Posts Tagged ‘Ecclesiology’

Returning Biblical

Education to the Local


 David Alan Black  

It has always intrigued me that the early Christians made such unstoppable progress despite their lack of a professionally-trained clergy. Perhaps there are some lessons we can learn from them today.

I think, for example, of a church in Hawaii that I was a part of many years ago. It offered classes designed for “laypersons,” and many of us eagerly attended them. I can still remember my lessons as well as my teacher, a Mr. Cook. He was a mentor and a model, and not merely a lecturer. The result? An unquenchable appetite to go even deeper in my studies of the Christian life.

Often I am invited to teach in church-related Bible schools, many of them in the Two-Thirds World. And I am delighted to do so. The local church in America seems to have forgotten its responsibility to disciple its members. “After all, we have our seminaries.” That is a dangerous attitude. The seminary classroom can be a place of magnificent learning, and often is. But every care must be made to avoid a learning experience that fails to give our students an idea of what it costs to follow Jesus. We must not forget that the early church had no formal educational institutions or professionally-trained academics, and yet it turned the world upside-down in a mere 30 years.

There were many good reasons for this. Someone once said that the three greatest dangers of a seminary education are extraction, expense, and elitism. A clerical culture develops. Writes Abbé Michonneau in his book Revolution in a City Parish (pp. 131-32): 

Our seminary training … has put us in a class apart…. Usually it means that we feel compelled to surround ourselves with those who will understand our thought and our speech, and who have tastes like our own…. We are living in another world, a tidy clerical and philosophical world.

“Clergy” becomes a whole way of living, an ecclesiastical subculture. The church, however, predates the seminary and will outlast it. The book of Acts reminds us that the earliest church leaders were homegrown nobodies. They were not parachuted in from the outside with all of the proper credentials. They were already full participants in their congregations – they had homes, they had jobs, and they had solid reputations. If at all possible, I think we too would do well to train people for leadership in our local churches, equipping them for evangelism and other ministries, thus complementing the work of our seminaries and Bible colleges. The early church knew that leadership is best learned by on-the-job training, not by sending our most promising leaders off to sit behind a desk.

There is a real need today for ministry to become de-professionalized. Let us not forget the sufficiency of the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit to guide even the simplest believer into truth. Any church can, if it is willing, follow the pattern of the early church in this regard. It can begin by ensuring that its shepherd-teachers are steeped in the Word of God and able to teach its magnificent truths to others. Happy the church that, like the Berean congregation, can listen sensitively to the Holy Spirit as He speaks through the Scriptures! It is interesting to observe how many people have signed up for the Greek class I am offering in my local church. All are welcome, and I am expecting a broad array of students. I cannot help but think of the example set for me so many years ago by Mr. Cook. He had a true pastor’s heart, and he knew the Word. He was a mature Christian who walked daily and deeply with his Savior. And what of his students? They came from all walks of life, but each was prepared to listen and discuss and study and learn.

Let there be no pay for teacher and no fee for student! Equally, let us use ordinary language in our teaching and avoid the jargon of the academy. You have to get the right instructor, of course, otherwise the enterprise will be counter-productive. But I am not talking about someone with a doctorate in theology. And there is no need to professionalize or formalize the instruction either. I think it is fair to say that the tendency of American churches is to pay inordinate attention to matters of incorporating, financing, and staffing their new “Bible Institutes.” I am suggesting that it would be a waste of time and resources to hire a registrar, faculty, and administration. Let us look to those in our congregations who will volunteer their time and talents for the work. What a rare and attractive thing it would be to offer solid biblical instruction without the paraphernalia so often deemed indispensable by professional educators.

I would like to make it clear once more that I am not saying we should not have seminaries or Bible schools. What troubles me is that we so often equate a formal biblical education with true biblical understanding. It seems to me that it is time to say “Enough!” to the fallacious notion that a degree in theology makes one qualified for leadership in the church. Throughout the Scriptures the summons is given to forsake conformity to the world’s wisdom and to pursue the wisdom that is from above. Paul reminds us that in Christ “are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:3), and that we “are complete in Him” (Col. 2:10). Call this the “sufficiency of Christ,” if you will, but it is insufficiently acknowledged. A major exception was the sixteenth-century Anabaptists in Europe. It was their devotion to the Scriptures that set the Anabaptists apart from their Reformation counterparts. They listened to the Word of God with humble reverence. They were anxious to obey it too, whatever the cost to them personally. Elsewhere I have noted that they believed in “the Bible as a book of the church instead of as a book for scholars,” and in “a hermeneutic of obedience instead of a hermeneutic of knowledge.” The Anabaptists well understood that we learn to apply the Word not in the abstract milieu of the classroom but in the world. And when we truly understand the truth of God’s Word, it shapes our entire life and worldview.

