Tools of the Trade – Week of February 23, 2021

A Weekly List of Links and Resources Especially for Pastors

I actually published something last night but decided this morning that I didn’t like it. So . . .

Here are some helpful articles for your reading pleasure and edification:

Kregal Publishers has a series of books that ask/answer 40 questions, and a new one is 40 Questions About Pastoral Ministry by Phil Newton. Here is a review.

Peter Mead has a helpful article on what to be aware of between the beginning of the service and the sermon.

David Prince writes “Sermon Delivery Matters.” A quote: “I once heard a group of self-styled sophisticated evangelical types almost mocking John Piper because of his passionate and energetic delivery. I asked, “Do you think it is fake passion? An over-dramatized act or genuine?” Their answer was that it is genuine but still dangerous. I told them to sign me up for that kind of dangerous passion.”

I believe that all of us need to be ready to explain why we have trusted Jesus, but I also believe that there are some people more gifted in transitioning conversations to the Gospel. Regardless of your situation, this is a helpful article.

I found this article by Paul Tripp from back in 2019 on leading with humility and accountability. It’s titled, “How to Lead With Humility and Accountability.” And it’s a good read.

So, so, good, and so important. “We Must Reclaim Friendship From the Bonds of Social Media.”

I’ll be back with more in a couple of days. There’s some meat up above to digest.

Odds & Ends – February 16, 2021

I hope your week is going well. We were set for 1/2 inch of ice last night that never materialized (thankfully), but are looking forward to another significant snowfall later this week. Here in Eastern Pennsylvania we’ve had rather mild winters lately, but this one has more than made up for it. If we have the kind of storm forecast for the region, it’ll push us well over 30 inches. For some of you, that’s very normal. But for us, that’s an unusual amount of snowfall.

Anyway, I had some random thoughts that I wanted to share with you.

A few weeks ago I read Thom Rainer’s latest book, The Post-Quarantine Church. It’s an easy read and can be finished in a couple of hours. I don’t think Rainer has any earth shattering observations, but I do think the book is helpful and would recommend it. In particular, he discusses the need for churches to prioritize meeting together once the pandemic is gone while at the same time using the many opportunities that being able to go online provide. I’d take a look if you have the opportunity.

How do you access this blog? Some blog readers have a list blogs in their browser’s bookmarks folder and click on each one. For a number of years I’ve been using a blog aggregator, which allows you to subscribe to as many blogs as you want and then automatically have the new stories from those you follow appear when you open the program. If you’re a Mac user, you will find several available. I use Reeder, available for the Mac, the iPhone, and iPad. It costs a couple of dollars, but it’s helpful and saves a ton of time. If you use Windows, here is a link to a list of RSS readers sorted by their rating. Pay attention to the dates (I would steer clear of older ones) and to whether they are paid or free. From what I can see, QuiteRSS and GreatNews look like good Windows options.

I recently stumbled upon Medium. Medium is an interesting tool that is kind of like a collection of blogs, but not quite. You select areas of interests and each day you get a series of articles to read on that area of interest. There’s all kinds of topics available. I like to read productivity-related stuff, so I’m paying the $5 per month for now. I doubt I’ll continue that for the entire year, but I may pop back in for a month here and there to see what’s new.

Finally, if you are on the lookout for royalty-free graphics and videos, let me point you to Pixabay. They have thousands of quality images and film clips for use without cost.

Tools of the Trade for the Week of February 15, 2021

Here’s some must-reading that I’ve culled from various blogs over the last week or so:

Peter Mead, a regular each week, writes about 5 Aspects of Natural Delivery. Worthwhile for all of us who preach, but especially for younger guys trying to “find their voice.”

Here’s 2 minutes and 21 seconds of counsel by Adam McClendon called advice for a new pastor.

Trevin Wax, who also appears regularly on this blog, writes about ministry trends in this new year (2021).

Here’s one pastor’s reflections on why it is a privilege to be a pastor.

Peter Mead contributes more to those who preach by making five suggestions to make our preaching more fluid.

Stephen Wellum wrote a couple of articles on the need for a proper Christology. There’s one here, and another here.

Pastoral work is more than teaching and preaching. Pastors are shepherds, and Dave Harvey asks how we can know whether that’s a job we can do.

Michael Krueger has an interesting and helpful article on spiritual abuse.

How much time does it take for you to prepare a sermon? How long should it take? Peter Mead weighs in.

Tim Challies speaks to younger pastors and their preferences when it comes to church size.

David Mathis, with Desiring God, writes about he way Providence surprises us.

