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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.

Welcome Christ, Welcome His People

“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

When Truth and Holiness Are Lost

“Sometimes truth is lost first in a church, and then holiness, and sometimes the decay or hatred of holiness is the cause of the loss of truth; but where either is rejected, the other will not abide.”

– John Owen, The Works of John Owen (ed. William H. Goold; vol. 7; Edinburgh: T&T Clark, n.d.), 199.

The Preacher’s Prayer Life

“For a minister to preach the word without constant prayer for its success is a likely means to cherish and strengthen secret atheism in his own heart, and very unlikely to work holiness in the lives of others.”

– John Owen, The Works of John Owen (ed. William H. Goold; vol. 7; Edinburgh: T&T Clark, n.d.), 190.

Gospel Truth, Gospel Holiness

“Gospel truth is the only root whereon gospel holiness will grow.”

– John Owen, The Works of John Owen (ed. William H. Goold; vol. 7; Edinburgh: T&T Clark, n.d.), 188.

Summer Reading for Parents

Lynne and I were so impressed with this interview that we ordered an audio copy of The Vanishing American Adult: Our Coming-of-Age Crisis – and How to Rebuild a Culture of Self-Reliance to listen to during our summer travels. Sen. Sasse discusses the tools, work ethic, and mental toughness young people will need to succeed in today’s dynamic work environment.

The seven-minute clip is a part of an extended interview on BookTV.

If I prepared a 2017 summer reading list for parents, this book would be at the top.

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D-Day – June 6, 1944

Today is the 73rd anniversary of D-Day, the commencement of the Allied invasion of continental Europe. Within a year, Hitler was dead and the Nazi reign of terror over.

President Ronald Reagan’s 1984 speech at Normandy marked the 40th anniversary of the invasion. Reagan used the opportunity not only to honor the allied soldiers who fought their way ashore, but also to strengthen NATO’s resolve in the face of  threatened Soviet nuclear missile deployments to Eastern Europe. I introduced this speech to my high school rhetoric and debate students as one of the great presidential speeches of the 20th century.

My father, George Thomas Wingard, Jr., fought in Europe later in the war. He was at the Battle of the Bulge, which began on December 16, 1944, his 21st birthday.  My cousin, George King, son of Clinton and Magnolia Wingard King, was killed during the D-Day invasion. Their courage and the courage of all America’s military forces should be remembered.