Category Archives: Ministry

Book Review: The Pastor’s Family

Book Review:  The Pastor’s Family by Brian & Cara Croft

The Good:

It Takes Two.  Probably my favorite aspect of the book is each chapter provides two perspectives:  the pastor and the pastor’s wife.  This did two things.  First, as a pastor it provided encouragement, challenge, and practical training for the years ahead.  Second, it provided a whole new perspective of what the wife feels, deals with, and the challenges they face.  It allows the reader to come away more sensitive to the other spouse and a willingness to see the other side of situations.

Big Eye Emoji.  I was shocked.  Maybe I need to be a better student of church history, but I had no idea of the struggles some of the greatest preachers in history had in their family life.  Marital struggles, parenting regrets, and family difficulty…how was I so naive.  If these fellas struggled, I need to be even more on guard and fight for my marriage, my family, my children.

Heart to Heart.  At the end of each chapter, it allows the husband and wife to ask questions.  Each of these questions were well thought out and are valuable to a ministry marriage.  Put these into practice and allow it to be life-changing material rather than just head knowledge.

The Bad:

For Real.  This is stretching it, but for someone early in ministry there needs to be a warning here.  This book is real and honest.  It speaks of difficulties, depression, struggles…just make sure you are ready to read this.  It acts as a warning, and an important one, but prepare yourself if you are just entering ministry or have a young marriage/family.

The Grade:  A.  Those in ministry need to read this book.  It won’t take you long, but it will have great impact.  It’s highly practical, challenging, and encouraging along the way.  It’s like a pastoral mentor and his wife taking you by the hand and leading you through the next years of your marriage and parenting.  The value goes beyond the price of the book.  Without a godly family, how will you have a godly ministry.  Sometimes we get things backwards…this book will help put you back on track.

Extra Credit:  Read the reflection article on pages 107-109.  It is dynamite.

 

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Quick Baptism Tutorial

A few years ago, I asked my pastor to give me some tips on Baptism.  With my inexperience in my back pocket, and some butterflies in my stomach…I thought it would best if I just posted a little cheat sheet in the baptistery to help jog my memory in case my mind went blank while standing waist deep in water.  Here are some instructions my pastor gave me for my cheat sheet…

Pre-Baptism Instructions:

  • Pastor: Dark Pants, Nice Dark Shirt, sandals, towel (don’t forget the extra pair of underwear, that is an awful rookie mistake)
  • Individual: Wear Pants, Bring Towel
  • Instruction to individual: Bend Knees, Hand cover nose (w/ handkerchief), grab wrist of pastor
  • Inform: Time of service & Changing rooms

Baptism:

  • Help individual in, and usher them to center
  • Show video of testimony (suggested for: clarity of testimony, sound quality, and nervousness of person)
  • Ask: “Have you trusted Jesus Christ as your Savior?
  • Say these 3 things:
    • “It is upon your profession of faith in Jesus Christ and in obedience to Him…
    • “I baptize you my sister/brother in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”
    • (Dip all the way into water) “Buried in the likeness of His Death and (Raise up from water) “Raised in the likeness of His Resurrection”
  • Cheer, Vote in New Member, Pray
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Dreams Do Come True – My 1st Book Goes On Sale Today!

The cursor blinked on the dark screen of that old computer.  My dad gave me his old IBM computer that weighed more than my bedroom furniture, but that was where the dream began.  I began to journal, write about my day, and watch the green print float words across the screen.  I didn’t know how to type.  Goodness, I barely knew how to spell.  But I did know I loved to write.

where-it-all-beganFast-forward to my college years.  I found a black leather-bound book, dove into the book of Psalms, and went to work.  Each night, I would write a devotional for myself with a summary statement at the end.  I don’t know if it was “senioritis”, or I just ran out of time…but I graduated and I never reached the end of Psalms.  That black leather book left incomplete, was thrown in a pile of my old academic records and free movie posters that the local theater would give me and my buddies every Tuesday.

Days become months, months become years, and time continued to tick on by.  I go on to seminary, marry the love of my life, and our family grows to four with our 2nd daughter born.  Then, as I was cleaning my office, I stumbled upon that black book.  I perused the pages realizing what a treasure I had just stuffed in my files.  I committed to finishing the Psalms, and began my quest to become an author.

