Bivocational Pastors

One group of Pastors I really respect are Bivocational Pastors. Over the years I have known quite a few Pastors who work in a secular job during the week and Pastor their churches for little or no financial reward.

One of my heroes was a Pastor who worked four days a week for a furniture company for many years, so his church could purchase a building for them to hold services in. The money which would have paid him, paid for the church.

This example has always stayed with me. It has always inspired me. In my last role for my church I was paid a few days a week by the church. But over time this became tight for the church and very tight for us as a family.

As I said in a recent post about Elder based church leadership, country churches in our region have ageing populations and declining incomes. I think this will lead to more churches being led by Elders and/or Bivocational Pastors.

This is something I have been thinking a lot about lately. Now that I have a part-time job at our local hospital, being a Bivocational Pastor might be an option for us as a family. It would be a way for us to use our gifts and bless a church, and require little or no finances from the church.

It is something that will require a lot of prayer and discussion. And as with all things with God and His Kingdom, time will tell if this is something God wants for us!

Blessings,
Dave

Elders based church leadership

Since moving from the city to the country 12 years ago I have noticed a big change in our churches. Many are moving from having a Pastor to Elders based church leadership. When we moved to the WA Wheatbelt most of the four larger churches in our region had Pastors. Over time this has gone from full time Pastors, to part-time Pastors, to no Pastor at all.

Some of this has been because of declining finances and ageing church population. At other times it has been because some Pastors do not want to work in country towns. On the surface not having a Pastor on staff can be seen as a bad thing. But I have seen having a group of mature Elders as the church leaders work really well.

Generally most of the churches in our region have people in the church who have had some Bible training, have attended church for a long time, have a deep relationship with the Lord and are considered by all to have good character. These people are great as Elders. They pray, seek and discern God’s will and lead the church well.

The church that I was Pastor for two years has gone back to an Elders based leadership team. Some preach, some lead service, and they all do pastoral care. It works well. The church I attend at the moment will not have a Pastor soon and they will have to decide which direction they go in. I am happy if they chose a new Pastor or lead with Elders.

If we think about Elders based church leadership for a moment, the first thing we see is it is Biblical. The Apostle Paul set Elders in place of the churches he planted. That way when he moved on to another area he has people in place to look after the church.

In my last church I looked at the role of Elders right throughout the Bible. Right throughout the Bible the Elders have led the people, made decisions for the direction of the group, sought God in prayer and overseen their flock. This is true in both the Old Testament and the New.

So from my perspective Elders based church leadership makes sense in our regional context. With declining finances and ageing populations and Pastors not wanting to work in smaller regional towns it might just be the way forward.

Blessings,

Dave

 

Who you are in Christ

One key foundation for us as Disciples of Christ is to know who you are and what you have in Christ. I mentioned this is previous posts earlier in the week.

Back in 1989 when I came to Christ, I had a very low, almost non-existent, self-esteem. I really thought I was a waste of space and not worth much at all.

Over time this changed to seeing myself through the lens of Scripture. I am now more interested in who God says I am, rather than the world or those around me say.

Every year that goes by I find my mind is being renewed more and more in this area. As a result I did a sermon for my church titled, “10 things God says about you in the Bible”. The summary points and verses are below.

  1. You are made in God’s image (Genesis 1:26-27)
  2. You were chosen before the world was made (Ephesians 1:4-5)
  3. You were created and equipped for good works (Ephesians 2:10)
  4. You are adopted into His family (John 1:12)
  5. You have the Holy Spirit living inside you (Romans 8:11)
  6. You are no longer condemned (Romans 8:1)
  7. You are seated with Christ (Ephesians 2:4-7)
  8. You were knit together in your mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13)
  9. You are truly loved by God (1 John 4:9-10)
  10. You are free in Christ (John 8:36)

To read the full message with text, audio and powerpoint you can find it here https://www.passionaustralia.org/whoyouare.html

Today I just want to remind you that God made you wonderful. You are amazing. You are special. You are loved. You are priceless in God’s eyes.

Blessings,

Dave

Build them up in the Lord

Romans 15:1-2 is one of my motivation passages that keep me wanting to help others grow in their faith.

The heart of these verses is that the stronger and more mature people in their faith should be helping those who are less mature in their faith to grow. 

It doesn’t matter where we are along the spectrum. We might be a Christian with a basic knowledge of the Bible or a Bible college professor, or somewhere in between, we all have a part to play in helping people grow and mature in their faith.

This is a major reason why I trained to be a Pastor and I have my website PASSIONAustralia.org. My heart is for people to come to Christ and grow in their faith. I want people to become lifelong followers of Christ.

My hope is that everyone I know would do the following things…

  1. Come to know Jesus in a personal way and find peace with God.
  2. Do some basic discipleship training.
  3. Attend and serve in a their local church.
  4. Undertake at least a year of Bible college to mature in their faith.

When we do these four things we give ourselves the best chance to live the life God intended for us. To be in relationship with God, to be assured of our salvation, to know who we are in Christ, to be obedient to God’s commands and to serve Him all the days of our lives.

How about you? What passages motivate you to help people grow in their faith?

Blessings,

Dave

Sermon: Four lessons from Psalm 139

preaching

Hello all,

I recorded a sermon for podcast today. It was one I did several years ago for the church I was Pastor of. On the day we had a problem with our sound recording software. As a result I have been meaning to re-record it for my website.

