Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Clergy Spouse Apprecation Month?

Now that you have, hopefully, been appreciated by your congregation, it si time for you to demonstrate the same appreciation to your spouse.

A newly released book, "Free to Soar," might be a good choice:
How You Can Love the Church, Serve with Your Husband, and Fulfill Your Destiny as a Woman of God

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Monday, October 24, 2005

50,000 Pastors have Signed Covenant with God

The Shepherd’s Covenant for Pastors

How G. R. A. C. E. Can Transform Your Life

This book is about grace. Its theme is grace; its heartbeat is grace. As a pastor, you’ve probably preached on grace from time to time, but have you ever considered the role of grace in your life and ministry? Your calling depends upon it—both humbly accepting grace from God and giving it away to others. Without grace, there is emptiness and the potential for that hole to be filled by the dangers lurking around you—often the lure of popularity, prestige and power.

Like having a serious conversation with a mentor or coach in the ministry, The Shepherd’s Covenant for Pastors offers the equipping you need to maintain your commitment to live your life and ministry with authenticity and integrity. Pledge with God and over 50,000 other pastors who have signed the Shepherd’s Covenant to maintain a life of holiness and righteousness by committing to five basic principles built on the acrostic G.R.A.C.E. Learn how to maintain balance in your call that adequately reflects your contribution and God’s grace at the same time. Build on a foundation that will stand strong when the call to serve man and God collides, when the responsibilities of the church take precedence over family, or when a change in direction is needed when the work of the church becomes more alluring than intimacy with the Lord. By God’s grace and with the help of The Shepherd’s Covenant for Pastors, you can commit today to a lifestyle more pleasing to the Lord, your congregation, your family and yourself.

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Thursday, October 20, 2005

A Good Connection - Pastors in Prayer

Pastors in Prayer Ministries is focused on encouraging pastors to draw closer to Christ and one another in prayer. John 17:21 says "that they may be one, even as Thou, Father art in me and I in Thee, that they also may be in us; that the world may believe that Thou didst send Me" (NASB).

Take some time to look around our site @

Pastors In Prayer - What We Do...

"SAYING YES TO GOD" a periodic E-mail sent to pastors and leaders to inspire and encourage. Taken from the journal Bob has kept for the past 50 years, these one page entries contain stories of perseverance and the joy of the Lord found during those times. Five volumes of SAYING YES TO GOD are now available in our archives. If you are interested in receiving the regular mailing, send your E-mail address, home address and phone.

Networking with pastors in given geographic areas is another vital ministry provided by Pastors In Prayer. Our goal is to help pastors find others in their city or locality who have the desire to pray together, find fellowship and accountability.

Bob also serves as a facilitator in the Pastor’s Prayer Summit Movement. These four days of prayer provide time for personal repentance and renewal in the lives of individual pastors. Dr Joe Aldrich, founder of the prayer movement gives this definition. "A Prayer Summit is a prolonged, four day, life changing worship experience attended by a diversity of Christian leaders from specific , targeted communities whose singular purpose is to seek God His Kingdom, and His righteousness with the expectation that He will create and guide them through a humbling, healing, uniting process which will lead them to unity of heart, mind and mission, and will qualify them for the blessing of God"

Bob and Marilyn reside in the Bradenton/Sarasota area of southwest Florida during the winter months. They return to Ft Wayne, IN in the summer, where they have ministered the past 40 years. Bob works with pastors meeting one on one and in prayer groups. The desire of his heart is for spiritual awakening and revival for the nation. Spiritual awakening can be defined as preparation for revival. Revival being the visitation of God.

"Wilt Thou not Thyself revive us again, that Thy people may rejoice in Thee? Show us Thy loving kindness, O Lord, and grant us Thy salvation." (Psalm 85:6)

We hope to hear from you soon!
Pastor Bob Yawberg

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Worn Out?

