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Unwritten Points Of The Pastor’s Job Description

Larry Ball is a pastor from the US, and the following by him was posted at the Aquila Report.

At the end of March next year I plan to retire after 40 years in the ministry and 30 years at my present church. I’m on the front end of the baby-boomer generation and I did pay into the Social Security System.
I’ve read a lot about how ministers should never retire and how ungodly it is to spend the rest of their days playing golf and relaxing at the swimming pool. That was never my intent. The unction to preach never retires. Admittedly, retirement is a little scary because I have never done it before. I have a lot of health problems and I think my church deserves a younger man with more energy and zeal. I’ve lost some of both. That is the main reason I think I should retire.
Over the years, I hope I have learned a few things about the pastorate. Most of the really important things I never learned in seminary. Don’t get me wrong, I am thankful for my seminary education, but there was no way they could prepare me for the real practical stuff of pastoring a church, especially a small church.
The Pulpit Committee of my church asked me to prepare a Job Description for the next pastor. I did that and it included all the normal things such as preaching, counseling, weddings, funerals, administration of the sacraments, visitation and such things as these.
I originally had seventy-five items for the new pastor. I decided to remove most of them. Below are most of the ones I removed, thinking it the better part of wisdom to exclude them from the eyes of the Pulpit Committee of my own church.

Job Description (at least what is expected but not written) – The Pastor of a Small Church

1. Lead the Worship Service on Sunday Morning. Be prepared to make some big mistakes like saying “gory” for “glory.”
2. Greet everyone at the front door on Sunday Moring as they arrive and as they leave. Be at the church at least 30-40 minutes before Sunday School begins. This includes your wife too.
3. Stay on Sunday Mornings after the Service until everyone has left. This includes your wife too, even if she is worn out.
4. Make sure all the doors are locked after the Worship Services, all the lights turned out, and all the bathrooms are in proper working condition. A running toilet can be expensive.
5. Pick up the mail every day and deal with the mail as needed. Save letters that call you bad names.
6. Keep up regularly with websites that provide important information about the church universal and the PCA (e.g., The Aquila Report).
7. Visit the elderly and the homebound on a regular basis. I usually do this with my wife. She is good with small talk and I am not.
8. Do counseling as needed which includes personal, pre-marital, and marital counseling. Be ready to deal with any crime or sin that is imaginable.
9. Always be ready for emergency needs at any time of the day or night. Be willing to interrupt anything you are doing for more important matters.
10. Remember that no matter where you are, you are a minister. You can never lay down that calling and identity. Your demeanor must reflect this at all times. Laugh loudly at preacher jokes.
11. If your wife wants you to leave the ministry, or even if she wants to leave you because of the ministry, talk her out of it.
12. Seek the peace of the church in all cases unless some major doctrine is under attack. Be pre-emptive in discerning where trouble may arise and seek to calm the waters before the storm begins.
13. Take criticism without giving criticism back. Criticism sometimes can be handled with a meeting with the critic and you can defend yourself. If correction is needed then accept the correction. Most often you must simply take criticism and respond with love and kindness. Remember in the back of your mind, it is not that easy to find another job. Remember, too, that to bring the criticism to the attention of others for a fair assessment will probably only divide the church.
14. If you do not get along with the Session it is time to leave. Save everyone a lot of trouble and just go.
15. Without compromising the truth try to be all things to all people. Everyone has their own idea of how to have a better church, and you should agree with all of them whenever you can. Sometimes, you will think you are being double tongued, but you are not. You are just keeping peace in the church without compromising the truth.
16. Be ready to deal immediately with panhandlers, and people that come to the door of your church to request cash for food or gasoline. You probably don’t carry more than five dollars in your own pocket. Notice the kind of vehicle they are driving. It may be better than what you drive. Be careful and protect yourself, because some of them will become angry if you refuse to help them.
17. When people call asking for money to pay their utility bill because their utilities will be cut off tomorrow, tell them to write a letter to you telling you who they are, including their cell phone number (they may even be able to afford a trendy Smartphone), and why they are in the mess they are in. Nine out of ten times they will never send that letter and you will be free of guilt. The ones who do respond can probably be helped.
18. Screen you phone calls and realize there is no value in taking marketing calls even from Christian organizations. Don’t answer marketing calls.
19. When you don’t know an answer to some question, don’t try to fake it. Defer until you can study the matter.
20. For many requests you can simply say that you cannot give an answer until the matter has been discussed by the Session and the Session has made a decision on the request. Whenever possible, always defer to the Session.
21. Generally, you should never counsel a woman alone. There can be exceptions, but only as you are comfortable with doing so. Women in crisis need emotional support. Sometimes they are looking for a substitute husband, and even you can look good to them.
22. Play golf with members of the church who love to play golf and who are much better golfers than you are.
23. Learn a trade just in case the church asks you to leave.
24. If you live in a Manse or Parsonage, buy a rental house so in case you die, your wife and children will have somewhere to live. The renters will pay the mortgage and it can be part of your retirement plan. Learn how to do both plumbing and electrical work. Purchase a large life insurance policy.
25. Make sure you understand the basics of clergy taxes or you could be in for a big surprise.
26. If you don’t make enough money, volunteer to do the janitorial work at the church (for pay). Also, consider doing the yard work. If the church has a cemetery, volunteer to take care of it also. You might find yourself not only burying members of the church but also keeping their graves clean after they have died.
27. Keep an eye on the visitor’s cards in the pews. Some folks like to write on them and draw pictures of you while you are preaching. Change them out at least once a month.
28. Make sure there is water in the baptismal font before every baptism.
29. Don’t be offended when first-time visitors never return. It may be your preaching and it may not be your preaching. Understand, that with the beliefs that you have, some visitors can’t wait to get out the door at the end of the service, but, thank God, there will be a few who can’t wait to get back in the door.
30. There will be many mornings that the only reason you are going to church is because you have to preach. You feel so bad that otherwise you would have stayed home.
31. If you see those who have left your church without a good reason in public, be nice to them. If possible avoid them. Turn around and go in the opposite direction before they see you.
32. The World War II Generation will seldom criticize you, because they have been in the middle of a bloody war. They are just happy to have you. The Baby Boomer Generation will not hesitate to tell you what they think and how they feel.
33. Just before you go on vacation almost every year, expect someone to complain about your ministry and raise fears that you might not have a job when you return. Have a happy vacation!
34. Through it all, remember that you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you.
35. Remember that the members of your congregation are the most precious jewels of the whole earth.


