Today's Word for Pastors...
But every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.
1 John 4:3-4
Today's Preaching Insight...
Good and Faithful
I wonder what Paul's reaction would be if he saw us today, the American church. I wonder what would be his response to observing our efforts toward becoming "user-friendly" churches.
Faithfulness to the Gospel message of salvation only through faith in Jesus Christ and the faithful teaching and preaching of the Scriptures is not always that popular. Humorous, interesting, anecdotal, clever rhetoric is "user friendly" and can draw great crowds. However, when the popular preacher moves to another city or discredits himself through scandalous activities, people tend to flee to another place which we will call "The Church of What's Happening Now."
There are those who periodically put before every pastor a printout of the attendance record. And every month we see the financial statistics. I don't see anywhere in the Bible that the size of weekly attendance and the size of offering are listed as indexes of spiritual vitality. When we step into the presence in the day of believers' judgment I see no index in the Bible that He will respond something like this: "Well, done, you saints at St. Andrew's. In twenty-five years you grew your budget from $500,000 to over $2,000,000, plus paid off an additional $16.5 million building program. I am a bit concerned that a couple of those years you did not end in the black, and that there are times when your attendance plateaued and even slipped a bit."
No, you will find nothing like that in the Bible.
Instead, we are told to look forward to that day when Jesus looks into our eyes and says, "Well done thou good and faithful servant. Enter your eternal rest!"
I remember those early years of my ministry here when I was, with great regularity, compared negatively to the preaching of other popular megachurch preachers, who were funnier, more entertaining, brighter, more scintillating. Every pastor I know feels the pain of being compared to someone else who has a different set of gifts, someone else who is blessed to have a dynamic radio or television ministry. Thank God for all expressions that are faithful to Jesus Christ. But never compromise and major on minors to look good and avoid persecution for the sake of the Cross of Jesus Christ and faithfulness to God's Word. Paul observes that some of the Galatians are emphasizing the externals of such things such as circumcision for the wrong reasons: "The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ" (Galatians 6:12).
Faithfulness to Jesus Christ does not produce an easy life. In fact, the people we most admire have paid a price for faithfulness.
I love these words of Mother Teresa: "I know God won't give me anything I can't handle. I just wish He didn't trust me so much."
This Week's Book
The House Church Book
There is much discussion today about the emergence of house churches as a significant movement. The House Church Book (Tyndale) is a very sympathetic treatment of the phenomenon by Wolfgang Simson. The book advocates house churches and offers counsel on developing such gatherings. The book was originally published in the UK, and this is a revised work.
Preaching magazine is the premier resource for those who proclaim the Word. To begin your own subscription and get a free year of issues, go to http://magazine.preaching.com/subscribe/.