Brian Croft

  • 3 Ways to Prepare Your Teenager for Adulthood

    I went on a trip a couple of years ago with my son after he turned 13 years old. What was the occasion? My wife and I promised each of our children when they turned 13 years old, they would get to take a special trip with one of us. My son with me, and each of my daughters with my wife. The purpose of these trips is to first have fun and enjoy each other’s company, which is why they each get to pick the destination (must be within a day’s drive) and determine much of the agenda.

    There is, however, another purpose for these trips: to celebrate each child is growing up to be a man and likewise our daughters into women. Becoming a teenager can be a scary prospect (for both child and parent), and this often mutes both parent and child from obvious changes taking place. Yet we want it to be something we all would celebrate. We also want to communicate the responsibilities that come with this different life stage as well as some of the developmental aspects of it. Therefore, these trips are also designed for us to have very intentional conversations about life as men and women. Many of these conversations had been already taking place for quite a while, but it provides an atmosphere to delve into them a bit more and reaffirm what has already been said.

    Since several of you asked about how I led my son through these conversations on our trip, I thought I would explain it here for others interested in some of those details. The theme of the trip revolved around this biblical manhood template: Protect, provide, and lead.

    1)  Protect

    We read in 1 Peter 3:1–7 about how I am called by God to protect my wife and children from any physical harm. Then, we discussed how my son could engage in this activity in our home. We discussed the practical ways he, too, could protect his mom and sisters from harm, everything from killing bugs to locking doors at night when I am out of town. We also read Proverbs 5 and discussed the need to protect ourselves from the adulterous woman who is after every man to steal him away from his wife. This allowed a fruitful discussion about sexual impurity and the destruction of pornography that we as men are surrounded by and how we protect our hearts and minds from it.

    2)  Provide

    As men, we are called to provide for the needs of our families. We were made to work (Gen. 1–2) and to care for our families by providing the physical, emotional, and spiritual support that each family member needs (1 Tim. 5:8). Because of this, we discussed ways my son could accomplish this, even though he does not have to work to support a family at this time. We talked about how he needs to work hard now at school, competitive swimming, cutting grass, chores, and whatever else in his life that will help develop a work ethic that he can later take into his job that he would use to support a wife and family one day, Lord willing.

    3)  Lead

    We read and discussed many implications to our call as Christian husbands to love our wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her from Ephesians 5:22–33. One of the central ways Christ loved was through humble sacrifice. We talked about how my son could sacrificially serve his mom and sisters to develop that instinct to lead by humble service in the home. Also, we discussed the times I asked him to lead us on a family walk, or when he would pick where we go to eat, thinking of everyone in the family for the best place to go. Those are little ways for my son to lead now (and teach my daughters to follow) and think of how his decisions impact others.

    Parents, I don’t think you have to take a trip as we have planned to do with each of our children. If you are able to afford it and do it, great. Regardless, I urge you to be very intentional about not waiting on these kinds of conversations that should be taking place much earlier than 13 years old. Don’t be afraid of them. Don’t run from them and wait because you anticipate them being uncomfortable. I promise you it will be too late if you wait until you must have these conversations. Our trip was a joy, very fruitful, and I am sad it will be my only one.

    My oldest daughter turns 13 years old in a couple of months (here we go), and her trip is already planned for the fall with my wife. Parents with older kids, what have you done that has been fruitful in this preparation for your own children?

    Brian Croft is Senior Pastor of Auburndale Baptist Church. To find out more, please visit Practical Shepherding.

  • What Unexpected Lessons Have I Learned from Church Revitalization?

    When I took a dying church on its last leg over 8 years ago, I did not know what to expect or whether we would even be a church the next year. By God’s grace, the church has grown, changed, matured and stabilized in a way that has surpassed my expectations. Much of what I have learned I anticipated and braced for it. Yet there have been some lessons learned that I did not expect. Some lessons that came through pain, heartache, and mistakes. Some lessons I am so grateful to God He allowed me to learn thus far in this journey and are lessons unique to pastoring these kinds of churches. Here are a few:

    1)  Wait for the right time to implement change.

    2)  Don’t underestimate the power of persistent love.

    3)  Don’t underestimate the joy of winning those who were once hostile to you.

    4)  Don’t neglect your elderly members, they’re one of your greatest gifts.

    5)  Labor for the satisfaction of seeing unhealthy, dysfunctional church patterns broken.

