Category Archives: Ministry

Albert Mohler Blog: “All Other Ground is Sinking Sand: A Portrait of Theological Disaster”

In this essay, Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr. writes about the CBF’s recent decision on hiring LGBT individuals in ministry positions. Mohler writes:

“The report, “Honoring Autonomy & Reflecting the Fellowship,” has infuriated LGBTQ proponents and alienated more conservative churches. Its recommendations offer a ridiculous and unstable policy. The report and related news reports reveal that the proposed policy will allow for the hiring of openly-LGBT CBF personnel in some positions, but not in positions of leadership or missionary field assignment. The new policy, if adopted, would create a dual morality — one for an estimated 80% of CBF staff and the other for supervisory staff and field personnel. The two moralities, contradictory by definition, would supposedly co-exist within one structure.”

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Get Ready, Youth Group Leaders: Teens Twice as Likely to Identify as Atheist or LGBT

This generation is more sensitive to LGBT issues overall, with 37 percent saying their gender and sexuality is “very important” to their sense of self, compared to 28 percent of their Gen X parents.

Imagine Generation Z—the 70 million kids born between 1999 and 2015—and you probably picture them staring at their devices. A bunch of app-savvy, tech-addicted teens who never knew a time before smartphones.

Half of Protestant youth pastors consider technology and social media the defining factor of this latest generation, but a new study released today by Barna Group sheds new light on striking social and demographic trends: Teenagers in Gen Z are at least twice as likely as American adults to identify as LGBT or as atheist.

These are important markers of identity among the youngest segment of America, and pose new ministry challenges for the church.

While the latest Gallup poll reported only 4.1 percent of Americans—and 7.3 percent of millennials—identify as LGBT, Barna found that 12 percent of Gen Z teens described their sexual orientation as something other than heterosexual, with 7 percent identifying as bisexual.

This generation is more sensitive to LGBT issues overall, with 37 percent saying their gender and sexuality is “very important” to their sense of self, compared to 28 percent of their Gen X parents.

Additionally, about a third of teens know someone who is transgender, and the majority (69%) say it’s acceptable to be born one gender and to feel like another.

Though teens exploring sexual identity have long been a part American churches and youth groups, they haven’t always been this open about their identity and willing to address it so transparently.

“It is a new challenge for student ministry leaders, because there is more discussion in the public square regarding LGBT issues,” Ben Trueblood, director of student ministry for LifeWay Christian Resources, told CT.

“In the past, it was possible for difficult issues like this to be brushed aside or go unaddressed entirely. But that approach cripples the purpose of student ministry,” he said. “Now, student ministry leaders are forced to teach what the Bible says on these issues, as well as equip teenagers to respond biblically.”

Today’s teens need that direction from church leaders as they grow more likely to identify as atheist and less likely to identify as Christian than their parents and older peers.

Among Gen Z members between 13 and 18 years old, 13 percent consider themselves atheists, compared to just 6 percent of adults overall.

Meanwhile, 59 percent of Gen Z identifies as Christian, compared to 68 percent of adults. Only 1 in 11 teens is considered by Barna to be an “engaged Christian,” a category the research organization uses for those whose beliefs and practices are shaped by their faith (i.e., not “Christian in name only”).

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The post Get Ready, Youth Group Leaders: Teens Twice as Likely to Identify as Atheist or LGBT appeared first on The Aquila Report.

Speaking up for discernment ministries

(Amy Spreeman – Berean Research) Is it just me, or are discernment ministries getting raked over the coals?  And is it deserved?

Early last summer I stepped back from my daily blogging and posting activities. Not by choice, but medical necessity. Eight months and three surgeries later, I’ve been slowly dipping a toe back in, and catching up on the news. Only to find that there’s been more than news to catch up on.

I wish I could say that I have been completely and mercifully unaware of a lot of the infighting and bickering played out like a Spanish soap opera on social media. I’ve attempted to steer clear of the carnage, and keep this site and my own personal opinions from sidetracking the task at hand: Pointing Christians to the truth, equipping them, and helping them steer clear of danger. As we state on our Home Page, biblical discernment comes from reading and meditating on the breathed-out Word of God, and not a news site. (See our White Paper, What Is Discernment?)  View article →

Source: Speaking up for discernment ministries

Don’t “Share Your Faith”

Code: B180129

Our postmodern culture gnashes its teeth at biblical evangelism. Their commitment to subjectivity and relativism cannot accommodate a religion that is exclusive, narrow, and declares non-negotiable truth. And that shouldn’t surprise us—Jesus told us to expect to be hated in the same way that He was (John 15:18).

Moreover, Scripture also warns against appeasing (James 4:4) or imbibing (Romans 12:2) the world’s values. But that’s easier said than done. We are called to separatism without monasticism—being in the world but not of the world. We can’t live our lives and engage our mission field without coming into contact with pagan culture.

For most of us it’s difficult to avoid marinating in the postmodern thinking of our friends, families, and colleagues. And we see signs of this even in the realm of evangelism.

