Category Archives: Vacant Churches

Vacant Church: Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota

 

The Context 

From the beginning, Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church (www.fellowshipmb.org) has been dedicated and committed to fostering and experiencing a sense of fellowship, thus the name. This connectedness and relationality can be observed and experienced in many different settings.

FMBC has been in existence for 21 years and holds affiliation with both the American Baptist Church and National Baptist Church conferences, FMBC at its core is theologically Baptist. Yet, it has embraced a unique governance structure. The congregation is led and overseen by three leadership bodies: the Board of Deacons, the Board of Trustees and the Board of Christian Education. While sometimes cumbersome to navigate, this ‘tri-cameral’ structure creates wonderful opportunity for members to utilize their gifts in leadership and ensures that the congregation is represented in direction-setting and decision-making.

North Minneapolis, where FMBC is located, is a community growing in its diversity, yet predominately African-American it has a unique history, a strong sense of self, and a growing hope and optimism. Yet, within itself there exists a community marked by cultural transition, persistent poverty, ambiguous economic prospects, a devastated housing market, and a languishing educational system. As of late, the tide has begun to shift. New collaborations are emerging, public resources are better focused into the region and groups across sectors are working to revitalize this once strong neighborhood.

The Need 

With an annual budget of $1.2m, generous giving and significant participation in leadership and ministry by the members, ‘the engine’ that is FMBC, is well-built and ready to go. Because of a current lack of clarity, identity and direction, FMBC needs the ‘spark plugs tuned’ and ‘new fuel’ to reclaim its identity and fulfil the original mission with a new shared vision, strategic direction and call to action. FMBC is a church with a dream hidden in the hearts and minds of its people waiting to be awakened and sparked. The people are expectant and guardedly hopeful as they prepare for and await the next Senior Pastor. This will require a visionary shepherd/leader that is relationally savvy and able to work collaboratively. This shepherd/leader will capture the hearts and

minds of all ages and inspire the members into a deeper following of Christ and utilization of their talents, time and financial resources for more significant community impact.

The Opportunity 

The next Senior Pastor of FMBC will lead the church and its members from the current reality into regained momentum, a new era of deepened discipleship and missional outreach and anywhere else God might lead FMBC. This person will engender trust by walking the talk of the Gospel message, consistently demonstrating a deep relationship with Christ as first and foremost the spiritually strong leader of the congregation. He/She will be able to bring people together, building bridges relationally, listening well and seeking to deeply understand the perspectives and needs of those who call FMBC home. The Senior Pastor will work collegially with leaders, staff and lay ministers getting everyone on the same page and then empower others for mission and ministry.

The Senior Pastor at FMBC is the one who casts the vision, but this is not done in isolation from the input and wisdom of the boards and congregation. They will be able to thrive in a complex culture by being able to hold, sometimes competing priorities, and multiple forces, in balance while seeking to identify the consistent voice. Part of what this means is honoring the traditional elements of FMBC and transforming them into more progressive and fresh expressions.

Qualifications 

Meets and satisfies the Biblical mandates as outlined in I Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:6-9 (Women are not excluded)

Significant years of experience leading a congregation of 500 members or more

Masters degree required (preferably a Masters of Divinity from an accredited university or seminary)

Holding current ordination from a Baptist body

If you know someone who would be a good fit for this role, please reply to: 

Rick Heltne 

Senior Search Consultant-SIMA Minneapolis 

rheltne@simainternational.com

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Vacant Church: Second Baptist Church, Kokomo, Indiana (Open Until Filled)

 

Page 1 of 10 3/1/2014 

 

