Successful Christian Ministry

Success

Today there are many tools and methods used in Christian ministry. Some are very helpful whereas others are very unhelpful. Sadly, many of these are designed to appeal to the desires of people. This method is often referred to as being “Seeker Sensitive”. Obviously we don’t ever want to use methods that are mean to people, but to tailor everyone around people’s desires is unbiblical. The goal of a lot of these methods is to help produce a successful ministry. Many people measure a successful ministry by large numbers. Is this legitimate? Biblically speaking, true success is not determined by large numbers but is determined by faithfulness (cf. and ). Continue reading Successful Christian Ministry

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.

Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you;
bind them around your neck;
write them on the tablet of your heart.
So you will find favor and good success
in the sight of God and man.

Paul’s Purpose Statement

Purpose

The purpose statement of the apostle Paul’s ministry can be found in ,

Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me“.

The ultimate goal of his ministry is to, “present everyone mature in Christ“. The means in which he would accomplish this purpose was to proclaim Christ (cf. ). This indicates the central theme of what he preached. He was not interested in promoting himself, or in announcing some new system of thought. Paul’s chief concern was to publicly “proclaim” the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul carried out this proclamation of Christ in two ways, “warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom“. Warning and teaching need to go hand in hand. One without the other is not useful and can lead to error in the Christian life. Warning without teaching can lead to a form of legalism, whereas teaching without warning can lead to fruitless Christianity.

If the gospel minister is going to fulfill all found in , he is going to need power. In Paul reveals the power for ministry from both the human and the Divine side. The word “toil” means “to work to the point of weariness”. Many people are attracted to the ministry because they think that it is going to be easy. You can start whenever you want and the hours are great. Such a view of the ministry was foreign to Paul. Unlike many lazy pastors, he laboured in his serving. Paul not only worked to the point of weariness, he also struggled. This is an athletic term (the word “agonize” is derived from it). Ministry for Paul was hard work. He devoted himself to it with great seriousness and faithfulness.

Even though Paul put his all into the ministry, if that was the only enabling factor his ministry would be a waste of time. The ultimate enabling power for the minister is the Lord. Paul says that he laboured and strived, “with all his energy that he powerfully works within me“. Paul’s philosophy of ministry ought to be the same for all pastors. By God’s help, it ought to be their goal to labour in the gospel in proclaiming Christ with the view of seeing His people become mature in Christ. Determined in duty and dependant on God for help.

28 Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. 29 For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.

For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.

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Christ first, Family second, Church third – Really?

 

priorities

 

Christian, what  place does the Lord Jesus Christ have in your life? Many have given a common answer indicating the order of priority, “Christ is first” and then they add, “my family is second, and the church is third”. Now I understand what most people mean they say that, but I want to make an important point. For the Christian, Christ is to be first, second, third and so on. What do I mean by this? Continue reading Christ first, Family second, Church third – Really?

A Man of God

The Man of God2

The title “man of God” occurs 68 times in the Old Testament (LXX) and twice in the NT ( and ). This particular designation has a rich Old Testament heritage. It was used to describe Moses (; ; ), Samuel (), David (), Elijah (), Elisha (), the angel of God () and other prophets (). A man of God is a special possession of God. He is not to be driven by the love of money, but is compelled to be loyal to his Lord. With such privilege comes great responsibility and consequences to disobedience (cf. ). Continue reading A Man of God

11 But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.

17 that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

33:1 This is the blessing with which Moses the man of God blessed the people of Israel before his death.

90:1 Lord, you have been our dwelling place
in all generations.

Then the people of Judah came to Joshua at Gilgal. And Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him, “You know what the Lord said to Moses the man of God in Kadesh-barnea concerning you and me.

But he said to him, “Behold, there is a man of God in this city, and he is a man who is held in honor; all that he says comes true. So now let us go there. Perhaps he can tell us the way we should go.”

24 And the chiefs of the Levites: Hashabiah, Sherebiah, and Jeshua the son of Kadmiel, with their brothers who stood opposite them, to praise and to give thanks, according to the commandment of David the man of God, watch by watch.

