Category Archives: Pastoring

From Beyond the Pulpit – Why I Would Consider Pastoring for a Career

by Dr. 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

Were I wearing a younger man’s clothes, pastoring as a career choice would appeal to me in many ways.  I will list those ways in two categories:  practical reasons and emotional/spiritual reasons.  First, the practical ones….

Pastoring is one of the very few “generalist” careers left in the world.  By that I mean the world has evolved into specialism.  In medicine the country doctor used to do most any kind of medical procedure, including delivering babies.  Now those areas are largely left up to specialists.  But a pastor must be at least adequate (and preferably good) at various kinds of counseling, finance, public speaking, teaching, understanding theology, displaying leadership skills, short- and long-term planning and much more, all the while demonstrating positive people skills. Every day will be different.  There will be crises and there will be victories.  It is totally cool.  And you might even be able to develop spiritual interests or specialties that can contribute to the larger work, a very fulfilling possibility.

And then there are the emotional/spiritual reasons why choosing a career in pastoring is an appealing one.  You get to be a combat officer in the Great Controversy.  You are on the front lines, where Jesus is most connected with people.  You are in the center of where it’s really happening in this universe (not Hollywood, not politics, not sports, all which cause angels to stifle yawns!).  There is no higher calling on this planet.  You are present where angels tred.  When people invite you into a hospital room where life’s greatest pains are faced, you stand on ground as sacred as the ground Moses stood on at the burning bush. 

You must like people for this career to work for you…and I don’t just mean “love” them.  You have to show up front a natural interest in people.  A rule I’ve tried to follow is to find that most interesting and positive characteristic of a person and keep that in mind when you think of or interact with them.  People always respond positively to anyone appearing to be genuinely interested in them.  If you don’t like people, don’t waste your time and theirs trying to pastor them.

After these 40-plus years of ministry, I can see a bonus I never had thought of when I was choosing this career.  If you are like me, one who is sometimes caught up in the attractions of this world, pastoring can (if you don’t hinder it) lead you into a much, much deeper relationship with the Lord.  There are times where I feel like saying “the Lord called me into ministry in order to save me!

What recruiting officer can offer such attractive reasons for signing up?  When I heard like Isaiah the words “who will go for us, whom can I send,” I had to say “here I am.  Send me!”  And in this life I have already received a rich reward.

Do any of you young people out there hear that call, too?

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What Works for Me…Pastoral Tip

by Pastor Aaron Payne, Chaplain at Columbia Adventist Academy

After sitting down and talking for a while about the youth’s problem I will bring our conversation around to overcoming the addiction. Usually if a young person has come to talk to me it is because they truly want to break free from this habit. I will ask them to do 4 things.

1. Recognize what times and situation they are tempted the most and avoid those times and places. Ex. Don’t stay up late on the internet.

2. When they are tempted have a Bible verse to quote and claim in the face of the temptation. A few verses I have suggested are Is.41:10,13, or Phil. 4:13. I teach them how to claim a promise since many are unfamiliar with doing this.

3. Find an accountability partner. Of course this person needs to be a person who has a strong walk with Jesus, is trustworthy, and does not share the same problem.

4. Ask them to commit to reading a book called “Every Young Man’s Battle” by Stephen Arterburn, assuming I am dealing with a young man. There is also a book out there for young ladies, “Every Young Woman’s Battle“.

Only after they have taken these steps will I be willing to anoint them, asking for healing and victory. I find that if I anoint them first they may not follow through with the first four steps.

Finally I will communicate to the parents (with permission from the young person) and ask them to change their internet server to integrity online, which is a pre-filtered server. There should also be multiple planned follow ups.

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Filed under Leadership, Pastoring, Resources, Sexual Issues, What Works For Me in..., Youth Ministry

What Works for Me…Pastoral Tip

by Pastor Matthew Gamble who served for 18 years as an Adventist Pastor

Satan has a great way of sneaking this stuff into our lives at an early age to get us hooked in hopes to warp our sense of intimacy, love, and sex. For me pornography/lust came in at the age of 7. With the material now so easily accessible on the internet truly Satan is going to succeed in getting more people trapped in his world wide web. Or is he?

In helping people with this addiction, I have found several resources to be invaluable. I will list them below:

1. XXX Church is a Christian based ministry that is seeking to help people with addiction to pornography. They provide free software that can be downloaded onto your computer that will provide accountability for you while you surf the internet. If any questionable sights are viewed, the addresses will be sent to your accountability partners.

2. Prodigals International offers training and materials to help local churches establish effective ministries to sexual addicts and their spouses. The director is a good friend of mine and has recently linked up with researchers from Loma Linda University as well as the General Conference to see how these materials can be applied in Adventist churches nationwide.

3. Sexaholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength, and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover.

4. Read the books, “Every Man’s Battle” by Stephen Arterburn and “Not Even a Hint” by Joshua Harris.

Above all else I encourage people to recognize that we are more than conquerors through Christ. As we accept His gift of victory on a daily basis and learn to trust Him over self, we WILL have the victory.

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Why Not Try This? – Having Influence

Source: NAD Ministerial

It was my first church where I was the senior pastor and the 7th and 8th grade teacher was for a reason that I can’t now recall needed to be gone and I was asked to teach Bible and PE for a week or so.  I had never had any pedagogical training but went to the elementary school to be a teacher.  I quickly learned to appreciate the challenges provided by pubescent boys and girls.  They were quick to give all the right answers in Bible class but when then we went to recess the Bible lessons we spoke of in class did not have any effect on behavior when it came to playing baseball.  I quickly learned that the theory of Christian living in a Bible Class did not always translate into behavior on the ball field.

What is true for Continue Reading…

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Why Not Try This – Sabbath-to-Go

Source: NAD Ministerial

Sabbath may be the very best day of the week to shut the church doors and serve your community.  Here’s why. And how. Read More

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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

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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