Abraham Booth on Pastoral Ministry

Abraham Booth (1734-1806) was a longtime London pastor and leader among the British Particular Baptists in the 18th century. In 1784 Booth preached an ordination sermon for a young pastor named Thomas Hopkins. The title was “Pastoral Cautions” and the text was 1 Timothy 4:16–“Take heed to thyself.” The sermon was soon printed and circulated among Baptists all over England. Among the pastors who were positively influenced by the printed sermon were Andrew Fuller, William Carey, John Sutcliff, and John Ryland Jr. These were the men who played the most important roles in forming the Particular Baptist Mission Society in 1792, thus inaugurating the so-called “modern mission movement” in the English-speaking world.

In his sermon, Booth proposed ten pastoral cautions that are just as applicable to our contemporary context as they were 200 years ago.

  1. “Take heed to yourself, then, with regard to the reality of true godliness, and the state of religion in your own soul”
  2. “Take heed to yourself, lest you mistake an increase of gifts for a growth in grace”
  3. “Take heed that your pastoral office prove not a snare to your soul, lifting you up with pride and self-importance”
  4. “Take heed to yourself, respecting your temper and conduct in general”
  5. “I will now adopt the words of our Lord, and say, Take heed and beware of covetousness”
  6. “Take heed, I will venture to ask, take heed to your Second-Self in the person of your wife”
  7. “Take heed to yourself, with regard to the diligent improvement of your talents and opportunities, in the whole course of your ministry”
  8. “Take heed to yourself, respecting the motives by which you are influenced in all your endeavours to obtain useful knowledge”
  9. “Take heed of yourself, with regard to that success, and those discouragements, which may attend your ministry”
  10. “Once more: Take heed that you pay an habitual regard to divine influence; as that without which you cannot either enjoy a holy liberty in your work, or have any reason to expect success”

Friends, I am not sure they preach ordination sermons like that anymore! I would heartily recommend that every pastor, seminarian, and missionary read the full text of this sermon. It is most recently printed in Michael & Alison Haykin, eds., The Works of Abraham Booth, Volume 1: Confession of Faith & Sermons (Particular Baptist Press, 2006), pp. 57-84.rjycekmnfyn jykfqymobil rpg game

Interviewing for a Church Position — Questions to Ask

Often I am asked about how one should conduct themselves in an interview for a ministry position. Usually the conversation is one way: the committee asks the questions and the prospective candidate responds. This is right and fine but also incomplete. A potential minister should also have questions he needs answers to as well. Such questions can help in discerning is this the place God would have me serve. Below is an extensive list of potential questions for the interview process. The list, though long, is not exhaustive. Further, not every question may need to be addressed for every ministry opportunity. I believe one cannot have too much information when it comes to choosing leaders in our churches. I believe this is true both for the church and the minster. Hopefully these questions can guide and aid in a fruitful conversation for both parties in this crucially important process.

  1. Do you have a church constitution/bylaws that I can see?
  2. Do you have a church budget I can review?
  3. Are you committed to reaching all people within your geographical area (regardless of race, social or cultural status)?
  4. Do you believe the pastor is called to lead the church? Does your church believe this also?
  5. Who decides who fills the pulpit?
  6. Who calls and hires staff? What is the relationship of the pastor and staff? Do you utilize/have a personnel committee? What is their function?
  7. What is the role of the deacons and their relationship to the pastor? Do your deacons rotate?
  8. To whom is the pastor accountable? The staff?
  9. For what reasons would you consider firing the pastor? A staff person? Has your church ever fired a pastor or staff person? If so, when and why?
  10. What were the tenures of your last pastors? Why did they leave?
  11. What is the committee structure of your church and how are they elected?
  12. What expectations do you have for the pastor’s wife and family? Staff and their spouse?
  13. Would you provide for me the names and telephone numbers of your last three pastors so that I can visit with them about their ministry here?
  14. What are the doctrinal essentials your church has for: a) the pastor; b) worship leaders; c) teachers; d) membership?
  15. May I share with you certain doctrinal standards and emphases of my theology/ministry?
  16. What is the present membership of the church? Is it in a pattern of growth or decline? Where do the members live in relation to the location of the church? What is the age balance of the membership? What is the educational level of the membership?
  17. Is there a clear and complete job description of all staff positions?
  18. What, if any, secretarial and other assistance will be at my disposal?
  19. Has the church been successful in meeting its yearly budget?
  20. What are the music/worship concepts of the church?
  21. Could the community be characterized as static, transient, growing or declining?
  22. Would the church be responsive to innovations in worship? Ministry? Programs?
  23. Does the church support the Cooperative Program? Other programs of mission outreach, both local and international?
  24. What is the position of the church on race relations, homosexuality, women as pastors/elders?
  25. What is the position of the church on inerrancy, baptism and communion?
  26. How effectively does the church minister to its youth? Senior adults? Families? Singles?
  27. What is the salary structure of your church, the pattern and policies on future salary increases and the tangible benefits such as hospitalization, disability, retirement, housing allowance and travel expenses? Is a house or housing allowance provided?
  28. What opportunities will there be for outside engagements? Continuing education?
  29. What commitment does the church have to long-range planning?
  30. May I see a video tape of recent services?
  31. Is there a church policy about staff members’ involvement in weddings, funerals, etc.?
  32. Is there an annual review or any standardized evaluation process of my work?
  33. What are the spiritual “barometer readings” of the church?
  34. What is the theological basis for this church’s existence?
  35. Do you have a Confessions of Faith?