SCP Interviews

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Pastor Jim Dorton
Three Stones Church
Dover, Delaware

What do you enjoy the most about being a pastor?

I love ministering to the church, to God’s people.  Whether it’s a child’s innocent question about God, a youth questioning their faith, or an elderly person who just needs companionship.  (#2 – Preaching!)

If you had to pick one thing that you feel is a real strength of your church, what would it be?

Although not as strong as we hope to be, we have several people serving outside the church in local ministries.

What are two advantages of the small church?

Number one:  The ability to for the pastor and leadership to know everyone in the congregation pretty well, and, number two) for everyone in the congregation to have the opportunity to know each other well.

What will be one of the greatest challenges your church will face this year?

We are a very conservative church, Biblically, but we have a fairly even split politically.  It will be a challenge (in the current political climate) to teach people to openly, lovingly discuss their differences and then prioritize them well below Christ and His Gospel.

How do you hope to address that challenge?

Bringing people of differing opinions together formally and informally, to discuss those differences.  Also, bringing people together to serve in the Name of Christ regardless of their other opinions.

What one thing do you wish your members knew about what it is like being a pastor?

How terribly painful and how incredibly wonderful it is.  And that I, and all our elders, take their salvation very, very seriously, and understand that God will hold us accountable to teach and lead them well (Hebrews 13:7).

If you had to give one piece of advice to a new pastor just starting out, what would it be?

Treat your prayer, devotional, and study time like tithing.  Not the “tenth” part – but the “first fruits” part.  Do not sacrifice these for anything.  Identify the true emergency things for which you must put those disciplines off (for they will come), and do not put them off for anything else.  Also, predetermine ways to recover that time. For example, I have a number of small sticky notes marked “sermon prep” on my calendar every week.  If I have to go to the hospital during two of those hours, then I move those to open slots.  If I run out of open slots, I’ll cancel less important things to get prep done before my day off.

What are you currently reading? 

I just started The Whole Christ by Sinclair Ferguson, also re-reading The Holiness of God by R.C.Sproul

Pastor Jesse Bingaman
Ebenezer Bible Church
Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania

What do you enjoy the most about being a pastor?

My favorite part of ministry is that I get to meet people where they are at whether it’s good, bad, or ugly. I love doing pastoral counseling no matter what the issue is. Along with that I really love doing funerals. Those are my favorite parts of ministry and what I feel I’m most effective at.

If you had to pick one thing that you feel is a real strength of your church, what would it be?

Our church’s greatest strength is our ability to care for people in need. We have gotten really good at that. We had a guy with serious health issues. The church took care of all the housework, lawn care, and meals. I didn’t ask them to do it. They just did it.

What are two advantages of the small church?

Small churches can be a bit more flexible. We’ve made last minute decisions to cancel church and take that time to visit some of our sick people. That was really effective and something bigger churches may not be able to as easily. Also, I often hear guests talk about the family atmosphere of the church. I think that’s easier to maintain in a smaller church.

What will be one of the greatest challenges your church will face this year?

We are struggling to get the people to recognize the need for evangelism in our local communities. We are great at taking care of the people in the church, but we lack the drive to reach people in our communities. Some of it is that we tend to think too small.

How do you hope to address that challenge?

Well, we aren’t really going to do anything drastic. We started by doing a weekend (micro) mission trip each year in Trenton, NJ. The goal is to help the church recognize the difference we can make. It exposes us to different cultures, and the church in Trenton is really good at evangelism so they can teach us a lot. I think we’ve gotten some better and we are simply going to stay the course since it seems to be working (although slower than we had hoped or liked.)

What one thing do you wish your members knew about what it is like being a pastor?

I wish they could see how much we love them, and just how difficult and draining ministry can be. Our church does not recognize just how tiring ministry is. A few months ago I came under fire for saying “I’m tired and will be taking a weekend off.” Bivo ministry is what is best for us and the church, but it’s extremely tiring at times.

If you had to give one piece of advice to a new pastor just starting out, what would it be?

Take care of your family first. If you lose them, you have lost. When I first started in ministry I set out to save the world, but I nearly lost my family in the process. If you take care of the family first, ministry will become much easier. We now do ministry as a family and we all love it, including our teenage daughters.

What are you currently reading?

Complex PTSD by Pete Walker and “A Theology of Christian Counseling” by Jay Adams

Pastor Jeff McLain
East Petersburg Mennonite Church
East Petersburg, PA (Lancaster County, PA)

What do you enjoy the most about being a pastor?

I love the church. I love equipping people to be on mission as a community, and I love helping individuals discover their callings and giftings.

