For over 2000 years, Christians have sought to follow after God. The church's long history involves everything from monasticism to the Crusades, from mysticism to Campus Crusade. We stand in a long line of men and women who have devoted their lives, and sometimes paid with death, for the sake of the gospel.
[Disclaimer: The following includes a graphic retelling of an historical martyrdom. So, gird up your loins, and read on.]
Can you imagine having to face persecution and martyrdom as a new Christian? That’s exactly the situation in which Perpetua, Felicity, and their small group of fellow converts found themselves. However, God was faithful and sent them a pastor to shepherd them through their trial.
As you may have heard before, Katie and I have recently moved to Fort Worth. Now, we need to go through the difficult (and important!) process of finding a local church to join.
I don't presume to have all the answers, but I would like to publicly go through this search, so that perhaps we can all learn something. In this series, I hope to explain what I am specifically looking for in a church, detail how I am going about looking, and perhaps, relate some of my experiences to you.
For anyone who has followed the steps outlined above, by this point, you have gathered information about the churches, have a feel for the weekly gatherings, have been able to meet and know lots of different people, and have learned the churches’ passions by meeting with the pastors.
Since I first read Kevin DeYoung’s Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God’s Will—or—How to Make a Decision Without Dreams, Visions, Fleeces, Impressions, Open Doors, Random Bible Verses, Casting Lots, Liver Shivers, Writing in the Sky, etc., I have recommended it to three different people. Each of them found it very helpful. DeYoung’s little book (it’s only 128 small pages with large, spacious text) is a succinct summary of a Biblical approach to decision making.
Many Christians, especially among my generation, have a hard time “just doing something.” Many of my peers seem perpetually
A little while back, PJ tackled the topic of the the Lord's Supper, drawing particular attention the issue of frequency. The ensuing discussion highlighted a number of different views on how often the church should come to the Table together. PJ and I haven't changed our minds: we think that the infrequency with which we partake of the Lord's Supper indicates the low value we place on it. The pragmatic costs seem to outweigh the spiritual benefits, as far as most Christians are concerned—an unfortunate view.
Discernment is one of the missing arts of the Christian walk. Too often, evangelical Christians believe anything they read as long as it is a “Christian” publication. We need to remember that discernment is important—that sometimes, being critical is good.
Here is what I mean: when I speak critically of a book, one of the responses I nearly always get is, "But so-and-so really grew by reading that book!" Close behind is, "But the author means well, and he is trying to say good things, so
According to any number of surveys you can find on the Internet (e.g., this one), somewhere around 1 in 4 young adults quit church altogether within five years of leaving direct parental care.
Why? At least in part, it is because the church is failing singles, especially young singles—both by looking down on them and by failing to offer opportunities for growth, ministry, and discipleship. How can we do better?
Alvin Reid is consistently an insightful voice into the often controversial swirl of thinking about youth ministry. A professor at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, his focus is on teaching his students to do youth ministry in such away that the gospel is primary, Christ is central, and God is glorified. It's good stuff.
Over the past month, he has blogged about reaching the coming generation—the challenges and opportunities available
Chase Russell currently works as a director of children’s ministry with One by One Nicaragua, a team dedicated to bringing the gospel to the next generation of Nicaraguans. He is passionate about getting the gospel right with children. In this article series, he examines one of the biggest mistakes we can make in children’s ministry and suggests some helpful correctives.
"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?' And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'” (Matthew 7:21-23)
I believe the key difference in a truly regenerate life (in contrast with a life characterized only by Bible knowledge and good behavior) is
One of this site's goals is to encourage its readers to be more thoughtful believers—to be those who are not content merely to drift along with the tides of current or popularity, but instead continually refine their understanding to be more in line with God's word. This is hard work, and it requires us to be thinkers—a somewhat unusual undertaking in a culture (both inside and outside the church) that values emotion and subjectivity far more than reason and objectivity. Again and again, we do our best to emphasize that neither emotion nor intellect should be supreme, but the two should be balanced in submission to the word of God.
In the past year, I have watched a number of my friends head off to the mission field—one to South America, another to Southeast Asia, and others to yet more places. Some of them have gone about raising support individually; others are being supported by mission organizations that have accepted them. Not one of them is earning an income outside of their vocational ministry.
In contrast, I have watched a number of my friends head off to seminary—a few to Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, one to Reformed Theological Seminary, others elsewhere.
[Pillar on the Rock is devoted to teaching roundly and thoroughly on the church. From time to time, we'll put up articles that address issues in academia because the academy is deeply involved in preparing future leaders for church ministry. This book review is the first such article. We hope it is helpful and encouraging!]
In The Elder and Overseer,1 Ben Merkle, Asst. Prof. of New Testament at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, persuasively argues (against the current majority opinion) that the office of elder (presbuteros) and overseer (episkopos) are synonymous throughout the New Testament. Merkle originally wrote this as a Ph.D dissertation under the supervision of both Mark Seifrid and Tom Schreiner at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Recently deceased New Testament scholar E. Earle Ellis served as an outside reader for the project.