I believe one of the greatest needs of the contemporary church is conscientious obedience to the words and teachings of Jesus. Mature Christian discipleship is possible only where there is submission to the full biblical witness to Christ. And there is nothing in a formal education that guarantees such obedience. Indeed, there is much, I think, that impedes it. As an example, take a course in Acts I once taught at a Bible college in a developing country. The students were much more inclined to bring their notebooks to class than their Bibles. Their studies clearly were geared more toward a grade than toward life. When final exam time came, things took an interesting twist. In part one of the exam I intended the students to write out from memory certain verses with their Bibles closed, while in part two they were to answer questions with their Bibles open. The students strenuously objected to this policy, pleading with me not to expose them to the temptation of cheating on part one. My answer was gentle but unyielding: “If I cannot trust you not to cheat on this exam, you do not belong in this Bible school and certainly not in any form of Christian ministry.” In a similar incident that occurred while I was teaching Greek in another institution (again in the Two-Thirds World), my request to allow my students to write a take-home exam was met with the dean’s demurral: “Impossible. They can’t be trusted.” And this in the largest theological college in that country! In saying this, I have not forgotten the human tendency to cheat on exams. Yet these were Christian adults, not children. It is plain that if we cannot trust our brightest theological students to exercise self-control and honesty in exam-taking, we certainly cannot entrust them with pastoral oversight.

We in the church of Jesus Christ are always in danger of magnifying titles and degrees and forgetting that a formal theological education guarantees neither sound doctrine nor mature character. The essential mark of Christian leadership is love not ability, humility not arrogance, wisdom not knowledge. We must cease viewing knowledge as an end in itself, but must pursue the mind of Christ, remembering that “truth is in Jesus” (Eph. 4:21). I wonder if anything is more urgent today, for the building up of the Body of Christ, than that its leaders should be, and should be seen to be, men who have “been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13).

The crucial thing is that local churches take discipleship seriously. And it is neither biblical nor helpful to abdicate this responsibility to institutions of higher education, as valuable as they are. The seminary exists to serve the local church, not vice versa. So when opportunity occurs to return biblical education to your local church, I say grasp it with both of your hands!

January 8, 2009

David Alan Black is the editor of www.daveblackonline.com.

Read Full Post »


Anyone who follows this blog or any of the previous ones, understand that I don’t pick on Rick Warren. For the most part he seems to be nice guy who I differ with on some issues, but mostly on ecclesiology. I don’t think he is a false teacher/prophet. I think he understands and articulates the Gospel from a historic perspective, so for that he is my brother.

However, ecclesiology effects the way we as believers minister to one another and how we worship God. So for me ecclesiology plays a huge part in the believers life. With that said I will insert a link.

The Saddle Back One Card


Listen to the purpose of the Card and let me know what you think. I believe this is the epitome of Corporation style churches that plague the body of Christ today and instead of having genuine relationships with you and having to do life with you my shepherding of you is reduced to a card you swipe. Good technology? I think not.  Not to mention the card also is a “time, talent, treasure” monitor that can show your leadership and you how faithful you are to the corporation church!

Anyway listen to it let me know what you think.

Read Full Post »

One of the biggest transition that I have wrestled through for the last 1.5 years is that of how to do church and is there a correct way? I am not convinced of “the” correct way. As Joe Miller says “the bible is really silent on how the church should function”. I think I agree more with Joe and here is why. If we look through the Pauline Epistles and Acts we can’t see “one way” to do church or how the church should meet or function. There seems to be  a great amount of diversity on how people met. If we are honest it would be hard to make any clear case either way. From single elder led meetings that was one of many meetings in a particular area (there seems to be multiple houses in Romans and Ephesus while there may have been only one in all of Corinth at least when Paul wrote Corinthians 1). I think some place had women leaders (Philippi as the church met in Lydia’s house who would have been the most mature disciple in Phillipi), to some places where women not being able to teach due to the mess it was making (Ephesus). 

