“We preach Christ” was the theme of this year’s Shepherds’ Conference. Over 4500 men from 67 countries gathered for four days of preaching, fellowship, and singing at Grace Community Church in Los Angeles. Speakers included John MacArthur, Albert Mohler, Ligon Duncan, Steve Lawson, Mark Dever, Stephen Nichols, Paul Washer, Tom Pennington, Phil Johnson and many others. The messages they delivered were related to who Christ is and why He must be the focus of pastoral preaching. The podcasts are now available on GTY’s website.
The tug-of-war between a parent’s protective instincts and their desire to raise fearless kids is felt in youth ministries. In partnership with Youth Specialties and YouthWorks, Barna conducted a major study on the state of youth ministry in the United States, looking at the expectations of pastors, youth leaders and parents.
The Master’s Seminary is pleased to announce the publication of a new book, Right Thinking in a Church Gone Astray.
This volume serves as a sequel to Right Thinking in a World Gone Wrong.
The book’s contributors are comprised of TMS professors and/or pastors at Grace Community Church. Here is a list of the chapters included in this volume:
Foreword by John MacArthur
Section 1: The Church and Contemporary Issues
Chapter 1: When the Church Goes Astray: Evangelicalism’s Misguided Quest for Popularity and Prestige (Nathan Busenitz)
Chapter 2: Rock-Star Religion: Countering the Church’s Celebrity Culture (Tom Patton)
Chapter 3: The Crescent and the Cross: Engaging Muslims for the Sake of the Gospel (William D. Barrick)
Chapter 4: When Truth Meets Love: The Church’s Response to Homosexuality (Alex Montoya)
Chapter 5: Is This Jesus Calling? Evaluating a Bestselling Book in Light of Biblical Truth (Jesse Johnson)
Section 2: The Church and Sound Doctrine
Chapter 6: Who’s In Charge of Your Church? Submitting to the Headship of Christ in Everything (Michael Mahoney)
Chapter 7: Nothing But the Truth: Why We Cannot Compromise Our Commitment to Scripture (Abner Chou)
Chapter 8: The Hallmarks of Heresy: Discerning the Difference Between Doctrinal Confusion and False Teaching (Michael Riccardi)
Chapter 9: The Charismatic Question: Are the Miraculous Gifts Still in Operation Today? (Nathan Busenitz)
Chapter 10: Things That Should Not Be Forgotten: Why Church Leaders Should Care about Church History (Nathan Busenitz)
Section 3: The Church and the Great Commission
Chapter 11: To the Ends of the Earth: God’s Global Agenda to Reach the Lost (Irv Busenitz)
Chapter 12: Compassion Without Compromise: Thinking About Social Justice in Light of the Great Commission (Jesse Johnson)
Chapter 13: Fit for the Master’s Use: Proclaiming the Gospel from a Platform of Personal Piety (Carl Hargrove)
Chapter 14: Global Risk Assessment: Threatening Trends Within Evangelical Missions (Mark Tatlock)
Chapter 15: To the Praise of His Glory: A Call to Remember the Church’s Ultimate Priority (James Mook)
In 1974 Burger King made a bold move to take market share from McDonald’s. At the time, McDonald’s made burgers en masse. If you wanted a special order, you had to wait interminably while it was cooked separately.
I remember. I’m a ketchup-only kind of guy.
So Burger King announced that each order would be cooked at the time of the order the way the customer wanted. Their new slogan was “Have It Your Way.” Burger King, at least at the time, understood the consumer entitlement mentality.
So what does this story have to do with our churches?
It provides a brief historical backdrop of the mentality that has crept into our churches, where many of our members think church is a place where I can always “have it my way.” For now, let me share some key reasons many of our congregations have become more like country clubs than churches, a place where some members demand their way instead of serving and self-sacrificing.
- Failure to state clearly the expectations of church membership on the front end. A membership class, or some similar entry point into churches, should not only give information about the church, it should provide expectations about membership. Membership without expectations becomes membership with entitlements.
