We talk a lot in these podcasts about the sort of hard things pastor’s face; marriage challenges, hard people in the pastor’s life, the struggle with children and even facing loss. My goal has been pretty singular with all the interviews, and that is to encourage the pastor to keep his focus, to not be distracted and to realize also that with serving Jesus can come, and probably will come a lot of opposition and challenges. There is one thing we have not talked about in the sort of things pastors face and that is the pressure to bend his convictions to the many theological trends blowing across our landscape today. The pressure for the pastor to bend to, to compromise his message is becoming an increasingly heavy load to carry. It’s getting harder and harder to just stick to the simple message of the gospel. Even with all the pastoral responsibilities he carries, it’s getting harder for him to take time in studying and preparing for his primary role, of preaching the Word of God.
Recently, I sat down for lunch with Dr. Brian Shelton of Toccoa Falls College to prepare for this interview, and we struggled coming up with a good title for this podcast. Between bites of his Salisbury steak, Brian finally hit it on the head when he suggested we call this podcast, The Pastor and Theological Anxiety. You will find this interview to be a refreshing call to faithfully preach the Word of God and to stand strong against the pounding winds meant to unsettle the pastor from this simple commitment. This is also a call for the pastor to study hard the Word of God, and to challenge his people to be ardent students of that same Word.
I love Dr. Shelton’s gentle but firm approach to this subject. Dr. Brian Shelton is Provost and Professor of Theology and Church History at Toccoa Falls College in northeast Georgia. Although he is not a pastor and his employees mention that he isn’t naturally pastoral, he cares about the spiritual shepherds of the church, realizing that theology is foundational for faith and ministry. Brian holds a bachelor from Asbury University, the M.Div. from Covenant Theological Seminary, and the Ph.D. in historical theology from Saint Louis University. He is author of Martyrdom from Exegesis in Hippolytus, a study of an early church commentary on Daniel that encouraged Christians under persecution; Prevenient Grace, a study of God’s work to alleviate sin that sinners may believe in Christ, and Quest for the Historical Apostles on the journeys of the twelve beyond the New Testament, to be released in April 2017. He and his wife Sally have three daughters. Join me as I talk to Dr. Brian Shelton about the pastor and theological anxiety.
Order the book we referred to here: Pastoral Theology: Theological Foundations for Who a Pastor is and What He Does