1. Don’t procrastinate. Become a candidate for ministry in your denomination as early as possible. Follow your candidates committee’s instructions to a tee.
Don’t put off candidacy and its requirements until the end of your seminary career. If you do, you will complete your seminary requirements, but be unready to accept a call because you’ve failed to submit to your denomination’s ordination requirements. That may mean you are many months away from accepting a call. Show respect for your denomination and love for your family by staying on track.
PCA students need to keep in mind the following:
- You must be a member for at least six months of a church in the presbytery where you want to come under care.
- You must also be endorsed by the session of that church before it is possible to become a candidate and intern.
- Prior to ordination, you must complete a presbytery internship, which must last at least 12 months.
- The process to be ready to be ordained requires a minimum of 18 months to complete, and, for most candidates, is closer to 30 months. RTS Jackson students: Presbytery Credentials Committee will host an informational lunch at Patterson’s Porch on Thursday, September 21, at noon. If you are even remotely interested in ordination in the PCA, then you should make plans to attend.
2. Prepare your resume carefully. Proofread and get someone else to proofread. Expect your prospective employer to verify each detail. Be accurate. The care with which you prepare your resume is one indicator of the care you will take with the work your future church entrusts to you.
3. Circulate your resume widely. Ask minister friends if they know of openings. Not every position is listed on your denomination’s website, and some positions may be coming open and not yet announced.
4. Compose a cover letter (or email). Attach to each resume a cover letter addressed to the person or committee responsible for receiving your resume. Tailor each cover letter to the position. Proofread and get someone else to proofread. Ask a friend in business to critique your cover letter before you send it. Your cover letter creates your first impression.
5. Include references. Include their names in your resume. Don’t make the pulpit committee ask for them. Make sure you have obtained permission to use their names, and that their contact information is correct.
6. Keep your resume current. Double-check all contact information for you and your references.
7. Be thoughtful. Acknowledge all inquiries with a handwritten thank you note.
8. Be prepared. At interviews, either preliminary or when formally candidating
- Wear a suit.
- Take two handkerchiefs, one for yourself and one for someone else, if needed. A gentleman is always thinking of others.
- Answer questions as briefly as possible. Don’t ramble.
- Answer all questions directly and honestly.
- Ask the pulpit search committee questions and listen intently to their answers. A good pastor is a good listener.
- Sit up straight. Look at people when they speak to you. Manners matter.
- Stand up when ladies enter the room. You are a gentleman.
- Write thank-you notes to the entire pulpit committee. It’s an honor to be granted an interview.
- Write thank-you notes to anyone who helps you during your visit. For example, if you’re meeting with a committee at someone’s office and his assistant gets you a drink while you wait, send the assistant a thank you note. Acknowledge the kind service to you.
- In emails, use formal elements of style, like “Dear Mr. Adams” and “Yours in Christ, Charlie.” Use good grammar. Punctuate properly. Use upper case letters at the beginning of a sentence and wherever appropriate. Avoid slang. Check your spelling.
9. Disclose. If you have been under church discipline or have ever had any problems with the law, you need to tell the pulpit search committee. If you fail to disclose and the committee obtains the information during their reference and background check, they will question your honesty and wonder what else you are withholding. Your candidacy will almost certainly come to an end.
10. Engage people. When you are candidating at a church, speak to everyone, and especially to the children. Learn names.
11. Be grateful. It is an honor to be asked to candidate. Be thankful – to God and the congregation.
12. Treat your wife as your partner. Discuss together, pray together, decide together. You are a team.
First Presbyterian Church of Yazoo City turns 176 years old today.
The church has its beginnings in the protracted meetings that once played a vital role in the religious and social life of Southern Protestants. Believers from various denominations, some traveling many miles on shabby, bone-jarring roads, gathered to pitch camp and enjoy several days of fellowship, fine cooking, and the preaching of God’s word.
In late summer 1841 the kind Methodists of Benton, Mississippi hosted one such meeting. Gathering with them was a handful of Presbyterians from Yazoo City, who organized Yazoo Church on August 15, 1841. The church’s name was changed in 1843 to First Presbyterian Church of Yazoo City.
The Rev. Richmond McInnis was called as the church’s founding pastor and would stay until 1851.
Among the six charter members was Mrs. Sophia T. Whitman. Her descendant, ninety-eight-year-old Sam B. Olden, is active in the worship life of the church today.
I am grateful to serve as the church’s 17th pastor.
“One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts” (Psalm 145:4).
Happy Birthday First Presbyterian Church of Yazoo City!
Source: A Brief History of The First Presbyterian Church of Yazoo City, Mississippi (1841-1991).
Do you want a more effective ministry to your community? Then read your local newspaper.
I subscribe to four newspapers: The Yazoo Herald, The Clarion-Ledger (Jackson), The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post. By far the most important is the The Yazoo Herald. Here’s why:
My church worships and serves in a community. Like all churches, my congregation represents only a slice of the community’s population. If my only interest is the people in my congregation, I lose sight of my neighbors, and that hardly squares with the admonition to love my neighbor. The local paper brings me back to the people and institutions that shape my city.
What do I look for in the paper?
Government officials. I have a responsibility to pray for them in the public worship services of the church (1 Tim 2:1-2). What are their names? What are the challenges they face? How can I encourage them – either by letter or an encouraging word?
From time to time, I will disagree with those who lead my city – elected officials, law enforcement officers, social service providers, and educators. Nevertheless, I pray for their success. Why? Because the welfare of my church’s members is bound up in the welfare of my city (see Jeremiah 29:7).
Resources. Who are the caregivers in the community? Are there people in my congregation who need their help?
