Barry talks us through the next section of Luke 5, pointing out what’s different about him and every other prophet in history.http://barrycreamer.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/CWC-2016_12_08.mp3
Truth matters. And in our moments of honesty, we all know this. Minimally, we all live as if truth matters. It’s unavoidable. Truth matters in religious matters too. All religions (including atheism) claim to present a true depiction of reality. And this includes Christianity. But there is a key fact that makes Christianity distinct from other world religions — Christianity does not present truth merely as an abstract idea, but as a person who can be known.
Daisy, Winston, and Joe join Barry to chat about community, the effects of vlogging on followers, and an Airbnb.http://barrycreamer.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/CWC-2016_12_06.mp3
Many of us have received a phone call from an unknown number and, upon answering, found out that the person calling is a random salesperson from a different state attempting to sell the next revolutionary product on the market. When these calls come to our cell phones, many people get annoyed and simply hang up the phone. I, personally, have received several of these calls over the years and have responded in a number of ways. Sometimes, I politely tell the salesperson that I am not interested and hang up the phone. Other times, I ask them to please put me on the “do not call” list. However, if the salesperson calls at the right time and offers a deal that simply cannot be refused, I have “taken the bait” and purchased the item or service.
This sales strategy is called cold-call sales, which simply means that a company acquires a list of random names and phone numbers and methodically marches down the list, calling people to whom they have never spoken before and offering their product and/or services. The question I have regarding this practice is, “Why are so many companies still attempting this type of sales if so many people turn them down?”
In the church, there is a similar approach to evangelism called cold-call evangelism in which Christians acquire a list of random names and contact information, either by mapping out the area around the church or using other strategic ways of gathering such information, and methodically marching house to house, knocking on doors and sharing the Gospel. Some Christians believe this approach has outlived its usefulness because of the lack of fruit that they see while attempting to do cold-call evangelism, but I hold the conviction that cold-call evangelism is a practice that I will continue to do, and so should you. Here are several reasons why I believe this:
1. It is biblical.
The book of Acts gives the account of the birth of the 1st century church. The apostles were filled with the Holy Spirit and both publicly and personally proclaimed the Gospel to the world around them. One does not have to look very hard to find examples of cold-call evangelism in this account. In Acts 8:26-40, we see Phillip evangelize to the Ethiopian eunuch using the book of Isaiah. Paul evangelizes the Philippian jailer and his whole household in Acts 16:25-34. But probably the most convincing argument for cold-call evangelism is found in Acts 20, where we see Paul’s defense of his ministry before the Ephesian elders. He explains to them that he served with humility, even in the midst of trials (Acts 20:19), and then he describes how he did not shrink back from declaring the Gospel to both Jew and Greek “from house to house” (Acts 20:20). What was he proclaiming to them? Repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 20:21). If Paul saw the benefit of cold-call evangelism, so do I.
2. It is economical.
The church, like any other organization, has a budget to work from and must make the most out of the money that it is given. Many churches send their members across the country or even around the world to do mission work, and I wholeheartedly believe this is an important and necessary task. However, many of these same churches often neglect sending them across the street! Why are we willing to spend thousands of dollars to send people to other continents when we can spend little to nothing sending them out into the community around the church? Cold-call evangelism is an opportunity to get the Gospel out to the lost that costs nothing more than the material that is handed out. Though stewardship is not the primary reason I participate in cold-call evangelism, it does help build the argument for doing this type of evangelism.
3. It is practical.
One of the major benefits of doing cold-call evangelism that many people overlook is that this practice helps Christians develop evangelistic skills that they may not build otherwise. I have been going door-to-door for more than six years now, and through this practice, I have engaged people of all different backgrounds—Mormons, Catholics, Jehovah Witnesses, Buddhists, and about every other major religious background. Not only does this practice help build my own personal evangelistic skills, it also provides an opportunity for me to train other believers how to share their faith. By inviting believers to “come and see” (John 1:39) and then helping them to “go and do” likewise, I am able to effectively multiply my evangelistic efforts through other believers.