Little did I know how difficult that next journey would be.  Rejection after rejection from publishing companies, I began to lose hope.  I mean, how could I blame them.  My name wasn’t Francis Chan or John Piper…to publishers, it was Jeff Who.  Although I was hesitant, I researched my options with self-publishing.  It was a little overwhelming, so I phoned an old friend.  Well, at that time, I don’t know if friend was the right word.  On the other end of the phone was my high school English teacher.  I called him Mr. P, mostly because I thought he closely resembled Mr. C on Happy Days.  In High School, I rarely paid attention, talked during class, and often showed little respect.  But, when Mr. P got a call from me about my dream of becoming an author, he didn’t hesitate to take me to lunch, pay for my meal, and answer every question I had.  He paid attention to me, talked me into reviving my dream, and a respectful friendship was born.

After months of editing and brainstorming, we were about a quarter of the way through the book.  Then, tragedy hit.  Mr. P passed away in his sleep.  My mentor, my new friend, my help in this journey went to be with his Savior.

front-coverNow what do I do?  I turned to another mentor, an established youth ministry author, who took an interest in my dream.  He connected me with a publishing company called Overboard Ministries.  And, as they say, the rest is history.  After long nights of editing for over a year, deliberation of titles and book cover designs…the day is finally here.

Dear Lord, I don’t feel like I deserve this dream to come true.  Remembering the days in front of that dark screen in my room, journaling my day that consisted mostly of backyard football and NHL 94 battles on the Sega Genesis with my brother to the late nights in an off campus house hoping these words would bless someone, someday.  To the days where it seemed like this dream was all but lost, which happened on more than one occasion.  My name is finally on the front of that book.  God, I give you this book.  Use it to help teens who are not consistently having a quiet time with the Lord yet.  Use it to bless the frustrated college student who feels alone, disappointed, and abandoned to find comfort, encouragement, and fulfillment in the Bible.  Use it to guide that 7th grader who feels lost in the new world of adolescence, and needs to discover the guiding hand of God’s Word.

You see, in the end, this dream became bigger than me.  The dream becomes a reality when I am able to hand this book to a teenager or young adult and watch them fall in love with God’s Word.  Now, that’s when my dreams truly come true.

Visit:  http://www.bottomlinedevotional.com to learn more about the book and how you can order a copy.

 

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How to Partner With Parents

Ask any youth ministry veteran what they wished they did more of in their first few years of ministry, and partnering with parents will probably be in their top 3, if not their top wish.  It is so important to get on the same team as your parents in youth ministry.  This book will help you be the assistant coach to the head coach (parents) that you can be.teamup

Book Review:  Team Up by Phil Bell

The Good:

Pep Talk.  Skeptical of involving parents in your ministry?  Well, at least read chapter one and then let me know what you think.  The author does a great job grabbing the reader’s attention in the first chapter to explain the importance of parent involvement.

Practice Makes Perfect.  At the end of each chapter, the practice drills are dynamite.  They provide ways to implement everything you just read.  These could also be put to good use in parent meetings.

Super Practical.  Man, I came away from this book with tons of ideas for parent meetings and boosting my relationships with parents.  How do you do parent meetings, how do you communicate, how do you _______.  It’s all there and the steps are all written out.  Right on Phil Bell!

The Bad:

Gimme Some Cheat Codes.  The only thing I really feel like this book is missing is some devotional or lessons for parents using God’s Word.  It would be nice to get some example of lessons or portions of the parent seminars that were mentioned in the book.  I’m not looking to copy the entire presentation, but passages used, more detail of topics covered, and lessons that proved to be effective would be beneficial for the reader.

The Grade:  A-.  Talk about a practical ministry book that everyone in youth ministry should read.  This would be the one.  After reading it, I texted a few of my youth ministry buddies right away and told them about this one.  So this me telling you all, get this book and be encouraged by ways you can minister to and with parents.

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Book Review: Test, Train, Affirm, & Send into Ministry

51IHuStydJL._SX315_BO1,204,203,200_Book Review:  Test, Train, Affirm, & Send into Ministry by Brian Croft

The Good:

How’s that for an introduction. Wow! What an introduction. A biblical survey of shepherding can be found on the opening pages of this book. It certainly sets the stage for the rest of the book.

Can you hear me church? The author does an incredible job at holding the local church accountable in the process to training those who are called to ministry. Also, it does not tip toe around the necessity of protecting the church from those who do not qualify for these positions as well. I appreciate how this book upholds the church’s responsibility.

Do I need my appendix? Well, your body might not need your appendix, but your church body might need this book’s appendix. Don’t skip over the valuable preparatory material found in the back of this book. It will be quite valuable for the training and confirming of one’s call.

