pecaspers: a Blog in transition

October 14, 2013

Random Recommended Readings

These are some articles I’ve read over the past few months. Each one has been sitting as an open tab in my browser since reading them so that I wouldn’t forget to share it somewhere. So, here you go; I’m sharing. There really isn’t an overarching theme other than that I think they were all worth reading. Enjoy!

The Blazing Center – “I Don’t Remember Chemistry and I’m Not Homeless”

More Than Dodgeball – “How to Defuse a Bomb”

Desiring God – “Six Benefits of Ordinary Daily Devotions”

Russell Moore – “What’s at Stake with Internet Pornography”

The Gospel Coalition – “Predators in the Pews: Protecting against Child Abuse in Your Church”

Morf Magazine – “Miley Cyrus and the Church”

Michael J Kruger – “The Complete Series: Ten Basic Facts about the New Testament Canon that Every Christian Should Memorize”

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December 20, 2012

Philosophy of Ministry

A church that I’m really excited to hear back from asked for some more information on me. One of the things they asked for was my “philosophy of ministry.” Below is what I’m sending them. I hope it is the kind of thing they were looking for since I found a wide range of examples of what people and churches were calling by that title.

Philosophy of Ministry

I believe God has called me to equip, encourage, and mobilize His people to be on mission for Him in their daily lives and throughout the world. I am convinced that the best way for me to fulfill this calling is by being pastor of a local church and staying with that church for many years. Developing a healthy church full of healthy Christians which reproduce more of both is the desire of my heart following after being a faithful Christ-follower, husband, and father.

God has revealed in Scripture that He builds the church and that He gives each local church the leaders and members it needs to grow to maturity (Matthew 16:18, 1 Corinthians 3:5-9, Hebrews 2:4, 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4:11-16). According to Scripture, it is the duty of every follower of Christ to, empowered by the Holy Spirit, make disciples of people from all nations by baptizing and teaching them to obey Christ because we are all His witnesses (Matthew 28:18-20, Mark 16:15-16, Luke 24:45-49, John 20:21-22, Acts 1:7-8). It is therefore not my primary duty as a pastor to do all the work of ministry myself, but to serve the church by equipping every member—directly or indirectly—to do the work to which each one has been called (Ephesians 4).

The task of any pastor, according to the Bible, is to “shepherd the flock of God that is among you,” (1 Peter 5:1). Pastoring is shepherding, and shepherding consists of feeding the sheep, protecting the sheep, and guiding the sheep. Any good shepherd will himself also always be seeking to sharpen his tools and develop his skills, gifts, and abilities (1 Timothy 4:7-16). The focus of pastoral work is “prayer and . . . the ministry of the word,” (Acts 6:4). Prayer and the word of God are what the pastor uses to feed, protect, and guide the sheep as well as to train himself.

A pastor/shepherd serves his flock as an under-shepherd of the Good Shepherd. He does so humbly, remembering that the Good Shepherd is also the Lamb of God who stooped to be one of us so that He could die to take away our sin. The sheep do not belong to the under-shepherd, but he cares for them as if they did because he loves them and the One to whom they do belong and because he will be held accountable for them; he is not merely a hired hand (John 10:11-13, Hebrews 13:17, 1 Peter 5:1-4).

I fear that many churches are perpetuating their own decline because they keep hiring hired hands who are later hired away by other churches. I believe churches have suffered a great deal in the not-so-tender care of such men. I believe that pastors have suffered a great deal by being treated as if they were merely hired men—some so much that they began to act like it. I don’t want that to be me. I hope to plant my life in a church and stay long enough for there to be a crop of men fully equipped for ministry as shepherds within the church from which to choose the next pastor twenty or thirty years down the road. I hope to lead a church to actively push back the darkness and advance the gospel into places it has never gone before by sending members and not only money. I have vision for a church where at least 1% of the members are serving as missionaries/church-planters, at least 10% of the members have been on some cross-cultural mission trip in the past year, and 100% have done at least some short-term international missions at some point in their life. I hope to take what has been entrusted to me and teach it to other faithful men who will be able to teach others (2 Timothy 2:2).

God, help me.

December 15, 2012

Prospective Pastor Questionnaire – Part 10

Filed under: Job Hunt,Ministry,My Life in General — pecaspers @ 11:21 AM
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10. How is your family involved in your ministry?

