Category Archives: Ministry

Book Review | Our Last Great Hope

Summary

I’ve been reading Our Last Great Hope: Awakening the Great Commission by Ronnie Floyd. The author was given the task of leading the task force for the Southern Baptist Convention to revitalize and re-imagine the evangelistic efforts of the Convention. The book chronicles Floyd’s own journey of discovery as he thought deeply and more intentionally on the last thing that Jesus left for the church to do.  As Dr. Floyd led the Great Commission Resurgence movement within the Southern Baptist Convention he discovered that he, nor his denomination, had thought deeply enough about the Great Commission even though they were known for their evangelism efforts.

The book is a wonderful reminder that our passion and desire to be a part of God’s work can never be too much. Our love of Jesus and his love for us should provide us who follow him with only motivation we could ever need.

My Thoughts

The book has many ideas that are not new. But, from the outset the way that Floyd framed the motivation that we should all have for evangelism and the Great Commission in particular was thought provoking. The author said that there are three tough questions that we all should be asking ourselves.

  1. Do I know Jesus Intimately?
  2. Do I love Jesus Passionately?
  3. Do I share Jesus Constantly?

Each one of these questions caused me to think more intentionally about my own faith journey. It is not enough to just show up and think that that will be enough. We have to realize that what God is calling us to is far more than many of us is really ready to give. The last word of each question is where the “rubber meets the road.” It’s not just do I know, love and share Jesus. It HOW do I do these things? What Jesus is asking of us is total obedience and surrender.

I found this book to be both enlightening and simple to follow. I found myself agreeing with Floyd’s insistence that the great commission must be the center of our understanding of life and faith. If you are looking for another perspective, another way of looking at what it means to live out the great commission.

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Can I Get a Witness?

Over the last few weeks our pastor has reminded the church of the vows that we made when we joined the church. I serve in a United Methodist Church and there is one question that all new members are asked by our pastor as they accept the responsibility of being members of our local church.

Will you be loyal to this congregation and uphold it with your Prayers, Presence, Gifts, Service and Witness?

Each of these vows has served as the basis of the series on Discipleship that Pastor David has been leading us through. This week we focused on the final vow, that of witness. Pastor David asked me to write the front page of the newsletter helping our church orient their thoughts for the week as we get ready for Sunday Services. You can read it below.

Continue reading Can I Get a Witness?

The Challenge of Being a Pastor…

… is remembering that it’s not about you!

I read R. C. Sproul, Jr.’s, article today, written for Desiring God 2013 Conference for Pastors coming up on February 4–6, 2013. The theme of the conference revolves around recapturing and re-centering pastoral ministry around the reality and power of the Holy Spirit to work through pastors. This is an amazingly refreshing theme and I wish that I could attend.

Over the last few weeks various articles have been written to gear up attendees for what will be presented during the conference. Sproul’s article was particularly poignant because it fires back against a general misconception within the church. There are many who believe that more information, more knowledge, will help to stem the tide of nominal Christianity. This notion simply does not hold water. It may never have. However, we followed the trend and now we are reaping the results of an intellectualized religion.

In the article, Sproul argues that this is not the case. We do not need to find more subjects to study, books to collect or workshops to attend. The root of the problem is found in trying to educate ourselves into faith. Here is the fundamental reality that we, as church leaders should learn, “It is more important to us and our sheep that we would learn to believe more, than that we would find more to believe.” As a self-professed bookaholic I completely understand how easy it is to fall into this trap. More learning is not what we need. We need more living. Living out the convictions that we have felt as we have been confronted by God’s word. Living out the love that we have experienced in community and in communion with God. Living out the truths that we have seen as we have tried and failed, or succeeded.

The piece is not very long, but there is a section that really grabbed my heart as I considered my calling and God’s desire for his people.

We are not to give our wisdom, our insights, the fruits of our scholarship. Rather, like Paul before us, we serve up our weakness, our frailty, our need. That’s how the Word breaks through, where the power comes from.

