Saturday, April 12, 2008

Thinking of Ministry?

Blogger Kevin Johnson over at wrote two posts on those considering ministry. I wish I would have had someone say some of these things before seminary, but even now - many of his suggestions (though sarcastic in parts) are really good to consider:

My favorite funny ones:

*) Befriend the oldest person in your congregation. If that person is 29 or 35 go find a REAL church to minister in where people actually have gray hair.

*) Never go into a Christian bookstore again. Buy all your books online or used. Anything that’s sold in a Christian bookstore today is likely garbage and not worth reading. ...Take the hit, buy the Eerdmans’ Early Church Fathers set and actually READ the volumes on your shelf. Read Martin Luther. Read John Calvin. Not books about them. Not yet anyway.

Serious ones:

*) Find the janitor in your church and offer to help him with his responsibilities

*) Do not go directly to seminary out of college or do not go to seminary at all. Spend two or three years working and saving money... Realize that your job in the ministry is to deal with people who have to put up with everything you’d put up with in these couple of years and more–much more.

*) Abandon teaching an adult Sunday School class or other Bible Study you may be involved in. Go volunteer in the nursery (if your church has one) or teach primary grade children.

*) Don’t waste your money on Bible commentaries yet. You’ll probably buy all the wrong ones anyway. Take the time to learn the original languages of the Bible instead and you’ll be far ahead of anyone reading Bible commentaries. Bible commentaries are really for people who already know the biblical languages and can discern whether or not a commentator knows what they’re talking about. Most of them don’t.

*) Do not go to an undergraduate Bible school. Go to a State run school. Learn to value those who are completely different than you are and learn also to see the good in their ideas.

*) Tithe ten to twenty percent of your GROSS income to whatever church you are attending. Don’t tell me you believe in ministry and ought to be a minister if you’re not regularly giving to your church in the first place. As a minister, you’re going to live your life off of the gifts of faithful Christians. You should know early what that sacrifice means on the part of your fellow Christians and learn to appreciate it.

*) Spend time in intimate conversation with God. Wherever you are, whenever you are. Especially when you’re doing things you don’t want to do or that are seemingly unpleasant at the time. Face the fact that things that are unpleasant for you to deal with are likely so because you are just exercising your own sinfulness. Go buy Brother Lawrence’s The Practice of the Presence of God. Implement it in your own life. Don’t forget to do the common things of human existence (and do them well) but do them with the presence of God in mind.

*) Invest in the lives of people you don’t know and especially in the lives of people you don’t like. Learn that their values and their understanding of things has good in it as well as bad. Do everything you can to understand issues and perspectives from their point of view. Give people the benefit of the doubt the first time around when conflict occurs. And the second. And the third. And the fourth. You get the idea, I hope.


GUNNY said...

You/he would probably appreciate this discussion (in the comments especially) about the decline & death of Christian bookstores.

Some great insight you've shared here.

Thanks, brother.

Lance said...

Great stuff. Lots of good pointers.

One thing I chuckled at, though:

"Find the janitor in your church and offer to help him with his responsibilities."

Truth is, many ministers won't start (or even finish) in churches big enough to have a janitor on staff. Most of us might be greeting ourselves :) .

GUNNY said...

In fact, some churches need a dose of honesty in their pastor job descriptions so that they include "custodial services."

Perhaps that is assumed under "other duties as assigned."

GUNNY said...

Incidentally, my favorite:

"Learn everyone’s name in your congregation. If you’re in a congregation too big to do that, you’re likely in a congregation too big to really learn how to do ministry or to really interact with elders who give a flying flip about you."

Jared Nelson said...

My favorite was: "Befriend the oldest person in your congregation. If that person is 29 or 35 go find a REAL church to minister in where people actually have gray hair."

Seems really dangerous to have a target age group with a church. How do we mature when everyone is just as immature as you?! One of my favorite experiences bridging the age gap in the church was going to a prayer meeting where we broke into groups of 5 to pray out loud, and I was the youngest and I realized my immaturity when I listened to 4 older men pray acknowledging God's attributes and trusting Him in every situation they brought to Him rather than demanding things. I kept my prayer short to listen to more of their prayers...

Jonathan Moorhead said...

That's great advice, J-Rod. Thanks for the post.

Z said...

we have a terrific Christian book store near here, but they do carry some 'touchy feely' stuff I ignore!
Thanks for coming to my site, Timothy. I'm going to look forward to checking in on you here!
Blessings! z