18 And she said to Elijah, “What have you against me, O man of God? You have come to me to bring my sin to remembrance and to cause the death of my son!”

1 Kings 17:24

24 And the woman said to Elijah, “Now I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in your mouth is truth.”

She came and told the man of God, and he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts, and you and your sons can live on the rest.”

Then the woman came and told her husband, “A man of God came to me, and his appearance was like the appearance of the angel of God, very awesome. I did not ask him where he was from, and he did not tell me his name,

13:1 And behold, a man of God came out of Judah by the word of the Lord to Bethel. Jeroboam was standing by the altar to make offerings.

13:1 And behold, a man of God came out of Judah by the word of the Lord to Bethel. Jeroboam was standing by the altar to make offerings. And the man cried against the altar by the word of the Lord and said, “O altar, altar, thus says the Lord: ‘Behold, a son shall be born to the house of David, Josiah by name, and he shall sacrifice on you the priests of the high places who make offerings on you, and human bones shall be burned on you.’” And he gave a sign the same day, saying, “This is the sign that the Lord has spoken: ‘Behold, the altar shall be torn down, and the ashes that are on it shall be poured out.’” And when the king heard the saying of the man of God, which he cried against the altar at Bethel, Jeroboam stretched out his hand from the altar, saying, “Seize him.” And his hand, which he stretched out against him, dried up, so that he could not draw it back to himself. The altar also was torn down, and the ashes poured out from the altar, according to the sign that the man of God had given by the word of the Lord. And the king said to the man of God, “Entreat now the favor of the Lord your God, and pray for me, that my hand may be restored to me.” And the man of God entreated the Lord, and the king’s hand was restored to him and became as it was before. And the king said to the man of God, “Come home with me, and refresh yourself, and I will give you a reward.” And the man of God said to the king, “If you give me half your house, I will not go in with you. And I will not eat bread or drink water in this place, for so was it commanded me by the word of the Lord, saying, ‘You shall neither eat bread nor drink water nor return by the way that you came.’” 10 So he went another way and did not return by the way that he came to Bethel.

11 Now an old prophet lived in Bethel. And his sons came and told him all that the man of God had done that day in Bethel. They also told to their father the words that he had spoken to the king. 12 And their father said to them, “Which way did he go?” And his sons showed him the way that the man of God who came from Judah had gone. 13 And he said to his sons, “Saddle the donkey for me.” So they saddled the donkey for him and he mounted it. 14 And he went after the man of God and found him sitting under an oak. And he said to him, “Are you the man of God who came from Judah?” And he said, “I am.” 15 Then he said to him, “Come home with me and eat bread.” 16 And he said, “I may not return with you, or go in with you, neither will I eat bread nor drink water with you in this place, 17 for it was said to me by the word of the Lord, ‘You shall neither eat bread nor drink water there, nor return by the way that you came.’” 18 And he said to him, “I also am a prophet as you are, and an angel spoke to me by the word of the Lord, saying, ‘Bring him back with you into your house that he may eat bread and drink water.’” But he lied to him. 19 So he went back with him and ate bread in his house and drank water.

20 And as they sat at the table, the word of the Lord came to the prophet who had brought him back. 21 And he cried to the man of God who came from Judah, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Because you have disobeyed the word of the Lord and have not kept the command that the Lord your God commanded you, 22 but have come back and have eaten bread and drunk water in the place of which he said to you, “Eat no bread and drink no water,” your body shall not come to the tomb of your fathers.’” 23 And after he had eaten bread and drunk, he saddled the donkey for the prophet whom he had brought back. 24 And as he went away a lion met him on the road and killed him. And his body was thrown in the road, and the donkey stood beside it; the lion also stood beside the body. 25 And behold, men passed by and saw the body thrown in the road and the lion standing by the body. And they came and told it in the city where the old prophet lived.

