The High Calling of the Pastor
The responsibility of the pastor is to bring the lost and straying sheep into the fold, strengthen the weak sheep, and help the strong sheep to mature. Preaching should reflect those responsibilities.
While the public ministry of preaching is vital, most salvation and spiritual growth happens in the context of private ministry. Baxter noted that it is this private ministry that lends credence and trustworthiness to preaching. This private ministry is so important that Baxter spends more than a third of the book discussing it. It is... Continue Reading
Reining in the Presumptuous Parachurch
Two specific examples of where the presumptuous parachurch should be reined in.
I don’t think the ideal or realistic scenario is for all Christian ministry to take place within local churches or be formally managed by denominational oversight. But this does not mean that parachurches are free to ignore to the special importance of local churches in God’s kingdom. If we proactively work together, we can hope... Continue Reading
You Probably Have a Good Pastor
I am calling for careful consideration as to whether we have made too much of the bully pastor while irresponsibly neglecting the far more common reality of the bullied and wounded pastor.
Has the glut of material dedicated to diagnosing and exposing bad pastors been recklessly unaccompanied and counterweighted by the far less interesting fact that most of us have good pastors? What is more, has the definition of bullying become so broad and subjective that nearly every pastor can be accused of bullying by doing no... Continue Reading
God the host, God the dinner companion, God the meal, invites us to come and eat with him.
You don’t have to be best friends with everyone you invite over but we are supposed to welcome strangers. Do it by degrees, go a little further than before, but make your table a hub of life and hope to those who eat at it. Beyond the commands of scripture, we could talk about cultural... Continue Reading
Our System of Doctrine
“The system of doctrine” phrase in the past referred to the Confessional documents themselves as containing the doctrines found in Holy Scripture.
One danger of reducing “the system of doctrine” down to a generic “Calvinistic system” – such as we see argued for by Charles Hodge – is that such a move was not the original intention of either our American Presbyterian forefathers or the Westminster Divines. What is fundamental to our doctrinal standards? Is it Calvinism?... Continue Reading
The Silent Ministry Killer
Protecting our next generation of ministers is not optional. The living God does not take this matter lightly.
The Lord Jesus Christ provides his church with the tools necessary to expose abusive ministers and protect young ministers. For example, he provides a roadmap for godly confrontation in Matthew 18. Most importantly, as the Good Shepherd, he models what it is to effectively shepherd the flock of God (John 10). Instead of preying upon... Continue Reading
Is Our Kingdom Failing His Kingdom
We need young believers trained and equipped and envisioned with the gospel strategy; to die to self in service of the Gospel and Christ’s bride – the church (and not just the comfortable, good looking bits).
Church planting is all about dying to self. It means leaving something comfortable and which we love [don’t plant a church, or join a plant, because you are unhappy with where you are] to start something new. It means labouring with a smaller team, a smaller budget, a smaller leadership, and having to establish all... Continue Reading
A High Ecclesiology in the Digital Age
Our digital efforts should reinforce the work of the embodied local church, not replace it.
As members of Christ’s body, we should connect ourselves as members of a local expression of that body. Digital space disconnects us from our bodies, communities, and physical locations, and swirls us about in cyberspace, but the church roots us in reality, grounds us in love, and is ground zero for our life with Christ. ... Continue Reading
Building durable new institutions in a corrosive environment requires a dangerous embedding of counter-mainstream DNA.
If the old institutions are dying or losing their traditional formational functions, why will not any new ones rapidly meet the same fate? Indeed, we are seeing that many evangelical institutions go into decline rapidly. Many of the earlier 1980s vintage megachurches already have “mainline disease” – an aging member base, fewer families with children,... Continue Reading
The Worship of Worship
You can have fulness of joy in God, but not fulness of joy in your fulness of joy.
I fear many people today are caught in the childish rut of worshiping their emotions. For this reason, they dislike the sober worship of conservative churches, because such worship seldom inflames the emotions to the intensity desired. Why? Plato told us: “Beautiful things are hard.” God is beautiful, and a singular focus on His beauty... Continue Reading