only the Lord will make your paths straight.
That means that we cannot tell you exactly how to pastor your church, unless the matter is plainly Scriptural. You're God's man for that job. So take what's offered here. Consider how it might apply in your context. But above all else, guard your heart, that it would fear only him.
We're praying for your pastoral work, reader. Pray, too, for us.
Young Pastors: Where Do You Begin?
So you’re a brand new pastor. What do you do first? Read more >
It’s more than a mere formality: an installation service gives you a chance to set the tone for your entire ministry. Aaron Menikoff explains why, and what he did with his. Read more >
Young Pastors: What Did You Inherit?
What do you do when influential members of your church are less than helpful? Read more >
What do you do when you get to a church that has a clunky constitution and a nearly heretical statement of faith? Read more >
Young Pastors: How Do You Lead Change?
Some pastors make every issue a hill to die on and some would never fight to save their own lives. So what issues are really worth doing battle over? Read more >
What issues are worth fighting—or leaving—over? How do you decide? Hopefully by principle more than preference. Read more >
Pastors need to love the people in their church more than the idea of a healthy church. Read more >
An old maxim says, “If you do not change something in the first year you never will; and whatever you change in the first year is bound to be a mistake.” Find out why that statement is true…and false. Read more >
Young Pastors: How to Persevere!
What lessons can we learn from a man who pastored the same church for over thirty years? His successor fills us in. Read more >
A church doesn’t learn to trust its pastor overnight, so he better be in it for the long haul. Read more >
I love thinking about the temporariness of my pastoral ministry. Not because I don't like pastoral ministry. In fact, I love it. Not because I'm tiring of it. I preached my first sermon 31 years ago, yet I enter the pulpit today with a greater sense of the privilege than I did back then. Read more >
Miscellaneous Book Reviews
- Greg Gilbert
- Byron Straughn
Christians have often been slow to evangelize. After all, evangelism can be hard. It can be hard to know what to say, when to say it, and how to say it. It can be hard to understand people’s circumstances and to speak the gospel accurately into their lives. And so we are slow to share. More recently, Christians have invented new methods to help address this problem, namely, simple and direct gospel presentations that can easily be learned and shared with others. This method has become hugely popular and is widely used today. Read more >
There is no shortage of books promoting a different model of church. Think of titles like Missional Church, Purpose-Driven Church, Organic Church, Total Church, Deliberate Church, Vintage Church, Equipping Church, Not Your Grandfather's Church, We're Cooler Than Our Parents Church, or, a recent favorite, We Want to Be Faithful to the Gospel AND Have the World Love Us Church. Read more >
"Simple is in. Simple works. People respond to simple." With those three summarizing catch phrases Thom Rainer and Eric Geiger begin one of the latest offerings to church growth literature, The Simple Church. Read more >