Elsewhere in Issue #413 Archie Poulos masterfully isolated the scriptural DNA of gospel ministry, centred around the conversion of sinners. (The article can be viewed here.) This article is the counterpart to that one, examining how we can corrupt this DNA. Can we identify stress points in ministry that could compromise the gospel of Jesus and bring it into disrepute? Let’s look at three areas: not watching our lives closely, not watching our doctrine closely, and not loving one another well.
Invest Your Suffering
Paul Mallard, Inter-Varsity Press, Nottingham, 2013, 192 pp.
Every writing pastor seems to put out a book on two themes. One is marriage. Another is suffering. Judging from the prologues, the process goes something like this: they give a sermon series; it’s popular (who isn’t interested in these topics?); they turn the series into a book. (more…)
‘Ministry’ can be a very vague and unstructured idea. The joke that clergy work only one day a week is untrue, but it’s not immediately obvious what they do the rest of the time—are they some kind of spiritual social workers (as the confused mother of my best school friend asked when I quit university to become an Anglican minister)? It’s not really any clearer for those who attend church but are not in paid positions of leadership there. What does ‘ministry’ look like? Lots of coffee (preferably espresso)? Serving on endless rosters? Church politics? (more…)
When Scott and I planted a church as co-equal pastors in 2005, we sat down with pastors from various denominations, of various ages, and with various ministry experiences. Amidst all this diversity, there was one question that every pastor asked us: “You’re two guys planting a church… but who’s really in charge?” (more…)
One of the quotes that stayed with me from last year said this about historians:
“Without them, our civic life would be a wasteland of forgetfulness, a cultural desert.” [(more…)
Several years ago a very dedicated church member pulled me aside. I could tell he had some important words for me, words that had been on his heart for quite some time. In a hushed, sober tone he said, “I’m concerned you’re being too hard on the Roman Catholics in your preaching and teaching. From time to time, you’ve specifically called-out Catholics as being wrong for this or that reason. But, frankly, when it comes right down to it, what Roman Catholics believe and what we believe is basically the same.” (more…)
Everyone needs encouragement. It’s pretty tough doing a job on your own without the support of others spurring you along. Growth group leaders are no different. They require training and resources, but they also depend on encouragement. In a church with many leaders, no one person can be relied upon to provide all the encouragement. (more…)
Who are your leaders, those who spoke the word of God to you? Most of us have many. In our childhood we may have been privileged to have parents who taught us God’s word, or there were Sunday school teachers or youth fellowship leaders at our church, or ISCF/Crusader teachers at school. For many it has been the pastor of our church, or the Bible study leader. During the lifetime of a Christian we usually have a range of leaders, who teach us God’s word.
There are some people whose leadership stretches well beyond personal ministry to affect whole communities with their teaching of God’s word. They speak at conventions, write books and articles, and travel to speak at evangelistic gatherings and church conferences. They become well known to the community as a whole, as they influence the culture of church life. And as we consider the outcome of the lives of those who lead us personally, we also remember and consider the lives of these more public leaders. (more…)
In this 11 minute video, Tony Payne (Publishing Director) and Marty Sweeney (North American Ministry Director) talk about the practicalities of growing a culture of disciple-making in your church. In other words, answering the question: “I’ve read ‘The Trellis and the Vine’. What do I do now?” (more…)
Michael Bennett’s book is brilliant. I loved it. Let me tell you why. (more…)
Friends, 2013 is the 300th anniversary of the birth of Daniel Rowlands. Bishop J. C. Ryle calls him one of the “greatest spiritual champions” of the 18th century, an “apostle of Wales”. (more…)
Perhaps some of the most famous words ever spoken on the topic of holiness by a pastor came from Robert Murray McCheyne. He said,
I published yesterday’s post a little precipitously – one of those moments when you click on the “Publish” button and realise what you’ve done a little too late. So I am going to do what you must never do, and change yesterday’s post, adding an extra point that has been running around my head over the last few days. Here it is: (more…)
Flickr: Prayer by Chris Yarza
Late last year, our ministry team looked at 1 Timothy 3 and 4. We noticed how, smack bang in the middle of these chapters on Christian leadership, is “the mystery of godliness”: that is, Christ our Saviour (1 Tim 3:16 cf 4:10). In other words, to be faithful in pastoral ministry, you have to keep your eyes on Jesus. You have to fight to keep your eyes on Jesus.
And what a fight you will have on your hands. (more…)
Africa is a beautiful continent. There is stunning scenery—the mountains, valleys and lakes of the Rift Valley—and world-famous wildlife. It is also poorer and much less developed than in the West. The majority of people live in villages. There is a shorter life expectancy, and a tragically high incidence of HIV-AIDS. It is less politically stable than countries like Australia. But, most significantly, sub-Saharan Africa is one of the most Christian places on earth! (more…)