Best Known Translations
Other Translations

Brian Croft

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.

5 Powerful Ways You Can Encourage Your Pastor

Based on the emails, notes, and phone calls I continue to get, trust me… your pastor needs encouragement. He needs to know that what he does week in and week out means something to God as well as those for whom he labors. Here are 5 suggestions to accomplish this:

1) Share appreciation for how hard he works

Maybe the most hurtful words a pastor and his wife can hear are not “bad sermon” or “that was a dumb decision” or “I don’t like the way you do that.” Rather, words that imply this message can be the most hurtful: “You are lazy.” Because of this, some of the most encouraging words a pastor and his wife can hear are words of gratefulness for how hard he works to preach faithfully and shepherd their souls.

2) Give specific feedback to a sermon

I’m not talking about the slap-on-the-back, “nice sermon” comment. Instead be specific: ”That insight into the text was really helpful” or “That application really met me where I am struggling.” Don’t underestimate how impactful just one thoughtful, specific comment about your pastor’s sermon can be to him… especially on Monday.

3) Acknowledge the sacrifice of his family

This will encourage his wife and children, but it will also be very meaningful to the pastor. The pastor knowing you are thinking of his family can often mean more than you thinking of him. Some of the most meaningful encouragement to me has been efforts like a card or gift to my wife and children thanking them for their sacrifice in allowing me to do what I do. My kids especially always remember those things.

4) Reveal how you have spiritually grown under his ministry

This is one thing a pastor labors to hear and hopes is taking place all over his congregation. Stop keeping him in suspense and tell him so he knows. The Lord can also use these words to help a pastor learn what he needs to change or adjust in the way he is preaching or caring for people.

5) Tell him how you specifically pray for him

Your pastor of all people should know the significance of prayer. The most meaningful thing I hear isn’t, “I prayed for you,” but “I prayed that your sermon would be powerfully preached and eagerly received” or “I prayed God would protect you and your family from the enemy through this important week.” Write your pastor a text or email today and tell him what you prayed for him or how you will be praying for him this week.

If not in these ways, find some way to encourage your pastor this week. Never underestimate how meaningful and well-timed it can be when God would so lead you to do so… especially on Monday!

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

How Do We Evaluate the Call to Ministry?

The answer to this question is at the heart of what I am teaching today to these precious pastors at the Copperbelt Ministerial College in Ndola, Zambia. Pastors from 4 different countries have journeyed to attend this week.  Very humbling.

The Apostle Paul instructs his young protégé in the faith and writes, “It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer (pastor); it is a fine work he desires to do (1 Timothy 3:1).  The great nineteenth-century Baptist Charles Spurgeon lectured young men preparing for the ministry in this way, “The first sign of the heavenly calling is an intense, all-absorbing desire for the work.” There must be a strong, unquenchable desire to do the work of a pastor—a desire to preach God’s word, shepherd God’s people, evangelize the lost, disciple the spiritually immature, and serve the local church.

Spurgeon confirms that this divine aspiration which comes from above can be known through a desire to do nothing else:

If any student in this room could be content to be a newspaper editor, or a grocer, or a farmer, or a doctor, or a lawyer, or a senator, or a king, in the name of heaven and earth, let him go his way; he is not the man in whom dwells the Spirit of God in its fullness, for a man so filled with God would utterly weary of any pursuit but that for which his inmost soul pants. If on the other hand, you can say that for all the wealth of both the Indies you could not and dare not espouse any other calling so as to be put aside from preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ, then depend upon it, if other things be equally satisfactory, you have the signs of this apostleship. We must feel that woe is unto us if we preach not the gospel; the word of God must be unto us as fire in our bones, otherwise, if we undertake the ministry, we shall be unhappy in it, shall be unable to bear the self-denials incident to it, and shall be of little service to those among whom we minister.

Paul writes that the man who desires to do this divine work is pursuing a fine work. Nevertheless, an unquenchable longing for this work is required, for it is a work fraught with struggles, challenges, discouragements, pressures, and spiritual battles that can cripple the strongest of men whose desire for this divine labor is ordinary. It must be a desire that cannot be stolen when your brother betrays you; a desire that cannot be weakened when your job is threatened; a desire that cannot be quenched when physical, mental, and emotional fatigue firmly take root. This desire must so define the individual that the reality of an internal calling is unmistakable.

My prayer is this unmistakable calling will be confirmed in the hearts of these African pastors I will be addressing this week. My hope is also that this post in some way will serve you, dear brothers, if you are trying to sort through you own calling to pastoral ministry and that you would find this unquenchable desire in your heart for this fine work.

