Crucial Aspects of a Disciple Making Pastor

4 02 2013

These are my notes from Mark Dever’s session on the  Centrality of the Church in Disciple-Making at the 2013 Desiring God National Pastor’s conference. I listened via live-stream and you can do so too by clicking HERE. To hear audio of the message click here.

4 Crucial Aspects of a Disciple Making Pastor:

  1. Preaching: Don’t think that making disciples is something that happens in just 1 on 1 meetings.  The most fundamental way for a Pastor to make disciples is through preaching God’s Word. God uses His word to create faith- 1 Thess. 2:13, Heb. 4:12, James 1:21.  God creates His people by His Word.  If you want life, health, and holiness in your local church it must be done God’s way- through His Word. We must teach our congregations to value God’s Word over programs.  Preaching God’s Word is primary.  The heart of your public ministry as a Pastor is your private study of God’s Word; pouring over it, praying over it.  You must give yourself to the study of God’s Word. What did Paul say to Timothy? “Preach the Word!”
  2. Prayer: In your personal life, pray. In your home, pray. In your meetings with others, pray. In your public services devote so much time to prayer that nominal Christians are bored with so much time committed to talking with the God they claim to know. Lead your people into praying to God.  Diligently call upon God by prayer, so that you may able to teach and exhort with wholesome doctrine. Prayer shows our dependence upon God.

How should pastors pray/what should they pray for?

      •    Prayers of Paul 2 Thess. 1, etc. Allow the prayers of Paul to guide your prayers.
      •    Pray that your preaching the gospel would be faithful accurate and clear.
      •    Pray for the increasing maturity of the congregation- growth in love, sound doctrine, etc.
      •    Pray for sinners to be converted and the church built up through the preaching of the Gospel
      •    Pray for opportunities for yourself and others for personal evangelism.

Dever also gave these practical examples: In Capitol Hill’s regular gathering of believers they have 3 different types of prayers offered publically during the service- Prayers of praise, prayers of confession, Pastoral prayer of intercession.  Dever also suggested to use church directory to pray for church members individually , prayers for church members don’t have to be long, just biblical

3. PersonalDiscipling Relationships: If you’re in the type of congregation that people get upset about the pastor having “friends” confront that and call the people to repentance. Through your discipleship relationships the church as a whole will be built up.  Suggest a book to others and go through it together weekly, or every other week, or as often as you can.  The goal is to get to know them and to love them and to be a blessing to them spiritually. Initiate these types of relationships. Personal discipleship is another channel in which the Word can flow into people’s lives. Encourage a culture of discipleship within the church. What do you mean that you are following Christ if you’re not helping others follow Jesus? Hard-bake that into your definition of being a Christian. Another byproduct of personal discipling relationships is it will help in breaking down the resistance some may have to your leadership as a Pastor. Helps break down the “we vs. him” barrier.

4. Patience: Run at a pace your congregation can keep. The key to having patience is having a right perspective of time, eternity, and success.

      1. Time: Think in terms of 10, 20, 30,40, or even 50 years of ministry! We don’t often have this type of perspective. Are you in it with your church for the long haul or moving up the ladder by taking another church? Are you building a congregation or a career. Stay with them. Keep bleeding, keep loving.
      2. Eternity: One day we will be held accountable by God for the way we fed His lambs.  He will know how we handled His sheep. Shepherd the flock in a way that you will not be ashamed before the Lord (cf. Col 3:23ff).
      3. Success: If you define success by numbers you will result to methods that draw crowds without the preaching of the Gospel.  If you define success by faithfulness then you are freed to be faithful to God and His Word and let Him do His work.  Confidence in the Christian ministry is in the presence, power, and promises of God.  Confidence comes from the power of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit makes us adequate through God’s Word (2 Tim. 3:16). Stake your ministry on the power of the Gospel.  Success in ministry is faithfulness in that. So, be patient.

Summary: Preach and pray, love and stay. We will never be faithful ministers if we only consider the ministry in terms of this life. “I know the vanity of your heart, and that you will feel mortified that your congregation is very small, in comparison with those of your brethren around you; but assure yourself on the word of an old man, that when you come to give an account of them to the Lord Christ at his judgment seat, you will think you have had enough.” 19th Century Scottish Pastor, John Brown





What’s the #1 Problem in the Church Today?

