Friday, May 18, 2012

The Required Character of a Church Leader

(Especially for Deacons, Elders and Pastors)

    There were certain qualifications given to the godly leader in the Old Testament.
He had to possess the credentials of godly character (Ex. 18:21;Deut. 1:13). He had
to have a spiritual disposition and enablement from the Lord, and he had to possess
an authorized call or election to the office.

    In the New Testament, God requires His offices be filled by male believer-priests
who manifest the right equipment (Rom. 12:8; 1 Cor. 12:11, 28; Eph. 4:11f), the right  motivation (Phil 2:13; 1 Tim. 3:1) and the right qualities (1 Tim. 3:1-7; Ti. 1:5-9).

Right Equipment
That is, they have the right gifts for the job. God endows these men with certain gifts
and gives the men to His church (Mk. 16:15-18; Lk. 21:15; 24:49; Acts 1:8;
1 Tim. 5:22; 3:1-7; Ti. 1:7). He must be gifted and able to exhort (1 Thess. 2:11,12),
lead (1 Cor. 12:28; 1 Thess. 5:12, 13; 1 Tim. 3:5; 5:17), serve (Acts 20:24f; Rom.
15:26-33), share his resources with others (Acts 4; Eph. 4:28),  and show mercy
(Matt. 25; 1 Cor. 12:28).

Right Motivation
     What we mean is that he has the inward call from God. He is responsive to the
gifting and the call of the Holy Spirit in his life (Acts 20:28), and hence he desires
(1 Tim. 3:1) the office. His motives are biblical and Christ-like (1 Peter 5:1ff).
     Not only does one have the inward call of God, but  the community of  God must
recognize his call as a qualified and legitimate call (Acts 6). He cannot merely assume
that because he may be gifted and has that inner motive that he can assume the office
of elder. He must also be properly called of God through the means of God’s church
(Jer. 23:32; Rom. 10:15; Heb. 5:4).

Right Qualities or Character of a Godly Leader
     As Kevin Reed points out, “these qualities focus upon the three important aspects
of a man’s life: his moral behavior, his knowledge of Christian doctrine, and his family
life. An elder continually will be in public view. The respect an officer receives often
depends more on an example of good character than from anything else about him”
(Biblical Church Government, p. 9). All godly men should have these qualities, but
the man who is selected for the office of elder must be measured by these qualities
to see if he is ready for the office (1 Tim. 5:22; 2 Tim. 2:2; Ti, 2:7,8).

Some essential characteristics of a good, natural leader:
1.    Courage
2.    Decisive
3.    Discipline
4.    Executive ability
5.    Friendship
6.    Humility
7.    Humor
8.    Inspirational ability
9.    Patience
10.    Righteous anger
11.    Vision
12.    Wisdom

The Biblical Character of a Godly Leader

(As you advance through this list of character traits, rate yourself on a scale of 1-10: 
1 meaning this character trait is lacking, almost difficult to notice in your life; while 10
would mean that you are very, very strong and are a good example of this quality.
How would your spouse, child(ren) or close friend rate you? How would your work
mate rate you?)

1.  Above reproach        (1 Tim. 3:2;  Titus 1:6)
     Not to be laid hold of; nothing is open to rebuke.
     Here is the reference to the general character or sum total of those godly virtues.
     It means you are not open to censure, having an impeachable integrity; in accord
     with Biblical requirement for leadership.

     Score:    __________        __________        __________

2.  Restrained Control    (1 Tim. 3:2; 1 Thess. 5:6,8)
     You are temperate. There is a sobriety of life, free from excesses; not inebriated
     with the issues of life. It has the idea of being self-controlled through the work of
     the Spirit of God (Gal. 5; Phil. 2:13)  and by godly wisdom.  It does not carry with it
     the idea of a strictly disciplined person, but rather one who is disciplined and
     properly flexible in the use and application of all things for the glory of God.

     a.   Restrained control in that you are gentle    
          (2 Sam. 22:36; Psalm 18:35; 1 Timothy 3:2,3)

          The idea of gentleness, a very important quality in a godly leader, is that of
          being patient, mild, reasonable, full of grace and graciousness.  This comes to
          light in not defending or insisting on one’s own ways. Gentleness sees people
          as sensitive beings; it deals with people where they are. The gentle man shows
          carefulness in choosing words and expressions so as not to offend unneedfully
          (Gal. 6:1).  He reflects care, affection and good-will toward others (Eph. 4:2).
          He is not abrupt or critical in his communications. It is a quality the godly leader
          is to pursue (1 Tim. 6:11).  In short, he exercises the fruit of God’s Spirit (Gal.
          5:23; Phil. 4:5).