26 And when the prophet who had brought him back from the way heard of it, he said, “It is the man of God who disobeyed the word of the Lord; therefore the Lord has given him to the lion, which has torn him and killed him, according to the word that the Lord spoke to him.” 27 And he said to his sons, “Saddle the donkey for me.” And they saddled it. 28 And he went and found his body thrown in the road, and the donkey and the lion standing beside the body. The lion had not eaten the body or torn the donkey. 29 And the prophet took up the body of the man of God and laid it on the donkey and brought it back to the city to mourn and to bury him. 30 And he laid the body in his own grave. And they mourned over him, saying, “Alas, my brother!” 31 And after he had buried him, he said to his sons, “When I die, bury me in the grave in which the man of God is buried; lay my bones beside his bones. 32 For the saying that he called out by the word of the Lord against the altar in Bethel and against all the houses of the high places that are in the cities of Samaria shall surely come to pass.”

33 After this thing Jeroboam did not turn from his evil way, but made priests for the high places again from among all the people. Any who would, he ordained to be priests of the high places. 34 And this thing became sin to the house of Jeroboam, so as to cut it off and to destroy it from the face of the earth.

How to Pray for your Pastor

pray4pastor

The people of God are to be in prayer for all the saints (cf. ). Such prayer obviously includes specific prayer for individuals. Paul regularly requested prayer for his ministry and evangelistic opportunities (; ; ; ). In taking time to pray for all the people of God, it is important that we are specific in what we are praying for. Included in the broad category of praying for all the saints, it is important for the people of God to be praying for their pastors. Like all believers, pastors are in need of Divine grace and power so as to be faithful in their service to the Lord.

If your pastor is going to honour the Lord and encourage the people of God in his pastoral and public ministry, it is essential that he be a man of God in private. How can you pray for your pastor? There are many things you could and should pray for, but here are a few things.

In his letter to Timothy, Paul had a series of public duties that Timothy was to carry out in the ministry of the church (“the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching). But before he could be faithful and effective in such practices, he needed to first cultivate personal spiritual virtues. He says, “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity“. This verse provides us with five areas that Timothy is to set an example. Such actions provide the foundation for an effective public pulpit ministry.

Firstly, take regular time praying that your pastor would be an example in his “speech“. Words can build up or they can tear down. Speaking too much can lead to trouble (Prov. 10:19); gentle speech can diffuse anger whereas harsh speech can provoke anger (Prov. 15:1) and it is always important to think before you speak (Prov. 18:13). These principles provide practical wisdom in the use of our words. Our words are a powerful tool and for this reason pray that your pastor be quick to hear and slow to speak (cf. James 1:19).
Continue reading How to Pray for your Pastor

18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,

19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.

At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.

25 Brothers, pray for us.

3:1 Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you,

13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.

Do you Serve in Ministry?

ServeWhen is comes to serving the Lord in ministry, this is a concept that many have got wrong. Many are asked, “Are you serving in the church?” or “Do you have a ministry?” Usually, the person asking this question is looking for an answer like, “sure, I’m in the music team” or “yeah, I’m an usher”. Granted, these are valuable and important ministry opportunities in the church, however ministry extends much further than these public roles.

It is true, that if you are a Christian you ought to be serving in ministry. However, that ministry does not have to be a public role or one listed in the church bulletin. You don’t need to go Bible College or seminary and you don’t even need a title. All you need to do is serve. Someone may ask, “What is my ministry?” Well, if you are doing what the Lord has commanded you to do, you are in the ministry. It might not be a formal ministry task or the function of a church officer, but it is still ministry. You may be a mother, and you love and nurture your children – that is one of your ministries. You may be committed to praying for the members of your church – that is one of your ministries. The point I want to make is that if Continue reading Do you Serve in Ministry?

The Importance and Influence of a Godly Woman

A_Godly_Woman_above_rubies

A godly woman is a precious and priceless gift of God. A woman shapes the way people speak, behave and even influence others. What makes a woman influential in a lasting and God honouring way is not her position, education, personality or background. The basis of her lasting influence is her character ().  A godly woman is the best kind of woman to have around. says, “charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised”. A godly woman is a woman who knows God and fears Him. To fear God means to reverence and respect Him. If we could all grasp the importance of fearing God, this would sort out a lot of divisive quarrels. What kind of influence does a godly and God fearing woman have? A godly woman can influence the direction of an entire nation. Her influence begins in the home and then permeates throughout the life of the church and ultimately society. As a mother shapes the character of her children, they will grow up with an understanding and worldview that was primarily influenced by her. In this post we will observe three key areas in which a woman can have a powerful influence.

