Tuesday, February 11, 2014


I am actively posting now at pastorwell.com, a site aimed at sharing pastoral wisdom and Christian insight. Please visit pastorwell.com, bookmark it, and come back often. I am posting articles primarily about the Christian life, marriage, contemporary issues, and serving as a pastor. I do not promise you won't see occasional photos of my ridiculously cute grandchildren, frequent tributes to my godly, gracious, and gorgeous wife, Tanya, and grateful descriptions of the most grace-filled church I've ever known, Buck Run Baptist Church (buckrun.org), but I do promise I will try to post lots of articles of substance that will help you in your Christian walk. If it helps you remember it, you can also get there by going to hershaelyork.com. I hope you like the new format, and I hope you find information there that helps you in life, ministry, and marriage.

Come to the well and be refreshed: pastorwell.com

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Pastor Well (Come to the well and refresh yourself!)

What: A crash course in pastoral ministry
Where: Buck Run Baptist Church, 3894 Georgetown Road, Frankfort, KY
When: Monday-Tuesday December 16-17, 8:30am-3:30pm
Cost: FREE!
Lodging: Free upon request in homes (limited availability), local hotels

As much as I love preaching, perhaps my favorite of all the courses I teach at Southern Seminary is my 40301 Pastoral Ministry course that I have taught for 17 years. Since I grew up a pastor's son, am father to a pastor, and serve as a pastor, I obviously have a love for pastors and, even more, a love for the Lord's church.

Next Monday and Tuesday, December 16 and 17, the media folks at Southern are coming to Buck Run to film me teaching the content of that course for future online use. It's much easier to teach and to be engaging if I have a live audience, so I am inviting anyone who wants to come for those two days to make a trip to Buck Run, enjoy our hospitality, and draw from the Pastor Well so you can, um, pastor well. No academic credit is being offered for being in the audience, but you get the content of the course lectures. If you desire to serve as a pastor or if you are a pastor in need of some new ideas and challenges, this will be a great opportunity.

We'll talk about church discipline, how to baptize, working with staff, how to build a culture of generosity and grace, how to deal with a search committee. Things we aren't even planning will come up. And if you come, you can submit some questions for me to answer if they would be helpful. You can see below a partial list of things I will cover.

Some of the wonderful saints at Buck Run have volunteered to open their homes, and more will if I just ask, so if you want to come and need a place to stay, send my assistant, Tracy Hodges, an email at thodges@buckrun.org and we will do what we can. Or you are welcome to commute, to come for one day, or to make your own arrangements.

I hope to see you there!

Session 1: The Call to Ministry

The call is not a general to all Christians but a specific moving of the Holy Spirit.

The call is the intersection of desire, gifting, opportunity, and the testimony of the church.

The success and survival of your ministry depends on the strength of your calling.

Session 2: The Call to a Specific Ministry

The biblical emphasis is on doing the will of God more than knowing the will of God.

Friesen’s view of God’s will: sanctified common sense coupled with a passionate desire to honor the Lord in every situation.

          Christians also experience an inner witness of the Holy Spirit.

Session 3: Licensing and Ordination

          Licensing is the church’s permission to exercise gifts to fulfill one’s 

Ordination is a formal and legal acknowledgment of one’s calling, competence, and conduct.

Session 4: Finding a place of service

Preparing and sharing resumes, making contacts, answering ads, getting recommendations and writing cover letters.

Dealing with search committees, what materials to ask for, what to provide, what questions to ask.

Session 5: Your first church

Be honest in evaluating expectations: are you going to plant your life here or is it a “learning church”?

Lower your expectations of them, raise them of yourself.

Hone your skills: preaching, people, prayer.

Session 6: Deacons

What they do, what they should be, biblical qualifications, function in the church

How to get them on your side, how to keep them focused

Rotation system vs. DFL (deacon for life)

Session 7: The Ordinances: Baptism

Ordinances are not sacraments, the four essentials of scriptural baptism, whose baptism does the church recognize

How to baptize

Session 8: The Ordinances: Communion

            The elements, who may partake (closed, close, open communion)

            How to serve, meaningful components

Session 9: Church Discipline

The three grounds for church discipline

How to practice discipline, the circle of confession and the circle of knowledge


Session 10: Weddings

            Developing a personal wedding policy, church use policy vs. officiating

            Premarital counseling, the rehearsal, the ceremony

Session 11: Funerals

Dealing with grief and bereavement, visitation

Conducting the service, sermons, the graveside

Session 12: Leadership

            The top ten mistakes leaders make (Finzel’s book)

Session 13: Personal Life

Maintaining a devotional life, personal purity

Marriage, family, parenting your children

Ten commandments for self and staff members

Session 14: Personal skills

Being a people person, making people feel important

Overcoming introversion

Getting the most out of your time, returning calls, thank you notes, keeping in touch, using social media for communication

Session 15: Leading through exposition

Developing a preaching plan

Using the Bible to move the church

Fostering a culture of generosity and grace

Session 16: Leading a church through change

          Changing the church focus

The worship wars

Building projects, relocation, celebrating the past while embracing the

Session 17: Leading in church business

            To moderate or not to moderate, Robert’s Rules of Order, handling

Session 18: Church finances

Developing a church budget, the pastor’s involvement in church finances

Giving, cooperative program, Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, etc.

