The church should never stray far from its historical faith. Still, between sermon prep, home visits, weddings, and other commitments, the average pastor often struggles to find time to read church history. Following are three reasons pastors should do so—for the good of their churches and their own souls.
It has been estimated that the average human being utters between 10,000 and 20,000 words per day. Consider that fact in light of Solomon’s words in Proverbs 10:19: “When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.” If the average person speaks between 10,000 and 20,000 words each day, then we are looking at 10,000 to 20,000 opportunities to sin.
Moving back to the states for missionaries can be jarring. Reverse culture shock is real. Everything feels new, from HOA rules to driving etiquette to homeschool regulation. But the one thing we could wish would be familiar, even easy—with a measure of comfort in a homey sort of way—is attending church. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.
In my own experience I’ve recently returned from the Middle East to find the American church to be almost an entirely distinct species. It might be the culture shock talking, but sometimes it seems that we have about as much in common with the people next to us in the pew as penguins do with robins. And I’m guessing that I’m not the only missionary to feel this way.
No one denies that a preaching class and some coaching can help anyone become better. What we question is the possibility that someone with no natural giftedness and ability can be taught well enough that he can become really good.
On the first day of the semester, or the first time I hear a student preach, I have no way of knowing if he has what it takes or is willing to do what he must to be the preacher he needs to be, but I can usually tell by the second sermon if he does, because that is when he has to act on what I told him after his first sermon.
What makes the difference?
Few weeks go by without someone reminding pastors that 85 percent to 90 percent of churches are plateaued or declining. This means at least four out of five pastors lead churches in need of revitalization. The work is difficult. For every story of a declining church that turned around and began to reach its community, there are hundreds of stories of pastors working hard but seeing few visible results. If this is your situation, consider these encouragements to continue laboring in a situation where the fruit is not visible.
David Brainerd was a missionary to the American Indians in New York, New Jersey, and eastern Pennsylvania. Brainerd’s primary method in his mission work was Christ-centered preaching. According to Brainerd, Christ was the energizing center of every sermon but he is also the mark, or the goal of every sermon.
More than any other aspect of a pastor’s calling, prayer is the most difficult to maintain. Prayer requires time. And prayer is usually most fruitful when done in a quiet place, without constant interruption or distraction. Unfortunately, prayer doesn’t demand your attention.
Much missions activity throughout the years has been zeal without knowledge and action without forethought. How many returned missionaries continue to wrestle with false guilt about putting their hand to the plow but looking back, wondering if they are fit for the kingdom any longer. Often, the “plow” was one of their own choosing, and it was chosen in haste.
It isn’t the first time we’ve seen it. A black man shot to death by a white police officer. And yet, this week’s disturbingly horrific images of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile being gunned down have struck a nerve. At the same time, reports are coming in–even as I write this–of attacks on police officers, … Continued
Humans were created to know God. A human who does not know God is not fully human. Jesus is the only way to know God. Go to a college where the whole curriculum is designed to glorify Jesus and therefore make you fully human.