SECOND MISSIONARY BAPTIST CHURCH 

KOKOMO, IN 

PASTORAL VACANCY ANNOUNCEMENT 

POSITION OPEN 3/7/2014 UNTIL FILLED 

The Second Missionary Baptist Church was founded and organized in 1887 making it one of the oldest congregations in the city of Kokomo, IN. The membership consists of approximately 273 active members. With the retirement (after 32 years) of our recent Pastor, Rev. Dr. Robert A. Lee, the Pulpit Search Committee is seeking the mind and will of God as we continue our inheritance. Second Missionary Baptist Church has been a beacon of light in the Kokomo Community for 126 years. Our new pastor must be responsible for the biblical and spiritual obligations unto God as outlined in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9. Therefore, a candidate must be a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14). Second Missionary Baptist Church seeks a visionary with strong leadership skills who will preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, teach sound Baptist doctrine, engage in pastoral care, direct Christian growth and development, and promote missions and the Great Commission for expanding the Kingdom of God. The pastor is also responsible for the overall leadership of the day-to-day operations of the church, services, membership and the wider community through evangelism and edification. Page 2 of 10 3/1/2014 

 

LIST OF REQUIREMENTS FOR PASTORAL CANDIDATES 

1. Candidate must have at least five years Baptist Church pastoral experience 

 

A. Licensed and Ordained Baptist Minister 

 

2. Earned accredited degree is required; a minimum Bachelors of Theology/Divinity Degree and secular preferred from an accredited institution 

 

3. Must have a clear understanding of Baptist Church Doctrine 

 

A. Provide a balanced overview of the whole counsel of God 

B. Deal with Doctrinal issues that may need particular attention 

C. Apply biblical principles to moral, ethical and political issues 

D. Ensure that encouragement, reproof and correction are in balance 

E. Conduct baptisms and oversee membership 

F. Give opportunity for people to respond to gospel message/accept Christ 

G. Administer/conduct the Lord’s Supper 

 

4. Love and Ability to Preach and Teach God’s Word 

 

A. The ability to prepare and deliver biblically sound, inspirational and spirit filled sermons 

B. The ability to provide biblical based teaching 

C. Preach Sunday Worship Services (8:00am and 11:00am) and Mid-Week Service 

D. Teach Bible study 

E. Strong supporter of the Ministry of Christian Education 

 

5. Strong in Evangelism 

 

A. Disciple, equip and teach the congregation to train believers in the basics of the Christian life so that they may be assimilated into the congregation, grow and reproduce in order to impact their homes, church and community 

B. Disciple new believers 

C. Provide leadership development opportunities 

D. Equip congregation to disciple others 

E. Train, organize and lead members to do visitation of and witnessing to unsaved persons 

F. Set example in cultivating unsaved persons 

G. Lead church in planning regular outreach/revival emphasis 

H. Provide advice and supportive resources to the wider community 

I. Minister and visitation to ill and bereaved members 

 

6. Love for God and People 

A. Must be a born again baptized believer in Jesus Christ 

B. Lead members to trust and love God so that they desire to serve Him 

C. Lead the members to love one another and their neighbors 

D. Encourage stewardship, missions support and tithing 

Page 3 of 10 3/1/2014 

 

 

7. Be Innovative to Move Forward 

A. Establish a vision and develop a strategic plan for the church 

B. Create an outreach vision that is both Local and Foreign Mission oriented 

C. Develop and implement a strategic plan for healthy church growth, membership growth, financial growth and facility growth 

 

8. Strong Knowledge of the Bible 

A. Skilled in biblical teaching 

 

9. Demonstrated Community Involvement 

A. Lead the congregation in planning, conducting and evaluating its local, national and worldwide missions 

B. Willing to support and participate in Local, State and National Conventions and Congresses 

C. Maintain contact with all church supported missions 

 

10. Diversity Minded 

A. Develop a long range plan for Pulpit Ministry, disciplining and equipping, and community outreach 

B. Have a vision for growing church membership that is both educated in the word of God and strong in relationship with Christ, particularly a vision, commitment and experience for increasing the numbers and spiritual development of youth, young adults and adults in the congregation 

 

11. Able to keep confidentiality 

A. Counseling troubled people and those in need 

B. Spiritual counseling of church members 

C. Moral integrity must be above reproach 

 