If We Do Not Lose Heart
Francis Frangipane

"He will speak out against the Most High and wear down the saints of the Highest One, and he will intend to make alterations in times and in law; and they will be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time." Daniel 7:25

The prophet Daniel warns of a time when Satan, through the Antichrist, will seek to wear down the strength of God's saints. How this occurs in the final hours of the age remains to be seen, but on one level this battle already is going on today: Satan seeks to wear us out through delays ("alterations in times") and in compromise of God's Word ("alterations in law").

The final effect of what seems like never-ending delays is that believers are worn out. Do you know anyone who is weary with his or her battle? Are you yourself weary? I know many who seem trapped in situations that should have been remedied months and even years ago but the battle continues against them. Situations and people, often empowered by demonic resistance, stand in opposition to the forward progress of God's people. As a result of satanic spiritual resistance, many Christians incrementally accept this resistance until a quiet, but weighty, oppression rests on their souls.

Look for the complete article at:

Friday, October 14, 2005

On Behalf Of My Pastoral Colleagues, "Thank you Bill!"

By Bill Ellis, Special to ASSIST News Service

SCOTT DEPOT, WV (ANS) -- Pastors are everywhere. You will find them in every nation on earth. They are God's ambassadors. They represent Him in every arena of human experience. They may serve very small congregations of less than a dozen people. Some will lead a multiple staff of hundreds in large churches of thousands of people. The average church size in the United States is less than 100.

Pastors vary in their abilities, education and God-given gifts. Some are young, in their twenties. Many are still taking college and seminary classes. Most will continue their educational pursuits as long as they remain in the pastorate. They will spend a lot of money on quality books, conferences and seminars each year to equip themselves for the most demanding job on earth.

There is a growing shortage of pastors who are adequately trained for the parish ministry. Pastors face numerous tasks each week. They are expected to be skilled in many areas.

It is not easy being a pastor. It is a life that requires discipline and dedication 24 hours each day and seven days each week. An older church leader named Paul was a theologian, missionary and writer of the first century. In one of his popular letters, addressed to young Timothy, he wrote: "Work hard so God can say to you, ‘Well done.’ Be a good workman, one who does not need to be ashamed when God examines your work. Know what his Word says and means" (2 Timothy 2:15 TLB).

Church leaders, college ministries departments and seminaries are doing their best to recruit and train men and women for the pastoral ministry. It seems to be something like this: "If God calls you to preach, we will do our best to give you every opportunity for all the training and higher education you will need."

The more I learn about pastors, I find myself developing a deepening appreciation for what is called a bi-vocational minister. That means he has a second job that may supply much of the income for himself and his family so he will be able to lead a smaller and less affluent congregation. They serve at a disadvantage and often put in more hours than anyone else. It can be like working two fulltime jobs. Ministers who work at another job for necessary financial support may be salesmen, doctors, miners, teachers, administrators, bankers, nurses, mechanics, carpenters, truck drivers, coaches and just about anything else.

If you have a pastor take time during this October, the nationally designated month for "Pastor Appreciation", to do something special to let him know how much he is genuinely appreciated. Some of the most talented pastors are women. Whether your pastor is a woman or a man find a lot of ways to be generous and gracious in showing them that they are really appreciated. If married, the pastor’s spouse should also be included. If there is any job tougher than being a pastor, it is being married to one.

It is "Pastor Appreciation Month" for all of October or whatever month you choose to show special recognition. Include all the pastoral staff members of your church. Pastors are often the most important people in our lives. I am not aware of a more significant job. Think about it for a minute and you may come to the same conclusion. Let your pastor know, in a variety of ways, that he is genuinely loved and deeply appreciated.

Bill Ellis is a syndicated columnist, and convention and conference speaker on every continent. He is the writer of more than 1600 columns and widely known as a motivator utilizing enjoyment of life and just plain fun and laughter while speaking to high school, university and professional sports teams as well as to business and professional groups of all kinds. His keen understanding of human problems make him a favorite speaker for youth, parent, and senior adult meetings. He is accompanied by Kitty, his wife, favorite singer, editor and publisher.