The phrase “share your faith” is now deeply embedded in the evangelical vernacular. Most of us use it as a synonym for our evangelistic encounters, myself included. But those three words reek of postmodern subjectivity—a point not lost on John MacArthur:

It’s not your faith and you can’t share it. . . . That is a not-so-very subtle overture to the post-modern mentality that says my faith is my faith and I certainly would be happy to share it with you.

That’s not at all what we want to do. We want to explain the faith, the Christian faith, truth. And our greatest example for that is the Lord Jesus, who throughout His ministry presented the truth. . . . Jesus was relentlessly committed to the truth. He spoke the absolute truth into every situation. And either people accepted the truth, and rejected error, or they held tightly to their error and began to hate Jesus— because they saw what He was doing as an attack on them. And it was.

We don’t share it, we announce it. And it’s not your faith, it’s the “faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3 ESV). It is God’s gospel.

I rejoice that the Christian gospel rests on objective historical facts that transcend my own experiences or validation—God’s creation, man’s fall, and Christ’s redemption. I’ve watched in agony as Christians have vainly tried to duel with other religions and worldviews on the basis of personal experience. Those encounters rapidly degenerate into an endless subjective standoff. The experiential evangelist is powerless to refute someone’s experience with his own.

The truth of the biblical gospel crashes through all of those man-made barriers with God’s own written testimony. It doesn’t hinge on our personal skills or powers of persuasion. It is “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16).

Imposters Abound

Yet there remains no shortage of people willing to substitute “the power of God” with their own ideas and agendas. The prosperity gospel attempts to entice people into God’s kingdom through the offer of material riches. The gospel of Roman Catholicism offers salvation through religious hoops and human effort. The gospel of seeker-sensitivity hinges on their ability to attract people that don’t exist—seekers (Romans 3:11).

Meanwhile, proponents of the social gospel advocate charitable works and social causes as the redemptive answer for a world overrun with sin. While writing this article, I was alerted to a recent tweet posted by the political arm of an influential denomination. It simply said: “We are fulfilling the Great Commission when we welcome people from other nations to our country.” That is a blatant lie told by people who should know better! The Great Commission is a command to “go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28), not to roll out a welcome mat at border checkpoints.

Works of compassion are meant to adorn the gospel, not replace it. When other adjectives encroach on the gospel (i.e., social gospel, prosperity gospel, etc.), it’s often an indication that it is no gospel at all.

Measuring Success

Our worth as evangelists can only be measured by our faithfulness to the message we have been called to preach. We find ourselves in good biblical company when most people reject the message we proclaim. Noah, Jeremiah, and even the Lord Jesus Himself, had relatively few converts by the end of their earthly ministries. Yet they all excelled in the sole metric of success for evangelists—they never deviated from the message they were called to preach.

That remains our benchmark for evangelistic success as far as God is concerned. He has called us to preach the gospel, both “in season and out of season” (2 Timothy 4:2). We are to present God’s holiness, prosecute sinners, proclaim Christ, and plead with all men to repent and believe the gospel. God will draw His elect (John 6:44), and Christ will continue to build His church (Matthew 16:18).

Preaching is our job and converting is God’s. Woe unto us if we ever confuse that simple point.

 


Available online at: https://www.gty.org/library/blog/B180129
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Shepherd My Sheep: How to Lead Biblically

 He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Shepherd My sheep.” — John 21:16

Scripture calls everyone to lead in one way or another. Mankind was created to have dominion over, subdue, and take charge of God’s creation (Gen 1). Parents are to lead their children (Deut 6), husbands are to lead their wives (1 Peter 3), older women are to counsel and lead younger women (Titus 2), and pastors are to lead their churches (1 Tim 3; Titus 1). Whether you are a seminary student or a stay-at-home mom, everyone is exhorted to lead biblically, to fulfill their God-ordained responsibility of leadership.

In secular society, highly-regarded leaders are generally zealous, passionate, and ambitious. They are visionaries with the ability to inspire and motivate others. They have clear, well-defined goals, and they know how to make those goals a reality. Such qualities are all useful, but these descriptions leave out the most crucial component of biblical leadership—service.Whether you are a seminary student or a stay-at-home mom, everyone is exhorted to lead biblically

Paul exhorts the Thessalonians to appreciate “those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction, and to esteem them highly in love because of their work” (1 Thess 5:12–13). Elsewhere, Paul adds that the Corinthians were to be in subjection to those who “have devoted themselves for service to the saints” (1 Cor 16:15-16).

Notice the theme here: work, labor, service. It’s because of their service that they are to be followed. The idea of a leader being a servant is more of a gloss in our modern vocabulary. We do lip service to the concept by using terms like public and civil servants without fully exemplifying the underlying meaning. In the gospels, Jesus constantly highlights this issue: leadership is humility displayed through service. On three different occasions, He repeats that, “If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all” (Mark 9, 10; Luke 22). Good leaders must first become good servants! That’s the point Jesus is making when He says to Peter, “Shepherd My sheep.”