10 07 2012

I honestly don’t know.  But, I’d like to mention what I think it’s NOT.  The #1 problem in the church today is NOT that there is too much accountability, which is often referred to as “judging” in the church world.  Unfortunately, I come across several Facebook/Twitter comments like the one below regarding the church at least a few times every week:

“There is a lot of controversy in churches these days. Not much compassion. And a lot of judgmental behavior…”

Obviously, it’s hard to interpret this sentence without context but I take it to mean, as many of these comments do, that we need more “love” in the church, and less “calling people out” because of Sin.  After all, we are all sinners, right? Let him without Sin cast the first stone!

No beloved, I don’t believe this is the #1 problem in the church today. In fact, far from it.  While it is true we struggle with legalism in our own lives, as well as trying to excuse our own sins, while holding others to higher standards, and while the church will certainly be served well if Believers, like myself, would better deliberately cultivate love and compassion towards one another expressed in tangible ways, the church’s worldliness in our day is rampant.  Yes, we MUST repent of any unloving attitudes or lack of true compassion, grace, and humility towards others.  However, let me just quote a passage of Scripture at this point:

But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.” 1 Corinthians 5:11-13

Do you believe this passage of Scripture? If you know your Bible then you remember that it is in this passage that Paul is commanding the church at Corinth to excommunicate one of Her members.  Excommunicate? Ouch.  Sounds harsh.  Sounds unloving. Kinda sounds like the archaic practice of (key scary music) Church Discipline!

Truth is, we live in a society that the one wrong thing to do is to say someone else is wrong, and this has crept into the church. (Side note: D.A. Carson’s new book The Intolerance of Tolerance is very good!). So, in many evangelical church’s today (especially in the South- where I’m from), there are Deacons who’ve been through questionable divorces, members who participate in drunkenness, couples having sex outside of marriage, affairs, questionable business practices, etc., etc., etc,.  And these are just a few of the “known” sins in the community at large.  And yet, the “worst” thing the church could do (from the perspective of many) is to actually go all Biblical and point these things out.  Beloved, human depravity knows no bounds- thank God for His grace.

We have a crisis in our churches where many “Christians” are basically indistinguishable from the World! And in the above passage Paul says to pass judgment upon them.  Now, this is NOT a “I get to say who’s saved and who’s not” judgment. Or a “I’m better than you” judgment.  This is an “As a church, we’ve compared your life to what the Bible says a Christian is and you’ve been found lacking, repent and believe the Gospel, or membership here is no longer an option for you” judgment.

What’s the #1 problem in the church today? I don’t know, but I do know that the recovery of biblical church discipline is a must.  I’ll conclude with a brief outline on just some of the purposes of corrective, Biblical church discipline:

    • It’s part of discipleship- We need one another to guard ourselves from the deceitfulness of sin (Heb. 3:12-13)
    • It’s loving- If someone where about to put themselves in harm’s way, and you did nothing is that loving? Sin is harmful.  It hurts individuals AND the Body (1 Cor. 5:6)
    • It’s for reconciliation. Matthew 18:15-17. The goal isn’t to “kick people out” but to keep people in, focused, and pointed towards Christ!
    • It defends the purity of the church. The World should see a difference between Believers and themselves (cf. 1 John 2:15-17)
    • It defends the teaching of the church. 2 Peter 2:1-3. False teachers are a reality and must be dealt with.

John MacArthur’s church, Grace Community Church, publishes a pamphlet on church discipline that says this: The purpose of church discipline is the spiritual restoration of fallen members and the consequent strengthening of the church and glorifying of the Lord.

Resources:

Maybe you’re not convinced on the necessity of reclaiming corrective church discipline in our churches today.  Here are two short books on the subject that I’d recommend you read:

Jay E. Adams, A Handbook of Church Discipline

Jonathan Leeman, Church Discipline

Also, here is a blog by Jonathan Leeman entitled A Church Discipline Primer

A few other passages to study- Galatians 6:1-3, Hebrews 12:1-14, Proverbs 12:1, 27:5-6, 2 Thessalonians 3:11-14, 1 Timothy 5:20, Luke 17:3-4, Titus 1:10-11, etc.

I would chalk the failure of corrective church discipline in many churches to the “practical” denial of the sufficiency of Scripture- which may just be the leading candidate for the #1 problem in the church today.