For information on becoming a subscriber to the Ellis Column for your newspaper or magazine, you may contact him at: BILL ELLIS, P.O.Box 345, Scott Depot, WV 25560 or by calling: 304-757-6089.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Hey Pastor - "Chill Out!"

The Perfect Pastor:

1. Preaches exactly 20 minutes and follows it with an invitation in which everyone is convicted but no one is offended.
2. Works from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. in every type of work from counseling to custodial service.
3. 27 years old with 30 years of preaching experience.
4. Tall and short.
5. Thin and heavy set.
6. Handsome but not overpowering.
7. One brown eye and one blue eye.
8. Hair is parted in the middle and is straight on one side and wavy on the other side, with a balding spot on top revealing his maturity.
9. Has a burning desire to work with teenagers and spends all his time with the older folks.
10. He smiles constantly with a straight and sober face because he has a sense of humor that keeps him seriously at his work.
11. Invests 25 hours a week in sermon preparation, 20 hours in counseling, 10 hours in meetings, five hours in emergencies, 20 hours in visitation and evangelism, 6 hours in weddings and funerals, 30 hours in prayer and meditation, 12 hours in letter writing, and administration, and 10 hours in creative thinking.
12. Spends 5 evenings at home with his family, plus a day off, and always stops for interruptions.
13. A seminary graduate, but uses only one- and two-syllable words.
14. Makes 15 calls a day.
15. Spends all his time evangelizing the unchurched.
16. Attends all retreats, goes to all youth retreats.
17. Is always available in his office.
18. His kids are perfect.
19. His mother is rich.
20. His wife plays the piano.
21. His house is large.
22. His bank account is small.
23. His car is in the shop.
24. He is paid too much, too little, and he gives it all away.
25. He is talented, gifted, scholarly, practical, popular, compassionate, understanding, patient, level headed, dependable,
loving, caring, neat, organized, cheerful, and above all, humble.

Copntrubuted by Allen Beane Allen does some great seminars for churches that are awaiting a new pastor, to help the church be better prepared to support the pastor in ministry.

By way of the Sermon Fodder List. To get a regular dose of Christian Humor and a modern-day parable you can subscribe by sending an email to

Friday, October 07, 2005

Hey Pastor - "Thank You!"


Well, here we are again — October — Clergy Appreciation Month! Some of you like it, some of you do not, but we at Focus on the Family just keep on making this month a priority. And it now appears that many churches, denominations and other organizations have begun to embrace this biblical concept as their own.

Our intent as we have focused upon you and your family was never to put you on a pedestal, but to create awareness among the laity in our nation and our world of your value and the divine nature of your call. You fill a spot in society that is essential and valued.

It must have been 12 years or so ago that I walked into Dr. Dobson's office with a request that he allow me the privilege of breathing new life into clergy recognition. He agreed, and the rest is history. I wish you would check out the dedicated Web site at You would be amazed at what our staff has done on your behalf. I am grateful to all of them.

When I came to Focus on the Family 14 years ago next month, the Lord gave me a mandate for my assignment as a pastor to pastors — "To facilitate spiritual restoration and renewal in the life of clergy families and, beyond that, to help you better manage your time, finan and personal lives." We hope we have been faithful to that call.

You have been — at least many of you — kind enough to write, call and e-mail us through the years. Your input into our lives has been invaluable. You are heroes to us, and we hold you in the highest regard.

I have no way of knowing if or how you will be honored this month. Affirmation is a luxury, but please do not let praise or lack of it color your attitude. We at Focus on the Family are here for you. If ever you need us, all you have to do is call 877-233-4455 or email us at We will be there for you.

"Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance" (Jude v. 2). You are appreciated! —

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Running On Empty? 5 Guidelines for a Successful Sabbatical

5 Guidelines for a Successful Sabbatical

Written by Charles Dickson
Too many clergy are running on empty. Burdened with almost unbelievable loads of duties, they are running out of both physical and spiritual gas. Consequently, congregations suffer from ministry by ministers who are experiencing stress, burnout, and possibly compassion fatigue. However, one solution has saved the ministry of many pastors and staff. Churches are beginning to realize how important it is for congregations to set aside time and funds to allow their ministers extended rest and study.

LifeWay Recommends
Spiritual Gifts: A Practical Guide to How God Works Through You by David Francis

What is a Sabbatical?
The sabbatical tradition began in the universities at the time when the university was part of the church. The idea was that the university professors needed one year in every seven to become students again and to refresh their spiritual calling. That tradition is alive and well in secular as well as church-related universities today. Unfortunately, it is not as alive or well in the churches.

Too often church leaders are reluctant to arrange periodic times when the pastor or staff member can become a student and worshiper for the purpose of refining and updating professional skills and refreshing the spiritual life and calling.

The Sabbatical Meets a Mutual Need for Minister and Church
Both congregations and their pastors and staff actually need sabbaticals from each other, and both can benefit from some time spent apart. Ministers and Church leaders should not see the sabbatical as a reward for good work or simply a benefit to keep the minister happy. Neither should they view it as an extension of the normal vacation period. Rather it should be an important part of the program of the church and the working relationship between the church and its ministers from which both will draw benefits.

Leaders in many major churches have noted that fatigue seems to set in after about six years and clergy tend to become restless. Unconsciously, pastors and/or staff know they need a change and a renewal; so many decide the way to meet these needs is to change situations. Unfortunately, too often this desire to change is supported by the people in the congregation since the “honeymoon” is now over, the routine has set in, and possibly boredom.

5 Guidelines for a Successful Sabbatical

1. Establish time parameters for the Sabbatical
Most congregations cannot afford to allow a year, with three to four months being more common. In addition, it should be spelled out which months are sabbatical and which are part of yearly vacation leave.

2. Plan the way you will spend your Sabbatical
The pastor must decide on a specific study or spiritual-growth program for the sabbatical period.

3. Make financial arrangements
Will there be a part-time or full-time salary paid? What about the costs of tuition, travel, and books? These questions should be worked out ahead of time. Some churches set aside a months salary each year so after 6 or 7 years they have enough set aside to pay for the pastor and an interim during the sabbatical.

4. Develop a realistic plan to achieve the goals.
Often goals are too ambitious and the allotted time for the sabbatical does not allow enough time to achieve the goals. If goals are set that can be reached, the minister will derive a sense of satisfaction from the sabbatical.

5. Plan your reentry
Returning from a sabbatical may be more difficult than going on one. It may be difficult to get back in touch with the total situation all at once. Consider and adjustment period when returning. One wise seminary professor once remarked, “It is not possible to board a moving train with a perpendicular leap.” Therefore, the pastor needs to run alongside for a while to catch up with the church’s momentum. While advance planning was necessary for embarking on the sabbatical, it is no less important for returning from it.

The sabbatical is an important event in the life of both pastor and congregation. It is one of the most effective ways for clergy and congregation to develop and maintain a long-term relationship. It can be a vital ingredient in a mutually beneficial relationship. Before either pastors or church staff and their churches seek to sever relationships, they need to consider the mutual benefits of a sabbatical. The result of all this may be that ultimately both will return to the Lord’s vineyard with a new sense of refreshment, ready now to take on new tasks in His service.

Charles Dickson is a freelance writer, living in Hickory, North Carolina. Adapted by Craig Webb from a previously published article. Used by permission.

Note: In the 2005 National Clergy Renewal Program, the Lilly Endowment anticipates awarding as many as 100 grants of up to $45,000 each directly to Christian congregations for the support of a renewal program for their pastor. Learn more at

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Eye-Witness Disaster Wisdom to Pastors

NPPNote: Joe, a pastor-to-pastors, writes as an eye-witness to the recent Katrina disaster...