So I am thinking this. I have come to the conclusion that it is the individual need, temperament, cultural setting and preference. I believe some people enjoy the weekly clear biblical exposition, while others like it more emergent. Some people like the big churches with worship leaders, good youth programs and simple, clear, biblical but practical sermons. Some people like the big weekly atmosphere with the tight nit small groups. Some like young energetic funny pastors like Driscoll and Chandler while other folks like the more detailed old school fellas like MacArthur and Swindoll. I think some people like strong doctrinal preaching while others enjoy a more interactive participatory. I think some people love churches that are heavily involved in overseas missions, while some people likes to see their church focus more on their local community. Some people like heavily evangelistic churches while others like churches who feed the poor and clothe the naked more. Some people like to meet in houses because they are convinced if Paul was here that is what he would do, while others feel the church that is growing and bursting out the seams is blessed by God (I neither agree or disagree).

Some people like the church with all the bells and whistles; from coffee shops, to work out facilities where they fell safe and believe that the church should do such things. While others believe that such a thing is why Jesus turned over the money changers table. Some people believe it is oppressive to keep women out of teaching ministries while others believe you are liberal loving heretic for such a stance.

I will tell you where I stand brothers and sisters. I like it simple and that is maybe because I am stupid. I am not convinced that we should meet in homes but if in a building it should be rented and for celebration style gatherings (unless that building is used to help rebuild the city more on this later). I think homes with 15-30 members with independent/interdependent shepherds/elders that come together once a month for celebration or maybe have to come together more frequently for some matter (maybe in March they meet weekly to teach a certain doctrine) seems to me to be the best way to meet. I think the Church that meets in America has way too much money wrapped in single use infrastructure (in the 100’s of billions). I think we should drink coffee at Starbucks and meet more nonbelievers than build one in our local church. I think we have way too much money wrapped up in staff positions, while I do believe an elder/teacher can receive a stipend due to the fact that he may have to take a job that allows him to provide oversight and lose out on potential income. I don’t believe a man who has the DESIRE (I Timothy 3) to provide oversight and walk in his gifting should be negotiating a salary, nor expect one as Jesus instructed “freely you have received freely you give” or Paul “it is better to give than to receive” our hearts should be to provide oversight for free and even at our own expense if necessary (that is why most men don’t want to go plant in rural or impoverished areas, the suburbs take much less faith and getting donors before one provides oversight is a sign of that).

I think many churches today to be complicated business entities who live for the entity and not the “Church” (the people who meet collectively). Many pastors are CEO’s and elders are “board of directors” they provide more business direction than care for the souls of those entrusted to them. They spend more time in “business meetings” than meeting with the saints in their homes or for lunch or for dinner. We know them as figure heads more than loving shepherds.  Someone leaving their church isn’t really a concern for them because another person will come to take their spot! Many are sheepless shepherds which bibilcally speaking are no shepherds at all.

I think most of this falls away when we being to meet more simply! When we have shepherds caring for less people (in a lot of churches there are 6-8 elders for ever 2000 members, that is about a 300 to 1 ratio and I am being generous). Most elders have no clue if their members are maturing and I dare to say that most don’t even care. They provide more oversight to the entity anyway and the measure of a maturing church is numerical growth and church income not strong marriages, growing disciples, maturing parents, and loving disciples. Those things are left up to the expository sermons and conference numbers. However, in the simple church you don’t have more than 30 per elder. And since the elder/shepherds know those placed in their care they can recommend them for eldership and they do life with these individuals as they have more time to care for their souls. In most churches the Pulpit provides more shepherding than the Shepherds themselves.

Another plus for the more simple church to me is the level of flexibility provided. You don’t have to put on the “World’s Greatest Show” week after week. One can be led by the Spirit to pray the entire meeting. Or to provide counseling, or to go out collectively and beautify a park, or go over a sick members house and clean up for them and love on them and serve them. Or they can go to a nursing home that Sunday, or to a women’s shelter. However in the more traditional setting, one must put on the show, because it is the glue that holds the entire congregation together and sick members get put on prayer lists not visited. Going to a shelter or a nursing home is an event not part of the gathering and to miss income for a week can really throw a loophole in the “church budget”.