Brothers, your flock may need some more information. What they need more, however, is someone to lead them, to show them the Way. They need to see you repenting. They need to see you wrestling with your sins. They need to see you preaching the gospel to yourself, not because you like the sound of your voice, but because you hate the sin that yet remains, and you need grace. They need to see you rejoicing in the fullness of His promises, and mourning both sin and its fruit, the last enemy, death.

“Professional Christians” is a phrase I coined a couple of years ago, but I find opportunities to use it more and more to describe the pitfalls of vocational ministry. As a professional Christian, I have found the transparent life more difficult to achieve. There are so many reasons to promote a facade of transparency rather than genuine vulnerability.

  • “I don’t know how long I’ll actually be here!”
  • “What if they betray my confidence, my ministry would be over.”
  • “How is anyone going to take me seriously if I share this?”
  • “They just won’t understand what I’m talking about, so why bother?”

These and other thoughts like them are the reason that many in church ministry hide behind the sacred desk, the pulpit, and retreat into their ivory tower of Greek, Hebrew, exegetical rigor, homiletical precision, hermeneutical accuracy, blah, blah, blah. Please don’t misunderstand. I am one of them, one of us. This is me at my worst. But, what my youth need (I am a youth pastor), what our churches need is not another authority, what they need are leaders that are unaffected. Leaders that will hold their ground biblically against the persistent effects of wave after wave of cultural ambiguity and moral atrophy.

The reality of full-time ministry is this, it can breed many contradictory characteristics than those needed, dare I say, required of those whom God has called to serve in leadership. I am praying to get better. To move away from a ministry life impinged by preservation, to a servant’s life defined by freedom. I may be naive. It may well be true.

However, if that is the case, then leave me to my dreams.

Growing Pains, Pt. 6 | “Evangelism”

Give What Has Been Given

If there is one characteristic that embodies the essence of Christianity it is selflessness. Another word for this humility. Rick Warren wrote in The Purpose Driven Life that humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less. I could stop right there, but that would only be part of the picture. If we are going to be the people that God would have us to be, then we must be willing and able to share the Good News of Jesus to all who are around us. There is a phrase that has stuck in my mind over the last several years. It is borrowed, but it says, “God will not send a blessing to you, if He knows He can’t get it through you.” God’s hand and activity in your life is not about you, and it surely is not only for you.

Christianity is a religion of return. No one comes to faith in isolation. Faith requires a body of faith to give it to others. If you had never seen a church, a Christian or a bible you never would have known about Jesus. You may have thought about God, for Paul said that the world testifies of God, but what we need can only come through revelation and that gift and responsibility has been given to the Church of Jesus. If there has been any benefit or change in our lives, then we are charged with a great responsibility, to give what has been given to us.

Many Ways To Share

Far too many Christians have been turned off to evangelism because they think that to spread the word is to get on a soapbox or hand out tracks or to be able to quote scripture to someone who is not a Christian. Evangelism is more than what you know or do not know about the church, the bible or the doctrines of scripture. What has Jesus done for you today? If you can think of one thing, then share that. It should not be that complicated.

Bible thumping is not the best or only way to do what Jesus did. Can you take a warm meal to a family in mourning? This is evangelism. Can you tell someone of a prayer that God has answered? Can you show grace where once there would have been anger? Can you look past the sin and love the sinner? This is evangelism. There are some that may feel comfortable with the confrontational method. There are some that need this kind of straight forward talk, but there are others that could use a gentle hug of comfort or a kind word of hope. The Gospel is supposed to be a balm, a medicine that we apply to the pains and hurts of someone’s life. If this is true, then it should not feel like alcohol on an open wound.

Like A Vitamin

Sharing your faith with someone else is like taking a vitamin. The more and the longer you share your faith the better you feel and the stronger your faith will become. I share my faith by showing that it is possible to have fun, to have a full and vibrant life and not compromise your values and convictions. There was a time when men and women knew that they needed God in their lives. There are so many distractions and diversions today, God has been relegated to an “as needed” remedy.

So many people feel that with a good job and good pay they can get everything that they need. The form of evangelism must change, not its substance. Try to find some way to share what you believe. Remember; you may not change anyone, but you will change the way they look at you. And that is evangelism at its heart.