- Failure to make certain as possible that members are Christians. Sadly, we church leaders often neglect to discuss the spiritual conditions of prospective members. Are they truly followers of Christ? As a result, many of our churches have unregenerate members.
- Seeking numerical growth at all costs. We certainly should be Great Commission churches. We certainly should be inviting people and sharing the gospel. But if our end goal is numbers, we will make compromising statements to bring people into our churches. We should seek to grow our churches out of obedience to God, not to create our own kingdoms.
- Failure to remind the congregation regularly what it means to be a part of the body of Christ. All of us church members have the potential to lapse into self-serving, entitlement members. We all need to be reminded that church membership is not about perks and privileges, but serving and sacrifice. I have been encouraged to see many churches have annual renewal and commitment services.
- Allowing the most entitled members into positions of key leadership in the church. One of the more common manifestations of an entitled church member is a person who seeks to gain power and leadership positions in a church so he or she can control and get his or her own way. We yield to them too often because they might be big givers or because we don’t have the fortitude to resist their bullying behavior.
- Failure to deal with difficult issues. Church leaders too often are conflict avoiders. And while we shouldn’t pick a fight over every issue of minutia, neither should we allow a pervasive culture of entitlement, bullying, and manipulation to grow unabated. A problem not handled now is a larger problem later.
The biblical mandate for local congregations is counter-cultural. In many passages of the New Testament, such as 1 Corinthians 12, we are clearly taught that members are to be sacrificial, giving, and serving.
Such a mentality goes counter to the culture in which the church ministers.
Church is not about having it our way.
It’s about bringing glory to God by having it His way.
Red Grace media has published Unpopular The Movie, and it’s wonderful. This half hour movie is Christ-centric, accurate, clear, and presents the Gospel in a devastatingly biblical way. When you hear/read the Gospel, unvarnished and with open ears and open eyes, it singes the heart and devastates the soul. It is incendiary. Even as a long-saved person, it will try your emotions, and bring you low. We ALL need The Gospel.
Mr Ramos said,
We live in a culture that glorifies sin. That trivializes sin, that makes sin less heinous than it is. It is very deceptive to look at sin in a way that makes sense to us. If we see ourselves in the way that the culture tells us to see ourselves, then man can remedy his condition through technique. But if we see ourselves the way the Bible tells us we really are, then the only remedy for our sin is the work of the Savior.
This is good. Watch it!
Sin, repentance, the cross…are the most upsetting and controversial doctrines on the entire earth. They are presented here, along with God’s love and mercy.
Listen and watch for yourself. We all need the Gospel, all the time. Let its truth and the majesty of a holy and righteous God who accepts sinners into His family through His slain and resurrected Son, Jesus. Then share.
The Gospel According to Jesus, by John MacArthur
Amy Spreeman has the story:
Should Christians ever use and consume entertaining apostasy like the heretical The Shack movie to witness to those who aren’t Christians?
Cru™ (Formerly known as Campus Crusade for Christ), is promoting its free ticket giveaway to college students to see the film and take their friends. And in an almost apologetic way, the ticket site includes a caveat stating that Cru “does not endorse the movie.” That’s the small-font italicized quip at the very bottom of the website’s page. A footnote.
Free tickets. Not endorsing.
Without giving any warning or explanation as to why they don’t endorse, the site provides four videos from Cru and Family Life leadership clearly endorsing and encouraging movie lovers to not miss this “wonderful” film.
Jordan Standridge shares his concern that in their approach to evangelism, many evangelicals actually look more like Joseph Smith than Jesus. In this piece over at The Cripplegate, Standridge lays out three areas in particular where Christians are tempted to behave like Mormons. He writes:
The other day I was getting ready to take the kids to our park when there was a knock on the door. Thinking it was a present from Amazon, I looked out only to find an even greater present: three Mormon missionaries. I’m sure you’ve experienced this. A long time goes by before your last visit and you start getting excited about the next time Mormons come knocking at your door. Every time I see Mormons, I get this sudden urge to talk to them. And every time I walk away discouraged and saddened for how blinding their religion is. And the cycle continues. Over the last few years, I’ve had many interactions with Mormon “elders.”