          Here are some characteristic ways one is biblically gentle:      
           (1)  A true gentle man
                 •    approachable (his personality has no sharp edges; after all, you cannot
                      hug a porcupine)
                 •    firm, but diplomatic even when correcting opponents (Gal. 6:1; 2 Tim.
                 •    kind and gracious like Jesus Christ (Matt. 11:29; Acts 24:4; 2 Cor. 10:1;
                      1 Thess. 2:7)
                 •    his wisdom is a biblical wisdom exercised in gentleness (James 3:17)

               Score:    __________        __________        __________

         (2) Gentle in that you are not pugnacious   (1 Tim. 3:3; Ti. 1:7 )
               Not a striker; not prone to violence; not given to blows; not a fighter. 
               You are not one who is harsh with words. You don’t lash out when hurt or
               incite arguments, or alienate people by your attacking manner. Not eager to
               make his point or get his way. You don’t follow through with your hot temper.
               (Prov. 3:30; 15:18; 17:14; 20:3; 25:8; 26:17; Phil. 2:3)

              Score:    __________        __________        __________

          (3) Gentle in that you are not quarrelsome     (1 Tim. 3:2, 3; 2 Tim. 2:14)
              Adverse to verbal fighting, quarreling, arguing. Knows what, when, and
              how to argue rightly. No tendency to delight in outdoing others and defeating
              their ideas and beliefs; thus, no harsh dogmatism or a strongly offensive
              approach toward people. Not a contentious disputer.
              (1 Tim. 6:3-5; 2 Tim. 2:22-26; Ti. 3:9)

             On the positive side, you have a sense of peace, tranquility, and calmness.
             You are a peacemaker; one who is able to bring calm to a stormy situation.
             (Eccl. 10:4; Matt. 5:9; Rom. 12:18; 14:19; Heb. 12:14; Jas. 3:17)

              Score:    __________        __________        __________

     b.  Restrained control in that you are not greedy    (1 Tim. 3:3; Ti. 1:7)
          The acquisition of money or things (that which sustains or makes up life) is not
          seen as a high priority in your life. Your life is characterized by simplicity and
          humility in attitude and economic style. Heavenly priorities dominate (Matt. 6:33).
          You possessions should not reflect comfort-seeking in things or in undue
          accumulation of things unneedful. You have a firm conviction in resisting
          dishonest and shady methods for acquiring money or things. Free from the love
          of money.

          One of the deadly sins of a godly leader:
              1 Tim. 6:5-10; Acts 20:33; 2 Tim. 3:6-7

          Score:    __________        __________        __________

    c.   Restrained control in that you are not given to selfish anger     (Ti. 1:7)
          You are not prone to anger; not overly passionate. No  trigger temper or character
          that is generally irritable. Not too easily offended, thus unapproachable and      
          unpredictable in temper. (Pro. 16:32)

          Score:    __________        __________        __________

    d.   Restrained control in that you are not given to much wine  (1 Tim. 3:3; Ti. 1:7)
          You do not linger over wine. You are not over-indulgent or a drunk.  You control
          the wine, it does not control you.  The principle is one of control over bodily
          (Gen. 19; Prov. 20:1; 23; Eccles. 10:17; Isa. 5:11; Isa. 28:1; Luke 21:34;
           Rom. 13:13; Eph. 5:18)

           Score:    __________        __________        __________

     e.  Overall character is that you are self-controlled     (Ti. 1:8)
          You have a mastery over self. Your passions and appetites are controlled.
          You are not lazy, gluttonous or given to filthy talk (Eph. 5:4). You have an
          ordered life, one reflecting heavenly pursuits and priorities. (Acts 24:25;
          Rom. 6:12; Jas. 3:2; 2 Pet. 1:5-7; Matt. 26:41; 1 Cor. 10:12; 1 Pet. 5:8)

          Score:    __________        __________        __________

3.  Humble ( you are not self-willed)    (Luke 14:10; Phil 2:3; Ti. 1:7; Jas. 4:10;
     1 Pet. 5:5)
     This means that you are not seeking to please yourself. You are not willful,
     obstinate, domineering, arrogant.  You do not stand hard on “everything” you
     believe, and do not insist on your own way, ideas, or beliefs. You have a genuine
     interest in others and in what they say.  Being self-willed is also characteristic of one
     who delights much in his own appearance, performance, or status to the obvious    
     neglect of others.  Humility is being teachable, thinking rightly about yourself
     (Rom. 12:3, 10, 16), seeing yourself before the face of God

     Score:    __________        __________        __________

4.  Holy    (Ti. 1:8)
     Religiously, biblically devout, pious. Consistent in carrying out the basic Gospel
     duties in private and public affairs of life. Living out the Spirit-filled life of Christ.
     (Lev. 11:45; Luke 1:74,75; 2 Cor. 7:1; Heb. 12:14; 1 Pet. 1:16; 2 Pet. 3:11)

     Score:    __________        __________        __________

5.   Hospitable    (1 Tim. 3:2; 5:10;  Ti. 1:9; 1 Pet. 4:9)
     The love of Christ in you exhibits itself by loving your neighbor as yourself. 
     You are kind to others, even strangers; generous.  This love of your heart is
     expressed in the open door, demonstrating a kind, compassionate, welcoming
     Savior. The biblical leader is a pacesetter in this. (Rom. 12:13; Heb. 13:2)

     Score:    __________        __________        __________

6.  Just     (Ti. 1:8)
     Means upright, righteous.  Impartial in dealing with people. You are able to
     forget personal interests and seek the truth in situations, in inter-personal conflicts,
     or as an umpire over differences. You speak what is right; with an ability to hear
     both sides and weigh the evidence honestly. (Deut. 16:20; Psa. 82:3;  Prov. 21:3;
     Isa. 56:1; Rom. 13:7; Col. 4:1)

     Score:    __________        __________        __________

7.  Lover of good    (Ti. 1:8)
     You have a love of virtue, good men and good things. Your affections are
     attached toward the Lord, to good things and godly people rather than being
     drawn toward worldly pleasures and gratifications.  Your concern is toward
     holiness, Spirit-empowered obedience to God’s Word, an anticipation of the
     world to come. You have a love of God’s truth rather than such things as position,
     fame, abilities, possessions, etc., which are soon to pass away. (1 Thess. 5:21;
     Heb. 3:6; 4:14; 10:23; Rev. 3:3)

     Score:    __________        __________        __________

8.  Prudent    (1 Tim. 3:2; Ti. 1:8)
     In other words you have a sound and self-controlled mind. You are temperate.
     Not controlled by impulse but by principle. You are responsible, as opposed to
     a feeling-oriented life. Your life reflects Biblical priorities, demonstrates sound
     thinking, and right decision making because you are thinking God’s thoughts
     about the issues of life.