12. Conflict Resolution 

A. Ensure that prayer has a prominent place both in the church and personal lives 

B. Work with the Deacons in maintaining a spiritually healthy church 

C. Lead church to develop policies that would help members participate in an orderly and deliberate manner 

 

13. Demonstrated Spirit of Unity 

A. Oversee worship service in collaboration with the Music Ministry 

B. Consistently connect with deacons, minsters, colleagues and resource persons 

C. Provide leadership/workshop development opportunities 

 

14. Pastor selected must reside or be willing to relocate to Kokomo, Indiana 

 

15. Be Mission Minded 

A. Leading the congregation in planning, conducting and evaluating its Local, State, National and Worldwide Missions 

B. Actively support Domestic and Foreign Missions 

C. Offer advice on use of mission and benevolence funds 

Page 4 of 10 3/1/2014 

 

The successful candidate must possess at a minimum the following personal qualities and skills:

 Leadership skills

 Excellent speaker

 Teaching skills

 Humility

 Intelligent

 Dedicated and driven

 Visionary

 Preaching style that provides practical and clear application where the scriptural text provides the meaning

 Mission Minded

 

How to Apply:

All interested and qualified persons must submit an initial candidate package consisting of the following documentation:

 Completed Second Missionary Baptist Church job application (included)

 Current resume

 Cover letter

 Copy of ministerial license and ordination certificate

 Copy of degree(s)

 Four recommendation letters – clergy, professional, personal (at least 2 from clergy)

 Provide current photo of yourself

 Provide DVD/CD of recent sermon

 

All information submitted will be treated confidential. Additional information may be requested and/or required.

FINAL CANDIDATES MUST CONSENT TO: REFERENCE CHECKS, AND EDUCATION/CREDENTIAL VERIFICATION, A CRIMINAL HISTORY BACKGROUND CHECK, A DRUG TEST, AND A CREDIT AND FINANCIAL HISTORY REVIEW. 

Send application and documents to:

Second Missionary Baptist Church

Attn: Pastoral Search Committee

PO Box 739

Kokomo, IN 46903-0739

or email application and documents to:

smbcpulpit@yahoo.com Page 5 of 10 3/1/2014 

 

SECOND MISSIONARY BAPTIST CHURCH PASTOR APPLICATION FORM 

PERSONAL INFORMATION DATE: _____________________________

Name: _________________________________________________________________________________

Present address: _________________________________________________________________________

How long: ____________________________ Birth Date: ___________________________________

Telephone: Home ( ) Business ( ) Cell ( ) _____

Email address: Personal website address (if available): __________________

lf hired, can you present proof of your legal right to live and work in this country? YES NO N/A

Number of years lived in the U.S. ____________

Marital Status: Married Separated Divorced Widowed Single

lf Married, Name of Spouse:_________________________________________________________________

ls this your first Spouse? YES NO

Names and Ages of Children:

________________________________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________________________________

Are you ordained: YES NO Date and Place of Ordination: ___________________________________

Denomination: ___________________________________________________________________________

Are you interested in relocating to Kokomo if you are selected? YES NO EDUCATION BACKGROUND

Vacant Church – Pleasant Hill Baptist Church, Winchester, Kentucky

From the American Baptist Newspaper, Louisville, Kentucky

The Pleasant Hill Baptist Church is currently seeking a new pastor for its church. If any ordained ministers would be interested in coming and preaching a service, please contact either Dea. Harvey Embry 859-744-5482 or 859-595-0791 or Dea. Bruce Hart 859-266-2453 or 859-240-4983, to schedule. We look forward to hearing from you soon and may God bless.

The Members of the Pleasant Hill Baptist Church

Vacant Church – Macedonia Baptist Church, Auburn, Kentucky

From the American Baptist Newspaper

The Macedonia Baptist Church is currently accepting applications for the Position of Pastor.

We are prayerfully seeking a candidate who has demonstrated the capacity to meet the standards of pastoral leadership.