In this scene, Jesus gives three qualifications for leadership:

Love God
Jesus is not talking about a love for others in this passage. Love for people in general is undeniably important for ministry leadership, but that is not His focus here. In His conversation with Peter, Jesus asks him three times, “Do you love Me?” The motive and foundation of biblical leadership is a love for God. It must be first and foremost in a leader’s life. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind”(Matt 22:37). Everything flows out of an over-arching love for God. It is the driving force of service for God and His Kingdom. Relationships with people can bring trials, struggles, and unfulfilled expectations. But love for God blunts the sting of the disappointments.

Be an Example
If love for God is the heart and soul of biblical leadership, then example is the conduit. Each time Jesus asks Peter, “Do you love Me?” He immediately exhorts Peter to prove it. “If you love Me, shepherd My sheep.” Peter would have to earn the right to be followed by being an example. And, remarkably, that he does!

  • He took the initiative in gathering believers and selecting a replacement for Judas (Acts 1)
  • He reiterated the gospel boldly in the face of certain persecution, and called others to obey God rather than men (Acts 2–5)
  • He left his comfort zone to evangelize cross-culturally (Acts 10), fully aware that criticism would inevitably follow (Acts 11)
  • He defended God’s holiness (Acts 5, 15)
  • He accepted correction when confronted by Paul (Gal 2; 2 Peter 3:15-16)

Holiness is a powerful and crucial partner in the proclamation of the gospel.Peter was a model of servant leadership. He proved his love for Christ by obeying His commandments (John 14:15). His life not only declared the gospel but also exemplified the gospel. As it was with Peter, so it is with us. Holiness is a powerful and crucial partner in the proclamation of the gospel. A life of holiness makes the gospel visible, not just audible. An old Puritan saying puts it this way: “Your preaching can pound nails into the boards of men’s hearts, but it is your life that will pound them deep.”

Die to Self
The mentality of a servant leader must be dying to self. Jesus continues His conversation with Peter by saying, “‘Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go.’ Now this He said signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when he had spoken this, He said to him, ‘Follow me’” (John 21:18–19). Beginning with “truly, truly,” Jesus emphatically announces Peter’s new ministry trajectory—unexpected dangers, far-reaching responsibilities, and certain martyrdom. Peter would need to sacrifice himself to God’s plan.

True leadership in ministry requires dying to self, doing what God has ordained. The command is a present imperative. “Keep on following Me.” In other words, “if you truly love Me, you must keep on following Me.” When Jesus began His ministry, He called Peter to follow Him, to “become a fisher of men” (Mark 1:17). Here, Jesus expands that summons—a call to sacrifice, self-denial, and unreserved faithfulness and loyalty. About a century ago, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson aptly noted, “Loyalty means nothing unless it has at its heart the absolute principle of self-sacrifice.” That is what Jesus asks of anyone who would follow Him, to humbly say yes to God’s sovereign providence.

Biblical leadership hinges on a servanthood that is motivated by love for God, lived out through humble example, and saturated with a mentality of self-sacrifice. The question this text calls us to answer is, “What kind of leader will you be?”

The post Shepherd My Sheep: How to Lead Biblically appeared first on The Master’s Seminary.

The Mechanistic Church

Many wrongly view the local church as a social society that exists to meet their needs or desires. On the contrary, the church exists to bring glory to God, to spread and defend the Gospel, to build up and equip the saints unto mutual edification in love and to carry out the good works for which Christ has redeemed a people (Eph. 2:10; 4:11-16). To this end, the Christian life and Christian ministry requires personal commitment, sacrifice and diligence. There is always a real danger that believers will grow weary in well doing (Gal. 6:9). When church members cease “giving all diligence” to living out the Christian life (2 Peter 1:5-7), they sometimes start looking for the local church to live the Christian life for them. They adopt a mechanistic view of the role of the church in their lives. When they do not feel as though the church is “working” for them, they grow discontent. Discontentment then often fosters and fuels division. Likewise, when pastors or elders grow discontent in waiting on the Lord to bless His appointed means of grace, they can slide into mechanistic ministry mode–trusting in programs or external accommodations to do the work of ministry for them. This is one of the most difficult issues to expose, since those who begin to do these things are usually not aware that they have begun to do so. It is a subtle and deceitfully sinful mode of operation.

To be sure, we should all have the deepest love for the local church, because the local church is God’s sphere of special, redemptive blessings (Eph. 3:10). We should long to see believers give the better part of their lives to the growth, provision and nourishment of the local church. That being said, God never meant for the church–in its organization, leadership and structure–to live the Christian life for its members. Likewise, God never intended for programs and ministry accommodations to do the work of ministry for its leadership.

Burk Parsons has made the important observation that often “the local church programs its people with so many activities that people have no time left to spend with their families and friends to enjoy life together and rest together—let alone take care of widows and orphans.” It is also sadly the case that the local church has programmed its people with so many activities that many of the congregants have convinced themselves that they are serving the Lord, when in fact they are merely living as ecclesiastical consumers. Whether it is singing in the choir, volunteering in a church food bank, participating in a home fellowship group or serving on a ministry team, individuals can convince themselves that they are living a faithful Christian life because they are participating in one of these or similar programs. It is altogether possible to be involved in activities in a local church without “making every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love” (2 Peter 1:5-7).

