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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.

Five Important Strategies for New Seminarians

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