A pastoral internship can accomplish many things. Some focus on polity, church structure, and how the church should function in a biblical and healthy way. Other internships focus on the work of the ministry and how best to go about it. The pastoral internship at our church focuses more on the latter. Below is the final intern report of our pastoral intern from this last term. It captures well what we hope is accomplished to some degree with our pastoral internship:
The first thing that I would like to do is thank you for allowing me to serve and learn as an intern. By you allowing me to serve in this manner, I was able to sit in on pastor’s meetings and observe first hand how they deliberately and methodically endeavor to serve each of you on a corporate and individual level. I was also able to spend quality time with Pastor Brian in weekly one-on-one meetings where I was able to pick his brain and ask him tough ministry related questions. And I was also charged with the opportunity to refine particular skills that will no doubt serve me and serve people I have yet to meet.
Through the semester I prayed through the directory, and as I visited and spent time with members, my prayers increased in fervency and frequency for you. This has set a pattern of prayer that I plan to continue when we land in a new church, and is one that I plan to encourage the pastors in our new church to do if they are not already doing so. I was also able, through the internship, to improve my preaching skills. I was granted the opportunity to preach twice this semester, an honor in every respect because we do not take the pulpit lightly. In studying and preparing for sermons, I gained valuable experience in knowing often overlooked aspects of sermon prep, like “What time of the day do I think the clearest so as to produce the best exegesis and manuscript?” and “Should I even use a manuscript or instead use an annotated outline?”
Lastly, I would to thank our pastors. Never before have my wife and I been so regularly and heartily fed and cared for—and it was done by the grace of God at the hands of our pastors. Being able to observe all this, and being cared for in this manner, has set the bar high for me and my family for future ministry.
Pastors, I would encourage you to consider beginning some kind of internship for those who might be thinking through a call into the ministry in your church. We have done a pastoral internship in our church for the last 8 years with no money in the budget. All it requires is some of your time and willingness to train and invest in these young men.
Brian Croft is Senior Pastor of Auburndale Baptist Church. To find out more, please visit Practical Shepherding.
Every pastor already faces this. Unfortunately, I fear the problem will only become more common in the future - that is, marriage counseling as a result of a husband’s struggle with pornogrpahy. The work to restore trust and intimacy within a marriage deeply affected by this sinful struggle is only possible through the gospel and applied most effectively within the local church; having said that, consider six practical ways that husband can reestablish trust and intimacy with his hurting wife:
1) Be patient towards your hurting wife.
Men are known to deal with something, then move on. A wife, especially one sinned against by pornography will not move on so quickly. A wife does not get past this offense in the same amount of time a husband often expects she should. Encourage the husband to be patient with his wife as she tries to find forgiveness and reestablish trust. By God’s grace it will happen—but in time.
2) Understand the seriousness of your sin against her.
Sexual sin hurts a wife more deeply than most other sins against her. A husband needs to realize that the reasons this sin stings so much is that it seems to confirm almost every doubt and insecurity most women already battle within themselves. Understanding the seriousness of this sin and the pain it causes will help cultivate patience and prevent a reoccurrence of it.
3) Look to your wife to play an important role of accountability.
It is easy to seek the accountability of another man when it comes to this struggle because, we say, “Only another man knows what the battle is like.” Yet, you do not have to sleep next to that man every night. You do not have to look into his eyes knowing the hurt you caused. You do not have to be as patient and gracious with your buddy through this like you must with your wife. It may need to be in the context of regular counseling for a while, but convince him his wife will be a great asset to establish his new patterns and protection from falling again.
4) Consistently and creatively romance your wife.
A husband should have already been pursuing his wife romantically as a regular practice. Now, he must understand this pattern must be established to restore his marriage. Sexual sin attacks a wife’s confidence and security that her husband loves and desires her. This confidence is a must for a healthy marriage and remains so for one to be restored.
5) Affirm your physical attraction to her.
It should surprise no man that when he looks at other women in lustful ways, it will communicate a sharp message to his wife that he does not find her attractive. Most men would confess that is not what drove them to pornography, but it is inescapable that this is how a wife feels because of it. Encourage the man verbally to affirm his physical attraction to his wife. Then, he must back it up with his actions.
6) Realize the battle never ends this side of eternity.
The gospel is powerful to free men from this bondage and to establish new patterns in their lives, but the fences of accountability must always remain. Most of the men who slip up in this area do so just when they start getting confident that they no longer struggle with pornography (1 Corinthians 10:12). The guards come down. The wife has forgiven. The accountability partner has not asked about the struggle for a while. The gradual decline of these forms of accountability should act as a warning sign and a reminder that this struggle in our sex-saturated culture will only end when the perfectly faithful husband, Christ, gathers his bride to himself (Revelation 19:6-9).
