Karl Fickling

Karl Fickling, PhD, has experience as a pastoral counselor, chaplain, pastor, and professor. Since 1999, he has served as an interim pastor specialist. This ministry has included leading eight churches through the Intentional Interim Ministry processes, training interim pastors, and twelve years of leading the office of Interim Church Services for the Baptist General Convention of Texas.

When I visit pastorless churches, I have a fear that my PowerPoint will malfunction.  That did happen in August. Fortunately, I always have handouts as a backup. Last Sunday, however, I developed a new fear.  What if I don’t have any clothes! I’m not talking about the “giving a speech in the nude” nightmare. Well, […]
October 3, 2019
I’ve had a mixed experience with the Lord’s Supper—the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.  See if you can tell which is which. Better yet, give each experience your own Yelp rating.   When I was ten, the Air Force chaplain snapped his Communion (the term used in Protestant Chapel) wafer, after saying, “Jesus broke the […]
September 6, 2019
I gathered with 12 pastoral leaders for a day of open sharing. I know. This means there were thirteen. I’m not superstitious, so that thought didn’t bother me.  I did, however, look to see who might represent Jesus, who might be the inner circle, and who might be the enemy.  Mostly what I discovered, however, […]
August 8, 2019
There’s a lot written about how generations are different, but sometimes there are similarities. Take, for instance, the retired pastor from the Builder generation, who came through our interim pastor training. He said, “This training is like being back in seminary, and now you want us to read these books! I haven’t read a book […]
Be careful when you preach—in your interpretations and your illustrations. You don’t want to lose credibility by saying things that aren’t true. And you certainly don’t want to be cast into the sea with a milestone wrapped around your neck.
One thing I learned from that expecting couple is that ministers need to think through some of the difficult scenarios BEFORE they happen. Have you thought how you would respond to wedding requests outside your faith boundaries, your comfort zones, and your church’s culture? Planning ahead can make a big difference!
There was no sermon. There was no public invitation. There was just a Concert of Prayer. Fifteen years later, I still remember it vividly. It remains one of the most spiritual, and meaningful, services I’ve ever witnessed.
Prayer is a lifestyle. It’s a lifestyle that means you acknowledge the relationship you have with God isn’t here and there throughout your week or day. It’s EVERY moment of EVERY day. He’s always there and wants to walk in that kind of intimate—always, without ceasing, in all circumstances—relationship with you.
The lack of pastors is driving churches to desperation. Some turn to head-hunters. Others turn to high-risk candidates, even ignoring background checks. In frustration, some turn to total mismatches in: experience, theology, and polity.
Somehow, Christmas joy and celebration can make grief even more difficult for many people. Christmas can remind them of who’s missing. It makes them feel out-of-step with everyone else.
Removing any employee at any time can cause friction in a church. When the issue involves “family,” it gets even stickier. When the situation involves employees whose family members are LEADERS, the only thing showing in the rearview mirror is a big sign that says, “CONFLICT OF INTERESTS.”
Uncle Don would go on to explain that the stroke caused him to re-examine and re-order his life. He got active in faith, in church, in teaching Sunday School, and in serving as a deacon. And his family became his top earthly priority.
Another bleak report came out recently.  Did you see it?  The decline of the Church of England continues and bodes poorly for the future of the Church across “the Pond.” Having recently returned home from a trip to France, this kind of report was already on my mind.  France may be the most secular country […]
September 12, 2018
We’ve all heard the recent abuse stories. The victim feels helpless, uncertain of what to do. Maybe the victim says nothing to the abuser. Maybe the victim protests. It doesn’t matter. The abuse goes on. The victim retreats into silence. To speak up is a fearful thing. The very idea produces panic. There are feelings […]
July 12, 2018
It was such a once-in-a-lifetime experience.  Over two days, I would be attending four plenary sessions with one of the leading, national influences of Christian thought.  He was a professor, prolific writer (over a dozen books), and sought-after speaker who attracted large crowds wherever he spoke.  It would be fair to say he was a […]
Question:  Why on earth would I want to take a class on the Interim Pastor, when I don’t want to be an interim pastor? Answer:  When I walked out of the last day of my interim training, in 1999, I remember muttering, “I sure wish I had taken this course back when I was in […]
Unfortunately, meeting with church leaders, where a pastor left “poorly,” is all too common in my life.  “Our last pastor didn’t feed me,” is a common complaint. It’s not a fair gripe, as we all know that preaching is subjective, and reaching a diverse (in theology and style preferences) congregation is an extremely difficult task. […]
My mind was blown by Joel Gregory’s book, Too Great a Temptation: The Seductive Power of America’s Super Church. In it, he confesses how he followed his desires for fame, power, and wealth to become pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas.  I think, perhaps, it should be required reading for anyone heading into […]
It all started in my Junior year at college, at the 1979 Peach Bowl in Atlanta, Georgia.  I was walking into the stadium with my college roommate’s family, elated to watch our Baylor Bears take on the Clemson Tigers.*  As we walked into the stadium, there were models sporting long fur coats, passing out FREE […]
As we move into a new year, we say goodbye to the formal 500 th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation and the posting of Luther’s 95 Theses. Nevertheless, I cannot leave behind what happened when I visited Wittenberg last Fall. My tour group was greeted by protestors, complete with long banners, calling for a reform […]
January 11, 2018
They did it again. I went into my neighborhood grocery store to buy shampoo and my brand wasn’t there. In fact, none of the shampoos were there. They moved the entire shampoo section to a completely different place in the store. I don’t get it. Is it someone’s job to move items, whether they need […]
December 14, 2017
Many pastor search processes lack skill on the side of the search team, but did you know that candidates often collaborators with the search team in the list of mistakes? If you are a candidate, you might want to avoid some of these common issues. A. You need to be honest about your pastoral skills, […]
I. Top Mistakes During the Pastor Search Process One of the reasons I appreciate Pastor Search Committees that take the time to get trained is that they have the opportunity to learn how to avoid common search team mistakes. My peers, that work with pastorless churches, have found that there are some common mistakes made […]