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In The Town Of David – Ordinary Time’s Christmas/Advent Album

When I downloaded two albums by Ordinary Time earlier this year I left a third recording of theirs for later.
In The Town Of David is a collection of Advent and Christmas themed songs, all recorded in a style of acoustic bluegrass folk.
Each year I like to expand my repertoire of classic Christmas songs and hymns and Ordinary Time have introduced me to a couple of songs I had not yet heard.
Enchanting harmony and skillful, but spare, instrumentation make this album wonderful all-year-round listening.

You can purchase the album as a download for as little as US$5, or offer a bit more. A CD is available as well.
Here’s the album page at bandcamp.
Or you can listen on this embedded player and follow a link from there.


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Jesus Lover Of My Soul – Sunday Songs

Charles Wesley’s Jesus Lover Of My Soul is a classic hymn.
Little more needs be said.
If you don’t know it, or don’t sing it, your connection to evangelical Christianity is impoverished.
There’s a chorus of the same name by Geoff Bullock which is vastly inferior and full of theological dodginess, it’s hard to sing, especially if you’re not comfortable using the revised version of the lyrics that does not come from Bullock himself.
Anyway, Wesley’s lyrics are a sublime expression of the refuge which the Christian soul can find in the Lord Jesus.
The words invite the singer to focus on the praiseworthy person and work of Jesus.
I’m sure some of the phrasing may seem a bit florid to contemporary ears, but the integrity of the poetic whole of the song should discourage attempts to overly modernise.
Forgiveness of sin and consolation in the trials of life are both found through him.
I can’t think of better musical accompaniment than the tune ‘Tynemouth’.