2 Practical Tips When Considering a Fast

Fasting, when combined with the practice of prayer, is a powerful tool God uses to increase our desire for him and to focus our prayers for greater effectiveness.

A basic definition of fasting is…

“the withholding of food for a certain amount of time for the sake of creating a more disciplined and earnest attitude of prayer.”

How does this work? The simplest way to explain it is to say that the moments we inevitably feel unfulfilled hunger pains of food should instead move us to pray. We translate our natural hunger for food, which is necessary for life, into prayer. Our physical yearnings are transferred into spiritual hunger for God, for the life we have in him, and for him to do what only he can do.

Consider these two simple guidelines if you are new to fasting:

1) A fast doesn’t always have a particular time limit on it or specific rules you must follow about what to give up. You can fast for a day or for a month. You can do a water-only or a juice-only fast. You can fast one meal once a week or one full day every month. You can abstain from certain foods like desserts, and when you feel the urge to reach for a cookie, your desire can be channeled into an urgency to pray. There are no rules. Do what will create in you a greater urgency and hunger to pray.

2) Be mindful of any health issues that could make a fast unwise. For example, if you are a diabetic or have any other physical condition that requires a strict diet, be especially mindful not to put yourself in a compromised position as a result of a fast. I also discourage the idea of fasting for those who struggle with eating disorders that are making intake of food a challenge and concern in their daily living. The point of the fast is to combine it with a more intense, focused time of prayer that brings a greater communion with God, a greater empowerment of the Spirit, and a greater earnestness in your soul.

There is a time to feast. And there is a time to fast. Make sure both fosters a greater awareness to pray without ceasing.

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

How Does a Busy Pastor Plan His Daily Schedule?

Everyone is busy. This is the reality of our modern culture. There is work that needs to be done, a family to care for, a house and car to maintain, friendships to cultivate, doctors to visit. There are kid’s activities to schedule and guests to host. For those of us who are Christians, you can add to the normal busyness of life attendance at church, possibly volunteering once a week. Life in the twenty-first century feels like an unending rat race. We only slow down when crisis and sickness force us to take a break.

Those who pastor God’s people experience many of the same pulls, pressures, demands, and responsibilities as other Christians. And because a pastor is called to be involved in the lives of the people in his congregation, he must learn to juggle his own schedule with the busy and hectic schedules of his church members as well. Their busy lives create additional tension in ministry, setting many pastors up for failure—even before they begin.

Many pastors fall into two traps here…

In some cases, a pastor quickly realizes that he cannot provide adequate care for his congregation, so he doesn’t. Even with a smaller congregation, it’s not possible to be at every surgery, ball game, funeral, doctor’s visit, home invitation, church work-day, and counseling request. Discouraged, some stop trying altogether. A pastor may choose to focus more broadly on administrating large activities, managing busy programs, and overseeing the general functioning of the local church, leaving the work of “ministry” to others—or neglecting it altogether.

On the other hand, some determined pastors recognize that they can’t do it all, but they commit to pushing through the pain. They set an ambitious hand to the plow and hope that with enough effort they will at least please some people. This approach has its own dangers, though. The pastor is now enslaved to the demands and needs of his church. The congregation, whether directly or indirectly, largely determines how his time is spent. His ministry faithfulness and fruitfulness will be based on how happy his congregation is with his efforts, and while some will be pleased, there will always be people who can never be satisfied. Satisfying people becomes his way of measuring faithfulness, yet this will leave him feeling exhausted and empty.

To read the full article click here…

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

The Stunning Truth that Allows Us to Endure

One of my pastoral teachers and heroes, Bill Hughes, said goodbye to his beloved wife of over 60 years this past week who met her Savior in glory and is no longer suffering. Bill spent most of his long and faithful ministry serving in Scotland. Thinking about and praying for Bill this week reminded me of a simple, but profound truth I learned from him about how to endure through the constant struggles of pastoral ministry. In an exposition of 2 Corinthians 4 I once heard Bill Hughes preach, he made this observation to answer the nagging question, “How do I endure through the difficulties of pastoral ministry?”

“Never forget the debt to mercy we owe.”

