Friday, April 21, 2017
Wednesday, April 19, 2017
Feeling Called Isn't Enough pt 1
There’s a well known stat in ministry circles that pastors average about three years before moving on to another church. Thom Rainer, President and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources, addressed this phenomenon in his book Breakout Churches and in a shorter article. I think it’s worth digging in a little deeper. Could the assumed inward call of a pastor and the lack of assessment by a local church correlate as culprits producing the three-year “new calling” pattern?
Diagnosis: Inward Call greater than Outward Call?
There's a flaw in our typical definition of "calling." Unfortunately, our seminaries often don't help much. Many churches with their pastor search committee also promote this defect. I think the primary weakness is that most believe a calling to pastoral ministry is essentially between the man and God, the inward call, with very little emphasis on God's provided means of discerning and extending the outward call, the local church. Many functionally have divorced the inward call from the outward. A proper biblical view would recognize both the inward call and the outward call. In the outward call, a congregation submitted to the Spirit and Word observes and examines a man to see if he is qualified for pastoral ministry, and extends an outward call as God leads. The church, with Bible in hand and candidate before them, observes and assesses the man’s character, confession (doctrine), commitment (reasons and desires), competency (God-given gifts and abilities), context (where to pastor), and circumstances all culminating to affirm, or not, a calling. Best case scenario, the man is evaluating his sense of an inward call along these same lines while the church is evaluating him, and together they hear what is God's direction after sufficient time.
10 Pastors You May Know
Here are some of the results of a pastor candidate’s inadequate understanding and the resulting imbalance of inward over outward evaluation and calling by the church.
1. Entitled Pastor (Credentialed Pastor): “I've earned my calling and affirmation through what I’ve done. See the plaque on the wall? I walked the aisle, prayed the prayer, and surrendered at camp.” This unhealthy view assumes that a ministry position is earned and de-emphasizes the outward evaluation of the local church. This view also lends toward men not seeking further growth, education, accountability, or submission to mentors after they've received their "credentials."
2. Celebrity Pastor: “I've got the skills and the following as attested to by Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. By the way, when will my sermons start live-streamming? We need to get our online campus running ASAP! And! Can we talk about our first satellite campus two towns over?” In our social media age, it’s relatively easy to amass a following, or at least think you have. We can assume our personality and charisma are the most essential factors in a call, and de-emphasize the authority of local church in recognizing calling.
Could it be that one of the reasons for the three-year leave trend is because a pastor’s inward call has been exhausted and a new setting is the needed B12 injection to give life to a one-sided, or dare we say, no-sided call? As a friend observed, “Now he's off to the next church with a resume not a mandate! A man not undergirded with a real call and a real recognition by a local assembly is simply an educated stick for the all consuming flame of the church grind” (Travis Bennett).
Inward Call + Outward Call
A local church could well serve a man sensing an internal call by developing a process for discerning whether sufficient evidence exists that God is making him a pastor. The whole church family ought to observe evidence of God’s grace to them in a pastor. Areas for discernment of the call would include the aforementioned: character, confession, commitment, competency, context, and circumstances. In evaluating these areas, and having a vision for pastoral formation, the local church could then discern God’s inward call and, if fitting, confirm with an outward call.
Thankfully, during and coming out of seminary, a faithful, local church challenged and assessed me in these ways. Often, these realities--needing outward evaluation and calling--are better caught than taught. No doubt, when a church steps up to test a man, it can strike against our pride, but that’s a big part of God’s purpose in the church’s role in pastoral formation. May God shape a new generation of pastors who submit to God’s ordained means for evaluating the inward call, the biblically faithful, local church.
Part 2: Prescription: A Vision for the Local Church in Pastoral Formation
In the article to follow, I will share a vision for how churches could take a greater role in pastoral formation. Particularly, we’ll walk through the six previously mentioned C’s and give tangible examples for each.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
There are many approaches to studying Scripture. To be sure, if each of us were honest about our own presuppositions, principles and rules we bring to a text, which supply the conclusions at which we arrive, the multiplicity of interpretive approaches would be evident. Studies of the Gospels often times have their own set of methods which arrive at their particular conclusions. More often than not, anytime you hear or read biblical commentary it is for the purpose of persuading or dissuading toward or away from certain theological convictions.
It is our hope that we all become better and better attentive, inside-readers of the biblical Text. As our knowledge of the text improves, so too, our interpretation of the text. From the attentive, Spirit-led reading of the Text, our presuppositions, principles and rules are sanctified, and, therefore, so too are our theological conclusions.
In a similar way that a family develops their own inside jokes, stories and experiences, the reader of the biblical Text develops in their ability to recognize the intimate verbal, structural and theological connections within Scripture.
Scripture is rightly interpreted only by members of the Family of God, or Christian readers. The student of the Word of God who is led by the Spirit of God increasingly recognizes the intertextual clues provided by the author(s) of Scripture. They will also better understand the author’s purpose in selecting and arranging the particular historical material at his disposal.
The greatest difficulty of interpretation does not primarily lie in a particular author’s lack of clarity, but rather in the readers’ lack of knowledge of, saturation in and submission to the Text.
Sunday, January 06, 2008
Wednesday, January 02, 2008
Thursday, October 04, 2007
US Roman Catholic Membership
To no surprise Southern Baptists are not the only religious organization suffering from AWOL members. The 2007 Official Catholic Directory for the Roman Catholic Church in America boasts of a staggering 64 million members. However, according the 2001 American Religious Identification Survey, 9.5 million people consider themselves to be ex-Catholics. Of these 9.5 million ex-Catholics, 28% said they left religion altogether, while 11% claimed to have become Baptist. We can assume (maybe) that they were re-Baptized by immersion following their conversion.
In 2005 the SBC claimed 16.3 million members. An increase of 400k members from 2000, an average of 80k per year. The rub is, prepare yourself, that only 38% or 6.2 million claim to regularly attend the church's primary worship service. In other words, there are 10.1 million "ghosts" on the SBC rolls.
Just as one may question the Catholic, they have the right to question the SBC - "What about integrity of church membership and accurately representing your rolls?" If you are seeing the inconsistencies and asking similar questions, have no fear.
Help is on the way.
"Who We Gonna Call?"
"Who we gonna call?" You may ask. The SBC Ghostbusters. Who else? They ain't afraid of no ghosts. The SBC Ghostbusters are a wily group of paraecclesiologists armed with proton pacs (read, membership interview process) and not afraid of a little ectoplasmic slime (read, difficulties of purging the rolls). They set up shop in a rundown firehouse and are ready for business. Their ghost eliminating method is sure to route out the Gatekeeper and Keymaster from your paranormal roster.
Select your paraecclesiologist SBC Ghostbuster.
~Dr. Raymond Stantz, aka, Dan Aykroyd, aka Mark Dever
~Dr. Peter Venkman, aka Bill Murray, aka Tom Ascol
~Dr. Egon Spengler, aka Harold Ramis, aka Matt Schmucker
~Winston Zeddmore, aka Ernie Hudson, aka Thabiti Anyabwile
There you have them...the SBC Ghostbusters.
Thursday, September 27, 2007
The Baptist Distinctives Series conference this year at SWBTS was not only apropos for our nation, convention and school, but also for my own family. The conference was all about The Family: Reclaiming a Biblical View of the Family, Womanhood and Manhood. I’ve been to all three of the Baptist Distinctives Series conferences and, while the two previous were challenging and enriching, this year’s conference particularly stood out. I foresee it serving my family well for many years to come. I have been married for almost four years, have two children (two and a half and one and a half) and another child on the way in January. Needless to say, matters of the family matter very much to me. Thus, the reason why I am so grateful to the Lord for the men who presented at the conference.
In summary, Russell Moore challenged some of my complacencies in thinking and acting upon a sound theology of the family. Thomas White urged me to lead my family appropriately amidst the raging war on my family. Paige Patterson brought me to question my view and enactment of authority in my life and home. John Mark Yeats made a clarion call for orphans and adoption ministry in which I should have a vital part. Mark Liederbach confronted distorted views of beauty pointing to where I acclimate to the culture in what I view as sexy. David Jones championed biblical exegesis in matters of divorce and remarriage and pleaded with me to handle the biblical text well. Malcolm Yarnell was used of the Lord to bring conviction for my failures in family worship, especially with my wife. Richard Land urged me out of lethargy to actively advocate for unborn children, God’s gifts to the world to show off His glory. Finally, Tom Elliff caused me to reflect on the manner in which I lead my wife and how our marital unity has a massive gravitational pull on my children’s coming to know the Lord and persevering in the faith once and for all delivered to the saints. I would like to mention four sessions which were particularly helpful and used by the Lord to convict me of sin.
In plenary session one Dr. Russell Moore from Southern Seminary spoke on “Have Baptist Changed or Has Culture? The Baptist View of the Family.” Dr. Moore, in his characteristic modus operandi, spanned the horizon of cultural mores and Baptist ideals. I was challenged throughout his presentation to think biblically and act rigorously for the sake of my family and others coming to enjoy Christ by my family’s testimony to the gospel. He aptly wove his way through the contemporary Baptist scene in which many churches are “moving along the very same tide” as our culture which “empowers predatory men toward their appetites” noting that we “are just a little bit behind” our culture. He explicitly pointed out the fact that “issues of the family are gospel issues” claiming that we have lost the idea of a biblical husband, “Headship cannot be a grasping for privilege, but a burden of responsibility.” Dr. Moore dissected our Baptist theology of children and their need for me to share the gospel urging that “we don’t baptize babies, thus we believe that we have a special and unique responsibility to evangelize our children.” He attacked my own materialism, “The issues most often is love of money. We have men and women who want to live with the same standard of living as the people around them and are willing to grind their children down to get it.” He did not shy away from issues of deacons carting off their daughters to get an abortion, mommies dropping their children off at daycare so they can have significance in their career, the selfishness of parents unwilling to have multiple children or even adopt, the failed commitment men taking short pastorates to climb the corporate-church ladder and churches who have multimillion dollar family life centers who have no family life. Dr. Moore revealed that both Baptists and culture have changed, but they have remained the same as well. I was challenged not to be like the culture, rebelling against God, but to stand upon the sure foundation of Christ and the gospel as God’s appointed shepherd of my home. Thomas White echoed this last refrain.
Dr. White’s (Vice President for Student Services), presentation was entitled, “It’s Not Hillary’s Fault: A Discussion of Proper Male Headship.” From the outset Dr. White stated his purpose, “I’m here to talk about the major problem – the lack of male leadership in society. It’s our fault and our churches’ fault.” He shined the light on four models of fathering, begging the question as to which one I am, and which one I will be: the absentee leader, the abusive leader, the acclimatized leader and/or the appropriate leader. He made his case for me to be an appropriate leader with eleven scriptural insights found in creation. He then showed the three areas where an appropriate leader will lead: he will provide, protect and lead spiritually. I was prodded to “Cowboy up!” and lead with a knight’s valor, not blaming Hillary, but myself when I’m not appropriately leading my family. John Mark Yeats encouraged me to lead my family into adoption.
Dr. Yeats spoke on “The Biblical Model of Adoption.” I was thoroughly convicted and exhorted to “wake up and realize that [my] walk does not equal [my] talk.” He provided daunting figures reflecting the heart wrenching reality that our churches and I am not doing enough, much less our part. In the DFW Metroplex alone there are over 5,000 children who are awaiting adoption. Following his presentation, I had a long discussion with my wife in which we prayed and decided that we need to begin now making arrangements for the next child God brings into our home, Lord willing, via adoption.
David Jones’s presentation “The Betrothal View of Divorce and Remarriage” was instantly formational. I first heard of the view in Daniel Heimbach’s Christian Home class. I do find the betrothal position to be a convincing argument making best sense of the biblical and lexical data. I was challenged toward thoughtful, careful exegesis no matter the issue at hand.
I’m very grateful to our Father in Heaven that He made way for me to attend the conference. For there He used His servants to sanctify this servant’s shepherding of his family and those generations of Deevers to come. May He accomplish His purposes in my life and the life of my family.
Thursday, August 30, 2007
- Should I ask this question?
- I shouldn't have asked that question.
- I wish that person would stop asking questions/making comments and dominating class discussion.
- I think I have something good to add to this discussion, but I'm not sure if I should say anything.
- I should've said something.
- I know that person has something good to say, but why won't he/she say it?
- I'm lonely.
The folks at Christians for Better Classrooms have provided all students around the world a Question & Comment Evaluation Chart to help us answer the inner-monologue many, if not all, of us reherse each time we are in the classroom. Enjoy.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ (Romans 10:13-17 ESV).
“But in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you” (1Peter 3:15 ESV).
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20 ESV).
“But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it” (Deuteronomy 30:14 ESV).
“And as for me, this is my covenant with them,” says the LORD: “My Spirit that is upon you, and my words that I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth, or out of the mouth of your offspring, or out of the mouth of your children’s offspring,” says the LORD, “from this time forth and forevermore” (Isaiah 59:21 ESV).
Preach the word. Share the Gospel with your mouth. Plead for His grace to help you do it. Fail on human terms and let God determine what is successful. His Word has and will triumph in bringing His sheep into His flock, bringing the captives home and brining life where there was death.
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Interesting to think of certain trials, illnesses, pains, sufferings etc. that the LORD ordains to take us through for future blessings. Principally, these bringings from God are for our eschatological blessing in Christ's return and our eternal communion with the Triune God.
May we rejoice always and
"Count it all joy, my brothers, when [we] meet trials of various kinds, for [we] know that the testing of [our] faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4 ESV).
- See Brothers, Our Affliction is for Their Comfort.
Friday, August 10, 2007
The rash can last a couple of weeks (some cases lasting for several months) and may itch. Patients are usually no longer infectious once the rash has appeared.
In most cases Fifth is mild, however, there are serious consequences for certain risk groups:
In pregnant women, infection in the first trimester has been linked to hydrops fetalis, causing spontaneous abortion.My wife, Christina, is 18 weeks pregnant. She is going in to the hospital tomorrow morning (Friday) to get blood work done.
Please be in prayer for her, our nonborn baby and Nation. I'll give updates when I get them.
I'm leaving Sturgis early to be with her, Nation and Noelle during this time.
As an update on Sturgis...
God encouraged my heart much this week with the power of the Gospel to convert the desires of non-believers and increase affection for Christ in believers. By God's design I met and shared the Gospel with numerous people this week. But, one of those most impacted by its power was me.
Thank you for your prayers for us while we were here. And, thank you for your prayers for my wife, our non-born baby and Nation.
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
Pray that we would not be silenced by uncomfortableness, but would "Count it all joy...when [we] meet trials of various kinds, for [we] know that the testing of [our] faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that [we] may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4 ESV).
“What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, 'You shall not covet'”
(Romans 7:7 ESV).
Please also be in prayer for my beautiful, pregnant helpmate Christina and my two wonderful children as I am gone. Pray that the children would be obedient and Christina will have energy to care for them and that she will delight herself in the LORD.
Tuesday, August 07, 2007
Sharing the Gospel is so profitable for our souls - we see our need for our Savior afresh; we recognize our depravity and His grace and mercy; we feel the enlivening power of the Holy Spirit attesting to the power of God for salvation for all who believe, us included; we pray fervently that God would bring life to the corpses with whom we speak; we see the work of the conscience which God has graciously placed in every person as it condemns or commends them as they stand before the good law of the LORD; our hearts' yearn for strangers that they become brothers and sisters.
I am not ashamed of the Gospel. For it is the power of God for salvation for all who believe, to the Jew first and then to the Greek, for in it (the Gospel) the righteousness of God is revealed for faith from faith (Romans 1:16ff).
What about all those who reject Him here when you share the Gospel or even attempt to speak to them and they will not listen?
It is not as though the Word of God has failed. He will bring to Himself His sheep and His Word will succeed in that. His Word will not fail in the conviction of sin. His Word has succeeded on the cross, in the hearts of those who have and will believe and in the hearts of those who reject Him for it bears witness to their guilt before God.
I urge you now - believe in the Gospel. Plead with God to give you affections for Him. Plead that He would give and keep your faith in the treasure of all that God is for us in Jesus Christ by the uniting power of the Holy Spirit. Repent of sin and hope in God. Delight yourself in the LORD and He will give you the desires of your heart. Share the Good News with others teaching them to observe all that Christ commanded. Rejoice in the LORD always!
Thursday, August 02, 2007
Monday, July 30, 2007
My goal for Straight Out of SWBlogTS was to highlight the positive work and interesting thoughts of current SWBTS student and faculty/staff bloggers. May the weekly updates at their new host reflect well on the seminary - it's dedicated faculty, hard working staff and developing student-theologians - and our beautiful Triune God.
The first installment is slated for this Friday, August 3rd.
DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed by student and/or faculty/staff bloggers are theirs alone and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of SWBTS, any employee thereof or the author of this blog.
NOTE: If you are a student and/or faculty/staff member and would like to be included in the blogroll from which the content for Straight Out of SWBlogTS is taken, please email me your name, degree seeking/position and blog url. If you want to be removed or not included in the blogroll please email be your url and a removal note. No anonymous blogs will be accepted.
Friday, July 27, 2007
How could well meaning pastors pose the greatest threat to evangelical churches today?
Do they deny the truth?
No, the pastors who pose the greatest threat to the church today will all confess belief in the right things. They will say they believe in the authority and inerrancy of the Bible, that Jesus saves, and even that Jesus is the only way of salvation.
So how can these guys who mean well and make the good confession pose such a threat to the church?
His advice for our avoiding a psychologyzing shepherd "who will harm the church by turning Christianity into the American religion of self help therapy"...
1. Look at the biblical qualifications for men in the ministry (1 Tim 3:1–7; Tit 1:5–9), and ask pastoral candidates direct questions about whether they meet these qualifications.
2. Since the feature that most distinguishes the qualifications for an elder (pastor) from the qualifications for a deacon is that the elder be “apt to teach” (1 Tim 3:2), pay close attention to his teaching.
3. Based on what you have heard of his preaching, ask yourself these questions:...
4. Ask direct questions about what he understands pastoral ministry to be about:...
- Check out The Greatest Danger Facing the Church
Light is sweet, and it is pleasant for the eyes to see the sun (Eccl 11:7).
Son of man, you dwell in the midst of a rebellious house, who have eyes to see, but see not, who have ears to hear, but hear not, for they are a rebellious house (Ezek 12:2).
And he took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village, and when he had spit on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Do you see anything?” Mark 8:23
Then turning to the disciples he said privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! Luke 10:23
as it is written, “God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that would not see and ears that would not hear, down to this very day.” Romans 11:8 (Show me Romans 11)
I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. Revelation 3:18 (Show me Revelation 3)
- Read Ched's helpful commentary on Mark 8 and Why Jesus Healed the Blind Man Twice.