This is part one of a two part series. Click here to read part two about digital tools I use.
Everyone has a set of tools that they use regularly. Mechanics use ratchets, pliers, and air compressors. Photographers use cameras, tripods, and filters. Beauty pageant contestants use brushes, hairspray, and vaseline. And we pastors are no different.
Throughout the last year in ministry, I’ve found myself pulling out some of the same tools from my pastoral toolbox again and again. Today, I’d like to share some of them with you in hopes that they can make your work more effective, efficient, and faithful.
1. Wesley Study Bible – This is my go-to study Bible. While I switch between the NRSV and NIV for preaching, this NRSV Bible is large, has good space for notes in the margins, and contains excellent study notes at the bottom of each page. Biblical scholars, all in the Wesleyan tradition, outline the flow of passages and highlight key points throughout the study notes. Historical theology scholars highlight ways in which Wesley’s Notes on the NT and his sermons connect to passages. Side-bars throughout the Bible expand on themes found in passages and tie them to key terms like “prevenient grace,” “means of grace,” and “sanctification.” Years ago, I received this Bible from my grandmother as a gift, and I expect to keep using it until the binding falls apart.
2. The United Methodist Book of Worship: Pastor’s Pocket Edition – I’m regularly put into situations where my own words fail me. Whether it’s standing in an ICU hospital room of a father who has yet to see his kids grow up, kneeling beside a homeless man dying of cancer, or holding the tear-soaked hand of someone just diagnosed with cancer, I don’t always know what to say. And that’s okay. This little Book of Worship helps me during those times by providing the time-tested words of the Church–scripture, prayers, and liturgies organized by specific occasion. I rarely go to the hospital without this bonded leather treasure book in my back pocket.
3. MATS: Affordable & Reliable Vehicles for Ministry – Buying a car is never convenient, particularly when you’re performing weddings on Saturdays and preaching on Sundays. Plus, who really likes to chit-chat with salespeople and go through the car-lot salesroom rituals? I don’t. So when I recently totaled my car, I called this non-profit whose mission is to provide affordable and reliable vehicles for people in ministry. They can talk you through great car options for your budget, or you can tell them what you’d like. I sent them the year, mileage, and package of the vehicle I wanted. Within a couple of days, my inbox contained multiple cars they had found that fit my wish-list. They purchased one for me, inspected it, and had it delivered to my driveway by a sweet older couple. Plus, they took care of financing. My experience with MATS, along with many of my friends, was first-class.
4. Leather Sermon Notebook – What are you supposed to do with your sermon notes and liturgies for weddings, funerals, and other times when you’re standing in front of folks without a pulpit or music stand? You could hold printouts, put them in a folder, or tape them in your Bible. But I prefer to put them in this beautiful leather notebook. Randall Creel has hand-made over 1,000 of these and they are the perfect tool for holding your notes in situations that are slightly more important than extemporaneous rehearsal dinner speeches. The paper size for these notebooks is 8.5“ x 5.5” and they lay flat on a stand if need be. Go ahead and order one as a gift for your friend who is about to be ordained.
5. Portable Communion Kit – People unable to attend worship can now podcast sermons to hear the Word of God proclaimed each week, but they can’t receive the Lord’s Supper in a zipped download. Therefore, a portable communion kit is a great tool for those times when a pastor needs to go deliver the sacrament to the homebound, hospitalized, and others who are unable to receive it in the midst of the gathered body of Christ. I received this kit as a gift from a friend the week after I was appointed to my first church, and I’ve loved using it ever since to help people encounter Jesus.
What’s inside of yours?
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