I listened to Mark Dever's 9 Marks interview with Mack Stiles (& others) on Contact Evangelism last night. I was provoked to good thoughts on evangelism as well as some questions about my approach. I just realized I'm still holding a bit of inner dialogue on some of the things they said, so I thought it would be good to share. Books that were mentioned in/influenced the conversation included...
Before You Decide to Leave
- Let your current pastor know about your thinking before you move to another church or make your decision to relocate to another city. Ask for his counsel.
- Weigh your motives. Is your desire to leave because of sinful, personal conflict or disappointment? If it’s because of doctrinal reasons, are these doctrinal issues significant?
- Do everything within your power to reconcile any broken relationships.
- Be sure to consider all the “evidences of grace” you’ve seen in the church’s life—places where God’s work is evident. If you cannot see any evidences of God’s grace, you might want to examine your own heart once more (Matt. 7:3-5).
- Be humble. Recognize you don’t have all the facts and assess people and circumstances charitably (give them the benefit of the doubt).
If You Go
- Don’t divide the body.
- Take the utmost care not to sow discontent even among your closest friends. Remember, you don’t want anything to hinder their growth in grace in this church. Deny any desire to gossip (sometimes referred to as “venting” or “saying how you feel”).
- Pray for and bless the congregation and its leadership. Look for ways of doing this practically.
- If there has been hurt, then forgive—even as you have been forgiven.
Mark Dever shares some helpful insights on creating a reading culture in your church.
5 Ways Wives Can Encourage Their Husbands | Jared Wilson
When you nitpick and nag, you give mouthpiece to the accuser who wants your husband to know not only does he not have what it takes, he is worthless because of it. So find ways to constructively criticize and help him repent, but more than that, tell him what you like about him, how you find him attractive or admirable, how you respect him or are impressed by him. Outdo him in showing honor (Rom. 12:10).
On the surface, the Reformed and evangelical world seems divided between "Cultural Transformationists" and the "Two Kingdoms" views of these things. Transformationists fall into fairly different camps, including the neo-Calvinists who follow Abraham Kuyper, the Christian Right, and the theonomists. Though different in significant ways, they all believe Christians should be about redeeming and changing the culture along Christian lines.
Pencil Does Not Fade | Joe Thorn
A cursory search on the internet shows most people stating as fact, “Writing in pencil will fade over time.” Rather than trust the opinion of some random dude on Yahoo Answers who hasn’t even read an article on the subject, I thought I would ask some people who could give me better direction. So I contacted the National Archives. They were happy to answer my questions quickly and provide helpful references. After a few email exchanges with people who spend their time in historic documents, here is the bottom line for those wondering if writing in pencil will fade.
Graphite pencil is a very stable material. It does not fade in light. It does not bleed in water unless other dyes were added.
Mark Dever - Reading Sibbes Aloud | After purchasing the 7 vol Works of Richard Sibbes I was reminded that Mark Dever, who literally wrote the book on Sibbes, has read aloud a number of Sibbes sermons. A nice idea, and worth checking out.
After writing my series on open-air preaching, which I will likely add to at some point, I've become convinced of what I'm going to suggest in this post. I'd like to see an open discussion on it. Feel free to agree, disagree, or push-back in the comments.
Let me say this at the outset. My open-air posts were mostly geared toward local pastors preaching publicly in their local places. This post is looking beyond a pastor preaching locally.
Here's my thesis: The future of the evangelist, specifically the evangelist who moves beyond the barriers of their own community, city, or "parish," will be embraced by a well-known pastor (or a few of them) who will fill auditoriums, university campuses, and public spaces around the country with the preaching of the Gospel. Their reputation as planters, pastors, authors, and conference speakers have rightly given them reputations as powerful speakers who have a certain unction, and on that platform they will be able to gather crowds like few can and benefit the church wherever they preach.
Now, I want to be careful here. I'm not railing against pastors who have used their reputations to write books, speak at conferences, and create large ministries. For example, John Piper has an amazing and wonderful ministry of creating and distributing resources for the glory of God and the good of the church. I recommend Desiring God often and heartily. Such a blessing. So please don't hear me as saying that prominence that leads to these sorts of ministries is wrong. Not at all
My contention is this, and I have to make it concrete by using a real example: What would happen if Mark Driscoll became the staff evangelist of Mars Hill. They pay him well and give him a sufficient ministry budget. Then they commission him to spend X weeks a year preaching evangelistically around the country...indoors, outdoors, at scheduled times, at unscheduled times, in season, out of season, etc. His church reputation as well as a growing public reputation will open many doors for the Gospel.
I think this could be true of a number of people, such as Tim Keller, Mark Dever, Darrin Patrick, Francis Chan, Matt Chandler, and others.
Imagine someone with public prominence, a good reputation among churches, and who is a compelling Gospel preacher set loose upon the world to preach to the many and to the one. These men not only have the reputations that have already laid the groundwork for this sort of evangelism, but they have the connections in major and minor U.S. cities (and beyond!) with good theologically sound, gospel-preaching churches so that their evangelistic work will immediately connect people to local churches rather than leave them hanging as the evangelist leaves town.
I'm not suggesting I know what God is leading any man to do. But I can't help but think that the right response for some preachers, who are seeing remarkable results and explosive church growth from their evangelistic preaching, is to take their preaching of the Gospel far beyond their city. Could this be the future of mass evangelism? Could this lead to the resurgence of good, theologically-sound missional open-air preachers?
I wonder if any of our great preachers are thinking in this direction. I wonder how some of the men I listed above would respond to this idea. I hope they will consider it. I think it would be an amazing development for the good of the church.