     Score:    __________        __________        __________

9.  Respectable    (1 Tim. 3:2)
     Well-ordered, well-arranged, decorous in behavior and speech. The term may refer
     to  a. Manners, etiquette, and personal habits; 
          b. Simplicity of life-style rather than eccentricity or extravagance; or               
          c. A general reference to a rightly ordered life.

     You have  inoffensive and unblameable socially acceptable manners. You are
     gentlemanly in your  treatment of women, in your dress, hygiene, eating habits,
     sociability with various people. You are respectable because you respect others
     (men, women, young, old). You are unpretentious, modest, with an easy going
     Score:    __________        __________        __________

Have You Been Called to Pastoral Ministry?

A godly leader must have a proper motivation for leadership. Biblical leadership is a role, as much as it is a quality of character and an endowment of gifts. Biblical leadership is faithful service of a faith-filled servant.  

God has given each of His people a calling. The first, and most important calling is to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  God calls all people through the means of the proclamation of the Good News about Jesus Christ (His sacrificial work of life and death for the sins of His people was accepted by God, so God raised Him from the dead and placed Jesus at the Father’s right hand in the heavenlies). This general calling is a universal one presented all to whom the Gospel is preached,  to receive and believe upon Jesus Christ and His work of salvation. This is an external calling (Matthew 22:14; Matthew 28:19; Luke 14:16-24; Acts 13:46; 2 Thessalonians 1:8; 1 John 5:10). It is a sincere presentation of the Good News in Christ to sinners, exhorting them to turn from their sins and turn to God for the forgiveness of their sins in belief. This is a universal calling in that the Gospel is freely offered to any and all who would only believe. God does not consider one’s gender, nationality, race, or status in life when giving this call (Isaiah 55:1ff; Joel 2:32; Matt. 11:28; 22:14; John 3:16; Acts 18:9,10; 2 Cor. 5:20; Rev. 22:17)

Yet there is also a special calling from God. This calling is internal. The Holy Spirit brings the Gospel message to the very heart of the person, and that person is able to receive and believe the Good News of salvation. This is also called an effectual calling. It is effectual because the external call is made effective by the work of the Holy Spirit (Acts 13:48; Romans 1:6; 8:29,30; 11:29; 1 Corinthians 1:23-26; Hebrews 9:15; 2 Peter 1:10 Revelation 17:14).

What we mean is that a person has the inward call from God, so he is responsive to the gifting and the call of the Holy Spirit in his life (Acts 20:28), and hence he desires the office he has as a believer in Christ (a son of God, a co-heir, etc.).

Every believer has another calling in life. That would be to fulfill the God-given mandate to live life before the face of God by applying his gifts and talents God has given to him to all of life. This calling is a person’s vocation. The vocation is more than a job. It is living out and doing what God has placed within him to be and do in life. It might be as a plumber, or musician, a teacher or an artist. God is honored and glorified by this, as much as He is glorified and pleased by those whom He has called to particular kingdom office (deacon, elder or pastor).

The godly leader also has a more specific call for his role as leader. All Christian men are called to fulfill their leadership responsibilities in the various areas to which they were called (husband, father, son, etc.) This means the man is exercising his “kingship” as vicegerent to the Lord in all areas of his life.

Still others receive a more particular call to church office (1 Tim. 3:1). His motives are to be biblical and Christ-like (1 Peter 5:1ff).  Not only does one have the inward call of God, but also that call must be recognized as a qualified and legitimate call by the community of God’s people (Acts 6). He cannot merely assume that because he may be gifted and has that inner motive that he can assume the office in God’s church. . He must also be properly called of God through the means of God’s church (Jer. 23:32; Rom. 10:15; Heb. 5:4). This is what is called ordination.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

What is Ordination?

1.    Just because one believes he is called and gifted, does not necessarily make it so.
The gentleman could be self-deluded.  One important concept in the selection process
to church office is that of emergence. In other words, qualified and gifted men will
emerge or rise to the top and be recognized by God’s people and leaders (Acts 6;
20:28; 1 Tim. 3:1). Scripture tells us that there is both the subjective and the objective
call of a man to office.

2.    Once the man has emerged, existing elders are to formally recognize them and
ordain them to ministry (1 Tim. 4:14). The man comes legitimately to the office, not on
his own, but by the appointment to serve (Acts 13:1-3; 14:23; Ti. 1:5).

3.    Ordination is an act that sets a man apart to the office. It is the church’s solemn
affirmation of and its public witness to his qualification, gifts, and calling.

