The Rev. Charles Thomas is among the finest Christian educators I know. Today Bob Bailey and I enjoyed visiting with the Thomas Christian Academy staff as they prepare for the new school year in September.
On Christ’s Gethsemane prayer:
“Though we may pray to God to prevent and remove an affliction, yet our chief errand and that which we should most insist upon, must be, that he will give us grace to bear it well. It should be more our care to get our troubles sanctified, and our hearts satisfied under them, than to get them taken way. [Jesus] prayed, saying, Thy will be done.”
– Matthew Henry on Matthew 26:36-46
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.
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