I have known John Smith for a number of years now and so appreciate his history with God and integrity as a pastor who knows what it is like to be in the “trenches” year after year. I highly recommend the unique and much needed ministry of PastorCare to pastors around North America. As I travel and speak at Pastor’s gatherings, I meet large numbers of pastors and spouses desperately in need of this ministry. Our churches desperately need the leaders in God’s church to step aside in order to retool, reenergize and rethink how to do ministry for the long haul.
God’s vision is that we lead our churches out of the health of our personal lives and our marriages. PastorCare makes that possible. If God had opened up a ministry like PastorCare to Geri and I in our early years, our first ten years of pastoring and marriage would have been completely different. I commend PastorCare to you.
Rev. Jaco Hamman, PhD.
Director of the Theology and Practice Program;
Professor of Religion, Personality and Culture,
Graduate Department of Religion and The Divinity School at Vanderbilt University
With this letter I would like to commend Dr. John Smith to you and implore you to support Dr. Smith and his PastorCare ministry with your prayers, your words of encouragement, and your financial donations.
It has been a privilege getting to know Dr. Smith the past ten years. In this time I have discovered his deep commitment to the spiritual and relational well-being of clergy, missionaries, and their families. Dr. Smith’s call is to be a pastor to pastors. This call he has followed faithfully, but not without personal, spiritual, and financial hardship and discouragement. Through his person, passion, and training, Dr. Smith comes alongside a pastor or family in distress. He extends the compassion we once received from Christ (2 Cor. 1:3). Not once have I felt Dr. Smith wavered in his call.
It is without any hesitation that I can recommend John and his ministry to you. Please invite John to come and speak at your church, hold his ministry in your prayers and thoughts, and support him both personally and financially.
I am writing to commend to your prayers and support the wonderful work being done at PastorCare Network, and a good friend of mine John Smith.
I have been a professor of preaching for over twelve years in a seminary whose principle calling is raise up men and women for pastoral work in the local church. Each Spring I watch our newly minted “Masters of Divinity” students walking across the platform of the chapel to receive their diplomas and the opportunity to become pastors. I have such mixed feelings on that night. On one level I revel in the accomplishments of all our students and I rejoice with their families that their long years of preparation have reached this milestone. Training for pastoral ministry is a long and arduous task and when you have finished the degree you have the right to rejoice!
But I also carry with me some anxieties on that night. I am anxious because I know first-hand how difficult is the calling to which they have all been called. Congregational dissension and clergy burnout seems to be almost pandemic in our culture. Often displaced from family and friends, and caught in the crossfire of wildly varying opinions and expectations, young pastors and their families can struggle with emotional, physical and spiritual fatigue. So who cares for the one who cares? Who pastors the pastor?
This is the point of entry for John Smith and his associates at PastorCare Network. Through years of successful and caring pastoral ministry John Smith has learned the life of the pastor and is uniquely qualified to care and encourage those whose lives are spent caring and encouraging. There is a vision in the ancient wisdom of Proverbs that says, “Do not withhold a good thing from one to whom it is due if it is within your power to do it” (Proverbs 3:27). It is within the power of John Smith to give enormous care and support, wisdom and insight to hurting pastors and he does it with uncommon grace. John’s work of care sustains the caring work of those who care for us!
I am writing to endorse and recommend Dr. John Smith within the field of Pastor Care. John is uniquely qualified to direct the ministry of the PastorCare Network.
After receiving his theological education, John was a pastor within a local congregation for over twenty years. He knows the trials and joys of ministry from the inside. He knows first-hand what sacrifices are made to passionately minister to imperfect people. He knows the toll that ministry can take on the pastor, the pastor family and a pastors marriage. He also knows the incredible refreshment of someone coming alongside to extend care to the pastor.
Pastors today, possible more than any other day, are in need of what John and the Pastor Care Network have to offer. Clearly the church needs pastors that are vital and passionate within their ministries. Dr. Smith and the PastorCare Network are doing a great job in being of assistance to pastors today. My utmost prayer and encouragement is for John to continue what he is doing on behalf of pastors and that great refreshment will be given to numerous pastors so they can continue to make a difference on behalf of the Kingdom.
Ministry is difficult. But those in ministry often have a hard time admitting just how unmanageable their lives have become. They work from sunup to sundown for years at a time, expending energy with few opportunities to receive any sustenance in return.
I direct The Orchard Group, a church planting ministry that has planted over 60 churches throughout New York and the Northeastern United States. It has been my privilege to know John Smith since the 1990s, when we both lived and ministered on Long Island, New York. My wife and I attended New Life Community Church, where John served as senior pastor. In my church planting work, I hire over twenty pastors each year. There are not very many who are as broadly capable as John.
John is an extremely effective local church pastor. New Life experienced its best years under his leadership. The church was widely respected in the region, and John was the primary reason for that respect. John cares deeply about people. He is the consummate pastor. There was no one at New Life who did not know that whatever the circumstances John would be there for them. John is visionary, with a demonstrated ability to get people to “buy into” his vision. He works well with staff, and has the paradoxical strengths of great confidence coupled with great humility. He is also intrinsically motivated and hard working. He relates very well with the unchurched, and is comfortable working across cultural and socio-economic lines.