See what I mean? Simple. Stunningly true. Yet when measured against anything we might face as pastors, it produces endurance in every trial, struggle, and difficulty. Bill instructed that when we remember who we once were and the amazing debt to mercy we owe to our Savior, we will be more patient, gracious, and merciful to even the most stubborn and petty of conflicts and complaints we experience in the church. Likewise, if we forget who we once were and presume upon this debt to mercy in the gospel, those same petty people and issues will eat us up and will destroy us and our ministry.

Dear brothers, if you find yourself discouraged, angry, wondering why some of your people do and say what they do and you can’t take it any more… do not forget the debt to mercy you owe. It is a debt greater than you and I could ever pay back. It is a debt that should weigh heavier on our joyful hearts than the most difficult person in our church. Apply this truth that was so powerfully taught to me by this sweet and faithful man and see if you, then, find the hope and perspective you need for that struggling person or circumstance you face in your ministry.

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

How Can a Pastor Guard His Heart from Neglecting His Family?

There is so much at work when a pastor neglects his family. There are pressures and demands of ministry. There are tensions in his relationship with his wife and children. There are ambitions the pastor has that go unfulfilled. Here are three ways a pastor can guard his heart from the decisions that bring neglect to the family in the midst of the pressures of his life:

1) Guard your heart from using ministry demands as excuses. What demands of your life and ministry are you most tempted to use as an excuse? In other words, which ministry demand do you most quote when your wife is frustrated you keep coming home for dinner 30 minutes late every evening? Which demands do you use as an excuse when you keep answering your phone on your day off in the middle of a family activity? For example, “So in so needed to talk with me and you know what grief I get from them if I don’t give them time.” Or “I don’t want to give the appearance that I am lazy, as they expect me to be at the hospital that day.” Call these pressures we so often use as excuses what they are… excuses that expose a greater problem.

2) Guard your heart from ignoring sin in your heart. One of the things that is so dangerous for pastors is that we take what is motivated by sin in our hearts and make it a ministry virtue. We work 70 hours a week thinking we are dedicated when it might be because we fear what other people think. We spend more time studying or visiting others because we want to be accepted and loved in a certain way, instead of focusing on what needs to be focused on for that week. We take a day off for our families and others praise us for that effort, only to approach that day with a selfish attitude thinking it is a time for our families to serve us because we have worked so hard during the week. Fellow pastors, ask God to reveal faithfulness where there is faithfulness and sin where there is sin. God’s Spirit is powerful enough to do that, but we first must desire to know the sin that hides in our heart that causes the neglect of our families and allow the gospel to root it out.

3) Guard your heart from dismissing your wife’s concerns. Many times our wives see us in ways no one else does, and when that happens they will say things to us others will not. In that moment, we are tempted to dismiss what they say because they are the only ones saying it. Those words are so often God’s greatest gift to us and warn us that something is out of balance. The best pastor’s wife is a wife that is supportive, but unimpressed. The reason I know what an invaluable gift it is to have a wife serve a pastor in this way is because I have a precious wife who is tremendously supportive and incredibly unimpressed with me.

Dear brothers and fellow pastors, pray your wife finds this balance. Open yourself up to her in such a way that allows her the freedom to play this role. It is for our good and growth that we cherish the gift of a clear, consistent, supportive, yet unimpressed evaluation of our ministry. There is no one better to play that role than the woman to whom you have given your life, lives with you in your darkest hour of discouragement, sleeps next to you every night, places herself under your care and authority, and sacrifices as much as you do for the sake of serving Christ in that local church.

Pastors, there is much going on in our heart and there is an enemy waging war for our souls every day seeking to destroy us, our ministries, and our families. One of the enemy’s cunning tactics is to subtly cause us to miss these warning signs in our heart that something is not quite right. Let your wife be the barometer on these matters. Watch for them. Pray and ask God to reveal them and guard your heart from them.

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

How Does a Pastor Get Rid of the Unnecessary Filler?

Umm…Lord we just…you know…(lip smack)…Father God…uhh…and we just…Father God…(lipsmack)…umm…Lord we just…uhh…(deep breath)… you know… Father God…umm…you know… that we all have them. They come in different shapes, sizes, and expressions, but we all have them. Those who claimed to have never had them are in denial and probably are still unaware they have them. Those polished, seasoned preachers who appear to have none of them, once did.

They are such a part of our natural communication style that they can be difficult to identify and overcome, but there is hope. Here are a few ways I have tried to face my own unnecessary speech fillers and helped others identify and overcome their own:

1)  Create an environment in your local church to be critiqued. Whether it is someone preaching, praying, or leading a public gathering in our church, we have tried to create an atmosphere of humility and teachability in regard to each of us growing in these areas. This kind of effort can become hyper-critical and unhelpful very quickly, so we want to always maintain a spirit of grace and patience in this process.

