Archives For Jamin Goggin

High Voltage

I had been in ministry long enough to hear the stories. It’s a familiar narrative these days: pastors disqualified from ministry due to moral failure. For years I had listened to devastating tales of infidelity and broken families in the lives of fellow pastors. My immediate reaction, in all honesty, was typically swift judgment. I mentally distanced myself from such pastors, believing I was cut from a different sort of spiritual cloth than such sinners. How on earth could this happen? How could anyone, let alone a pastor, ever do such a thing? These stories, while far too commonplace, were quite removed from my immediate life and church world. I couldn’t imagine any of my pastoral peers ever experiencing such a fall from grace.

Then it happened. I remember the phone call vividly. A dear friend, a fellow pastor, called me to confess his infidelity and ask for prayer amid the consequences he was going to face from the leadership of his church. As he talked I felt numb. The shock of the moment gripped me in a way I had never experienced. I knew this man. I thought I knew him well….

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The Absence of Prayer

By Jamin Goggin

The following is an adjusted excerpt from Beloved Dust (Thomas Nelson 2014).

I faced a circle of blank stares. It was a standoff, and I was willing to wait. As a youth pastor, I had grown accustomed to this response from my students. I had asked a simple question: “Would anyone be willing to pray?” But as any youth pastor can tell you, it is not that simple. You would think I had asked the group of teenage boys if they had viewed pornography recently. Eventually, the same student that always broke the awkward silence prayed, if for no other reason than to alleviate the anxiety of his peers.

As a youth pastor, I encountered many difficult and disheartening moments, such as finding out a student lived a completely different lifestyle than I had known. However, as my tenure in youth ministry grew, those moments of cold sweat from my students became the saddest. The sadness only increased when I discovered that prayer was missing from their lives completely. My students simply had…

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Apple Smoking In The DarknessPreaching presents a myriad of temptations. We pastors are often unaware of the truth of our heart as we approach the pulpit on Sunday morning. We are solely focused on our exegesis or our homiletical approach. However, as we arrive at the pulpit God is calling us to discern the temptations of our heart. In the first post of this series we explored the temptation of originality. Now, we will explore the second temptation.

Temptations #2: Mastery

The pursuit of excellence in one’s vocation is admirable. Preaching the gospel is indeed a great responsibility that must be taken seriously. We want to do what we do well. We want to master our craft. However, the drive toward “mastery” must never lack equal attentiveness to the heart. As pastors it is imperative that we pay heed to the deep beliefs that are often driving our desire for mastery. My fear is that many pastors spend more time honing their preaching skill-set via workshops, classes, books, etc. than they do prayerfully considering the posture of their heart. As we spend the week of preparation finding the perfect story, practicing the sermon…

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Apple Smoking In The DarknessThere are many facets to the vocational life of a pastor. However, for evangelical pastors today there is one element of our calling that is deemed most important and induces the greatest anxiety: Preaching. How should we preach? What should we preach?  Questions of technique, method and content abound. Undoubtedly, this flurry of interest in the discipline of preaching has had a positive impact on the “quality” of preaching in the church today. However, amidst this emphasis on the pastoral discipline of preaching I wonder if a focus on the pragmatic has left other questions unattended.  Specifically, what temptations does the pastor face in preaching?

In a series of posts I wish to ponder with you some potential temptations in preaching. I do not share this list of temptations as a distant observer, but as one who has faced these temptations in preaching himself. While I am isolating these temptations in this series they most certainly are woven together; often bound by a deep belief that one’s identity is found in his work (preaching). This list is not intended to be exhaustive or…

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What songs should we choose for the worship service? What should we do for our fall campaign? How many minutes should the sermon be? How should we organize the chairs in the worship center?

The list could go on.

Pastors are constantly faced with practical questions. What to do has become the driving force of ministry, and as a result we spend our time trying to figure out how to do it. A vast majority of seminars and conferences today are focused on the “how”. Strategy is the name of the game and the equipment for playing is resourcefulness, creativity and innovation.

When faced with a question of what to do we immediately turn to the equipment above. Unfortunately, what this often means is that our strategy is determined by us, rather than God. In a sense, we lead as functional deists, believing God has left us to do his work in the here and now. By including one key piece of equipment in our strategic method we can help reorient our “how” under the authority and guidance of God. The piece of equipment that needs to be added is…

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Pastor“What do you do?”

“I am a pastor.”

Onboard an airplane or waiting in line at the local coffee shop the response is met with little fan-fair. The profession simply does not have the same cache or intrigue as say…

“I am a doctor” or “I am a writer.”

We pastors find ourselves in a professional culture. It is a culture that determines value, status and significance via profession. “What do you do?” is not only the first question we ask, it is often the only question we ask, and it is certainly the most important question we ask. A person’s profession is their identity.

In many ways we have simply embraced this cultural understanding of identity. We are pastors. That is our profession. We admit such an identity does not garner accolades from the outside world, but within our Christian subculture, within our churches, it is a position of power and authority. It is a profession of merit. It is a profession that can offer significance within the Christian subculture we call home. Furthermore, there is a clearly defined path of success in our profession, and we want to be on it.

Like any other…

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DirectionAs we saw in our first article spiritual direction has long roots going back to the ministry of the Apostle Paul. In our second article we explored how this ministry of companionship and guidance needs to play a central role in the pastoral vocation. In this article we look at four ways spiritual direction can become a value in our church.

First, it always begins with us pastors. How we view people and consequently relate to them speaks volumes to our congregation. If we have space for people, and are intentional about listening and attending to the unique journey of each person in our church it will not go unnoticed. Our posture towards people is infectious. By modeling spiritual direction we will organically create a culture of individuals who care deeply about each other’s spiritual lives. Thus, we as pastors must lead the charge in embracing the values of spiritual direction.

Second, pastors and church leaders need to receive spiritual direction as well. Pastors and ministry leaders not only need to serve as models in the giving of spiritual direction, but also in the receiving of spiritual direction. For us to provide care…

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arrowsIn case you missed it, read part one of A Place for Spiritual Direction

As we discovered in the first article in this series, if we are in the business of pastoring we are in the business of spiritual direction. Like Paul we are to (1) model a life of faithfulness, (2) offer the gift of presence, (3) maintain ongoing relationships of care, (4) guide from a posture of listening and (5) point to Christ. But if you are anything like me, practicing spiritual direction can be a challenge.

The life of a pastor is a multifaceted endeavor. For most of us a job description simply could not be written. We prepare sermons, set up chairs, develop programs, facilitate meetings, create curriculum, edit the bulletin, coordinate mission trips… You get the point.

From the moment we were called into ministry we held distinct visions of our pastoral vocation that were attached to particular passions and gifts. Quickly surveying the list above, our visions probably didn’t involve things like setting up chairs or editing bulletins, but they probably did involve things like preaching and evangelism. Regardless of our unique poles of passion…

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arrowsThis is the first of a series of articles that will be exploring the ministry of spiritual direction. It is important to note that we will use the term “spiritual direction” broadly to encompass the ideas of mentoring and spiritual friendship. Spiritual direction can also be used to talk about a specific kind of soul care that requires a basic training in the history of spirituality, dynamics of spiritual development and object relations theory. With this in mind, I hope to cast a vision for the value of spiritual direction within the church today, but in order to do so we need to begin by asking what spiritual direction is.
Several years ago when I met with my spiritual director for the first time I wasn’t sure what to expect. Based on previous relationships with mentors I decided I would ask him for advice. Looking back, I just wanted him to solve my problems. I will never forget the paradigm shift that occurred when my spiritual director responded with a question rather than an answer. It was a simple question and yet incredibly profound. “Have you asked God for advice?” The…

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