4.    This is important to the purity and sound governance of God’s Church because
the person so ordained is ordained to a position established by God for His church.
     a.    The elder in official capacity comes as a shepherd appointed to the office by
     b.    He receives the mandate to minister under God with crucial duties
          (1)     as a servant (Matt. 20:25; Lk. 22:26),
          (2)    and as a shepherd (1 Peter 5)
          (3)    with care (1 Tim. 3:5)
          (4)    watching over their souls (Heb. 13:17),
          (5)    through love (Jn. 21:16).
     c.    He will also minister in Christ’s name by
          (1)    showing compassion for the distressed (Matt. 9:36; Mk. 6:34; Jas. 5:14),
          (2)    as one willing to lay down his life for them (Jn. 10:11ff).
     d.    He will guard the church (Acts 20:28)
     e.    He must serve it with diligence (Rom. 12:8; 1 Thess. 5:12; 1 Tim. 5:17;
          2 Tim. 2:15)
     f.    He must do so as a good example (1 Pet. 5:3).

5.    So, this godly office created by Christ (2 Cor. 3:9; 4:6) must be perpetuated
with sound, godly and faithful men who are gifted, called, and qualified (1 Tim. 1:11;
3:1-7; 4:14). It must be perpetuated through the laying on of hands by ordained
elders of the church (Acts 6:6; 13:3; 14:23; 19:6; 1 Tim. 1:5; 2 Tim. 1:6)

How to Love My Pastor

(An application of 1 Corinthians 13)
All of these qualities of love find their source and perfect expression in God through
Jesus Christ. If I am truly in Christ, we should express these loving qualities more
and more, even toward my pastor.  Fill in the blank spaces with your pastor’s name.

1.  Does my communication with ____________________ come from a heart of love
     or  am I just an irritating noise maker (1 Cor. 13:1)?

2.  Do I use the gifts God has given me to lovingly serve  ____________________  
    (1 Cor. 13:2)?

3.  Do I love ____________________ sacrificially?  In what specific ways do I do so?
     (1 Cor. 13:3)?

4.  Am I patient with ____________________?  In other words, do I show an enduring
     restraint with him even when I have a right to act? Do I restrain my words and
     actions when wronged or provoked when I have a right to act, unless there is a
     particular sin I need to address through gentle rebuke (Matt. 18:15-22; Gal. 6:1).

5.  Am I kind toward ____________________? Kindness proceeds from a tender heart
     that contributes to his good will and happiness (1 Cor. 13:4).

6.  I am not envious of ____________________.  I do not feel an uneasiness with the 
     excellence, reputation or happiness he enjoys.  I have no desire to depreciate him
     (1 Cor. 13:4)
7.  I do not brag about myself to ____________________.  This means that I do not
     have an anxious display of myself for the  purpose of elevating my own life,
     especially at the expense of putting him down.  I do not campaign for the center of
     attention (1 Cor. 13:4).

8.  I am not arrogant, puffed up or swollen with a proud vanity (1 Cor. 13:4).

9.  I am considerate and not rude with ____________________.  I do not act
     unbecomingly or unseemly toward him, nor unnecessarily embarrass him
     (1 Cor. 13:5). 

10. I seek ____________________’s greatest good and benefit (1 Cor. 13:5).

11. I am not easily provoked or angered by ____________________.  I do not have
     a trigger temper that stems from bitterness (1 Cor. 13:5).

12. I do not keep a record of the wrongs suffered by ____________________ from
     which to make a plan for retaliation.  Especially since Jesus Christ took the registry
     of my sins and my pastor’s sins and paid for them with his own sacrificial life and
     death (1 Cor. 13:5). 

© D. Thomas Owsley

What Pastors are "Supposed" to Consider When Preaching

Everyone knows good preaching - when they hear it. The problem often is, "good preaching" is rarely defined, but is almost always based upon each person's preferences. The pastor, who normally has to go through some sort of training, whether Bible school and/or seminary, is taught how to preach. The problem there is, "good preaching" is defined by the instructor and the books he uses as references.

I had three professors in seminary, and two in my doctoral program, who taught preaching (homiletics is the technical term). Each of the three seminary professors had quite different philosophies and methodologies for preaching. They did, however, agree on the basics of communication (voice projection, speed, volume, posture, eye contact, etc.).

In three of the churches I served there were many armchair professionals who insisted on critiquing (sometimes not a bad thing), criticizing (always a bad thing), or telling me how I ought to preach - and this coming from those who never studied the subject of preaching, or learned the art of communication, or had any experience in either!

About seven years ago, armchair professionals who were also elders, embarked on a mission to make me the best preacher ever. Problem was, they had not defined what good preaching was, let alone what best preaching was, and they had no training in either preaching or communication. They did know that they wanted me to preach like their favorite preacher; and they each had one who were about as different from the others as you could get.

They did me a favor, though. It provoked me to go back and get my doctorate, take additional classes in preaching and communication, and embark on a three year mission to learn all I could about both subjects and perhaps improve in the skill and art of "good" preaching.

By the end of those three years, I had read well over fifty books, subscribed to several magazines, evaluated famous and popular preachers, read well-known sermons of those good but dead guys (and some living ones too), and kept notes and journals. I can say that there was indeed improvement! About a 5% improvement, if one could actually measure it that way.

From this rigorous time of training I put together all the main points from all the resources. Thankfully there was quite a bit of redundancy, otherwise this blog would be about a thousand or so pages.

