Category Archives: Pastoring

Reflections from Beyond the Pulpit – How to Be an “Expert”

by Stan Hudson who served as a Seventh-day Adventist pastor for 38 years and is currently the Director of Creation Ministries at the North Pacific Union Conference

It’s kind of fun being thought of as an expert on anything. And it’s not that hard to be one. Here’s the simple way: find some subject, any subject, that NO one wants to take the time to study deeply. Make it a hobby interest of yours and people will gladly defer to you as “the expert!”

Know what I’m an expert in? Coins of the Bible! Growing up in the ‘60’s, coin collecting was what a lot of us American kids did. One day, after I had become a young pastor, I wandered into a coin shop and saw a small display of what was labelled “genuine widow’s mites.” I asked for a look and then I was hooked!

I will include over the next couple of issues an illustration or two on these and other Bible coins and what we can learn to enhance our sermons. Here are two half dollar-sized silver coins from the days of Jesus that circulated in the Holy Land. Under Roman rule the Jews were not permitted to issue silver coins, so this forced the Jews to use coins with graven images. These coins were “staters” or “four drachma” pieces. They were equivalent to Jewish shekels, and were the two options for temple use (for instance, the “temple tax” was two drachmas).

On the left is a stater from Antioch, dated, interestingly enough, to the year of Jesus’ birth (5/4 BC). It has Augustus Caesar on it. The coin on the right is from Tyre and has a modernized picture of Baal on it! This means that the priests and Sadducees of the temple had two bad options to use for their coins: they had to choose either Caesar or Baal for their official currency. Which did they choose? BAAL! Think of the irony of Baal’s coins to support the worship of Israel’s God. Yet that seemed preferable to Caesar’s image.

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Reflections from Beyond the Pulpit – A Moment with Senior

by Stan Hudson who served as a Seventh-day Adventist pastor for 38 years and is currently the Director of Creation Ministries at the North Pacific Union Conference

As a security officer at Andrews (they thought we seminary students were more mature than other college students—HA!), it sometimes fell to us to use the patrol car and give rides to various special guest speakers for the campus.

On one occasion I was to give a ride to H.M.S. Richards Sr. so he could give a chapel talk to the seminarians.  The standing concern was that perhaps “this would be his last year.”  Those concerns continued year after year after ….

Anyway, I thought since I had this great man of God riding with me and all to myself, what powerful question could I ask?  What sort of wisdom could this starry-eyed young preacher receive to inspire him for a life in pastoral ministry??

So I nervously asked, “Elder, what will it take to finish the work?”  And without a single moment of hesitation he exclaimed “Lock up all the pastors!!”

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Why Not Try This? – Boundaries for Pastors

by Everton A. Ennis
Source: www.nadministerial.com

The same member keeps calling the pastor over and over for financial help to pay their utility bills, buy food, or pay the rent. Another member consistently calls late at night to express “concern” about the “wrong direction” he perceives the church to be going in. A member from another pastor’s church calls you to complain about her own pastor, your colleague. It has been brought to your attention by the church treasurer that one of your members is insisting on getting a tax receipt for a household appliance that he purchased for an elderly member, but you discover that he did not put the funds “into the church,” and instead purchased and delivered it himself without the knowledge or involvement of the church. Then there’s the couple who have several fights each week, call you up, and expect that you should be there to referee their “feature events” whenever called upon to do so. At what point do you say no?

Pastors are generally expected to be available, able, and willing to respond to every matter or request that comes their way all the time. Many pastors can testify to being harshly criticized by members for a delayed response to a member’s “crisis” or call, or for not being able to address a matter at all even after an otherwise stellar record of regular and consistent response in most situations. There are legitimate times when the pastor’s personal life situations may make him or her unable to deal with a member’s issues within the member’s time frame or not at all! There is a lot of stress, the feeling of being overwhelmed, because relatively few ministers have mastered the art and courage needed to say “no” even in situations where that decision is perfectly warranted.