What I Tell Our Pastors In These Crucial Times
by Joe McKeever

As I write, just a month after Katrina, ministers from metro New Orleans are trying to regather their flocks and assess their situations. Many are considering the offers of help arriving from every corner of the planet. A group of Korean pastors showed up in Kenner the other day to assist our local ministers. God's people from all fifty states are sending help. A
pastor search committee in Alaska asked me to recommend one of our newly displaced ministers as a possible shepherd for their congregation. Daily, I'm hearing from ministers who are not returning to New Orleans, and from those who have returned and wonder what to do next.

What is a pastor to do in these times? Here are my suggestions.

1. If you've never been, this is the time to become a person of prayer.
Prayer is need-driven, we're told, and now every spiritual leader discovers that anew. "It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps," according to Jeremiah 10:23. I'm always glad to help when ministers turn to me, but there is so much I cannot do, and so little I can. However, there is One who is a fountain of unending blessing, a reservoir of limitless inspiration, an encyclopedia of infinite wisdom. Ask your Father.

2. Do not handle finances. This is so crucial, I almost said it first. In many cases, churches and religious organizations will be sending hundreds of thousands of dollars your way to assist in the rebuilding of your worship facility. I'm so glad to be able to tell overwhelmed pastors that you're not alone in this time, that God has His people and His churches who are going to stand with you in this. But you need to be aware of the pitfalls early on.

If your church does not already have financial structures and guidelines in place for handling money--incoming and outgoing--and for keeping accurate records, stop now and get some. Call your leaders together and make a plan. Need help? There is plenty, ranging from the leaders of a larger church near you, to your associational office, to your state convention office. Your bank has people who will advise you. I cannot emphasize too strongly that no pastor should touch the money. Outside friends may mail you the checks, but you should immediately get them into the hands of responsible church leaders who will keep good records and administer them faithfully, then write thank you notes to the givers.

Your church needs more than one person overseeing the finances; you want to protect your bookkeeper or treasurer. Show him or her this paper. The dangers of financial temptation are everywhere and we are all susceptible. Even well-intentioned treasurers or bookkeepers may get into major trouble by keeping poor records.

Already, some $400,000 has been sent to our associational account which we set up with the Louisiana Baptist Foundation in Alexandria. When we request portions of this sum, it will be transferred to our account, and from there we will write checks (or do wire transfers) to our churches to assist with various needs. In some cases, we may give money directly to ministers who have lost their homes. Freddie Arnold and I will make the decisions together, our administrative assistant Meredith Johnson will cut the checks, I will sign them, and Meredith will mail them and keep the records. We will open all books to our finance committee and anyone who contributed to this fund will be able to get complete records on how the money was used. We are determined to be faithful!

3. Keep a daily journal. The day will come when you will look back on this as the most unusual, the most demanding, the most intense period of your career. Being human, you may forget things that were said, people who blessed you, lessons you learned. So write it down. In the stationary department of a bookstore, purchase two or three wordless books. Don't use
a spiral-bound notebook; you want something more substantial. Writing in longhand is better than typing at the computer. Leave a record of your Katrina Days for your grandchildren. Future generations will be talking about this event and studying these days as long as this nation stands. Write it all down: the funny stories, the frustrations, your tears and fears, whom you saw and what was said, your prayers, the Scriptures, your sermons. Put it all down. This is not a diary but a journal. It will be
read in the future and quoted in your granddaughter's sociology class. Write it for her. Your grandson will learn about your faith and will study it intently; write it for him.

4. Don't exaggerate in your ministry. Nothing reveals the shallowness of a man of God, his desire for praise, his susceptibility to vanity, more than the tendency to inflate numbers. Be careful--always, but particularly now--in reporting the number of people in your services last Sunday, how many needy persons received meals from your church, the number of people your congregation helped in your neighborhood. We may take a lesson from Billy Graham. Standing at the podium in a stadium packed with a hundred thousand persons, he announces, "Hundreds are coming forward." Not thousands and not ten thousands. Just hundreds. Watching on television or sitting in the stands, you can see the numbers are far beyond "hundreds." But something inside you resonates positively. This preacher is not bragging. They will eventually have precise numbers of each one counseled and helped, but you will not hear it bandied about as though this establishes the validity of Mr. Graham's ministry.