Address:  290 Hill Street, Auburn, Kentucky 42206

For questions or concerns you may leave a message for Bro. Charles Covington, Search Committee Chairman

(270) 542-7687

Youth Minister Position: Mt. Moriah Baptist Church, Washington, DC (Deadline: September 26, 2013)

MMBC Youth Minister Position Description-Revised 8-29-2013[1]_Page_1

 

MMBC Youth Minister Position Description-Revised 8-29-2013[1]_Page_2

Hints about the Pastoral Interview Process

by Robert Earl Houston

Houston08282013I have held the senior pastor position at four congregations – one in Portland, Oregon, the next in Fresno, California, the next in San Diego, California, and currently here in Frankfort, Kentucky. Each church had it’s own distinctive curriculum vitae.  The first church was a split from another congregation and wasn’t ten years old; the second church was in rural California and was one of the mother churches of the area; the third church was in a large metropolitan area; and this church is a very historical congregation (176 years of age when I came here).

I’m baptist so my ascension to all four churches was not at the hand of a bishop or prelate – it was through a process of screening by a select group of members within the church, normally called a Pulpit Committee. I empathize heavily with anyone who takes on that task because they not only have to deal with the desires of a congregation, but they have to deal with pressures from outside and inside factions. It’s not a paid position in 99.9% of churches that I am aware of and the risks and rewards are great.

I want to share a few suggestions with those who are led to apply for churches, things that I’ve learned down through the years:

# 1 – IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU

Even though the process can get cumbersome, the process is not about you – it’s about who the Lord will install into the church as the next shepherd. Just because you apply doesn’t mean that you deserve the church or that you’re even the one that the Lord will direct them to choose. Just because you have a “phat” resume does not mean that the Pulpit Committee is going to be led to select you. You may be the best one on paper, but the Lord may have something in mind. Remember this – when the Lord allowed Israel to have kings, they had good kings and bad kings.  Sometimes the Lord allows someone to get called to a church in order to bring a season of challenge to that church. It’s not about you.

# 2 – YOU DON’T HAVE TO CAMPAIGN

Here we go. You find out about a church you want to apply for. Submit what they are asking for. Send it by certified letter and request that someone signs for it. And then LEAVE IT ALONE. You don’t have to become best friends with the Pulpit Committee Chair. If it’s a woman, you don’t have to send her a bouquet of flowers. You don’t have to buy an ad in a newspaper in that area. You don’t have to call every day to “have prayer with y’all.”  Leave it alone. You don’t have to find out who else is being considered and start slinging mud behind the back of the other candidate(s). You don’t have to campaign.

# 3 – DON’T PACK UP YET

The worst thing to do, especially if you’re already pastoring a church, is to start moving out before you get a call to a prospective church. Your members shouldn’t walk in and see no evidence that you’re about to leave. And this almost means emotional packing as well. If you’re the pastor of your current church – PASTOR them until the day you leave. Don’t get lazy now. Don’t get unconcerned now. Serve, serve and serve. Keep up with visitation. Keep up with preaching with enthusiasm. Don’t pack up yet.

# 4 – EVERY CHURCH IS NOT FOR YOU

I had a minister write me several years ago and basically, he politely cursed me out. He was troubled that everytime I posted a vacant church, that it was costing him a lot of money, because he basically applied for every church that I posted. I had to tell him, “Reverend, maybe every church is not for you.”  A little research may save some heartache. I’ve been fortunate in my pastoral career, but the highways are littered with pastors who brought high expectations to congregations that weren’t willing to go forward. The pastor had caviar dreams and the church had filet o’fish expectations. Also, making $500 a Sunday sounds good – but if you have no benefits – insurance, housing, etc. – after taxes, you may be in trouble. I candidated at a church in Tennessee once for almost two years and even though they called me to be their pastor, the Lord gave me an alternative assignment – because that church was not for me.  Every church is not for you.

