A Note from the Old Pastor Concerning the New Pastor

As you transition from one pastor to another, here are some things to consider…

(1) Recognize him as your pastor. You do me, nor him, nor yourself any favors by either trying to guess what I would have done in a situation (or what Pastor Simpson would have done) or by telling him that Jeremy would never have done whatever it is he has decided to do. Is Faith my church? “Is Christ divided? Was Paul”—or even Jeremy—“crucified for you?” (1 Cor 1:13) Is it not Christ’s church? May your only loyalty be to Jesus as you follow the pastor you have called, ever looking forward, not looking back.

(2) Understand his priorities. If he is to be an effective pastor, his priority must be to his personal relationship with Christ, then to his family, and then to you. This is the model we see in 1 Timothy 3:4-5. If he cannot manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? Understand that his first priority in terms of earthly relationships must be his family. They will validate or invalidate his ministry to you.

(3) Recognize his gifts. He will have greater and lesser gifts in particular areas than either of his predecessors had. Pastor Simpson was an evangelist. Pastor Jeremy was an expositor. Maybe Jonathan will be both, but in very different ways. Give him the latitude to use his gifts. Pretending to be something that he is not will never grow this church.

(4) Don’t let him do everything. He does not have every spiritual gift and neither does the Bible allow him to do everything for the church. Many of you understand this only too well and have done phenomenally. It may still do well to take this question to heart: Does our understanding of a pastor’s job more closely fit with the model of a mom-and-pop store where the proprietor (or pastor) provides a service that we come and consume, or does it fit a team approach with the pastor as captain or coach leading us into action. Come alongside of him and work next to him. The church was never meant to be a one-man show. That is why it is referred to as a body with many parts (1 Cor 12:20) and as a spiritual house, being built up together (1 Pet 2:5). Use your gifts: to reach out to those outside the church, to minister to those inside it, and to consider that we have not come to be served, but to serve (Mat 20:28).

(5) Love him and his family. Don’t wait to get to know him; don’t hesitate to love his family. Christian love involves loving the unloveable as Christ loved us. You have called a man and wife who are extremely loveable. They will be easy to love. Don’t use that as a temptation to love like the world. God calls us to love in this way: patiently, kindly, humbly, respectfully, non-irritably, and truthfully as you bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, and endure all things (1 Cor 13). Do not believe an accusation of him unless it has been established by the testimony of 2 or 3 witnesses (1 Timothy 5:19). Keep in mind that unless he leaves town, you’re the only family he has. I praise God for your Christian love towards my family and I. Do so even more towards him and his.

Hero of the Faith: Richard Baxter


In today’s sermon, I quote the Puritan preacher, Richard Baxter (1615-1691). At the age of 26, he was called to the small village church at Kidderminster—not too dissimilar in size or religiosity to our own town, Emporium—where he pastored for 19 years.  Kidderminster was a village of approximately 3,000 people.  When he started there he found, “an ignorant, rude and reveling people for the greater part…and yet among them a small company of converts, who were humble, godly, and of good conversations” [lifestyle].  Through his effective ministry, over 1,000 souls packed the church over his time there.

Not long after having been called to Kidderminster, civil war broke out in England and Baxter was forced to leave for a time.  The English Civil War was not fought over land or slavery or to preserve it’s union; it was fought over who had the right to rule: the king or Parliament.  The village of Kidderminster belonged to a county that remained loyal to the king. Several, to include Richard Baxter, were Puritans (a reform movement within the Church of England), who supported Parliament.  During his time away, he became a chaplain in the Parliamentary army.

During that time, he became deathly ill, nearly died, yet wrote one of his most famous books, The Saint’s Everlasting Rest, wherein he mediated upon the theme of heaven.  It is a highly commendable book.  Later on, the ministry philosophy behind his work became the basis for his most prodigious work, The Reformed Pastor—a book that has had great influence upon my ministry.  Baxter later supported the king’s return to power, believing that the king would maintain religious liberty.  But the king forced uniformity around the Church’s Book of Prayer, which Baxter could not submit to.  He spent the remainder of his life marginalized, ejected from his pulpit, and even spending time in prison.  Unity can only come through the Spirit, yet Baxter remained eager for it (Eph 4:3) just as we’re called to.