This continues our monthly feature on Grow in Grace. Each month our goal is to feature the spiritual and professional growth plans of a different circuit. Check the sidebar for links to previously featured circuits.
Below you will find two attachments that Pastor Bickelhaupt has given us from the Montana Circuit. The one attachment gives us a sample agenda from their October 2010 meeting. The other attachment is a devotion/discussion piece that he uses as he makes individual visits with each pastor and wife in his circuit. It is encouraging to us all to prize the encouragement of the brotherhood when we realize that some drive 350 miles or more to attend these circuit meetings!
10am Preaching; Questions of Casuistry
10:40 am Exegesis
11:25 am Isagogics
11:25 am Doctrine
12:15 – 1 pm BREAK, LUNCH, QUESTIONS OF CASUISTRY, ANSWERED PRAYERS
- Member Assistant counseling
- Tentative Family Visits for Montana pastors (Would be willing to preach)
- November: Jon Z.
- January: Maybe after conference? Bode / John R.
- February: _______________________________________
- March: _________________________________________
- May: ___________________________________________
- June: ___________________________________________
1:00 -1:35 pm Practical Theology
1:35 pm House keeping items and input/question
November Study Club _________________________________________________
- Send prayer request to me regularly; if you would like I will put together a weekly list that I will send out via email
- Email: email@example.com ….. Cell 697-7185 ….. Office 656-7147
- Encouragements: CLOC
Here are several items worth noting in their plan that seem particularly helpful:
- There are eight pastors in the circuit. They have divided up into four groups of two pastors each to take turns presenting in the four areas listed on the sample agenda: Exegesis, Isagogics, Doctrine, and Practical Theology. One of the two pastors in each area leads the group in that particular area of study each meeting.
- Some of the presentations are discussions of books they have agreed to read together in a particular area of theology. Right now for the practical theology study they are working through Nathan Pope’s book Motivation for Ministry.
- The exegetical study is usually focused on an upcoming festival text.
- The two pastors organizing the isagogical study are currently putting together an overview of the Minor Prophets.
- For the doctrinal study they have worked through the Heirs Together Bible study on man and woman and are now moving on to working through sections of the dogmatics notes with the help of some prepared study questions.
- For the opening preaching each of the eight pastors takes turns preaching through his previous Sunday’s sermon serving both as an opening devotion as well as an opportunity to receive feedback on his preaching.
- A particularly interesting aspect of the circuit’s current plan is the individual meeting that the circuit pastor is scheduling with each pastor and his wife. From the attached devotion/discussion document, you can see that this takes seriously that the circuit pastor is pastor to the pastors and wives of his circuit. Pastor Bickelhaupt does have an associate pastor in the congregation he serves which also enables him to offer to preach when he makes such a visit. These individual meetings help the circuit pastor to be much more than a troubleshooter. Offering such ongoing encouragement and support helps tackle challenges before they become issues that threaten a pastor’s ministry.
- Notice also how the circuit is seeking to encourage the brothers in the circuit to pray regularly for each other and the gospel ministry they and their congregations are seeking to carry out.
Here are a couple of suggestions for circuits that would consider adopting/adapting larger or smaller portions of the plans of the Montana Circuit:
- Pastor Bickelhaupt notes how challenging it can for the circuit brothers to give (and receive) honest and useful feedback to sermons. Like almost every other circuit providing this opportunity for feedback on a preached sermon, they are still looking for a way to make this a more helpful process.
- If a circuit would seek to adopt the individual visit between the circuit pastor and each pastor and his wife, it would be critical to discuss and develop plans for that together with the members of the circuit. It would be important for pastors and wives to recognize that the circuit pastor is conducting such meetings as a pastoral brother with a big heart, not a synodical sheriff with a big stick.