Well, the first point of all this is to relate how difficult preaching really is for the majority of pastors (and other ministers). It's tough! The second point is to share what things a person is supposed to consider when putting together a sermon or message, and what is supposed to be done while communicating the message. So, with that, I give you a summary of those must have considerations:

1. Read the Scripture with expression

2. Read the Scripture with clarity

3. Give an introduction:
a. That engages and gets the attention of the audience
b. Lays the foundation for the sermon theme
c. Makes obvious the sermon theme
d. Arouses their interest
e. Touches upon a need directly or indirectly
f. Is it relevant?
g. Does it have a ministry sentence (summary and main point that includes what the expected response should be and an element of appeal or challenge).

4. Make sure this is expository preaching
Which is “Bible-centered preaching. That is, it is handling the text ‘in such a way that its real and essential meaning as it existed in the mind of the particular Biblical writer and as it exists in the light of the over-all context of Scripture is made plain and applied to the present-day needs of the hearers.’” (S. Greidanus)

5. Concentrate on the original message, but recognize the discontinuity of progressive revelation, kingdom history and culture.

6. Does the sermon recognize the overarching continuity?
a. One faithful God
b. One covenant people

7. Focus upon the goal of the text

8. “To understand a text is to understand the question behind the text, the question that called the text into being” (Richard Palmer)
a. Redefine the specific issue
b. Search for the underlying principle

9. The form of the sermon
a. The main point of the sermon is clearly derived from the main point of the text
b. “An oral topical sentence must do far more. It must state the idea clearly, tersely, descriptively and formulaically so that not only does the thought become memorable by being part of a larger pattern; it must also have an intrinsic memorable quality in its own right, such as sharply descriptive nouns and verbs that make the milestones of the speech’s progression stand out clearly.” (Wilbur Ellsworth)
c. The sub-points of the sermon flow naturally from the main point and coordinate with each other? Are the transitions fluid, clear, obvious and helpful?
d. The content of the sub-points are adequately developed?
e. The content includes:
i. The person and work of Jesus Christ
ii. Salvation by grace in Christ alone
iii. An appeal to the conscience about sin and guilt
iv. A focus upon eternity
v. Accountability to God
vi. A call for a specific response of repentance and faith
f. The biblical passage is explained adequately?
g. Is it obvious that good exegesis has taken place?
h. Are the big themes of the Bible (God’s rule, covenant, grace, people, plan of redemption, His glory and the fulfillment of all these in Jesus Christ) reflected upon or touched by the sermon?
i. Does the original message to the original audience inform our current circumstances?
j. Use illustrations that help the audience get the point
k. Don’t use illustrations that detract from the main point
l. Does the sermon reflect the dialogical nature between God and his people?
m. Does the sermon convey the sense that the audience is one with the original hearers of the Scripture passage?
n. Does it employ gracious invitation?
o. Does is admonish with sober warnings?
p. Will it preach perseverance to believers?

10. Application
a. Is application spread throughout the text or is it placed at the end?
b. “What application does, then, is to “attach” to the simple interpretation of the passage the meaning for the congregation today in the context of their modern life situations…[w]hat this means is that not only must the preacher study the passage for its historical/grammatical meanings, but he also must:
i. Study the present situation(s) that the congregation faces,
ii. Study the various members of the congregation, who are facing it,
iii. Abstract the truth or principle that the Holy Spirit intended to teach from the passage,
iv. Discover how the writer applied this principle to his readers, and
v. Do the same today for his own congregation in their modern setting.” (Jay Adams)
c. Does the application flow from the text itself?
d. Does the application address people where they live?
i. Is it interesting?
ii. Is it for today?
iii. Does it address issues of the day?
e. Is the application evangelical (not moralistic), flowing from the grace of God in Christ?
f. Is the application specific, pointed and aimed at the conscience?
g. What difference will this sermon make?
h. Does it commend the Good News of God’s grace to the hearers?
i. Does the sermon take into consideration the various needs of the hearers in the congregation?
i. Unbelievers who are both ignorant and unteachable
ii. Some who are teachable, but yet ignorant
iii. Some who have knowledge, but are not as yet humbled…
iv. Some who are humbled
v. Some who believe…
vi. Some who have fallen…
vii. That the congregation is made up of mingled people (William Perkins in the Art of Prophecy)
j. Be careful not to communication that only the application of the text is relevant. “…[A]pplication is based on a proper comprehension of the passage’s meaning and they will probably not take the application to heart unless this is clear to them.” (Stuart)

11. The conclusion
a. Does it flow from the sermon?
b. Is it a well-rounded wrap-up of the sermon?
c. Is the purpose of the sermon obviously achieved?
d. Is the focus of the conclusion appropriate to the sermon?
e. Does it challenge the audience to think or do something specific?

