Not sure what’s going on here but it’s nice to see some of these local self aggrandizing “gospel centered” sites begin to hopefully self cleanse or, if church history is any indication, self destruct. Yet still somehow they often find a way to multiply their wares of eloquent self praise and grandiose wisdom, capitalizing on the frenzy of social media “atta boy accolades” both online and within doting congregations.
Much like the local neo-calvinist site “Of First Importance” of a few years back where you were “served” daily, for your consumption “one quote to help you live in the good of the gospel”, now taken over and humorously peppered with questionable content.
Is it possible that we are getting to the point that expendable or rather discretionary income of the paying customers aka “family of God” are no longer available for these “ministries” and publishing houses of self promotion to survive and wax eloquently about themselves and how their tribe should think? Amen to that. Providing no blog comment opportunity to refute their claims, I might add.
5 million more to go Lord…Thank you
And yes, one day it will be nice to see mine come to its conclusion as well. 🙂
As a prime example of what is all too common practice in “gospel centered” protestant evangelicalism, here is a lengthy public archived blog post among many from a contributor to this former site offering wise and seasoned counsel along the lines of the likes of (the name dropped) John Piper or even “members of the Gospel Coalition” but…. not quite. All this and many more from a newly “branded”, at the time, twenty something twelve year old seasoned pastor. An oxymoron for sure of a once part time youth leader/pastor given far too much power to feed his secret ambitions, resulting in significant harm to many individuals.
Grounded in the Gospel
The Treasury Of Pastoral Experience
by David Smith
Potential and Pitfalls
“For better or for worse pastors tend to have as many meetings as we have meals in an average week; too often we combine them! We meet with curious guests to the church, mourning members, Brothers in need of counseling, loved up pre-marrieds, tired staff… the list is a long one. But every so often we meet other pastors.
Between last week and this week I’ll have had the opportunity to gather with many other pastors from across North America in multiple meetings of different groups – from church planting networks, to our local ministerial, to members of the Gospel Coalition, to a gathering of West Coast churches, to (my favourite) the Grounded guys – I’ll have the opportunity to sit down with all kinds of pastors, with a vast treasury of pastoral experience.
These gatherings offer massive potential for growth but there are also some pitfalls for us to avoid. Let me offer four suggestions for how we should best take advantage of the opportunities and fight the temptations they pose.
1. Ask questions, ask questions, ask questions.
(NOTE: We did have a lot of questions but because of your nondisclosure agreement cone of silence made amongst “gospel centered pastors” all we had were questions without answers. Hopefully the real estate industry will have more regulatory teeth than the unregulated “nonprofit” industry allowed to function as a Bananas Republic}
I remember my first year in vocational ministry. I was working as a full-time intern at Coquitlam Alliance Church with one of my fellow Grounded bloggers, Jon Morrison. I was 20 years old, fresh out of divinity school, and full of opinions. With good reason, my thoughts weren’t as treasured by others as they were by myself.
One lunchtime after a staff meeting Jon looked me in the face and said something to the effect of, ‘you talked too much in there, it was as if you thought you had all the answers.’ He was right, I was young and arrogant. Instead of thinking I had all the answers I should have been the one with all the questions.
When gathering with other pastors go with a humble desire to learn, and not necessarily to teach – who are you? Ask questions, lots of questions. Ask them to tell their story, it will influence every answer they give you. Ask about their families, maybe they’re in need of prayer. Ask about areas they’re experiencing success, perhaps they’re strong in an area you are weak. Ask what they’re most encouraged by, celebrate with them. Ask what their biggest struggle has been this year, grieve with them. Ask practical questions:
– How do you train your elders?
– What percentage of your budget goes toward staffing?
– How did you transition to two Sunday gatherings?
– What does your church discipline process look like?
– Where did you recruit your staff from?
Their answers to these questions, and many more questions, could potentially transform your life, and even the church you serve.
2. Don’t try to prove yourself.
I’m a young man. I look older than I am (that’s the pastorate), but I still look young. I have the opportunity to lead a staff and chair an eldership far older than I am. Most often when I am gathered with other pastors I’m alongside Crossway’s two other vocational elders, both of whom are old enough to be my father. It’s led to a couple of awkward moments when hours, weeks, or even months into a relationship the realization that I’m not the youth pastor dawns.
The temptation is for me to look to prove myself. Drop my title into conversation. Refer to my education. Subtly remind others that ‘my church’ is seeing fruit. Aren’t these ugly thoughts? I’m ashamed to admit them.
Perhaps you have similar temptations? When the ‘I know more Bible verses than you’ exchange happens, are you comfortable losing? When you’re worshipping together, do you have to outdo everyone else by kneeling (when you don’t on Sundays)? When it’s time to pray, do your prayers sound like they do at staff meeting, or are they more eloquent and impressive? Are you trying to prove yourself? Don’t.
‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ If God has given you wisdom, He’ll grant you influence. Take the low road.
3. Talk to everybody.
It doesn’t matter if you’re in high school or at a gathering of pastors, there’s always going to be those at the center of things and those at the peripheral. It may well be that those on the edges are practicing the point above and have lots to offer. You could even be the one God uses to grow their influence.
Sadly, there is an accepted hierarchy among pastors – sometimes spoken, usually silent. Pastors of larger churches are guruized, ‘surely they have the answers, their churches are ‘successful”. Faithful men serving as lone-pastors in smaller congregations aren’t often given the microphone. We rob ourselves of a lot of wisdom that way.
Go to these men on the edges. Learn how they manage their time when they don’t have a staff to take care of the minutia of ministry. Discover how they make every wedding special for the couple being married, when they’ve seen him marry every other couple in their congregation. Ask him what areas he’s been able to outsource so that he can focus on what’s most important in his ministry. Dig into their community life, it’s probably stronger than that of a larger church.
Every pastor has a story and God doesn’t give us stories to keep to ourselves. They’re to be shared. Find them, and learn from them.
4. Find ways to serve and equip.
One of the most glorious truths of the Gospel of Jesus is that His atoning work for us reconciles us to God in the most intimate way, we’re adopted into His family. Nearly every time I’m gathered with other pastors, across denominations, across cultures, across generations, I’m reminded that we’re all adopted by the same Father. That makes us Brothers.
The local church we get to serve in is not the Church. We’re not to live on mission alone, and we’re certainly not to compete with one another. When gathering with other pastors, your Brothers in ministry, ask yourself, ‘how can I serve and equip this Brother and his church?’
Over the last year the church I am called to has been both on the giving and the receiving end of sacrificial love between churches – it’s changed us. What areas of strength could your church bless others with? Do you have musical worship bands? Offer them to other churches in a time of crisis. Are your capital reserves high? Sacrificially invest in another church on mission. Do you have an especially gifted staff member? Send them out to resource others. Have you experienced trials? Humbly offer lessons learned from your mistakes.
Perhaps most importantly, find out how you can pray for other local fellowships in your area, and pray for them. Send out their prayer points to your prayer teams and prayer meetings. Pray for them on Sunday mornings. Consider inviting one of their elders to come and share how you could best serve and pray for them as a congregation. We must uphold one another in prayer, only we know how challenging the role of pastor can be.
In the style of John Piper, I would close by begging you, ‘don’t waste the fellowship of other pastors’. Would King Solomon’s words resonate in your ears next time you gather with your Brothers in ministry, ‘But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.’ (Ecclesiastes 4:10-12)”