Tools of the Trade For March 30, 2020

Here is this week’s list of recommended articles. I hope you find something helpful to your ministry and/or your people.

John Piper writes about his favorite image for understanding the Trinity.

You may already read Tim Challies, but if you missed it, his article “What Will the New Normal Look Like?” is well worth the read.

With so many churches streaming services, Peter Mead gives some helpful tips for preaching online.

Some of our people struggle with forgiveness. Dane Ortlund writes “Dare to Feel Forgiven.” This one is literature-table worthy.

The folks at Ligonier have been making some of their resources available for free during this pandemic. Here are some free study guides that can be downloaded.

Paul D. Miller provides some encouragement for churches staying closed. If you’re getting heat about making this choice, this will affirm your decision.

One very legitimate concern that churches have during this time relates to giving. Here’s a helpful article on encouraging online giving.

I take senior citizens – the most vulnerable group in the world – to doctor appointments. I’ve not encountered fear, but no doubt there are people for whom the pandemic is very frightening. Here’s help for you if you encounter fearful people in your church, regardless of the cause.

I don’t know if encouragement is a lost art, but we all can do better. Scott Sauls provides some, well, encouragement.

Ivan Mesa shares a list of free or discounted books that are available during this time.

Young pastors, keep this one in your file. A sabbatical – done right – is a very helpful thing.

Jonathan Leeman share some principles for working with teens in the local church.


I hope you have a great week! See you on Wednesday!

More Tools of the Trade

Because I gave last Monday to something other than the normal links to helpful articles, I have quite a collection of good stuff that I want to share before too long. I’m working on a post for Friday that I hope will be some encouragement to you as you pastor through this pandemic period.

You may have men in serve in non-staff positions of leadership and have the opportunity to preach on occasion. Tony Merritt, Jr. has an article that will be helpful for them, and probably for everyone who preaches.

Many people struggle with anxiety and depression, and pastors are not exempt. Scott Sauls shares his experience and some help.

Every church is probably struggling – or will struggle – with keeping ministry going. Phil Newton addresses some help for those who are pastoring small churches.

Jared Wilson talks about what the coronavirus deliberations reveal about the way we look at the church.

Tim Patrick has a podcast on planning sermon series. Hopefully you do advance planning, and his will be helpful.

This is something for your family: Lifehacker, a productivity site, gives information on how you can tour 500+ museums and galleries from your own sofa.

Most pastors have already decided how to deal with whether or not to hold worship services in light of the Covid-19 situation. However, some may face some pushback by well-meaning people. Ronnie Martin has some encouragement and counsel for you.

David Prince writes about how Martin Luther wrote about how Christians respond to a time like we’re experiencing.

The ever-prolific Tim Challies asks the question, “Should Christians ‘Self Care?’ He answers yes, and you should read why.

Barry York talks about “The Back Side of Preaching.” Provocative title, helpful article.

Do you have new believers in your church who need instruction on how to pray? Here is a helpful discussion by Sam Emadi.

I find that people are cautious about the coronavirus situation, and I haven’t come across people who seem to be overcome with fear. But people have questions and different people respond in different ways. Dane Ortland writes about what we should remember during this time.

Stephen Kneale talks about the expectations people have when they change churches, and tells us that they often are not fulfilled.

I did this, and because of a fantastic congregation it worked well. But going from Associate Pastor to the Senior Pastor in the same church can be a challenge. Jason Helopoulos gives us some help.

People in churches can have some really weird ideas. Katie McCoy tells us about one that seems to be making slow inroads into “Christian” thinking.

Here’s one to share with your missionaries. Support raising is not easy. Encourage them with this article by Michelle Dein.

This article is for pastors and their people. If you want to be sure that your kids WILL walk away from church, here’s how to do it, thanks to Sam Storms.


That does it for this week, except I’d like to make one request: If you know of another pastor, especially a younger pastor, would you be willing to share this blog with them and encourage them to sign up to get the blog post or be notified when I post something? Thanks much!!

Tools of the Trade for March 23, 2020

A Weekly List of Links and Resources for Pastors

We enter the second week of this strange new world. I hope you are well!

My habit on Mondays has been to post a series of links to articles that are helpful to those in ministry or can be helpful to those to whom they minister. Before I continue with that pattern, let me share some other info.

My good friend Dr. Glenn Jago is the Senior Pastor at Church of the Open Door in Fort Washington, Pennsylvania. Glenn told me about something he and his youth pastor, Duane Adler did this past Wednesday. I asked Glenn to write a few paragraphs describing an event he held online for his people:

There are several approaches to pursue to stay in touch with your congregation and beyond. I only want to share one particular idea with the readers of the blog, “For Younger Pastors.” It is Facebook live, and it allows listeners to tune in and add comments and ask questions.

Our youth pastor and I did our first live feed on Facebook at noon on Thursday, March 19, 2020. We preplanned our discussion and goals and identified a few topics that we were going to discuss. The rest of the time, we shared personally and then with those on-line.

I highly recommend it if you can avoid looking or acting silly. Humor is essential, but you must have a designated outcome and purpose for your time together. You need to answer the question regarding why you want people to listen to the Livestream and what you hope to accomplish. Once you determine your target and goal, then keep driving the conversation and toss it back and forth with the other person. We offered several suggestions for finding your regular life routine. We shared our personal stories to encourage them to think outside the box.

The goal is to keep the topics changing, exciting, funny, and challenging, along with words of encouragement. People need to know that they are not alone, and others are facing the same issue. However, they need to hear ideas on how they can deal with the crisis at hand. The bottom line, shepherd your people creatively.

Thanks, Glenn, for sharing that!


My friend Ron Smith is a missionary in Milan, Italy. Ron recently wrote and told me about this: “In church we are encouraging unity and one thing we are doing specifically is pairing up in “friends of prayer”. The idea is to pray for one another daily and to meet at least once a month face to face.” He went on to tell me that he speaks to his friend each day. I believe that began before they were hit with the coronavirus, but imagine how helpful it is with all that they are going through!


I want to re-emphasize something that I wrote about early last week. It is so important that you keep in touch with your seniors citizens – especially those who may be homebound or in retirement communities and nursing homes.

In many retirement/nursing facilities, common dining areas have been closed and people are having to stay in their rooms. For many that means being confined to rooms that are not much bigger than 15×20. Because this age group is so vulnerable to the coronavirus, keeping people in their rooms for the majority if not the entirety of the day is a common practice. One can only imagine the psychological impact of sitting in the same room day after day, with minimal contact with others. A regular phone call from someone in your church would be very helpful.


I try to keep my posts to a reasonable length, so let me share a few links and perhaps share a longer list mid-week.

Ligonier Ministries is allowing Connect Group Studies to be used for free during this period. This is an opportunity for a small group of people to work through a particular topic of study. It may be something you can suggest to your small groups since they likely aren’t meeting.

Crossway, publishers of the English Standard Version, has a suite of online Bible study resources the they are making available for free use for the next several weeks.

This is a thought-provoking article on what the coronavirus reveals about our society and ourselves. Thanks to Paul Miller.

Jamie Dunlop gives hope to the boring Bible teacher in this article. We all probably wonder if at times we’re putting people to sleep. A good read.

Hershael York, from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, talks about pastoral life and ministry in this article. It should provoke some good reflection.

Timothy Raymond writes about the life of the church during COVID-19.

I used to tell my congregation that my hope was that if I were to call them at 3am and ask them to define justification, they would be able to do so. Nicholas Batzig writes on the comfort that this doctrine brings.


See you in a few days!!