The title is “Four lessons from Psalm 139”. If you are interested you can listen here, or read the full text here.

Blessings,
Dave

Deep roots

Several years ago I took a group of teens through my discipleship booklet. In the first lesson I quoted Colossians 2:6-7 and used it as a foundation for our studies.

I explained to them the importance of building a firm foundation for our lives in Christ. I am excited to say the message and the discipleship booklet studies we did really sunk in and deep roots were formed.

If you would like to use the free booklet you can find it here – https://passionaustralia.org/DiscipleshipBooklet.pdf.

Blessings,
Dave

Preaching focuses for me

I have been thinking about some keys to preaching lately. Especially preaching to your audience and context. 

In my most recent church the congregation was a wide range of ages and most were mature Christians, but they did not have a Pastor for four years before I came. So I kept that in mind when preparing my sermons.

Here are some keys I tried to focus on.

1. Biblical – 95% of my messages were based on Bible passages. I aimed to do an introduction, read a passage, share 3-5 points from the text with cross references, summarise the main points and close in prayer. 

2. Brief – I found that 20 minutes was about right in my context. By the time I did the things above and prayed, most sermons were 20 minutes or 2000 words for me. Any longer than that I found that some people started to lose focus.

3. Powerpoint – I always used Powerpoint with the title of the message, the passage, the key points and verses and then the closing summary points. This seemed to help people with their notes and remembering.

4. Series – Preaching in a series or working your way through a Bible book was another key. Generally I would focus on one chapter a week. People knew if I did James 1 one week, then the next it would be James 2.

5. Website – One thing I did each week was to include the sermon text and audio on the church’s website. As I wrote full transcript the congregation could listen to or read the sermon again or catch up if they were away.

6. Fun – I tried to make the sermons fun. Sometimes I told a clean joke beforehand. Sometimes I threw out treats if people could remember my first point or a key fact. This got everyone involved.

7. Practical – my final key was to make it practical. Application points that we could reflect on and put into practice were key. I wanted to give people things that would help them follow Jesus in the church and in the community.

8. Communication – the heart of preaching is communicating. So sermons need to be sent by the preacher and received by the listeners. You can preach the best sermon in the world, but if the people are not getting something to take home, then you have missed the mark.

Preaching for me is a real blessing. It is hard work in the prayer-peration, but it is so good to be able to share God’s eternal Word with people and see their lives change.

Blessings,

Dave

What I try to do as a Pastor

I was talking with someone at church yesterday about the main roles I try to do as a Pastor. It was an interesting conversation. Today I thought I would share my thoughts here.

1. Preach and Teach – in a small country church this is a big focus. Each week I try to share from God’s Word and encourage and equip the church for the works of ministry (Ephesians 4:11-12). Most people in country towns are busy during the week, so Sunday is very important.

2. Shepherd the flock – overseeing the church with the help of the Elders is another key focus. Leading the church in the direction God wants it to go and taking care of the people are the two main areas for me. Having a strong leadership team of people who pray, know the Word and love people is vital.

3. Build relationships – my third area of focus is building relationships. For me this happend on Sundays and also during the week. I simply work my way through a list of church members and made sure I connect with them regularly. I try to make sure I check in with each member at least once every three months away from church to talk, pray and encourage them from the Word.

4. Pray – my heart for our church members is that God would bless them. So I commit to pray for them all by name from the church list. A couple of times a week I spend an hour praying for the members and their families. This includes general prayer and things prompted by God.

There are lots of other things you do as a Pastor, but these feel like the right things for me to do in my context of a small country town.

Blessings,

Dave

Tired of doing good?

If I am honest doing good can be tiring. I look back on my last position as Pastor and I wonder how I did all the things I did!

The truth is though we are called by God and empowered by the Holy Spirit when we do a role like Pastor of a church. And often the gaps we have in our skills or energy are filled in by God.

One key I found to not grow weary in doing good is to start the day with God. It is so easy to do all the things on your to do list, without checking in with God first. It is just so vital to be with God first, before starting His work.

As I type I think of the example of Jesus. A number of times we read in Scripture that Jesus went off to a solitary place to be with His Father. He checked in and only did what He saw the Father doing.

Today I would encourage you to check in with God before you start your work. Spend some time in prayer and in the Word, before you go to work or church.

For me, checking in with God first brings the heavenly energy and heavenly insight I need to do His work. We need this to reap the promised harvest.

Blessings,
Dave

Lead by serving

Mark 10:43-45 – But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, [44] and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else. [45] For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Jesus wants us to be different in the way we lead. He doesn’t want us to lord our power over others. He wants us to be servant leaders. Verse 44 tells us that our servant leadership actually looks like being a slave. Over the years I have found the best leaders are humble in attitude and are willing to serve in any capacity to make sure things are done.

I remember in my first job in retail, one of our regional store managers would say we need some shopping trolleys from outside brought in, he would put on a raincoat and come out with us to bring them in. I have never forgotten it. He was were still in charge, but he did what was needed to make things work well. I have seen this same type of leadership in church circles. Highly trained Pastors of big churches sweeping the front steps of the church to make it look nice for people coming in.

Serving Jesus is about having a humble attitude and doing what needs to be done. There is only room for one Lord, and that title belongs to Jesus! The rest of us are His humble servants.

God Bless,
Dave