Our Lord instructed His followers to take the lowest seat and not seek our own honor (Luke 14). If your host decides to honor you, the event shines with a brighter luster than if you promoted yourself.

5. Get with other pastors in your neighborhood, encourage each other, pray together. Katrina has dramatically demonstrated how we interdependent we all are on each other. Your church is not in competition with anyone but the world, the flesh, and the devil, the unholy trinity. Lighthouses are never in competition. Practice asking other ministers: "Is there anything I can do for you?" "What can I pray for you?" and the old faithful, "Wanna get a cup of coffee?"

There was a time, perhaps, when you shied away from ministerial meetings. You were too busy, you said, to waste your time in socializing. And besides, the speakers were boring. No more. This is the time for our church leaders to assemble regularly, to share what God is doing, what He is saying, to get information on how to rebuild, to learn what resources are out there, to pray together. And let me just put it out here plainly: you need some friends. You need a buddy who is experiencing what you are, someone with the same fears and faith, the same tasks looming before him.

Our Lord sent the disciples out in groups, sometimes as seventy, sometimes twelve, but never less than two. If He knew I need a buddy, how dare I dispute it.

You may set this in concrete: some of the most productive time you will ever spend in the kingdom of God may be the half-hour over coffee at McDonald's with the pastor down the street. Don't deny yourself this blessing!

6. There's one more pitfall to watch out for: fatigue will trip you up. You give and give and give some more, and soon there's nothing left in the tank. You need to replenish your inner resources, and that means taking care of your body, your home, and your inner life. Get your rest, take an off day, go for a long walk each day, and shut your system down for a while. Spend quiet times with the Father; that inner voice telling you that you do not have time for this, that you can do it later, is lying.

Fatigue will make you critical of your co-workers and short-tempered with the people you value most. Fatigue will cause you to cut corners of accountability, to fail to follow your own rules. Fatigue will inflate your ego, accommodate your fears, exaggerate your failings, and underrate what God is doing. The work of God must always be done by humble people with servant hearts; fatigue destroys the humility and poisons the heart.

"Come ye apart and rest a while," our Lord told the disciples. He knew what they needed and He knows what you need. Don't argue.

7. Don't be afraid. Be the leader God called you. When you are criticized, love your critic but do not come down to his level. Keep your eyes on the Father, listen to anyone who assails you in case the Father is sending help in this roundabout manner (see how David dealt with his critic in II Samuel 16:11-12), and stay the course.

This is the time for courage. Get with your co-workers, have staff meetings, project faith. They will catch your contagious spirit. (They will also pick up on your fears, too, so watch out.)

In your quiet time, read the last chapters of Deuteronomy and the first of Joshua, noticing all the times Moses and the Lord urged Joshua to "be strong and of good courage." It's always in order, but sometimes more than others.

This is a time for courage and faith, for bold action. The faint-hearted never returned from the evacuation, but took that well-established church in Normal-land and left the remnants of his scattered flock to pick up the pieces and go forward the best they could. But not you. You came back. You want to see God send a new day in this city. You cry out to God for a
spiritual revival. You will get with God in the quietness of your study and prepare the sermon He gives you. You will stand in the pulpit and deliver it with strength and firmness. Then, you will walk out of the sanctuary and put on your old clothes and get dirty alongside teams mucking out homes and hauling off trash. You will get tired-er than you have ever been in your life. You will laugh and hug and cry. You will be tested and tried more than at any time in your life. And in the midst of it, you will feel sorry for those who didn't come back, who are missing this. Because even in your worst moments, you realize you would not miss this for the world.

You are a man of God. Finally, you're getting the opportunity to prove itto yourself.
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