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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!

Five From the Files Friday

Except it’s Saturday. I finished my fourth week back in pastoral work and it’s been a blast so far. I work with some great people. Well, not really, but in case they read this blog I have to say that. HA HA. At some point I’ll write a post about being back in ministry, but that has to wait for a bit.

Here are five articles from my Evernote archives, with the year they were first published in parentheses. Since blog posts pass by our attention and tend to fade into obscurity pretty fast, I thought it might be helpful to resurrect some helpful posts I’ve encountered along the way.

How to Run an Elders’ Meeting In many churches the senior pastor leads Elder meetings. This can be a bit intimidating if you’re a young guy, but here’s an article that will help you. (2012)

Gospel-Centered Parenting Parenting could be hardest thing you and your people will ever do. There are no guarantees, but there are good approaches to parenting and those that are not so good. Here’s help to share with fellow-strugglers. (2012)

What Happens to Children Who Die? Any pastor, regardless of age, may struggle with answering this question. Tim Challies added to the discussion several years ago in an article that’s worth clipping and saving. (2012)

How to Help a Depressed Spouse David Murray, who has contributed so much to our being better able to understand anxiety and depression in a compassionately Biblical way, provides another sharable resource.

Teaching Kids the Gospel There are so many ways churches get it wrong, but it’s so important to get it right. It’s imperative that your children’s workers and parents need to know how to teach the Gospel to kids without leaving parts out or reducing it to the point of heresy.

Have a great weekend!

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.

Five From the Files Friday

Here are five articles from my Evernote archives, with the year they were first published in parentheses. Since blog posts pass by our attention and tend to fade into obscurity pretty fast, I thought it might be helpful to resurrect some helpful posts I’ve encountered along the way.

Last week I linked to an article about being a post-programming church. Here’s a followup giving some strategies for doing this by Bobby Jamieson. (2012)

One of the things younger guys have to decide is how they will respond to requests from people outside the church to do weddings. I’ll write about this at some point, but my policy ended up being I would only do weddings for people who were part of our church. But even with that policy, you’re going to have people who profess Christ who want to marry someone who isn’t a believer. By that time an article like this may be too late. But maybe it won’t, and maybe you’ll find someone dating an unbeliever and be able to talk to them before they make a mistake. Kathy Keller, Tim Keller’s wife. Wrote this piece. (2012)

Jonathan Leeman wrote a helpful article on a proper understanding of conversion and its relationship to pastoral work. (2012)

Here’a an article to share on the great themes of the Old Testament prophets. If you’re doing a Bible survey or preaching from the prophetic books, this might be worth reading. (2012)

I hope you never have to deal with younger family that just lost its father or mother, but tragedies strike Christians too. Brian Croft wrote an article that give some good counsel if you’re ever in that position. (2012)

I hope you have a great weekend!

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!!

Five From the Files Friday

Here are five articles from my Evernote archives, with the year they were first published in parentheses. Since blog posts pass by our attention and tend to fade into obscurity pretty fast, I thought it might be helpful to resurrect some helpful posts I’ve encountered along the way.

Before I list links to the articles I’ve collected this week, let me pause for a brief commercial. I returned to pastoral ministry last past week and have met some great people, including those I will be working with. One of them is the very talented Melanie Trammell-Wenger. I’ll let Melanie take it from here:

Hi! I’m Melanie – I redesign websites for world changers. I’m the one you call when you have big, gnarly problems that hinder putting your website to work for your mission. Through User Experience Consulting we can:

● Identify the website’s pain points
● Point to what the site should be like
● Illuminate how we get there

Reach out today to get unstuck and back on track!

If there is any area of church ministry where the pull to be “relevant” is strongest, I would guess it would be youth ministry. Most youth pastors and leaders probably wrestle with the question of what to teach. This article provides some helpful tools to arrive at answers. (2011)

It’s easy to talk about the weather, sports, kids, what’s going on in the world. It’s not easy for many of us to talk about our relationship with God, our points of failure and growth, what we’re learning in Scripture, etc. Bobby Jamieson wrote this article on building a culture of spiritual conversations that is worth reading. (2014)

A guest post on Kevin DeYoung’s blog gives helpful advice for Christian wives married to men who are not believers. This is one you may find yourself sharing from time to time. (2012)

It’s not necessarily easy for veteran pastors, but younger guys may struggle with how to handle a funeral for an unbeliever. Jared Wilson provides helpful counsel. (2012)

When I was a senior pastor there were times when I thought, “What would it be like to close down everything and start church over again? What programs would we keep, why would we keep them, and what would we stop?” That’s kind of where we are right now, aren’t we? Many churches are “program-driven.” Here’s an article on becoming “post-programming” that was written in August of 2014 but might never be more relevant. (2014)

Have a great weekend and thanks for stopping by!!