If you had to pick one thing that you feel is a real strength of your church, what would it be?

We are located in a neighborhood that we have been invested and intertwined with since 1720.

What are two advantages of the small church?

There are many exciting advantages to being a small church. One of those is that it gives us the chance to really know each other and to partner together on God’s mission in our neighborhood. It also allows us to put more of our efforts into Kingdom focuses we see in our church community and in our neighborhood. We do not have the drain of the larger overhead of institutions, programs, and structures.

What will be one of the greatest challenges your church will face this year and how do you hope to address that challenge?

The last year for our church really was a year of transition. There were many reasons to celebrate despite those transitions.  This year, as we celebrate, we have named as a year of invitation. We are learning to invite others both into discipling relationships and to journey with us as a church. This is challenging because it’s a level of personal responsibility we have not been used too. However, I think we can overcome this obstacle because we have new staff and are modeling this culture. We also continue to illustrate the excitement we have for the future and the ways we see God renewing us and even growing us. I believe this high vision will help us desire to invite others to see what God is doing.

What one thing do you wish your members knew about what it is like being a pastor?

The answer here probably depends on the week. However, I think overall it would deal with helping them see the oppressive weight of the expectations they hold on the church, on pastors, and each other.

If you had to give one piece of advice to a new pastor just starting out, what would it be?

My answer is to be “grounded,” but there are three parts to this singular answer.  Be grounded in your call to Pastoring and the context you are in. Be grounded in your ability to hear God’s leading. Be grounded in your ability to find support outside of your context.

What are you currently reading? 

Reclaiming Glory: Revitalizing Dying Churches by Mark Clifton, Old Testament Survey by Lasor, Hubbard, and Bush, Biblical Interpretation 101  by Derek Morphew, and For Phillies Fans only! by Rich Wolfe

Pastor Troy Fields
Tree of Life Assembly of God
Lexington, MN

What do you enjoy the most about being a pastor? 

Knowing that I am in the center of God’s will.

If you had to pick one thing that you feel is a real strength of your church, what would it be?

We are a family

What are two advantages of the small church?

1.  Much more connected
2.  Easy to mobilize

What will be one of the greatest challenges your church will face this year?

Taking the church out into the community.

How do you hope to address that challenge?

I will be talking about it at the Annual Business Meeting and I will have a sermon series called “Mission 3:16: focussing on the incarnational aspect of God reaching us.

What one thing do you wish your members knew about what it is like being a pastor?

Even when it seems like I am indifferent or even upset, the people of the church completely have my heart

If you had to give one piece of advice to a new pastor just starting out, what would it be?

Everyone says “make sure to take time for your own spiritual growth” or something of that nature, but I would say, “get a friend who has been in the ministry for a significant amount of time and learn everything you can from them.  So much of ministry is on the job training…so find a good trainer.

What are you currently reading?  

I read several things at a time.  “The Day the Revolution Began” by NT Wright, “Enjoying Prayer” by Kevin Senapatiratne, “Manhood Restore” by Erik MAson  and two Commentaries, 1 on First Corinthians (Gordon Fee) 1 on 1 John (Warren Wiersbe)

Pastor Eric Roach
Standing at the Cross Christian Church
Carthage, Mo.

What do you enjoy the most about being a pastor?

The look on people’s face when they realize God is working in their lives. When someone experiences a miracle or their prayers are answered. Helping young Christians understand the power they have available to them with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The time I get to spend with people that are hurting or going through a rough patch…helping them get into the word of God…watching them grow and find the joy in Gods word.

If you had to pick one thing that you feel is a real strength of your church, what would it be?

The love of the Church family and how we welcome people that visit…with that our outreach has grown immensely.

What are two advantages of the small church?

Being able to know everyone, I think people are more at ease with helping out…volunteering.

What will be one of the greatest challenges your church will face this year?

Finances…the lack thereof.

How do you hope to address that challenge?

Control expenses…search for areas to cut costs. We found someone different to do the lawn care. It saved us $20 a week. Keep folks informed of where we are financially. Don’t be ashamed to talk about the financial side of things.

What one thing do you wish your members knew about what it is like being a pastor?

How much time is involved. People expect you to be available whenever they need anything. It is very stressful…not only do you have your own problems…you are expected to take on everyone in the congregations.

If you had to give one piece of advice to a new pastor just starting out, what would it be?

Be tough…don’t let people push you around. You can’t study the word of God enough. Don’t let others dictate your sermons. Get ready to get your heart broken.

What are you currently reading?

The Blessed Church by Robert Morris.