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Brian Croft

  • Discouraged by the Size of Your Church?

    I get it. I pastor what most would say is a small church (about 100 members). I feel the pressure from certain voices in the American evangelical movement that something is wrong as a result. For other pastors like me who are feeling this pressure as a result of pastoring a smaller church, there is some helpful counsel for us.  However, I had to find it from outside the American Church scene and from a different century altogether. The 19th century Scottish pastor and trainer of pastors, John Brown, wrote a letter to one of his students newly ordained over a small congregation and extended this word to him:

    I know the vanity of your heart, and that you will feel mortified that your congregation is very small, in comparison with those of your brethren around you; but assure yourself on the word of an old man, that when you come to give an account of them to the Lord Christ at his judgment seat, you will think you have had enough. 

    Pastors, regardless the pressures you face in your congregation to “produce the numbers,” focus on caring for souls. Be faithful to evangelize, preach the gospel every week, pray for conversions, but make sure your primary focus is on caring for souls. When we stand before God to give an account for the souls of our flock, God will not be concerned with our increased numbers, as much as how faithful we cared for the souls of those that make up that number.

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

  • 10 Characteristics to Look for in an Aspiring Pastor

    Scripture must first be our guide when evaluating a young man’s desire for pastoral ministry (1 Tim. 3:1–7; Titus 1:5–9; 1 Pet. 5:1–4). This blueprint needs to then be evaluated by the young man’s desire for the work (internal calling), and then by the pastors and congregation of his local church (external calling). Although those Scripture qualities are helpful, they are not exhaustive.

    So, here are 10 other characteristics I look for that I feel are not necessarily deal breakers, but nonetheless very important for pastoral ministry and fall within the framework of the fruit of the spirit in a Christian’s life:

    • A deep love and burden for people and souls
    • A clear, personal love for Jesus
    • A warmth in personality that people respond to well
    • A unique ability to understand and explain God’s Word
    • An ability to emotionally engage people both public and private
    • A clear communicator
    • An authentic, honest awareness of his heart and personal brokenness
    • A humble teachable spirit
    • A clear possession of wisdom and discernment into life and struggles
    • A strong ability to empathize to a hurting person 

    Pastors, look for these in the future pastors in your church and consider your own character in light of these qualities.

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

  • What Makes an Effective, Powerful Preacher?

    Modern evangelicals would answer this in a variety of ways. Some would say the level of gifts or intellect the preacher possesses. Others would reference the quality of a man’s formal theological training or his oratory skills. Let us allow A.W. Tozer to cut through the superficial and cultural emphasis of our day in regard to preaching with these insightful words:

    Let me shock you at this point. A naturally bright person can carry on religious activity without a special gift from God. Filling church pulpits every week are some who are using only natural abilities and special training. Some are known as Bible expositors, for it is possible to read and study commentaries and then repeat what has been learned about the Scriptures. Yes, it may shock you, but it is true that anyone able to talk fluently can learn to use religious phrases and can become recognized as a preacher. But if any person is determined to preach so that his work and ministry will abide in the day of the judgment fire, then he must preach, teach and exhort with the kind of love and concern that comes only through a genuine gift of the Holy Spirit—something beyond his own capabilities.

    Pastors, your intellect, gifts, training, and speaking ability are all helpful in the preaching task, but they do not make you a powerful, spirit-filled preacher. It only comes by a work of the Spirit when God’s word you preach stirs your own heart and a love for your people and the souls of men rise as your greatest burden. May the Lord empower you to preach this Sunday so that the word you preach will “abide in the day of the judgment fire.”

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

  • How Should a Pastor Approach Pre-marital Counseling?

    I often receive questions about pre-marital counseling. Yet counseling those preparing for marriage can be very complex and involved to a level that makes it hard to know how to address it through a format. Nevertheless, the amount of questions that have come to me as of late has pushed me to write about it, in the form of a template. That is all these 3 suggestions are… a template that I hope could be applied to the various contexts that are represented by those who read this blog.

    In light of the tendency to oversimply, or bog down your young engaged couple with too much to do, here are 3 areas I find very helpful and thorough, whether you have a few weeks or as “many weeks as needed” before the big day.

    Read and study God’s Word. Always start here. Ignore all the materials that sell you the “10 steps to a happy marriage” study guides and show this couple preparing for marriage what God says marriage is and what He expects of them in it. Use all the Bible, not just Ephesians 5 and 1 Peter 3. Use Genesis 1-3, Proverbs 5, Song of Songs, Hosea, and other books and passages of the Old Testament that clearly speak to God’s design and purpose in Christian marriage. I find it most helpful to give them passages to read together on their own, then to discuss as part of your counseling time.

    Use a questionnaire to evaluate the essential areas of married life. There are a ton of options from personality tests to massive pages of evaluations to use. Be wise in what you use to make sure this tool opens the right doors of conversation in the areas that need to be discussed: spiritual growth, family life, finances, children, communication style, in-laws, and other areas that should to be discussed in a counseling setting prior to marriage. Different kinds of questionnaires can act as a tool to accomplish this if used properly.

    Read a marriage book. Pick one great book to have the couple read together and come ready to discuss with you. The book I like to use most is When Sinners Say I Do, written by Dave Harvey. It gets to the sin issues of the heart that often make marriages struggle. It also has a study guide you can buy with the book to help lead your time with them. Check my Recommended Resource page for further suggestions.

    Remember: this is just a template with hopes it will help you think through what will be best for the couples in your church preparing for marriage.

    Pastors, what resources have you found helpful?

    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.