The last plus for the simple church is the flexibility to move economic resources and the trust given to the individual Christian to give his/her resources as needed. The first is a genuine plus for me. When we have a member lose his/her job, or if we have a member who needs a car fixed, or if they need help burying a love one or a doctor bill, or some other financial crisis, money isn’t earmarked for salaries, mortgages, building funds, or some other reason. So the red tape that many believers experience goes away. We can raise funds on the spot or over a given period to meet that need, not to mention since we know each other and are a family we ACTUALLY KNOW the need! The second is another big plus for me. Christians should be given the freedom to meet needs as they make disciples and pray for God’s direction with their finances. The more traditional setting has way too many fixed costs and things such as “tithing to the local church” or in more theological jargon “giving where you are being fed” are the norm. A great deal of the money (8-90%) is wrapped up in these fixed costs. And a saint on a tight budget who has a sick relative or coworker or sees another need has to say “I have given to my church I will have to send you to them”.  And when the individual comes to that church the money is already spent or is locked up in “reserves” when saints don’t give as much during certain times of the year (Summers and Christmas).

So I really like the simple structure. There are many drawbacks. But a dependency upon the Spirit is where the simple church has to fall back on. Unlike the traditional church which has pragmatic pillars that support it, the simple church has to trust that the people who come will stay, the resources it needs will be provided and the growth will come through genuine loving disciples not “good church ministries”.

I close with this. The simple guys shouldn’t be so cocky to say they have it right and the the more traditional guys shouldn’t write off the simple guys as some incompetent emerging liberals who despise “church leadership” though we do despise “church authority” but so does Jesus (Matthew 20 and 23). I think both can play a huge part in the Sovereign plan of God to build His Church. So I think maybe we should spend more time loving and praying for one another versus “biting and devouring one another” as Paul says in Galatians 5.

Read Full Post »


My good brother CJ at Christ My Rightouesness is doing a series called “Race Relations and Unity. So far there are three posts up.

The Cross and Racial Reconciliation : Jews and Gentiles in Christ  by Kehpa

Kingdom of Men or Kingdom of God: How Your View of Diversity Defines Your Kingdom by Lionel Woods (AKA Hot Chocolate)

Love is Beyond Diversity by Bradley Cochran

There are a few more coming, but if you have a heart for racial reconcilation and diversity within the Body of Christ, I think these would be good reads. Coming from the Reformed persuasion I belive this to be a critical issue, as the Reformed faith is highly Eurocentric and has a superiority complex!

Read Full Post »

Here are a list of things I apologize for. This is  to the Black Church, the next will be to the Charismatic Church and then the Emergent Church. I want you to read this carefully.

1. I am sorry that I thought your hermeneutic was inferior!

2. I am sorry that I mocked you!

3. I am sorry that I thought you were sub-par to the Reformed Church.

4. I am sorry that I called your worship “buffoonery”.

5. I am sorry that I wanted to make you white

6. I am sorry that I disregarded your history in this Country.

7. I am sorry that I overlooked the divine blessing of your culture.

8. I am sorry that I left you out to dry

9. I am sorry that I didn’t think you deserved to be at the table with other theological thought.

10. I am sorry that I forgot that you were the only place I could worship 40 years ago.

11. I am sorry that I forgot that you preached the Gospel!

12. I am sorry that overstated your failures, minimized your good, and slandered your good name before those who can’t understand you.

13. Finally I am sorry that I didn’t love you!

Please accept my apology!

Read Full Post »

Here is how we would define Sola Scriptura:

The phrase sola scripturais from the Latin: sola having the idea of “alone,” “ground,” “base,” and the word scriptura meaning “writings” – referring to the Scriptures. Sola scriptura means that Scripture alone is authoritative for the faith and practice of the Christian. The Bible is complete, authoritative, and true. “All Scripture is ‘God breathed’ (given of inspiration of God) and is profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, instruction in righteousness…”

Most people who visit this blog don’t need a history lesson. So since the audience knows the history of the Protestant Reformation I won’t go into much detail.

However, I will say this. Sola Sciptura was a necessary doctrine for the Protestant Reformation. The Catholic Church had a strong hold on all things called Christian thus the development of Sola Scriptura was timely, relevant and again necessary for its season.

500 years ago there was only 2 churches. The Reformed Church and the Catholic Church both fighting for the right to be called “the true church”. One church felt it was tradition plus scripture the other said it was “sola scriptura” though as we come to find out they also attached just as much tradition to scripture as the Catholic Church. There was  third voice however, that was muted by the Reformers called the Anabaptist that had a desire to take Sola Scriptura literally but we know they found out quickly that there was no room at the table for another plate so they were burned at the stake, drowned, imprisoned, had their goods taken all in the name of  “orthodoxy”.