Church debt, capital campaigns

Session 19: Working with staff

            Searching, hiring, working with, leading, trusting, correcting, firing

Session 20: Evangelism

Developing a missional spirit

Using evangelism training programs, 8-touch system, connect teams, advertising

Using holidays and special events

Mission trips and their purposes

Session 21: Miscellaneous matters

Integrity in accepting members from other churches,

Allowing people to leave well

Leaving well

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Pure Religion and Undefiled

In response to the article in the Louisville Courier-Journal and other media reports that Dr. Bill Smithwick is asking the board of Sunrise Children's Services to consider hiring people who are gay to work in an agency of the Kentucky Baptist Convention, I wrote an op-ed piece for the Western Recorder and emailed it to Dr. Smithwick and all the members of the board. Here is the content of that article:

I am heartsick to think that Bill Smithwick would ask the board of Sunrise Children’s Services to reverse their longstanding policy against hiring practicing homosexuals to serve in an agency of the Kentucky Baptist Convention. By even suggesting such an action, Mr. Smithwick has placed himself outside the overwhelming majority of the churches and people who have supported this ministry with their tithes and offerings given as unto the Lord. Through a dozen years of lawsuits and legal challenges, the Baptists of the Commonwealth have stood with Sunrise because the Biblical principles on which that ministry was founded were not for sale. Now Mr. Smithwick is asking his board to run up the white flag of surrender to the spirit of the age, all in the name of doing ministry on our behalf.
            When the board asked Kentucky Baptists for permission to drop “Baptist” from their name, we were assured that nothing substantial would change and the ministry would still reflect the gospel-centered and Christ-honoring values that had always defined it. Now we are left feeling duped, misled, and possibly robbed of the investment of generations of faithful people of God who were motivated to care for children because of their belief in the Word of God.
I do not question Mr. Smithwick’s love for children, but it would be immeasurably better to do what only we Baptists can afford without the government than to capitulate our convictions in order to get Caesar’s money. Separated from the gospel call to repentance and faith in Jesus, we only make the world a better place to go to hell from. When we assure the state that we will not “proselytize,” we promise a Christless social ministry that feeds the body and starves the soul. When we bend our beliefs to remain palatable to the culture or acceptable to the state, we cease to follow a crucified Savior who counseled us that the world would do to us what it did to Him.
            James wrote that pure and undefiled religion is to care for orphans and widows in their affliction, but also “to keep oneself unstained from the world” (James 1:27). By suggesting that we should compromise on the latter in order to do the former, Mr. Smithwick has edited the inspired Word of God and is attempting to make faithful Kentucky Baptists complicit in his revision. We must not sell our birthright of God’s favor for a bowl of government contract pottage.
            When the board of Sunrise Children’s Services meets on November 8, their first order of business should be to refuse to compromise the clear teaching of God’s Word as suggested by Mr. Smithwick. Their second action should be to remove him as director for even suggesting it.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Links to Sermons, Articles, and Posts

I hope to start writing on this blog again soon, but in the meantime, I wanted to post several things that I have done that appear elsewhere on the internet. Various sermons, lectures, interviews, and articles I've done are orbiting through cyberspace, so I thought I might aggregate them here for those who might find themselves looking for such things.

For Such a Slime as This: Esther is Nobody's Hero

Why Can't You Be Like Your Brother? (Gen 38) Judah crashes Joseph's party

Written for Our Instruction (1 Cor 10) Paul's Use of the OT

Apologia Pro Morta Sua (A Defense of His Death): Joshua 8 and the Slaughter at Ai

The Prayers We Don't Pray (but Jesus told us to)

The Dark Side of Grace: When Jesus Doesn't Show Up (John 11)

A Bloody Shame: Why God Tried to Kill Moses (Exodus 4)

A Word of Anxiety: The Suffering of Christ on the Cross

Do You Do Well? Jonah 4

Buck Run audio sermons

The Buck Run Podcast

Another way to get the Buck Run podcast

Buck Run is moving!

My sermons and articles on PreachingToday.com (you can get free access if you register--trust me, this site is worth it! Great stuff!)

The Preacher's Voice (article)

Don't Preach Like a Writer (Aim for the Ear!)

Your Baby's Ugly! (Why do some preachers get better and others . . . ?)

Interview with Ray Carroll at fallenpastor.com Part 1

Interview with Ray Carroll at fallenpastor.com Part 2

Interview with Trevin Wax