4. It is effectual.
Some believe that door-to-door evangelism is dead, and I understand why they do so. In my experience with this type of evangelism, I get turned away more than I get the opportunity to lead people to faith in Jesus Christ. However, in six years of regularly doing this type of evangelism, I have also seen a number of people turn to Jesus and get folded into a local church. Just because people turn us down doesn’t mean that cold-call evangelism is dead! People turned Jesus down during his ministry as well (Luke 18:23; John 6:66). We cannot control what other people say in response to the Gospel; we can only control what we say and do when attempting to get the Gospel to people.
Let me be very clear: the church is not a business, and we should not simply treat the Gospel as a product that we offer to consumers. However, the church is the body of Christ, and the Gospel is the power of God to salvation and the greatest offer that has ever been extended to mankind. Regardless of the response, I intend to do everything possible to get the Gospel to as many people as possible, as quickly as possible, and as persuasively as possible.
Is cold-call evangelism the best way to evangelize? Maybe not. Is cold-call evangelism the only way to evangelize? Absolutely not. However, cold-call evangelism is a biblical, economical, practical, and effectual approach to evangelism in which I have personally seen numerous people turn to Christ. For these reasons, I choose to continue to methodically engage the lost with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Will you join me?
Marriage is hard enough, but add ministry into the mix and you have a recipe for a potential mess. My work with pastors and their families causes me to see the messiness that exists in pastors’ homes. There’s plenty of the same mess in my own home. The combined stress of marriage and ministry is a unique situation that demands intentionality to keep both a marriage or a ministry from imploding.
Here are 10 things to consider that might help a pastor and his wife stay married and in ministry:
1. Be safe for each other in an unsafe church.
The reality is most churches are unsafe for a pastor and his wife to be open and vulnerable. It is a real gift when a marriage can be a safe place for both a pastor and his wife to be themselves.
2. Establish boundaries together and keep them.
The pastor’s wife is usually the one with the most discernment on setting boundaries with the church. Pastors, listen to your wives on these boundaries and work together to keep them.
3. Learn to rest.
Take all the vacation time the church gives you. But even if you do that, it doesn’t mean you will rest well. Learning to rest is learning to let go of all church matters and burdens while you are away.
4. Carefully listen to each other.
I have spent most of my marriage not listening well to my wife. I am aware of this epic failure and am now trying to change that. Listen to each other so you both know when there are cries for help when drowning in ministry and life.
5. Laugh a lot together as a family.
Marriage and ministry are both very serious and heavy much of the time. Make sure you have times where your family is gathered around the dinner table or on the floor playing games or watching a movie, laughing and engaged together. This in particular is life-giving to all.
6. Encourage your children to be themselves.
Pastor’s kids feel such pressure to be who everyone thinks they are supposed to be. Encourage your children to be who they are with you and the church. Try to embrace the good, bad, and the ugly of it.
7. Be willing to walk away from your ministry.
I constantly battle ministry as an idol. It is amazing how much more enjoyable ministry actually is when I realize it doesn’t determine my value or define who I am. I perform a daily gut-check on this by asking, “Can I walk away today if needed and still be all right?” I have found that freedom makes ministry sweeter.
8. Find deep meaningful safe friendships.
My wife and I learned some painful lessons through nearly 20 years of marriage and ministry. One such lesson is that we cannot meet all of each other’s needs. You must find deep meaningful friendships in which you can be yourself and where you can bring your darkest struggles. Those friends might be in your church, but I would also look outside the congregation for those safe friendships.
9. Understand your roles.
Your wife in not your fellow pastor/elder. Don’t treat her like one. She is not to carry all the burdens the Chief Shepherd calls you to carry. Be mindful of this as you bring your ministry burdens home.
10. Love Jesus the most.
If you love Jesus more than your marriage and your ministry, that is a wonderful, centered, and freeing place to be. Your spouse will fail you. Your church will almost certainly disappoint you. Jesus is always with you and never fails you. He will be there to care for you if your marriage and ministry implode at some point.
I chose the words, “might help” intentionally for these are not at 10 rules that are guaranteed to your marriage and ministry from imploding. But they might create needed conversation between you and your spouse to keep your marriage and ministry pressing on a bit longer and in greater balance and health.
