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Tools of the Trade – Extra Special Midweek Edition

I saved the links to so many good articles over the last week that I decided to have a midweek edition of the Monday “Tools.”

Before I share those articles with you, let me point out the website of Nitoy Gonzales. Nitoy regular posts links to free resources that you can download, including ebooks, courses, and videos. In addition he writes his own reviews and thoughts, and should be on your “sites to check” list. Thanks, Nitoy!!!

Here are some articles that will be helpful for you to read, share, and put in Evernote.

Dangerous Ways Pastors Can Mimic Politicians A challenging opportunity to look inside.

Book Review: The Analogue Church I spent a good part of the day outlining a series of teaching videos that we’re going to use as online resources, and we’re going to be doing more with virtual stuff (that’s a technical term). I haven’t had a chance to read this book yet, but as we move further into the online world, we need to remember that God’s people need to gather.

Waste Points On Your Preaching Clock Pete Mead contribute so much to those of us who preach, and this column contains suggestions that will make us all better communicators of God’s Word.

Mistakes Beginning Pastors Make Here’s a 1 minute video aimed at all of us but especially those of you who are starting out in ministry.

Three Ways to Prepare for the Battles of Ministry Paul Tripp shares some helpful insight into, well, preparing for the battles of ministry. Because there are battles in ministry. Check out his new book Lead.

Two Habits That Will Destroy Your Small Group Here’s one to save and then to share with your small group leaders.

5 Simple Steps to Stop Teenagers from Dropping Out of Your Church Why do I think everyone who stops on this page is going to read this article?

Church Planter: Are You Teachable? Certainly this applies to all of us.

The Disciple-Making Paradigm Churches Are In Danger of Missing “If success is the traditional “buildings, bodies, and budgets,” our heyday is behind us. However, if success looks like training those in your church to love the Lord more through cherishing the Word, practicing the “one anothers,” and engaging lost neighbors, that’s biblical—and it’s where our future lies.”


I hope you found something worthwhile here. I’ll be putting up 5 blasts from the past on Friday – articles I’ve saved in my Evernote files that need to be brought to light again.

Tools of the Trade For the Week of September 21, 2020

As usual on Mondays, here are some links to articles that you can archive and share. I hope you find something helpful in the following:

Helping Your Church Survive Election Season
It’s not going to be as easy as it was even a decade ago. Plan now to help your people respond well.

Ministering to Young People Requires A Different Approach
This CCEF article can be shared with your youth and children’s workers.

When You Don’t Hit A Home Run Sermon
For most of us, this happens nearly every time we preach! But it’s ok!

Want Faithful Teens & Young Adults? Disciple Faithful Parents
Because it’s not up to the church alone. You know that of course. But do your parents? 🙂

God’s Care for Postpartum Moms
Guys, there are some things we just don’t get. Nevertheless we may be called on to minister to people in situations with which we are unfamiliar. Here is one of them.

Recovering the Lost Art of Edification
Jared Wilson is such a good writer. Here’s a much-needed word for our times and our churches.

How to Run A Good Meeting – And Why It Matters More than You Think
Michael Kruger writes about something that is very important, and may be unfamiliar territory for young guys especially.

3 Ways to Tell if Physically Absent Church Members Are Still Spiritually Engaged
A must-read for this pandemic period.

How to Safely Uncover the Landmines in Your Church
Your church has them, you know.


I actually have quite a few more, so I’ll do a Wednesday edition this week. Some of the articles above are really valuable at this point in time. Happy reading!

Tools of the Trade For the Week of September 14, 2020

I hope you had a good weekend. Is your church slipping slowly back to normal? I’d like to hear about it in the comments section or by email.

Here are some great articles for this week:

Older Women, Young Churches Need You is a great article to share with women in your seniors group, women’s ministry, or as as an encouragement to some of the older gals in your congregation who have a heart for the Lord.

Reading the Old Testament with the Apostles. Sometimes the apostles’ use of the OT makes us scratch our head. This should help us understand their approach.

4 Principles for Re-Evaluating Your Missions Strategy

If you’ve come into a church as new pastor, you may look at your missionary commitments and wonder if there is any rhyme or reason to them. This is usually “don’t poke the bear” territory, but you can make some good changes if you move s-l-o-w-l-y.

Advice for New Seminary Students

This is a podcast by Jared Wilson and Ronni Kurtz. If you are, or know of, someone in school – new or not – this might be helpful/

Why Christians Replace Bible Reading With Other Resources

This article is worthwhile on its own, but it highlights three reasons why Christians struggle with personal Bible reading. It reminds me again that we can’t assume that people know how to read Scripture.