    You can find my explanations of these 5 lessons in full in this article from the most recent 9 Marks ejournal. I welcome your thoughts on the article as well as any further lessons you have learned while laboring in your church revitalization work.

  • What Is Practical Shepherding?

    What is Practical Shepherding? Well, here is our newly released 2 minute promo video to explain it. It captures well the essence of this ministry, how it got started, and where we hope to go in the future.  Thanks to Greg Cash from 20 Schemes for his friendship and excellent work on this project!  He captured our story well:

    Thanks to all who are excited about what God is doing and praying for what is to come. Spread the word!

  • 4 Ways to Overcome the Monday Morning “Preaching Hangover”

    You may call it something different, but every pastor knows about it. It is the mental, emotional, and spiritual crash that takes place the next day (Monday) as a result of pouring your heart and soul out in the proclamation of God’s Word to God’s people the day before. Personally, it has affectionately become known as the “Preaching Hangover.” There is no easy remedy, medication, or quick fix that can prevent it. There are, however, several practical efforts I make every Monday that are tremendously helpful to fight through the fog. Here are 4 for your consideration:

    Pray and read Scripture. I know this seems like a “no brainer” for a pastor. The fact is sometimes on Monday morning… I don’t feel like it. Yet this is still what gives life to our weary souls, and we must make ourselves continue to engage, even if we are struggling to want to think about anything, even God and God’s Word. I find pushing through the fog by reaching for the bread of life is what gives a helpful kick start as we begin the weekly grind again.

    Know your limitations. Many pastors take Monday as their day off. For those of us who choose a different day off to spend with our family, we have to proceed with Mondays carefully. I am in no condition to deal with any heavy, thought-provoking, emotional counseling or conflict situations—at least until after lunch. You may be different, but the “hangover” affects us all in some way that requires discernment as we plan the day. Be careful you don’t put yourself in a position in your day that requires you to make a big decision when you are not nearly as sharp as you need to be to make it.

    Exercise. I exercise 4–5 times a week, but if there is a day when it is especially important to do so, it is Monday. If you only exercise 1 day a week, I recommend it be Monday. It hurts… many times more than normal following a Lord’s Day, but a good 30+ minute cardiovascular workout is exactly what I need to help shake the preaching hangover. 

    Assign achievable tasks. The preaching hangover is by no means an excuse to be a sluggard and unproductive. Give yourself attainable tasks and make sure you push through to achieve them. If it is your day off, make sure you are working hard to perk up and engage with your family so your wife and children do not get your “sluggard day.” If you are trying to be productive in the office but have a hard time studying for very long as I do, schedule other tasks that are within your frame of mind to accomplish. For me, Monday is full of checking emails, simple administration, running errands, and meeting with folks that I know will be more light, encouraging, and less likely to be a blind-side confrontation. You may be able to handle more than I typically can. Just make sure they are tasks that are reasonable for you to accomplish in the day.

    I hope in some way these suggestions will trigger ideas that will be of help to you in clearing the cobwebs of the “preaching hangover.” Just remember: When you do have to face a long, weighty, conflict-full Monday because the needs of the congregation demand it… God’s grace is sufficient to walk through it.

    Brian Croft is Senior Pastor of Auburndale Baptist Church. To find out more, please visit Practical Shepherding.

  • About Brian Croft

    Brian Croft is Senior Pastor of Auburndale Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky.  He is the husband of Cara and adoring father of four children, son, Samuel and daughters, Abby, Isabelle, and Claire.  He has served in pastoral ministry for over fifteen years and is currently in his eighth year as Pastor of Auburndale Baptist Church.  He was educated at both Belmont University and Indiana University receiving his B.A. in Sociology.  He also undertook some graduate work at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

    He is also the author of Visit the sick: Ministering God’s grace in times of illness (foreword by Mark Dever) and Test, train, affirm, and send into Ministry: Recovering the local church’s responsibility to the external call (foreword by R. Albert Mohler Jr.). Both of these volumes are published by Day One in their pastoral series designed to serve pastors, church leaders, and those training for local church ministry.  Brian has also published Help! He’s Struggling with Pornography and Conduct Gospel-centered Funerals (co-written with Phil Newton).

    A Faith That Endures: Meditations on Hebrews 11 is Brian’s newest book, released in fall of 2011. His next book on The Pastor’s Family, co-authored with his wife, is due to be released by Zondervan in Fall 2013.

    Brian is also a guest blogger at both The Gospel Coalition and 9 Marks.

    To find out more, please visit Practical Shepherding.