12. Delivery and style:
a. Will it be effective (what is said and how it is said)
b. “Apart from life-related, biblical content we have nothing worth communicating; but without skillful delivery, we will not get our content across to the congregation. In order of significance the ingredients making up a sermon are thought, arrangement, language, voice and gesture. In priority of impressions, however, the order reverses.” (Haddon Robinson)
c. Preach in understandable vocabulary (be careful about using difficult theological terms unless you define them)
i. Is there varied and imaginative language?
ii. Is there sense appeal?
1. Is it visually effective?
2. Does it describe and employ the senses of taste, smell, see, hear, or feel? (Jay Adams)
3. Is there a vivid description?
4. Does it paint a picture for them?
d. Are the verbs active or passive? Is there action?
e. Consider verbal aspects:
i. Use good voice inflection and clarity
ii. Make sure the volume is varied and appropriate
iii. Is the voice clear and easy to listen to?

iv. Are there fresh or abundant metaphors, similes or good use of pictorial language?
v. Is there unnecessary verbiage?
vi. Does it respect everyone in the congregation, all levels of physical, mental and spiritual maturity?
f. Announce your points in the sermon only if is will help the audience understand or more clearly remember the Holy Spirit’s purpose of the text (Jay. Adams).
g. Is the sermon animated conversation?
h. Use appropriate body language
i. Do not lean on the pulpit
ii. Do not use any habitual physical actions that can be distracting
i. Is the overall appearance attractive or distracting?
j. Use facial gestures and expressions that are appropriate
k. Have good eye contact with the audience
l. Have a commanding presence in the pulpit
m. Is the sermon oral English or written English? (re: Jay Adams)
i. Oral English is more concrete, looser, less grammatically exact, more repetitious, more limited in use of vocabulary – especially in terms or jargon. It must be comprehended at the speaker’s rate – the first time over.
ii. Written English can be more compressed and concise, more technical.
iii. Is the sermon going to be presented in oral English or bookish English?
n. Consider the length of sermon (25-35 minutes):
i. “The true way to shorten a sermon is to make it more interesting” (H. W. Beecher)
ii. “Brevity may be the soul of wit, but the preacher is not a wit. A Christianity of short sermons is a Christianity of short fibre.” (P. T. Forsyth)
o. Is it relevant? Is the congregation involved?
i. Address general needs
ii. Address the whole person
iii. Use dialogue
iv. Use concrete and vivid language
p. Is there a love and zeal for preaching that at times can be described as a mania? (Acts 26:24; Jn. 10:20; 2 Cor. 5:13)?
q. Are you being authentic or trying to mimic someone else?
r. Take into consideration the manner of power preaching (Acts 4:29; 20:31)
i. Submit to the Holy Spirit in prayer
ii. Be full of zeal, intensity and boldness
iii. Proclaim with fear toward God and fearlessness toward man
iv. Anticipate God’s protection in the midst of suffering and opposition to the Word
v. Expect the Word to grow by God’s sovereign appointment
vi. Preach with compassion and tears (Acts 20:19,31)

13. Effectiveness
a. Speak with confidence and boldness
b. Speak with fire, conviction and unction
c. Will the sermon move or persuade the audience?
d. Was the audience taken into consideration? Think analytically about the audience:
i. How much do they know about the message?
ii. What, if any, are some misconceptions and/or prejudices that they may hold?
iii. What are some of the obstacles that may intrude in:
1. Communicating the message,
2. Persuading people of its truth, and/or
3. Motivating them to act on it?
iv. Are there any reasons why I might turn them off?
v. What technical terms will I need to use and to explain?
vi. How would I best illustrate the truth to this group?
1. What are the best areas from which to draw illustrations?
2. What sort of language should I use with this group to make my illustrations clear?
vii. What do I need to say in order to demonstrate how to implement the action(s) required?
viii. Is the audience varied enough in the above matters that I shall have to approach the question from more than one angle?
ix. Given the general spiritual condition of the congregation, how much truth can I communicate, and to what depth?

x. Is my problem with this group fundamentally to give them information, to persuade them to believe or disbelieve something (or both), or to get them to do what they already know and believe? Or is it a combination of two or more of the above? (Jay Adams)
e. Does the sermon consider that the people might be expectantly waiting for God to speak to their problem from it, or does it merely analyze the scriptural passage? (Jay Adams)
f. Will the sermon teach anything?
i. It is good, solid doctrine?
ii. Does it touch the mind?
iii. What will they know they did not know before?
iv. Will their faith be challenged?
g. Will the sermon offer hope?
i. Will it touch their lives?
ii. Will the sermon awaken wonderment?
iii. Is the preaching fresh and in a surprising way?
iv. Does it underscore the victory of the Kingdom of grace in our moment of time?
v. Does it tell them what is expected of them?
h. What kind of emotional response might the sermon evoke?
i. Is it warm or cold?
ii. Is there a sense of trust, courage, peace or guilt?
iii. Does it convey trust, assurance, confidence and love?
iv. Does it convey a sense of intimacy?
v. Does it speak to their personal relationship with Jesus Christ?
vi. Is it moving?
i. Is this an oral speech, a sermon? Or is it reading literacy? “Orality requires more use of illustrations, comparison, contrast and figurative language to stir the imagination and set up mental pictures in order for the listening ear to take in and process what is being heard.” (Wilbur Ellsworth)
j. If after people have listened to the sermon, will they come away anxious about themselves or reflecting on themselves? (D.M. Lloyd-Jones)
k. Does the sermon address the total person, so that the hearer becomes involved and knows that he has been dealt with and addressed by God through the preacher? (D.M. Lloyd-Jones)
l. Will this sermon humble the sinner?
i. Will this sermon exalt the Savior?
ii. Will this sermon promote holiness?
iii. Does this sermon glorify God?