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.

Five From the Files Friday

Here are five articles from my Evernote archives, with the year they were first published in parentheses. Since blog posts pass by our attention and tend to fade into obscurity pretty fast, I thought it might be helpful to resurrect some helpful posts I’ve encountered along the way.

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard something like “I prayed a prayer to receive Jesus when I was 4, but never really grew. So when I was 18 I rededicated my life to the Lord.” I most certainly believe that children can come to faith in Christ, but between the way the Gospel is often (mis)presented to children and the frequency of the above, I came to the point where I preferred not to baptize children under 13. And then I raised the bar to 18. One of the ideas that influenced me is represented in this article from Capitol Hill Baptist Church.

I linked to two articles from Credo Magazine last week on “How Seminarians Can learn to Preach to Normal People” Here’s the third installment. (2011)

How long does it take you to prepare a sermon? Is it right to spend the equivalent of 40%-50% of your work week on one sermon? This article is good reading. And the answer is yes. (2010)

Carll Trueman is one of my favorite writers. Here he raises the question, “Why is So Much Preaching So Poor?” (2013)

Christmas preaching was always a challenge for me, mostly for the same reasons the author of this article identifies. But it’s coming, and it would be better to think now about what you’ll preach than wait until Black Friday. (2011)

Have a great weekend of ministry!

How I Use Evernote

Evernote has been around for a long time, at least in internet years. I’ve been using it for well over a decade as a way of keeping notes and articles I’ve come across in my reading.

Evernote is cross-platform, meaning you can use it on a Mac or a PC. It is both a web-based service and a program you can download. Android? IOS? There’s an app for that.

Using the search term “Using Evernote” produced over 17 million links. Some people are making a living off of teaching people to use the various tips and tricks that make Evernote a powerful Repository of All Information. Me, I’ve explored some of these processes and while the can be helpful, I don’t want something that becomes cumbersome. So in answering the question my friend Tim Smith posed in the comments last week, let me describe how I use the program.

First, to use it effectively you need to have the program. Go to the above link and sign up for an account. It is free. If you want more bells and whistles, or are saving everything you read, you may need to pay a subscription fee (which is 40% off as of this writing). But for most people the free service is just fine. You will also want to download the Evernote Web Clipper that is appropriate for the browser(s) that you use. You can find it online or where you normally get browser web extensions.

Evernote allows you to create notebooks. You can have as many or as few as you like. Inside the notebooks are “notes,” which might be notes you’ve written, pictures of receipts, PDF documents, or articles you’ve clipped from blogs like this.

When I find an article I want to save, I use the web clipper app in my browser. I like my “notes” to be saved without all the eye candy that can often be found on a website, so my web clipper settings are as follows:

If you notice, I have chosen Simplified Article and I’ve also selected a notebook for the note to be saved to, in this case “- Tools of the Trade.” If you use a dash before the name of the notebook, it keeps that particular notebook near the top of your notebook list. Here’s a picture of my own list of notebooks.

I need to say, though, that you should pay no attention to my list. At the present time those notebooks are simply placeholders. All of the notebooks from Christian through Ministry – Uncategoriezed are currently empty. The others are related to personal info or hobby interests. The reason they are empty is that at some point I want to redesign how I store my articles. However, in the meantime, having 2000 articles in one big holding tank is just fine, because Evernote has a very powerful search function. I can type in a word and every article that contains that word will be listed for me. And frankly, that’s pretty much all I need.

Some people use key words to tag their articles so they can do more refined searches. Others do what I am in the process of doing, filing the articles/notes in special subject folders/notebooks. While filing with more detail does allow you to perform more sophisticated search functions, you may find that having a general “dump” notebook is just fine.

So that, Tim, is how I use Evernote. Hardly sophisticated, and likely to be viewed with scorn by aficionados. I simply want a way to find articles that relate to different topics and right now the general “Inbox” work fine. When I get around to deciding on a set of more specific notebook topics, I’ll have to go through 2000 notes and figure out which one goes where. So it’s obviously easier to categorize at the start rather than waiting until you have hundreds of notes. But my system works for me, and at some point I’ll do a bit of re-filing here and there to put them into more specific folders like the “Ministry” ones I have listed.

If you have questions, post them in the comments section (see the top of the blog page) or email me at and I’ll be happy to answer. Meanwhile, start keeping those articles that you think might come in handy to use in your study or to to share! I hope this has been helpful!