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I've been thankful for the Ordinary Pastors Project going on at TGC. The stories have been encouraging, touching, and humbling. Let me throw in my two mites.

To all the pastors who may read this blog, to all those praying through the Scriptures each week, praying over your people, and praying down divine favor for your congregation, I say: God bless you and may your tribe increase. I don't know how to say this without sounding as syrupy as Aunt Jemima, but ordinary pastors are my heroes. They really are. I don't know exactly what makes a pastor ordinary--I certainly feel ordinary (and worse than that on some days). But I suppose when people talk about an "ordinary pastor" they are talking about the pastor who flies under the evangelical radar, the pastor who labors in an ordinary place with ordinary people who don't give a rip about the evangelical radar or if their pastor is on it, so long as he is with them.

I think of pastors who see a hundred faces stare back at them in the pews, maybe 130 some years, maybe 85 in others. These pastors can't help but wonder if they've gotten something wrong or if they just aren't as gifted as other men. Both are possible. But more likely, it's just one of those things, one of those "the Spirit blows where he wills" kind of things. I know of pastors who work just as hard as I do. They preach good sermons. They love their people. They probably shepherd better and counsel better and visit the widows better than I do. They endure more hardship and face more obstacles. And yet they keep rowing their spiritual oars Sunday after Sunday, elder meeting after elder meeting, budget after budget, funeral after funeral, all the while with little fanfare and perhaps even little visible fruit. Who's ordinary now? Are not they the extraordinary ones?

My definition of a hero is someone who does the right thing in the right way for a long time whether people notice or not. Thousands of unheralded, unknown pastors personify this definition. They marry and bury, preach and teach, hold hands and pat backs, attend open houses and attend meetings, pray like they believe it and sing like they mean it. Even if the coffee is bad, the pay low, and the church music so-so, these brothers keep loving and keep on proclaiming the same gospel. Some say insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results. But that goes out the window when what you're doing is the very thing God has called you do.

Faithful, humble, diligent, reliable, gentle, courageous, compassionate, teachable, imperfect ordinary pastors--of them the world is not worthy.

Got a good pastor? Then tell him you think so.

P.S. If you go to University Reformed Church, this is not a beggarly attempt at cards and cookies. I feel much loved already. Just keep on doing what you're doing.


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8 thoughts on “In Praise of Ordinary Pastors”

  1. Dave Bissett says:

    Thanks Kevin. You will find that many of those questions about pastoral effectiveness increase (if not in number, in potency) as you get older. I just turned 50 and my mortality peeks at me over the horizon and asks: will you leave this local church in good order when your days are done? will you have made faithful disciples? will sound doctrine prevail in your pulpit? etc. Yet, we all can/should/do turn to the Faithful One, the Great Shepherd, and find great hope and confidence to press ahead.
    Thanks for your encouragements in your books and online. The obvious popularity of your sound doctrine and your plain (aka no nonsense) writing style is a real encouragement too. Press on! db

  2. I don’t care how many are in my flock. For however many God gives me to shepherd, I want to be faithful to that many and love them well.

    If that number 3, then let me faithful to those 3. If that number 30,000, then let me faithful to those 30,000.

    This a freakin’ awesome post. I praise God for those ordinary pastors and I cheer for all pastors.

    Praise God.

  3. Heath Lloyd says:

    Thanks. From an ordinary pastor and the son of an ordinary pastor.

  4. M S says:

    We tend to think of ordinary as somehow lesser. But if we look at Westminster Shorter Catechism Answer #88, we read “The outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicateth to us the benefits of redemption, are his ordinances, especially the word, sacraments, and prayer; all which are made effectual to the elect for salvation.”

    An ordinary faithful pastor is doing these things: Word, sacraments and prayer. He is also teaching his congregation to do the Word and prayer in their homes, and is teaching in part through the sacraments. The ordinary is miraculous — it is made effectual to the elect for salvation!

    I don’t think Kevin meant in the Ordinary the unfaithful and sickly ecumenical, those who call themselves pastors but deny the sovereignty of God, the deity of Christ, and/or the very need for Salvation by Grace because of our sin. Those are not ordinary, they are base and false.

  5. Tom Beetham says:

    Hi Kevin,

    I am a pastor in Muskegon, Michigan. Thank you for your post. I want to encourage you to continue writing books, and I want to encourage you to write more books for pastors to read. I have been greatly helped by three of your books, and I desire more reading from you on the nitty-gritty of pastoral ministry in the local church for everyday-average pastors like me. I love it when you co-author with Ted, but either way would be a great blessing to me. Keep up the good work in Lansing, my brother! May all the ordinary yet faithful pastors out there be greatly encouraged by Kevin’s words!

    Tom Beetham
    Orchard View Congregational Church
    Muskegon, MI

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Kevin DeYoung


Kevin DeYoung is senior pastor of University Reformed Church (PCA) in East Lansing, Michigan, near Michigan State University. He and his wife Trisha have six young children. You can follow him on Twitter.

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