Brian Croft serves as senior pastor of Auburndale Baptist Church in Louisville. He is also senior fellow for the Mathena Center for Church Revitalization at Southern Seminary. A veteran pastor and author of numerous books on practical aspects of pastoral ministry, Brian oversees Practical Shepherding, a gospel-driven resource center for pastors and church leaders to equip them in the practical matters of pastoral ministry. His latest book is Biblical Church Revitalization: Solutions for Dying & Divided Churches (Christian Focus, 2016).
The post 10 habits to help a pastor stay married and in ministry appeared first on Southern Blog.
Barry continues the story of Jesus in Luke 4, pointing out not just his mission, but the means by which he completes the mission.http://barrycreamer.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/CWC-2016_12_05.mp3
Rob, Winston, and Daisy join Barry to chat about the benefits of beards, eating in solitude, and post-election unfriending on Facebook.http://barrycreamer.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/CWC-2016_12_02.mp3
Recently, a speaker in chapel at Southwestern dealt in a portion of his message with the subject of Calvinism (link to original chapel message). He presented his views on the subject, as would be expected at a Southern Baptist seminary in view of the current discussions in our denomination. At the close, the president responded to rude behavior on the part of a few students who had not agreed with the speaker and had stood up during the message and walked out to show their displeasure.
In my reported statements, let it be clear that I asked no one to leave the SBC! Let me go further and say that I am fully aware that Baptists have historically been divided into two camps (at least)—namely, Calvinist and non-Calvinist. I do not anticipate that this will change, though historically, one observes an ebb and flow within these positions, just as in the doctrine of eschatology. I must also acknowledge that as long as the heart is hot for the winning of men and women to Christ, as long as the passionate evangelism exhibited in the New Testament is the major commitment, as long as the Calvinism on display is like that of Spurgeon, who even wrote a book specifically on soul-winning, I am content—no, I am elated to work with these brethren for the cause of Christ.
What I did say was about myself. I said that if I held Presbyterian beliefs, I would be a Presbyterian. If I held charismatic beliefs, I would probably affiliate with the Assemblies of God. If my only difference with Presbyterians were that I favored only baptism of adult believers rather than the baptism of infants, I would probably be conflicted, but I might affiliate with Primitive Baptists. I asked no one else to respond this way. I expressed what I would do just as every Baptist is free to do and especially as is our custom in the academic world.
My own theological roots are with the Anabaptists and with the early General Baptists of England. That, too, is a position well represented in Southern Baptist life. The Baptist Faith and Message 2000 is a document written as purposefully as possible to allow for both views. I appointed the committee that drafted the revision. Purposefully in my appointments, I included representation from the diversity within Southern Baptist life. The members of that committee had a variety of views, among them being Calvinists and non-Calvinists. My perspectives have not changed.
On the other hand, the whole Conservative Resurgence was really always about one thing—reaching men and women for Christ. My unalterable fear for our denomination today is that baptisms will continue to plummet, giving a certain indication of loss of evangelistic concern and fervency. Southern Baptists prospered by being the most effectively evangelistic among all denominations, and we will only prosper again if we honor God in that way.
Again, I expressed in chapel my personal commitment. I did not mandate anyone else to do anything. Believing as I do that some good can come from even our most severe misunderstandings and human faux pas, wishing that I had been more precise, maybe from all of this can come a new determination to present the Gospel to every man and woman, boy and girl! At least, that is what I am going to attempt for whatever remains of my life. After all, Jesus said, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” And any fisherman knows that you do not catch fish by sitting in a boat discussing fishing or by arguing incessantly about the nature of fishing.
Move over Millennials. A new generation is here. For the past decade, there has been considerable discussion about how to understand and reach Millennials. But now there is a new generation, roughly those born between 1995 and 2010, which are the newest focus.
Editors’ note: Several years ago, Founders Ministries published Dear Timothy, a highly-recommended multi-author work. The book was written as a series of letters from the veteran pastor, Paul, to the young upstart pastor, Timothy. In the spirit of that publication, I offer the following letter. I have written two previous letters on contentment and faithfulness.