So why do I believe this doctrine is irrelevant? Because by practice no one upholds it. It sounds good and I know people like to quote Latin and seem smarter due to the terminology but at the end of the day we fail the test of holding to “sola scriptura”.

Let me give you an example. There are some today who believe that the Gifts of the Spirit (well the Charismatic ones as they call them or Apostolic gifts) have ceased. The same people who say “scripture must have a witness, in order for it to be made a doctrine” have one verse in the whole bible to defend such a position. So what do they supplement as the witness? Ding, Ding, Ding! Tradition! That is absolutely correct “what do they win Bob”. They say “the early church fathers did not talk about these gifts so they died out somewhere in the first century”!

Now for you sola scriptura guys who also hold to a cessasionist view I am bit confused. The bible nowhere says these gifts ceased and we see them in full operation through the end of the book of Acts; however, you say they cease because you don’t see it! That is like saying Pluto don’t exist because no one has landed on it.

Here is another example. Church buildings! For the sola scriptura guys they use double standard interpretive methods. In one voice they say “the bible is the final voice of authority on Christian practice and faith” but then they say “if the bible doesn’t say we can’t do it then there is freedom”. Now let me fall back a little. Nowhere in the bible does it say “you can’t use seeker sensitive methods to get people into church” or “you can’t use seeker sensitive methods because its unbiblical” the problem is you can’t find a verse that says that. The bible is silent. However, I hear “well the bible doesn’t tell us to use such methods”. See where I am going? But back to the church buildings. As much as I can see ALL the gentiles met in homes. The Jews were the only ones to meet in a building setting and as soon as the Jews labled them a cult they had to run to houses also. Where does the bible say “as soon as possible take 20 million dollars and erect musems buildings to meet in”? Nowhere!

So where am I going? Great question. We need to quit saying we believe in “Sola Scriptura” because we don’t. What we believe is Scripture plus my denominations interpretation. Or Scripture plus my seminary’s hermeneutic. Or Scripture plus my private interpretation. Or scripture plus my favorite theologians theological slant! “Why do you say such heretical things Lionel” you may ask! Because we are gravely mistaken at best, and hypocritical at worse. We all come to the bible with our presuppostions (wherever they have come from) and we all interpret the bible through our foggy lens. We need to quite saying we believe in Sola Scriptura.

This doctrine was for a specific group of people (most of who a Baptist would almost call a heretic LOL). It was necessary then but it is relevant now? My answer is a resounding no! One guy feels you should obey the Sabbath. The other believes you will be raptured in some secret meeting, one guy feels we should have a full meal for the Lord’s Supper, the other feels a shot of grape juice and an oyster cracker suffices, one guy feels that the Law should be preached for sanctification others believe (me) that the Law was a covenant document made obsolete by He who fulfills the Law, one person believes in a plurality of elders the other in a Senior pastor (with elders others with deacons). One person believes that we should bless Israel because of their future promises, others like me only acknowledge the “true Israel of God”. One feels women can preach/teach others not so much 8) Some feel that infants should be baptized into the covenant others feel disciples only, some feel that the sacraments “imparts grace” others not so much. Some feel that a theological education is necessary for pastoring others not so much. And guess what! They all do it under the banner of  “Sola Scriptura”. If you still believe this doctrine to be relevant, reread this post again and tell me how!

Read Full Post »

There is an argument that goes something like this:

There are two reasons why this kind of speaking in the church is so crucial. One is that the subject matter is infinitely important. There is no other organization on earth that deals in matters of eternal life and eternal death—matters about God and his Son and his Spirit, matters about salvation and judgment, matters about the life that pleases God or displeases him. In other words, no other group of people, besides the church, gathers regularly to deal in such tremendously important realities. This means that there is a form of speech that is fitting as part of that gathering that fits the greatness of that truth—namely, preaching. So the first reason for preaching is that the nature of the truth calls for something more than mere explanation or discussion or conversation.

Today I want to tell you that I am not convinced of such a method and I will give you 3 reasons why.

1. Though many like to make the argument otherwise, the fact is that when we see preaching in the bible we have taken what we now do, and what the Reformers esteemed and have read it back into the text. As I read the Epistles the word or some form of the verb didaskō  is used much more frequently than the word  kēryssō and Timothy is told only once as far as I can tell to “preach” and to add to that kerysso is used the majority of time with proclaiming the Gospel and that 90% of the time to the lost. Thus we see the command to teach in the local fellowship.

