For whatever reason, 2 brothers in ministry have wanted to interview me recently. I’m thankful that I have such gracious brothers, and I’m honored that they thought to invite me to interview.
The first, a radio interview with Tommy Lanham, you can listen to here: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/tommylanham/2010/10/05/tommy-lanham-with-daniel-lowry
Here’s the transcript of a second interview, done by Jason Kees – a good friend a brother down at Southwestern Seminary:
An interview of Daniel Lowry, Pastor of New Castle First Baptist Church, by Jason Kees.
How do you manage your time weekly?
What I have set out to do currently breaks my time up into 3 slots during the day. In the mornings I spend time personally with Christ, study for sermons, and pray. During lunchtime and afternoon I spent time with people: visiting, sharing a meal, etc. As I’m not married, my evenings are sort of a free-space. Sometimes they are for more study. Sometimes they are filled with meetings. Sometimes they hold fellowship. And sometimes they’re just for rest.
Sunday evenings are usually for rest. On Mondays I look at the sermon text for the following week and begin meditating, praying, and thinking on it. The first part of Tuesdays and Thursdays are given to class, and those evenings are given to study. Wednesdays are used to prepare Bible study for that night, and begin outlining the sermon. I try to have sermons outlined and titled by Thursday night. Then, Friday and Saturday are used to write a manuscript and let it soak a while. Throughout all of this, people’s needs take precedence. If someone calls me during study time, I answer the call and do what needs to be done. If that means I lose sleep that night in order to finish studying, so be it. My people come before my comfort.
What good books have you recently read on Pastoral Ministry?
The Reformed Pastor by Richard Baxter – This is the most powerful exhortation to an urgent, hands-on view of ministry that I’ve ever read. I was convicted in nearly every sentence, and encouraged throughout. It is a book that made me excited about sacrificing my life and time for the people over whom God has given me watchcare.
1 and 2 Timothy by Paul – Yea yea, pastor’s answer, right? But seriously, shouldn’t my Pastoral ministry always be shaped by God’s guidance, given through Paul to a young Pastor? I find it beneficial to read and meditate on a portion of one of these books every week.
Brothers, We Are NOT Professionals by John Piper – In this book, Pastor John warns against the professionalization of the ministry, and calls pastors back to doing ministry in the mindset of being called by God. It may be one of the most stirring and practically useful books on the ministry I have ever read.
What is your preaching plan?
My general method is to systematically preach through entire books of the Bible. This ensures that I am feeding the people the entire counsel of God, while at the same time guarding me against shying away from difficult topics or harping on soapboxes. Currently, I’m preparing to preach through the Gospel of Mark. Preaching the entire gospel will, of course, take quite some time.
In the long term, my goal in preaching is to show how the entire testimony of Scripture either prepares for Christ or exalts Christ. One of the most common statements I hear is: “The Old Testament is harder to understand than the New Testament.” I don’t doubt that this is true, but only because I think the teaching of the Old Testament has been neglected. So, one of my main goals is to show my people how God is proclaiming Christ through the Old Testament.
What is your approach to ministry?
This won’t be an exhaustive list, but here are a few things that (hopefully) describe my ministry.
- Spirit-led – What sticks in my mind is Exodus 40:36-38. As the people of Israel are being led around in the wilderness, they follow the Spirit of God. When His Spirit stays, they stay. When His Spirit moves, they move. They always have His Spirit fully in view of their eyes. That’s how I want to minister. I want to be so tied to the Spirit that I go wherever He goes, and don’t leave there until He leaves.
- Prayer-empowered – The Lord has been gracious to remind me often of my complete inability to accomplish His work apart from His power. Woe to me if I don’t pray, because I have guaranteed that I will fail. Yes, the Lord has set my life aside for gospel ministry; for the proclamation of His word. However, I can no more wield the sword of truth than could an infant use the sword of a mighty hero. If my preaching of the Word and my gospel ministry is to be effective, I must relinquish any notion that I can do anything apart from His power. Prayer puts the gospel sword into the hands of the Eternal Warrior King and says, “Lord, save your people! Because this weak shepherd cannot.”
- Hands-on – “The faithful shepherd always smells like the sheep.” If I am always shut up in a study, or standing behind a pulpit, then I will never know the people with whom God has placed me. I want to be involved in their lives. God forgive me if I shy away from sitting on the ground with the sheep because I don’t want to dirty my preacher’s robes. I AM a sheep of our mutual Savior. How dare I act as if I were in a higher fold. I must know my people, spend time with them, and lay down my life for their good every single day.
- Kingdom-minded – One of the main passions I want to transfer from God’s heart, to my heart, to the hearts of my people is an urgent passion for the Kingdom of God. That means letting the Kingdom take root in every corner of our own hearts and lives; proclaiming the Kingdom in our own community and living as lights on a hill in our surroundings; being involved in the expansion of the Kingdom worldwide. Only let a love for God take over our own affections, and we will be a people who cannot help but send the gospel out from our hearts into the whole world.
What are some contemporary challenges to ministry?
Two things immediately come to mind, as far as challenges specific to our time. First, a lack of Biblical knowledge is almost universally present. Now, I’m not lamenting people being unable to outline the literary structure of Revelation or something. I’m referring to the inability of the general church member to simply state what they believe, why they believe it, and where in Scripture they might find support for that belief. Even a simple presentation of the gospel, telling someone how they might be saved, is difficult for many church members. This is heartbreaking! It seems that the basic facts of Biblical doctrine have been assumed and taken for granted for many years, and have thus been lost. Of course, that causes all sorts of other problems. Namely, the people of God are more susceptible to being led astray, since many do not have the grounding of Scripture as an anchor.
Secondly, the general depravity and increasing hostility of our society is making it increasingly more difficult to live as a faithful child of God. We are living surrounded by a society that glorifies sexual immorality, demands that Biblical truth be set aside, and persecutes those who stand firmly on a God-based morality. I think a time is quickly approaching when Pastors and faithful Christians will be threatened with jail and punishment for simply speaking Biblical truth. We will be hated for lovingly saying that sin is sin. This makes things difficult for those who want to follow Christ. They are constantly force-fed worldly pleasures by our society, and ostracized and threatened when they choose to stand for Christ. Of course, this state of opposition and persecution are still for the glory of God. Bring on the fires of the furnace, that the golden faith of God’s people might shine the brighter! Amen. Come what may.
How is ministry different today?
Well, I may not be the best one to answer this question, since I’ve only recently begun my ministry. I have little to compare with my experience. I expect some of the biggest differences have to do with some of what I’ve already said. Ministers cannot assume that their members really know even the most basic truths of Scripture. They must challenge many who have been in church for their entire lives. All this while having answers for and warnings against our increasingly anti-truth society.