Tag Archives: pastors

A Book Review: Christ at the Center of Pastoral Ministry by Dr. Richard Thomas Vann, Jr.

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Practical and Valuable

So much practical and valuable information can be found in Christ at the Center of Pastoral Ministry by Dr. Richard Vann, currently a professor at Dallas Baptist University. Every chapter takes a different aspect of pastoral ministry. Each section is broken down into an easy-to-read discussion of many topics, such as gifted Christians in ministry, the pastor’s home life, leadership, ministerial ethics, and more. Even issues not mentioned in most religious books are noted, such as child dedication, etiquette, and the need for breath mints! The author’s humble spirit and love for Christian ministry shine through as Vann graciously teaches and describes what pastoral theology, spiritual leadership, and ministry practices are all about.

Who is the Reading Audience?

This book is for pastors, those preparing for ministry, pastors’ wives, and even lay people who would be wise to understand the many hats a pastor wears. By combining historical views, contemporary thoughts, and tried-and-true applications, the reader can best decide how to view pastoral ministry. This book is also a great gift for those considering a calling in Christian ministry. I highly recommend Dr. Vann’s book. You will be glad you purchased it.

Bible Verse:

Timothy, protect what has been entrusted to you, avoiding worldly, empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called “knowledge”—  which some have professed and thereby have gone astray from the faith (1 Timothy 6:20-21 NASB).

Click here to order Christ at the Center of Pastoral Ministry by Dr. Richard Thomas Vann, Jr.

CHATGPT: Education and Church


The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a blog as “a website that contains an online personal journal with reflections, comments, and often hyperlinks provided by the writer.” My Christian blog, GreenePastures.org, is sometimes an emotional piece, an article, a sacred snippet, listings, quizzes, or more. It is just me sharing whatever I feel led to. It started with me wanting to practice my writing skills, so you may be horrified reading my early blogs. Personal blogs should not be looked at in the same light as professional articles. What follows is my opinion and the opinion of others that I have read about regarding Artificial Intelligence (AI) and ChatGPT. I am not sharing a bibliography or works cited page, but you might find a few indications of where quotes or materials come from along the way,

My Interests

As I mentioned in my previous blog, my two main interests regarding artificial intelligence revolve around two entities—education and the church, mainly because I was a high school librarian and I am a churchgoer. I recognize that this blog may be irrelevant and outdated with the changing pace of AI, maybe even by tomorrow.

With AI, there will be challenges with integrity in high schools and schools of higher education, just as there will be challenges in church uses of AI. The benefits and abuses of AI are moving fast, but I believe it is here to stay, and then we can wait for the next big thing—humanoids! Prototypes are already out there!

ChatGPT and Education

As my husband and I hung around the house today, I moaned that I had so much work to do, and he asked, “What?”

I told him about the papers and schoolwork I had to do, and I jokingly asked him if he would like to write my paper on “CRISIS” for me. He joked back and said, “Why? ChatGPT can write it for you.” You see, he had spent the morning on ChatGPT looking up information on 1 Corinthians 15, and he got a summary, paper, bibliography, and works cited, all in the same sitting. Impressive, right? Well, not so.

There are challenges with using AI, affecting the whole gamut of educational institutions, from preschool to professional academic papers and seminars. The significant deficiencies and/or comments I see are listed below.

  1. I see a problem with academic integrity. Dishonesty is already widespread, and educational institutions will be responsible for making new policies.
  2. There must be more time to make the necessary changes or policies because AI is moving rapidly. And who has the energy to accomplish all that needs to be done?
  3. A student’s temptation to cheat will increase. Yes, I will get into the Christian value system later, but let’s chat for now. No pun intended.
  4. Plagiarism will increase.
  5. Both educators and students might become less creative than they were designed to be.
  6. Laziness will occur.
  7. The value of higher education will decrease because information (whether credible or not) will be “more” accessible.
  8. Bias and possible brainwashing may occur because those inputting the information still come from human choices.
  9. There could be a problem with college admissions, because how would the admission office know who really wrote the applicants’ essays?
  10. Training on AI’s proper use is needed for faculty and students.
  11. Addressing the fear and injustice that honest students might experience, should be considered. They know that even if they are honest, they still compete with students using AI in their schoolwork.

