Most Important In A Church

The first mark of a healthy church is expositional preaching.  It is not only the first mark; it is far and away the most important of them all, because if you get this one right, all of the others should follow… If you get the priority of the Word established, then you have in place the single most important aspect of the church’s life, and growing health is virtually assured, because God has decided to act by His Spirit through His Word… The congregation’s commitment to the centrality of the Word coming from the front, from the preacher, the one specially gifted by God and called to that ministry, is the most important thing you can look for in a church.

Mark Dever (Nine Marks of a Healthy Church)

Preachers and Preaching

  1. It is wrong to put direct pressure on the will. The will should always be approached primarily through the mind, the intellect, and then through the affections. The action of the will should be determined by those influences.
  2. In the end it may produce a condition in which what has determined the response of the man who ‘comes forward’ is not so much the Truth itself as, perhaps, the personality of the evangelist, or some vague general fear, or some other kind of influence.
  3. The preaching of the Word and the call for decision should not be separated in our thinking
  4. This method surely carries in it the implication that sinners have an inherent power of decision and of self-conversion.
  5. There is an implication here that the evangelist somehow is in a position to manipulate the Holy Spirit and His work. Some organizers today even predict the results.
  6. This method tends to produce a superficial conviction of sin, if any at all. People often respond because they have the impression that by doing so they will receive certain benefits.
  7. You are encouraging people to think that their act of going forward somehow saves them.
  8. It raises the whole question of the doctrine of regeneration. This is the most serious thing of all. This work is the work of the Holy Spirit, and His work alone, no one else can do it. And as it is His work it is always a thorough work; and it is always a work that will show itself.
  9. No sinner ever really decides for Christ.

 D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones  – Preachers and Preaching, Zondervan, 1971, p. 269-279 (summary of his main points).

What You Reeeally Want in a Pastor

HT: 9marks

There are a lot of things a church should look for in its next pastor. But as your church considers different pastoral candidates, I want to make sure this is toward the top of your list: a supernatural faith in the power of God’s Word.

AS IMPORTANT ANY OTHER QUALITY

I’m not talking about a man who simply checks the belief box on the “authority” or “sufficiency” or “power” of the Bible.

I’m talking about a man who whose conviction here runs so deep that it profoundly influences the way he works and lives. He plans his weekly schedule based on this conviction. He rests his daily mood upon this conviction. He even picks his clothes in the morning knowing that, it’s not how good he looks that will bring life to the dead, it’s the resurrection power of God’s Word and Spirit.

This is as important as any other quality a pastor could have. It’s as important as swimming is to a lifeguard, throwing is to a quarterback, or adding is to an accountant. It defines the very task of what a pastor does.

THE POWER OF THE WORD

Humans create with hands, shovels, and bulldozers. Not God. God creates with words. He says, “Be,” and it is. He says “Peace” to the riotous wind and waves, and they obey. He says “Come forth” to dead people and their eyes pop open.

Just as astonishing, God tells the light to shine in dark hearts, giving them the ability to see the glory of his Son (2 Cor. 4:6). His Word of power saves (Rom. 10:17). It fundamentally changes people (1 Thess. 1:5-7). It gives the new birth (1 Peter 1:23).

Now get this: God gives his faithful servants the ability to do the same things. “If anyone speaks, she should do it as one speaking the very words of God.” (1 Peter 4:11). This is why Don Carson calls preaching “re-revelation.” A preacher’s primary task is to say again what God has already said. Did you think life comes to the dead through the power of our intelligence or humor or charisma?

Picture Ezekiel standing in a valley of dry bones. He preaches God’s Word, God’s Spirit blows, and the bones come to life. Your church wants a pastor who believes—deep in his bones!—that the same supernatural power is available to him. POW! He doesn’t rely on “the weapons of the world” but on “divine power to demolish strongholds” (2 Cor. 10:4). KAZAMM!

WHY THIS IS CRITICAL

Why is this critical for who your church should look for in a pastor search?