How Should I Pray When I Want to Quit Ministry? Hopefully you never get to this point, but there are times . . . .

What Christian Forgiveness of Abuse Means (and Doesn’t Mean)

Our staff had a very helpful discussion on sexual abuse this past week. Whenever the subject of abuse comes up, a discussion of forgiveness is not far behind. I found this to be helpful reading.

The Top Generosity Trigger for Most Churches

This was good reading, and not surprising.

5 Keys to Preaching to the Kids in Your Pews

Some churches are reopening without children’s ministries because of COVID. This writer has some great suggestions for not leaving the kids behind when they’re with their parents in the service.

Evernote for Pastoral Care

A good part of my job involves pastoral care, and I was looking online for resources to help me track calls and visits. I’ve recommended Evernote for saving articles like these, but here’s another use for this helpful (and free) resource.

Tools of the Trade For the Week of September 7, 2020

For those of you in the US, I hope you have a good Labor Day. There are small hints of fall here in mid/southeast Pennsylvania and I’m looking forward to saying adios to the heat and humidity.

As is typical for Mondays, what follows are links to good reading that you should keep (Evernote!!!) and share with other leaders and your people. I hope you find something useful.

My only preaching experience in the last couple of years was recorded on a weekday for use the following weekend. However I’ll be preaching twice in our upcoming series on Daniel. Those of you who preach to both a live congregation and a camera will want to look at this article that describes preaching to both situations.

David Qaoud gives some solid answers to the question of what young pastors should be doing during their first year of ministry.

I was ordained in a Baptist church and the Bible Fellowship Church in which I now serve has credobaptist convictions. The discussion of credobaptism and paedobaptism is worth studying, and Timothy Paul Jones helps by looking back into church history. (Note: Jones teaches at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary)

The current political climate here in the US is having an impact on how Christians relate to each other. Here’s an article worth reading. These next weeks are going to be rough terrain.

Luke Holmes asks if we are driving home the right sermon points.

Trevin Wax interviews Chris Martin on the negative effects of social media. Wait! There are negative effects of social media?? Who would have thought?

Kathleen Nielson explains why doctrine is so important. This is one to share.

Noted scholar Wayne Grudem writes a helpful article on the much mysticized subject of the will of God.

Most of you are probably already doing most of these, but if you’re looking for help on keeping your church “connected” during the pandemic, Tod Tanner has three suggestions.

“Overworked Pastors Make This Critical Mistake.” If the pandemic – or pastoral life in general – has left you weary, please read.

H.B. Charles, known for both his preaching and his teaching of preaching, writes about sermon outlines.

Last, Crossway has provided links to several infographics. Some good stuff here.


That’s it for this week. I’ll be back on Friday (and possibly in-between). Thanks for reading!!

Tools of the Trade For the Week of August 31, 2020

I’m a day late. Sorry! This has been a great week-plus getting to know the people I work with, getting to know a bit more about what I’ll be doing, and actually getting into the work.

Here are some helpful articles for your files or for you to share:

David Murray, who has written a great deal on the subject of depression and anxiety, explains the difference – and similarities – between them. This is must reading for pastors.

”Seminary is an incredible opportunity to grow in knowledge of the Word of God and theology in general. It can also be a place where one’s spiritual life suffers a slow, steady decline.” So says the author of this article. And what he says to seminarians is also true for pastors.

Until I heard R.C. Sproul teach on Justification, I did not understand what Roman Catholicism actually taught. It’s good to get our facts straight, and here is an article that will be helpful. It may surprise you!

This video by Jen Wilkin will help the women’s ministry in your church with the process of disciple-making.

Pastoral work can be discouraging. You may have already experienced that. Here are some reminders for when those times come. This is written specifically in light of the COVID situation, but applies more widely than that.

I’m sure many people are tired of “virtual church.” Though you may have discovered new ways to use media that will continue beyond when we call gather again without facemarks and hand sanitizer, this has been a hard period for both pastors and congregations. Ken Braddy writes about 7 Coping Strategies for Virtual Ministry Exhaustion.

This is deeply spiritual on so many, many levels, mixing intricate theology and rock-solid practical application. Thank you, Joe Rigney.

Greg Lanier asks and answers, “How Should the Preexistence of Christ Shape How We Preach the Old Testament?”

Here’s one to read and share with your leaders: “5 Relationships That Suffer When A Leader Is Emotionally Unhealthy.”

Clint Presley talks about the differences between “Attractional” churches and “Gospel-Centered” churches and how to lead people from the former the latter.

“My Vision-Casting Regret.” This is great reading.

Michael Kruger has a message of encouragement to the wives of seminarians.