ChatGPT and Church

There is also concern with ethical and moral principles in the church. I was reading an excellent article by Pastor Duke Taber. He said, “Church leaders must be careful to ensure that the use of ChatGPT complies with legal and regulatory requirements, is transparent, and considers privacy concerns.” In the article, Taber expresses his concern with the ethical and moral principles within the pastorate. He believed that pastors and ministry leaders should be transparent to their congregants about using AI in sermon preparation. His article was terrific until I read the Disclosure at the end. The Disclosure said, “This paper was written by ChatGPT with editorial oversight and guidance by Duke Taber.” I was duped as I read the article. So, I thought, “What if pastors were required to disclose that they used ChatGPT if they used artificial intelligence in sermon prep?

While many see benefits to using ChatGPT in ministry, I see some challenges, which are enumerated below.

  1. New policies and rules need to be written regarding using artificial intelligence of any sort in a sermon or Bible study prep.
  2. Training is needed on its acceptability or not to pastoral staff and volunteers.
  3. Pastors could rely more on artificial intelligence than the Bible or other credible Biblical materials.
  4. Busyness is part of our lives, and pastors could become more likely to depend on this time-reducing application rather than seeking out the Word of God through prayer and dependence upon the Holy Spirit.
  5. For the congregants, why bother to listen to a sermon that might have been written by AI? If I don’t sense the Holy Spirit’s part in my pastor’s prep, I would be tempted to avoid listening, and rightly so. I want to hear from God through my pastor. Many congregants might decide not to attend church at all.
  6. Using AI in any church form—blogs, devotionals, Bible studies, and more could create a distrust of church literature. This could even progress where people become distrustful of reading Christian books, magazines, articles, and listening to Christian podcasts, not knowing if the source is human. (I may be far-reaching on this statement, but if I write more books or materials, do I need to note that I wrote it and not some artificial intelligence source?)
  7. Pastors and staff could become lazy.
  8. Pastors should be reminded not to compare their sermons with others because following God’s principles are more important than how others plan their sermons.

The Associated Press recently published an article titled “ChatGPT AI Robots writing Church Sermons causing Hell for Pastors.” The report stated that using AI can cause both fascination and unease for pastors. It also said that ChatGPT “can’t replicate the passion of actual preaching” and “lazy preaching pastors might be tempted to use AI but not the great shepherds, the ones who love preaching, who love their people.”  [Quotes attributed to Herschel York.]

But here I am, wondering who wrote the main article as no author’s name was there. It just said Associated Press—who knows, maybe AI wrote the article. Okay, I best stop now. I am questioning everything I see, wondering if a real-life person wrote it or not.

Biblical Thoughts

Many believers do not have a solid handle on Biblical integrity. This must be taught. It is hard to do in secular education, but Christian institutions and churches must provide ways to instill integrity into their student base or church flock.

At our youngest son’s college, the first semester students were required to attend a seminar by the library staff on how to use the library and all its features. What would happen if Christian institutions required students to participate in a workshop on Christian integrity? While it might not stop all cheating or plagiarizing, the school would relieve itself of some of its responsibility.

The students would know what was expected of them as they continued their studies. It would also help in the case of any academic dishonesty retribution. Administrators could tell students and their parents they were notified of their expectations. Just a random thought!

As I was thinking about these topics, I was simultaneously working on my MasterLife, Bk 2, which plainly said, “Do God’s will.” Yes, that is an easy way of addressing these issues. If we just did God’s will regarding honesty, working hard, Christian character, discerning Godly behavior, yielding oneself to Christ, being honorable, having peace, being controlled by the Holy Spirit, renewing our minds daily, and living victoriously, that would help. So, maybe the solution to all this is to stop relying so much on technology and depend more on God’s Word to guide our writings and sermons.