  1. It will keep him from manipulating. Paul said he “renounced secret and shameful ways” but instead “set forth the truth plainly” (2 Cor. 4:2).  If a man believes that the Word alone is powerful to save, that’s what he’ll do—preach plainly and not try to emotionally manipulate.
  2. It will keep him from building your church and your spiritual life on his personality. Paul wasn’t a “trained speaker” with an impressive resume, like the “super-apostles.” He just preached Jesus, the Spirit, and the gospel (2 Cor. 11:4-5). Likewise, you want a man who is a good steward of his gifts, doesn’t rely on or trust his gifts to give life. He plants and waters, but relies on God to give the growth (1 Cor. 3:6-7). Men who build on their personalities have churches filled with nominal Christians.
  3. It will keep him happy. A man who trusts God to save by his Word and Spirit is a man who can sleep at night, because it doesn’t finally depend on him. This is a happy man who probably has a happy wife and children because he spends time with them. He doesn’t carry the weight of the world on his shoulders. This is a man who won’t burn out as easily and will serve your church for years.
  4. It’s the primary means to your growth and your church’s growth. It’s through the words of the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers that God’s people become prepared for works of service “so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:11-13).
  5. It’s your best hope of reaching non-Christian neighbors. “Faith comes from hearing the message,” says Paul (Rom. 10:17). Can the message be proclaimed through special programs and events? Of course. But you want a man who recognizes that it’s the regular, weekly “in season, out of season” work of “great patience and careful instruction” that saves the lost and builds up the saints—you want a man who “does the work of an evangelist” (2 Tim. 4:2-5).
HOW CAN YOU TELL?
How do you know if a pastoral candidate has these convictions?
  1. Consider what he’s excited about. Does he make good but secondary things primary?
  2. Ask him about his philosophy of preaching.
  3. Ask him what his last ten sermons were.
  4. Ask what he could imagine preaching in the first year at your church.
  5. Ask about his personal evangelism and personal discipleship of Christians. What role does the Word play?
  6. Look for evidences of patience. A man who believes in the power of God’s Word will be a patient man, not someone who insists on quick, visible results.
This article was originally posted at www.pastorsearchresources.com, and has been reprinted here courtesy of Chris Brauns.

Are Preachers Preaching or Just Talking?!

“The aim of that kind of expository preaching is to help you eat and digest biblical truth that will make your spiritual bones more like steel, and will double the capacity of your spiritual lungs, and will make the eyes of your heart dazzle with the brightness of the glory of God, and will awake the capabilities of your soul to experience kinds of spiritual joy you did not know existed.”

– John Piper

You Must Never Walk Away From Him

O unite me thyself with inseparable bonds,
that nothing may ever draw me back from thee,
my Lord, my Saviour. – Valley of Vision

What Makes a Church Reform Possible?

by John Folmar

.. The driving force behind any true reform will be the Word of God. As the Word powers through a congregation, it softens up the hard ground and produces spiritual change. In Dubai there were faithful members who had been laboring away for years but to little effect; they weren’t being consistently supported by the weekly sermons. Valiant attempts were made to strengthen the community, but something was lacking. But when the preaching became consistently expositional and gospel-centered, it was as if someone dropped a burning match on gasoline. Ministry was multiplied. As the church began to turn around, one long-time member compared the preaching to a weekly artillery barrage. The steady pounding of the Word softened opposition and opened up avenues for more fruitful ministry to occur throughout the body.

The pulpit must lead a church reform effort, and this means preaching expositionally with gospel emphasis and judicious application to the life of the church, especially those areas that need reform. If the pulpit is not solidly behind the effort, reformers are probably wasting their time. It’s better to move on to a place where the Word is already being rightly preached and see how that ministry can be supported. Read the entire article here.

The Reform of First Baptist Church of Durham

By Andrew Davis

On Sunday morning, August 19, 2001, I began corporate worship at First Baptist Church (FBC) Durham by calling on the members of the church to repent. The church had just elected a woman deacon for the first time in its history, and deacons in our church’s polity were treated as spiritual leaders with shepherding responsibility for the flock. I had been teaching the congregation that Scripture reserves spiritual leadership to men, and I had made private efforts to forestall this result. Still, the church voted in a woman as an authoritative spiritual leader. Read more >

What is The Power Behind a Pulpit?

The pulpit drives the health of the congregation.  When the pulpit is weak, the spiritual health of the congregation is weak. What makes a strong pulpit? What makes a strong pulpit is expositional preaching. Without true expositional preaching, the congregation will contract all kinds of disease.  Diseases that will eventually lead to death.  The life source of a congregation is in the power of God’s word. Congregation needs a consistence diet of true expositional preaching. Expositional preaching motivates the congregation to see the holiness of God and see the sinfulness of man. True expositional preaching exalts Christ and not man.