I am certainly not against church programs. However, when members of a local church grow discontent because the local church to which they belong is not large enough to have a size-specific or context-specific programs, it often reveals a defect in their own hearts more than it reveals a defect in that particular local church or its leadership. When members of a local church begin to complain because they want some provision or program that God has not commanded in His word, they are manifesting spiritual unhealthiness in their own hearts. Leadership can also fall prey to this pernicious phenomenon in the realm of ministry. Instead of relying on the Holy Spirit and God’s ordained means of grace to convert and sanctify the people of God, the ordained and staff leadership of a local church can begin to look to music, programs, facility accommodations, etc. to do the work of ministry. Here the old adage holds true: “What you win them with you win them to.” If you win people to the crucified and risen Christ, who reveals Himself through the means of grace (i.e. the word, sacraments and prayer), you win them to the Lord Jesus. If you win them with music, programs, advertisement or buildings, you will always have to do better music, have better programs and develop better buildings. God never intended for these things (which in and of themselves are not unlawful or unuseful) to work in the hearts and lives of individuals. They have their place in a local church, but they must never be in the driver’s seat of the Christian life or Christian ministry.

The New Testament gives us more than enough commands to carry out among the members of whatever congregation we have committed ourselves. For instance, we are called to “bear with the failings of the weak” (Rom. 15:1), to “be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another” (Rom. 12:10), to “lay something aside, on the first day of the week, as we may prosper” (1 Cor. 16:1), to “serve one another through love” (Gal. 5:13), to “bear one another’s burdens” (Gal. 6:2), to “share all good things with the one who teaches” (Gal. 6:6), to “do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Gal. 6:10), to “bear with one another in love, with all lowliness and gentleness, with long-suffering” (Eph. 4:2), to “be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (Eph. 4:32), to “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in our hearts to the Lord.” (Col. 3:16), to “increase and abound in love to one another and to all” (1 Thess. 3:12), to “exhort one another daily, while it is called ‘Today,’ lest any be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin” (Heb. 3:13), to “consider one another in order to stir up love and good works” (Heb. 10:24), to “obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account” (Heb. 13:7), to “visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world” (James 1:27), to “confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed” (James 5:16), to “love one another fervently with a pure heart” (1 Peter 1:22), to “have compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous” (1 Pet. 3:8), to “be hospitable to one another without grumbling” (1 Peter 4:9), to “minister to one another, as each one has received a gift” (1 Peter 4:10), and to “love one another” (1 John 3:11, 23; 4:7, 11, 12; 2 John 1:5). These are merely a few of the hundreds of apostolic imperatives that God has given to the members of His church. All of them require prayerful and purposeful pursuit. They involve personal commitment, sacrifice and diligence.

If you are a member of a congregation that is faithful to the sound preaching of the Gospel, the right administration of the sacraments, prayer, the singing of God’s truth and the faithful practice of church discipline, you have every reason to be thankful and to give yourself diligently to developing your Christian life. God has appointed the means of grace for the growth of His people. They will not, in and of themselves, live the Christian life for us either. We must be diligent to “make our calling and election sure” by working out what God is working in (Phil 2:12; 2 Pet. 1:10). We must not grow weary in well doing. We must resist the urge to look to either practices or programs, procedures and policies, to live the Christian life for us or to do the work of ministry for us. Our God has given us the enormous privilege and responsibility of diligently living out, on a daily basis, the spiritual life that He has given to us in Christ.

The post The Mechanistic Church appeared first on Feeding on Christ.

Moody blues

(World Magazine – Paul Butler & Marvin Olasky) Financial errors, insider dealings, and theological concerns force a change at an evangelical powerhouse

The story sounds like something out of a movie.

In 2017, a talk show host on the Moody Radio Network blows the whistle on the leadership of one of American evangelicalism’s flagship institutions, the Moody Bible Institute (MBI). On Jan. 9, 2018, she escalates the pressure with a hard-hitting headline on her blog: “A Luxury Suite, Questionable Loan to Officer, & Gambling: The Disturbing Truth About Leadership at MBI.” Moody within hours fires her and sends a man to her house to seize her laptop—but she is on her way to Mexico, with the computer.

The next day, though, Moody’s board of trustees meets and decides it’s time for “a new season of leadership.” President Paul Nyquist and COO Steve Mogck resign. Provost Junias Venugopal retires. And whistleblower Julie Roys reports the board’s action. She tells WORLD she’s “grieved over what’s happened” to MBI, glad about the resignations and retirement, but convinced that “unless there are changes at the board level, the Institute will be in the exact same place 5-10 years from now.”