Mormons are usually very sweet people. They genuinely believe their religion, and they do believe that what they teach is the truth. They believe their religion is best and that you will be happiest if you follow it. But what is fascinating is the training that they receive before coming to your door. They are taught to focus on the positives. They are all about image and the way they present themselves. They are, in fact, salesmen, and they sell their product through smiles and offering “hope.” Over the last couple of years, I’ve asked Mormons what they are selling. I say, “Ok, you guys have come all the way to my house and to my door, what do you guys want me to do?” “What are you guys offering?” and whether it was Virginia, California or a random Chick-Fil-A in Georgia, they all said, “Happiness in this life and hope for the next!”
Went almost a full two hours today reading through and responding to Frank Turek’s 9/8 article in defense of Andy Stanley’s comments about the Bible and the resurrection. Much important information on the foundational and fundamental differences between the evidentialist/minimalist approach and a full-orbed biblical apologetic.
Here is the YouTube link:
The post Responding to Frank Turek’s Defense of Andy Stanley appeared first on Alpha and Omega Ministries.
From Berean Research:
There is no shortage of critics in the evangelical community who oppose those of us involved in what is called an online discernment ministry (ODM). Our well-meaning brethren often take “discerners” to task for reporting on false teachers and apostate movements within the visible Church. Moreover, we are chastised for being too focused on negative things, or being judgmental, hurtful, even hateful. Worse, some of us have lost friendships with those who complain that they’re tired of reading about wolf sightings. Some go so far as to say that ODM is not biblical.
Pastor Gary Gilley of Southern View Chapel wrote about this issue back in 2009 where he stated:
Despite the clear mandate given throughout the Scriptures concerning the necessity for biblical discernment and critique, most continue to be critical of the whole concept. Ironically, those who preach most tenaciously the need for tolerance are themselves intolerant of those who seek to faithfully follow God’s directives in this matter.
Pastor Gilley offers a biblical defense for the role of ODM in the Church.
Post by Phil Newton.
Suffixes have a way of distinguishing a word from its root, such as –ian. An electrician does not personally hold an electrical charge but he does work with electricity. A Washingtonian may not have the last name Washington but she does live or work in the nation’s capitol. One source states that the –ian ending indicates “one who engages in, practices, or works with the referent of the base noun.” So a Memphian engages life in Memphis. A contrarian practices a contrary-spirit or lifestyle. When we think of an authoritarian, we distinguish it from the mere use of authority that has been delegated in the work place, government, or church as one who instead, engages in or practices authority beyond its normal bounds, demanding strict obedience to his/her demands.
We’ve certainly witnessed authoritarians in the work place or worse, in governmental settings, where someone takes political authority beyond its normal bounds to become a dictator. That kind of authority demands lockstep allegiance at every point.
But sometimes authoritarianism invades the church. Occasionally, a long-standing, powerful church member holds an authoritarian sway over a church. In such settings, pastors tend to come and go at the whim of the lay authority abused by that one member. More often than not in a church setting, where the pastor that should be tenderly shepherding the flock purchased by the blood of Christ, grabs a rod of iron to control and manipulate. In such cases a congregation suffers where it should thrive.
The difference between exercising pastoral authority as a spiritual leader in a local church and the iron hand of authoritarianism is not a thin line but a wide gulf. Faithful pastors and elders understand the need for authority that gives structure, protection, care, and leadership to the church. Authority, in this case, is always derived rather than demanded. It is held and exercised gently under the Lordship of Jesus Christ—the Head of the Church, who has appointed particular spiritual leaders over His people (e.g. Acts 20:28; Eph. 4:11–16). It is used for the good of the flock, not for the personal desires of the one wielding it. Such authority equips and builds up the church, shepherding the congregation towards unity, maturity, and growing into the fullness of Christ (Eph. 4:12–13).
