Tim Keller’s Advice for Solo Pastors who have to do it all in their Small Churches

Some pastors have to do everything because they don’t have other pastors on staff. They must marry, bury, counsel, preach, teach, lead meetings, evangelize, and sometimes even advertise.

One pastor asked Tim Keller (with Alistair Begg and another brother on the panel) for advice on how to get more sermon preparation time in light of all these other responsibilities. Tim Keller’s answer was very helpful. He basically said that the pastor should worry most about his time in personal bible reading and prayer. That is what must not get squeezed out. That is what many pastors would lose. And that, along with doing all the other things a pastor must do listed above with his people will actually make him a better preacher.

It was great advice in my view so I’m happy to record it here that it may encourage others.

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I’m not a presbyterian, but these are pretty good. They summarize in large measure what a baptist church covenant states.

The following are taken from the Presbyterian Church in America’s Book of Church Order in section 57-5:

  • Do you acknowledge yourself to be a sinner in the sight of God, justly deserving His displeasure, and without hope save in His sovereign mercy?
  • Do you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of God, and Savior of sinners, and do you receive and rest upon Him alone for salvation as He is offered in the Gospel?
  • Do you now resolve and promise, in humble reliance upon the grace of the Holy Spirit, that you will endeavor to live as becomes the followers of Christ?
  • Do you promise to support the Church in its worship and work to the best of your ability?
  • Do you submit yourself to the government and discipline of the Church, and promise to study its purity and peace?

The one missing that is in the historic baptist covenants would be summarized with a question like, “Do you promise to love all the other members, bearing their burdens and sharing their joys?”

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John MacArthur’s Practical Advice on Your First Years of Pastoral Ministry

9Marks and Mark Dever recently did a conference called, “The First Five Years” instructing and encouraging pastors on their first years in a new pastorate or church. I was really blessed by it though I missed Thabiti’s message. His is the only one not posted! Here’s what John MacArthur would have said there since he said it this past Tuesday at The Master’s Seminary Chapel.

  1. Be humble
  2. Love your wife and your kids
  3. Be extremely patient
  4. Don’t change anything
  5. Don’t be a hurry to stick leaders in there
  6. Teach the Word of God faithfully with conviction
  7. Pull around you the strongest men and any others that want to be there and accelerate their learning of the Word of God and sound doctrine
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I used 6 commentaries on James for my study and teaching. This one was easily the best one.

This is the best English commentary on James I’ve read. (I only read English commentaries). I preached 20 expository sermons on James to my local church in 2012. I used commentaries by Doug Moo (Pillar and TNTC), Alec Moyter (BST), Blomberg/Kammel (ZECNT), and Varner’s smaller discourse analysis volume. This Evangelical Exegetical Commentary (EEC) is the best of all I used. Some of those commentaries listed above were good at exegesis and historical background. Varner’s EEC volume was better and more thorough. Others listed were good on theological discussion. Varner’s was better here as well. He doesn’t avoid hard questions and yet manages to not get so bogged down in secondary discussions that you lose sight of the text your considering. Moyter’s was the best in application, but Varner’s was almost as good and better than all the others. If you can only have one English commentary to aid your study of God’s Word to preach or teach it, use Varner’s EEC volume. If you will use more than one, make sure this one is one of those you use or you’ll certainly miss key insights to the book.

I can’t speak highly enough about the commentary. I’ve been challenged and fed by the book of James. Varner helped me appreciate James’ place in the church and the place of his letter in the canon in a way no other commentary has.

PJ Tibayan
Pastor, First Southern Baptist Church
Bellflower, Los Angeles County, CA

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The SBJT Forum: Profiles of Expository Preaching

Is it genuinely important to use the biblical languages in preaching, espe- cially since there are many excellent commentaries and pastors will never attain the expertise of scholars? (Scott Hafemann answers)

Does the knowledge of church history aid the pastor in his weekly task of sermon preparation? (Timothy George answers)

What role, if any, should systematic theology play in preaching? (Carl Henry answers)

Is it important for preachers to be acquainted with the culture in which they live, or is it sufficient to preach the message of the biblical text?

What do you consider to be the essential elements of an expository sermon? (D. A. Carson answers)

Read the journal article here.

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Enriching Your Preaching through Theological Reflection – Don Carson

Enriching Your Preaching through Theological Reflection: It’s kind of broken up and there seems to be missing sections. He did 4 full lectures on it at Gordon Conwell Seminary and I bought them, but can’t post them publicly since they are for sale there. I posted the notes of his lectures here as well.

  1. Preaching and Biblical Theology (notes)
  2. Preaching and Systematic Theology (part 1 | part 2 | part 3) (notes)
  3. Preaching and Historical Theology (part 1 | part 2) (notes)
  4. Preaching and Pastoral Theology (notes)
Posted in Audio/Video Recommendations, Biblical Theology, D. A. Carson, Historical Theology, Pastoral ministry, preaching, Systematic Theology | Leave a comment

Preaching and Pastoral Theology – Don Carson

Preaching and Pastoral Theology. See whole series of “Enriching your Preaching through Theological Reflection“)

Pastoral theology – a perspective on all theological reflection that towers constantly over the entire discussion, it focuses constantly on the applicability of the word of God to the people of God. (It should not be thought of as a separate discipline)

How should pastoral theology shape our preaching? 10 exhortations.

  1. Cultivate compassion. The sermon is never to be an end in itself.
  2. Cultivate an understanding people and their needs in biblical categories.
  3. Cultivate a knowledge of the diversity of people in your church – e.g. William Perkins in The Art of Prophesying; don’t make all your illustrations from your family and stage of life.
  4. Cultivate a prepared mind and heart for the turning point in people’s lives. Marriages, births, dating and singleness, diseases, crises, deaths.
  5. Cultivate a rapid, automatic, and reflexive turn to Jesus. This will keep you from secularism and psychological analysis that never gets to Jesus Christ and the cross. Secularism doesn’t eliminate biblical truth, it just seeks to put it to the periphery.
  6. Cultivate connections between lofty thoughts of God and profound understanding of doctrine and people. Think and care for people.
  7. Cultivate the ability to weep with those who weep and rejoice with those rejoice.
  8. Cultivate prudential wisdom that refuses to give too much time to bottomless pit parishioners. They are a badge of honor in the church of the living God. But you are not to empty your life into them. Don’t do it. You are called to feed the flock of God. That means study, reflection, meditation, disciplined prayer. You can give them so much time but no more. Pit the members with the gift of handholding with bottomless pit members.
  9. Cultivate a healthy independence from your congregation. As a preacher, you must fear God and fear no other. This enables you to say what Go wants you to say.
  10. Cultivate your own maturation. Your progress should be demonstrable.



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