One of the great privileges, honors, and blessings in my life is to work with candidates for ordained ministry in the Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church. I thoroughly enjoy getting to know them and helping them navigate their way through a process that has plenty of highs and lows, (a process that I too have been through), but a process that will hopefully aid in preparing them to shepherd and serve Christ and his Church.
The good folks seeking ordination that I work with are not only my brothers and sisters in Christ, (as well as co-laborers in ministry), but have also become my friends. It’s a covenantal fellowship in which we speak the same language and share many of the same experiences, though in a variety of ministry settings. To be a shepherd of souls is no small calling, and is one that requires an extraordinary amount of grace appropriated through faith.
In our monthly meetings we gather for about an hour-and-a-half to discuss the state of our ministries, our churches, theology, pastoral care, our callings, etc. Seldom is there a dull moment. After our “official” time together, we typically go to a local restaurant and continue chatting about what we had been discussing or move on to other topics. Regardless of the content, the experience of meeting with this group always enriches and blesses me. I thank God for allowing me to be a part of it.
As the leader of this particular local fellowship, I am constantly seeking ways to add value to it. The temptation to “do what we’ve always done” pulls at me constantly. Thus, I thought that perhaps one more way to add value would be to share some fo the Internet resources for pastoral ministry that come my way each week. One of my great weaknesses, (there are many from which to choose), is that I sign up for virtually everything on the world-wide web that interests me. The downside is that I spend a great deal of time deleting things I never read. The upside is that there are some real golden nuggets amidst the gravel. I profit greatly from them and love to pass them on to others.
Toward that end, I thought I would pass along to my pastoral fellowship (and anyone else who would find value in such things) some of what comes my way on the topics of pastoral ministry, pastoral care, pastoral theology, the Church, preaching, discipleship, small groups, etc., etc., etc. Like my email in-box, perhaps one or two things will prove to be a blessing. And if anyone has their own gem that relates to these areas, please don’t hesitate to pass it along to me and I’ll add it to the mix the next time around.
About the name: The Baxter Fellowship. I am always looking for reasons to name things after my favorite person from church history, Richard Baxter. (Click here to learn more about this healthy obsession.) And rather than repeat everything here about the countless ways in which Baxter has influenced me as a Christian and as a pastor, I’ll just encourage you click here, here, and here. At any rate, no person has influenced me more regarding pastoral ministry than Richard Baxter, thus it seems fitting to name this effort, The Baxter Fellowship, after him.
Since this introduction took up more space than I had intended, here are only a few things for this week’s offerings…
- Finding Your Own Voice: Three preachers on moving beyond imitation. by Jonathan Falwell, Bryan Loritts, and Joshua Harris (at Leadership Journal.net)
- Little Ads That Work: More churches are using Facebook to get the word out. by Eric Reed (at Leadership Journal.net)
- Entering the Stories of Ordinary People: Joy and wisdom is discovered when we take the time to observe the lives around us. by Gordon MacDonald (at Leadership Journal.net)
- Spiritual Intelligence by Alan Nelson (at Preaching.com)
- People Decryption – One helpful device for improving and making your worship services more meaningful is to ask questions of the people who sit through them. Here are 10 questions you need to ask your congregants before your next worship service. By Doug Lawrence (at Church Central.com)