The problem lies in this question. Is teaching to be a proclamation style (pulpit ministry) or a more sit down or conversation or dialogue of some type? I think the latter. Given the local of where the church met. When Paul went into the public he preached, when he was with the Church meeting in homes he taught. It is funny that Paul never ever gives the qualification of elders to “preach” (proclamation)  but they should be able to teach (instruct). So my first reason is that it makes no sense from a biblical perspective to “preach” expositorly, though you should always “teach” expositorily. This means that the grammar, original audience, historical context and all should be carefully considered before we say what a specific passage means.

2. The next two reasons are a bit more pragmatic. The number two reason is that interactive teaching is always the best method of teaching especially new information. Being able to ask questions, get clarification, and even engage critically seems to be the way people learn best. How do I know if you are learning the information? Because I am so good at delivering it? This seems to be the position of many who preach in such a way. What it sounds like to me is that they are saying “hey I did a good job expositing the text, now apply it to your life”. There seems to be a huge disconnect. The first being how do you know I understand, the second being  do you care if I disagree.

I am not promoting an arguement but a chance to engage the speaker. And if the speaker is preaching publicly he should answer publicly. If everybody already knows and don’t need clarification then maybe we should be teaching something different. For the life of me I can’t figure out why this happens. There are only two reasons. 1. A speaker is overconfident in his skillset or 2. A speaker is overconfident in his method. I guess a third option is that the speaker doesn’t care if you get it or not, they are going to deliver it.

However, when those listening to the message have a chance to ask questions and get points of clarification it can be quite rewarding. Everyone that I know, that has such opportunities are always excited that they are given opportunities to learn more and clear up any confusion that they have had. It is funny that when the person who is learning “expository” preaching is in school and at conferences they have questions and can interact with the professors and even be critiqued by classmates and professors but come to church and shut the very opportunity they had off to others. As one of my sons cartoons say “this is quite mysterious”.

3. The final reason is that people come because they want to learn and even share what they are learning. Not to mention sharing in the local congregation should be more than greeting at the door or helping people find places to park or giving, or ushering, or stacking chairs and operating the powerpoint or sound booth. Why do we encourage people to participate in the cosmetics of the gathering but not the purpose of it. If the purpose is the ministry of the word and we have built up such anticipation for it, shouldn’t we want people to participate in the most important part of “church”? But it seems that we eagerly and dogmatically exclude people from it! You can do everything else except participate in the word. For the life of me I can’t figure out why.

However, what greater way to know as a “pastor” what people are learning? If you allow them to share in the teaching and ministry of the word, you can find out quite quickly if they are really learing  how to faithfully handle the word. You can see if they are applying a proper interpretive method right? Not only that since “preaching” contains both the information and the application,  what better way to know if the word is being applied than allowing people to share what the word is doing in their lives and how it is transforming them to the image of Christ through the work of the Spirit. Something like Philippians 2, when Paul is saying have the mind of Christ which has all to do with self-sacrifice and being others-focused, wouldn’t it be sweet for someone to stand up and tell the family of God how the Spirit applied it to their heart? But nope, “pastors” have spent the last week preparing for the grand show, the great solo that follows the rest of the theatrics. We might as well start a drum roll when pastors walk onto the stage I can hear it now “coming to the stage….”, then the big blue spotlight comes on while the rest of the place dims!

I close with an appeal. I know we have been taught by many great theologians that the word is the center of the meeting. That if we don’t preach expositorly the church will fail to worship God and start to dive into liberalism. I know the pulpit has a high place (almost idolatry) in the church today and the reason why people don’t want expository sermons is because they are weak, or don’t want to be changed by the word or some other foolish statement that comes.  But that is a lie. I know many brothers and sisters who have been doing this for years and they have a community like no other who are image bearers of Christ and have deep love for God and His word.  Finally teaching is one of the functions of elders, never preaching. You can’t find one place in scripture where “preaching” was the primary reason for the church to gather. All types of teaching occurred however, through song (Col 3) through prayers (Ephesians) through the public reading of the word (Timothy) and so forth. The Greatest Show On Earth method of “expository preaching” doesn’t really make the cut, when I study the scriptures, especially the epistles, there are many proof texts with all type of traditional meanings read into them coming out of Timothy (and Timothy only) but again it fails to stand under the light of scrutiny.