Finally, Matt Adams writes about the “Christian Life and Preaching.”

A Blog Update – February 13, 2021

Someone who has been following my blog sent me a message this week and indicated he would no longer be following For Younger Pastors because my posting was sporadic. He’s right, and I appreciated his honesty. There are about 75 people who subscribe to the blog and others who must check “manually.” I can understand how clicking on a link in your web browser only to find that it rarely changes can be rather annoying. If that’s true for you, I do want to apologize.

This blog began in June of 2019. In the spring of 2017 I had stepped aside from the church I had served in for over 35 years, feeling kind of beaten up and worn out. It was hard to leave a church family I had grown to love, but it was the right thing. From the fall of 2017 through the summer of 2020 I worked a series of jobs. My longest and last job was working as a driver in a very nice retirement community.

As I began to recover (that sounds overly dramatic, but I can’t think of another word) my interest in ministry began to revive. Because the job I was in gave me some free time to write, I decided to begin this blog hoping to help younger guys with ideas, lessons learned, and resources that were helpful to their ministries. For a long time I wrote 3 times a week, including a lot of original material.

In August, 2021, I returned to pastoral ministry part-time. I’m serving as an Assistant Pastor in a great church, working with a great pastoral team, and enjoying it immensely. My job involves two main areas of focus – pastoral care and teaching. For the first 4+ months I worked primarily on the pastoral care aspect of my work, but finally a lightbulb went on that I needed to change how I did that if I was going to have time for the teaching part of my ministry. So I’ve been working on some plans related to teaching opportunities.

I’m a bit of a geek. I like technology. Back in the day I purchased computer parts and assembled my own computers. I like evaluating new software, reading about technology, and have considered myself pretty computer literate. That self-view has, however, taken a bit of a beating as I have been engaged in learning the video side of computing. Being able to minister virtually means recording video and the other week I wanted to run around the parking lot and scream out of frustration with getting the video right. I think I’m at a place where I can approach doing two videos a week with greater confidence, and I have some helpers to rely on when I encounter a problem.

Anyway . . . this is not to offer an excuse for not posting regular, but it is an explanation.

I don’t think For Younger Pastors will ever win an award for Outstanding Christian Blog, unless the entrants are restricted to the house I live in. Then I might have a chance. But I do want it to be helpful, so rather than say “it was fun while it lasted” I would like to keep it going. I have some thoughts that I’d like to share with you all about ministry, and I hope the articles that I share are helpful to you. I know they are helpful to me.

I’m not sure I can sustain posting 3 times a week, but I am going to try to be more consistent and we’ll see how it goes. So if you have been visiting here and have encountered cobwebs on the articles, hang in there with me. I do think I have some good stuff to share with you in the weeks ahead.

If you’re a regular reader, thanks for reading. I’ll see you early next week with a list of recent worthwhile articles and the hopefully mid-to-late week with some original content. Again, I apologize for not posting as regularly as I had been, and I appreciate the brother who nicely asked, “What’s up?”

Have a great weekend of ministry. We’re supposed to get several days of sporadic ice on top of the foot of snow that still remains around the area. Such fun!

Tools of the Trade for the Week of February 1, 2021, Part 2

I continue to collect some really useful articles, and will share some with you now and then the rest next week. This set deals with topics that you might find helpful to share with your people – as well as yourself!

Mike Emlet, Dean of the Christian Counseling and Education Foundation (CCEF) provides “An Open Letter to a Sinner.” This is directed at someone who is struggling and on the verge of turning away. Make sure you save this one.

Peter Mead shares some helpful reminders on the need for endurance.

We’ve all been in small groups where the questions just seem to get no response. Leading a group like that is tough, but the problem may often be with the questions. Here’s a helpful article on what makes a good small group study question.

Hey Pastor! Take a look around. Do you see order in your workspace/office or does it look like you’re collecting piles? This article, from a secular source, may be of help. (Tip – Don’t hand it to your wife and say, “Here Honey, I thought you should read this!”)

Tim Challies, who along with his wife has borne up with such dignity and grace after the sudden loss of their college-age son a few months ago, talks about tears in Heaven.

Here in the United States, and perhaps elsewhere, children as young as first grade are being taught that deviant sexual choices and behavior are to be accepted – no more than that – they are to be embraced. Who is teaching the kids of your church about sex?

Pastors of all ages, but especially you younger guys, PLEASE read this! Please!

I have some great articles on pastoral work, leadership, and preaching to share at the beginning of the week. I’m aiming for Monday, but it may be Tuesday. Have a great weekend!