# 5 – MAKE SURE YOU’RE READY

I know. You’ve been sitting under Rev. for years and you think you can handle a church. Listen, it’s more than a notion. When I was a kid I thought I could drive Mom’s car. She went out of the city, left her car keys (I was 12), I drove her car just around the block, hit another car, panicked and when I got home I cried my eyes out because I knew Mom was going to kill me when she got home (and she did) – the point is, it wasn’t as easy as it looked when I got into the driver’s seat.  Being a pastor has nothing to do with the oratory every Sunday. Being a pastor begs the questions – Are you ready to see people at their worst? Are you ready to stand over someone who may be dying of disease and offer a word of comfort? Are you ready to interrupt your family time to handle the needs of the membership? Can you stand your ground theologically in a changing world? Are you ready to be hugged on in your $700 suit by people who still smell of alcohol and weed?  Can you theologically handle preaching AND teaching on a heavy rotation? Make sure you’re ready.

# 6 – GET READY FOR THE INTERVIEW

Not only be prepared to answer their questions, you need to have some questions of your own. What happened to the last pastor? How would you describe his leadership style? How many of y’all come to Bible Study? What is the authority the church gives to the pastor? Those are important questions. But you need to prepare to be yourself. Engage yourself in the interview. Learn to laugh at yourself. Don’t get caught up in a trap.  I candidated at a church in Pasco, Washington when I was just 20 years old. A deacon in the room’s first question was “how much money do you want?”  I told him, that was way down the road and I hadn’t even preached there yet. He literally shouted at me, “HOW MUCH MONEY DO YOU WANT?”  I deferred.  He said it even louder and I dropped my head and I heard the Spirit of God say . . . “this is not for you.”  The meeting was over, I preached the next morning, went home and they called someone else – who they dismissed after years of loyal service. Get ready for the interview.

YOUR COMMENTS ARE WELCOMED.

An Open Letter to all Pulpit Committees in 2013

Dear Brothers and Sisters in the Lord,

First, I want to thank  you for serving in such a high-profile position within your congregation. The congregation has placed within your hands a very sacred trust and literally you are making a decision that will have eternal and temporal impact upon your lives of your congregants. It is a very serious matter and you are to be applauded for agreeing to serve.

However, as a pastor, I want to talk with you briefly about a trend that is disturbing. Before I begin, I want to say I don’t have a dog in this fight. But as a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ and one who has been through the process – I’m seeing something now that was not present even five years ago when I began the process at my current assignment in Frankfort, Kentucky.

I’m referring to a breach in confidentiality in the process.

Churches are now advertising publicly via the internet and press release, the names, bio and personal information of candidates for their pastoral assignment. Even to the point of trumpeting the information in local newspapers, which are now carried by the internet as well.

Here’s why you shouldn’t do it:

a.  It undermines the credibility of the candidating pastor in his current assignment. Imagine the shock, horror, and in some members’ eyes, glee, of reading that their pastor is being considered by another congregation. There is a sad double-standard that unfortunately is truth – some people belief stuff because it’s on the internet – and to see that their soul-watcher, beloved or despised, is under consideration, adds a needless stress to a candidate’s current environment.

b.  It makes the candidate wonder. To me, if a church will fire off a press release, I wonder what else they are capable of firing off at a moment’s notice. Will they fire off a press release as a rebuttal to a pastoral decision? Will they fire off a press release if the pastor becomes ill with a terminal disease? It sets up an unfriendly environment upon the pastor’s arrival.

c.  It breaks confidentiality. I have yet to see a pastoral application that says, “by the way, everything we do will be public and you have no control of the process.”  Pulpit Committees have a fiduciary responsibility to keep the name of the pastoral finalists confidential and then when the time for decision making comes – keep it in house. You’re church is not that big to where you need to post information on the internet – unless you’ve agreed on one candidate, the committee feels that a significant majority of the church will accept the candidate and the vote is soon. Posting that information six weeks in advance is a serious breach of confidentiality.

Candidates – a word to you.  Insist on confidentiality in the process.