Read Full Post »

This is not a post to minimize or degrade the work of a Pastor. At all! But it is a genuine post about things I wrestle with. Especially as of lately (6 months or so maybe 9 months). As I struggle through what it means to be a Christian, how I am to live as a Christian and how I am to live and serve with others who are Christian, I usually end up with more questions than answers. Most of those questions is due to what I was taught to believe and why I should believe it. One of those questions that keep coming up is leadership within Christianity. Notice I didn’t say local church. Paul was an Apostle in Galatia just as he was an Apostle in Ephesus. So again I am trying to blend what happened in scripture to what happens today. So I have drafted some questions, or thoughts, ramblings, and such. If you are a pastor, was a pastor or desire to be a pastor I would love to hear from you.

1. What makes you a pastor?

2. Why should I submit to you as a pastor?

3. Are you just a pastor in the church you are in or in other churches also? If so how?

4. As a pastor what is your job?

5. Why did you decide to become a pastor?

I ask those questions genuinely. Here is why. Today there are many people who call themselves pastors and they use the bible as their defense. The problem is they don’t become Pastors (I use that interchangeably with Elders because that is the norm today) the way the bible sets up pastors. In 1 Timothy and Titus, Paul goes and tells Timothy and Titus to select elders to lead those congregations. They were actually commissioned by Paul. Who commissions such a task today? I guess I am asking who appointed the person who appointed you and can you trace back to those Timothy and Titus selected? If not then why should you be a pastor?

The next two questions are why should I submit to you? Or better yet why shouldn’t you submit to me? Is it more bible knowledge? Today in 99.9% of Reformed or Bible circles that is the answer. Seminary separates the haves from the have nots or the leaders from the nonleaders. But the question again is why should I or anyone else submit to you? And what if we decide not to? I am not against seminary as I think it enlightens many towards the great doctrines of God. The next question is what if a Pastor from another church comes in to your church? Do you submit to him? If not why? Should I submit to an elder from another congregation that isn’t associated with mine? Isn’t an Elder in the Church of God in Christ an elder in the Baptist church since we are one “universal” Church?

4. The next question is what is your job as a Pastor? Is it what the church that pays you draw up as a job description? What do you do that makes you a pastor or better yet is what you do make you a pastor or is it your “position” or “office’ that make you do what you do? Would you do what you do if it were not in your job description or if you weren’t paid to do it? By the way why should you get paid? What is it that you do, that other Christians should do and if nothing why aren’t they paid for it? Shouldn’t we pay Sunday School teachers and other Christians who visit sick Christians and study their bible and pray for the church and teach other Christians? What exactly do you do or don’t do for that matter that makes you a pastor?

5. Finally what makes you a pastor? Did someone tell you that? Was it some warm and fuzzy feeling that made you say “I want to get paid to be a Christian”? Did someone in school convince you of this? Was it someone at your church that convinced you that you should do this “professionally” and go to school to validate it? Did people come to you and say “hey we want you to be our leader”? Did you take the initiative in becoming a pastor? Did your church nominate you due to your work of service there? Or did a group of elders like the amount of information you had and suggested you take the next step? Why do you do what you do? Would you do it all for free (like Jesus LOL).

Again these are genuine questions as I discern God’s call on my life. I don’t know if I should be a pastor or if I shouldn’t. I have been told I should go to seminary in one group of churches because of my passion in other churches (Charismatic circle) I took Jesus and holiness seriously (I was quite the legalist and still can be, got to put that dude under the cross) so they would prophesy over me and say I will be a preacher one day. I guess we all come to this crossroads and wanted to know from you: when, where, why and how!

I guess I see no real reason to “become” a pastor officially but I see many reasons to pastor functionally. I see no real reason to do this professionally when I can do this function while holding a normal job, thus having more opportunities to pastor more people. I see no special calling other than a gifting to shepherd but this again seems more functional to me. Other than the great burden of serving others like Jesus: washing their feet, healing them, feeding them, protecting them even at the cost of one’s own life, and a “desire” (as Paul writes) to do such a thing, I don’t understand why anyone would want this task.

So pastor! What makes you a pastor really if it is Jesus is it revocable? Is Jesus an Indian (excuse the word) giver? I anticipate your responses.

