pecaspers: a Blog in transition

October 30, 2012

Prospective Pastor Questionnaire – Part 2

Filed under: Job Hunt,Ministry,My Life in General — pecaspers @ 9:47 PM
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2. What do you consider are the areas of your pastoral strengths? Your weaknesses?

I would say that I’m pretty strong at preaching, teaching, strategic planning, vision casting, serving in unnoticed ways, and keeping a close watch on my doctrine.

My weaknesses are that I need more practice in ongoing sermon preparation, I sometimes forget to deal with details in a timely manner because I’m looking too far ahead, I don’t always receive unsolicited criticism well, my humor is sometimes perceived as arrogance, and I lack discipline in how I order my time.

As far as ordering my time goes, I think this is largely due to the fact that my schedule is currently too flexible for my own good, and I’ve got too many irregular side jobs. I actually expect this to be less of a problem when I have more that needs doing on a regular basis. Much of my weakness comes from my relative youth in the ministry, but that also comes with a potential for greater things to come over the years yet available to me.

One more strength is that I’m pretty self-aware. Other than my wife, I really am my toughest critic. (That’s not a jab at my wife. She helps me see my blind-spots, and I am grateful to her for it, though not always immediately so–see weakness 3.) In fact, I’d list my wife among my pastoral strengths, too.

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Prospective Pastor Questionnaire – Part 1

1. What do you perceive as your biblical pastoral duties?

My duty as pastor according to the Bible is to “shepherd the flock of God that is among you,” (1 Peter 5:1). But that begs the question, “what does it mean to shepherd the flock of God?” In 1 Peter 5:1-3, Peter exhorts pastors to exercise “oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.” I think Peter has in mind the distinction Jesus made between a good shepherd and a hired hand in John 10:11-13. “…The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.” A pastor is an under-shepherd under the authority of Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd.

Actual shepherds have three main duties in caring for literal sheep: feed the sheep, protect the sheep, lead the sheep where they need to go. Pastoral duties come in those same three categories. Pastors have the duty to preach and teach God’s word, to feed God’s people on every word that comes from His mouth and to teach them how to feed themselves (Deuteronomy 8:3). 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” The pastor has all he needs in God’s word to meet the varied spiritual needs of God’s flock.

When it comes to protecting the sheep, the pastor must deal with both external and internal threats. Paul explained this to the Ephesian church leaders in Acts 20:28-32:

Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish everyone with tears. And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.

“Fierce wolves” will try to come in from the outside, other threats will arise from within the church, and it is a pastoral duty to keep the wolves away from the flock and to administer the “word of his grace” to confused sheep. Practically speaking, this means that the pastor is the point-man when it comes to issues of maintaining right doctrine and church discipline. This does not mean that the pastor must be involved in every conflict that arises in the church; that’s what deacons are for (see Question 4 for more). According to Acts 6:4, the apostles, the original pastoral team of the First Jerusalem Mega-Church, protected the church by delegating some tasks to spirit-filled men so that the apostles could “devote [themselves] to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” This also points to the pastoral duty to pray for the church, and this too is a protection for the flock.

Now we come to the pastoral duty to lead the sheep where they need to go. Paul wrote about the reason Jesus gives various kinds of leaders to the Church and to churches in Ephesians 4:11-16:

“And he gave…the shepherds and teachers to equip the saints for the work of ministry for building up the body of Christ until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

(I’ve removed a few commas which are correct according to English syntax but can cause the reader to misunderstand Paul’s thought.) Pastors have the duty of leading individual Christians and the church as a whole to spiritual maturity. Jesus gave pastors to “equip the saints for the work of ministry,” not to do it all themselves. Which is not to say that a pastor does not do ministry himself, but that he is equipping others as he does his share of ministry.

A final thing not mentioned in my list above is that any good shepherd or pastor is constantly honing his skills, training, and learning. Paul instructs his son in the ministry Timothy to “train [himself] for godliness,” to “practice” certain things before his congregation “so that all may see [his] progress”, and ultimately to “keep a close watch on [himself] and on the teaching.” Paul says that “by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers,” (1 Timothy 4:7-16). It is the duty of every pastor to keep his tools sharp, to always be learning, to always be growing, and in so doing he also is setting an example worth following.

Now, maybe you were wanting a list of things like visiting the sick, counseling the hurting, preaching on Sundays; but I figured all that goes without saying, and precisely what goes on that list depends greatly on the individual church. I can tell you that checking to see if the men’s room toilets have been flushed on Wednesday nights is not a biblical duty for youth pastors nor is it in my job description, but I still try to do it each week so our building doesn’t smell come Sunday morning.

