Yesterday, I spent about an hour with Tom Ascol talking about the past ten months since I came on staff at Grace Baptist as an Associate Pastor. At various points during this time, I intended to post some thoughts and reflections on things I’ve learned, challenges I’ve faced, and joys I’ve experienced transitioning from a seminary student working third-shift to a “full-time” minister in a local church (I think there are even some posts sitting in draft mode from several months ago!).
Some of my friends have encouraged me to talk more about what I am doing and learning in the ministry, so I thought I’d try to start doing that as I near my first year serving at Grace. For starters, I want to mention a paradigm I created focusing on five “P’s” (I alliterate them to prove my true Baptist Identity for anyone checking my credentials). Here they are with some of my thoughts.
The fundamental means of grace in the local church is the right preaching of the gospel. With Tom preaching for the past 22 years strong, gospel-centered, expositional preaching, this is not a weak area of Grace. However, preaching has been a weak area in my ministerial development, having done little in my seminary days. When Tom was struck my lightning, I was thrown into the fire, from struggling to prepare for one sermon every two weeks to preaching Sunday morning and Sunday night as well as teaching an evangelism series to the adults and occasional Bible Study on Wednesday night. Nevertheless, God used that to land me on my face with a sense of dependence and desperation I had not known.
Since June of last year, I think I’ve preached somewhere around 30 times, and every one of my messages have been critiqued by the elders as I have welcomed the constructive input to help me become a better communicator of God’s Word. Various things like writing and preaching from a manuscript, length of message, pace and enunciation in delivery, thesis construction, coherence/clarity and simplicity, and pastoral application have all been addressed. While I have a long way to go, I can honestly say that I have been tremendously helped by the feedback and follow-through of more experienced preachers who care enough to help me communicate the gospel message with passion, precision, and pastoral insight.