Posts Tagged ‘ministry’
Studying out some of the verses from Ephesians 4, I came across the following from Paul Bayne, calling upon the saints to appreciate the diversity of Christ’s present gifts to the church. He speaks against the kind of pickiness that demands or critiques a certain kind of minister in accordance with one’s taste and choosing, rather than receives different kinds of ministers in accordance with Christ’s gracious giving. The language is more than a little archaic, but the point is clear. Bayne says that a
consideration of diversity of gifts doth reprove those that will take mislike at this or that kind, because it is not as they would have. If one speak treatably and stilly, though he lay down the truth soundly, if he apply not forcibly, he is nobody, as if every one should be an Elijah, or a son of thunder. If others, on some plain ground, belabour the conscience, Tush, he is not for them; he doth not go to the depth of his text. They could themselves, at first sight, observe as much; as if every barque that sailed did draw a like depth, yet all sorts carry their passengers safe to their haven. So in ministers, every one hath not a like insight into doctrine, yet all be God’s instruments to thy salvation. This is a malapert, itching humour, which, if you will be Christians indeed, you must lay aside. (Bayne on Ephesians, 258-259).
What are the priorities of preachers and teachers of God’s word to be?
You can read Carl Trueman’s answer to that question here.
Yesterday I began posting some mini-reviews of volumes of pastoral theology. Having covered the As, here we hit the Bs. For some reason, there are lots of As and Bs, as well as Cs, but a smattering of Ds and Es, with a dearth of Qs and Xs, will even things out over time. As previously mentioned, the entire list will eventually appear on the pastoral theology resources page (see sidebar), which I hope you will visit from time to time.
I welcome comments on the list (especially on the pastoral theology page, where I can keep track more readily) and would be particularly interested to know of any other older or newer works of pastoral theology that readers might recommend. Thank you.
Baxter, Richard. The Reformed Pastor. Baxter’s sense of his obligations before God weigh heavily upon him and us in this classic text. Although at times you are almost driven to despair by the felt gravity of the calling and its duties, there is much gold to mine from even the deepest caverns. The sensitive man might wish to keep a complementary volume near at hand to encourage his soul, but anyone with ears to hear will be taught, reproved, corrected, and instructed in righteousness by this treatment of the theme. (Westminster / Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com / Monergism)
Berry, Cicely. Your Voice and How to Use It: The Classic Guide to Speaking With Confidence. The voice director of the Royal Shakespeare Company, with some utterly unnecessary but would-be achingly cool vulgarity, gives helpful counsel on the right use of the voice. Quite technical at points, but something like this would help many of us with such things as pitch, tone, diction, variation, and a host of other pulpit failings that make us hard to hear or listen to. (Westminster / Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com / Monergism)
Bickel, Bruce R. Light and Heat: The Puritan View of the Pulpit. Really two shorter books in one, Bruce Bickel mines Puritan preachers (and some of their successors) for their thoughts on preaching in the first part, weaving it profitably together. The second part is really a comparison of two different kinds of evangelism (Puritanism vs. Finneyism, in essence). There is lots here to stimulate, pointing the reader back beyond the Puritans to Scripture to see whether or not our convictions and the practices that flow from them are what they ought to be. (Westminster / Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com / Monergism)
Blaikie, William Garden. For the Work of the Ministry. Setting out to be brief, complete and practical, Blaikie does a cracking job. One of the old school, in the best sense, treating the nature of the ministry, the call to it, the work of it, the character required in it, with all manner of homiletical and pastoral tips and hints along the way. Not all of its emphases and nuances need to be embraced to find this a real gem. (Westminster / Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com / Monergism)
Bonar, Andrew. The Visitor’s Book of Texts: A Vital Tool for Pastoral Visitation. A very different little book, detailing the various cases which a visiting minister may find when he goes into a home or hospital (or wherever), giving some general counsels for approaching each instance, then highlighting a number of relevant texts, sometimes with thoughts or comments upon particular ones, all intended to help the visitor find appropriate Scriptures and well-directed words for ministering. (Westminster / Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com / Monergism)
Bonar, Horatius. Words to Winners of Souls. An exercise in self-examination of a painful and profitable kind. Bonar deals not only with what we ought to be, but also exposes what we too often have been and remain. He searches the heart, probing and prodding, before pointing us to the remedies for many ministerial sins and the reviving of our hearts and the rejuvenation of our work. (Westminster / Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com / Monergism)
