Monthly Archives: July 2008

What Are We On Mission to Do?

My next SearchWarp piece is up:

What Does a Missional Church Do?

Next week I’ll begin expanding on the attractional/missional chart.

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Keller: The Gospel is Both One and More Than That

Read an excellent piece by Tim Keller in the print version of Leadership, so I thought I’d find it online to share. Good stuff.

The Gospel in All Its Forms

An excerpt:

Simon Gathercole distills a three-point outline that both Paul and the Synoptic writers held in common. (See “The Gospel of Paul and the Gospel of the Kingdom” in God’s Power to Save.) He writes that Paul’s good news was, first, that Jesus was the promised Messianic King and Son of God come to earth as a servant, in human form. (Rom. 1:3-4; Phil. 2:4ff.)

Second, by his death and resurrection, Jesus atoned for our sin and secured our justification by grace, not by our works (1 Cor. 15:3ff.) Third, on the cross Jesus broke the dominion of sin and evil over us (Col. 2:13-15) and at his return he will complete what he began by the renewal of the entire material creation and the resurrection of our bodies (Rom 8:18ff.)

Gathercole then traces these same three aspects in the Synoptics’ teaching that Jesus, the Messiah, is the divine Son of God (Mark 1:1) who died as a substitutionary ransom for the many (Mark 10:45), who has conquered the demonic present age with its sin and evil (Mark 1:14-2:10) and will return to regenerate the material world (Matt. 19:28.)

If I had to put this outline in a single statement, I might do it like this: Through the person and work of Jesus Christ, God fully accomplishes salvation for us, rescuing us from …

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What Kind of Pastor Are You?

Prophet, priest, or king?

I’ve heard several guys talk about this perspective before, Mark Driscoll most often, and while I’m sure limiting pastoral personalities to three types is simplistic, I think there’s a lotta truth here.

Here’s how the types are characterized:

ProphetVery much into study and research. Theologically motivated. Doctrinally zealous. Writerly type. Draws hard lines. Very black and white thinker. Tends toward proclamational preaching. Very high value on preaching. Vision tends to involve philosophy, faith statements, teaching trajectory of the church. A thinker. Pulpit gospel.

PriestTrends extroverted. Big on mercy, encouragement, helps. Compassion and service. Tends toward gray thinking (not meaning morally, necessarily). Very high value on community and collaboration. Vision tends to involve cooperation, missional thinking, outreach programs, personal counseling. Very high value on counseling, hospital visits, marriages, and funerals. A feeler. Living room gospel.

KingOrganizationally driven. A practical thinker but highly interested in “outside the box” thinking, visionary thinking. Likes data, research, numbers, troubleshooting “church systems.” Thinks nuts and bolts. Problem solver. Big on leadership, motivating, coaching. Very high value on impact, quality, influence. Big on building and innovating. A doer. Strategic gospel.

I think most pastors/leaders are probably a blend of these three types, but still probably trend most toward one.As I think about my own ministerial makeup, I think — no, I know — I trend most toward Prophet. I think if I had to guess at the blend of my type, I’d be 60% Prophet, 25% Priest, and 15% King.

How about you? What kind of pastor/leader are you?

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I Heart Michael Horton

It’s apparently Michael Horton Day. And why not? The dude’s a hoss.

Came across two great quotes.

Pastors, teachers and elders are not “life coaches” who help us in our personalized goals for spiritual fitness, but gifts given by the Ascended Lord so that the whole church might become mature and less susceptible to being spiritually duped (Eph. 4:1-16)…..not surprisingly, ministers today are regarded more as “life coaches” who facilitate our self-transformation than as ambassadors of Christ, devoted to the Word of God and prayer, so that they can spread a feast on behalf of the King for His people in this world.

– Michael Horton in Modern Reformation (HT: Crossroads)

I would argue that the reason so many unbelievers can sit comfortably in our churches and even call themselves born-again Christians is that we give them very little to deny. The offensive message of the cross has been replaced with “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life,” with the cross tucked somewhere underneath it.

– Michael Horton (HT: Boar’s Head Tavern)

I also learned today that Horton has a new book coming out in October called Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church. It’s gonna be good.From the publisher’s note:

Is it possible that we have left Christ out of Christianity? Is the faith and practice of American Christians today more American than Christian? These are the provocative questions Michael Horton addresses in this thoughtful, insightful book. He argues that while we invoke the name of Christ, …

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Ray Ortlund’s Gospel Manifesto

My new friend and mentor Ray Ortlund, Jr. gave me a copy of his book, A Passion for God: Prayers and Meditations on the Book of Romans, which I began savoring yesterday. I’d like to share the Afterword from the book with you, because it is as prophetic and powerful an evangelical manifesto for gospel reform as I’ve ever read.

It’s a little long (for a blog post) but is definitely worth your time.

An Earnest Call For Evangelical Leaders To Recover The Gospel From Its Present Humiliation

A wave of authentic revival sweeps over the church when three things happen together: teaching the great truths of the gospel with clarity, applying those truths to people’s lives with spiritual power, and extending that experience to large numbers of people. We evangelicals urgently need such an awakening today. We need to rediscover the gospel.

