Pastor

Family Over Ministry

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This is a second post in a series of reflections based on Jared Wilson’s book “The Pastor’s Justification.”


Pastor’s kids are notorious for rejecting the tenets of Christianity. Although pastors are not always at blame for this phenomenon, we need to consider the role we have played.

The truth is many pastors sacrifice their families on the altar of ministry and then wonder why their children hate the church!

Sure, we dress it up in religious language but the core reason is idolatry. We have found our identity in our ministry activity rather than the finished work of the cross. This has forced us to perform for the masses in an effort to receive our justification from the applause of our congregants rather than the affirmation of the Father.

Many pastors miss the entirety of their son’s or daughter’s childhood because they spent the majority of their time in church meetings. This has been the failure of pastors throughout history – some even placed their kids in orphanages so that they wouldn’t be a distraction from the ministry!

This is what Jared Wilson has to add to this conversation:
“One cannot even be allowed to pastor a church if he cannot or will not pastor his family.”

Here’s the truth: Your church can have a multitude of pastors but your kids only get one dad and your wife gets one husband. WHY THE HECK do we throw away our families pursuing the idol of ministry “success”?!

Why does the church become a mistress that our families must compete with?

God has gifted Ashley & I with a beautiful daughter named Ava – she is currently a little older than 6 months old. When she was born I made a commitment before God and my wife: If ministry ever causes my family to love Jesus or the church less I will walk away completely.

I really mean it.

I have arranged my schedule so that I am home virtually every evening during the week so that I do not miss out on Ava’s childhood. I work 6 days a week and take Tuesdays off to be with my family. I intentionally work a full day on Saturdays and use these days to meet with people for counseling, discipleship, and meetings. I once did all of these things in the evenings but now my schedule has been freed up to engage my family rather than burn myself out through nightly meetings!

This is a problem for more than just pastors – it is a symptom of the toxic busyness evangelicals embrace without discernment.

Here’s my question for you today: Are you sacrificing your family on the altar of work? success? promotions? income? church? ministry?

Be honest.

What practical changes do YOU need make to your schedule to love, serve, support, and prioritize your family above every other human relationship and endeavor?

I Meet With a Therapist.

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I am utterly weak and unqualified to be a pastor.

My leadership is ruled more by timidity than boldness. My actions often derive from a desire to please people rather than God. The motivation behind my preaching springs from a desire for the praise of man rather than the affirmations of the Father… far more than I’d like to admit.

I stress the need for community while drowning in isolation. I proclaim the importance of confession while remaining silent about my own sin. Each Sunday, I exhort people with the message that God loves broken people… while practically denying the same message for my own life.

In short, I am broken.

In my own mind, sin is often a greater delicacy than the glory of God. I sink my teeth into this disgusting, mold-covered appetizer while believing the lie that it offers a greater freedom than obedience to Jesus.

I shared some of these realities with my church recently. I’ve always thought only weak, needy, and emotionally sick people need to see a professional counselor on a regular basis.

I still believe this.

I just realized that I also fall into this category.

I have started meeting with a professional Christian therapist at Sioux Falls Psychological Services in order to pursue Christ-centered wholeness. I debated whether or not to share this with people because it would reveal the illusion of my perfection. It was into this internal argument that the Holy Spirit resounded the paradoxical words of the Apostle Paul:

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. – 2 Corinthians 12:9

I don’t have all the answers. People come to me on a regular basis expecting counseling… not realizing that I am utterly aware of how inadequate I am to provide it for them.

Pastor – the Gospel you proclaim is for you.

Our identity isn’t found in the mask of perfection we wear on Sundays. Our righteousness doesn’t flow from the weekly attendance or yearly budget at our churches. Jesus – the only Perfect One to ever live – willingly subjected Himself to brutal torture and crucifixion for the wrath that we justly deserve. This same Jesus resurrected from the grave – offering eternal life, forgiveness, and a foreign righteousness to all who come to Him by faith.

Jesus lived the perfect life we could not live… died the death we deserve to die… and rose from the dead for our justification.

There is a Great Physician that skillfully applies healing salve to the wounds of his people – even pastors. It’s okay to not be okay. 

Pastor… Where’s Your Passion?

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This post is based on the book The Democratization of American Christianity by Nathan O. Hatch. Hatch outlines the influence of Christianity in the early United States. 


I recently had the honor of preaching at an outdoor church service in Garretson, SD. The main point of my message was “Religion without relationship brings destruction.” In other words, if we practice cold religion without an encounter with the Living God, we will deceive ourselves about our relationship with God.

As I was teaching through the text, I noticed an elderly couple close to the front row. I could tell that they were very religious; I thought they may have been offended by my message.