Pastors, may the Lord grant you wisdom as you work with husbands who struggle in this way so that the patterns would be broken, marriages would be mended, and the power of Christ would be credited.
I am consistently asked about the circumstances surrounding weddings. What makes it permissible or not to conduct a wedding in ”this or that” situation? I am very aware that there are strong opinions and lively disagreements about whether an evangelical pastor should marry Christians, non-Christians, and everything in between. The debate does not end there. Then you have to determine if it is wise to marry two Christians in “this particular circumstance” as opposed to “that particular circumstance.”
Here is my effort to serve in this discussion and try to answer the regular calls and emails I receive that have piled up on this matter. It comes in the form of these suggested boundaries I set within these 3 common templates:
1) A Christian marrying a Non-Christian. Most are in agreement, as I am, that this is not permitted in Scripture, nor is it wise. Although, many of us know of examples of this where the other spouse is eventually converted, I would never encourage a Christian to marry an unbeliever, thus would never encourage a pastor to conduct a wedding where a Christian marries a non-Christian. Yet, if you find yourself shepherding a Christian spouse married to an unbeliever (as I do), 1 Peter 3:1-6 is a powerful word on that subject for them.
2) A Christian marrying a Christian. The ideal scenario is for a pastor to marry 2 Christians within their church, those whom he knows well, is able to do adequate pre-marital counseling with them, and can then shepherd them through the first years of their marriage. I am conducting a wedding this weekend under this scenario. Where it gets tricky and wisdom and discernment is required is when two Christians ask you to marry them, but they are not plugged into a local church, nor connected to a pastor who has taken responsibility for them.
Regardless the scenario, if you marry two Christians the ceremony needs to be seen as a worship service where the gospel is preached and you know the lives of this man and woman well enough that you can point to them in that public moment and exhort them to display Christ’s love for his church through the way they relate to one another (Eph. 5:22-33). If a couple is living in open, habitual, and unrepentant sin (such as living together and being physically intimate) that would be one reason to prohibit doing the ceremony, for in that instance, I cannot stand and commend these public witnesses to watch their life as professing Christians.
3) A Non-Christian marrying another Non-Christian. This is the one that many love to debate. All I will say is that if you decide to marry two Non-Christians, I think the biblical warrant comes from Genesis 2 as marriage being an institution of creation of which God is glorified when it is according to his design (one man and one woman), even though it does not fulfill God’s ultimate redemptive purpose (Eph. 5:22-33).
If your conscience allows you to marry two Non-Christians, make sure it is not conducted as a worship service, but simply a ceremony that allows you, a pastor, to join this man and woman together with these witnesses present. This can also be a strategic opportunity to preach the gospel, but I would make that part of the agreement with the bride and groom before committing to marrying them.
OK, there you go. Do not hate. These are simply some general boundaries I have used in the past that have helped me discern so many unique case by case situations to determine whether my conscience could marry a couple, or if it was even wise to do so.
Just remember, you should not feel forced to do any wedding, regardless the pressure you may be feeling from family or church members. If you have concerns whether two people should be married, listen to your conscience, allow the Scriptures to guide you, and seek counsel from other pastors who have possibly walked in the same place you dare to tread… an unclear, complicated wedding decision.
Brian Croft is Senior Pastor of Auburndale Baptist Church. To find out more, please visit Practical Shepherding.
The best way to care for those in our church who may be alone on Thanksgiving is to invite them to your family gathering, or find others in your church who would be willing to take them in. This takes some effort by the pastor, or someone else in the church who has the time and desire to ask around, find out who is in town, and put people together. Yet, I would argue this effort is worth it.
Just this morning I recieved word that a young single and a widow in our church were staying in town and had no where to go. Because I had already asked around to see who was having people over within our church, I was able to graciously impose on these folks in our church who were more than willing to set one more place setting at the table for these alone for the holidays.
I also have fond memories of my father bringing surprise guests over for Thanksgiving. Do not underestimate the impact this has on your children and other family present as they see you reach out to care for your brother or sister in Christ with no family to spend Thanksgiving with them.
Thanksgiving is tomorrow, but it may not be too late to connect young singles and widows to some hospitable folks in your church who desire to minister the gospel in this way. If you cannot reach anyone… take them home with you. This post was originally inspired by my father who almost every year brought some elderly widow home with him on Thanksgiving who he discovered at the last minute was alone.
A related post that also applies to this question as Christmas approaches is this previous post How can you serve widow during the holidays?
Make sure you are grateful tomorrow. There is much reason to hope in Christ regardless your circumstances!
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.
To find out more, please visit Practical Shepherding.