I hope this letter finds you prospering in the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, my brother. Please forgive me for being so slow in writing to you again, but there have been many roadblocks, many imprisonments, shipwrecks, narrow escapes, and other sufferings in the service of Christ that have hindered communication.
I write this letter to expose some subtle notions that have sprung up of late in churches virtually everywhere the name of Christ is proclaimed. Essentially, some teachers buffet the church with a doctrine that asserts the more gifted, the more educated, the more media-savvy, the more skilled at communication, the more important people you know, the more books you publish, the more conference speaking engagements dot your calendar, the more power you will wield on behalf of God as a leader of the church.
Now, Timothy, it is certainly not a sin to speak at conferences, write books, harness new media for the sake of the gospel, seek education in the things of God, or possess divinely bestowed gifts as a speaker. We are grateful for such effective means of proclaiming the gospel across the world. They are gifts from God. But if you come to believe they are what make you an effective minister, then you have bought into a subtle deception. It is a matter of the heart and some minister this way with great humility, realizing that all fruit that grows through ministry is given by God. The teachers of which I write (and I have warned the Corinthians about them in another letter), consider themselves “super apostles,” simply because they can draw a crowd. Timothy, my beloved son in Christ, this is completely opposite to the teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ. Remember, he told one of my colleagues among the true apostles, “Apart from me, you can do nothing.” Drawing the world using the world’s means gets you, well, the world.
Timothy, our Lord has shown me in a most vivid manner the truthfulness of Jesus’s words. Not too long ago, I was taken into the presence of the living God in what I think was a vision. This experience was so sensory-defying, I’m not certain whether I was in the body or out of it. But I met Jesus face to face and then came back to earth. At first, I looked for somebody to tell. I wanted to boast in this incredible experience. For a moment, I thought this vision was a certain sign that I am the greatest apostle of them all.
In my speaking engagements and writing opportunities, I was tempted to use that experience as an anecdote to display my spiritual maturity, my value in God’s eyes, but the Lord did something even greater to show me that to boast in such things would be to turn the gospel on its head. The Lord allowed me to suffer—profoundly. He gave Satan permission to place a thorn in my flesh. (That fact should not throw you; Satan is, after all, a created being who only does as God allows him—see the story of Job.) And it has made me miserable physically, spiritually, and mentally. In my prayers, I pled three times for the Lord to take away my suffering, but he did not. He gave me something far better: his preserving, persevering grace. He told me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in your weakness.”
Through the thorn and my pleading with him to remove it, the Lord reiterated a truth I have learned in my years in ministry, a truth that is overwhelmingly mysifying to the world: When I am weak, then I am strong. This means, of course, the opposite is true as well: when I am strong, then I am actually weak. How does this make sense? As I reminded our brothers and sisters at Corinth, a minister of the gospel is nothing but a clay pot, a cheap, disposable piece of cardboard crockery. Yes, he is an important instrument in proclaiming God’s kingdom, but he is just an instrument—a weak instrument.
This is the way the Lord, in his love and mercy, deals with us. God shows us that we are weak, and he often does it through affliction. But it is a sure sign of his love. That’s what Jesus meant when he told me, “My grace is sufficient for you.” It’s kind of like King David, who defeated the awful Philistine Goliath. The behemoth man thought he was strong, but he was really weak. David was weak, too, but the difference was this: he knew he was weak. He knew the battle belonged to the Lord, and that’s how he slayed that giant. The battle always belongs to the Lord. He, not us, is the hero in redemption, in building the church. Think of Israel, Timothy. God could have chosen Egypt as his old covenant people, but instead, he chose their slaves. Think of our father Abraham and his wife Sarah. They were old and unable to have children when God called them. Think of the cross. Jesus was crucified in weakness but lives by the power of God. Our great Lord has chosen the foolish and the weak things to shame the wise and the strong.