Here’s a version of these classic lyrics from a relatively contemporary source.
1.
Jesus, Lover of my soul,
Let me to thy bosom fly,
While the nearer waters roll,
While the tempest still is high:
Hide me, O my Saviour, hide,
Till the storm of life is past;
Safe into the haven guide,
O receive my soul at last!
2.
Other refuge have I none,
Hangs my helpless soul on thee;
Leave, ah! leave me not alone,
Still support and comfort me!
All my trust on thee is stayed,
All my help from thee I bring;
Cover my defenseless head
With the shadow of thy wing.
3.
Thou, O Christ, art all I want;
More than all in thee I find:
Raise the fallen, cheer the faint,
Heal the sick, and lead the blind.
Just and holy is thy Name;
I am all unrighteousness;
False and full of sin I am,
Thou art full of truth and grace.
4.
Plenteous grace with thee is found,
Grace to cover all my sin;
Let the healing streams abound;
Make and keep me pure within:
Thou of life the Fountain art,
Freely let me take of thee;
Spring thou up within my heart,
Rise to all eternity.

Lyrics, Charles Wesley.

Aled Jones provides a wonderful version of the hymn to the ‘Aberswyth’ tune.


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Westminster Shorter Catechism – Lord’s Day 48

Westminster Shorter Catechism – Lord’s Day 48

Q & A 103
Q What do we pray for in the third petition?
A In the third petition, which is, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven, we pray that God, by his grace, would make us able and willing to know, obey, and submit to his will in all things,*1 as the angels do in heaven.*2

*1 Psalm 19:14; Psalm 119; 1 Thessalonians 5:23; Hebrews 13:20-21.
*2 Psalm 103:20-21; Hebrews 1:14.


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‘Lost’ 1940s Movie Version Of Lord Of The Rings Featuring Humphrey Bogart

Fans of Humphrey Bogart and the Lord Of The Rings movies may enjoy this unreleased 1940s version, which stars Bogart as Frodo and features a number of well cast contemporaries in various roles.
A surprise guest star from Japan makes an appearance and the role of Gollum is filled even more perfectly than Andy Serkis’ portrayal.
See for yourself.


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For Some Churches, Location Is Everything

We’ve got a huge new shopping complex being built just across the road from our church center.
It will represent a huge change to the demographic layout of Mount Gambier, now and for the future.
How can we adapt to this change for the Gospel?

Hopefully more effectively than these folk did when they built their place for worship.
Read and see more pictures and links about this church here.


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Thirty-six Pastoral Values From J.D. Greear

J.D. Greear provides thirty-six ‘plumblines’, values he’s picked up over ten years of pastoring which he wishes he’d had from the beginning.
Including the now ubiquitous nod to ‘the city’ there’s a lot of well phrased wisdom here.
Yes, I know there are only thirty-five. Weird, huh? (I think 35 was meant to be 35 and 36.)

People ask me what I wish I’d known when I started pastoring. Here are 36 of them. At our church we call them plumblines. Plumblines are guides to our decision-making. These are the values we pursue as we follow Jesus.

  1. The Gospel is not the diving board; it is the pool.
  2. People are the mission.
  3. Jesus commanded us to make disciples, not converts.
  4. Discipleship happens in community.
  5. God’s strategy for completing the Great Commission is planting churches in strategic cities.
  6. The church is God’s demonstration community.
  7. The church is God’s plan A.
  8. Belief unlocks the power for the mission of God.
  9. The Church is not an audience; it is an army.
  10. The week is more important than the weekend.
  11. The best ministry ideas are in the congregation.
  12. The Great Commission is completed through multiplication, not addition.
  13. Churches should be evaluated by sending capacity, not just seating capacity.
  14. Stay where you are; serve where you live; let’s be the church in that community.
  15. We multiply congregations, not preaching points.
  16. Each small group functions like a small congregation.
  17. People come because of quality and options; they stay because of personalization.
  18. Those who serve are just as important as those you serve.
  19. Live sufficiently, give extravagantly.
  20. Generosity is contagious, and so is stinginess.
  21. The sermon starts in the parking lot.
  22. In light of global lostness, excellence must be balanced by “good enough”.
  23. Word of mouth is the best advertisement.
  24. Just because “we can” doesn’t mean “we should”.
  25. Humility is shown by openness to the ideas of others.
  26. Believe the best about others.
  27. Move with the movers.
  28. Nod to fashion; don’t embrace.
  29. Preach the announcements.
  30. Love is the most essential element of leadership.
  31. Pushing out leaders creates more leaders.
  32. You replicate what you celebrate.
  33. One out of three: Make people feel like we are talking to them personally.
  34. One size does not fit all.
  35. When I’m sick of saying it, the staff has just heard it. [36] When they’re sick of hearing it, the church has just become aware of it.