Category Archives: Church

Do’s and Don’t for a New Pastor

Must reading for every new pastor coming into an established church.

Do’s and Don’ts on
Leading Change
Relating to other leaders
Member Care
General Counsel

This article deserves higher prominence than it has!

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Court of Elders

I have long thought that 1 Cor 6 argues for having the elders functions as a “court” to decide matters. Here is the first hint I have had that DA Carson and baptistic ecclesiology could support it.

He answers this question: To handle certain categories of
divorce and remarriage cases within the
congregation, some churches have established a kind of “ecclesiastical court.”
What biblical warrant, if any, exists for
this practice?

JI Packer on Numerical Growth

Good observations on growth here.

(1) numerical increase is what matters most;

(2) numerical increase will surely come if our techniques and procedures are right;

(3) numerical increase validates ministries as nothing else does;

(4) numerical increase must be everyone’s main goal.

I detect four unhappy consequences of this.

First, big and growing churches are viewed as far more significant than others.

Second, parachurch specialists who pull in large numbers are venerated, while hard-working pastors are treated as near-nonentities.

Third, lively laymen and clergy too are constantly being creamed off from the churches to run parachurch ministries, in which, just because they specialize on a relatively narrow front, quicker and more striking results can be expected.

Fourth, many ministers of not-so-bouncy temperament and not-so-flashy gifts return to secular employment in disillusionment and bitterness, concluding that the pastoral life of steady service is a game not worth playing.

In all of this I seem to see a great deal of unmortified pride, either massaged, indulged, and gratified, or wounded, nursed, and mollycoddled. Where quantifiable success is god, pride always grows strong and spreads through the soul as cancer sometimes gallops through the body.

 

Killing Church Gossip

Here.

He does not differentiate between the mature person who falls into this sin in your presence. And the person who is characterized by this sin. This list seems abrupt and more for the latter.

I especially like #4 and 5 and have used them.

Usher Training

Good News in Writing; Bad News in Person

If your brother sins against you, go to him. Matthew 18:15

I mentioned a few Sundays ago the principle I have tried to follow throughout my ministering to other people. I would commend it to our church as a standard. It is captured in this phrase, Good news in writing; Bad news in person.

Following this axiom has more profound implications that we can know.

I know of one pastor who would regularly write 4 -7 page-long criticisms and corrections of others. Rather than speaking in person, he would pour out his corrective and critical thoughts on paper and then mail it away. Needless to say, he wounded many in his congregation by handling conflict this way.

Likewise, I also know many pastors who tell of the painful letters they receive and how those criticisms pierce them deeply. These letters, sometimes anonymous, go into detail about what is wrong in the church or with the leader’s ministry. Today’s email makes this form of criticism even more available. Anonymous letters are particularly painful. Charles Spurgeon had this to say, “An anonymous letter-writer is a sort of assassin, who wears a mask, and stabs in the dark. Such a man is a fiend with a pen. If discovered, the wretch will be steeped in the blackest infamy.”

The problem with handling conflict in writing is that it is not biblical. A writer specifically disobeys Matthew 18:15 which says if your brother sins against you, go to him. We are to go in person, not in writing. Going in person allows there to be give and take, the reading of facial expressions and clarifying questions. Face-to-face communication also tends to soften harsh words. The written letter brings its news and inflicts pain over and over and over again.

We cannot hide behind a keyboard, instead we are commanded to communicate face to face. Because of this principle. I have made it my rule not to read critical letters or emails. Instead, it prompts a phone call to talk about the issue. As a church we are not perfect. We will have our conflicts. But Jesus commands that those conflicts be talked about, not written about.

As you deal with disagreements in the workplace, in your family and in the church, I commend this biblical standard to you.

Why a Church Covenant

From BTW. Excellent article.

John Piper explains why it’s good to have a church covenant even if church covenants aren’t in the Bible:

The Bible does not say explicitly, “Thou shalt have a written church covenant,” any more than it says, “Thou shalt have marriage licenses,” or, “Thou shalt have wedding rings.” . . .

One way to look at it is that a church without a covenant is like a marriage without vows. Marriage vows are not spelled out in the Bible just like church covenants aren’t. Both follow necessarily from the nature of the relationships.

Our church recently adopted a new church covenant, with significant borrowing from the church covenant by Redeemer Church of Dubai. Feel free to adopt it or adapt it for your own purposes if you are in need of a church covenant. I’ve reprinted it below, along with a few supporting texts.

Church Covenant

Having been brought by God’s grace to repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, we now, depending upon the Holy Spirit, establish this covenant with one another.

In all we do, we will aim to glorify and enjoy the God of our salvation, from whom and through whom and to whom are all things: to Him be all glory forever! (1 Cor. 10:31Rom. 11:36)

We will eagerly maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace by walking together in love and in the Spirit and by putting away all bitterness, anger, and injurious speech. (Eph. 4:3Gal. 5:1625Eph. 4:2931)

With humility and gentleness, patience and love, we will be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, even as God, for Christ’s sake, has forgiven us. (Eph. 4:1-2Luke 17:3Col. 3:131 Thess. 5:111 Pet. 1:22)

We will carry each other’s burdens, rejoicing with those who rejoice and weeping with those who weep. (Gal. 6:2Rom. 12:15)

We will train our children in the instruction of the Lord, seeking to walk in a way that adorns the gospel of Christ before our family, friends, and neighbors (Prov. 22:6Eph. 6:41 Pet. 3:1).

We will strive to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in this present age, as we wait for the blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ. (Gal. 5:22-24Titus 2:121 Pet. 1:14)

We will not neglect to gather together, but will support and treasure the biblical preaching of the whole counsel of God, the faithful observance of baptism and the Lord’s Supper, and the loving exercise of church discipline. (Heb. 10:252 Tim. 4:2Acts 2:381 Cor. 11:26Matt 18:171 Cor. 5:13)

We will contribute cheerfully and generously to the expenses of the church, the relief of the poor, and the advancement of the gospel both to our neighbors and the nations. (Matt. 28:19Luke 12:332 Cor. 9:7)

We will, when we move from this place, unite as soon as possible with some other church where we can carry out the spirit of this covenant and the principles of God’s Word.

In all these things, we rely on our God who has made a new and everlasting covenant with us, saying:

“They shall be my people, and I will be their God. I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me forever, for their own good and the good of their children after them. . . . I will not turn away from doing good to them. And I will put the fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me. I will rejoice in doing them good . . . with all my heart and all my soul.” (Jer. 32:38-41)

In and because of Jesus we pray, Amen.