Tools of the Trade For the Week of August 24, 2020

On Wednesday I’m planning to describe how I’ve set up Evernote to retain articles like the ones I share on Mondays and Fridays, as well as how you can organize them to enable searching.

Here are links to worthwhile reading for this week:

Sometimes believers enjoy God’s gifts too much. However, there are those who fall on the other side as well. Here’s a helpful article on how to respond to the good things God brings our way.

Mack Stiles, a church planter in the Middle East, asks and answers “What Could Be Wrong with ‘Church Planting’” He writes about six dangers in a missions strategy.

Tom Rainer suggests how churches will be different at this point in 2021.

Greg Morse asks “Will Your Life Count When You’re Gone?”

This is an important article. I think we often assume that our people understand the Bible, but you may be surprised at the number of people who don’t. And that may explain why they don’t read it.

There have been some really good articles written about the Psalms, which seem to be enjoying a bit of a comeback, if that’s even a proper way to phrase it. Here’s one of them.

Brett McCracken asks “Are Churches Losing the Battle to Form Christians?”

Jonathan Leeman and Ray Ortlund talk together about what pastors need to remember when things are going well and when they are not. You know both of those kinds of times, don’t you?

Dave Harvey writes an outstanding article on “What To Do After You Preach.” You younger guys especially will be helped by reading what ate expect/look out for – and it’s not always “Pastor, thank you for that wonderful sermon.” Did you know that?

Tools of the Trade For the Week of August 17, 2020

Mondays are for links to articles that I have marked out as useful for your own growth or for helping others. Here is what I found this past week:

Suffering is hard, but it’s common to all of us. Suffering can be debilitating in many ways, including robbing us of our joy. Here’s an article that encourages us when that happens.

Even during this pandemic, people seem harried. So many people feel at the end of their rope, mentally and physically exhausted. Pastors are not exempt from this, and the current pandemic may have taxed you to the limit. Greg De Jong and David Murray have some counsel.

There have been a couple of articles like this one on church people needing to treat their pastor graciously. Perhaps it’s just coincidental, or maybe this is another way the pandemic has affected pastoral life. Here’s one of those “leave it laying around the church” articles. The author quotes Ray Otlund: “If your pastor loves the Lord, is faithful to his wife, preaches Jesus from the Bible, don’t hassle him. If he’s imperfect in some ways, don’t fix him. Who can flourish under that scrutiny? Instead, get down on your knees and thank God. He gave you your pastor (Eph 4:11-12).”

My friend Cynthia posts the fourth and final installment on the Cancel Culture and how Christians can do better.

And then here’s another one to leave laying around the church. Thanks to Tim Challies.

Jeremy Rinne shares “Why Mature Christians Need Gospel-Centered Preaching.”

New Commentaries appear in record numbers. Having given away most of my books, I just picked up the 7 available volumes in the ESV Expository Commentary series. How do you know what to buy and what to leave? Andreas Kostenberger has some counsel.

Here’s an article from H.B. Charles on sermon prep. Always read sermon-prep articles written by guys who know what they are talking about. Always!

The late R.C. Sproul talks about understanding the promises in the Psalms about God not allowing harm to come to his people.

Crossway+ is a free membership allowing you to purchase Crossway books at a discount. In addition, they offer free ebooks from time to time. They are offering David Mathis’ “Habits of Grace” during the next week or so. Check it out!


Have a great week! This will be my last week driving and I return to church ministry next week. It may be a bit before I do anything other than my Monday and Friday sets of links, but I hope you will find the articles – new and old – to be helpful to you!

Tools of the Trade For the Week of August 10, 2020

I’ve not had much original content in the last few weeks. There are a couple of reasons for that, but the most significant one is that I haven’t had many original thoughts. 😁

Here are a list of links to articles you’ll find helpful for your self and your people.

Lydia Brownback has a podcast on Crossway’s website on how to lead a Bible Study. Leading a Bible Study group is not always that easy. Suggested listening!

Dr. Phil Ryken has a podcast on How to Read (and Not Read) the Bible. Hey – if your people are still in semi-shutdown why not forward helpful articles or podcasts to them? It would be far better for them to read/listen to these kinds of things than spend time on social media.

The problem of pornography is something that Christians have addressed often, and I can’t imagine Christians quibbling over whether porn is appropriate. However, it’s not often that a secular source deals with the subject. This article from The Federalist, a conservative political magazine, is worth reading. I don’t recall any naughty words, so if you find one, I apologize in advance.

Here’s an hour-long podcast by Pastor Won Kwak on writing sermons. We should be regularly looking to improve our preaching and here’s a good resource.

Aaron Earls writes about a study of churches who are gathering again in this period of pandemic.