So, even though the saga is not over, the Moody board’s action is still a man-bites-dog story within the usually slow-moving world of higher education. As the news spread, Christian leaders asked questions: What are MBI’s problems? What forced the hand of the board, and where does Moody go from here? Is the drama likely to be repeated at other institutions as financial and theological pressures grow? WORLD had been investigating MBI during the weeks before the board decision, and we have some findings to report.

COLLEGES LIVE OR DIE ON STUDENT ENROLLMENT. From 2012 to 2017, the number of students applying to MBI fell from 1,316 to 947—a 28 percent drop. MBI for more than a century has emphasized theological education for students who desire to enter full-time vocational ministry: “Those are the students we still give priority to,” said James Spencer, vice president and dean of Moody’s undergraduate school. Today, though, many young Christians look to secular careers and speak of ministering informally within their professions.

Professors are a college’s front line. Facing the enrollment downturn, President Nyquist last December announced a layoff of “about 10 percent of Moody Global Ministries personnel.” But the faculty was disproportionately hard-hit: 34 of MBI’s 112 full-time faculty members, almost one-third, learned their contracts would not be renewed. (MBI does not give professors tenure.) “Education is certainly about the faculty,” Spencer acknowledged, so Nyquist’s attempt to minimize the extent of the body count by saying “10 percent” did not go over well. View article →

Source: Moody blues

Bad Examples of Women Pastors (But Great Examples of Godly Women)

Should there be equality in the roles of men and women as many Christians believe?  Or has God gifted women to fulfill only the roles He has specifically designed for them…. which does not include women becoming pastors, nor is it a woman’s role to teach men.

In this piece over at Junction City, Gabriel Hughes discusses the role of women in the Church. He writes:

In 1 Timothy 2:11-12, the Apostle Paul wrote, “Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.” The context here is church leadership, an instruction that continues into chapter 3. A woman is not permitted to be a pastor in a church (elder, bishop, overseer, etc.). Only a man can be a pastor.

This instruction is not limited to the time-period in which Paul was writing. It applies to all people in every place at every point in the history of the church. How do we know this? Because Paul goes all the way back to Genesis with his explanation: “For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor” (verses 13-14).

So the first reason the role of pastor is to be filled by a man is because Adam was formed first, and Eve was formed from Adam as his help-meet. The differences between the sexes and the different roles they are assigned are not a result of the fall. They were established at creation and have applied to all people in all cultures at all times.

The second reason a pastor is to be man is because Adam was not deceived by the serpent, but the woman was deceived and transgressed the law of God. This might seem unfair because Adam certainly sinned as well, and death came to all men because Adam sinned (Romans 5:121 Corinthians 15:21). But Adam wasn’t deceived, and Eve was. So whether we’re talking about a perfect, sinless world, or the fallen, sinful one we currently inhabit, God intends that a man be the one to shepherd the flock of God (pastor means “shepherd;” see also 1 Peter 5:1-5).

Elsewhere, Paul wrote, “As in all the churches of the saints, the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak at church” (1 Corinthians 14:33-35).

This doesn’t mean a woman is supposed to have duct-tape over her mouth from the moment she walks into church to the moment she walks out. The context is teaching the church, or administering the authority of the word of God over the gathered people of God. The role as overseer is set apart for specifically a man to fill. View article →

Source: Bad Examples of Women Pastors (But Great Examples of Godly Women)

Why Repentant Pastors Should Be Forgiven But Not Restored to the Pulpit

It’s important to forgive repentant pastors, but not to restore them to pastoral office for years or perhaps ever (depending on the nature of the sin) because Paul’s qualifications pertain to the character. A pastor is an extraordinary ordinary Christian. A pastor is a teacher and a pattern setter. An example. Therefore, he must be above reproach and trustworthy.

Many Christians struggle with what it means to forgive a pastor who has committed a grievous act. Recently, a Memphis megachurch pastor admitted to a “sexual incident” with a high school student 20 years ago in Texas. I’m not in a place to render judgment over another church’s matters. Yet how should we think about forgiveness of a pastor?

Christians struggle with this question because Christianity centers on the idea of forgiveness. Step one in becoming a Christian is acknowledging that you are a sinner in need of forgiveness.

When the pastor is exposed, some push the message of forgiveness. “Who of us is without sin?” they might say, drawing from Jesus in John 8. Meanwhile, others object: “But how can we trust this guy?”

I side with the second group.

A pastor occupies two offices, or roles: the “office” of pastor and the “office” of church member. The requirements for these offices are different. To be a pastor, you at least need to meet the qualifications Paul gave to his disciple Timothy: “Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.” (1 Tim. 3:2-3).

“Above reproach” doesn’t mean a pastor is sinless. It means that if everything about his life is brought into the light, people would still trust him and follow him in the way of godliness.

Typically there are two requirements of holding the “office” of church member: that one be baptized and repentant.

Forgiveness ordinarily (not always) involves two things: forswearing resentment (subjectively) and restoring a person to their previous office or role (objectively).

To “forgive” a pastor means we don’t personally hold his sin against him and that we restore him to his office of church member. If he is repentant, he meets the qualification of membership.