35 Years in the Making

houston2007-001by Robert Earl Houston

I’m approaching a milestone. Next year, on April 30, 2013, I will celebrate, Lord willing, 35 years in ministry. I need to add the words, “by the grace of God.” Lord knows I’ve been blessed and I’ve made my share of mistakes, but through it all, God has been good.

When I was a younger man, I thought that when a church calls a pastor, it’s always a perfect fit. But then reality sets in that every church is not for every preacher. It took 30 years for me to find a church that fits me – and that is First Baptist Church, Frankfort, Kentucky. For this season in my life, they are just what the good Lord has ordered. They are a working church, a loving church, a giving church, a following church, and though not perfect (no church here on earth is perfect) they are a great compliment to me and my ministry at this stage of my life. I’ve moved into the “seasoned statesman” part of my life and this congregation is my dream of a church. God be praised!

However, many a pastor applies for a church becomes of bells and whistles; paychecks and perks; reputation and monuments; only to discover that the church may not be a “fit” for them and their ministry. It’s akin to buying a home that looked fantastic on the outside and without doing any checking at all, tell the real estate agent that you want to buy it, only to discover that the outside was nothing but a facade like the letters “HOLLYWOOD” that are planted in the hills of Los Angeles.

I want to address this with preachers that are searching for pulpits. I want to suggest 5 things to consider while you’re either in the candidating process or even before you seal that envelope with your letter, your resume, your CDs, your DVDs and your salary requirements:

# 1 – IS THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD LEADING ME?

Believe it or not, sometimes the Spirit of the Lord has been ignored in the process by some ministers. Never apply for a church like you would for a secular job. This is a process that needs to be rooted and grounded in prayer. When I was younger, in my 20s, I applied for many churches and was rejected soundly church after church after church. That was because I wanted to pastor so bad that I talked to church pulpit committees but I failed to contact the ultimate CEO of hiring – the Lord. Before you spend one minute looking on web sites, talking with other preachers, or the such, TALK TO THE LORD. It may not be your season for movement. It may not be in your best interests to go now. Frankly, you may not be spiritually mature enough to handle a new congregation that has differing needs.

This is too important to gloss over – make sure that it is the Holy Spirit leading you and not your ego! Not your need for fulfillment! Not your need for a tribe under foot. A few years ago I was cursed out by a preacher who wanted to know if it was possible for me to list all of the vacant churches in one long listing per month instead of on an as needed to know basis. He told me “Hell Reverend, it costs me a lot of money to apply to these churches.” SMH. Every church is not for you in the first place. Again, weigh carefully where the Lord is leading and directing you too.

I laugh when pulpit committees tell me that a preacher has sent them a booklet or pamphlet on “What I will do when I become the Pastor.” According to the Word of the Lord, “where there is no vision, the people perish” – but God does not give vision where there is no assignment. Just makes sense – you can’t promise to change the furniture when you’ve never been in the house. Or in the words of the sages, “you can’t move a pillar until you find out what it’s holding up.”

#2 – IS BIGGER BETTER?

That answer is NO. Just because a congregation is larger than the one you currently pastor OR is a large church and you’re serving as an associate – do your homework. When I was much younger than I am today, I candidated at a church in a major metropolitan area. I showed up for the interview and they gave me a tour of the building. When I walked into the fellowship hall, they showed me the “Wall of Pastors” – some 40 men who had served as pastor of the church. When I asked how old was the church, they said “oh, about 60 years old.” You do the math. This church didn’t really want a pastor, they wanted a seat warmer or a temporary forecaster of weather until the next man came in the door.

A larger church does not even mean you’ll receive a larger salary. Bi-vocationalism is not a sin especially if it means that you won’t develop anxiety, depression, heart failure, insanity and family issues.

I’m told of a church in Kentucky. The pastor is paid $60,000 per year, given a new car every other year, and when it snows or weather is harsh, they cancel service and mail him his check. The church, in a rural, farming community, has 10 members. Bigger ain’t better.

