Answers for Pastors

Should a pastor visit every member of his church who is hospitalized?

9Marks

That question is impossible to answer in the abstract, so here are some principles to help a pastor think through what kind of a priority he should give to visiting hospitalized church members.

How can I preach to people who are much older than me?

9Marks
Preach the gospel. All people of all ages need to hear and believe and be reminded of God’s saving work in Christ. Preach about the sovereignty of God. All people of all ages need to be reminded that God alone rules over every circumstance of our lives.

How can I preach expositional sermons to uneducated hearers?

9Marks

Teach your people why you preach expositionally. Consider preaching a sermon in which you explain the necessity and benefits of expositional preaching as well as how to listen to an expositional sermon. When you use theological terms, explain what they mean. Develop clear sermon outlines. This gives your people a place to mentally hang their […]

How can I decide whether or not I should be a pastor?

9Marks

Traditionally, Christians have referred to two kinds of “call” a man must experience before entering the pastorate: an internal call and an external call. While the word “call” is potentially misleading, the basic idea is right. Before becoming a pastor, a person should both desire to do the work and receive confirmation from a church. Part of doing both involves considering the biblical qualifications of an elder.

How can a preacher help his congregation to be dependent on the Word, and not his own personality?

9Marks
Don’t spend too much time trying to be funny. It’s tempting to rely on humor to make an emotional connection with your congregation, but you should resist the urge. When humor “happens,” fine. But be careful: if you train your people to expect humor, that’s what they’ll desire instead of God’s Word.

Does a pastor have to be “called” by God?

9Marks

On the one hand, there seems to be no biblical indication that the New Testament office of elder or pastor requires a special “calling.”

How can a preacher train his congregation to make the most of expositional preaching?

9Marks
Preach at a level that’s high enough to make them stretch, but not so high that the sermon flies over their heads. Apply the text to their lives specifically. Provide cards that list all the upcoming sermons, a blog post, or something similar that will inform the congregation of what biblical texts the preacher will cover in coming weeks. Encourage the church to study the biblical texts during the week before the sermon.

How do we do good biblical theology in our preaching?

9Marks
Set each text within the overall narrative of Scripture. From the text, look backwards in the Bible and identify what covenantal promises may be relevant to the text at hand: promises to Abraham? Moses? David? Then look forward and consider how your text is fulfilled in the person and work of Christ.

As I look for an existing church to pastor, what should I look for in a church?

9Marks

A number of factors might compel a man searching for a pastorate toward one church or another. But there are at least two factors that, from the standpoint of prudence, are non-negotiables:

How do we get from any given text to the gospel?

9Marks
Set the text within the context of the whole book it’s in. The unique themes of the book will point the way to Christ. The themes of creation and promise in Genesis, redemption in Exodus, holiness and sacrifice in Leviticus, and so on, all ultimately point to Christ, and individual passages within those books generally highlight those themes in some way.

How can a preacher explicitly address non-Christians in his sermons?

9Marks
Be sensitive to the worldview and emotional wiring of non-Christians. Think in advance about how your sermon will sound to them. When you arrive at a point in your sermon that you think would be particularly interesting or offensive to non-Christians, pause and explain it in greater detail. When you do so, explicitly address non-Christians. You can say something like, “If you’re not a Christian, I wonder what you think about that last point…”

Are there unwise ways to do a pastoral search?

9Marks
Try to land a big fish. Some churches go after a long list of “big name” pastors and hope that they’ll catch one. While we should be grateful for men whom God has made widely useful, we shouldn’t primarily target men because of their reputation, but because of their character, biblical qualifications, and biblical philosophy of ministry.

How can expositional preaching be evangelistic?

9Marks
It is evangelistic. God’s Word is what converts sinners (Rom. 10:17; 1 Pet 1:23). Faithfully preaching God’s Word week after week exposes dead sinners to the only source of spiritual life: God’s Word. So expositional preaching is inherently evangelistic.

What’s this “sermon application grid” that 9Marks keeps talking about?

9Marks

In his sermon preparation, Mark Dever uses what he calls an “application grid” as a tool to help him think how each point of the sermon relates to the rest of redemptive history, the person and work of Christ, and how it applies to different categories of hearers. Download an application grid: Blank | Completed Sample

What tips do you have on doing a pastoral search wisely?

9Marks
Train your own. The best way for a church to get a new pastor is to train him themselves. This is a serious investment of time that could take years or even decades to bear fruit. But it is every church’s responsibility to train pastors and elders, and the best new pastor for any church will be a man who is already known to the church, already loves the church, and already has a faithful track record within the church.