When All is Said and Done

Folks, artificial intelligence is here to stay. The University of Texas offers a certification to gain industry-valued AI and machine learning skills. Certifications will turn into college courses in the future if they are not already official classes in some colleges.

While we may reminisce about the good old days—sitting on the front porch of our home, playing kickball outside, and listening to our 45 RPM records, this technology is here to stay. We must adjust and adapt to it. 

Personally, we must intentionally slow down, process our life, spend time in prayer, study God’s Word, and seek guidance from Him.

Maybe, even possibly, AI/ChatGPT is an opportunity for believers to build new character traits and become more Christ-like in their behavior and thoughts. That’s something to think about!

Now What?

Now that I spent my afternoon writing this blog, I must decide to either get back to my schoolwork or listen to my favorite 45s.

Two hours later . . .

Guess what won? Listening to a few of my favorite 60s songs! YouTube won over getting out my record player, though. Then, the thought hit me, I thought my record player was the best electrical invention of my junior high era, and maybe this generation will think AI is the best technological invention of their era. Sort of makes me sad.

And what about my poor “CRISIS” paper that was not worked on all day today? Maybe it will get the attention it needs tomorrow or the day after. But, if not soon, I WILL definitely have a CRISIS on my hands!

God bless. 

Bible Verses:

People with integrity walk safely, but those who follow crooked paths will be exposed. Proverbs 10:9 (NLT)

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.   Philippians 4:6-8 (NASB 1995)

Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. Acts 20:28 (NASB 1995)


My heavenly Father, please give me the wisdom to pursue Your will in all areas of my life. When I am tempted, shield my thoughts and actions. Let me always honor and obey You and Your commandments and principles. You are sovereign. Keep me humble and prayerful. Let me know Your will. Lead all I do and think to be guided by Your Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Challenging Question by Bellator Christi from “Taking up the Sword of Christian Theology and the Shield of Classic Apologetics”

In the 13th century, Thomas Aquinas researched and wrote thousands of pages without the amenities we hold today.

Christi asks, “Could we do the same?”


This article may not be reproduced except for written permission from the author. 


Books by Patti



Kindness: A Fruit of the Spirit

Many of us have no idea how to treat others with kindness. As a Christ-follower, following Jesus’ example in the New Testament demonstrates a worthwhile goal to pursue. When Christ’s love and His Holy Spirit indwells us, kindness begins to permeate our thoughts first and then our actions.

When I look back at most of the people I have known in ministry, it is the trait of kindness that sticks in my mind. Many times, I personally received a direct outcome of their kindness or I saw them showering kindness on others.

But, come to think of it, kindness is the trait I look for or it finds me in my relationships with others. (Okay, I value honesty too!)

The trait that you look for or find may be different. It may be another fruit of the Spirit such as love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness or self-control. (Galatians 5:22)

While not exhaustive, some of the pastoral kindnesses I have experienced are . . .

  • The pastor who preached the gospel when I turned from my sin and believed in my Lord Jesus Christ. [Bill Lawson/Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church, Houston]
  • The pastor who counseled me and baptized me. [Dr. James Harris/University Baptist Church, Fort Worth]
  • The pastor who gave me the best marriage advice ever. [Dr. John Bisango, First Baptist Church, Houston]
  • The pastor who filled in to marry us when our intended wedding pastor had to cancel marrying us two days before the wedding. [Dr. James Riley/Former pastor @ Second Baptist, Houston]
  • The interim pastor who loved our 6-year old daughter and led her to Christ and baptized her that very same day. [Bob Harris/Interim @ First Baptist, Humble]
  • The pastor I saw sweeping and cleaning up the kitchen after our daughter’s wedding shower which took place in his church. [Jerry Howe/Second Baptist Church, Levelland at the time]

And, I could go on and on! Fortunately, my husband and I have been recipients of being in wonderful churches all throughout our married life. Each unique in their own way. Praise God!

Kindness from Christ-Followers

But, it’s not the kindnesses I have received just from ministerial people that have impressed me. I have also been the recipient of individual Christ-followers’ kindnesses, like . . .