Eric Davis posted a great article on Church-Planting and Pulpit-Priority.  Eric emphazised the importants of expostional preaching and how it relates to church planting. Here are some points taken from the article:

  • Nothing is more sacred than sound exposition of the God-breathed word before the redeemed, where every morsel of the mind of God is unpacked to the church. They gather together because the pulpit ministry is not lesser community, or in opposition to it, rather, it is the pinnacle of biblical community.
  • Accurate exposition pumps life into the church so that the word richly dwells within them, launching the saints to use their gifts and do the work of the ministry with all wisdom. Strip the church of expository preaching, and you cripple God’s people from using their Spirit-gifts. The Spirit-inspired word is what gives power to right use of spiritual gifts.
  • A rich pulpit ministry is not hindering from mission, it equips for it. Exposition is not in conflict with evangelism, it is evangelism. When the Bible speaks, God speaks.
  • exposition evokes evangelism, and not the opposite. God’s people need to feast. The lost need to know God from all angles, in all his glory, through exposition, and see his regenerate people committed to transforming community. “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life” (John 6:63). Give yourself to exposition and watch Spirit-filled community and evangelism take off.
  • When the exposition of the word is de-emphasized, the flock will not only have little content, but little direction for evangelism. Little pulpit, little evangelism.
  • Exposition assumes the message is extracted from careful exegesis, interpreting the passage in its grammatical-historical context, then applied. The pastor actually gets out of the way by submitting to every jot and tittle through exposition. Reading the passage then discussing around the topic in the passage is not necessarily expositing the passage
  • Exposition ensures that God, not men, are speaking. With every verse unleashed, the Spirit casts more light on Christ himself. After all, that is what the flock needs; for comfort in struggle; motivation to press on; meaningful community, and God-glorifying evangelism.
  • “If you want to be relevant, become an expositor.”

Read the entire post here

Exposition on Romans 9 – Thabithi Anyabwile

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/14924910]

What is Expository Preaching?

Expository preaching involves the exposition, or comprehensive explanation, of the Scripture; that is, expository preaching presents the meaning and intent of a biblical text, providing commentary and examples to make the passage clear and understandable. The word exposition is related to the word expose — the expository preacher’s goal is simply to expose the meaning of the Bible, verse by verse 

An expositor cares little if his audience says, “What a great sermon” or “What an entertaining speaker.” What he truly wants them to say is, “Now I know what that passage means,” or “I better understand who God is and what He requires of me.” ….. read more 

Here is an roundtable interview with: 

  • Mike Bullmore, senior pastor of CrossWay Community Church in Bristol, Wisconsin, and former chair of the practical theology department at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School;
  • Bryan Chapell, president of Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis and author of Christ-Centered Preaching: Redeeming the Expository Message; and
  • David Helm, pastor of Holy Trinity Church in Chicago and executive director of the Charles Simeon Trust.

Warren Wiersbe “For our preaching to be biblical, the message must be based on the Word of God, presented by a messenger who lives under the authority of that Word, organized in a manner that instructs the mind and moves the heart and captures the will, and interpreted and applied in a way that is true to the text.”

Pastor Bruce Theilman “There is no special honor in preaching, there is only special pain. The pulpit calls those anointed to it as the sea calls its sailors. And like the sea, it batters and bruises and does not rest. To preach, to really preach is to die naked a little at a time and to know each time you do it that you must do it again.”

Charles Haddon Spurgeon “I scarcely ever prepare for my pulpit with pleasure. Study for the pulpit is to me the most irksome work in the world.”  

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones “Now let us hurry on to something much more important nothing like it – the romance of preaching. It is the greatest work in the world, the most thrilling, the most exciting, the most rewarding, and the most wonderful. I know of nothing comparable to the feeling one has as one walks up the steps of one’s pulpit with a fresh sermon on a Sunday morning or a Sunday evening, especially when you feel that you have a message from God and are longing to give it to the people. This is something that one cannot describe.”

Martin Luther “The highest form of worship is the preaching of God‟s Word.”

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