Pastoral Pointer | Intentional Church Programming

Does your church merely schedule activities, or does it have a comprehensive strategy to build unity, reach the lost, and make disciples? Whether planning a church picnic or an evangelistic service, church members need to know the purpose, the goal, and the desired outcome of everything on the church calendar. Dr. York explains five levels of church planning and how to communicate it to the congregation so everyone understands and embraces the church calendar is an important ministry tool.

Pastor Well | The Pastor As Worship Leader

Most pastors understand that they are the primary teacher of the Word, but few realize that they are also the principle worship leader. No congregation will ever be focused on worship if the pastor treats it cavalierly or acts disinterested. Dr. York explains the integral relationship between preaching, which is the central act of worship, and the preacher, who is the de facto leader in worship.

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Pastoral Pointer | Leading Your Church to be Welcoming

No one likes to go where they feel unwanted—especially church. How can a pastor train a congregation to welcome guests and project a warm, inviting spirit so visitors feel at  home and are more receptive to the worship and the Word? Dr. York shares some practical insights and strategies that can make the difference between a church that hopes for growth and one that actually grows.

Listen to a sermon where I coached my own church on how to do this very thing.

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Pastoral Pointer | Finding Great Illustrations

The more experienced a preacher you become, the less time it will take you to do exegesis, outlining, and preparation. You can become very proficient at that. Illustrating the sermon, however, will become harder because of the demand for fresh, culturally relevant illustrations that truly serve and illuminate the text. So, where do you find illustrations that are both memorable and relevant? Here are a few suggestions about where to look—and what to avoid.

If you liked this video by Dr. York, view the other Pastoral Pointer installments at HERE

Pastoral Pointer: Take Some Time and Write a Note

Since caring about people is foundational to pastoring well, then any tangible way to show members or guests that they matter is invaluable. Few things have the impact of a personal note written on distinguished personalized stationery and finished with a wax seal.

Obviously, fountain pens are available at many price points and you can certainly find a hobby (or an obsession) collecting them, but if you are just entering the world of fountain pens or need one that will serve you well without a great expense, I recommend the excellent LAMY Safari with a broad nib, coupled with a robust and eye-catching ink. For the best writing experience and another way to demonstrate a careful attention to detail, invest in some high quality correspondence cards. I found my custom letterpress cards on Etsy. And to make your letter really stand out in the recipient's pile of daily mail, round out your effort with a wax seal, on the envelope.

No matter how well you write or what stationery you use, the most important element of a personal note is the sincere love and concern you communicate. People have an uncanny ability to see the truth of a caring heart and the pretense of an empty one that's just trying to gain an advantage. That's the difference between a true shepherd and a a hired hand. Jesus put it like this:

"Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”

(John 10:7-18 ESV)

Five Reasons I'm Striving to Follow Dr. York's Advice


When I was in seminary, Dr. York advised me to “plant your life in one church and stay there.”  After thinking about this advice many times (especially when I’m tempted to quit and go somewhere else), I’ve come to the conclusion that he is right.  In general, by staying long-term at one church, a pastor increases his ability to bring about lasting change. After reading Dr. York’s helpful post (reinforcing the advice he gave to me years ago), I wanted to humbly offer five more encouragements to stay long-term at one church. 


1.  Staying long-term strengthens our faith.  Perseverance is sanctifying, and to stay planted in one church will require seasons of rugged endurance.  In those seasons of trial we are driven to Scripture for perspective, direction, wisdom, and help (consider David’s time in the cave).  Trials in the pastorate push us to focused prayer and fasting.  The weight of our opposition cause us to “…rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead” (2 Cor. 1:9).  Struggles in the church make us humbly confess, “Who is sufficient for these things…our sufficiency comes from God…” (2 Cor. 2:16-3:5).     


2.  Staying long-term better enables us effect change on others.  I’ve learned that the process of discipleship generally takes extended periods of time.  For most, sanctification involves a long and slow process (it’s lifelong).  Toiling to bring Christians to maturity takes time and consistency.  Furthermore, think of the lasting value of relationships forged through discipleship (Paul had plenty of these, evidenced in Romans 16:1-15).  These kinds of relationships often take regular face-time to develop.    


3.  Staying long-term helps pastors effect change on their congregation’s extended families.  Over time, you come to know extended families by growing closer to committed members of your church.  Thus, a pastor is more able to evangelize them.  A new pastor every 3 years will probably never really know (or earn credibility with) extended family members.  Most church members have extended family who are not Christians, or who are out of church for a variety of reasons.


4.  Most churches have unbiblical or problematic practices that pastors need to address.  Challenging or removing old traditions (the ones that need to go) will probably require the relational capitol only time can bring.  Established structures become ingrained over long periods of time and we would be naive to think they will change with the preaching of one sermon (add to that the general human resistance to change).


5.  History provides a long list of pastors who changed their communities and world by staying at one church for an extended period of time.  Living examples could include exemplary pastors like John MacArthur, John Piper, and Mark Dever.  Church History brims with examples that fit into this category: Luther in Wittenberg and Calvin in Geneva especially come to mind (think you can’t have an impact from a smaller town?).


These are five of the reasons I’m striving to follow Dr. York’s advice. 


Grace to you,

Chris King

Pastor, Bayou View Baptist Church, Gulfport, MS (only 8 years in)