The Bad:

Could you be more specific? If you are looking how to conduct a youth internship, children’s ministry intern, or a more specific role…you will not find those specifics here. This book is not very big and it paints a broader stroke in training those in ministry. Not necessarily a bad thing, but something I wanted to warn the reader.

The Grade: B+. I wouldn’t call it earth-shattering, but I certainly would call it effective. It puts the local church’s feet to the fire, so to speak. It is a challenge to the church to do its job in training and sending people into full-time ministry, all while confirming the call. This is serious business, and I appreciate how this book treats it as such and provides an effective way of making the calling sure.

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Book Review: Am I Called?

Book Review: Am I Called? by Dave Harveyamicalled_header

The Good:

You Talking to Me. What an easy read. Seriously, it is like having a conversation with the author. I’m a big fan of books that are written in a laid-back conversational style. If I read a book about pastoral calling, I would hope it would speak to me. Well, the author’s style does just that – it is like you are being counseled in the chair across from him, and he speaks right to you and your heart.

Dry as a bone. For those that know me, I enjoy dry humor. And this book caused me to laugh out loud at times with the witty jabs that you almost miss, but add life to the book. These little comments and stories provide great flavor to a very meaty subject.

Paging all church search committees. This isn’t just a book for those seeking confirmation of the call, but can be highly useful for pastoral search committees and church boards establishing their philosophy of ministry. What a lesson on the requirements of a pastor, in behavior, practice, and lifestyle. Before writing a job description, you might want to read this book.

The Bad:

Better Sooner than Later. Seriously, this may sound sappy, but the only bad thing about this book is that I did not read it sooner. It satisfied the reader’s longing to understand and confirm the calling. It answers the question “Am I Called” to completion, with great detail, confidence, and sound doctrine.

The Grade: A. Got someone interested in ministry? Put this book in their hands. Think about it. We are talking about the calling to lead the body of Christ…the bride of the Savior of the world. Before any seminary applications, job interviews, internships…read this book. Start here. Seriously, it puts the pastoral call to the test.   Better to test your calling with a hot chocolate, bedroom slippers, and this book…than when you are knee-deep in ministry! Buy the book, and make your calling sure.

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Why Turning 33 is Significant

At a young age, people began realizing he was special. He had a gift. He was wise beyond his years. At times, even his parents were overshadowed by his brilliance and insight. Although we do not know much about his childhood, history picks it up in his early 30’s.

Although he lived in the early 1st century, we still find a plethora of information. We read how this man started a revolution. His exploits are still talked about today, worldwide. His compassion for people is an example to many. His life is the epitome of a life well-lived. His example is taught in many places as one to follow and replicate as close as possible. His teachings are studied closely on many academic levels. Those that follow him are sometimes called fanatics, freaks, or outcasts. But, even in the persecution both is word and in deed, people are willing to follow, even to the point of death.214106743_3aebc05551

You would think with the level of following, this man would have lived a long life. But who ever said that to live an important and significant life, you have to live a long life. To the shock of many of his friends, this man was murdered. Because of his teachings, which some viewed as radical and blasphemous, he was killed by the religious leaders of the day. Without proper trial and witnesses, this man was rushed to capital punishment, receiving torturous beatings and ill-treatment along the way.

Yet, most historians have told us his death was at the age of 33. So young for a man with such potential, such influence, such compassion…a tragedy to many. That is, until you hear the name of that man. That man’s name is Jesus, the King of Kings, and the Savior of the World. Jesus Christ, the Messiah! With only 33 years of life, He turned the world upside down. He defeated sin and death. He wrestled with the enemy and pinned him the ground for all eternity. A ministry full of miracles, timeless teaching, healing, encouragement, counsel, and wisdom.

For some, they would say His life was too short. But those that know who Jesus is, they know the significance of his life. They know what He accomplished, and the eternal consequences of His death and resurrection. They know His death was needed to be forgiven. They know the Savior’s life was given, not taken, so we might have eternity in paradise.

Why is turning 33 significant? Well, it was yesterday that I turned 33 years old. What have I done that even compares to the Savior? Look what he accomplished in 33 years of life. Sure, He is God, so I am at a bit of a disadvantage. But it doesn’t mean I should not try. Try to have compassion on people who many have left behind. Try to bring forgiveness to hurting hearts by sharing the Gospel. Try to teach God’s Word, because it is from my Heavenly Father too. Try to live by the will of the Father.

