Concluding Pastoral Redemptions…For Now!

Writing this Pastoral Redemption series has been difficult. When I started, I had over 30 stories that I intended to publish. Despite this goal, I believe that some stories are not meant to be shared…For now. In previous times, I did not feel this noble. No, for years I was bitter about many of my church experiences. I did not see God working through them, so I just wanted to play the victim, and felt that when I trash these churches, I am justified. By God’s grace, He never let me write those stories while I was still bitter. Rather, it is only now that I have been able to write any story with two goals in mind:

  1. Write only stories that are humorous
  2. Write only stories that reflect an element of hope and redemption. Remember “God redeems.”

As a result of these goals, some stories I will not share now. Either they are not amusing enough, or they do not display any redemptive qualities…yet. Continue reading “Concluding Pastoral Redemptions…For Now!”

Interviewing the Holy Spirit: Pastoral Redemptions

Discernment of the Holy Spirit is essential. This skill is one that we never master because there is always room for improvement. Still, it is important for Christians to have a baseline understanding on how the Holy Spirit speaks. If anything, to know how the Spirit does not speak. Otherwise, we may just make important spiritual decisions on our own, which we are sure to get wrong from time-to-time.

Unfortunately, it took two difficult pastorates for me to grow in the area of discernment. In fact, as I look back at one set of church interviews, it was clear that God was shouting to me, “DO NOT GO HERE!” Sadly, like many others, I had to learn through the hard path of experience. Continue reading “Interviewing the Holy Spirit: Pastoral Redemptions”

Church Interviews Are Like Speed Dating: Pastoral Redemptions

You have met the person of your dreams, and after knowing them a month, you are ready to marry them. Most people on hearing the last sentence would raise prudent caution. Friends would ask you to slow the relationship. They might even try to talk you out of the hasty engagement. It is not because they want you to ruin your happiness. No, like many in our culture they believe a rushed engagement is unhealthy and will lead to future unhappiness.

Similarly, many congregational churches use this “speed date” method to hire their next pastor. To be fair, not all congregational churches use this approach, but many churches and pastors reflect this “speed date experience.” It goes something like this: Continue reading “Church Interviews Are Like Speed Dating: Pastoral Redemptions”

Parsing About the Parsonage: Pastoral Redemptions

Once upon a time, it was thought that I lied to a church about moving into their parsonage. That is not exactly correct. While I failed to communicate my change of mind, I did not lie. These points and more I accept responsibility. More importantly, I am glad for God’s redemption ability despite challenging church leadership and my poor judgment.

As stated in a previous post, “The Church Parsonage is Not a Benefit,” but many churches believe it is an excellent tool to recruit ministers. In some cases, it still is a significant advantage. More and more pastors though are declining to live in them. Like many in their congregation, they want to build equity for their family’s future, which a provided house does not give. As a result, many churches are choosing to sell their parsonages. However, where I once pastored the expectation was still for the pastor to live in the parsonage.

The conflict over me and their parsonage began when a deacon on the Pulpit Search Committee asked

“Brother Mike, I got a question for you! Are you going to live in our pastorium?!”

On asking his question, there was at least one committee member who interjected against this deacon’s question. His objection centered on the previous pastor who experienced problems when he lived in the home owned by the church. Despite this committee member’s concern, the deacon reiterated with,

“Hey, our former pastor needed to get out. When you resign as the pastor, you need to exit the pastorium sooner than later. Besides, we are better than some churches. I know one church who had the water cut off the next day. We gave the former pastor more time than a day!” 

This scenario was a shock to my senses. Not only did I doubt the long-term benefit of living in any parsonage; the committee was admitting their checkered history with their building. Still, I had to give a response, so I said, Continue reading “Parsing About the Parsonage: Pastoral Redemptions”

Growing Your Business Through Chaplaincy!

In 1998 I felt a call towards ministry. In 2004 I began my first semester at seminary. Neither landmark date did I ever imagine myself doing any chaplaincy. First, I didn’t know that much about chaplaincy. Second, I envisioned myself as a megachurch pastor. So why would I even entertain the idea of being a chaplain? Well, 12 years later not only am I a chaplain, but I’m a chaplain in three different areas, and I couldn’t be any happier.

See, I believe that chaplaincy is the greatest adventure in ministry because each day is different. As a chaplain, I get to meet a variety of people who are each in different situations. This diversity is a result of the nature of chaplaincy; it’s also because I’m a chaplain in three different areas. Specifically I’m a chaplain in the military, in hospice, and for local businesses. So combining the natural diversity found in chaplaincy with these three unique forms of chaplaincy, I have the pleasure of experiencing the adventure of chaplaincy like few get to do so.

One of my favorite forms of chaplaincy is corporate chaplaincy. Specifically, I get to do this through Corporate Chaplains of America (CCA) in the Montgomery, Alabama area. As a corporate chaplain, I get to “build caring relationships in a non-threatening way with the hope of sharing the life-changing good news of Jesus Christ in a non-threatening manner.” The previous quote is the companies mission statement, but also a phrase I believe in. It’s one that matches my core values. See, I love relating to people who typically don’t come to church better than people who are the stereotypical church goers. Not that I don’t enjoy Christians, because I do, but I find people who are unfamiliar with Christianity even more fascinating. My fascination comes from a desire to help them see the value that Christ and the church can bring to their life. As I get the chance to reveal the relevancy of Christ to people – both Christian and not – I’m able to live out both the mission of CCA and my core values. Continue reading “Growing Your Business Through Chaplaincy!”

Book Review: Am I Called? by Dave Harvey

UnknownSeeking to become a pastor or minister is confusing. Every group has a different way of vetting those who believe they’ve been called to serve others. Different denominations have different requirements and each church offers a variety of methods. Depending on the type of church you belong the process can be easy or difficult. But, what does the Bible say about a ministerial call? Author Dave Harvey offers some principles he bases on scripture in his book Am I Called? to help men of all ages decide if they are called to pastor.

Written from a reformed perspective, Harvey discusses various elements to determine if one is called to pastor. He believes ministry is a calling and not just another career someone pursues. This is important because with the calling comes certain gifts needed to effectively carry out the duties of a pastor. Some of these gifts are an ability to preach, being able to shepherd and love people, loving the lost, having godly character both personally and with one’s family, and more. Each of these are skills are needed for the Gospel ministry, and they serve as a personal affirmation along with the external confirmations others give for one’s call. The uses of these validations are important because one should know God has called for His purposes and not for their own benefit.

Sadly, within some Christian circles and laity, the ministry can become more about the people involved than proclaiming the glory of God. When this happens a minister turns into a career professional, which is opposite from the idea of a sacred servant. As a result, Harvey is wise to use the Bible as the standard to interpret one’s ministerial qualifications. This is because God called ministers should point others to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and not themselves.

Harvey is right to biblically define pastoral ministry by using the qualifications in 1 Timothy 2 and Titus 1. In fact, he writes, “Too often, when a man’s character hasn’t stood the test, he remains in ministry by simply rewriting the test.” In other words, there must be an objective standard. If one is called to Christian ministry then it would reason their qualifications would agree with scripture. Therefore, a man’s personal life, his family, how he speaks, and more should be examined because the higher his character is the better one will listen to him about the Gospel. Continue reading “Book Review: Am I Called? by Dave Harvey”