Prospective Pastor Questionnaire – Part 0

Filed under: Job Hunt,Ministry — pecaspers @ 9:49 AM
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I’ve been seeking a church who’ll have me as their next pastor for some months now. Chances are that you already know that if you are reading this. It’s slow going. I’ll perhaps write more about the ongoing search in a future post. This post is an intro to a series of posts which are responses to a list of questions I’ve receive from a church to which I’ve applied.

Before I address any of the questions, I want to make clear a few things about the way I have answered. First, most of these issues have been dealt with by great men of the faith in thick, well researched, and completely thorough books. I’m making no attempt to cover each topic in exhaustive detail, and I’ll err on the side of simply citing Bible passages with very little commentary where Scripture speaks clearly. Secondly, I can tend to be needlessly wordy. I’ll try to rein that in, so forgive me if I’m overly brief. I know you have many of these to read. Thirdly, humor doesn’t always come across as intended if you have no prior knowledge of the author. If something catches you as off-putting in some way, then please re-read it with a big smile on your face. Thank you for your thoughtful and prayerful consideration.

January 14, 2011

Job Hunt 2011

I need a new job. No, wait, I mean that I need another job.

Things have gotten far too tight around the Caspers house, financially speaking, so it’s time for Daddy to get another job. You might be wondering what sort of job I might be looking for, and if you are, then read on my friend. Read on.

1) Pharmacy Tech
What? Paul, you really want to count pills, stock shelves, double-check medicine bottle labels? No, not really. It’s not a dream scenario. I’ve already applied to the CVS in Tallassee because…well…they had a sign. Jobs are scarce around here, and the CVS would just about be in walking distance from my house. I could totally bike it if/when I fix my old bike. Anyway, it would put me serving the public, which is good. It would be good money without smelling funny when I get home (no deep fat fryers or beef patties involved). And CVS has pretty amazing employee discounts. I’d like being a pharm tech. I’d probably learn a ton that I’d be able to use in ways untold in the future.

2) Food Pantry Manager
Do wha…? The Elmore County Food Pantry needs somebody to…umm…manage things. They need somebody to work with the volunteers and serve those in need. Do you know who has a generous helping of the spiritual gift of service? The author of this blog, that’s who. I could really dig this one. BONUS: It’s a 30 hour-a-week position that would mostly be on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Therefore, never a “Mr. Caspers, we’re going to need you to come in on Sunday or you’re fired.” “I guess I’m fired then.” Also, it would be nice to know I’m helping others who are having even more trouble making ends meet than we are (and I don’t mean that in any sort of “At least I’m not as hard up as they are” kind of way because I’m about to be). I found this one tonight, I’ll apply tomorrow.

3) Daylight Donuts
Are you serious? There’s not one of those in Tallassee! Yet, my friend. There’s not one of those in Tallassee yet. See. According to the article at that link, they could be open by February or March. Yes, I do need a job sooner than that, but if I get in on the ground floor of the new location they’ll have to train me somewhere. So I figure I train in Auburn ASAP, help coordinate the installation of the new store–I even know where they should put it–and then I am one of the Assistant Managers who receives inventory and then works three other days a week. BONUS: Free left over donuts for the youth on Sunday. DOUBLE BONUS: Super-excellent place to meet with folks for discipleship since I’d be able to discount us both/all. This is the brass ring in my book. This is the Holy Grail of chubby part-time-youth-pastor-turned bi-vocational-youth-pastor jobs. (That would have all been one perfectly acceptable word in German, just so you know.) Our Mayor posted about this on his facebook page, I messaged him about getting their contact info, he said he’d get it to me on Monday, but Monday was all icy and stuff. I’ll message him again…DONE. (I love the fact that I live in a small town where anybody who wants to be can be facebook-friends with the mayor and that it’s actually him, it’s not just some staffer in his office posting stuff on his behalf.)

Pray for me in this. These are the big three. There is also the outside possibility that I could do freelance photography and/or writing for the area newspapers, but that’s a long shot seeing as I have no camera of my own to speak of and no professional writing experience. Slightly less outside–think in the front yard as opposed to out at Chewacla–is the possibility of getting on with one of the local radio stations. That could happen since I have a couple of years of on air host/production experience and a degree in communication (everyone assumes it’s the same as mass communication, who am I to judge?), but I get the feeling it’s unlikely.

Whatever comes of this, it’ll be something new–a definite transition.
And this puts me on track with my “at least one post per week” resolution for 2011. w00t!

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