Joe Braden, a pastor friend from FBC St. Peters, sent me a link to an interview Ray Van Neste did with John Thornbury. If you are a pastor (or elder) this would be helpful reading for you.
Like me, you’ve probably been to a conference or heard someone preach on radio or on the internet and wished you could sit under the ministry of that person consistently. I was really edified, then, when I read this post from Steve Burchett on When Your Preacher is NOT John Piper. This encouraged me in two ways…1) It encourages and exhorts me to be a better pastor, specifically in the ministry of the Word. 2) It encourages and exhorts me to listen better to preaching. Here’s the five tips Burchett gives:
1) Rejoice that your pastor preaches the Gospel.
2) Recognize that certain men are uniquely gifted by the Lord to have an international ministry and appeal, but this is not the norm.
3) If your pastor is (honestly) dull, but he preaches the truth faithfully, a little statement I once heard might be helpful for you to remember: “The mature worshipper is easily edified.”
4) Listen “outwardly” to the preaching.
5) Verbally encourage the preacher(s) in your church.
Read the full post for the expansion of these ideas and, better yet, put these things into practice this coming Lord’s Day.
Challies pointed to this discussion on the failures of the Senior Pastor model. Now, as a senior pastor, why would I allude to such a thing? I think many pastors, even those how have elder-led church governance, deep down act as if they are the center of the universe. God wants us to be servant leaders, though. Too many pastors feel as if God’s given them a leadership team so that they don’t have to do ministry they don’t feel like doing (often couched in terms of giftedness). But God has called pastors (read: elders) to be shepherds and overseers of the entire work of the church. This means that we are called to do more than just sit as a board and make decisions and that there is more involved than just being relational with people. Pastoring means oversight and shepherding. It means doing things we don’t FEEL like doing and laying down all of our selfish proclivities for the glory of Christ and the good of His bride, the Church. This is the kind of ministry that characterized Christ and the early apostles and this the ministry that should characterize us. Not some SENIORPASTOR-centered limitation that stifles the plurality of leadership that God has ordained in a local body.
The measure of how ministry is progressing in your church or fellowship, and the way to evaluate whether you are making progress, is not attendance on Sunday, signed up members, people in small groups, or the size of our budget (as important and valuable as all these things are!). The real test is how successfully you are making disciples who make other disciples. Are we seeing people converted from being dead in their transgressions to being alive in Christ? And once converted, are we seeing them followed-up and established as mature disciples of Jesus? And as they become established, are we training them in knowledge, godliness and skills so that they will in turn make disciples of others?
This is the Great Commission—the making of disciples who obey all that Christ has taught, including the command to make disciples. And this is the touchstone of our faithfulness to Christ’s mission in the world, and the sign of a healthy church: whether or not it is making genuine disciple-making disciples of Jesus Christ.
…from Kevin DeYoung…
1. Are we supporting 1 Timothy 4:16 kind of people?
2. Are we supporting ministry in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth?
3. Are we striking the right balance of word and deed in the ministries we support?
4. Are we giving priority to long-term missionaries?
Over at the DG Blog, they are beginning to blog about an interview Abraham Piper and Tyler Kennedy had with Paul Tripp. An early question had to do with the differences seen in ministering to youth versus ministering to adults. I LOVE Tripp’s answer:
There are ways in which there’s no difference. There’s only one gospel, not a different one for children, young people, and adults.
And there’s a way the struggles of the heart are the same. These struggles play out differently depending on our stage in life, but when it comes down to it, we all want to be sovereign over our own lives.
If you understand that about your heart, and you’re humble about it, you’ll get what a kid or teenager is going through. You’ll understand that it isn’t first a problem of misbehavior; it’s first a problem in the heart.
There is also an audio of this interview and probably more posts coming.
I learned this lesson on aiming at the heart a few years back and it has revolutionized my entire approach to ministry in the local church.
Ezekiel 34:1-6 gives a pretty stiff indictment to those of us involved in the lives of others. Specifically, we have looked selfish instead of feeding the sheep and…
The weak you have not strengthened,
the sick you have not healed,
the injured you have not bound up,
the strayed you have not brought back,
the lost you have not sought,
and with force and harshness you have ruled them. (Ezekiel 34:4)
Do any of these things characterize you? I mean what do you do with those who are weak sheep? What’s your tendency? Are you shepherding them? Ezekiel (and as a result, God) wants us to be faithful shepherds. Let’s ask for grace to pursue this.
As we continue our consideration of the book Total Church, in chapter 12 they address ministering to children and young people. I thought the chapter was excellent on why the need for prioritizing ministry to these age groups is important. But they don’t encourage a typical evangelical feel for ministry. The authors seek to use the same Scriptural, community-centered approach that ministers to others: letting God’s Word speak to these ones of their need for the Gospel then incarnating Christ to them through genuine community and encouraging their involvement in community. In a day when age-graded divisions are seen as the norm, the insight in this chapter was fresh.
Here’s their summary from p.190:
We have a simple rule of thumb in our church: if we would do this as family, we can do it as church; if we would not do this as family, why do it as church? This is not intended to cover every possible eventuality, but it has proved useful in maintaining a church life that is refreshingly simple and uncluttered, with space for relationships and front-line evangelism. But these pragmatic benefits are only favorable consequences; the principle of church as family is primary. Mutual responsibility between the generations is normative for family life and the way in which values are transmitted. Should that not be normative in the church also? As those relationships develop and grow over the years, and as the child moves into adolescence, the strength of those intergenerational friendships can be powerful means of grace. In the purposes of God they can be ways of keeping the young adult from becoming one among the hundreds who leave our churches each week never to return.
Is this not a compelling picture of what God intended the church to be? Let’s honor God and relate to those who aren’t the same age as us.