The First Pastorate -- By: Charles R. MacDonald

Journal: Central Bible Quarterly
Volume: CENQ 13:2 (Summer 1970)
Article: The First Pastorate
Author: Charles R. MacDonald


The First Pastorate

Charles R. MacDonald

Chairman, Department of Practical Theology
Central Baptist Theological Seminary of Minneapolis, Minnesota

It was thirty-nine years ago that this writer preached a whole month in June at a Baptist Church in Elgin, Illinois, before the people extended a call to serve as pastor for six months. (Some of them must have had reservations in their minds as to whether he could last six months.) That pastorate was to last four years. It was a student pastorate, but it was considered a strong student pastorate, and it was “my first church.” In the course of those four years I became married, had the privilege of welcoming my wife into the membership of the church after baptism by immersion, was ordained, and became a father.

Every pastorate has been interesting to me, but none surpasses that first one of four years filled with some testings, many blessings, and a large amount of learning and considerable fruit. The first baptism (awkwardly performed), the first communion service, the first wedding (where the couple hand-cuffed themselves together following the benediction, for fear some of the friends of the groom would kidnap him), the first funeral, the first clash with an elderly deacon who tried to “take over” from the young pastor—all these are fresh in mind even today.

It was a church of some one hundred fifty members. The depression was in full swing as I went there. The church had to convey the news to me of a twenty-five percent cut in salary just three months after I brought my bride to the church. But there was a bond between pastor and people that helped us face the depression together. I heard less “griping” over the hardships of those days than are heard over our inconveniences today.

The church seemed to be proud of their young preacher, who in those days had a sort of “machine gun” type of delivery, with hardly a pause for breath. They had had more mature ministers in previous days, but their philosophy now was, “We are glad to have a young man on his way up in the ministry.” And they spoke words of appreciation for the messages. We did not have a great ingathering of souls. But each person who came represented a genuine decision—here one who had a struggle over baptism, there a young person won to Christ because of a personal interest in him. Then, there were some who had been nominal Christians who “got down to business” with God. And in that first church one man heard the call into full-time Christian service.

I did not look at that church as merely a stepping stone to bigger and better things. When we left there it was to accept a call to a church which was less ...

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