Updated: Apr 5
Supporting Those in Ministry
Far from being the only group that is concerned about supporting pastors, our presbytery is one of many organizations that are aware of the need for connection and support amongst those in ministry. Many resources are available about pastors’ well-being (or lack thereof). Some are from a Reformed perspective; some cover the gamut of Christianity in America. Here are several.
Research by Barna Group - "A Rapid Decline in Pastoral Security"
An article by Christianity Today - “Our Pulpits Are Full of Empty Preachers”
A book by Edwin Friedman - A Failure of Nerve: Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix
A book by Bob Burns, Tasha Chapman, and Donald C. Guthrie - Resilient Ministry: What Pastors Told Us About Surviving and Thriving
Reaching Native Americans
If you are interested in learning more about ministry within a Native American context, here is a podcast by Greg Baney and a book that he recommends.
Sacred Wonder on Spotify - Greg started this podcast in 2020 and 2021 (with the potential for future episodes). Baney describes it as, “A virtual safe place for local Native people to pose questions pertaining to Christianity, culture, and society at large. We wish to explore what it looks like to believe in God, Christianity, and the Bible and what role our faith plays in shaping our identity. We will also consider what role our identity plays in influencing our faith.”
Mission and the Cultural Other: A Closer Look by Randy S. Woodley - This book is described as a “decolonial critique of a too often failed missionary enterprise. Rev. Dr. Randy Woodley, a former missionary and missiologist, writes both as an insider and an outsider. As an Indigenous person, a missionary among Native Americans, and a decolonial theologian with over thirty years of experience in various missionary movements, he has seen the best and worst that American mission has to offer. Before change can be made in a guarded system such as Christian mission, the critique must be pervasive and cut to the core of the problem. To truly understand the weakness of modern mission, we need to hear from those who have been its casualties.”
Hustle & Hurry
Life in the modern world is busy, crowded, and overfull. Ironically, this email is one of many that will crowd your inbox and vie for your attention. In the words of Dallas Willard, “Hurry is the great enemy of spiritual life in our day.” Here are several resources from various denominational backgrounds that seek to refocus our overcrowded lives on the gospel.
Fight Hustle, End Hurry - A podcast by John Mark Comer (pastor) and Jefferson Bethke (author) as they converse together about their personal experiences with trying to slow down and create space.
The Common Rule: Habits of Purpose for an Age of Distraction by Justin Whitmel Earley
byFaith Church Planting Stories
The magazine of the PCA, byFaith, recently published several articles about church planting.
“Three Things to Help Your Church Plant Survive” - Tom Gibbs, president of Covenant Theological Seminary with years of experience leading a church, shares three pieces of advice for true church strength and vitality.
“Buckeye Renewal: Church Planting in the Rust Belt’s Rocky Soil” - While we work in the Tennessee Valley Presbytery, our brothers and sisters are working in rural areas of Ohio. “The people we have coming on Sundays now, and who are committed to community groups — these are people who didn’t belong to a church two years ago.” - Pastor Jason Piteo
Church Revitalization & Health
Here are several resources that may interest church members and leaders alike who care about church health.
From Embers to a Flame: How God Can Revitalize Your Church - Harry Reeder, senior pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian Church, writes about weaknesses that churches may encounter and ways to grow in health.
The Rise & Fall of Mars Hill on Spotify and Apple Podcasts - “It is dangerous when pastors start to push their agenda heavily. This podcast unveiled that to the world, and it's a helpful listen for any pastor.” - Andy Aikens
NextGen Pastors - While not directly related to church planting or revitalization, this organization uses a cohort model to provide pastors with the support needed to thrive and remain gospel-oriented. Similar cohort models have aided revitalization and planting pastors in our presbytery.
“Where Does Church Revitalization Start?” - This article offers an interesting look at the unique giftings of revitalization pastors.
Faith Driven Investor with Ron Blue
“Money is the greatest barrier to my relationship with the Lord,” says Ron Blue, the founder of Ronald Blue Trust, a $13.5 billion financial planning firm. The podcast Faith Driven Investor featured Ron as he shared why stewardship is just as much about investing as it is giving. This podcast series encourages believers to align our investments with God’s heart.
While most of us are not leading multi-billion dollar firms, money still controls our hearts more than we’d like to admit. Check out this episode of Faith Driven Investor on Apple Podcasts if you want to invest for God’s kingdom.
Let’s talk about money. For most of us, money isn’t our topic of choice, but Jesus talks about it often. He knows that our hearts are easily ruled by finances. We hope the resources below encourage you in your giving journey and help you think through questions about generosity.
“Less Stress, More Joy: Ask These 5 Questions” by National Christian Foundation
“3 Questions for Jesus' Financially Fearful Flock” by National Christian Foundation
Meditations posted by Generosity Monk - Anyone can sign up for these free daily meditations on generosity.
“Why Plant Churches?” by Tim Keller
Have you ever wondered why many church leaders think it’s important to plant new churches? Maybe you’ve thought, “We already have plenty of churches that have lots and lots of room for all the new people who have come to the area. Let’s get them filled before we start building any new ones.” Tim Keller addresses this objection and other common concerns about church planting in his article, “Why Plant Churches?”
Are you called to join a church plant?
As part of God’s gospel mission, we are all called to care about church planting, but not everyone is called to join a church plant. Below are some helpful articles as you seek to discern the Lord’s call for you and your family.
Evangelism and church plants go hand-in-hand, but sharing the gospel isn’t limited to church planters and missionaries. All followers of Jesus are called to be “on mission,” so here are some resources to encourage you as you talk with neighbors, coworkers, and friends.
Read about how Cru (Campus Crusade) uses single words to start spiritual conversations: "Start a Spiritual Conversation With One Word"
If evangelism in a culture of relativism seems impossible, listen to this 2-minute video of R.C. Sproul: Evangelism & Relativism
Reformed theology teaches predestination, so why do we need to evangelize? In this 30-minute class and through the lens of Reformed theology, R.C. Sproul explains the freedom and joy we have in our evangelistic roles: The Divine Initiative: Chosen by God