Imagine the evangelical church without the gospel. I know this makes no sense, for evangelicals are defined by the evangel. But try to imagine it for just a moment. What might our evangelicalism, without the evangel, look like? We would have to replace the centrality of the gospel with something else, naturally. So what might take the place of the gospel in our sermons and books and cassette tapes and Sunday school classes and home Bible studies and, above all, in our hearts?

A number of things, conceivably. An introspective absorption with recovery from past emotional traumas, for example. Or a passionate devotion to the pro-life cause. Or a confident …

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Reforming When You’re Not in Charge

Every week someone asks me, via e-mail or in the comments, how one might influence a church/pastor toward more gospel-centered reform when one isn’t in a position of leadership or direction.

I’ve (sort of) addressed this issue in a previous post of mine called What To Do If Your Pastor Doesn’t Preach Jesus.

But Greg Gilbert has actually been blogging a series on this specific issue over the last few weeks at the 9 Marks blog, Church Matters. I thought it might be of some help to some of my readers. Here are the links:

Church Reform When You’re Not the Pastor (Intro)

Church Reform When You’re Not the Pastor #1

Church Reform When You’re Not the Pastor #2

Church Reform When You’re Not the Pastor #3

Church Reform When You’re Not the Pastor #4

It’s good stuff, and there may be more coming in the series, so stay tuned.

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Lean, Mean Linking Machine

Once upon a time (say, in the mid-90′s) I was a young, thin man. I didn’t have to work at staying thin; I just was. And athletic too. Every weekend, I gathered with buddies to play basketball or football, depending on the season, and I was routinely picked first.

Then I got married and moved away, and we were able to afford my going to school full time, and I didn’t have any friends to play sports with, and I never worked out anyway, and did I mention I got married to a woman who in addition to being incredibly hot and incredibly smart is an incredible cook? Ten years later I was not so thin. Age, diet, and lethargy took their toll. My first clue of course was visiting Houston again, gathering with buddies (and their younger buddies), and being picked near last for touch football. Near last! After once going first in every draft! It was humiliating. And that wasn’t based on anyone seeing me play. It was based purely on my being the pudgy guy. Too fat to be fast, not fat enough to be a reliable blocker apparently.

Wake up call.

I started eating right and working out (it’s not rocket science), and I lost 55 pounds. That’s not a typo. 55. I looked good, I felt good.I took it off and kept it off. And then Element happened and a whole bunch of other stuff, and workout time became hard to come by. Becky has always maintained a …

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This Jesus is Spectacularly Beautiful

Some John Piper goodness to take you into the weekend.

What he describes has happened to me. I hope it has happened to you too.

And I hope that as you gather to worship this weekend, you are led to behold Jesus as spectacularly beautiful.

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The Church Is Not Jesus

This is just weird.

I was reading that (HT: BHT) and thinking, This is weird. I wonder if a whole mess of it just has to do with the blogger not liking Driscoll in general. Because I read the excerpt from Driscoll and think, Yeah. What’s so controversial about that?

The whole time I’m perusing the calling out of the man for idolatry of the family, I’m also thinking something everyone even in the comments seems to miss: The Church isn’t Jesus.

One of the commenters cites this Scripture: “”Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”

Yep. I’d add that anyone who loves the church more than Jesus is not worthy of Jesus.

As far as I understand what Driscoll is saying, and I’ve heard him preach on this very subject numerous times, what he’s saying is that family is more important than his job.

By accusing Driscoll of idolatry based on the excerpt provided, these critics are making the mistake of equating Jesus with his Church. And in doing so, they are indicting themselves. They are being idolatrous. Of the Church.

Loving Jesus means loving His Bride, no question. But loving the Bride more than the Groom is sinful.

This site and many like it talk about the ins and outs and nuts and bolts of the big-C Church and the little-c churches a lot. But it is Jesus we’re supposed to …

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Small Groups Start on Sunday Morning

And, no, I’m not talking about Sunday School.

Yesterday in the Attractional and Missional thread, long-time reader nhe wrote this:

Our church is pushing hard toward an Acts 2/gospel centered small group ministry, but that is flat out NOT GONING TO WORK if our messaging from up front is not regular/explicit gospel – that has been our problem – I’d argue that is the biggest reason why well-meaning churches stay attractional without even knowing it.

I think he’s so right. And I was so grateful for his comment, because it sets up nicely this piece that I’ve actually been meaning to write for a few months now.

My thesis is this: Small group programs don’t succeed apart from a consistent, determined gospel-driven nurturing of the value of community in the weekend worship service.

More and more church leaders are waking up to the reality that the church small groups push isn’t working. The number of people conducting a quote-unquote “successful” small groups program is quite small. Only recently are national leaders admitting this.But it hasn’t stopped hundreds and hundreds of smaller churches aspiring to be like the big dogs from adopting the big dogs’ blueprints for small groups, in the well-meaning (but sometimes desperate) hope that the right format will transform their congregation into a tighter-knit community.

And if it’s not the right blueprint, it’s the right leader. As I peruse ministry job boards, aside from the ubiquitous ads for worship leaders, I’m seeing more and more churches looking for a spiritual formation pastor …

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