Tuesday, January 29, 2013


1967 Graduation

I have preached a lot of sermons in my life.

I am seventy and I am entitled to be reflective.

I grew up in a family that attended church in an era when attendance meant Sunday mornings and evenings. Such churches are hard to find today. Not that I want to find one. I can remember as a preacher with 23 years of making and delivering sermons under my belt, the silent squeal of pleasure when the elders first and then the congregation approved the end of regular Sunday evening services.

As a boy and youth I had heard some effective preachers. Their fluency and colorful story telling and insightful examination of scripture inspired me.

When I felt certain that God was calling me to be a pastor, the preaching component of that responsibility became something at which I wished to excel. I was fortunate to learn an approach to bible investigation and sermon construction that I could see modeled by my teacher who was a full-time pastor. I developed idiosyncratic habits and style of my own and enjoyed prepping and preaching. But it was always hard work.

When I began pastoring it was in a small Ontario town, Smiths Falls, and Calvary Bible Church. I had a limited personal library and an awesome responsibility. In that church of four score attendees were many who knew the bible more intimately than I did. Fresh from graduation, I was now required to prepare and to speak a morning sermon, an evening sermon, a mid-week prayer meeting sermon/message, a high school Sunday School class lesson and a youth meeting talk. No wonder, after five years, the interest of another of another church appealed to me.

We moved to Peterborough and Ferndale Bible Church , where again among my pastoral duties, preaching ranked high. It was something that I took seriously. I may have expected a lot of myself, perhaps too much. Migraines plagued me all of my life and were most acute during these years. I would have to learn to control the stress, of two sermons each Sunday, plus an Sunday School class and mid-week meeting, ostensibly for prayer but always requiring a sermonette. It was during my seven years here that I began my Master’s degree program requiring even more demanding study time. As I was completing this program I was asked by Ontario Bible College to consider being department head of pastoral studies. I wanted so much to do that, and after much prayerful thought, decided that God want me to stay in pastoring. I graduated and was asked to speak at the graduation ceremony where the chair of the Search Committee of Wishing Well Acres Baptist Church in Agincourt hears me and subsequently visited the Ferndale Church one Sunday to listen to me.

So began my next pastoral experience in Toronto where I lived for ten years. Now I was lead pastor in a multi-staff opportunity and preaching was my core task. Two Sunday services was still in vogue but now I had a book allowance and access to theological libraries at nearby seminaries. Each quarter, having decided what I would preach on for the next several weeks, I would go to Reformation Book Store and buy a stack of commentaries. So my library grew with volumes that became close friends through the years. I sought to live up to the compliment of one of my mentors who was a member of my church who said, “We can bring friends here because there is predictably good preaching.” It was during these years that I functioned as an occasional homiletics lecturer at Ontario Bible College. After nine good years we moved across the country to begin anew.

At Cloverdale Baptist Church in Cloverdale/Surrey I was senior pastor for ten years. Once again preaching was a focal point of my ministry and of church ministry for that matter. That’s the way church was done. I did share the pulpit with an associate and an occasional seminary student or missionary, but I was the primary preacher. By this time I had a substantial personal library, again access to a remarkable resource at the Trinity Western University and Seminary library. Once more I was able to teach advanced communications/Preaching at Northwest Baptist College. I completed the work for my Doctor of Ministry degree during my time here, the studies for which, were of immense help to my preaching, vision and administration.

And that was it, 34 years of pastoring which included my intern years. I believed God had released me from pastoring. I don’t particularly like that term ‘released’ but it serves to convey that ‘the call’ was removed from me. I told my congregation that I had pastored my last local church. Two months later I was asked to consider an executive position with the Evangelical Free Church of Canada. In 2002 I was elected to the presidency of EFCC and finished what were six great years for me in 2008. I was 66 years of age. 40 years at it was pretty good I figure.

I still have occasional opportunities to preach and I enjoy them completely. I appreciate hearing younger men communicate biblical messages with strong exegetical work and relevant application.    

No comments:

Post a Comment