Striving to be a great preacher…

Since I am new to ministry I am often trying to discern what is vitally important to ministry and in which areas I should be working to improve. For me there are many but one of importance is in teaching or preaching. Like most young guys out of seminary I know the pressure to be a great preacher. We want to be like our heroes and that often turns into a desire to “be” our heroes and we end up mimicking a celebrity pastor.  This is of no use. Even when we strive simply to honor the long-serving pastor we are learning under, we can tend to take on some of the characteristics that he is known for. We end up incapable of moving beyond his shadow and we never grow in our own abilities.

Gabriel Fluhrer has a great post on striving to be a “great” preacher (and by great he means a celebrity.) He sees our attempts to sound like other guys a lack of realization that we have our own voice and he calls young preachers to work diligently in the texts to honor God above man. “Striving for greatness before the world’s watching eyes usually means that there is a converse decline in our striving for greatness before the eyes of Him who tests the hearts of men. But if we are faithful to the text, we receive the Master’s smile, no matter who’s listening to or applauding us. Indeed, that is the one, supreme goal of the preacher’s life: knowing that Jesus knows him as a workman that need not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. That’s how the Bible describes a truly great preacher.”

The post is worth a read if you are thinking of being a preacher.

I have felt great freedom to be myself and refine my skill. I have plenty of feedback and know I have a way to go but appreciate the opportunity to have my own voice.

From Washington to Washington…

One year ago on the 17th of June, the Shradars closed on our house and headed West on a journey to Portland where I would begin seminary. It has been a fascinating year of transition, new friendships, a church we love, challenging classes and part-time work. When we moved the objective was to get through school and then look for a ministry job and we were in no hurry.

Until last month.

A professor at school was approached by a pastor looking for a young adults director at a church in Eastern Washington and he could only think of me. After some prayer and discussion, Stacy and I decided to at least go through the process to learn from it but the process kept going and this last weekend we visited Bethel church in Richland, Washington.

The leadership, staff and members of the congregation we met were gracious and welcoming and the church is a healthy, vibrant community. It became clear as we worked through meetings and interviews that this might be the place God would have us put down some roots and be in ministry.

While there are still a few steps in the process and documents to sign, it looks like we will be moving to Richland and get to work in August. God has again shown his faithfulness and provision in our lives and I am eager to work alongside some amazing people at Bethel (and finish my studies at Western while in ministry!)

Please join us in praying for the transition (Stacy has posted some requests here) and I will work to keep you all up to date as we finalize the next chapter in our lives!

Called to Ministry

I took the day to read Edmund Clowney’s Called to the Ministry and it was a little book of good reminders as I process how all Christians are called to ministry.

I am further challenged to think that the “fruit” Jesus is talking about in John 14 & 15 is that of an evangelistic nature. He is sending his men out to make disciples and enlarge the kingdom – their fruit is those added to Christ in belief. This is the call then for all believers – to be about fruit of salvation, a fruit others enjoy as they meet Christ.

Some of us may be called to vocational ministry as well and by no means is this a more important call or one that holds all the responsibility to share the gospel. Instead it is a call of equipping, living in such a way that believers around us are prepared to evangelize and truly live the gospel. Vocational ministers are the example not the exclusive worker.

What does your ministry look like and why have you been denying your call to it? These are questions the believer must answer daily as we live to share what we have…

Acknowledgements

A few years ago I promised Stacy that I would dedicate every book I write to her. But I haven’t written any books yet so I thought I would write an acknowledgement here so you the reader might fully know where my inspiration and correction most often comes from outside of the Holy Spirit!

Stacy is the one willing to take risks and step out of security and success into a life of ministry and service. It hasn’t been, and won’t be, easy but she has provided an example of grace and perseverance for the women around her and for me as I attempt to lead my family. She is willing to tell me when I am wrong or when I need to spend more time in study on a particular subject and she reminds me why it is good to be in community.

Not only is Stacy a great partner she is a diligent and faithful mother. Even on the longest day of screaming toddler or dirty house she maintains composure. The couch can be a delightful friend for her after a full day and I gladly get to be the guy sitting next to her.

I am thinking of interviewing Stacy weekly for the blog but I realize she might object so for now you have to visit her site to gain the insight!

Stacy makes me who I am and without her I would be foolish, misguided and terribly lonely. Thank you Stacy for being my partner and may you be blessed knowing that I could never truly give you the acknowledgement you deserve.