One of the exciting things happening among younger evangelicals, including many Southern Baptists, is a growing emphasis on church planting. Many of our students at SEBTS desire to plant churches in the under-reached areas of North America. A growing number of churches are emphasizing church planting, including many churches that have never given any thought to this important ministry in the past. I praise God for what he is doing through church planters.
Helpful trends often bring with them unintended negative, or at least less helpful, consequences. I have to admit that there are times that I’m concerned that a shrinking number of men (relatively speaking) seem interested in pastoring existing churches, especially churches located in small towns and rural areas. I suspect there are many reasons for this trend—in this post, I only wish to mention two of them. I believe at least some young men are hesitant to minister in existing churches because of the difficulties of shepherding “seasoned” sheep who already have settled opinions, many of which may not match up with the convictions of the young would-be pastor. I also believe some young men are simply fearful that their inexperience in the nuts-and-bolts of pastoral work will cause them to make mistakes that will result in ineffective or even short-lived ministries.
For those who do desire to pastor existing churches, I want to recommend what I believe is one of the best resources on the web: Practical Shepherding. According to its website, “Practical Shepherding is a Gospel-driven resource center for pastors and church leaders to equip them in the practical matters of pastoral ministry.” The founder of Practical Shepherding is Brian Croft, who has written a number of helpful books and articles that wed a robust theological vision with the everyday duties of pastoral ministry (like Conducting Gospel-Centered Funerals, pictured to the right). Brian also writes a blog that I believe is the most helpful blog of any kind on pastoral ministry. I hope that seasoned pastors, seminary students, and even current and future church planters will avail themselves of the resources associated with Practical Shepherding. And tell your friends in ministry to check out the website as well.