John meticulously plans messages and preaches with enthusiasm. In fact, his enthusiasm is one of his most endearing qualities. It is infectious, which was certainly helpful at New Life Community Church. John’s sermons were always biblically sound, well-crafted, and practically helpful.
I have enjoyed a long-term relationship with John. He is one of the most encouraging, supportive, understanding ministers I know. John listens with empathy and insight. His discerning spirit, honed by a quarter of a century in ministry, has brought strength and understanding to many.
Through the difficult early years of planting churches, those ministers often approach burnout without any real awareness of their level of fatigue. I encourage you to consider the ministry of PastorCare. Ministry is difficult, and too much is at stake to ignore the difficulties.
What a joy it is to say a word on behalf of PastorCare. We have always been impressed with John Smith and his team who unselfishly serve those who lead the church. They do it as well as anyone and have become a model for other organizations around the country.
I am pleased to write a note of affirmation regarding the personal and professional life of John Smith. My wife and I have known John through interaction at our church and in talks regarding the needs of the church and support of those who minister in that context. My perspective comes not only from the church interaction but also from the unique role I have as president of a college that specializes in ministry-directed education and training. Kuyper College understands and appreciates the context, challenges and opportunities John and PastorCare are responding to.
John is gifted with the heart to connect with people in a caring way and also with a business-like professionalism that brings appropriate structure, strategy and accountability to this ministry. I observe John connect with people in a way that makes them feel respected and well-regarded. His interaction is characterized by the friendly and safe environment he maintains as he establishes an avenue for people to open up and share more deeply about themselves. In this, I believe John to be a person of high integrity who safeguards the rightful privacy and dignity of his contacts and the personal information they convey.
John gives strong evidence of being a conceptual thinker who can keep long-range goals and the long-term welfare of the ministry in mind as he envisions the immediate future and deals with short-term objectives. He is a realist with regard to the future and what may be achieved. Even so, he is energized by envisioning possibilities for the long-range direction an organization and ministry might go.
The spiritual sensitivity, personal devotional life, Christian walk and personal integrity John exemplifies characterize him as a person appropriate for and gifted in pastoral care ministry. I consider John to be a strong and beneficial complement to the work of the church and ensuring that enthusiastic and motivated leadership continues to be available to her.
It has been my privilege to have known John W. Smith over the past decade. John has a real heart and passion for Pastors and their families, and based on his education and experience in pastoral ministry, he shares with empathy and insight to their situations. I have had the opportunity to call John several times, to ask him to come alongside pastoral families who were hurting, and he has responded quickly and effectively to these people.
Here at Focus on the Family we receive calls from pastors and their families from all across the country. It is great to be able to refer some of these pastoral families to John and to a ministry there in Western Michigan that I know personally. I have confidence that I can depend on John to reach out to these folks, and to walk with them through their difficult times. We are grateful for John Smith, and we count it an honor to be in ministry with PastorCare West Michigan.
We have been so deeply grateful for your ministry to several of our pastors and their spouses. You have intervened at times that were truly critical, some going through deep crises in their lives. While some of the issues are still in process, it is undeniable that the Lord has used you in their lives.
I have been personally blessed and impacted by your life of service and am grateful for your help to our pastors and for our friendship. May the Lord bless you richly in your special service to Him.
The purpose of this letter is to serve as a referral for PastorCare and John Smith. As a pastor at a church who recently has had to move people from employment, it has been WONDERFUL to have John as a resource to aid us in the process. Whenever you have to remove someone from ministry (and the situation we are in has nothing to do with overt, public sin, but rather not fitting with the organization anymore), it is hard. It is so great to have a partner who comes along side the individual and the ministry and helps navigate through the process of separation. John has greatly aided our ministry by listening, talking, processing, etc. with us and with our former employee so that God’s name will not be raked through the mud. We appreciate his efforts!
It is my pleasure to be able to write this letter of endorsement for the ministry of PastorCare Network.
I have had opportunity to refer a number of people in ministry, who are also friends, to this ministry. They have found help and encouragement as they faced difficult transitions, and your ministry was a tool in the hand of God to restore them.
Having spent the last 20+ years in ministry, I have become keenly aware of the difficulties people in ministry face – the unique challenges, the strain upon families, the conflict in churches, and a host of adjustments that are necessary to deal with same. West Michigan is blessed to have you and your ministry in service to pastors in transition and/or going through difficult times.
I pray the Lord’s blessing up on you and your ministry as you encourage and build up those who have given their lives in service to Christ. Thank you for your partnership in the Gospel by serving those who serve Christ.
I had the privilege of serving as a lay-leader and Director of Recovery Ministries at New Life Community Church under the leadership of Sr. Pastor Dr. John Smith for close to seven years. During that time, Pastor John became a mentor, friend, co-laborer, and someone I grew to trust, respect and admire.
