Dear Tim

Icon of The Good Shepherd - 20th c. - (11S38) - Uncut Mountain Supply

This is a note I wrote to a young adult friend who has expressed interest in becoming a pastor. His/her name is not Tim…

Dear Tim,

I was so heartened to hear of your testimony for the things God is doing in your life- and the miraculous ways in which God has assisted you and your family. I am also grateful that you shared with me your desire to become a minister of the Gospel. You asked me to recommend a reading list, and I will share some basic readings at the end of this note.

Before I do, I want to repeat a few things I said during our conversation the other day: yes, it is a good thing to aspire to the pastorate. And I would add that you may be a fulltime pastor, or one who makes a living doing something else. This is imperfectly called bi-vocational ministry. In any case, I wanted to stress three things we need pastors urgently to model and preach:

  1. Preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ: how he was prophesied in the Old Testament; how He is present when we pray the Psalms; how he lived, loved and still loves people; and also preach his death, resurrection and his second coming. And how the stories in the Bible shape our life and our death.
  2. Care for poor. It is unbecoming for a minister to neglect the least of these. You and I, and our congregations, should be at the forefront of helping the hungry and the needy, and connecting with people in our community who do this transparently and well.
  3. Visit the sick and the afflicted – and pray with them. This is an essential part of being a Christian – and as a minister you will be at the forefront of modeling this for other those you are called to shepherd. It is the urgency of the age: we don’t need more executives with a pulpit! We need pastors who go to hospitals and who are willing to engage in the old and timeless pastoral visit.

As for the books, here we go:

  1. On the Incarnation of Christ by St. Athanasios – It will teach you about the Trinity, about ancient sound doctrine, and about solid preaching and missions.
  • The Pastoral Rule by St. Gregory the Great – It will teach about the balance of being a teacher, pastor and administrator. And it will demonstrate to you how the ancient teachers of the Church understood about personalities and the work of pastoral counseling.

This is not a comprehensive list. But it is a good start.

Stay in touch.

In Christ,


The Elements of Worship

Memorial Chapel at Baylor University

While there are several ways of gathering to worship our Triune God ( Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), we try to include elements that have been present with the Church from her early times. We strive for our hymns and songs to be both ancient and new. I share with you the way we structure Baylor Chapel.

I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritualworship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12: 1-3


Prelude (instrumental)

Chiming of the bell(calls us to enter God’s time [Kairos] and to pray)

Welcome & Call to Worship

Praise and Thanksgiving

Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs (Colossians 3:16)

Glory to Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (expressions of Trinitarian worship)

Seeking God’s Grace and Plan

Prayers of God’s People –  (prayers can be combination of extemporaneous and written prayers)

Confession- Assurance- of Pardon (from the Scriptures) & PastoralPrayer (Intercessions, prayers for our  world & The Lord’s Prayer)

Passing the Peace & Greeting One another 

Hearing the Word

Old Testament Reading,

Reader: Your word is a lamp unto my feet, … and a light unto my path. (response)

The Gospel

Witness through Art (songs, poetry, liturgical dancing, etc.)


Responding to God’s Call

Song/Hymn of Response


O Lord, Open My Lips Available at GIA Music

This piece can work for the beginning of a worship service – or before prayer. It comes in English, Spanish, and Portuguese. You can sing it congregationally, and led by a choir or small ensemble. It will work in contemporary or traditional settings. Click link to purchase from GIA Music.

This introit from the Psalms opens prayer services in several traditions. It can also be used in other worship services. I once heard theologian John Witvliet say that this prayer is another form of saying, Come Holy Spirit!

Este introito sacado de los Salmos sirve para comenzar los servicios de oración en varias tradiciones. Puede utilizarse también en otros servicios de adoración. Yo escuché una vez al teológo John Witvliet decir que ésta oración es otra manera de decir, ¡Ven, Espíritu Santo!