That doesn’t mean we should restore him to the office of pastor. Our forgiveness does not mean he magically meets those qualifications. His life, quite simply, is not above reproach.

By analogy, new-installed President Gerald Ford pardoned Richard Nixon for crimes he might have committed against the United States while president. Ford didn’t explicitly make a distinction between Nixon as president and Nixon as citizen. But the pardon effectively pardoned Nixon as citizen. It prevented him from being indicted and sent to jail. It did not restore him to the presidency.

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The post Why Repentant Pastors Should Be Forgiven But Not Restored to the Pulpitappeared first on The Aquila Report.

Bad Examples of Women Pastors (But Great Examples of Godly Women)

“God made men and women different from day one of creation… sorry, day six. He meant for men to fill certain roles and women to fill certain roles. We are one body in Christ made of individual parts, each functioning in their own way. One person is not to infringe upon another or take it upon themselves to do the task given to someone else.”

In 1 Timothy 2:11-12, the Apostle Paul wrote, “Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.” The context here is church leadership, an instruction that continues into chapter 3. A woman is not permitted to be a pastor in a church (elder, bishop, overseer, etc.). Only a man can be a pastor.

This instruction is not limited to the time-period in which Paul was writing. It applies to all people in every place at every point in the history of the church. How do we know this? Because Paul goes all the way back to Genesis with his explanation: “For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor” (verses 13-14).

So the first reason the role of pastor is to be filled by a man is because Adam was formed first, and Eve was formed from Adam as his help-meet. The differences between the sexes and the different roles they are assigned are not a result of the fall. They were established at creation and have applied to all people in all cultures at all times.

The second reason a pastor is to be man is because Adam was not deceived by the serpent, but the woman was deceived and transgressed the law of God. This might seem unfair because Adam certainly sinned as well, and death came to all men because Adam sinned (Romans 5:12, 1 Corinthians 15:21). But Adam wasn’t deceived, and Eve was. So whether we’re talking about a perfect, sinless world, or the fallen, sinful one we currently inhabit, God intends that a man be the one to shepherd the flock of God (pastor means “shepherd;” see also 1 Peter 5:1-5).

Elsewhere, Paul wrote, “As in all the churches of the saints, the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak at church” (1 Corinthians 14:33-35).

This doesn’t mean a woman is supposed to have duct-tape over her mouth from the moment she walks into church to the moment she walks out. The context is teaching the church, or administering the authority of the word of God over the gathered people of God. The role as overseer is set apart for specifically a man to fill.

This also doesn’t mean a church that obeys this instruction is oppressing women. Heavens, no! A woman sitting in that church during a gospel sermon is no more oppressed than any man in the congregation. The truth does not oppress those who listen to it — it sets them free (John 8:31). It is a woman’s delight to learn quietly with all submissiveness, and she does this in honor of the Lord.

Women serve an incredibly important role in the church. If a church was all men and no women, that would be a dysfunctional church (see Titus 2:1-8). The church is to be made up of men and women, young and old, complimenting one another in their strengths and weaknesses, working and growing together so that we may be a functioning body of Christ.

But each according to their own purpose. God made men and women different from day one of creation… sorry, day six. He meant for men to fill certain roles and women to fill certain roles. We are one body in Christ made of individual parts, each functioning in their own way. One person is not to infringe upon another or take it upon themselves to do the task given to someone else. We all submit to one another out of reverence to Christ (Ephesians 5:21).

Bad Arguments for Women Pastors
Over the weekend, a friend got into a discussion over this topic with a feminist, and the feminist retorted with a list of names — women of the Bible who were more than just “helps” but, in her view, were qualified to be pastors. That list was as follows: “Deborah, Hannah, Miriam, Ruth, Esther, Jael, Proverbs 31, Wisdom personified as woman in Proverbs 8 (present with God at creation), Phoebe, Lydia, Prisca, Mary, Mary Magdalene, [were] all just there ‘to help’?”

This is a very common tactic when arguing for why women deserve to be pastors: throw out the name of a woman from the Bible. Boom! But that name is always taken out of context. There are no examples of a woman serving as a pastor in the church. None of the apostles were women, for that matter. I can say “period” and leave it at that. The instruction in 1 Timothy 2:11-12 is clear.

But for the sake of teaching, I’d like to go through that list of names and explain why they’re actually bad examples. While they are not examples of women pastors, most of them are certainly great examples for being strong women of God.

Deborah
The book of Judges captures a very dark time in Israel’s history. In those days there was no king in Israel, and the people did what was right in their own eyes (Judges 17:6, 21:25). But God gave them judges to be their leaders, decision-makers, and deliverers.

The pattern of the story of Judges goes like this: the people sinned and worshiped false gods, the Lord sent an enemy to punish and oppress them, the people cried out for mercy, so God sent a judge to conquer their enemies and deliver a semi-repentant Israel. Wash, rinse, repeat. Three of the most famous judges were Samson, Gideon, and a woman named Deborah.