A service review with those involved in the service has been a great way for us to facilitate these discussions where men come with a desire to grow. See these previous posts for more info on the purpose and process of a Service Review. If you have someone unconvinced of what you have observed, the next best option is to mention it to them, then challenge them to go back and listen to their own sermon in light of it.

2)  Ask those you trust to listen and give feedback. If a culture is not present to already be listening for these things, approach a few godly, gracious, but wise and discerning, men to try to observe you in these roles and see if they notice what your fillers are. It is amazing how noticeable they are when someone tries casually to listen for them for your benefit.

3)  Receive the thoughts of others with humility. We had a service review where it was brought to a man’s attention who had prayed that morning of an obvious repeated phrase he uses, of which he was completely unaware. He was surprised that it was affirmed by a few other men in the room, but he received it with humility and began to consider the thoughts of others.

So he did what most men do when they hear a critique they are oblivious to, he asked his wife later that night, “Hey, have you ever noticed that I repeat this phrase in my prayers?” His wife’s response was, “Yeah, you do it all the time.” He was amazed that he had not observed in his own life what others so clearly saw. He received that very well and quickly developed desires to improve on it.

4)  Try to prepare knowing which fillers you struggle with. Although this man was totally unaware of his unnecessary speech filler that had existed for a long time, he modeled how someone should respond to it. He received it in humility and teachability; then he instantly made efforts to try to overcome it. The very next time he prayed publicly, he cut his use of this filler at least in half. He hardly used it at all in his next sermon he preached at our church. It is amazing the progress we can make over our unnecessary speech fillers once we own them and begin to focus on working ourselves out of them.

I have watched these kinds of successes through the years. We really can make progress on these matters, but we must be aware of them, own them, then without putting too much focus on them, try to cut them out of our prayers and sermons, realizing perfect oratory skill is far from the goal as we preach God’s word and lead God’s people.

However, that does not mean we should not try to grow in all aspects of our preaching and public leading, including this one. My biggest speech filler for years was “Umm.” Although it still shows up most of the time in my casual conversations, this formula has been very helpful to me personally through the years.

So, own it. What was or is your greatest unnecessary speech filler?

What Produces a Powerful Sermon?

There are many correct answers to this question: the power of the Word of God, the filling and movement of the Holy Spirit, the giftedness of the preacher, the eagerness of the people to hear; all could be mentioned when this question is asked. Yet, I want to mention one answer that is commonly overlooked when considering the power of preaching and what produces a moving sermon preached that brings spiritual fruit from God. I think this one overlooked aspect of powerful preaching is best summarized by the 19th century English pastor Archibald Brown:

Oh, brethren and sisters, I would to God I could speak to you this morning as I would. I only wish I could make this text blaze away before you eyes as it has before my own. I would that its tremendous force might be realized by you, as it has been felt in my own heart before coming here. Oh, how it would shake some of you out of your selfishness, out of your worldliness, out of your pandering to the maxims of this world.

Brown’s words capture well an essential element to a powerful sermon, that is, the preacher first be deeply affected by the word he steps into the pulpit to preach. Before the preacher can persuade any sinner to turn to Christ, he must first be persuaded himself. Before the preacher can convince any Christian to trust in the promises of God, he must first believe those promises.

Pastors, as you prepare to preach God’s word and feed the souls of your people this week, make sure that word you study has changed you. Make sure it is a part of you and that you truly believe what you are preparing to preach so that you are able to preach with an earnestness that only comes from someone who has met with God and experienced his help.

4 Steps to Honestly Evaluate Your Sermon

This might surprise you, but one of the most dangerous times for a pastor are the hours following his Sunday sermon. You step down from the pulpit still wired and juices flowing as you greet those leaving from the service. Then, like after a good jog, you begin to calm down, your body starts to return to “I’m not preaching mode,” which then brings a temporary, but real emotional let down with it.

These reasons are enough not to trust our instincts and discernment in these moments. Yet what we also inevitably face during this emotional tailspin are the encouragements, comments, questions, and criticisms (or lack thereof) given from those who sat under our sermon. Needless to say, how objectively and honestly to evaluate our own sermon in the midst of all this can be a bit of a challenge. Here are 4 suggestions I have found helpful:

1) Receive the encouragements now

Nothing lifts the spirit in the emotional spiral of post-sermon fitigue like a warm, honest, specific comment from a church member about how the sermon was helpful to them. Those are a gift from God by His grace. Receive it immediately, but receive it humbly realizing it was only the work of God to help that person, not the craftiness or eloquence of your sermon.

2) Store away the criticisms for Tuesday morning

Any criticisms you hear need to be received, graciously acknowledged, and then honestly considered, but not one hour after your sermon. Most of us who have just poured our hearts out in preaching are not at a good place to evaluate criticisms. Always graciously receive all comments. However, those comments that may be particularly hard or even harsh to hear are better evaluated after two good nights of sleep. Write them down. Leave them on your desk. Try to forget about them until Tuesday. I have not always been able to do this, but when I have had the discipline to do so… it is worth it!

3) Look forward to Service Review later that evening

If you do not have a process in place to evaluate the services and sermons for the day with other pastors and those training for the ministry, I would strongly encourage you to do so. About 4–6 of us meet for an hour on Sunday evenings after the evening service to discuss these things. It is very helpful to try and evaluate your sermon among trusted, discerning brothers in your church who desire for you to grow. See these previous posts for more info on the purpose and process of a Service Review.

4) Recognize your work is done

The best thing to do a hour after your sermon is to realize your hard labor from the week that peaked in the pulpit a few minutes ago is now over. For better or worse, you were faithful. Find great joy and encouragement that God will do the rest through his Spirit being at work in his people who heard the Word of God preached. How peaceful we rest Sunday night as we lie in bed depends much on how much faith we have that God and his Word does the work and even my disappointing sermon I just preached does not change that.

Consider these suggestions as you set your hand to the plow this week that will culminate in the pulpit on Sunday.  I hope this helps you evaluate your sermons in a more fruitful manner.  There is one thing better than being willing to evaluate your sermons honestly and that is knowing “when” is the most fruitful time to do so.

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

3 Reasons to Preach Whole Books of the Bible... Even Hard Ones

This Sunday I begin a new adventure. I am starting a new sermon series preaching through the book of Ezekiel.  You read that right! Ezekiel. Crazy, I know. I am committed to preaching through whole books of the Bible and that includes the really hard and intimidating ones. This makes me think back a couple of years ago when I preached through 2 Samuel. I particularly remember preaching through 2 Samuel 11–13 because I was reminded of the challenge it is to systematically preach through whole books of the Bible in light of the painful content found there. And yet, in the midst of being reminded of these challenges, the reasons to continue to do so have been affirmed to me all over again as I prepare Ezekiel. These reasons apply just as much to the more difficult books of the Bible to understand, not just sections of difficult texts.

Here are 3 reasons I remain committed to preaching through whole books of the Bible, even the really hard ones:

1) You cannot avoid the hard passages.

I remember clearly when I preached on David’s adultery and murder. I remember because it didn’t end there. Then, it moved to an interesting progression of rape, incest, and murder among David’s children. Let’s just say not what I would choose to preach if I was just picking a passage for the week. But our people need to hear these passages, and we as pastors need to wrestle with them to figure out what God desires for us to learn from them. Preach the hard passages and even the hard books. If your congregation sees you are not afraid to wrestle with them, then they are certain to grow less afraid also.

2) You understand the author’s intent better.

It amazes me how much better I feel I understand the writer’s intent because I have preached through the natural flow of his argument or narrative. When preaching through 2 Samuel, I linked David’s adultery back to David’s acceptance of a second wife in 1 Samuel. I did not read that in a commentary, but felt it was relevant as I saw it through the lens of the progression of the narrative as I preached through it. That is one of many examples of connections within the narrative I saw that I know I would not have, unless I was pouring over the narrative myself week after week.

3) Our people learn how to read their own Bibles.

Pastors are teaching their people how to approach and understand their Bibles by whatever the steady, weekly preaching diet is in their church. When we commit ourselves to preach through books of the Bible and to understand and deal with all its content, we are teaching our people to do the same on their own.

I am not at all against topical preaching. There is a place for it. But allow me to push a bit on what the steady diet of your congregation is and what the fruit of that diet is within it. Your people should be growing in their love and knowledge of God’s Word. They should be learning how to better read their own Bibles. As I continue to experience, they should grow less afraid of the hard, difficult passages nobody would choose to preach. I would say the same for hard, scary whole books in the Bible.

