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Showing posts from May, 2015

The Church 10: Pastoral Ministry, as Richard Baxter Saw It

The Church 10: Pastoral Duties, as Richard Baxter Saw It

In the previous post on the Church (number 9), I made public my musings during seminary graduation. Whatever the point of the graduation addresses to the students year after year, the single message that rings in my head on such occasions is, ‘Be ministers of the Word of God.’ In that post, I mentioned the puritan minister, Richard Baxter. In this post, I would like to mention a few more of Baxter’s pointsto those who take up pastoral ministry.
In 1656, Baxter produced reflections on pastoral ministry in a work entitled The Reformed Pastor.[1]  His discussion of pastoral duties comes in three parts that overlap.  They are:
(1)Teaching every person, disciplining persons in the church, and uniting with others for the work of the Lord; (2)personal pastoral care; (3)specific duties of pastoral ministry.
What follows is a brief description of this advice on pastoral ministry in Baxter’s own words (apologies to readers who are not acquainte…

The Church 9: Ministers of the Word of God

This is the season of graduation, and I recently watched quite a few of my own students receive their seminary degrees.  It is always a joyful occasion to see the graduation of students one has, as a Bible professor, taught over the years to be faithful ministers of the Word of God.  I have never been asked to deliver a graduation address; an outside speaker is brought in to do this.  My job is over, and I sit back to reflect on the work accomplished, consider each student’s gifts and training, and watch the graduation exercises.
I have listened to a good number of graduation addresses over the years.  These are occasional (epideictic) speeches, flaring up for a moment in the context of the larger event of graduation, then forgotten, for the most part, as the parade of graduates exits the building.  The important things that needed to be said were already taught in the pursuit of the degree.  Yet, one final lesson pounds in my head during these graduation exercises year after year: ‘Be…

Why Foreign Missions? 20p: A Gospel of Transforming Power

Why Foreign Missions? 20p: A Gospel of Transforming Power

Paul speaks of the Gospel as the ‘power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith’ (Rom. 1.16).  Why is it that Paul does not say that the Gospel is the 'forgiveness of God for salvation'—why the ‘power of God for salvation'?  This question is relevant not only for understanding Paul's Gospel; it is also a most relevant question for our day as well.

There is an inadequate Evangelical theology that narrows the Biblical understanding of both sin and redemption.  On the one hand, it understands sin in terms of behaviour and actions and not also in terms of thoughts, the heart, passions, dispositions, and orientations.  The Anglican confession of sin correctly presses our understanding of sin to include more than behaviour:
We acknowledge and repent of our many sins and offenses, which we have committed by thought, word, and deed, against your divine majesty, provoking most justly your righteous anger against us.

The Church 8: Practicing the Presence of Pastoring

The Church 8: Practicing the Presence of Pastoring
A missing component in many churches today is, well, pastoring!  Pastoring is all about the practice of being present in people’s lives.  The word ‘pastor’, after all, is related in Greek to the word ‘shepherd’, and if there is one thing shepherds are known for it is being present with their sheep.  To illustrate the point, I will give three examples of pastoral ministry that address the importance of presence—presence with the people.
One story of pastoring that stands out in my mind is of a pastor I have known for many years.  The story is illustrative of his whole approach to pastoral ministry.  Once he visited a woman from the church at her home.  Her husband never attended the church and, as I recall, was something of a ‘deadbeat’.  When the pastor visited on one occasion, the man simply stayed in the bedroom watching television.  The pastor knocked on the bedroom door and entered the room.  He said, ‘What are you watching?’ and,…