Continue reading The Importance and Influence of a Godly Woman

10  An excellent wife who can find?
She is far more precious than jewels.
11 The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will have no lack of gain.
12 She does him good, and not harm,
all the days of her life.
13 She seeks wool and flax,
and works with willing hands.
14 She is like the ships of the merchant;
she brings her food from afar.
15 She rises while it is yet night
and provides food for her household
and portions for her maidens.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.
17 She dresses herself with strength
and makes her arms strong.
18 She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.
Her lamp does not go out at night.
19 She puts her hands to the distaff,
and her hands hold the spindle.
20 She opens her hand to the poor
and reaches out her hands to the needy.
21 She is not afraid of snow for her household,
for all her household are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes bed coverings for herself;
her clothing is fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is known in the gates
when he sits among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them;
she delivers sashes to the merchant.
25 Strength and dignity are her clothing,
and she laughs at the time to come.
26 She opens her mouth with wisdom,
and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
27 She looks well to the ways of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children rise up and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women have done excellently,
but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Give her of the fruit of her hands,
and let her works praise her in the gates.

30 Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

The Work of the Pastor (Book Review)

The Work of the Pastor

The Work of the Pastor

By William Still (Christian Focus Publications, 2010)

The author of this book is William Still, the pastor of Gilcomston South Church in Aberdeen, Scotland. His ministry at that church lasted between the years 1945 until 1997 (shortly before he died), an amazing 52-year ministry at one church!

This book consists of five chapters that were originally addresses he gave in the 1960’s. The primary aim in this book is to remind pastors that their chief duty is to feed God’s sheep. William Still was known for his faithful enduring ministry that was characterised by solid expository preaching. He was a man who was persuaded of his calling and with great seriousness and consistency ministered the whole word to God’s people. Sinclair Ferguson writes a very helpful forward, where he states that William Still is, “a pastor pastorum a pastor of other pastors” (pp. 7-8). In addition to that, Frank Lyall provides an insightful biographical introduction that helps the reader become acquainted with the author. Here is a brief overview of the book: Continue reading The Work of the Pastor (Book Review)

Review of “The Juvenalization of American Christianity” by Thomas E. Bergler

Juvenalization of American Christianity

There is a phenomenon in church life and practice which I have been troubled by for some time, but couldn’t put my finger on what it was. Why is that some pastors feel the need to address God in prayer as thought he’s his best mate? (“Hey God! We love you.”) Why do we sing praise to our Lord accompanied by rock/pop style music? What drives the need to make church services “engaging” and “interesting” for people? Why are we told that we must assist people on their “spiritual journey” instead of instructing them in biblical doctrine? One word that encapsulates this is juvenalization.

Thomas E. Bergler is an associate professor of ministry and missions at Huntington University, and is the senior associate editor of The Journal of Youth Ministry. He is well qualified to write on the juvenlization of the church, and he has written an excellent work on it called The Juvenalization of American Christianity (Eerdemans, 2012, 229 pages). “Juvenalization,” writes Bergler, “is the process by which the religious beliefs, practices, and developmental characteristics of adolescents become accepted as appropriate for Christians of all ages.” (p.4)
In other words, we try and adapt our faith to the younger generations with the admirable goal of reaching them with the gospel, and yet we end up embracing an immature Christianity across the board.

Bergler tells a story. The meta-narrative is about immaturity; the American church gradually embraced immaturity as mark of faithful Christianity, in spite of the multiple calls for maturity in the Scriptures. There are smaller narratives which make up Bergler’s study, which focus on four different churches and the cultural shift that occured during the 1950s and 1960s: liberal protestants, Roman Catholics, African-American churches, and evangelicalism.

Continue reading Review of “The Juvenalization of American Christianity” by Thomas E. Bergler