I’ve heard fellow ministers (they tend to be from an earlier generation) say that we should be “all things to all people” like the Apostle Paul. Methinks there is some eisegesis going on here. Surely, Paul did not mean that any pastor is obligated to over-extend themself in order to “be all things” to anyone, and certainly not all the time. This is not physically possible or even practical. The translation of the mentioned text is not within the scope of this article. Suffice it to say, however, that pastoral ministry is made much more difficult and stressful owing to mistaken ideals and unrealistic expectations. It is permissible for the pastor to say no!

I had to learn to say no. “No” isn’t a favorite word with parishioners. It tends to elicit Continue Reading…

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From Leader to Leader – Ministry’s Greatest Pitfall III

by César De León Ph.D LMFT, Ministerial Director for the North Pacific Union Conference

We have been dialoguing about an all too common and often imperceptible phenomenon of self-deception. Jeremiah described it vibrantly: “Deceitful is the heart above anything else and desperately wicked” (Jer. 17:9). If you have been following this dialogue, you may recall I introduced the SOP thought that reads: “ . . . ministers are in danger of losing their own souls. Some who preached to others will themselves be cast away because they have not perfected a Christian character. In their labor, they do not save souls, and fail even to save their own.” (Pastoral Ministry 24-25). Over the next few issues, I will cover three biblical scenarios where self-deception is unveiled.

Scenario # 1 The Rich Young Ruler

Do you remember the story of the rich young ruler? It’s an evangelistic encounter gone wrong!

There are several things that impress me about this young prince. He is curious; he has good desires; and he acts on his curiosity. Some of us may experience curiosity or good desires, but may fail to move into an intentional action. He did. He came and inquired: “What shall I do that I may inherit eternal life”.

From the get go, his question reveals a fundamental misunderstanding about salvation. “What can I do?” The straightforward answer is “NOTHING”! However, Jesus is more concerned about his heart condition than giving a theologically correct answer and cannot send him away without challenging his deepest heart motives. The young man has crossed a line of no return, he has approached the Redeemer, who, unbeknownst to him, is able to send him away that evening with an untethered heart.

Jesus tells him: “If you want to enter into life. . . Keep the commandments” (Matt.19:17).  A seemingly benign response skillfully spoken to illicit a response that would unveil the hidden priorities of his heart. The young ruler, relieved Jesus’ answer was less complex than he had feared, asked: “Which ones. . .?”   Jesus answered: “You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, honor your father and your mother. . .” (Matt.19:18,19). He responded: “All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?” (Matt. 19:20). The gospels of Matthew and Luke reflect the Master’s unexpected response: “You still lack something. One thing you still lack”. A sterile, legalistic religion founded on law keeping will always result in a meaningless, futile life.

He claimed he kept all the commandments which gave him a false sense of security. But, was he safe?   Mark tells us that Jesus looked at him and loved him (Mark10:21). Jesus feels for him; he is moved to compassion for this young ruler. Why? He was self-deluded. Self-deceived. A dictionary defines deluded as: “to impose a misleading belief upon (someone); deceive; fool”. And self-dilution: “The action of deluding oneself; failure to recognize reality.”

The young ruler claims he has kept the commandments, yet position and possession are the undisclosed idols that reveal the first and second commandments are being broken. James of course reminds us there is an intrinsic interplay between all the commandments: “Whoever keeps the whole law yet breaks one, is guilty of all” (James 2:10).

“Ministers are in danger of losing their own souls. . .”

We are in close proximity with holy matters. We deal with the sacred day in and day out. We handle the Scriptures in Bible study, before groups and entire congregations. We are expected to act holy because our calling demands it. Thus, to deliver what is expected of us, we create a holy facade, a mask, a pseudo-self.

Facade: “a figurative or outward appearance that is maintained to conceal a less pleasant or creditable reality”. We learn to function with our facade. We work with it, hang out with colleagues with it, to the point that we come to believe our facade is indeed who we are. This is how self-deception happens. It becomes a necessity for ministerial survival. It becomes part of the armor we put on to do “spiritual battle”.

May the Lord’s compassionate mercy through the aide of His Spirit fill us with the humility and transparency to daily examine the condition of our hearts and behaviors that we might review our motives to stay in touch with who we really are and feel the daily demand to become something better through the transforming grace of Jesus Christ.