14. Other considerations:
a. Does this sermon have the three essentials of truth, clarity and passion? (Dr. G. Campbell Morgan)
b. Does the sermon do justice to and profitable for the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:20, 27)?
c. Be sure that in all the sermon, from Old Testament and from the New – Christ and His death and resurrection condition everything else that is said. (Jay Adams)
d. Is the sermon Spirit-guided? (Jer. 1:9, 17: 26:2)
e. Is the sermon faithful to God (“…let him who has my word speak my word faithfully” Jer. 23:16, 28; Ez. 13:2,3).
f. Does the sermon “disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed?” (Rev. Chad Walsh) or “break a hard heart and heal a broken heart?” (John Newton).
g. Does it add to God’s Word (like the Pharisees) or subtract from it (like the Sadducees)?
h. Is there exposition, application and exhortation in the sermon (ex: Deut. 31:30; 32:44; Deut. 1:5; 4:1; 5:1-21; 8:1; 10:12ff)?
i. Does the sermon aim for corporate edification, unity, maturity and growth (Eph. 4)?
“…the explanation and application of the Word to the congregation of Christ in order to produce corporate preparation for service, unity of faith, maturity, growth and upbuilding.” (Rev. Peter Adam; p. 83).
j. Is this sound preaching or sound doctrine? “To be sound is to be healthy; healthy doctrine is doctrine which is not only true but also productive of godliness. Sound doctrine is healthy teaching; that is, it changes people’s lives.” (Peter Adam, p. 84).
k. Will this sermon help people to understand and receive Jesus Christ and Him crucified?
l. Recall that preaching well is not the objective, but rather the means to the end.
m. Is it theologically weighty and also pastorally appropriate?
n. Is the sermon tied to literacy or orality? “…when a listener to a speech or sermon is compelled to take careful and copious notes to comprehend and retain what the speaker has said, the result, whether consciously or not, is to return communication from orality to literacy as quickly as possible.” (Wilbur Ellsworth)
o. Don’t make the mistake of preaching the Gospel and hardly anything else but the Gospel, nor preach the rest of the counsel of God as if it were unrelated to the Gospel (Jay Adams)
p. Don’t preach in a way that resembles the lecture format by which aspiring young theologs almost exclusively are trained in seminaries. It may be fine for theological halls (at times), but it is not fine for the pulpit – IT IS NOT PREACHING! (Jay Adams).
q. Be careful not to “inadvertently convey the impression that the key to understanding the mind of God is found in the acquisition of an arsenal of highly technical and scientific skills. Over time men may come to regard the scriptures the way a biology student regards his proverbial frog; as a thing to dissect, rather than a source from which to hear God’s voice.” (A. G. Azurdia III)
r. Has regard been given to the “three essential principles of apostolic ministry…: the message, method, and means for ministry ordained by Jesus Christ? The divine message? Jesus Christ. The divine method? Authoritative proclamation. The divine means? The power of the Spirit of God.” (A. G. Azurdia III)
s. Which style of preaching is this: Reformational or Puritanical?
i. “For the Reformers, the whole sermon was application; what was added, attached, or folded in was done naturally, organically, as an integral part of the whole. From start to finish, as they interpreted the Scriptures for the congregation, at the same time, they preached what the text had to say about the people sitting before them. Application was made all along.
ii. In contrast, the Puritans exposited the text…they tacked on at the end of the sermon various and sundry ‘uses’ or ‘improvements on the text’ by way of application.” (Jay Adams)
iii. The form of the Puritan sermon would be Declaration, the Explanation, and the Application. The first two divisions were to convince the reason, while the last division was aimed at warming the heart’s affections into accepting the doctrine of the first division… The preacher’s aim should be first to convince the understanding and then to engage the heart. Light first, then heat.” (R. Bruce Bickel)
t. What is the aim? “If the aim of Christian preaching is more than intellectual enlightenment and moral reformation, but is, instead, the thorough-going transformation of people dead in trespasses and sins, then Christian preachers must rest their dependence solely upon the Spirit of the living God because such a transformation requires a power of an altogether supernatural kind. Stated simply, the power of the Holy Spirit is the sine qua non of gospel preaching, the one thing without which nothing else matters.” (Azurdia III)
u. Is the sermon merely expounding the text or does it preach Jesus – a living person with a living voice? (Wilbur Ellsworth).
v. Is the sermon a dissected transcript of the Biblical text rearranged into a lawyer’s brief with propositional truths? If so, is this faithful to the Scripture? (Don Wardlaw)
i. “If the text ‘makes its point’ in story form then we ought to seriously consider constructing a sermon that is faithful to the content and the form of the biblical text…” (D. Wardlaw)
ii. “…the goal is to study carefully the form of the text and how it, in its literary context, plays its part in carrying the message to its intended effect with the hearers…the example of miracle stories which ‘were designed to evoke a wow! from listeners. The wise preacher will guess that a turgid apologetic for miracles or, worse, any rational explanation of miracles may scuttle the sense of wow and, therefore, be homiletically inappropriate. If a passage wants to provoke amazement, it would seem homiletically respectful to aim at the effect.” (David Buttrick)
w. Don’ts:
i. Allegorize – searching beneath the literal meaning of a passage for the ‘real’ meaning.
ii. Spiritualize – discarding the earthly, physical, historical reality the text speaks about and crosses the gap with a spiritual analogy of that historical reality.
iii. Imitating – seeing biblical figures as merely individuals whose qualities we are to shun or mimic. It “tends to transform the biblical author’s description into prescription for today.” (S. Greidanus)
iv. Moralizing – “…means drawing moral inferences, usually things to do or become.” (Keck)
v. Apply “[u]nless you are convinced that it is the intention of the Scripture that it be applied in a certain way, no suggestion as to application can be confidently advanced.” (Douglas Stuart)

