than its style. To expound Scripture is to bring out of the text
what is there and expose it to view. . . . The text in question
could be a verse, . . . a paragraph, or a chapter, or a whole book”
(Between Two Worlds, 1982, 125–26). While I believe in and
have regularly preached through books of the Bible, I also
believe there is a place for topical exposition, for preaching on
doctrinal themes, for example.
I’ve never been big on using books of illustrations. I just
can’t seem to find what I need in them. What’s worked best
for me are examples from my own life, sharing what God
is teaching me in my journey of faith related to what I am
preaching on, and occasionally things found through my general reading, both Christian and secular.
I’ve had the temptation, as most preachers have, to use mul-tisyllabic words that most people don’t know well, or alliterative or catchy phrases that make an impression and sound cool.
But understandability is the most important thing. Our people
will not apply what they do not understand.
Every good communicator has to deal with nerves, and this
is especially so for preaching. Just the thought of standing
before a congregation week after week, sensing the enormity
of their needs and their anticipation of hearing a clear word
from God puts lot of pressure on pastors. It’s a frightening
responsibility but also a great privilege! I have never gotten
past some nervousness, but I am learning to control it.
Surely an awareness of the Bible’s teaching on a certain
topic has a place. But from a preaching perspective, our goal
must be to not merely challenge the head, but the hands and
feet as well. As a general rule, people in our churches have
been educated beyond their obedience already. It’s time to take
action in the light of what we know! In recent years I have
made a greater effort to give thought in preaching preparation
to action steps that we all should take in the light of the Bible
truth being presented.
Jim Vogel (DMin, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) was a pastor for
30 years and associate national representative of the GARBC. He now
represents the Empire State Fellowship of Regular Baptist Churches.
Answers to Ministry Questions
Associate Pastors and Their Lead Pastors
In my role as an associate pastor I know I need to
have a good relationship with my lead pastor, but
we don’t seem to be connecting well. How can
I improve this relationship and thus my ministry
I appreciate your awareness of the importance of this issue
and your willingness to consider your part in helping to make
your connection with your lead pastor all it can be. Churches
are blessed when their pastoral staff is unified, working well
together, and moving forward in the same direction. Our
people can tell when we’re not on the same page.
Here’s what I suggest . . .
Do your part in communicating regularly. Some lead pastors
are more committed to regular interaction with their staff
than others are, but you can always take the initiative. Make
sure he knows what you are doing and why. Allow him to see
your public communication pieces with the youth or adults
you work with and keep him in the loop regarding ministry
Submit to his leadership and speak well of him. I don’t think
I’ve ever heard of a pastoral ministry staff that has an expecta-
tion of total agreement on everything. But most associates
know they work under the ultimate authority of their lead
pastor (and alongside him as a ministry colleague). He is the
one responsible to cast the overall vision. He gives leadership
to his staff and is responsible to make final decisions (wise lead
pastors do so in close consultation with their staff and dea-
cons). Affirm your support of your lead pastor’s leadership role
and speak highly of him in dealings with the church family at
large. If there is a “conviction clash” that cannot be prayerfully
resolved, seek another place of ministry. Determine to quietly
leave without criticism or divisiveness.
Help your lead pastor grasp your vision. Resistance can come
when those around us misunderstand our own ministry direction. This is especially so with our primary ministry colleague,
our pastor. Related to the first point, take the time to share
your passion for your ministry and how it supports the overall
church mission he is seeking to implement. Seek his sharpening and input. Make sure he knows your heart!
The bottom line: good staff relationships don’t just happen.
They result from a conscious effort by both associates and lead
pastors to understand their roles and work together.