#3 – IS THE WORD GOING TO RUN THE CHURCH?

I laughed even typing this because I remember candidating for a church once and they sent me a packet with the notes: “Dear Reverend Houston, enclosed are the rules and regulations for the church – our Bylaws.”  In the Bylaws were no mention of the Bible, the Father or the Son or the Holy Spirit, Christian ethics and principles. Only this word: “No other document, including the Bible, shall overrule these bylaws.”  I took the contents of the envelope, mailed it back and said no thanks.

If the Word of God is not supreme in the church, then the messenger of God is not going to be respected. PERIOD. I pastored a church once and someone said in a meeting, “he only works on Sunday” not knowing that I spend hours visiting the sick, counseling, writing letters, responding to calls, encouraging, teaching, and then at the sake of my family, spend odd hours into the night talking to the Lord, meditating and preparing to “work on Sunday.” That member didn’t care about the Word and in turn did not care about a pastor.

#4 – AM I READY TO GO OR JUST FRUSTRATED WHERE I’M AT?

When I was a young man, I admit that I was becoming frustrated because many of my contemporaries were getting called to or organizing churches. In my home town of Portland, Oregon, my brother in the ministry, Rev. Walter M. Brown, Jr. was interim and about to be named as pastor of New Hope Missionary Baptist Church; my dear friend and brother in the Lord, Rev. George H. Merriweather had planted Northeast Fouresquare Church in Portland; other contemporaries in Seattle were getting called to churches and I found myself wondering “well, what’s wrong with me?” There was nothing wrong with me – God was just preparing me for first pastorate. I candidated at churches all over the country, only to wind up at my first church, about 40 members strong, actually around the block from where I preached my first sermon. If I could go back in time and talk with my younger self, I would tell myself to enjoy the season of being an associate minister – where you don’t have to worry about budgets, raising money, encouraging people, meetings, appearances, etc.

For established pastors, you can mis-read the “urge to go” because of brush-back from the congregation. “They won’t listen” or “They won’t follow” can also mean that a sliver of the congregation does not constitute the thoughts of everyone in the church. The squeakiest wheels make the most noise. It could be that 99% of the congregation is with you, but you’re gauging success or failure by a few loud people and thinking “God wants me to go.” Prayerfully consider something Dr. Willie James Smith told me one night when I was really frustrated at a previous pastorate, “Robert Earl, when people act up, they are confessing that they really do need a pastor.” You don’t know what’s down the road – you may be leaving at the right time or you may be trading in a great congregation for a pantheon of great fighters against a pastor. Tread carefully.

#5 – AM I READY TO TRUST GOD?

I went through a painful divorce in San Diego. I remember moving into my two bedroom apartment with literally only the suit on my back and my long green overcoat which doubled as my pillow. I came in from the landlord’s office, opened the door, balled up my coat and laid down to sleep. At 3 a.m., I woke up with tears in my eyes, shook my fist and God and said “I thought you loved me.”  He said back to me, “TRUST ME.”  Now, almost 10 years later, I fully understand why God said that to me. Anyone who enters into ministry and hasn’t settled the “Trust Me” issue will never be satisfied in ministry.

For me, it meant He had to break me to get my attention. He had to take away to give. He had to crumble to rebuild. He had to shake in order to firm up. He had to make sure that my service to Him was because I trusted him and not to make a name for myself. I was a Vice Moderator, a national preaching conference Board Member, a State Corresponding Secretary, a National Convention Special Assistant to the President – but my trust was an issue with God.  If you don’t trust God, you’ll never be able to bear under the weight of seasons – those great and glorious days and those sad days; those days of great triumph and those days of great loss; those days of headlines and those days of obituaries; Trusting God is not some thing, it’s every thing to the Pastor that He calls.

Can I trust Him when the church is going through seasons? Can I trust Him when there is illness in my own family? Can I trust Him when my personal health fails? Can I trust Him when bills are high and money is low? My answer is now yes.