15. Personal considerations
a. Do I through this sermon serve God in Christ and the people well?
b. Is there humility, recognizing that in myself I am unable to speak for God? (Ex. 4:10ff)
c. Am I serving biblically?
d. “The Lord God has given me the tongue of a teacher, that I may know how to sustain the weary with a word. Morning by morning he wakens, wakens my ear to listen as those who are taught.” (Isa. 50:4)
e. Am I aware that it is God who makes me competent and sufficient to the task (2 Cor. 2:16; 3:5-6; 4:7)
f. Do I recall that I am powerless and that it is the Spirit and the Word that is effective?
g. Is the sermon preached from the heart to hearts?

h. Am I preaching this sermon as never sure to preach again, and as a dying man to dying men? (Richard Baxter)
i. Remember that “every passion in the preacher does not constitute unction. While it does not expel intellectual activity, authority, and will, it superfuses these elements of force with the love, the pity, the tenderness, the pure zeal, the seriousness, which the topics of redemption should shed upon the soul of a ransomed and sanctified sinner.” (Dabney)

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Glory of Plodding

The original article is by Pastor Kevin DeYoung and borrowed from

The Glory of Plodding

by Kevin DeYoung

It’s sexy among young people — my generation — to talk about ditching institutional religion and starting a revolution of real Christ-followers living in real community without the confines of church. Besides being unbiblical, such notions of churchless Christianity are unrealistic. It’s immaturity actually, like the newly engaged couple who think romance preserves the marriage, when the couple celebrating their golden anniversary know it’s the institution of marriage that preserves the romance. Without the God-given habit of corporate worship and the God-given mandate of corporate accountability, we will not prove faithful over the long haul.

What we need are fewer revolutionaries and a few more plodding visionaries. That’s my dream for the church — a multitude of faithful, risktaking plodders. The best churches are full of gospel-saturated people holding tenaciously to a vision of godly obedience and God’s glory, and pursuing that godliness and glory with relentless, often unnoticed, plodding consistency.

My generation in particular is prone to radicalism without followthrough. We have dreams of changing the world, and the world should take notice accordingly. But we’ve not proved faithful in much of anything yet. We haven’t held a steady job or raised godly kids or done our time in VBS or, in some cases, even moved off the parental dole. We want global change and expect a few more dollars to the ONE campaign or Habitat for Humanity chapter to just about wrap things up. What the church and the world needs, we imagine, is for us to be another Bono — Christian, but more spiritual than religious and more into social justice than the church. As great as it is that Bono is using his fame for some noble purpose, I just don’t believe that the happy future of the church, or the world for that matter, rests on our ability to raise up a million more Bonos (as at least one author suggests). With all due respect, what’s harder: to be an idolized rock star who travels around the world touting good causes and chiding governments for their lack of foreign aid, or to be a line worker at GM with four kids and a mortgage, who tithes to his church, sings in the choir every week, serves on the school board, and supports a Christian relief agency and a few missionaries from his disposable income?

Until we are content with being one of the million nameless, faceless church members and not the next globe-trotting rock star, we aren’t ready to be a part of the church. In the grand scheme of things, most of us are going to be more of an Ampliatus (Rom. 16:8) or Phlegon (v. 14) than an apostle Paul. And maybe that’s why so many Christians are getting tired of the church. We haven’t learned how to be part of the crowd. We haven’t learned to be ordinary. Our jobs are often mundane. Our devotional times often seem like a waste. Church services are often forgettable. That’s life. We drive to the same places, go through the same routines with the kids, buy the same groceries at the store, and share a bed with the same person every night. Church is often the same too — same doctrines, same basic order of worship, same preacher, same people. But in all the smallness and sameness, God works — like the smallest seed in the garden growing to unbelievable heights, like beloved Tychicus, that faithful minister, delivering the mail and apostolic greetings (Eph. 6:21). Life is usually pretty ordinary, just like following Jesus most days. Daily discipleship is not a new revolution each morning or an agent of global transformation every evening; it’s a long obedience in the same direction.

It’s possible the church needs to change. Certainly in some areas it does. But it’s also possible we’ve changed — and not for the better. It’s possible we no longer find joy in so great a salvation. It’s possible that our boredom has less to do with the church, its doctrines, or its poor leadership and more to do with our unwillingness to tolerate imperfection in others and our own coldness to the same old message about Christ’s death and resurrection. It’s possible we talk a lot about authentic community but we aren’t willing to live in it.

The church is not an incidental part of God’s plan. Jesus didn’t invite people to join an anti-religion, anti-doctrine, anti-institutional bandwagon of love, harmony, and re-integration. He showed people how to live, to be sure. But He also called them to repent, called them to faith, called them out of the world, and called them into the church. The Lord “didn’t add them to the church without saving them, and he didn’t save them without adding them to the church” (John Stott).

“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Cor. 13:7). If we truly love the church, we will bear with her in her failings, endure her struggles, believe her to be the beloved bride of Christ, and hope for her final glorification. The church is the hope of the world — not because she gets it all right, but because she is a body with Christ for her Head.

Don’t give up on the church. The New Testament knows nothing of churchless Christianity. The invisible church is for invisible Christians. The visible church is for you and me. Put away the Che Guevara t-shirts, stop the revolution, and join the rest of the plodders. Fifty years from now you’ll be glad you did.