Deborah was a prophetess and a God-fearing woman who judged during a time when there were no God-fearing men. In Judges 4, Deborah confronted Barak, commander of the Lord’s army, who was reluctant to do what God had told him to do: gather his troops and fight the Canaanites. Instead, Barak told Deborah, “If you will go with me, I will go, but if you will not go with me, I will not go.” So Deborah mommied him and led him by the hand to get him to obey God.

If you had been reading through Deuteronomy and Joshua, by the time you got to Judges 4, you’d recognize Israel’s digression in faith and obedience. In Deuteronomy 1:15, the tribes of Israel had wise and experienced men as heads over them. In Joshua 24:1, these men met with Joshua to renew their covenant before God. But within a generation, Israel began worshiping the Baals and forgot what the Lord had done for them (Judges 2:10-12).

It got to the point that the men weren’t doing what the leaders of Israel were supposed to do. So God placed a woman over them as though to say, “Sure, I’ll deliver you from your enemies. But to your shame, I’m going to send a woman to do what no man will do.” It was an embarrassment that Deborah was judge, not a high achievement (consider Judges 9:53 where it was to Abimelech’s shame that he was killed by a woman and not a man). In Deborah’s song of victory, she praised the tribes that stepped up to fight and lambasted those who stayed home (Judges 5:14-18).

Isaiah 3:12 says, “My people — infants are their oppressors, and women rule over them.” It is the judgment of God upon a nation when women occupy the roles that should be filled by men. Barak should have been the judge of Israel, following in the footsteps of Othniel, Ehud, and Shamgar before him. But because he was kind of a weenie, God gave Deborah to do what Barak wouldn’t.

So using Deborah as an argument for why it’s okay for a woman to be a pastor really isn’t a good move. It would be to admit, “There are no godly men here, so a woman is going to have to do this job.” When a woman is pastor, the church is immature and disobedient, just like Israel was when Deborah was judge. She is a great example of a God-fearing woman. She is not an example of a pastor.

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The post Bad Examples of Women Pastors (But Great Examples of Godly Women) appeared first on The Aquila Report.

Regarding the James White-Michael Brown Connection

Phil Johnson, Executive Director of Grace to You, weighs in on the White-Brown controversy. He writes:

It seems this week’s episode of “Too Wretched for Radio” unleashed a minor Tweetstorm. A few points have been raised that apparently still need clarification:

  1. It does not trouble me that James White and Michael Brown are friends. As far as their personal relationship is concerned, it surely holds some potential for good. Indeed, Dr. Brown could use more friends whose theological convictions are rooted in Scripture rather than the latest “fresh word” from the mouths of demonstrably false prophets in Redding, CA; Sydney, Australia; Kansas City; TBN; the NAR; or some other nest of charismatic extremism.
  2. I deplore hyper-separatism almost as much as I hate ecumenism. I don’t tell my friends whom they should or shouldn’t be friends with. Our Lord was known as “a friend of tax collectors and sinners” (Luke 7:34). And He didn’t automatically shun even teachers of religion who were doctrinally at odds with Him. When “one of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him . . . he went into the Pharisee’s house and took his place at the table” (v. 36). On “The Dividing Line” last week, Dr. White stated that critics have been telling him, “You have to separate yourself from anybody that you have disagreements with when it comes to theology.” He expressly attributed that position to his more moderate, reasonable critics (“not . . . the unhinged folks.”) I personally have not heard anyone (including the unhinged folks) make such a statement with regard to the Brown/White relationship. But I am of course aware that there are hyper-separatists out there who seem to relish conflict and treat everydisagreement as an excuse to fire off anathemas. That’s not my position. Some of the richest, most edifying friendships I’ve ever had transcend denominational and theological boundaries. My own circle of friends is wide enough to include both stodgy, formal Anglicans and exuberant, hand-waving Pentecostals. I even have some friends who make no profession of faith at all.
  3. On the other hand, we are forbidden by Scripture to partner with or promote someone who comes in Christ’s name and perverts or rewrites the gospel (Galatians 1:8-9; 2 John 7-11).My complaint about Michael Brown is that he routinely flouts that principle. Not that he himself overtly proclaims a twisted gospel; he seems to know better than that. But he partners with and aggressively promotes prosperity-gospel preachers, purveyors of false prophecies, and charismatic extremists of every variety, whether they actually have a credible gospel testimony or not. Brown’s plea is twofold: First, he says he knows these people personally, and they are wonderful, tenderhearted, lovable, well-meaning Christian people. Second, he doesn’t know enough about their teaching or their activities to judge them guilty of corrupting the gospel or prophesying falsely. He doesn’t have time to investigate them thoroughly, and it’s unreasonable for his critics to assume he knows what they teach. The two halves of his self-defense thus cancel each other out. 
  4. It’s impossible to escape the conclusion that Dr. Brown is not a credible authority on charismatic issues—especially the question of who is orthodox and who is not. He has been in leadership in the charismatic movement since at least the mid-1990s. He’s been a champion or a defender of every aberrant doctrine or practice featured in the pages of Charisma magazine. He scolds critics of the charismatic movement for not really knowing what’s going on inside. And yet when pressed with specific examples of charismatic extremism or heresy, he invariably pleads ignorance. He says he’s not familiar with the New Apostolic Reformation. He claims to have been unaware of any heresy, fakery, or false prophecy stemming from Benny Hinn prior to 2014. And he claims it is unreasonable for critics to demand that he watch videos, study the teaching, read published material, and give account for the various heresies and abuses of people whom he has partnered with.
  5. One of my chief concerns is that Dr. Brown seems to be using his relationship with James White to deflect legitimate and important criticisms. I love James White and have the greatest respect for his abilities as an apologist and teacher. But I do think his public deference to Dr. Brown has enabled and encouraged efforts by Dr. Brown to evade accountability for his partnership with (and promotion of) some of the grossest truth-corrupters and charlatans who are troubling the church today. View article →