Can I trust Him when He decides to move you far away from your hometown and kindred? Can you trust Him when He decides to send you to a church that is on hard times and He has decided to use you to rebuild it? Can you trust Him to send you from the city to the rural part of this nation? Can you trust Him to take you to a place where you will be no longer but the big fish but a guppie in the pond?

Again, candidating is a serious manner. I pray that you do so prayerfully, carefully, but most important, spiritually.

How to Apply For a Church (Friendly Advice)

by Robert Earl Houston

This site is one of the first and certainly now one among many that offer a listing of African-American Baptist Churches that are looking for a pastor. I want to attempt to say a few things about the application process as it relates to this site:

a.  We DO NOT accept any resumes or issue any verbal invitations on behalf of any church – period. Every posting has a method of contact with the individual church. Frankly, I don’t need to know how long you’ve been in ministry, your desires, etc. Contact the local church ONLY.

b.  We DO NOT refer or endorse any candidate to a church. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten a call from a Pulpit Committee and they’ve said, “Rev. XYZ has your name listed as a reference” and I haven’t either seen or spoken with that person either before or in years. In order for me to provide this service, I have to do so without ulterior motives and so I cannot do so, risk my integrity, by endorsing anyone to a church. Especially nowadays with so much foolishness happening in pulpits, if I don’t know you, it’s not in your best interest nor in the best interest of a church to endorse you or “set up an appointment.” (Obvious exception is for the sons and daughters of First Baptist Church).

c.  If you intend to apply for a church – get your stuff together. It doesn’t make any sense to apply for EVERY CHURCH that you find on the internet. God is not that schizophrenic that every church is for you. Be careful. Some churches are traditional and they want to stay there. Some churches are making transitions to new styles of worship. Some churches have no intention on joining this or that group. And, very importantly – learn how to put together a good resume before you send it off to a church. And for the love of the Lord, please learn how to spell and use english correctly. If I were advising a pulpit committee, if you misspelled “church” or “Jesus” or “resume” – you would be disqualified. If you offered a church a “vision package” that you have never seen before, never visited – you would be disqualified. One size does not fit all church.

d.  Pray. When I candidated for a church in Southern California, a dear friend of mine, Bishop Kenneth Spears, Sr. told me something I will never forget: “Rob, pray. He who prays the most . . .” And here I am, 17 years later giving the same advice – pray. Don’t pray “Lord, send me to this church.” No, that’s a selfish and self-motivated prayer. I believe a better prayer is “Lord, if it’s your will, and it will be a blessing to that body of believers, Lord, I am available to you.” I have discovered that pastoring is not about skill sets.

I candidated for a church once and it was between me and another minister. He did everything he could do to politically win the “election.” The problem was I was looking for a call, he was looking for an election. Big difference. He won the election. I accepted the Lord’s will in the matter and today, the Church is a shell of what she used to be – because of God’s ALLOWABLE WILL. Sometimes God does not send the best qualified nor the best equipped – sometimes He sends someone for His own reasons to enter the church into a rough season. Again, pray.

Because I did not win that election, God opened a door for me at Morris Cerullo World Evangelism in San Diego, California.
Because I did not win that election, God allowed me to candidate and then withdraw from the process in Central California at a wonderful congregation.
Because I did not win that election, God opened a door for me in Nashville, Tennessee.
Because I did not win that election, God opened a door for me in Frankfort, Kentucky.

Never go to a church because of an election. Go to a church because of the call of the Christ. He will make a way.

Again, I provide this service to be a blessing to the body of Christ. I try to keep the list as current as possible and I can tell you that most churches “settle in” for the winter and pulpit vacancies are few in the winter, but after the first of the year, after the holidays, Pulpit Committees get cranked up. I pray that you will submit yourself to his will in this process.

THE WIRE

by Pastor Robert Earl Houston

H.B. Charles Jr.

About life, preaching, church, books, and other stuff.

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