Turning 33 is humbling. I look back and see what all I have done for the kingdom, and it truly pales in comparison to just 3 years of the Savior’s ministry. I realize I will try many of things that Jesus did so perfectly and often fail. But it doesn’t mean I should not try. Jesus’ ministry on earth ended in this year of his life, but as mine continues, I hope to accomplish just one pinky nail of what Jesus did. I can’t do it on my own. I need Jesus. I need my Heavenly Father. Jesus, please help my ministry to have more in common with you than just age, because next year, I won’t have that in common with you any more.jesus-nazareth-585-300x225

 

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I Love the Bride of Christ

A testimony by a man who grew in his love for the church.  Let it be our prayer that we love the Bride of Christ…allow it to be a place of healing, a place of refuge, of place of life change, a place of worship, and a place we can call God’s house.  What do you want your church to be?

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5 Ideas to Make a Mission Conference Go Well

MissionsConference538x303Give, Give, Give. Take the entire month prior to the mission conference and collect a special offering for the missionaries. Give a goal amount for each missionary/missionary couple to be given on the day of the conference.

Practical Gifts. I’ve heard stories of missionary conferences where their gifts are not useful, or even insulting. Why not give them gifts they can truly use? Give them gas cards, gift cards to restaurants, and grocery gift cards. These are things they need, not a Precious Moments calendar or a basket full of used Veggie Tales VHS tapes.

Short & Sweet. While I can see the benefit of a week-long conference, it lends itself to exhausting your people and the missionaries. The argument could be made to have that week as an opportunity to get to know the missionaries. Well, this can still be done in a shorter time span. For example, have a dinner for the missionaries on Saturday night and invite all the board members and their wives. Then, after the conference on Sunday morning, host a potluck dinner for your entire church family. This will provide ample time to get to know the missionaries.  Saturday night to Sunday afternoon is a reasonable time frame for a conference, and people leave refreshed and refueled, rather than ragged and run-down.

Children’s Conference. Host a children’s mission conference during the adult conference for the younger grades (invite older grades to join adults). This could be hosted by skilled children ministry volunteers, or by missionaries skilled in teaching children.

Team Effort. Form a mission conference team that divides and conquers. The organization of meals, gifts, and missionary correspondence takes more than just one person. Form a team that is passionate about missions, and divide up the tasks based on their skill set. Typically, it is not hard to find people who love missionaries in your church.

 

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Book Review: Replenish by Lance Witt

Book Review: Replenish by Lance Wittreplenish

The Good:

You need this. As someone in ministry, the introduction wakes you up and sets up the need to read this book. Let me just save you the time from reading the introduction, because I know many of you will skip it anyway, and just know there is reason for every pastor, missionary, or anyone in a ministry…you need to read this book.

Transparency. When an author shows transparency appropriately, it brings the book to life, in my opinion. The author is willing to show his weaknesses and mistakes made in the past to bring a more personal touch and more valuable for the reader.

Short & Sweet. I love short chapters. As a father of many kids, I have like 3 or 4 kids now (kidding, kidding)…but sometimes I get interrupted in my reading and thoughts and momentum of the read can get disjointed. This book provides short chapters that pack a punch. Plus, if these chapters were longer, I honestly think you’d walk away from the chapter like you were just in a heavyweight fight.   Great, challenging content in every chapter.

41 Chapters…There’s One for You. Seriously, if you cannot find one chapter out of the forty-one chapters, you must have reached sainthood or just are too proud to admit your flaws. Everyone in ministry will be able to find something they need improvement. Plus, each chapter provides reflection questions to help you get started on your self-improvement.

The Bad:

Repetitive Beginning. For some reason, the first four chapters seem to repeat the same thought over and over. Not sure why. But, for what it’s worth, it is a very good thought!

Missing Verses. If you’ve read my blogs before, writers should include references when they are quoting the Bible. Do I need to start a petition?

Too Honest? For me, as a reader, I enjoy the honesty of the author. Some readers may be turned off by the honesty and personal stories. This may be less of a bad thing, but more of a toss-up depending on the reader.

The Grade: A. Pastors, buy this. Church people, buy this for your pastor. For someone in ministry, it is a refreshing read. It will save you from years of trouble and burnout down the road, and improve the ministry you are currently serving. This book came strongly recommended from a missionary friend to my pastor, and he liked it so much he bought me a copy. So what does that tell you?

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