Jesus displayed the appropriate use of spiritual authority as He, the Lord of the Church, washed the feet of the disciples (see John 13) and laid down His life for the church (Acts 20:28). Peter called for shepherding and exercising congregational oversight without compulsion, without money grubbing, and without lording over the flock. Instead, a willing heart to serve, an eagerness to labor for the good of the body, and constancy in setting an example for the church characterizes the one who properly holds pastoral authority. He welcomes plural leadership to not only help him to serve the flock but to curb any temptation toward abusing authority (1 Pet 5:1–4). In the end, such a pastor knows that he will give an account to Jesus for how he treats His church (Heb. 13:17).
How do you recognize authoritarianism? An authoritarian pastor might preach “good” sermons in that he can exegete a text and deliver a homiletically thought-out structure with appropriate gestures and voice modulation. In other words, someone might hear him preach and think that he’s really good at it. But once out of the pulpit, an authoritarian typically lacks grace and tenderness toward others. He often uses the pulpit for his own purposes, attempting to bolster his position, undercut others, and even twist biblical texts with shrewd manipulation (that he calls “interpretation”) to emphasize his authority. His sloppy (that’s being charitable) hermeneutic finds the Old Testament texts related to authority in the theocratic nation particularly applicable to his pastoral position!
One thinks of Diotrephes, whom John warned Gaius and those associated with him, of his authoritarian ways (3 John 9–10). He loved to be first—so ultimately, the church gathering was all about him and not about Christ or the body. He rejected apostolic authority—so had no qualms about manipulating Scripture to gain control over others. He spoke unjust words, even accusing godly people of ungodliness—so resorted to slander to get his ways. He rejected faithful brothers and kept them out of the church—and so sought to control the church for his own desires.
Such a person lacks transparency, often resorting to secrecy and evasion in conversations, lest someone detect the real person behind the title. He’s unteachable, proved by his reluctance to listen to others or to seek out wise counsel. He avoids elder plurality or else tries to maneuver control over elders so that he might continue his iron handed ways. He manipulates, maybe even pouts and blusters, until he grasps control over the congregation. From that point, the façade might look like a normal church in terms of its services and activities. But those who get close enough realize that it’s all about the pastor, his ego, his lust for power and more. The flock of Christ suffers.
Rooting Out Authoritarianism
First, is the issue proper authority or authoritarianism? Make sure that is distinguished. Do not be hasty to level that accusation. Second, leaders in the church need to pray for wisdom, humility, and boldness in dealing with the out-of-control pastor. Only the Spirit can truly rescue this situation and bring glory to Christ. Third, while not receiving an accusation against an elder without two or three witnesses (1 Tim. 5:19–20), once that is certain, then privately confront the pastor concerning the biblical characteristics demanded in a pastor (1 Tim. 3:1–7; Titus 1:5–9). Approach this confrontation with humility, love, and with biblical authority, as well as a desire to help. Call for repentance, accountability, and immediate change of course, including practicing the biblical pattern of plural leadership. Some practical steps, e.g. establishing accountability, arranging counseling, and a leave of absence to work through the heart-changes, might prove useful. Fourth, if he does not respond, then Paul calls for public “rebuke in the presence of all, so that the rest also will be fearful of sinning” (1 Tim. 5:20). In such cases, carefully thought out church polity will steer the steps toward the public rebuke and likely dismissal.
Authoritarianism has no place in the church whose Head served, nurtured, shepherded, patiently taught, and laid down His life to redeem. Instead, pastors should be characterized by another suffix: Christian, one who practices and lives in Christ.
For further reading, see: “Authoritarianism in the Church.”
The post How to Diagnose and Treat Pastoral Authoritarianism appeared first on Founders.
In this bold and controversial sermon clip, Pastor John MacArthur calls out a greater terrorism than Muslim extremists—our own U.S. Supreme Court.
What are the acts of terror perpetrated by the U.S. Supreme Court according to MacArthur?