My wife is a tremendous help to me in all areas of my life including as a minister. She is a complement to me, making up for my failings and weaknesses. She helps me to keep our calendar in order, reminds me of tasks which need completing, remembers names and how people are related better than me, and fills in my gaps in a thousand other small ways. My wife is also a capable vocalist, pianist, teacher, childcare worker, missions advocate, organizer, and all-around awesome church member. However, her primary duties to me as my wife and to our children as their mother come miles before any expectation church members my attempt to place on her as the pastor’s wife. As an example, my son has RSV, a very contagious cold-like virus, and so my wife is missing our church Christmas play to stay home with him. Others can assist with the Christmas play, but Peter needs Mommy, and it helps me relax and do the work of ministry to know everything at home will be taken care of.

My son is also involved in my ministry even though he is only two years old. He regularly teaches me things about God as Father, Christians as His children, Jesus as His Son, human sinfulness, childlike faith, and more. I also get a boost of added likability in the eyes of everyone who knows him just because I’m his father. (He’s pretty much the best kid ever, and it’s likely my current church will miss him more than they’ll miss me.) One day, I’ll take Peter along with me on ministry errands and visits, but that’s at least a year or two down the road.

Both my wife and son also give me added legitimacy in my ministry. I understand why Paul tells Timothy overseers/pastors must able to manage their homes well with one wife and submissive children (1 Timothy 3:2-5). If you can’t cut it with your wife and kids, how could you hope to handle caring for God’s family? Having a wife gives women the reasonable confidence that I can relate to them. In sensitive issues, she is also capable of handling things that no man is wise or safe to address. Having a child puts me on the same team as other parents. Being married means I can speak with authority on married life. Being married also allows me to look back to my single days and speak with greater perspective to people still looking ahead to it. Beyond all that, my wife and son and daughter-on-the-way are constant reminders of my continued need for growth. To borrow a movie line, they make me want to be a better man. And that, of course, means that I’m a better follower of Christ and shepherd of His people because of them too.

December 13, 2012

Prospective Pastor Questionnaire – Part 9

9. How do you believe the church should relate to the community, and what ideas do you have to make the church “relevant” to the community?

Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare (Jeremiah 29:4-7).

Like the people of God in exile in Babylon, the church is the people of God living in exile in the world while we wait for Christ to return in ultimate judgment and renewal. Though we are strangers in a strange land, we are to work for the good of the community by being productive members of it. Additionally, as Jesus’ body, we are to do what Jesus does: healing the sick, feeding the hungry, setting people free from their bondage, caring for the poor, comforting widows and orphans in their distress, etc. As the IMB is trying to remind us, we are Jesus’ heart, hands, and voice to those around us and to the ends of the earth.

Now, I don’t know your community. I can’t tell you what I would lead the church to do to make the church “relevant” to the community, because I don’t know the community. That said, one of the first things I would do as pastor is begin visiting every home within walking distance of the church building to find out who really lives around us and how we might meet their needs (sharing the gospel with those same people goes without saying). Another thing I would do is spend the first year as pastor watching your church just do what it’s always done, so that the next year we might evaluate together whether those things are actually making an impact and how can they be improved. Every church has things they do well and reasons for doing the things they do, and I’m not going anywhere with a notion that I’m going to start changing things immediately just for the sake of changing things. Likewise, there are usually reasons for not doing certain things, and your help in knowing what we don’t do and why will be invaluable. I’ll come in preaching the whole counsel of God from day 1, but we would be on a slow track for making any changes not demanded by biblical faithfulness.

Ultimately, the church is the people who gather, and so the church as an institution shouldn’t have to do anything special to be “relevant” to the community. If we are each living our individual lives as mature Christians who shine a gospel light into their personal circles of influence, then we will impact people wherever we meet them. That’s what Jesus did; He met people where they were. My primary focus will be on building healthy Christians who will make up a healthy church. Where there is life and health there is always reproduction. As we multiply, we will naturally exert a more beneficial influence on the community. Which is not to say that I’m against evangelistic events or ongoing outreach through regular community service, I’m all for them. Yet, all that the church does together to minister to the community should be the fleshing out of what the Holy Spirit gives the church to do together.

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