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Circular Letter
Long Run Baptist Association (KY), 1868

Qualifications for the Pastoral Office

[p. 6]
DEAR BRETHREN: God gave to his churches various gifts, among which were pastors. The pastoral office is of divine appointment and is a very great importance to the churches. The establishing and maintaining an appropriate pastoral relation demands the earnest prayerful attention of every church. Every preacher however learned, eloquent, and pious, is not suited to the office of pastor. God gavs some Evangelists and teachers as well as pastors, hence, a church in selecting a preacher to take the oversight of her should give especial attention to his qualifications for the pastoral office.

He should be a man of good, social qualities not self-willed, not soon
[p. 7]
angry, a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men. He ought to he able to maintain a pleasing social relation with his whole flock, so that his vlsits would always give pleasure, and he be a welcome guest in every family, composing his congregation; for here his influence is greater than in the pulpit. He should be "apt to teach" not only from the pulpit but at the fireside. This does not imply that he should be fond of deep mysteries and skilled in profound speculative questions, but that he should understand and be able to teach plainly the plan of salvation and practical religion. Learning and oratory can never supply the place of plain practical preaching and private instruction.

A pastor should be "sound in the faith." A weak vascilating speculator in Holy things would he a curse rather than a blessing to the church. A pastor should not only have a clear consistent view of the doctrines and polity of the church, but patience and firmnesss to maintain them under all temptations. He should be an active industrious man, "vigilant, sober, patient." A mere "book worm" dividing his time between idly dozing and pouring over books and newspapers can never know, much less give attention to the wants of his flock.

When a church has secured the services of a suitable pastor it is the duty of all the members to give him their hearty cordial co-operation. In calling a pastor unanimity should be secured if practicable, but where the call is made by a majority, the minority ought to submit immediately and heartily and make the call unanimous. There are some things to be taken into especial consideration.

A salary neither extravagant nor parsimonious, but sufficient to meet the wants of the pastor's family should be secured. After a consultation and judicious calculation as to the amount required, the pastor should be relieved from farther care on this subject. The deacons having the cordial co-operation of all the brethren should collect and pay over the salary according to the pastor's wants. Every laudable effort should be made to maintain the fullest confidence between the pastor and his people, this is of very great importance. The usefullness of the pastor depends much on the church. Fault-finding and criticising by the brethren or their conniving at these practices in others will most effectually counteract the most faithful efforts of the pastor. The building up of the church, the maintaining of the doctrines and cause of Christ and the salvation of the children and neighbors of the brethren depend on the influence of the pastor, as far as human instrumentality is concerned; every Christian therefore, is deeply interested in giving the best possible influence
[p. 8]
over his children and neighbors. The many evils growing out of the pernicious practice of changing pastors frequently are too apparent to need proof. The pastor ought to know every member of his congregation and all their children by name, and to become so intimately acquainted with them as to know their peculiar disposition practice and wants, and if possible to gain the confidence and affection of each. It is especially important that he gain the confidence and affection of the unconverted children of his brethren and neighbors. "A stranger they will no hear" but a pastor known and loved will be able to exercise a great influence over them, for good Christian parents and others favorable to the religious welfare of their children should take great pains to cultivate the most kindly and confidential relations between their children and their pastor. Many children grow up to manhood and go out from under the influence of their parents without religion simply because their parents contract the influence of the pastor by their thoughtless criticism on his weakness and failures from which none are exempt. Living in constant prayer and striving to walk after the spirit of Christ, both pastor and people should exercise forbearance and forgiveness toward each other, strive to build each other up and sacrifice every feeling of the flesh for the glory of God and the advancement of His cause.

[From Long Run Baptist Association Minutes, 1868; from the Southern Baptist Seminary Library, Archives and Special Collections, Louisville, KY. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall]

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