1. The legalization of abortion.
Since then, millions of babies have been slaughtered inside their mothers’ wombs. “The blood of those lives cries out from the ground for divine vengeance on this nation,” MacArthur says.
2. The legalization of same-sex marriage.
First came the destruction of motherhood and now the very family itself, MacArthur states. No bomb, no explosion, no attack and no assault on people physically can come anywhere near that kind of terrorism. “Our country is being terrorized by the people most responsible to protect it,” MacArthur says.
Do you agree with MacArthur? Are these two decisions by the Supreme Court more devastating than any other act of terror?
The post John MacArthur: The Two Greatest Acts of Terror in the U.S. Were Not Done By Muslims appeared first on ChurchLeaders.com.
Harvest America, with Greg Laurie, is coming to AT&T stadium near my house. This has sparked a lot of conversation lately for me. The conversation tends to end the same way each time. It ends with a question similar to this one, “If there are people that get saved what is wrong with calling people to walk an aisle and pray the sinner’s prayer?” I have had responses like this, “What does it matter if only a low percentage is saved that actually come forward if people are getting saved?” Other statements have gone like this, “If God saves people at these conferences it seems to be of God right?”
Before I go any further let me just say that, “It does seem that some fruit has come out of the Harvest Crusades.” I rejoice at the people that God saved out of these events despite what they do at the end!
Now, if people are getting saved from this crusade what is the problem? The problem is not with the people who are getting saved but with the false conversion it makes. Events like this make so many people believe they were saved because they made a decision. In a 1990 interview with PBS, Billy Graham thought that only about 25% of those who come forward at one of his events actually became a Christian. Not too bad right? In recent years, studies have shown that only 3% to 6% of people who “come forward” at an evangelistic crusade are any different in their beliefs or behavior one year later. Looks like 25% was a little too high of a guess.
What are the opposite numbers or statics of those who are false converts? By Billy Graham’s calculation, it would be 75% and by recent studies, it would be 97% to 94%. This is why I wrote this. Just look at the percentage of people who go forward that become false converts or fall away. Here is a Question to ask yourself. If your method of calling people to respond to the gospel is giving people false hope and does not save should you really do it? Where is the altar call or sinners prayer in the bible? If these things are not biblical why would you do it?
Paul Washer said, “Most people today in our churches are lost, and they demonstrate that they are lost because their entire Christianity is nothing more than, ‘They made a decision.’” Where in the bible does it say we are born again from a decision we make? I know it might look like the small percentage that went forward were saved by a decision but is that really the case? Faith is a gift of God. (Eph 2:8-9) Faith comes by hearing. (Rom 10:17) The gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes. (Rom 1:16) We find out, by Jesus, a correct response to the gospel is to “Repent and Believe the gospel.” (Mark 1:15)
Let’s us go back to the thought of did the people going forward get saved by what they did? To have an action one must have a cause. The gospel is what God uses to save people through His Holy Spirit. God seems to be the cause by giving people the gift of faith through hearing the gospel. In Mark 1:15, Jesus seems to be making a command. He does not seem to be saying, ” Just make a decision” or “Walk up here to me and be saved.” Jesus is telling people their response must be to, “repent and believe the gospel.”
So, would I recommend going to this crusade? I would not. The reason is simply because of the false conversion it causes. Without getting into the details of Greg’s soteriology, I cannot recommend this event simply on the basis of how they call people to respond to the gospel. If you are taking friends to this, please explain to them that one is only saved if they repent and believe the gospel. The object of a person’s faith should be Jesus, not something they did!
To Greg Laurie: Please look at the number of false converts that come out of things like this! I rejoice with how God is saving some of the people who go to your events! It is, however, sad that many people are given a false hope by you that they are saved. Where in the bible does it tell us we are supposed to tell people they are saved? Where in the bible does it give us an example prayer to pray to be saved? Please think about these things. Please call people to repent and believe the gospel and leave it at that.
[Guest Post by Jeremy Roten]
See also: John MacArthur withdraws endorsement of Greg Laurie’s Harvest Crusade.