Pastor John has a heart for people. He would often go the extra mile to make that call, write that note, show up at your door, listen, and offer just the right words of encouragement and hope. He loves Jesus. He is a man of integrity. I was quite impressed with his character and perseverance during times of great trials. He clearly believes and lives what he preaches. And he is humble enough to admit his faults.
He led the staff at New Life Community Church will diligence and a respect for each person, no matter what their position. I believe he is a man of God, called to continue the work of Jesus Christ here on earth. It was hard to see him leave Long Island. He was well known and loved by many in the community.
It is with great pleasure that I recommend John Smith. I have known him for over thirty-five years, and first became acquainted with him when he was acting as my youth pastor at Hudsonville Reformed Church.
John has always displayed a high degree of integrity, commitment, and conviction. He is definitely a leader rather than a follower. In addition to his impressive scholastic accomplishments, he has proven his leadership ability by his work founding and developing PastorCare, where I served on the Board of Directors for a three year term.
He has a gentle, pastoral heart and is a faithful servant of the Lord. It has been a true blessing to know him and I regard him as my friend. I have observed his genuine love for those that are hurting. His life experience, wisdom, and mature advice have blessed many pastors, families and individuals on a very personal level.
In short, I trust him in God and I recommend highly that you do the same. God will richly bless you and your ministry through him.
I am pleased to send this letter of recommendation in support of Dr. John Smith. I have known Dr. Smith and his family for approximately six years, both as a member of his congregation and as a friend. My family and I were first attracted to New Life Community Church by Dr. Smith and his ministry there several years ago.
New Life is a large, growing, and somewhat complex ministry which Dr. Smith oversaw for nearly 23 years. His strong management skills and leadership qualities were always evident. IN his role as Senior Pastor, he supervised two associate pastors and appeared to develop close working relationships with them that ultimately translated into a meaningful extension of the overall ministry at New Life.
On a personal basis, I have always found Dr. Smith to be extremely energetic and excited about his work. He clearly exhibits a desire to continue to learn while simultaneously finding time to mentor subordinates. In my opinion, John will make an excellent contribution to your ministry.
Bruce H. Johnson
Consulting Director, CapTrust Financial Advisors
For several years our firm has participated in a ministry of encouraging pastors. Along the way, I have had the opportunity to meet John Smith. Initially, he and I met while praying for pastors and I heard his heart. I knew this was someone with a great understanding of the specific challenges facing pastors and empathy to see God’s continued strength and vision prevail in their lives. Since that time, I have seen firsthand how the ministry of Pastor Care has made a deep and lasting difference in pastors and their families.
In my own life I have struggled with times of failing short, times of struggling to be the man I know the Lord wants me to be. To have someone come alongside and extend grace, mercy and above all, hope is priceless. I see John as that man right now in West Michigan. I believe that an investment in this ministry will facilitate the Lord taking our greatest struggles and turning them into His strength within.
Jeanne L. Jensma
Ph.D., Executive Director, Alongside, Inc.
I am pleased to have the opportunity to commend to you John W. Smith, D.Min. As you are probably aware, Alongside is a ministry dedicated to serving missionaries and pastors. We offer 3-week intensive retreat programs with professional counseling at the core of the program. We were privileged to have John on staff with us for two years. While his primary responsibility was friend-raising and fund-raising, John’s heart was always in ministering to the missionaries and pastors themselves—first of all on their own turf, and secondly in direct ways when they came to Alongside.
In working with John during his two years with us, I came to deeply appreciate some wonderful qualities in him. First, John loves people. All people. But he has a special place in his heart for missionaries and pastors. Second, John is a man of deep passion and compassion. He empathizes deeply with anyone in pain. Third, John has a servant’s heart. If John discovers that someone is in need, he would go to great lengths to be of service. Fourth, John is a man of great enthusiasm. When he believes that something is of God, John is unstoppable in his commitment and zeal.
All of the qualities above combine together in John’s current ministry, caring for pastors. While John served with us at Alongside, he had to work hard to keep his focus on “playing his position,” (that is, doing development work) because his big heart often compelled him to be involved in the actual care itself, not just raising funds so that others could provide the care! At PastorCare he has found a ministry that truly plays to his strengths and allows him to minister in deeply compassionate ways to pastors.
Pastor Steve Roll
President, Restoration Ministries
It is a personal honor to recommend John Smith and PastorCare to you. God has knit our hearts together through ministry to ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Having served as a pastor for over twenty years, John has a heart for pastors and their families. He understands from firsthand experience the ups and downs of the pastoral journey.
John’s commitment to minister to those wounded in the ministry is unwavering. He is deeply dedicated to assisting hurting pastors through the healing and restoring process when ministry has gone south and life has turned upside down. John’s willingness to listen, his gentle, calming spirit, his command of God’s promises for healing, restoration and renewal, and his sincere concern for the health and well-being of his brothers and sisters in Christ is exemplary.
John is a pastor to pastors. If I was in crisis, I would want someone like John Smith to come alongside and minister to me and my family. If you need pastoral care through PastorCare, God will bless and encourage you through the compassionate, Christ-like ministry of John Smith.