Borgman, Brian. My Heart for Thy Cause: Albert N. Martin’s Theology of Preaching. An odd book, this, essentially consisting of the boiled-down essence of Al Martin’s lectures on preaching filtered through Borgman the redactor. While much of the profit remains of close attention to the Biblical material on preaching and pastoring, joined with telling and apposite quotes from past masters, it seems to me a book that loses too much in translation. There is much here that is profitable, and yet the book as a whole seems unsatisfactory because it is much less than it could have been. (Westminster / Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com / Monergism)
Boston, Thomas. The Art of Manfishing. I think that this was the work of the young Boston intended solely for his own benefit. It therefore has the virtue of unfailing honesty, insofar as any man is honest with himself. There is no show, only a man dealing with his own soul. Boston considers the promise of Christ to make us fishers of men, then looks at the ministerial duty to pursue such a calling, before asking himself how to cultivate such an art. Good stuff. (Westminster / Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com / Monergism)
Bridges, Charles. The Christian Ministry (with An Inquiry into the Causes of its Inefficiency). Bridges was ridiculously young to have so much wisdom and insight when he wrote this. With very little of his own ecclesiology intruding, Bridges gives us an overview of the ministry before considering its inefficiency connected with general causes and with the pastor’s own character (guess which bit hurts the most?). He then moves on to give many corrective helps with regard to public and private or pastoral ministry. Deservedly recognised as a classic in its field. (Westminster / Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com / Monergism)
Broadus, John A. (ed. E. C. Dargan). A Treatise on the Preparation and Delivery of Sermons. As long as you get the right edition (the Dargan one) you are in for a sustained and meaty treat. A treasure-house of homiletical insights, Broadus ranges far and wide to give us a grand and focused overview of the sermon. Worthy of more attention in an age when the productions of the pulpit are so often bland and diffuse. (Westminster / Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com / Monergism)
Brown, Charles. The Ministry. Another oldie but a goodie. Fairly short and sweet, again he deals with godly character (a signal failing of many newer works), an excellent treatment of public prayer, and some delightful thoughts on pulpit ministry. (Westminster / Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com / Monergism)
Brown, John, of Edinburgh (comp.). The Christian Pastor’s Manual. A collection of addresses by various worthies. When looking at more modern collections, it is striking how some of the same topics concerning preaching come up time and again. Has the virtue of addressing the pastoral calling and character as much as the work of preaching. (Westminster / Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com / Monergism)
Bucer, Martin (trans. Peter Beale). Concerning the True Care of Souls. Bucer is one of the sleeping giants in Reformation studies, and this is the fruit of some twenty-five years of pastoral ministry, in which he sets out the nature of the work of a ‘carer of souls’ in the context of his doctrine of the church. The linking of these two is part of the genius of the whole, which abounds in good things. (Westminster / Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com / Monergism)
The whole list so far is here.
Ray Ortlund relies on Gardiner Spring to press home the pastor’s dependence on the prayers of his people, reminding us that the failures and victories of pastors are also the failures of those who fail to pray or the victories of those who plead for the blessing:
And who and what are ministers themselves? Frail men, fallible, sinning men, exposed to every snare, to temptation in every form; and from the very post of observation they occupy, the fairer mark for the fiery darts of the foe. They are no mean victims the great Adversary is seeking, when he would wound and cripple Christ’s ministers. One such victim is worth more to the kingdom of darkness than a score of common men; and on this very account, the temptations are probably more subtle and severe than those encountered by ordinary Christians. If this subtle Deceiver fails to destroy them, he artfully aims at neutralizing their influence by quenching the fervor of their piety, lulling them into negligence, and doing all in his power to render their work irksome. How perilous the condition of that minister then, whose heart is not encouraged, whose hands are not strengthened, and who is not upheld by the prayers of his people! It is not in his own closet and on his own knees alone that he finds security and comfort and ennobling, humbling and purifying thoughts and joys; but it is when his people also seek them in his behalf that he becomes a better and happier man and a more useful minister of the everlasting gospel.
Gardiner Spring, The Power of the Pulpit (Edinburgh, 1986), pages 223-224.
For those not yet bored rigid with the topic, we continue to make progress with A Portrait of Paul (more information).