Achievements. Who in my congregation and circle of relationships is publicly recognized in the newspaper? We rejoice with those who rejoice. In our congregation, newspaper articles about our members are put on a poster board for all to see and congratulate.
Condolences. Read the obituaries. The deceased may not be members, but they may have many friends in your flock. Pray for their families and churches and friends. We grieve with those who grieve.
Networks. Learn about the many organizations that improve the quality of life in your community. They deserve your encouragement. Chances are that members of your congregation may need their services. Be ready to help them make the connections.
Poverty. Every community has poor and marginalized residents who can easily be forgotten. Without thinking, the affluent may live as if they don’t exist. A good newspaper makes readers mindful of all the community, including those who can be easily forgotten.
Events. Parades, patriotic celebrations, memorial days, and school concerts and competitions bring communities – our communities – together, and they are all advertised in the local paper. Attend, and build goodwill and friendships.
Church News. My congregation is one small part of my city’s Christian family. The community calendar directs me to gatherings of other congregations. I love to visit when I am able, and my life is enriched by relationships outside of my immediate church family; it also helps me get to know other pastors in the area.
Advertising. Inasmuch as possible, I want to support local businesses; this is a concrete way to love and support my neighbor.
Another day I’ll share about the benefits of reading other papers. But today my burden is for the local paper, and in my home, none is more important than The Yazoo Herald.
“Wherever Christ is welcome, he expects that his disciples should be welcome too. When we take God for our God, we take his people for our people.”
– Matthew Henry on Matthew 26:18
1. Find a church home quickly. Sanctification of the Lord’s day, sitting under God’s word preached, receiving the Lord’s supper, and caring for and being cared for by God’s people is indispensable to your spiritual well-being and (if married) your family’s. Don’t prolong your search.
Your adjustment may be tough. Don’t be discouraged. It’s part of your preparation for ministry. All pastors work with people who struggle to fit into new church homes. A few years from now, you will too. Therefore, right now, you and your family’s struggles to fit in are equipping you for ministry. They are one of many ways God is at work to make you a sympathetic shepherd of your flock.
2. Don’t pit your studies against your devotional life. During my first year at Princeton, I stumbled upon a copy of B.B. Warfield’s The Religious Life of Theological Students and received perhaps the most helpful counsel of my seminary career: Make your turning to the books a turning to God. Before you open a text, ask the Lord to give you an increased knowledge of his character and of your need of grace. Seek from him a deeper understanding of his word and world. Fill your time in the books with prayers of adoration, thanksgiving, confession, repentance, and renewal. If you do, you’ll establish enduring study habits to the glory of God.
3. Guard your study time. Most of us only get one shot at seminary; misuse the time, and you will finish your studies inadequately prepared. Even if it were possible to learn later what you miss now, the forfeited opportunity costs are steep. For years you will labor without the benefit of what could have been yours from the start.
On campus and in church, you will be asked to serve in many ways. Before you say “yes,” make sure that your studies are squared away. Take to heart the old adage: “Do what you have to do, then do what you want to do.”
Don’t succumb to the temptation of thinking of your studies as competition to service to the Lord. Right now, your time reading and writing and in the lecture hall is your primary field of service. Should you serve in other ways? Most definitely, but not before you are sure you can meet your academic requirements.
4. Watch your spending. Most of the time, family conflict about money has its roots not in scarcity, but in negligence. Many students and their spouses don’t think carefully about their finances. The consequences can be dire: strained relationships, overwork, and, sometimes, withdrawal from seminary and the abandoning of plans for ministry.
Don’t let that be your story. Spend less than you earn. Get and stay on a budget. Put on paper where your money will go. If you don’t know how, ask for help, and the sooner the better.
It breaks my heart to hear stories of men who prepare for ministry, but then must turn down a pastoral call because their debt makes it impossible. Learn the fundamentals of financial management now, and reap its rewards for a lifetime.
5. Eliminate distractions when you’re studying, at home, and with the Lord. When you set aside time to study, be fully engaged. Turn off email and all notifications; silence your cell phone; refuse to surf the web.
When you return home, give your wife and children your full attention; put your phone, books, and computer away.
During your personal devotions, be fully engaged with the Lord and his word.
When you eliminate distractions and concentrate on the task before you, you’ll be surprised at how much you accomplish and grow in your work and relationships.
Seminary has its share of opportunities and trials. The lessons learned here will go with you to your first church; resolve to make these habits your own, and they too will follow you throughout your ministry
Wherever the Spirit of Christ is, He . . .Reveals Christ to the understanding,Enthrones Christ in the affections,Gives Christ the control of the will,Endears Christ to the heart,Glorifies Christ in the soul, andConforms the person to the lovely likeness of Christ.
For the next nine weeks, Lynne teaches again one of her favorite books, The Iliad, this time at Manchester Academy. I enjoy the new purchases that crop up around our home.
I owe my love of The Iliad to one man, Dr. John Reishman, one of the outstanding literature professors at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee. Until his class, I don’t recall reading a work of ancient Greek literature, and, had I made the attempt, the ability to navigate the text would have been sorely lacking. I needed a teacher, and found one in Dr. Reishman.
Since then, I have read The Iliad several times in the translations of Fitzgerald, Lattimore, and Fagles, and a very small portion in Greek class at Vanderbilt. Time and again I return to moving scenes, and especially to those of Hector: his return from battle to his wife Andromache and their infant son, his brutal death and the savage abuse of his corpse below Troy’s walls, and his father Priam’s pleading with Achilles for the return of his body.
Years from now, I trust that a Manchester Academy student will trace his love for ancient literature to Lynne’s teaching.