Read Full Post »

Check Alan’s Post here. I have really experienced this personally so I wanted to get your thoughts on it! I am reposting it all from www.alanknox.net . I believe we talk about Biblical Community alot because it is fadish! We like the sound of community but we really don’t want to live it. And like one of the commenters said “our church structures actually prevent relationships”. I agree. We have more realtionship with the bible, with the church structure, with the expository sermons, with the worship and with the programs/ministries! But we have very little relationship with one another!

What Church Structures Hide

Our church has structure, but it is a very flexible – almost invisible – structure. In fact, some suggest that we have no structure and no organization. In fact, this is impossible for a group of people. However, we try to make sure that our structure does not dominate or dictate how we meet or how we interact with one another. We try to have a structure and an organization that encourages relationships – almost forces relationships.

Because of this, we’ve noticed a problem. People do not know how to live and serve in relationships with one another. While almost everyone agrees that believers are to live in community – relationship – with one another, it is becoming obvious that very few actually do this.

In fact, it is becoming clear that many church structures allow people to think that they are living and serving in community, while in reality there is no relationship, or at best very shallow relationships.

Let me give you an example. A few years ago, Margaret and I were part of a children’s ministry. I was director of this ministry, while Margaret was one of the teachers. We had several other teachers and leaders and helpers that served within this ministry. In the eyes of the church leadership, this ministry was “successful” because we involved large numbers of adults and served large numbers of children.

But, in reality, looking back, we did not have strong relationships with either the adults involved in the ministry or with the children that we served. (We did have a strong relationship with one family, but that relationship existed before we served together in this ministry.) Why were we able to serve “successfully” without relationships? Because the structures propped it up. We each had a position and a job description. We did what we were supposed to do. It was fun and rewarding for the kids, so they came.

A few years later we are not involved with that ministry and we are not involved in the lives of any of the people involved. We did our thing, now its over. So what? Was the body of Christ built up? I’m sure God did many good things through this ministry, just as he often does. But, honestly, we did not experience the fellowship of the Spirit with one another. We did serve because we knew one another and knew how to encourage one another toward maturity in Christ. We served because that was our ministry responsibility.

Church structures hide the fact that believers – for the most part – do not know how to live and serve in relationship with one another. We know how to do our duty, but we don’t know how to accept, listen, love, and serve one another. We know how to run our programs, but we don’t know how to get to know one another so that we can meet one another’s needs. We know how to hold Bible studies, but we don’t know one another well enough to know what we need to teach or to learn.

So, what happens when those church structures are removed? What happens when there are no programs or ministries or Bible studies? For the most part, people do not know what to do, because the do not know how to have relationships with one another, and serve through those relationships. We know how to live with our structures, but not with one another.

Our church structures are hiding our lack of fellowship with one another,

Read Full Post »







The problem is our modern preaching methods leave the majority of the people in the first picture.

1.You see initially a Christian is like a baby who needs his/her food purated. They have to understand that Christ in the metanarrative of the scripture, that God’s plan was always the Gospel. They to understand the basics of the bible, church, Christianity, some of the basics of living like a newborn.

2. Then they should progress to feeding themselves a little bit, but they still need a smaller plate. You give them a few books like Basic Bible Doctrines, a book on understanding some of the more complex theological truths. Give them a concordance, maybe a small Systematic Theology book. They should begin to learn a bit about hermeneutics, different genres, and arguments.

3. Finally the person should end up where Paul calls “maturity” in Ephesians 4. This person should not only be giving steak dinners, he should be hunting for his own food! This person can fix their own plate, feed themselves, and put the dishes up or cover the bill at a restaraunt. Leading bible studies, making disciples, feeding his family spiritually, given chances to teach in the local assembly. This person should spend just as much time in their word as their elders or “pastor”.

The problem is that our current method usually lands people in the first two. In really good bible teaching churches they will go to number two. But most churches don’t take people past number 1. They are codependent on their “pastors” to bring them a word! The ones who go to number 2 dont’ get past a concordance, they are also heavily dependent on the preacher to “feed them” or “pour into them” they always need “sound expository sermons” to motivate them. They won’t hunt for themselves they pay someone else to do it and that isn’t maturity, though I would rather see someone at number 2 than 1 I believe Paul says “you should all be teachers, but you need someone to teach you”!

I believe pastors should be working themselves out of jobs with each individual christian. Sooner or later they should become peers! If not then the equipping they are called to do isn’t being done! My heart should be to see you at the table eating steak dinners with me, not me purating the food because it is too difficult for “laymen” to digest!

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »