mgpcpastor's blog


1 Comment

Praying For A Discontented Church (via Trevin Wax)

Trevin Wax writes about the deadly temptation of desiring a church where everyone is happy with things exactly as they are.

…we are right to pursue unity and peace in the church. But we are wrong to assume that the absence of conflict or complaint indicates that things are going in the right direction. The satisfaction of church members may be a sign not of faithfulness, but of widespread complacency.
Imagine this scenario. You’re a pastor in a congregation where there has been division and disunity over the years. Right now, things are better. Attendance is up. The number of complaints has fallen. People regularly encourage the staff and speak highly of the church. Every now and then, someone says: “Don’t change a thing. We love everything!”
Now, the temptation is to say, “Wonderful! Finally, everyone is happy” as if making everyone happy is the goal of your church. But that temptation is deadly. The mission of the church is not to satisfy the preferences of church members, but to spread the gospel of Jesus so that sinners are saved and find their satisfaction in him.
+++
We don’t want churches full of people dissatisfied due to their personal preferences going unfulfilled. Neither do we want churches full of people who are satisfied because everything is running smoothly. No, we want people who are satisfied with God but dissatisfied with the state of the world because they live and breathe the mission. They’re driven by the gospel and the mission on behalf of King Jesus and his kingdom.
As one of the pastors at my church, I am praying for more holy discontent. Our goal is not to make things satisfactory for our members, but to encourage and empower more members to be on mission together.

Read the whole article here.


Leave a comment

When You Sing, You Obey (via Tom Olsen)

Tom Olsen provides seven reasons why singing matters for Christians.
The first one is fairly definitive in itself.

1. When you sing, you obey.
Singing isn’t an option in Scripture. It’s a command:
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. (Colossians 3:16)
And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart… (Ephesians 5:18-19)
God’s people are more than just invited to sing; we are commanded to sing. When we sing, we’re doing what God asks of us!

Read the rest of the article and the other six reasons to sing at Unlocking The Bible.


Leave a comment

What You Win People With Is What You Win Them To (via Jared Wilson)

Invoking the spirit of Monty Python’s Trojan Rabbit, Jared Wilson points out the problem with ‘bait and switch’ forms of evangelistic activity, whether the less mature forms associated with youth ministries or the more sophisticated forms utilised by attractional or seeker focussed churches.
The problem is:

“the gospel of Christ’s finished work became relegated to the end of a service, almost an addendum to the real focal points of the goings-on, and then it frequently became pushed to the end of an entire message series, eventually became saved just for special occasions, and ultimately has been replaced altogether by the shiny legalism of moralistic therapeutic deism.
Eventually the attractional church became all bait, no switch. The approach of today’s attractional church is like the Trojan Rabbit of Monty Python’s Arthurian nincompoops–smuggled inside the castle walls with nobody inside.
As a result so many inside the system, shepherded under this system and joined to it, can’t distinguish between attractive and attractional, practical and pragmatic. When we lose the centrality of the gospel, we lose the ability to think straight.

source

Another sign of this is the preaching in these contexts can be biblical, but largely therapeutic or educational (focused on the needs and actions of the hearer), rather than focussed on what Jesus has done for his people.


Leave a comment

Four Categories Of Speech That Church Leaders Should Keep In Mind At All Times (via Ray Ortlund)

To nurture a gospel culture in a local church Ray Ortlund writes about four categories of speech church leaders should keep in mind at all times:

1. Wisdom
Saying only Christ-honoring, life-giving things. Always asking oneself, “Do the words I feel like saying rise to the level of wisdom? If not, they have no place in my mouth. Good intentions are not enough; leaders must show good judgment. I will hold myself to a strict standard, because Christ’s honor and people’s safety are at stake.”
All the words of my mouth are righteous. Proverbs 8:8

2. Indiscretion
Well-intentioned, good-hearted, “loving” but unguarded words. A sincere desire to be helpful and consoling, but violating a personal boundary of information ownership. Indiscretion erodes people’s willingness to “walk in the light” with honesty about their problems (1 John 1:7). As a result, indiscretion is a spiritually dampening power.
When words are many, transgression is not lacking; but whoever restrains his lips is prudent. Proverbs 10:19

3. Gossip
This might include factually true information. But still, it should not be shared, for legitimate reasons–for example, it might embarrass someone. Since gossip might not involve actual falsehood, gossips often don’t realize how harmful they really are.
… gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not. 1 Timothy 5:13

4. Slander
Deliberate falsehood, intended to harm and undermine and diminish someone’s reputation, bearing false witness, cutting someone down to size, abusive transference.
Whoever utters slander is a fool. Proverbs 10:18

If a church’s leaders will hold themselves to the high standard of #1, their influence will be conducive to a gospel culture. Not that we leaders will always live up to this standard. But defining it clearly and winsomely will help make a church into a safety zone where sinners can get real with Jesus and one another and start growing.

source


Leave a comment

We Are Equally Sinful. We Are Not All Equally Broken or Toxic. (via Brad Hambrick)

Brad Hambrick makes a necessary distinction that is vital if pastoral care and personal support is to be appropriate for people whose problems have different causative conditions:
From the article:

The concern I want to discuss is the tendency to assume that biblical principles like those found in I Corinthians 10:13 mean that all our struggles carry the same weight. The unintended consequence can be that abusive relationships receive the same counsel as garden-variety arguments and instances of low impulse control receive the same guidance as manic episodes.
We’re All the Same
Let me begin with the first sentence of the title: “We are all equally sinful.” Whatever distinctions we make later in this post in no way imply that anyone needs Jesus-on-steroids or a double dose of atonement. There are no varsity and no junior varsity sinners. We are all in the same league (i.e., sinful) and in need of the same Savior (i.e., Jesus) by the same means (i.e., repentance and faith). I fear that, because we want to make sure people understand this paragraph that Christians can neglect to make the kind of assessments discussed below.
There Are Differences
Now let’s move to the second sentence of the title: “We are not all equally broken or toxic.” As I am using these terms, “broken” would refer to things for which we do not bear moral responsibility but create unique challenges for us, and “toxic” would refer to persistent patterns of sin that not only harm others but we punish others if/when they bring them to our attention. From the opening paragraph, the person whose body involuntarily cycles between the extreme highs of energy-grandiosity and lows of depression would be experiencing the “brokenness” of bipolar (not just garden-variety moodiness), and the person who verbally and physically intimidates his-her family and punishes them if it is brought up is exhibiting the “toxicity” of being abusive (not just garden-variety rudeness).

Read the rest of the post here.


Leave a comment

Five Common Ways Leaders Undermine Themselves (via Eric Geiger)

Eric Geiger notes five ways leaders undermine themselves.

1. Changing directions continually
2. Not learning
3. Indecision
4. Overpromising
and, lastly,
5. Not living the values
The biggest way leaders undermine themselves is by not living the vision and values they champion. A leader’s lack of commitment to the values that hang on a wall empty those values of any real culture-shaping authority.

Read the explanations of the first four at the original post.

To these I’d add: Trying to spare people the pains and discomforts that always accompany growth and change.


Leave a comment

Ten Signs You’ve Stopped Growing As A Leader (via Chuck Lawless)

Chuck Lawless offers ten signs leaders have stopped growing.
The head points of his list:

  1. You can talk about nothing new about God and His grace.
  2. You’ve read no new books in the last six months.
  3. You are preaching and teaching “re-runs.”
  4. You haven’t recently tackled any “God-sized” challenges.
  5. You haven’t shared the gospel with anyone in months.
  6. All of your stories of God’s work in your life are past tense stories.
  7. You tend to avoid people who differ from you.
  8. You’ve lost your energy and passion for the work.
  9. You no longer seek mentors. Mentors challenge us, stretch us, push us, mold us. And lastly, but most simply…
  10. You just know you’re not growing.

Read his explanations here.