Source: Regarding the James White-Michael Brown Connection

Moody Bible Institute Facing a ‘Crisis of Leadership’

Moody Bible Institute

Moody Bible Institute is in the midst of what some are calling a crisis and it doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon.

The problems at the 132 year-old school are wide-ranging and include falling student enrollment numbers, a climate of fear and intimidation on campus, where whistleblowers were said to have been silenced, a liberal theological drift, unprofessionalism by professors in the classroom, widespread layoffs, questionable loans to school trustees and officials and now the firing of a popular Moody Radio Network host who criticized the school.

SWEETHEART DEALS FOR TRUSTEES AND EXECUTIVES

Julie Roys, host of Moody Radio’s “Up for Debate” program was told via email on Saturday that she had been terminated. No reason for the firing was given but just two days earlier Roys outlined the “disturbing truth” about leadership at MBI on her blog.  Her article was titled “A Luxury Suite, Questionable Loan to Officer, & Gambling: The Disturbing Truth About Leadership at MBI.”  The article resulted from her own investigation of complaints about MBI that she said school officials refused to address.

In that article she wrote:

In 2009, the Christian school allegedly gave MBI President Paul Nyquist a $500,000 loan—which Moody’s latest 990 forms say has never been repaid—in order to acquire a $1.08 million condominium near campus. This money was given during a period of financial hardship for the school, a period of time that has stretched into recent months as approximately one-third of the Chicago faculty were let go last November, and the school’s Spokane, Washington, campus and learning extension site in Pasadena, California, were both closed.

When asked generally about the practice of loaning to officers (not MBI in particular), Attorney Rich Baker, a partner with Mauck and Baker, a Chicago law firm known nationally for representing religious institutions, said: “I’m always against loans to corporate officers and directors. . . . If it’s not paid back, then that certainly puts it into the category of self-dealing. I’d be very uncomfortable in an audit in a situation like that.”

The condo in question is said to be worth more than two times as much as the median sale price of homes in the same neighborhood as MBI, Roys reported. Meanwhile, Nyquist’s compensation package has risen from $233,252 in 2009 to $338,735 in 2016, records say.

Roys said that from 2000 to 2008, MBI also provided a kind of “second home” in a luxury apartment atop Jenkins Hall for former Moody board chairman (now a trustee) Jerry B. Jenkins, co-author of the Left Behind fiction series. Jenkins had given the school an undisclosed sum of money in 1999 that enabled them to purchase the building bearing his name.

According to Roys, “Had MBI allowed other people to use the suite, and had Jenkins used the apartment only when he was in town on trustee business, it would not be considered self-dealing.”

Roys wrote that many MBI staff members were uncomfortable with the arrangement and in 2008 someone submitted an anonymous “whistleblower report” internally at MBI.  Jenkins was upset about the report and made efforts to find out who complained.

LIBERAL THEOLOGY

The accusations of liberal theological drift and unprofessionalism from professors comes from current and former students.

The drift has become so controversial that a website was created by concerned students called The Broken TwigThe website says it is “documenting the decline and fall of the Moody Bible Institute.”

On December 15, 2017 the website reprinted a letter from an MBI alumna documenting the unidentified writer’s “deep concern with the atmosphere, education, and direction of Moody Bible Institute.”

“Moody Bible Institute is not the training ground it once was. Moody has become not a unique place to study and know God’s Word, but instead a place infiltrated by liberal political stances and clichéd cultural buzzwords without a solid theological foundation, a departure from Moody’s central and driving mission to train men and women for faithful service by knowing and teaching the Word of God.”

The letter describes classes that start late and end early with unprepared professors who promote social justice, liberation theology and exercises meant to instill fear of “white privilege” ahead of ministry and the gospel.

The gambling reference also involves Jenkins.  According to Roys MBI dropped a prohibition on gambling from its employee standards after it was reported that Jenkins had admitted to gambling both in his home and at casino poker tournaments.

The post Moody Bible Institute Facing a ‘Crisis of Leadership’ appeared first on ChurchLeaders.