Watching Over the Flock and the Shepherd

Pastors are always in need of encouragement. Paul understood this and so laces his letters to young Timothy with exhortations and reminders that are designed to keep Timothy motivated and focused on the goal of his high calling. Thirty-five years ago the late Louis McBurney published a book entitled, Every Pastor Needs a Pastor. Taking his cues from Paul, McBurney tried to offer practical encouragements to pastors who, too often, walk a lonely road. As a young pastor, I was greatly helped by his insights.

Founders Ministries has always been primarily (though not exclusively) focused on pastors. Through the years we have tailored our efforts to encourage pastors to be faithful to their calling and to persevere in their responsibilities. Our theory has been–and remains–that if we help a pastor, we help a church (or perhaps, multiple churches). The older that I get, the more I find my heart going out to my fellow pastors and the more I want to encourage them in the great work to which we have been called.

This issue of the Founders Journal–the first that is being published exclusively in an electronic format–is designed with that goal and purpose in mind. B. H. Carroll’s sermon was directed particularly to pastors and is a good reminder of the incredible responsibility and privilege that go with being a preacher of the gospel. Chris Lee’s insights into the ministry of the Puritan, Thomas Watson, are relevant and applicable to modern pastors, as is the comfort that John May draws out of Horatius Bonar’s reflections on rest.

If you are a pastor, my prayer is that you will be encouraged by the articles in this issue. If you are not a pastor then I hope that not only will you be encouraged but also that you will pass along these articles to your own pastor in hopes that he might be helped by them, too.

Tom Ascol has served as a Pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral, FL since 1986. Prior to moving to Florida he served as pastor and associate pastor of churches in Texas. He has a BS degree in sociology from Texas A&M University (1979) and has also earned the MDiv and PhD degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Ft. Worth, Texas. He has served as an adjunct professor of theology for various colleges and seminaries, including Reformed Theological Seminary, the Covenant Baptist Theological Seminary, African Christian University, Copperbelt Ministerial College, and Reformed Baptist Seminary. He has also served as Visiting Professor at the Nicole Institute for Baptist Studies at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida. Tom serves as the President of Founders Ministries and The Institute of Public Theology. He has edited the Founders Journal, a quarterly theological publication of Founders Ministries, and has written hundreds of articles for various journals and magazines. He has been a regular contributor to TableTalk, the monthly magazine of Ligonier Ministries. He has also edited and contributed to several books, including Dear Timothy: Letters on Pastoral Ministry, The Truth and Grace Memory Books for children and  Recovering the Gospel and Reformation of Churches. He is also the author of From the Protestant Reformation to the Southern Baptist ConventionTraditional Theology and the SBC and Strong and Courageous. Tom regularly preaches and lectures at various conferences throughout the United States and other countries. In addition he regularly contributes articles to the Founders website and hosts a weekly podcast called The Sword & The Trowel. He and his wife Donna have six children along with four sons-in-law and a daughter-in-law. They have sixteen grandchildren.
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