This is part of a series called Faithful Shepherd Friday, which attempts to learn from faithful shepherds of Christ’s church laboring in obscurity.
This week’s faithful shepherd is Josh Clink. I had the pleasure of being at SEBTS with Josh. I was also blessed to be in the same local church small group were the Lord cultivated an edifying friendship between us. Enjoy getting to know Josh and please make sure to read his prayer requests.
Where do you serve as pastor and how long have you been there?
I serve at FBC Afton in Afton, NY. It is a small village of 700 in the heart of a larger rural community of 3,000 in upstate NY. I have been here since November 2016, so about 4.5 years.
How do you go about sermon preparation?
My goal is to always remain a week ahead. Sunday afternoon I begin reading and highlighting the passage for the Sunday after next in multiple translations. I try to protect Monday as a day to research and write the sermon for the passage I began reading the previous Sunday. I use the Passage Exegesis Workflow on Logos for my sermon prep on Monday. It is an 11-step process that explores context, literature type, people, events, key words, and cross-references. Tuesday-Thursday I turn my attention to the sermon for the upcoming Sunday, which I would have finished the previous Monday. I seek to commit the sermon to memory and make minor adjustments in preparation for Sunday. I must include a disclaimer. This is a self-imposed goal and I do not always accomplish it, but it is the mark I set for myself.
What book has impacted your preaching or pastoral ministry? Why do you think it is important for pastors to read this particular book?
The two books I read when I first began preaching were, He is Not Silent by Albert Mohler and Biblical Preaching by Haddon Robinson. I did not know how to prepare or how to preach, but both books gave me a framework for sermon preparation and delivery.
Pastoral ministry is a little harder to narrow down, so I will mention a few. 9 Marks of a Healthy Church by Mark Dever, Revitalize by Andy Davis, and Gospel Eldership by Robert Thune. Another one I will highlight is Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hand (IRH) by Paul David Tripp. I believe every pastor should read Tripp’s book and keep it on hand as a resource. My background is in biblical counseling and I do not think pastors are adequately prepared for the need of biblical counseling in local churches. There are a multitude of resources for pastors, but IRH gives an overarching summary for how pastors can do biblical counseling and can equip the church to offer biblical counseling.
What figure from church history has been a source encouragement for pastoral ministry?
The first one who comes to mind is C.H. Spurgeon. His sermons are powerful, his commentaries are insightful, and his gifting is evident. But above all these things, I have resonated with Spurgeon’s battle with depression and sadness, which have been well documented in a biography by Arnold Dallimore and an entire book titled Spurgeon’s Sorrows by Zack Eswine. This turmoil in his life and his continued faithfulness in spite of it ministers to my soul in light of sadness, stress, and compassion fatigue I experience in my own ministry.
If you were speaking to someone new to pastoral ministry, what encouragement would you give?
Faithful brothers are almost as valuable as oxygen.
Within my local church, I have two men that I am both discipling for leadership and depending on to share the burden of ministry here.
Within my local region, I have three other pastors that I call, text, pray, and visit with. These men become a sounding board for ministry decisions. They are partners in the faith from the same region and help provide rest for my soul. “Pastor” is a calling, a privilege, a title, and a position, but it is not a core identity. My relationships in the congregation see me as pastor, but these brothers from outside the church see me as a brother in Christ and that makes their relationships essential. One example of practical help has been working together to navigate region-specific decisions regarding ministry during COVID and being able to transition members from one local body to another in a healthy, non-competitive, and God-honoring way.
Outside of my region, I continue to surround myself with a multitude of counselors. Some are pastors, former professors, counselors, and some are mentors, disciplers, and friends. These individuals help make decisions, pray for you, and so much more.
I would encourage everyone in pastoral ministry to find and keep faithful brothers in all three contexts.
How can we pray for you?
Specific to ministry: we have a constitution revision committee that I am a part of to transition our church to become elder-led, and we are interviewing a candidate to come on staff as a pastor of music & youth.
Personal requests: my wife and I have struggled with infertility, having experienced multiple miscarriages over the past couple of years. I am also working on a dissertation for an Ed.D. in biblical counseling.