Monergism Books are now offering it, in addition to Reformation Heritage Books, Westminster Bookstore, Christian Book Distributors (CBD) and Grace Books International. No news yet on a British co-publisher or distributor. Perhaps a case of no prophet being accepted in his own country!
People I did not even know would read the book are now endorsing the book, which is encouraging. Here is Conrad Mbewe‘s assessment:
When I first sensed God’s call to the preaching ministry, I did a study of the life and ministry of the apostle Paul. And, oh, what a study that was! It opened my eyes to the difference between ministry in the New Testament and what is in vogue today. Rob Ventura and Jeremy Walker have now brought all those truths that I saw into this one volume. I, therefore, commend this book to all who want to take God’s call to the work of ministry seriously. For, in these pages is the heart and experience of a true minister of the new covenant.
It seems that the time has come to break cover and shuffle into the foetid pool. The book mentioned a few days ago is now available in the US for pre-publication orders from Reformation Heritage Books or Westminster Bookstore or Monergism Books or Christian Book Distributors (CBD) or Grace Books International.
A Portrait of Paul: Identifying a True Minister of Christ
Rob Ventura & Jeremy Walker
Blurb: What does a true pastor look like, and what constitutes a faithful ministry? How can we identify the life and labors of one called by God to serve in the church of Jesus Christ? To address these questions, Rob Ventura and Jeremy Walker examine how the apostle Paul describes his pastoral relation to the people of God in Colossians 1:24–2:5. By discussing these essential attitudes, qualities, and characteristics of a faithful minister of Christ, A Portrait of Paul provides gospel ministers an example of what they should be, and demonstrates for churches the kind of pastors they will seek if they desire men after God’s own heart.
- The Joy of Paul’s Ministry
- The Focus of Paul’s Ministry
- The Hardships of Paul’s Ministry
- The Origin of Paul’s Ministry
- The Essence of Paul’s Ministry
- The Subject of Paul’s Ministry (sample)
- The Goal of Paul’s Ministry
- The Strength of Paul’s Ministry
- The Conflict of Paul’s Ministry
- The Warnings of Paul’s Ministry
John MacArthur: The apostle Paul has always been a hero whom I look to as a model for my ministry. His unrelenting faithfulness in the worst kinds of trials is a remarkable example to every pastor and missionary. In the midst of suffering, hardship, and (in the end) the abandonment of his own friends and fellow workers, Paul remained steadfast, dynamic, and utterly devoted to Christ. This invaluable study of Paul’s life from Rob Ventura and Jeremy Walker is a wonderful, powerful, soul-stirring examination of Paul’s self-sacrifice and his unfaltering service to the church. It will both motivate and encourage you, especially if you’re facing trials, opposition, or discouragement in your service for Christ.
Geoff Thomas: For the first two decades of my life as a Christian, I had an abundance of role models who seemed to enflesh for me how a minister of God should live. I realize now that I even took their presence and consistent example for granted. I looked forward to the future under the protection of their mature lives of patience, wisdom, and many kindnesses. The labors of most of those men have come to an end and today I face another situation. There are now numbers of fine younger men in training and starting out on their own ministries. What grace and zeal they have, but there appears to be less role models than the company with which I was favored. What Walker and Ventura have done in this splendid book is to return to the fountainhead of Christianity, to the apostle Paul with the authority the Lord Christ gave to him, his wisdom and compassion, and examine the apostle’s relationship with one congregation, how he advised and exhorted them concerning the demands of discipleship and their relationship with fellow believers. Paul became Christ’s servant and mouthpiece to them and he has left us with a timeless inspired example. He exhorted his readers more than once to be followers of him as he followed God. With a refreshing contemporary style, and with humble submission to the Scripture, these two ministers have given to us a role model for pastoral life. This is a very helpful book and a means of grace to me.
Paul Washer: This work on the Christian ministry is a clarion call to true devotion and piety in the pastorate. The theology is pure and the language is as powerful as it is beautiful. I pray that every pastor and congregant might take up this book and read it. It will hold a place in my library beside Baxter’s Reformed Pastor, Bridges’ Christian Ministry, and Spurgeon’s Lectures. I will refer to it often. It will serve as a great antidote against all that might cause my heart to stray from Christ’s call.
