SCP Interview #4: Pastor Jesse Bingaman

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