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20 Nuggets from "Pastoral Ministry" by Dr. Hershael York | C20

The content below is taken from Dr. Hershael York’s “Pastoral Ministry” lectures at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (Spring 2021).

The Pastor and the Church

1. A church that is not focused on evangelism is going to be focused on criticism. When people are busy doing things, they’ll be too busy to be complaining. No one is being more spiritual by sitting in a room waiting for a dove to descend. Expect every deacon, every teacher, to be a soul-winner regularly. Start every deacon’s meeting with a report of who you’ve shared the gospel with.

2. As a new pastor in a new church, make your goals personal goals. Preach well. Visit the sick. Invite people to church. Be present in the community. If you love your people well, you’ll gain more of a voice. When they trust that you are seeking to honor the Lord with every decision, they'll trust you.

3. You reproduce what you honor. [The emphasis here was against being overly critical, but verbally encouraging from the pulpit and by other means good things that the Lord is doing through His people.]

4. You never get a second chance at a first impression. Stop by and see people at their work. Have them over for dinner. Write handwritten notes. Make a good first impression. Preach well. Love people and they’ll be able to forgive a lot of other things. It takes a long time for it to be your church . . . you just have to put in your time. The way people perceive you is a massive part of your ministry. Be real. Don’t just look generous. Be generous. My greatest task as a minister is to show God as holy.

5. There are five things that help determine calling: (1) God’s Word; (2) Desire; (3) Gifting; (4) Opportunity; (5) Testimony of others.

6. When you learn to say these things (tough truth) flatly without bringing tension into your voice, it terrifies people. Always be kind. Be non-threatened, gracious, and stalwart with a backbone like a railroad.

7. You're going to have a crisis in your church at 1, 3, 5, and 9 years (roughly speaking). It’s going to happen, but you’ll be more the pastor after one of these experiences than before them.

8. You must have a biblical reason for every decision you make. Within my convictions, I'm a pragmatist. I don't change my convictions for pragmatic reasons. You've already lost when pragmatism [rather than God’s Word] becomes the basis of your decisions.

The Lord’s Supper

9. The Lord’s Supper pictures three tenses: (1) the historical fact that Jesus gave His sinless body and that His blood was shed in His death; (2) the present reality that I still believe and am presently trusting in his death, burial, and resurrection; (3) the future reality that I will one day sit with the Lord Jesus in the Kingdom and feast forever.

10. I can't tell you how many people I have led to Christ because I said they shouldn't partake of the Lord’s Supper [as unbelievers or those sprinkled before being born again]. It's not my supper and it's not my rules. If it so troubles them that they cannot rightly partake such that they come to me and say so, then this is an opportunity for them to be born again and baptized. Fencing the table often causes the resistance that is needed to bring someone to Christ. I want them to feel that estrangement.


11. There is nothing that gives my ministry more credibility than my marriage. Good marriages overlook the flaws. The best marriages get to a point where they are so in love with one another that they don't even see one another's flaws. There is no such thing, however, as a marriage without work.

12. It ought to be a rule that you will just wipe out divorce in your church. I take it very personally when a divorce happens. If I were planting a church, I would put a lot in my covenant about marriage. We have been way to hands off with marriage in our churches and are constantly getting involved too late. The big three issues in marriage are (1) money, (2) sex, and (3) communication. In-laws and how one disciplines their children can sometimes also be in this mix. [here is a great resource for your marriage and marriage ministry within your church:]


13. The world gets really small at the end of life. The people that are in that room at the end mean a lot. You need to be in that room. It's not that you've got the right words to say. It's just that you are there.

14. God is in touch with our feelings of grief. God's heart is for His broken people . . . especially if they were a believer. You have to try to get them to see the big picture. We grieve not like those who have no hope. What makes heaven heaven is that Jesus the lamb of God is there. Our grief is a hopeful grief that has great expectations because of the truth of the gospel. But it still hurts.

Guests and Membership

15. The goal is not to move the guest from guest to member, but to have them actively engaged in the mission and vision of our church.

16. Our churches must be guest friendly and gospel centric. The sermon starts in the parking lot. A guest usually decides within seven minutes if they are going to come back. "The gospel is offensive, nothing else should be." (Danny Franks)

Church Discipline

17. Sin destroys life on earth and it condemns one to hell in eternity. While many of us would rather call ourselves tolerant, priding ourselves on not making people uncomfortable, this ignores the reality that sin is the most self-destructive thing that anyone can do to themselves. The cruelest thing you can do is to leave someone in their sin. The kindest thing you can do is to deliver them from their sin. Satan has twisted it. He’s got people thinking the other way [that it is mean-spirited to want them to be free from their sin]. If they persist in their sin [and we don't do anything about it], we are literally saying, 'you can go to hell and we don't really care.'" The worst thing you can say is "we're going to leave you where you are." If this person is going to stay in their sin, he is going to do it over our pleading against it.

18. In the same way that we don't argue against spanking because some people abuse it, we shouldn’t argue against church discipline because of misuse or abuse. When you just ignore it, it makes it awkward for everybody and it lies to people to say sin isn't that big of a deal. When you address it, “it frees people up to bless those who have repented.” The greatest indicator that someone is on the right path [of repentance] is when they accept responsibility for other people’s reaction to their sin.

19. The primary purpose of church discipline is restoration and reconciliation. The primary means of church discipline is going to your brother one-on-one and working stuff out. More often than not people are more willing to work things out when they sense the sincerity in the person bringing it out. Don't go in angry. Go in with compassion. Sin should break your heart. Confront people in their sin, show them where the sinful road is going, and call them to repent. Call them to the long hard road of repentance. It is the only road worth being on. The only other road you will take you to a place of destitution. The circle of knowledge determines the circle of repentance. The most miserable person in the world is a believer in sin.

20. You [the sinner] don't get to judge people's reaction to your sin. Own the fact that this [the awkwardness] is because of you and your sin. You need to have grace toward others whom you have put in a tough and awkward position.


Three Positions for Communion:

Close Communion: Members of the local church and everyone who is there who is scripturally baptized and is involved a church of "like faith and order."

Closed Communion: only the members of the local church can partake.

Open Communion: holds that any believer may partake of the Lord’s Supper.


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