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Like Nothing Else (via Jeff Robinson)

Ministry is not the hardest thing anyone can do.
But it has a unique character; and a particular aspect of that character needs a particular awareness in order to go the long-term.
From Jeff Robinson at Crossway blog.

Jesus said it best in John 15:5: Apart from me you can do nothing. As a pastor, you either learn early to write that over the door of your heart or you don’t last long in ministry. It’s really just that simple. One of my favorite passages in my first few years of ministry was Mark 4:26-28 where Jesus tells the parable of the seed. It’s very pithy, there are just a couple of verses. The farmer plants the seed and then he goes to bed. When he gets up, lo and behold, the seed has germinated, grown, and he knows not how. Of course, we know how. We know it’s the grace of God.
God has invested this gospel truth in you, but it’s not about you because you can’t do anything to save people or sanctify people.
You realize pretty early that the call to pastoral ministry is not like anything else you’re going to do in life. You’re likely not going to have product at the end of the day. You’re not going to have widgets that you’ve made. You’re not going to have a byline at the top of the page or anything like that.

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My Management Plan

I’m attending meetings this week.
It’s sort of soft return to work.
This cartoon is sort of my management plan, explaining why nothing seems to go wrong for me.
(btw, this web cartoon is close to my life an uncomfortably lot of the time)


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Christian Hospitality Is A Reflection Of The Gospel (Nick Kennicott at The Christward Collective)

All Christians are part of the household of God.
All Christians were once welcomed to that household by God’s grace.
All Christians have a role in welcoming visitors to that household as an expression of the grace we’ve received.

From Nick Kennicott at The Christward Collective.

To be hospitable is to welcome a person with open arms, with an open heart, and with an open door; it is an openness to care for and love others, putting their needs before our own to ensure, at the very least, that they feel welcome in our midst. Fulfilling the Bible’s command to be hospitable in the local church is a responsibility of every Christian.
The motivation for Christians to be hospitable is to remember that we are the recipients of God’s hospitality. We were once strangers, wanderers, orphans, and aliens, but by the grace of God, we were made alive together with Christ. Thus, Christian hospitality is a reflection of the gospel. The ultimate hospitality was Jesus Christ dying for sinners to make all who believe, not only visitors, but members of His household.

Read the whole post here.


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Relational Patience (via Ed Stetzer)

In a post about necessary qualities of church revitalisers (those who come be nurture new vitality in an existing church, in contrast with church planters who are starting a new church) Ed Stetzer writes about the need for relational patience, a quality any pastor who is working with an existing church needs.

…church revitalizers must have relational patience
If you’re planting a church, you do not necessarily have to be relationally patient. A church planter can come into an area and do their thing, and if people don’t respond, they can move on. But in church revitalization, it is essential to be relationally patient. Church revitalizers need to take time with people and love people who don’t always agree with them.
They must remember that a church member disagreeing with them is not the same thing as disagreeing with God. There will be people who have different views, approaches, and philosophies. A church revitalizer needs to have the patience to take time to weigh all of those opinions. They have to learn how to love the entire congregation well, including those they disagree with. That takes a great amount of relational patience.

Read the whole post.


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Experiencing Reality Through A Filter Of Sadness And Sorrow (via John Starke)

John Starke writes about pastoring during a season of depression.
And a source of encouragement through that time.

I began to notice that I wasn’t just sad or discouraged about my circumstances. Something was different. There was a darkness that had set in. My sorrow and discouragement began to wrap around me and squeeze. It was hard to not experience my entire reality (my family, work, rest, prayers) through the filter of sadness and sorrow.
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But the more I had opened up and talked about it, the more I heard from other pastors and colleagues that they had never experienced depression until they went into pastoral ministry or engaged some significant conflict or discouragement in their work. I wasn’t alone. What was remarkable was that while words of truth and encouragement often felt as effective as cough syrup for throat cancer, the abiding presence of a fellow sufferer was like the hand of God over my wounds. It helped enlarge my scope of reality. Depression was like being in a confusing, blindingly dark cavern, but the presence of someone who could give witness to my pain was like a voice in the dark, awakening some hope that there may be some direction out.

Read Stark’s post at 9marks.


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The Aroma Of Memory

A funeral for a Christian man, whose life was the aroma of Jesus.

At the graveside his family were given sprigs of rosemary, the herb of remembrance, to cast in the grave.

Holding the herb, squeezing it gently, breathing in the herbaceous sweet woody aroma provided a pause to collect final memories of this man, and of his wife who had preceded him to heaven.

“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, … because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.”

Philippians 1:3,5


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The Pastor As Curator (via Daniel Darling)

I’ve been happy about not having the maintenance of an aged/decaying/historic building as part of my job description at MGPC.
So I’ve not thought of myself as a curator, someone occupied with the past.
Daniel Darling points out that there is an aspect of a pastor’s role that involves some level of curation.
We serve as conduits and gatekeepers with regard to resources and teaching for our congregation.
Even in this internet search engine driven age, pastors have the privilege of spending our time discovering and weighing up various resources.
And the trust we have means our recommendations carry weight. A teacher we value is unknown to most. It’s my recommendation of them that carries weight.
My former colleague Ian Touzel excelled at this.

From Daniel Darling:

This is a part of ministry that isn’t often mentioned in Bible college, one that I was never taught: the task of filtering and curating reliable, helpful resources for the people of God.
This early ministry experience was a fresh reminder of the gap that can exist between pulpit and pew, leadership and laity. Church leaders often live in a rarified Christian bubble; it can be easy to assume that everyone else is aware of pieces of Christian thought and culture that are just not on their radar. This is why leaders need to be proactive about leaving those bubbles and getting into the lives of their people to learn the conversations they’re a part of—and, when appropriate, invite them to participate in new ones.
In many ways, pastors and other church leaders act as gatekeepers. Church members assume their leaders are filtering out the very best kind of Christian resources and regularly making those things available. Of course, Christian content can be found in a variety of sources outside the church walls: Christian radio, the Internet, bookstores. But for the most part, church members are busy living their lives—busy with kids, careers, and finances. They depend on pastors, elders, deacons, and other mentors to be curators, to sort through the stacks of Christian content, choosing good resources and discouraging resources that confuse or distort the truth.

Read the rest of the article here.