Tools of the Trade for the Week of February 1, 2021

It’s been two weeks and I need to be more current. To those of you who read regularly, I apologize. I will try to be more consistent.

I’ve got two or three days worth of articles to share with you, so let me get a list out now and then try to do another in a few days.

I’m going to be starting an online series on 1 & 2 Peter next week and saw this 10 day devotional that I’ll share with our folks. But you may want to share it with your’s.

This is a great article on creeds and confessions. Your church may look sideways at things like this, but they are great teaching tools!

Cindy Matson asks a very important question: Are You Living as A Citizen of Heaven? Good reading for pastors and something to share with the congregation.

I think I have a number of Peter Mead’s articles to share. Here’s one about sermon outlines.

What is the impact of Bible reading in the lives of your people? Here are some states that may make your jaw drop a bit.

What is the role of the Pastor when the news is filled with significant events? This certainly has been one of those years, and 2021 seems to be continuing that trend. Michael Niebauer has some helpful counsel. On the same general subject is this article by Chris Colquitt.

Jonathan Leeman and Mark Dever sat down recently to talk about the pastor’s responsibility to prepare his people for eternity. It’s a 24 minute listen.

Everyone is talking about unity. Nick Batzig challenges us to biblical unity. This is one of those “share this with the congregation” articles. And along those same lines is this article by Ryhne Putnam.

Peter Adam has an interesting article about Training Preachers in the Local Church.

Thom Rainer released a book in the early fall this past year called “The Post Quarantine Church.” I read the book about two weeks ago and found it largely helpful, especially those sections that talk about the continued use of technology. Allen Duty, who reviewed it, said what I would say, only much better: “Consultants are paid to come into an organization from the outside and point out things that may not be obvious to those on the inside. They are paid, essentially, to ask good questions. Not every question raised by Rainer will be relevant to your church. But many of them will be and answering those questions will help you minister more faithfully in the next season. And I think that’s worth a few bucks.”

Tim Reigle, who leads our music at Calvary, is also involved in ministry to guys struggling with porn. It’s a blog that’s worth following. He wrote a solid article here that will be of help to pastors who counsel in this area.

I hope that you find some helpful information and some ideas that will challenge you in these articles. I’ll do my best to share some more with you by the weekend.

Tools of the Trade for the Week of January 18, 2021

I have a LOT of good stuff this week. Some things to share with your people and some things to share with other leaders and some things to help you in your own ministry. Read on . . .

Here’s an article that every preacher needs to read. We have probably all been tempted to skip hard passages or subjects in the text. This is good counsel.

The folks at Ligonier have some helpful remarks on how we should be studying the Bible together and how we can prevent it from being unhelpful.

Peter Mead has some advice about using illustrations. Part 1 is here. Part two is here.

On Wednesday the US will witness the inauguration of Joe Biden as our President. It has been a contentious year with COVID and politics, and that contention has not evaded the church. Rene DeAnda tells us about pastors and praying for our new President. In this article Jesse Johnson counsels us on how to pray for our leaders.

Kevin DeYoung writes too infrequently in my opinion. This article, titled “Come Let Us Reason Together” might be one of those you deliberately pass on to your whole congregation.

This article, in Christianity Today, tells us about where people who follow Jesus are suffering. Let me encourage you to get a list of 10-12 nations where this is happening and publicly pray for one each week.

Here’s a review of Sinclair Ferguson’s book “Devoted to God’s Church.” It’s on my list of books to get and looks very worthwhile.

We’ve recently been intentionally involving members of our church in caring for others. I’ll write about that sometime, but here are three ideas on how this can be done.

Here are some things to share with a discouraged brother or sister in Christ. Maybe you will find it helpful yourself!

Well, this one may raise some hackles, but it’s a necessary topic to consider. Jake Meador writes “Defining ‘White Evangelical Crap’”

The folks at Facts and Trends write about “The Crippling Disease of Ministry Comparison.”

Jared Wilson says: “I am convinced that too many evangelical churches in the United States are overly fixated on bigness, excitement, and individualistic improvement, and that we don’t often realize it because we can often achieve a kind of success focusing on those things that give the impression we are on the right track.” Then he encourages us to reevaluate our church’s values.

Finally, here’s an article to share with your small group leaders.

Have a great week!

Tools of the Trade for the Week of January 11, 2021

I hope you had a good weekend! Here are some helpful articles that I encountered this week.