Burk Parsons encourages behaving ourselves when we talk with each other. Several other writers have addressed this theme, but it is an important reminder. Send this to your people. Or post a link to it on your social media account.

David Murray has written several times lately on the subject of depression and anxiety. Here’s an article on prayer during depression. Keep it and share it. And here’s another keeper on understanding teen anxiety and depression.

Have you ever been discouraged as a pastor? Even during good periods of ministry there are issues that discourage. Jim Eliff shares some counsel for discouraged pastors.

There’s a lot going on that makes people afraid. Jonathan Rourke writes about how we can best care for fearful church members.

Simple title: America Was Never Home. I need this reminder. Do you or your people?

It may be painful to ask ourselves if you are exploiting your church, but it’s important that we do.


Have a great week!

Tools of the Trade For the Week of August 3, 2020

Each Monday or Tuesday I provide links to some articles that I think will be helpful to pastors. While older pastors don’t have all the answers, these articles are often especially helpful to you younger guys.

Thankfully the majority of preachers I’ve heard treat the text of Scripture fairly and faithfully. But I’ve heard some who, while well meaning, find “truths” that aren’t there. Here’s one reason this happens.

When I first had kids TV was the only “screen” that they had, and it was always possible to let them have too much TV time. Then came video games, followed my computer games, followed by the internet, followed by phones and tablets. While it’s easy to keep kids occupied with these devices, there’s a price to pay if it’s not monitored. Share this with your parents. Well, not your parents, but the parents in your church.

Colin Adams writes about something most of us deal with – the very long time it is taking to get back to “normal church.”

From time to time there are articles that I think pastors should just leave lying around in visible spots for people to take. If you have people who are looking for the perfect church, here’s one to make available.

This article, by H.B. Charles is about preaching the tone of the text. So many times we ignore not only context (see the first article above) but the tone.

Here’s a half-hour podcast from Carl Truman and Todd Pruitt on church leaders and social media. Todd recently jettisoned Twitter and Carl is one of the most astute commentators on “what’s going on” that I’ve read/heard.

Kevin Vanhoozer write about a topic I’ve been thinking about a lot (again) of late. I’m letting some thoughts marinate for a future post that relates to the theme of doctrine in the life of the Christian. The title of this piece is Doctrine for Discipleship.

Here’s another article for preaching. Bryan Chapell discusses the importance of balance when dealing with imperatives and indicatives in the Biblical text. This article, and the other two above, are probably the kinds of preaching helps we should read every few months.

I’ll close this week’s list with another by H.B. Charles on sermon introductions. I wrote about this months ago. It’s an important topic.


I hope you have a good week!

Tools of the Trade For the Week of July 27, 2020

Each Monday or Tuesday I provide links to some articles that I think will be helpful to pastors. While older pastors don’t have all the answers, these articles are often especially helpful to you younger guys.

Before I give this week’s links, I want to point you to an article my friend Cynthia Epply wrote last week. Cynthia served as a counselor for many years. Many, many, many years, right Cynthia? 😇 She encountered a situation by chance, and if you love baseball, whiffle ball, family, or just want to read about something good coming out of the pandemic, take a look at this article.

Now here are some helpful links for this week.

“Future Pastors Need Mentors” is a challenge not only to experienced pastors, but to you guys who might be starting out or still in seminary.

We evangelical Christians have often been guilty of using some really questionable means of finding God’s will. One of the best books on the subject is Kevin DeYoung’s Just Do Something. But here is an article about the dubious practice of “putting out a fleece.”

One of the ways you can be a better preacher is by planning in advance. The folks at 9Marks talk about planning a preaching calendar.

John Piper writes about the solemn charge to every pastor.

With some presidential candidates past and present identifying themselves as Christians, the late RC Sproul and some other well-known pastors talk about the theology of candidates and how it should/shouldn’t affect how we vote.

David Murray has written some helpful material for those who suffer from anxiety or depression. I believe it’s vital that pastors read up on these issues and grasp the various dimensions of both. If we don’t, we’re likely not only to be unhelpful, we may be hurtful. Anyway, here’s an article on prayer to share with those who struggle.

Jeff Robinson, on the Crossway Podcast, talks about the Blessings and Burdens of Pastoral Ministry.

Back in the day I used to thumb through the hymnal our church used and wince at some of the awful theology some songs contained. The church used to have a staple of 500-600 hymns. Today we have a plethora (note – side humor) of songs: some good, some not-so-good, some really bad. How do we choose what to sing? This article talks about how the Psalms can teach us what to sing.


That’s all for today. Have a great week. Let me modify what one network anchor says: “We’re one week closer to the New Heavens and New Earth.”