After the service, this elderly couple approached me. I was preparing myself to be scolded for the harshness of my message towards dead religion. I noticed their countenance was one of joy, not anger. With an almost prophetic pronouncement, they quietly told me, “I wish every pastor had as much passion as you do when they preach! Most pastors seem almost bored!”

It didn’t always use to be this way. There was a time when pastors were passionate about the Gospel and zealous to make converts… especially in the early U.S.

Nathan O. Hatch explains why this passion faded, “The allure of respectability dampened the original fire of the religious populist.”

Pastor, you are NOT called to be a professional. Ministry is not a career with the purpose of advancing to the next big church… it is a calling from God! In the name of “respectability” many ministers have drenched their passion in the freezing water of professionalism. Rather than heralding the glorious truths of Scripture, pastors trudge through a text without it first interfering in their own lives. The result is clear; our pulpits are filled with men and women who are too cowardly to boldly proclaim the Gospel. They are content with hanging pieces of paper with faded ink on their walls to demonstrate their calling to ministry.

THIS IS RIDICULOUS!

The Bible is the most incredible work of literature ever written! All of Scripture is “inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work (2 Tim. 3:16-17).”

If you put people to sleep when you teach the Bible… please stop.

If you view ministry as a profession rather than a calling… please stop.

If you seek the praise of man rather than the approval of God… please stop.

If you have no passion for this INCREDIBLE message called the Gospel… please stop.

Friends, we do not need more professionals. We need more preachers who will teach the whole counsel of God’s Word and call His people to repentance, forgiveness, and grace. We don’t need churches which are monuments of the 1950s – we need communities of believers, filled with the Holy Spirit, bringing renewal to the utter brokenness around them. We NEED Christians, who are no longer content living a Christianized version of the American Dream, to take up their cross and actually follow Jesus… EVEN if it means ridicule, death, and persecution.

Do you disagree with me? Does Paul’s description of himself and the other leaders of the early church seem professional?

“For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like those condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to human beings. We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are honored, we are dishonored! To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer kindly. We have become the scum of the earth, the garbage of the world—right up to this moment.” – 1 Cor. 4:9-13

Your Church NEEDS to Change in Three Ways!

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The future is often stuck in a perpetual replay of the past. The events and attitudes of yesterday mold and shape tomorrow. Studying history can be incredibly prophetic in understanding the landscape of the 21st century.

One of the books I am reading for seminary is called The Democratization of American Christianity by Nathan Hatch. Before you close out of my blog and assume that this has no relevance in your context since it is academic, STOP! Hatch gives a vivid view of how the Revolution influenced Christianity in the early republic… and it has DIRECT relevance for churches today!

Don’t believe me? Consider this reflection by Nathan Hatch:
“With the rise of fierce religious competition, movements that employed more aggressive measures prospered. Churches reluctant to compete on the same terms declined.”

The churches which were most effective in reaching lost people with the Gospel were those which employed radical means to make disciples. These aggressive churches were criticized by the established churches as being too progressive and radical in their outreach… sound familiar?

Churches in the 21st century MUST embrace change. Don’t get me wrong. I believe the message needs to continually come directly from Scripture and exalt the person and work of Jesus Christ. Our message CANNOT change… but these THREE things should!

1. We need to harness the power of media!
One of the revolutionary things these radical churches did was utilize the power of mass media. The established churches refused to distribute pamphlets and speak in a “common” language… hence they did not reach the average American!

This is still true in the western world. Churches need to harness the incredible power of media – ESPECIALLY social media! 78% of Americans have a social media account. In light of this statistic, there are MANY churches who refuse to establish a presence on social media. There is an audience waiting to connect with your church and you NEED to learn the basics of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for the sake of the Gospel!

2. We need to strive for excellence in preaching!
The pastors which excelled in reaching the lost in the early Republic were those that displayed passion in their preaching! Far too many pastors are content with delivering a dry lecture with no emotion when they enter into the pulpit.

Pastor, eternity literally hangs in the balance every time you open the Scriptures before your people.

I do not understand how many pastors put people to sleep when sharing the INCREDIBLE story of God’s love for people! DO NOT get in the pulpit if you aren’t willing to be passionate about Jesus Christ. Dry lectures and intellectual language does not change people… the simple message of the Gospel does!

3. We need to empower the church for ministry!
One of the criticisms lobbied at these aggressive churches was against the abundance of “common” people involved in the ministry. READ EPHESIANS 4:12. Pastors are given to the church to EQUIP people for the work of ministry! If the people in your church are content with sitting in a pew while paid “professionals” do the work of the ministry, your church will die!

God has gifted your church with incredible men, women, and children called to the ministry! Each Christian in your church is part of the Body of Christ and the entire Body needs to work together in order to advance the Gospel. You need to train the people in your church to see themselves as ministers… not religious consumers!


What are some other ways the church needs to change in order to reach lost people? Let me know by leaving a comment!

We have authority issues…

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I LOVE history.

One of the things I find incredible about studying history is the direct relevance it has on our lives today. I’m currently reading a book called The Democratization of American Christianity. The book explores 19th century Christianity in the early United States. It has given me amazing insight into why we act the way we do!

One of the issues we have as Christians in the west is a problem with authority. This is what gave rise to 100,000+ denominations in a short amount of time. This is what helped propel democracy into a time-tested institution.

When it comes to the church, our authority issues are toxic.

Hebrews 13:17 
“Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls and will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with sighing—for that would be harmful to you.”

Let’s look at this verse together. I want to make three observations to explain why our rejection of authority is to our own detriment and sorrow:

1. God has placed leaders in the church.
Many Christians have a romantic but unrealistic view of church authority. Church members often believe they should have a vote in EVERY decision made at a church. From the color of the carpet to the tone of the preacher; this is unrealistic! If a church votes on every decision and overrides the pastor repeatedly, the church has effectively stripped the pastor of any sort of fruitful leadership.

Many churches don’t want a pastor, they want a chaplain.

They want someone who will bow down to the felt needs of the congregation rather than boldly proclaim the Gospel. God has placed qualified and faithful leaders in the church to actually LEAD!

2. These leaders should be deeply concerned about your soul.
Pastors have many things to do. It is easy for them to become distracted by issues which are of no significance in the grand scheme of things if there is not a team of people around them.

The pastors in a church should not exercise domineering, CEO-like leadership. Instead the leadership should come from a place of deep humility, supernatural gentleness, and grave concern for the salvation of the church. Your pastor (probably) spends hours each week laboring on your behalf at the throne of grace. He is continually on his knees pleading with God for the salvation of his hearers.

3. These leaders will give an account to God of how they lead you. 
Pastoral leadership carries a terrifying weight. God has entrusted His people to the leadership of a church to shepherd and proclaim the Gospel. On top of this, pastors face intense spiritual warfare as they advance into the ruin and wickedness of this world.

Rather than trying to buck the authority of your leaders, pray for them. Rather than being easily offended and sending a nasty e-mail, allow your love to cover a multitude of sins.

Pastors are broken people trying (and often failing) to imitate the Good Shepherd. They are in desperate need of the grace and mercy which comes from the Gospel… just like YOU!

Instead of being the person with deep authority issues that the pastor has to shield himself from, make the ministry a joy. Allow your pastor to shepherd, lead, and boldly proclaim the Gospel… this is for YOUR good!

Why Seminary?

Why Seminary

As some of you may know, I will begin attending Sioux Falls Seminary this Fall. I have received many questions and congratulations as I begin my new journey into higher education. With that being said, I also believe people have assumed certain reasons as to why I am going – some of them being true and some of them being false.

In order to articulate to you as much as to myself, let me clear up the confusion.

I’m NOT going to seminary to be a pastor.
My goal is to continue to pastor and serve God in the context of a local church but that is NOT the primary reason I am going to seminary. I do NOT believe one needs to attend seminary to pastor a church. With that being said, I DO believe pastors should be highly educated and trained for ministry. Seminary is simply one tool (and just that, a tool) to prepare men and women for ministry.

I received most of my training through The Rescue Church; learning from seasoned pastors in the context of practical ministry. This has been an excellent resource as I have pioneered and launched both an online campus and a physical campus through the training I received.

I’m NOT going to seminary to be respected.
If I were to be respected simply because I have letters after my name then I would rather not be in that person’s company. I know of pastors and leaders that have absolutely no formal education and have an impact far greater than one could imagine simply because they are passionate about Jesus (see Charles Spurgeon).

If you ever feel adequate for ministry because of your education, you are NOT ready for the pastorate.

No amount of formal or informal education will completely equip you to serve in ministry. The pastorate is purposely impossible to do in human strength so that pastors rely solely on God’s power.

Once you reach a place of drifting comfortably in ministry, you are leading the church towards stale stagnancy or worse, devastating destruction.

I AM going to Seminary to learn.
This SHOULD be a given, unfortunately it is not. I have seen many men who, having already received training through their church, arrive at seminary with an arrogant, unteachable attitude. If anything, my time in ministry has shown me how much I am LACKING, not how much I know.

One of the disadvantages of informal training is lack of different perspectives. I tend to stay within my “tribe” of Christianity rather than having conversations with those who disagree with me. I am challenged practically by informal training and challenged theologically through formal schooling.

Ultimately, I want to have my theology structured from Scripture, not pragmatics and experience.

Specifically, I am looking forward to learning and growing in the following areas:

  • Church History
  • Pastoral Counseling
  • Greek and Hebrew
  • Preaching
  • Church Polity (Structure)

As I am challenged over the next four years, I am convinced this list will grow (which is what I am excited for!)

I AM going to Seminary to be obedient.
For many people, as I said before, seminary is simply one tool of many to prepare for ministry. For me, I believe I am disobedient to God if I do not pursue formal training and education. I have felt the Holy Spirit call me to attend seminary and He has opened the doors to make it possible.

My biggest smokescreen to skip out on seminary was the price. How the heck is a minister in a rural setting suppose to pay off graduate level debt?!

When I first visited Sioux Falls Seminary, I bluntly told the man I met with that I am not willing to go into debt for a master’s degree. He then explained to me the Kairos Project at the seminary. In a nutshell, the Kairos Project is for people who are already involved in ministry. Instead of the education being formed around classes, it is formed around mentors. One of the greatest benefits of the Kairos Project is the cost, it is only $300/month for a Master of Divinity! (This price will go up to around $600/month but I will be locked into the $300/month rate as I am one of the first students going through it.)

Unfortunately, the Kairos Project has very limited room for students. I applied for Seminary late in the Summer, far past the deadline for regular acceptance, which means I was WAY behind in applying for the Kairos Project. Somehow, by the grace of God, I got accepted into both for the Fall.

Therefore, God is not only guiding me towards seminary, he is providing for it. To not go would be disobedient to His clear calling on my life.


If you are a young man (or even an older man) please do not feel as if you must attend seminary to become a pastor. I would encourage you to speak to the elders in your local church and receive both training and direction from them. Ultimately, it is the church’s job to raise up pastors, not a seminary’s.

By the way, if you are interested in learning more about the Kairos Project, you can watch the short video below:

Leadership Lessons from a Pastor

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Pastoral leadership is one of the most difficult yet rewarding leadership positions available. On a daily basis, I have the opportunity to encourage people in their faith and exhort them to live according to Scripture. Yet, part of pastoral leadership is leading volunteers. Some say that leading volunteers is comparable to herding cats (If you are part of my staff, I don’t think this is true!) This makes it more difficult than leading a business because there is no financial incentive to encourage productivity.

Below are three leadership lessons YOU should apply today; ESPECIALLY if you lead in the business sector:

1. Lead with vision.
Most of the people I lead in The Rescue Church are volunteers. This requires visionary leadership which is sadly lacking in many organizations. In the rat race of life, it is tempting to dangle financial rewards in front of employees in order to get results. This obviously does not work with volunteers – You MUST exercise leadership that goes far beyond monetary reward.

Successful leadership implements vision in every meeting; failing leadership begrudgingly offers financial security to gain loyalty.

At EVERY opportunity you should bring your people back to the vision of your company. Do NOT assume that people automatically connect their positions to the larger goal of your organization. It is nearly IMPOSSIBLE to share your organization’s vision too frequently.

2. Lead with integrity and transparency.
Paul directs pastors to lead lives that are “above reproach”. The majority of leadership qualifications in Scripture have to do with inner characteristics instead of outer performance. Although Paul is speaking specifically to leaders in the church, it would be helpful to apply these characteristics to ALL forms of leadership.

According to 1 Timothy 3:2-7, leaders should have the following characteristics:

  • Faithfulness to family
  • Self-controlled
  • Respectable
  • Hospitable to strangers
  • Gentle
  • Agreeable
  • Not greedy

Hundreds of studies have shown that ethical businesses are more profitable over time than those that focus solely on generating profit. Therefore, lead the way by exercising integrity in all of your activities, even those that do not directly affect your company. You should invite men and women to hold you accountable to the standards you have set. As a leader, you should offer your way of life as a model for those who follow you.

3. Lead your staff relationally.
Pastors intentionally build culture within the people they lead. The relationships they build with their staff are organic and influential. Pastors truly desire to know and care for those that are under their leadership.

As a business leader, you should exercise shepherd leadership. Lead in such a way that your primary focus is on cultivating character rather than generating profit; if your staff grows in their character it is inevitable they will become more productive employees.

This can be as simple as taking a genuine interest in those you lead. If your organization allows it, ask if you can pray for the employee. Even non-Christians find this comforting and encouraging. Another way you can do this is by going out of your way to encourage your employees with occasional thank-you cards, free lunches, flexible schedules, etc.


YOU should lead with vision, integrity, and relationships. What other leadership lessons can be gained from leading volunteers? Let me know by leaving a comment!