Tag Archives: Ministry

Book Review: On Being a Servant of God

Book Review:  On Being a Servant of God by Warren Wiersbe

The Good:

Grandpa Wiersbe.   You can imagine the words of this book coming from a grandpa, giving their grandson advice about ministry.  Maybe I think that because both my grandpa and my wife’s grandpa were in ministry for decades.  The advice is not in a condescending tone, but come across as loving and caring.  You want to get to the page to learn more, like you are sitting on your grandpa’s proverbial knee.

Quotes For Days.  This man has a quote for everything, and each one is dynamite.  Seriously, how does he do it?  Wiersbe doesn’t just reference one or two servant books and take some nuggets to build on.  No, he grabs quotes from deep in history, professors, old preachers, and the list goes on.  No stone was left unturned to drive the point home.

Ministry A to Z.  This is like the Amazon logo of ministry books.  It takes you from A to Z of every aspect of ministry.  Both practical aspects of ministry and also the personal/spiritual side as well.  Such wisdom in these pages from a man who has lived it.

The Bad:

Nada.  Nothing bad to report.

The Grade:  A+.  This book will be on my “read again and again and again” list.  OK, I don’t really have that list, but if I did, this book would be at or near the top.  So much wisdom and practicality to this book, where it walks alongside you in ministry and drops truth bombs on every aspect of your life.  It is a must read for all those that are going into ministry, non-negotiable.

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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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2017 Youth Ministry Goals

Another year and more goals for the Lord to accomplish!  It’s great to look forward to another year of serving in youth ministry and another year of God doing amazing things.  This is just the tip of the iceberg…because I know God will do so much more.  But still, it’s always good to put goals out there to aim at as the Lord directs our shots.

Goals for 2017

  • New Book! –  Blessing to announce my 1st book has been published and my goal is for 1,000 copies to be sold to help people fall in love with God’s Word.
  • New Curriculum Plan! – Hard to believe this is my 6th year ministering at MBC, which mean a new 6 year plan will be put in place—with the input of parents, students, and research this plan will be implemented in the fall of 2017.
  • Mentoring – Teach a 2 week Mentoring series to encourage mentoring of generations within the church.
  • Short Term Mission Trip – Due to monthly local mission project, the 3 year cycle is now work trip, out-of-state, international trip. This year we will be traveling for our work trip.
  • Life After High School Series—Special speakers to speak on after high school temptations like drugs, how to witness after high school, and leader advice for the young adult years.
  • Public School Partnership – Continue to find ways to partner with local schools to serve them and bring the hope of Jesus Christ to students.
  • Social Media Interaction – Bolster ministry social media footprint with student leadership help and more interaction on Facebook.
  • Implement G.R.O.W.T.H Chart– Encourage parents to follow chart of spiritual growth for their students and provide training and help for students to reach these spiritual goals.

 

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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: Craftsmen

Book Review: Craftsmen by John Crotts

The Good:

Counseling Gold. Whether it is anger, lust, or greed…this book provides incredible counseling material. I would strongly recommend using this book for counseling opportunities. It gives great outlines supported from Scripture to help men overcome sin.

Here ya go son. I will one day say this with this book in hand, “here ya go son”. This book is primarily based on the content found in Proverbs. So, as Solomon wrote Proverbs with his son in mind, I often read this book with my son in mind and lessons that I desire my son to learn.

A Ministry Smorgasbord. Wow, the possibilities! There are so many avenues this book can be used both in vocational ministry and personal ministry. Church ministries such as men’s bible study, men’s retreats, and parenting seminars. Personal ministries may include parenting and discipleship of other believers. It is a book that should be on every parent and pastor’s bookshelf. I happen to be both, so it is on my shelf!

The Bad:

Confusion over eternal security. While I’m not clear on the doctrinal position of the article, there is some confusion over eternal security. While sin does lead the sinner to hell, there is some confusion at the end of chapter seven. The Gospel is presented well, but a new believer may be confused over what sin can do to one’s eternal security. I would have preferred some better explanation and a more careful language surrounding sin and its consequences.

The Grade: B+.

There are few books out there that have this type of impact on the teaching of godly manhood. Combining challenge with conviction, Crotts does a fantastic job at putting the reader face to face with God’s Word. A man reading this book is essentially presented with a choice: live a wise life or life a life of the fool. This book presents a powerful case for the wise, God-fearing life.