Social Media. Ugh. What a mess. If we’re going to use it, let’s be sure to use it right. Chris Martin gives “3 Reasons to Use Social Media for Good This Year.” While not directly related to social media. Benjamin Vrbicek issues “A Call for Content Creators to Cultivate Discernment.”

Read how to keep people coming back to your small group, written by Ken Brady.

Justin Holcomb writes a compassionate letter to those who are victims of abuse. Keep this one to share with those who come to talk to you about the abuse they have suffered.

Hopefully this situation will soon be in the rear view mirror, but Steven Wedgeworth shares some thoughts on whether churches should submit to civil authorities if those authorities try to curtail worship over health issues.

Tim Challies asked what people were finding encouraging at their church. It’s worth reading, and maybe even asking your own people to share what encourages them.

I love technology, but I have to agree with David Mathis. He asks “Are Paper Bibles Better?” Give it a read.

This article is for anyone in ministry, but is especially relevant for you younger guys who may not be doing what you’d really like to do. Jeff Martin will encourage you.

Mike Leake wrote one of the best, if not THE best, articles I’ve read so far this year. “Why We need to Break Up With Our Angry Friend.” It’s not what you might think, but man, does he hit one out of the park.

It’s a rare week when Peter Mead’s name doesn’t appear in this list. Here he reminds us that we are not performers. Please read it!

That’s it for this week. I hope to resume Five from the Files this coming weekend. You all stay safe and have a great week.

Tools of the Trade for the Week of January 4, 2021

Happy New Year!. Let’s start the new year off by looking at a number of helpful articles from the last week or two:

YOUNG PASTOR ALERT: Jason Allen provides some sound advice for beginning preachers. His experience as a new preacher is described this way: “In hindsight, that sermon was an absolute train wreck. Even now, I pray it was not recorded and that it does not someday surface in my life. My feeble attempt to preach was earnest, but the finished product was no doubt laughable.” Here’s some help in avoiding that.

Your people may ask if our prayers change God’s mind. Nathan Bingham answers this question.

ANOTHER YOUNG PASTOR ALERT: Here’s four minutes of counsel from Jared Wilson dealing with new pastors who want to quit. Have you felt that way? Listen to what Jared says.

Peter Mead makes what seems to be a weekly appearance on this site with this post about our books. Good stuff.

Paul Tripp tells us how to pray for 2021.

David Mathis reflects on John Piper’s first sermon at Bethlehem Baptist over 40 years ago. His message is for preachers as well as those who hear them.

Jared Wilson shares “3 Ways the Gospel Encourages Weary Christians.” Read it for yourself and then share it with your people.

Here’s another helpful article by Peter Mead titled “Spiritual Warfare and Pulpit Ministry.”

Finally, here’s a piece by Michael Kelly on what the COVID situation has shown us about the church. This is a good read.

Tools of the Trade – Weekend Edition – January 1, 2021

A number of really good articles have been written over the last two or three weeks. Here’s a group of them to enjoy and I’ll have more in a few days.

Cynthia Epply writes for those who come to the holidays realizing that things are going to be different – and not (just) because of the Covid. Holiday Grief is something very real to many who will miss loved ones this year.

Allyson Todd continues the theme of the above article by writing about memories, brokenness, and the things that crush people at Christmas.

And here is one more article on this theme, which no doubt has been amplified by all that has happened in 2020.

This article by Joshua Heavin speaks to the need to minister appropriately to people who have disabilities in general and those with dementia in particular.

Mark Redfern shares some thoughts about how the reality of how Heaven shapes our ministry and helps us overcome the challenge we face.

This is a secular article, but contains a lot of wisdom for those of us who are married.

Christmas is wonderful, but it can be draining. David Mathis suggests a silent retreat after Christmas.

The always helpful Peter Mead shares 7 Things to Pray for as You Prepare to Preach in 2021.

As you get older you may find that your voice has changed, and not always for the best. This article, again from a secular source, contains some very good advice on improving your speaking voice.

Ed Welch writes: “So, trying to follow my wife’s example, I recalibrate my expectations of the local church and summarize them this way. To be in the body of Christ is to be a pastor, not necessarily an ordained pastor but a pastor in that we are all called to care for the souls around us. Passivity is out of the question.”

Jared Wilson has “Good News for Those Dragging Themselves Across the Finish Line to January 1.”

Another helpful article by Peter Mead. He says: “As preachers we often think in terms of giving answers. After all, we are the ones who need to study for hours in order to communicate God’s Word in a way that emphasizes its relevance to the people in front of us. Here are a few quick thoughts, not about answers, but about questions.”

Have a Happy New Year and thanks for stopping by!

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