  • The ladies who brought meals to me after my children were born.
  • The college professor who gave me a passing grade when I shared difficulties I was having grasping the subject matter in his class.
  • The friend who consoled me after a horrendous breakup.
  • The elderly churchmen and churchwomen who mentored my husband and me when we were young adults by their examples and “invitations to have lunch with them.”
  • The friend who rejoiced with me when we bought a home while she lived in a small, rundown apartment with four young children.

Kindness was the trait that attracted me to my husband. When we dated, he was kind (and nice) to me. Need I say more after 39 years of marriage?

The Bible urges us to be kind to one another.

Honestly, I don’t think of myself as a particularly kind person. [Oh, I do not like saying that, but I desire to be a kind person.] When I see my rough and jagged edges, I don’t like what I see. That’s why it surprises me when I receive notes from my friends as I received recently.

One of my friends wrote,

You found me hiding pains and helped my healing: I am the vibrant woman I am today because you stopped where I was stuck, you became the step I needed to climb up and out: I am eternally grateful for your loving kindness.

I cherish comments like this. They encourage me to do better, to strive to be more kind and loving. And I appreciate those who refrain from telling me my bad characteristics until they are told with kind words—words that only the Holy Spirit can place in their hearts.

Moses’ father-in-law Jethro knew how to show grace and kindness when it came time to lead Moses to a better life when Moses was overloaded by all his pastoral duties.

Jethro said,

The thing you are doing is not good. You will surely wear out, both yourself and these people who are with you, for the task is too heavy for you; you cannot do it alone.  Then he began to counsel him and teach him how to handle disputes by having the difficult decisions brought to him and having the minor decisions handled by the judges. (Exodus 18)

Now, that’s kindness in action!

Kindness is one of the fruits of the Spirit. When speaking about walking by the Spirit, Paul states the following, concluding with kindness being one of the fruits of the Spirit:

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. 

But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things, there is no law.  

Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another (Read Galatians 5:16-26).

Why Should We Be Kind To Each Other?

  • As believers, we are commanded to be kind. (Colossians 3:21)
  • Be kind so that the word of God may not be criticized or attacked. (Titus 2:5)
  • Because the Lord is kind. Psalm 145:17. (Titus 3:4)
  • God tells us to be kind because he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. (Luke 6:35)
  • God’s kindness is meant to lead us to repentance. (Romans 2:4)
  • If you are kind, you will find life, righteousness, and honor. (Proverbs 21:21)
  • The Bible tells us that servants of God should be kind to everyone and not quarrelsome. (2 Timothy 2:24)
  • The Bible tells us to remember people kindly. (1 Thessalonians 3:6)
  • We should be kind to one another as God in Christ forgave us. (Ephesians 4:32)
  • You benefit yourself if you are kind while a cruel man hurts himself. (Proverbs 11:17)


As Christ-followers, no matter what we encounter in life, we are faced with many different situations and personalities. Obviously, sometimes we don’t feel like being kind. Fatigue, restlessness, and/or sin may cause our focus to shift away easily from God and His attributes.

Faced with our sometimes unkind attitudes, we should repent daily and pray that our lives will reflect the love of God in all we do—including being kind. Being kind involves loving others, being patient, and seeking God’s wisdom in all we say and do.

And, when we fail, let’s confess our harsh and callous hearts to God, and start over—even if it means addressing and apologizing to those whom we have hurt.

Bible Verses:

Now in Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (which translated in Greek is called Dorcas); this woman was abounding with deeds of kindness and charity which she continually did. (Acts 9:36)

But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. (Luke 6:35)

Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:32)


Dear Jesus, I so want to be kind. Help me each day to seek Your face and become more like You. Show me how to be kind to both my friends and enemies. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit and guide me to situations where I need to shower others with kindness. Where I need to seek forgiveness, show me how to confess. You are holy and kind and I want to be like You in all I say, think, or do. In Christ. Amen.

God Bless,

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Edited by E. Johnson