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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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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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5 Practical Ways to Balance Ministry and Family

We’ve all heard the “only work on Sundays” jokes (well, some aren’t joking) over the years.  But for those in full-time ministry, you know your only “workday” is not just on Sundays, but the hours can often overflow into the evening and into the weekend.  Still young in the pastorate, I’ve learned lessons the hard way, and am still learning ways of balancing my precious young family with the ministry that I cherish.  And, it is a question that I often ask veterans in ministry, who seem to have a great handle on balancing family and ministry.  So, here are just a few practical ideas that I’ve heard from my mentors.New Years Vacation2

  1. Take Them With You. This may be the advice I’ve heard the most from ministry veterans. And it is to take your family, especially your kids, with you while you do ministry. Take your kid with you to a hospital visit, allow your wife to participate in counseling when appropriate, and if in youth ministry, let your teens enjoy your kids and not see them as a hindrance. *Here’s another key: Teach your kids that being in ministry has benefits too. Although daddy may have late nights, they also have a day off during the week; can take them to conferences at cool hotels, and other perks. Show your family ministry is a blessing, not a burden.
  2. Go On Dates. Make dating your wife a priority in your life. Put it in your schedule on a regular basis. Plan ahead for babysitting and other arrangements that need to be made. But don’t stop there; take your kids on “dates” too. You’ll see this guy in line for the new Cinderella movie this weekend, not because it’s my favorite Disney movie (Beauty & the Beast and Tangled all the way!)…but because I want to spend special time with my kids, get to know them more personally, and let them know I value time with them. But this too takes planning and intentional work.
  3. Take Your Creativity Home. One of my mentors laid this dagger into my heart. He asked me the question “Is your time with your kids at home as creative as your activities with your teens/children ministries?” OUCH! That one hurt. So, in the months after, I’ve tried my best to be more creative in my time with my kids. This means I’ve set up obstacle courses in the basement, taken magazines out of the mail and put together “favorite things” craft projects, and even did a neighborhood soccer camp (I had 8 little girls from the neighborhood in my front yard!)!
  4. Drop Your Work Off at UDF. Another friend told me to drop off your ministry at a place on your way home. Simply pray to God and ask Him to take the burden of ministry, put the criticism, the challenges, and the difficult counseling appointment at the feet of Jesus. Sure, those things will still affect you, but your kids and wife still need your best when you get home. So, my goal is to drop off the struggles of ministry at the UDF on the way home.
  5. Your Phone Can Be Your Enemy. Put your phone down. One pastor mentor of mine even said he does not come into the house on the phone, but will either pull over or stay in the garage to finish the call. Other ideas given are to take the phone out of the pocket or belt holder, and place it on the coffee maker or dresser (just don’t put it in the microwave). This will allow you to hear it for emergencies, but lets it go when someone liked your picture of your cat playing the piano.

Please let me know how you balance ministry and family. I’d love to learn from you!

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Book Review: Dangerous Calling

Book Review:  Dangerous Calling by Paul David Trippdangerous_calling_banner

The Good:  Maybe I should have labeled this section of the review “The Great”, because there is some great stuff in here.  The author begins the book with an honest and humble look at his own personal sin struggle with anger and pride.  You can’t help but examine your own life through the author’s guts and transparency.  Throughout the book, you can tell it is written through blood, sweat, & tears of ministry.  Each chapter screams ministry experience and is written out of love for other pastors.  There are must read chapters all over the place.  For example, chapter 3 is a must read for all professors and teachers, from kindergarten to grad level (I actually sent the book and chapter number to my alma mater for their refreshment).  Chapter 4 is a must read for all pastoral search committees, and I mean A MUST!  I can’t remember the last time I was sending a book’s title to specific people to tell them you have to read this chapter.  Incredible ministry insight throughout that provides priceless ministry training to both young and veterans in ministry pure gold.

The Bad:  The only bad would be there is slight repetitiveness towards the end of the book, taking away from the incredible content of the majority of the book.

The Grade:  A.  Given to me at a leadership conference at a ministry balance seminary.  Boy, am I thankful I read it.  This book very well may be the best, and is definitely the most honest, ministry book out there.  In terms of providing valuable insight into longevity in ministry, ministry balance, and burnout prevention…this book was a home run.  Each person in ministry should grab this book.  Notice I didn’t say just pastors, I’m talking anyone in leadership ministry positions, they need to read this.  You hear me, although this is written to pastors primarily (especially in the latter chapters), there are ministry principles in this book that ministry leaders need for their spiritual health.

