Around this time each year we like to look back at the content we published over the past year to see what resonated with you, the reader. Our focus at The Southern Blog has been to produce content that serves the pastor, missionary, and/or church leader. As you serve the church, we strive to serve you with articles that stretch you theologically, encourage you personally, or assist you pastorally.
As we look forward to 2017, we are excited about some upcoming changes that will enable us to do this more effectively through a platform we are calling Southern Equip. We will be releasing more details in early January but we want you to know that Southern Seminary is more committed than ever to our mission of equipping ministers of the gospel for more faithful service, both in the classroom and beyond.
Here are this year’s most read articles on The Southern Blog:
Have you ever tried to pick a favorite hymn or Scripture passage when asked? Impossible, isn’t it? At least it is for me. I had similar feelings when my pastoral interns asked me to pick my top books every pastor should read. Too many to choose from and where does the list end? Nevertheless, they demanded this of me and I conceded.
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?
White American evangelicals increasingly do not have the luxury of simply looking away. We are being confronted with the inescapable reality that so many of our black and brown sisters and brothers have experienced for so long. And yet I find that many white pastors feel inadequate, convicted, confused, and fearful about what their pastoral duty is at this moment. But silence is not an option.
We are stewards of the next generation, entrusted to bring up our children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Eph 6:4). That responsibility compels us to preemptively and proactively lead this conversation. They must learn and implement Scripture so that by the Holy Spirit’s power they may harness social media for good (Ps 119:9-11).
So many of the mistakes and missteps a pastor makes in a church struggling and needing revitalization comes from a lack of knowledge of what to do. The absence of clear thinking on this matter causes a pastor to listen to all kinds of different voices and hastily react to what he finds and hears in his church. Some say change everything immediately. Others urge a pastor to look outside the church for new life. If a pastor does not have a solid handle of what to do and even a better idea of what not to do, he will react and make quick decisions based on the mess he finds.
The early years of a young pastor’s ministry do not have to be marked by tension, stress, and hard feelings. By focusing on several simple tasks in the first year of ministry, a young pastor can lay the groundwork for a fruitful, God-glorifying ministry.
In the spring of 2014, I made one of the most gut-wrenching decisions of my adult life: I resigned as pastor of a church that had called me little more than three years before.
The decision took many, many weeks, much prayer, and I made it with a deep sense of fear and trembling. If there is anything more difficult than discerning the call to a church, it might be deciding the proper time to leave it.
To be sure, some churches are filled with unregenerate members who would not respond to the apostle Paul. Some churches wouldn’t follow a pastor’s leadership no matter how spiritual or skillful he is. But often conflicts arise because well-intentioned pastors make rookie mistakes—the missteps that occur at the intersection of the ideal and reality.
In the aftermath of the Orlando massacre, where 49 people were killed and over 50 injured at a gay night club, Christians weep for the loss of life and are left wondering what to say or do. On social media, trending topics have included gun control, terrorism, homophobia, and Islamic extremism. In light of the terrorist’s professed allegiance to ISIS and other radical Islamic groups, it is especially important for Christians to distinguish between the Quran’s teaching on homosexuality and the Bible’s. Now, more than ever, it is important we convey gospel-centered compassion, even as we hold firm to biblical truth.
When the rocket burns off the fuel for lift-off and the fluttering fall to earth is over, the regrets, the “if-onlys”, and “what-ifs” haunt them for years—unnecessarily. Those considering long-term missions should ask the following questions to minimize the dangers of rushing in unadvisedly, and the answers received should be the result of prayer, counsel, and searching the Scriptures.