Conrad Mbewe: When I first sensed God’s call to the preaching ministry, I did a study of the life and ministry of the apostle Paul. And, oh, what a study that was! It opened my eyes to the difference between ministry in the New Testament and what is in vogue today. Rob Ventura and Jeremy Walker have now brought all those truths that I saw into this one volume. I, therefore, commend this book to all who want to take God’s call to the work of ministry seriously. For, in these pages is the heart and experience of a true minister of the new covenant.
Steven J. Lawson: The greatest need in churches today is for godly men to shepherd the flock of God. To be sure, no church will rise any higher than the level of its spiritual leaders. Like priest, like people. To this end, Rob Ventura and Jeremy Walker have done an exceptional job in providing a model for pastoral ministry, drawn from the extraordinary example of the apostle Paul. This book is built upon careful exegesis, proper interpretation, penetrating insight, and challenging application. Herein is profiled the kind of minister every church so desperately needs and what every true minister should desire to become.
Derek W. H. Thomas: In this dual-authored portrait of Paul as a minister of the gospel, Ventura and Walker have captured the very essence of ministry. On every page, we are forced to reflect upon the dimensions of apostolic ministry and urged to comply. Packed with exposition and application of the finest sort, these pages urge gospel-focused, Christ-centered, God-exalting, Spirit-empowered, self-denying ministry. I warmly recommend it.
Carl R. Trueman: This deceptively easy to read book consists of a series of reflection on Col.1:24 to 2:5 by two experienced pastors. In an age where there is much focus on technical aspects of ministry, Ventura and Walker analyse the topic in terms, first, of call and character, and then of the existential urgency with which the great doctrines of the faith are grasped by those called to the pastorate. Intended not just to be read but to be a practical guide in helping churches think through the role of the pastor, each chapter ends with a series of pointed questions, to Christians in general and to pastors in particular, which are designed to focus the minds of all concerned on what the priorities of the pastorate, and of candidates for the pastorate should be. This book is a biblical rebuke to modern trends, a challenge to those who think they may be called to the ministry, and a reality check for all believers everywhere.
Joseph A. Pipa Jr: Ventura’s and Walker’s A Portrait of Paul Identifying a True Minister of Christ makes an unique contribution to the literature on pastoral theology. Rather than approach their subject topically, they unfold Paul’s heart for and practice of ministry through an exposition of Colossians 1:24-2:5. The authors balance careful and experimental exposition with challenging application–addressing both fellow Christians and pastors. All serious Christians, as well as pastors, will profit from this book; it is intellectually satisfying, experimentally challenging, and practically stimulating.
Philip H. Towner: As the diverse churches of the world have demonstrated throughout history, there is no better place to turn, when confronted with the complexities of pastoral leadership, than the Scriptures. Each church in each generation must revisit this resource and view it anew through its particular historical, theological, cultural and political lens. The authors of A Portrait of Paul engage precisely in this task. With Colossians as their main laboratory, they probe the text and engage Paul in a conversation about pastoral ministry—its priorities, foundation, and potential—and a profile of pastoral mission and leadership emerges. All who read this book will discover an invitation to join this rich conversation and take away numerous fresh perspectives to challenge and shape their thinking.
Sam Waldron: What is A Portrait of Paul Identifying a True Minister of Christ? It is, first, the effort of two young pastors to teach themselves and their churches what it means to be a true minister of Christ. It is, second, an exposition of Colossians 1:24–2:5 which attempts to understand how Paul’s ministry gives them and their churches a paradigm of faithful ministry. It is, third, biblical exposition of Scripture in the best historic and Reformed tradition with careful exegesis, sound doctrine, popular appeal and practical application. As such, it is a very challenging book to read as Rob and Jeremy lay before us, for instance, the selflessness and suffering true ministry requires. It is, however, a good, useful, and profitable book to read. It can, and I hope it will, do much good!
Robert R. Gonzales Jr.: Rob Ventura and Jeremy Walker’s A Portrait of Paul is biblically sound, pointedly practical, and sagaciously simple. In addition to an exposition of Colossians 1:24-2:5, they provide the reader with a host of citations from other pertinent texts of Scriptures as well as judicious quotes from past and contemporary authors, all of which help to trace out the contours of Paul’s life and ministry. Each chapter concludes with practical applications directed both to fellow pastors (or aspiring pastors) and also to fellow Christians. I heartily recommend this book to anyone who would seek to imitate Paul as Paul sought to imitate Christ.
Further information to follow as it becomes available.