Ministry Is Not Mastery

For all that I learned and tried one aspect of the church-growth movement, perhaps the most fundamental aspect, always made me uneasy and makes me uneasy to this day: the church-growth model was a theology of glory and it turned ministers, who should be theologians of the cross, into theologians of glory. The selling point of the various methods and mentalities was numerical success: look at this congregation. Their pastor and leadership adopted this model and look how many people came. Congregation after congregation was shown to be growing and exciting and influential. Why could we not do the same thing? The possibility was very attractive and it was easily clothed in the pious language of “reaching the lost.” I did want to reach the lost but I also wanted to be “successful.” Continue reading →

Perkins: Want Heaven? Go To Church

We must in this world come as near heaven and the happiness of life everlasting as may be (Phil. 3:14). And for this cause we must join ourselves to the assemblies where the word is preached, prayer is made, and sacraments administered. . . . Continue reading →

Heidelcast 163: Taking Calls On Choosing A College, Warfield’s Eschatology, Jesus’ Return, When the Roman Catholic Church Began, Sacraments, Rubicon Moments, Evening Services, And Church Discipline

Heidelcast

It is a little overdue but it is finally here: our latest call-in episode in which we take Heidelcalls from Arizona on choosing a college, on B. B. Warfield’s eschatology (was he really postmillennial?), from Chicago on what must happen before Jesus . . . Continue reading →

Cancelling The Lord’s Day After Christmas?

There are reports (documented in the comments below) that various ostensibly evangelical congregations are cancelling worship services this Lord’s Day. This has become something of a pattern in recent years. It seems that people, including the congregants, pastors, and church staff are . . . Continue reading →

Canons of Dort (32): Our Sovereign God Uses Means To Encourage Us

For perhaps 20 years we have been in the midst of a movement which Collin Hansen (2008) described as Young, Restless, and Reformed. Others have spoken of the “New Calvinists” (see the resources below). The one doctrine that animates these movements is the sovereignty of God. For many American evangelicals it is a given that God has his opinion and we have ours. Continue reading →

The Church That Prays Together, Stays Together

There are many centripetal forces that tear at the bonds that hold a congregation together, so it is useful to be aware of them. After all, we live in a remarkably busy world where quiet has almost disappeared entirely. We are connected . . . Continue reading →

Canons Of Dort (22): The Application Of Redemption Is A Mystery Wrought Through Means

Christians have long struggled to affirm the truth that God saves freely, sovereignly, unconditionally and the truth that he uses means to bring his elect to new life and true faith. During the Middle Ages particularly, the church came to think that . . . Continue reading →

Canons Of Dort (5): God Ordains Means To Call His Elect

The first thing that the Reformed churches said in response to the Remonstrants, whom the Reformed saw as seeking to take the churches back toward the medieval system of salvation by grace and our cooperation with grace, was, in effect, “we are too sinful to be saved by any other way than by God’s unconditional favor” (sola gratia). The second thing that the Reformed did in response to the Remonstrants was to quote two passages: 1 John 1:9 and John 3:16. Continue reading →

Resources On Church Growth And Ordinary Means Ministry

The church growth movement has been one of the more influential movements in modern evangelicalism for the last 40 years. Pastors receive a steady stream of emails and advertisements promising to “grow the church” if only his congregation will buy this product or service. In some quarters it is unquestioned dogma, it is axiomatic that if the church is not growing numerically it is failing in its mission. Continue reading →

The Resurrection, Piety, And Pietism

And with great power the apostles were giving witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus and great grace was upon them all (Acts 4:31). Perhaps since the rise of the late-medieval mystics, who desired nothing so much as to be absorbed . . . Continue reading →

Between Magic And Mere Memory

When Christians receive the Lord’s Supper or when people are baptized, what happens? Is it the case that, as Rome claims, at consecration, the elements of bread and wine are transformed (transubstantiated) so that they are no longer, in substance, bread and . . . Continue reading →

Resources On A Covenantal Approach To The Christian Life

Chris writes to the HB to ask about moving from the conversionist paradigm for the Christian life to the covenantal vision for the Christian life, how does a “covenantal” approach to the Christian life appear? This is an important question. Since the . . . Continue reading →

The Evangelical Fall From The Means Of Grace

The prayers had been offered, the promises read, and the psalm sung. Two princes stepped forward to receive Communion, but the deacon refused to give them the cup. The superintendent of the city’s pastors ordered a second minister present to take the . . . Continue reading →