Your flesh is going to tempt you to reckon strength the way the world does. God and the world weigh things on different scales. You are going to be told that you need to build a personal legacy in the ministry. They’ll say that’s strong. But Jesus said, “I will build my church.” You are only a tool, young Timothy. You are not a kingdom builder. Our brother who wrote the sermonic letter we call Hebrews correctly said we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken. Don’t miss that verb, receiving. Our Lord also said that it is our Father’s good pleasure to give us the kingdom. You will be tempted to grow your church with the world’s latest fads and fancies, because that’s strong. But he will give us the kingdom. We only have to be faithful and scatter the seed. That may seem weak in the world’s eyes, but God calls it strong.
Remember my words to the Corinthians: “We have this treasure in jars of clay.” The treasure, Timothy, is the gospel ministry, not the minister. At the base of a faithful ministry is self-knowledge that we are weak. Our little children sometimes sing a song, “They are weak, but he is strong.” That’s good theology. Here’s a great truth to preach to yourself daily: “I will boast only of the things that demonstrate my weakness, for when I am weak, then I am strong.”
The world says your greatest weapon is human strength, but Jesus says your greatest weapon is weakness. It is your greatest weapon because in it, his power is manifest. Worldly wise men tell you to be ambitious, and by that I think they mean you should expect great things from yourself because of your education and obvious gifting. But none of that really matters in God’s economy. Allow me to restate that comment this way: ambition is usually self-centered because it assumes human strength. You should attempt great things for God and expect great things from God because he is strong. You are not.
That is all for now. I hope to write to you again soon. I will pray for you that God’s power will be manifest in your weakness and you pray likewise for me.
Faithfully your father in Christ
Jeff Robinson (M.Div. and Ph.D., SBTS) is editor of the Southern Seminary blog. He is lead pastor of Christ Fellowship Church in Louisville, serves as senior editor for The Gospel Coalition and is also adjunct professor of church history and senior research and teaching associate for the Andrew Fuller Center at SBTS. He is co-author with Michael A. G. Haykin of To the Ends of the Earth: Calvin’s Missional Vision and Legacy (Crossway, 2014) and co-editor with Don Carson of Coming Home (Crossway, forthcoming). Jeff and his wife Lisa have four children. This article was originally published at The Gospel Coalition.
Barry covers that “one thing” you could say that might get you thrown off a cliff.http://barrycreamer.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/CWC-2016_12_01.mp3
Barry heads back to Luke and covers a story about Jesus, Simon, multiplication, and authority.http://barrycreamer.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/CWC-2016_12_07.mp3
Barry heads back into Luke chapter 4, reminding us the kind of things the The Anointed One does.http://barrycreamer.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/CWC-2016_11_30.mp3
Recently I was speaking to a group of pastors, youth pastors, and other church workers in Idaho. One pastor asked a question that, in my experience, perfectly captures the thinking process of many students today. He said, “My younger brother, a Millennial, is constantly on his cell phone. When I try to talk to him about God, he says that people disagree and so we simply can’t have any confidence at all in our beliefs.” How would you respond? Can we know things or are we lost in a sea of endless information?
Barry is joined by Kirk, Winston, and Daisy to chat about Johanna’s story, losing control of history, and life without the Electoral College.http://barrycreamer.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/CWC-2016_11_29.mp3
My friend Ken Berding wrote a recent blog post explaining his concerns about using The Message. As he pointed out, people often treat it as a Bible translation, when it is actually a very loose paraphrase. One of Ken’s observations is that The Message routinely adds meaning to or subtracts meaning from the original Greek and Hebrew text. While doing detailed work in the Greek New Testament and in several English translations, I have repeatedly found this to be true.
The title of this post is the exact title of a new little book written by Andrew David Naselli & J. D. Crowley and published by Crossway. This new book is intended for a general Christian (non-academic) audience, addressing an oft-neglected subject: the conscience. Discussions of this topic have been few in recent years, despite the fact that the Greek word for “conscience” (συνείδησις) appears 30 times in the New Testament (20 times in the writings of Paul). The book is short (142 pages without the appendices and indices). Thankfully, it is also clearly written. One can easily imagine a book dealing with the so-called grey areas being less-than-clear. The authors have done a fine job in making a complicated subject easy-to-understand.