What are 3 ways for a pastor to prepare his heart before conducting a funeral?

Because there are so many elements to plan and logistics to prepare for, it is not uncommon for the pastor to have all his words prepared, service planned out, everyone in place, processional details checked off, and realize an essential element had been neglected—the pastor’s heart.  Do not become enslaved to the tyranny of funeral preparation, only to stand and conduct with an empty, drained, and calloused heart.  Do not underestimate the emotional and mental drain in comforting the grieving while preparing and performing a funeral.  Thus, there are three areas for the pastor to take time and prepare his heart, mind, and soul.

1)  Prepare for the unexpected.

Just when you think you have seen it all—the next funeral reveals you haven’t.  Even if you have seen fights break out, arrests made, uncontrollable wailing, family members and pallbearers fainting, caskets dropped and knocked over, shouting conflicts between families and funeral directors, or funeral attire that would make most people blush,  these experiences do not mean at all the next funeral will fit these experiences.  Because of this, prepare to see anything.  Prepare to get the craziest response to something you say.  Prepare to watch families at their worst.  This will allow you to think clearly and wisely when the unexpected happens.

2)  Prepare to minister God’s word

Though there is much to manage, administrate, and facilitate, you are not the concierge of the funeral.  You are a minister of God’s word and a preacher of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Prepare your heart, mind and soul however you must, so that when you stand before people at the beginning of the funeral service, you stand to minister God’s word, trusting God will work mightily through his word.

3)  Prepare to extend the hope of Christ.

You are not there to solve the family conflicts or to help the funeral home learn how to function more smoothly.  You are there to clearly present to each person the hope we have from sin and death because of Christ.  You can best prepare by thinking about who will be at the funeral service.  Consider what kinds of questions you could ask the family to surmise their spiritual condition as you talk with them.  Prepare questions ahead of time from the words you have prepared to share, so that gospel opportunities might show themselves in those conversations.

Wearing your administrator and facilitator cap through the process is necessary.  It will serve you as a helpful companion to maneuver through all the details and demands that always accompany funerals.  Nevertheless, you are ultimately a pastor and evangelist who is called upon by the Chief Shepherd to prepare and conduct funerals of dead men as “a dying man preaching to dying men.” Prepare and conduct funerals knowing the grieving are hurting, longing for tender care, and must look to Jesus as their only hope.

Posted in Funerals, The Pastor's Soul

Gospel Conversations by Bob Kellemen (Foreword by Brian Croft) – Now Available

Kellmen book

We are always looking for practical tools to help pastors care for their flocks.  Gospel Conversations: How To Care Like Christ by Bob Kellemen (Foreword by Brian Croft) is one of the most practical guides I have every seen on how to do counseling and train others to do it.  I gladly wrote the foreword for it.

Here is a portion of that foreword:

The truths of the gospel must permeate the deeper places of the heart in a raw and honest way. Otherwise, those truths become a mental exercise that stay on the surface of the soul and only bring an illusion of change without true healing.

This is especially true with the ministry of soul care. To treat the deep brokenness of the soul with heady theories and spirited debates is like a heart surgeon thinking a successful heart transplant has been accomplished by merely trimming a scab off one’s chest. The soul must be reached to do effective soul care. Since the gospel of Jesus Christ is the only thing that gives us hope, healing, and life to our souls, the gospel must infiltrate the soul for true lasting healing to come in the midst of the layers of pain, scars, and hurt that each of us lug around in the crevasses of our souls. This cannot be done without a knowledgeable guide who is also a skillful practitioner—someone who has a strong grasp on the saving power of the gospel yet knows the interworking of the soul to know how to reach its depths with that gospel and help others do the same in a real, authentic way.

The book you hold in your hand uniquely does both. Bob Kelleman is over-qualified to teach and lecture on all facets of biblical counseling, evidenced not just in the myriads of letters at the end of his name, but in the respect and reputation he has earned among his academic colleagues and fellow biblical counselors. But more importantly, Bob has a unique gift to take the truths of the gospel he knows so well, and skillfully move them to the heart and help others do the same. Gospel Conversations: How to Care Like Christ is one of the finest demonstrations of that skillful movement I have ever read. It is a practical, well-balanced, and an incredibly useful tool that will press others to be real, raw, and honest in the safety of Christian community, which is essential to get to those deeper places in our souls.  

This excellent book released today.  Get a copy for a good price on Paperback or Kindle.

 

Posted in Book Recommendation, Oversight of Souls

Next Practical Shepherding Workshop – @SBTS Thursday, October 29, 2015

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We are excited to announce that our next Practical Shepherding Workshop will be on Thursday, October 29, 2015 from 1:00 pm – 6:00 pm.  It will be held at the Legacy Center on the campus of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY.  This half-day intense workshop will act as a post-conference training to follow The Expository Summit Conference, which is also held on SBTS campus.

What is a Practical Shepherding Workshop?

Our Practical Shepherding Workshop is an intense one day practical training for pastors, church leaders, and aspiring pastors that focus on the life of a pastor to “Pay careful attention to yourself and your flock” (Acts 20:28).  We accomplish this by focusing on 5 main areas:

  • The Pastor’s Soul (The personal care of a pastor’s own soul)
  • The Pastor’s Ministry (The 10 priorities of every busy pastor’s ministry)
  • The Pastor’s Family (Discussing how a pastor can more faithfully care for his family)
  • The Pastor’s Journey (Brian Croft tells the painful, yet redemptive story of his first 10 years as Senior pastor of Auburndale Baptist Church)
  • The Pastor’s Inquiry (A time of “Q and A” with a panel of PS endorsed pastors moderated by Brian Croft)

Register now and get the early bird registration cost.  You must register and pay to reserve your spot.  Limited seating!

Register and pay through this link: PS Workshop at SBTS

For more information on our workshops go Here

Posted in Promotion, The Pastor's Soul, Training for Ministry

Why should Christians come together to hear God’s Word preached in person every week?

By: Brian Croft

Modern technology provides many benefits. Information can be exchanged at an unprecedented rate. The level of productivity can be astounding. Face-to-face conversations can be had with people halfway around the world. But there are also dark sides to this technology. We as Christians are very aware of the many common snares of this modern technology, not least of which is the ease of access to pornography. For Christians who are trying to walk in purity and holiness, the challenge begins with the confrontation of lurid images and tempting captions on seemingly innocuous websites such as Facebook and news outlets.

There is, however, a more subtle snare lurking in this world of immediate access to information that affects Christians in a unique way: the temptation of allowing online sermons to displace one’s commitment to hearing God’s Word preached in person alongside fellow covenant members at the place and time where their local church gathers. Don’t misunderstand: listening to sermons online is generally a good thing. But when it takes the place of gathering with God’s people to hear God’s Word in person from the appointed shepherd of your soul, much of what God intended for our growth as followers of Jesus gets lost.

Here are five important reasons why it is essential that every Christian gather with other Christians in the same local church weekly to hear the preaching of God’s Word from the undershepherds of that congregation.

Read the rest of this September 2015 Table Talk article here

Posted in Oversight of Souls, Preaching
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