Ezekiel is a very scary book to most sitting in the pew. I’m a bit frightened myself. My hope is that my labor in this book will not just make them less afraid, but will make them more eager to worship the One True God portrayed in this amazing book—and that even the New Covenant we enjoy today because of Jesus will be more powerfully experienced.

The valley of dry bones actually found in Ezekiel (chapter 37) reminds us that God breathes life into his people through his Word. That includes hard passages… even the hard books. Pastors, embrace them and model for your people why they should not be afraid of these books.

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

1 Clever Way to Engage in Spiritual Conversations

All Christians should be looking for ways to engage in spiritual conversation with others with hopes to talk about the gospel. Yet many struggle to see when those doors are open or how to try and open them. Here is one easy way to engage others in a possible spiritual conversation that I was taught many years ago and has proven quite effective when asked at the right time. The only caveat is it has to get asked on Monday. The question is…

“What was the sermon about yesterday?”

You would be amazed at some of the responses I have gotten over the years. Responses have varied from a joyful response of a good, fruitful sermon heard by a grocery clerk to a tearful confession of skipping church from a bank teller. There is the common reaction of the awkward silence of shock from someone blindsided by the question. Of course, if you try to engage this way, you will eventually be asked the same question back, and you’d better be ready to respond. Pastors, you have no excuse not to remember the sermon you just preached the day before.

So then, if you read this post in time, try it today. You may experience a very encouraging conversation with a fellow believer in Christ. You may remind a straying church member of their disobedience of forsaking the assembly (Heb. 10:25). Who knows? God by His grace may just open a chance to share the gospel with someone as you recount the faithful word preached to you or by you the previous Lord’s Day.

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

Can a Church with No Extra Money Have a Pastoral Internship?

Yes, you can! In fact, we have done so for almost a decade without a dime in the budget going to it. It started off that way because I saw the need, we had young men desiring to be trained, but we had no funds to pour into it. We have continued to do our internship this way because… well, there is still no money, but we also wanted to demonstrate for other pastors and churches money and resources are unnecessary for this. All it takes is a pastor willing to give his time and young men willing to give their time.

We seek in a four-month period to try and take these interns through a crash course in pastoral ministry. Here are some of the details of our pastoral internship, with hopes it will help you see you can design something similar:

1)  The Pastor’s Time

The most important resource for a pastoral internship is simply the wisdom, insight, experience, and time of a pastor. Why is this? Because so much of ministry is learned doing it with someone who teaches as they do ministry. As I plan to go the hospital, I try to take an intern with me. When I do a funeral, I take an intern with me. When I go to visit an elderly widow, I take an intern with me. Then, in each of these opportunities, we talk on the way and as we return. I ask them questions leading up to the event, then ask them follow-up questions after we leave. I also meet once a week for one to two hours with the interns, and we talk about all kinds of different aspects of pastoral ministry, discuss books I ask them to read, and expose them to the trench work of the ministry in a way the classroom cannot. Pastors, you and your daily ministry are the only essential resources you need to train young men for ministry.

2)  The Pastoral Intern’s Time

There cannot be a pastoral internship without pastoral interns. When there is no money to pay interns, as is the case in our church, a young man must see the value of simply giving his time to it. We ask our interns to commit ten hours a week, but that is flexible depending upon their schedule and availability. Their time is spent in two ways: Time with me doing and discussing ministry, and time the intern does ministry on his own. After they go to the hospital with me, then I send them to the hospital. After they go with me to visit a widow or two, they go back to the same widow and visit on their own. They give time to read books on their own, then meet and discuss them with me. They give time to pray through the membership directory, attend pastor’s meetings, and attend Sunday evening service review, all required tasks.

3)  The Church’s Time

If we desire to train young men for the ministry through doing ministry in our local church, then the members of the church must be willing to give their time also. Widows must be willing to allow these young men to visit them and be gracious as they stumble and learn. Sick people must be willing to allow young men to visit them in the hospital, even though the intern may be more nervous than the sick person being visited. The church must be willing to give their time to come Sunday evenings and hear these men preach if given the opportunity. This third piece is necessary for young men to learn how to care for God’s flock. Without real people involved willing to give their time, real ministry cannot be accomplished.

Pastors, it is nice to have money to pay interns and different resources to shower upon these training and learning about ministry in our church. But the only essential resource to do a pastoral internship is sharing your time, gifts, experience, and wisdom with them as you do ministry. Embrace your value in these areas. You have much to offer whether you have pastored fifty years or five months. Invest your time and encourage others to do the same, and start that internship or training program you know you need but have waited for the funds and resources to be provided.

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