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3 Ways to Face Criticism in Ministry…Jesus-Style

Have you ever faced criticism in your ministry?  Either you responded with a question like “Is Bill Gates rich?” or a denominational question about the Pope, or you are new to ministry.  Not to be a downer here if you haven’t already, in due time, you will face some sort of criticism of your ministry.  Criticism comes from a variety of sources:  well-meaning parents, mean parents, accidentally by a student, incidentally by a student, consistently by a student, a senior pastor, your senior pastor, various church members, your wife, your kids, yourself…the list goes on.

Well you know who else faced criticism in ministry?  I know.  I kind of gave it away in the title.  Yes, it’s Jesus.  One clear example is found in John 11.  Let me quickly set this one up for you.  He just lost a dear friend.  He was so deeply moved, in verse 35, it says he wept.  I’ll give you a second to read that verse (just one second).  In verse 36, we see people empathize with Jesus.  However, in verse 37 is where we find criticism, basically saying, “Why didn’t Jesus do something about this?”

It’s interesting the circumstances. Jesus was suffering from a personal tragedy, yet people voiced their displeasure with his ministry to others.  Sound familiar?  Isn’t it usually after a long, exhausting overnighter that left you excited at decisions that were made, when you heard from a parent “Where was the youth pastor when these two snuck off together?”  Or maybe after a long, intense, spiritually and emotionally charged mission trip, a student that doesn’t attend complained “Why haven’t you planned any fun events this summer?”

How do we respond to these types of pins that let the air out of our ministry balloon?  Here are 3 ways to face criticism, Jesus-style:criticism2

Don’t Let It Affect Your MOVEMENT

I love the next verse following the criticism in verse 37.  It says “Jesus, deeply moved again”.  It was almost as if John was taking a shot here.  “Did you hear that, critical people, Jesus is hurting here!  Hello, do I need to give you more time to read verse 35?”  Just in case you didn’t notice the first time he WEPT!  It seems like John is sticking up for His friend and Savior here.

But the main point is this:  The criticism did not stop Jesus from being moved with compassion.  It didn’t stunt his emotions.  It didn’t stop his movement towards the cave.  How often does criticism stop us in our tracks?  Where we forget about the life decisions made at camp or the spiritual impact of an event or lesson, and we focus on the words of a few.  Jesus didn’t let it stop Him.

Don’t Let It Affect Your MINISTRY

God has given you a purpose for your ministry.  It is important you do what is best for the students that you are shepherding.  Sometimes you have to look past the criticism when you know what you are doing is clearly the ministry God-directed.  Sure, you have conversations, but your ministry cannot change to please the minority.

Look here.  Jesus told them to remove the stone in verse 39.  Martha saw this as stupid (actually she saw this as smelly, but you know what I mean).  Jesus took the time to explain this was for the glory of God, and he continued.

See what I mean.  Some will see what you are doing as foolish.  Maybe you cancel a traditional event, or you cut back office hours to spend on campus.  As long as it is God-led, you have the support of key leaders and administration; you may just have to tell people, this is being done for God’s glory, and keep moving.  That’s what Jesus did.

Don’t Let It Affect Your MISSION

What is our ultimate mission?  I would hope it would resemble the great commission, and your mission is to reach students with the gospel and make disciples.  Criticism can stop us from completing this mission.  “This will cost too much money”.  “Students will never listen to this…or come to this”.  “The youth pastor looks too much like Mr. Bean” (Okay that last one may just apply to me).

Check this out.  According to most of your Bibles, the story of Jesus Raises Lazarus is over.  Or is it?  In verse 45, because of this miracle, what happens to several of Mary’s friends?  They believe!  That’s right.  Because Jesus didn’t let criticism stop Him from His ultimate mission, the lost saw the power of Jesus, and they believed!

What if you stop short of your mission because of criticism?  Would it result in the lost not seeing the power of Jesus and believing?  Don’t miss the story in your ministry either, because in the next verse in your story, there may be a teenager that becomes a child of God.  Jesus knew the end of the story, and he kept with His mission.

 

Your movement, ministry, and mission are too important.  Maybe criticism is the stone in your way, and you just need Jesus to take away the stone.  And, in the end, God will get the glory, and you might see a miracle happen in your ministry…you might see students come to Jesus.

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