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Lifelong Learning – Why the Modern Church Has Failed

by Marcos Torres
Source: The Haystack

I grew up in a traditional church that was more interested in hanging on to its formalities than it was in open-mindedly assessing why it was losing its youth. My own youth group was quite large but by the time we had reached 18 the vast majority of us had walked away from the church. As a result of these experiences I have, for a long time, been quite interested in the topic of youth and church.

Enter the modern church. Among many other things, the modern church was an attempt to create a church culture that was both attractive and retentive of its youth. However, after many years of going down that road we are still publishing books on how youth are leaving church in droves. It appears the modern church has failed.

But why? The answers are as complex as the problem, but allow me to present a paradigm that I believe contributes, perhaps more than any other reason, to the youth exodus that plagues churches everywhere.

Before I do so, allow me to dissect the church into three chunks. The first chunk we will call the “heart beat” of the church. This is what gives the church its life, breath and relevance. In other words, the heart beat is the purpose of the church. The second chunk we will call the “muscle”. This is what enables the church to live out its purpose. In an Adventist local church this would include- in part – the “business meeting” (most powerful meeting in the church which involves every church member), the “board meeting” (where appointed leaders of the church meet to implement the decisions of the church and to steer the church through representative decisions) and “ministry meetings” (where ministry leaders of diverse ministries get together to plan for the year). In other words, the muscle of the church is Continue Reading…

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Parenting Corner – Pastors’ Kids: In and Out

Family Folding Hands and Praying at TableIn 1996, Carole Brousson Anderson surveyed 600 Pastors’ Kids and found out some interesting things that, I believe, still resonates today. Do your kids fit into any of these categories? Find out what you can do, straight from the lips of the PKs. Read the fascinating results from the archives at Ministry Magazine.

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Resources – Tech Resources that (Are Supposed to) Help the Church

iStock_000006429416_Largeby Pedro Trinidad
Source: NAD Ministerial

Lately I have been compiling a list of resources that can help pastors and church administrators to be more efficient. I get e-mails all the time from different ministries with resources that are supposed to lighten the load church leaders carry. Here are a few of the resources you may find helpful in your ministry. As a disclaimer, I have not used all of these tools – some just don’t fit my current context – but they sound so cool that I hope to use them sometime in the future. Some are free. Some are not. So here we go –  Read More

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Why Not Try This? – How to Pastor Your Conference President

iStock_000008988548_Medium

By Marvin Wray, Pastor of the Napa Community Church
Source: NAD Ministerial

I certainly have a unique privilege in talking about this challenge since my conference president just happens to be a member of my church. Just prior to my arrival, he was also the pastor of this congregation, which certainly gives us some very special connecting points. But let’s take a look at this relationship from a broader perspective.

There are some basic approaches to providing pastoral care to your conference leadership team – especially the president. There have been times when I was in the conference headquarters and have taken the opportunity to step into his office, talk for a few minutes and include a time of prayer. I think this is particularly meaningful when you know there are crisis issues or perhaps when a constituency session is near.  Read More

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Lifelong Learning – 3 Common Traits of Youth Who Don’t Leave the Church

iStock_000041497574_LargeWhy do so many young people leave the church? Young people who grew up in good homes, with loving Christian parents. Young people who learned about the love of Jesus. Young people who went to Christian schools and went on short term mission trips. Young people who had good youth pastors who showed interest in them.  Young people who volunteered in different ministries within the church during their teenage years. Why? Here is one perspective by Jon Nielson called 3 Common Traits of Youth Who Don’t Leave the Church.

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Nicked for Nick

nickNick Jones is a follower of Jesus, husband, father and, oh yeah, a pastor of the Gateway and SonRise Christian Fellowship churches in the Oregon Conference. This Walla Walla University theology graduate is also suffering through testicular cancer and the related chemotherapy. Recently a number of pastors and other individuals in the conference got their hair shaved in a show of support for Nick. You can watch a video of them getting “Nicked for Nick” online. Nick is also contributing blog posts about his journey. If you or someone you know has been touched by cancer, you will understand his perspectives. Perhaps you will even want to join those who are keeping him and others in prayer for recovery.

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