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Revival Service at FCC Yazoo City

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AME Pastor and Reformed Theological Seminary student, C.J. Alexis, serves as a chaplain at the Federal Correctional Complex in Yazoo City. Tonight he gave me the opportunity to preach at the prison’s revival service and to share joy-filled worship with the men who attended.

Rico Tice Speaks at RTS Jackson

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Three days of stirring messages from Rico Tice encouraging our students to do the work of evangelists. His John Reed Miller Preaching Lectures concluded Thursday, and will be posted soon to the RTS Jackson website.

Raines Elementary School

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Since 2014 I have volunteered at Raines Elementary School, RTS Jackson’s neighbor on Flag Chapel Road. What a joy today to have Jessica O’Banner (Guidance Counselor) and Calandra Daniels (Music Director) speak in chapel and, afterward, to enjoy their fellowship at lunch! I am grateful for their dedicated leadership in our neighborhood.

Free Personal Finance and Productivity Workshops for RTS Students

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Phillip Holmes, Associate Advisor and Creative Director at Rivertree Financial Planning, will be on campus this fall to lead three personal finance and productivity workshops for RTS Jackson students and their spouses.

I asked Phillip to describe his workshops:

Workshop One (Tuesday, September 5, 7:00-8:30 p.m.): The inability to be efficient and productive bleeds into every aspect of your life — including finances. The chaos is affecting your cash flow. Efficient people thrive at home, at work, in the classroom, in their relationships, and in their finances. Efficiency and productiveness can lead to increased incomes and happier lives. This workshop will equip you with seven baby steps you can take to become more efficient and productive. If you are willing to be patient enough to make small, gradual changes in your life to improve your efficiency and productivity, you will see results. This is a foundational step towards becoming a good steward of God’s money.

Workshop Two (Tuesday, September 12, 7:00-8:30 p.m.): Only 32% of Americans maintain a household budget. 50% of American households live paycheck to paycheck. Low income isn’t to blame. Only 1 in 5 people having financial problems fall below the poverty line and make less than $40,000. Poor money management is quite standard in America. Many who need help are either too prideful or too afraid to ask for help. In my experience, I’ve found that it’s a sleeping giant in the church. In this workshop, I’ll teach you the basics of getting out of debt, creating a budget that works, and how to protect your family financially.

Workshop Three (Tuesday, September 19, 7:00-8:30 p.m.): We will use week three to reflect and review what we’ve learned. I will answer any and all questions surrounding personal finance and productivity. Depending on the number of attendees and the time remaining, I will help students work through their budgets for the upcoming months.

All workshops meet in DC-2. There is no charge.

A native of Pickens, Mississippi, Phillip attended Belhaven University, where he played basketball and earned a B.A. in Biblical Studies. In 2011, he helped launch and co-found the Reformed African American Network (RAAN) and served as Vice President until 2015. As co-founder, his passion for writing and marketing began. Phillip married his wife, Jasmine, and relocated to Houston, where he served as an Executive Assistant to Dr. Voddie Baucham and taught at Trinity Classical School. In 2015, he went to work for Desiring God as a writer and content strategist. Drawn back to his home state, Phillip joined Rivertree Financial Planning in August of 2016. He handles all of Rivertree’s marketing and communication efforts. As a licensed Life, Health & Accident Insurance Agent, Phillip works with clients to ensure they have enough coverage. He also coaches those in need of debt and cash flow planning.

Phillip and Jasmine live in Jackson with their son, Walter Wynn. They attend Redeemer Church.

Tips for Seminarians Seeking a Pastoral Call

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.

Dr. Guy Waters on Paedocommunion

My RTS Jackson  colleague Dr. Guy Waters responds to the question, “Is Paedocommunion Biblical?”

Home Visitation: A Pastor’s Duty

I want my ministry students at RTS Jackson to become skilled in pastoral visitation, which includes visiting people in their homes.

In the late 19th century, Bishop J.C. Ryle was troubled by “a growing disposition throughout the land, among the clergy, to devote an exaggerated amount of attention to what I must call the public work of ministry, and to give comparatively too little attention to pastoral visitation and personal dealing with individual souls.”

In his excellent biography of Ryle, Iain Murray comments:

“However eloquent or apparently knowledgeable a preacher may be, there will be something seriously  lacking in the man who is not to be found in the homes of his people. Sermons which come only from the study are not likely to be messages which bind speaker and hearers together in a common bond of affection and sympathy. A preacher must be a visitor and be ready to preach everywhere. Few circumstances can justify the omission. If the excuse be offered that there is too much public work to do, to give time to the private, then the priorities are wrong.”

Facebook, blogs, and other public forums, because of the number of people supposedly reached, may tempt a minister to abandon more traditional, boots-on-the-ground ministry. This is wrong. Social media may assist a minister in his work, but it is no substitute for the work of gathering with people in their homes to pray, instruct, counsel, evangelize, and encourage.

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Source: Iain H. Murray, J.C. Ryle: Prepared to Stand Alone (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 2016), 141.