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Fainting Fits

I have re-posted this quote a few times in the last few years. There is an intensity and loneliness in ministry unlike others. One that affects the minister as well as his wife and family. I find it a rich pick-me-up of sorts. You could spend a lot of time expositing almost each phrase, such is the quality of the prose. Perhaps you will also gain some refreshment from reading it?

Whilst I may never measure to the mark of Spurgeon in the quality or quantity of his ministry I find encouragement in his words given in chapter 11 of Lectures to My Students. I wish I had the same confidence as he concerning his “fit” of depression being a precursor to a “larger blessing”.

Such was my experience when I first became a pastor in London. My success appalled me; and the thought of the career which it seemed to open up, so far from elating me, cast me into the lowest depth, out of which I uttered my miserere and found no room for a gloria in excelsis. Who was I that I should continue to lead so great a multitude? I would betake me to my village obscurity, or emigrate to America, and find a solitary nest in the backwoods, where I might be sufficient for the things which would be demanded of me. It was just then that the curtain was rising upon my life-work, and I dreaded what it might reveal. I hope I was not faithless, but I was timorous and filled with a sense of my own unfitness. I dreaded the work which a gracious providence had prepared for me. I felt myself a mere child, and trembled as I heard the voice which said, “Arise, and thresh the mountains, and make them as chaff.” This depression comes over me whenever the Lord is preparing a larger blessing for my ministry; the cloud is black before it breaks, and overshadows before it yields its deluge of mercy. Depression has now become to me as a prophet in rough clothing, a John the Baptist, heralding the nearer coming of my Lord’s richer benison. So have far better men found it. The scouring of the vessel has fitted it for the Master’s use. Immersion in suffering has preceded the baptism of the Holy Ghost. Fasting gives an appetite for the banquet. The Lord is revealed in the backside of the desert, while his servant keepeth the sheep and waits in solitary awe. The wilderness is the way to Canaan. The low valley leads to the towering mountain. Defeat prepares for victory. The raven is sent forth before the dove. The darkest hour of the night precedes the day-dawn. The mariners go down to the depths, but the next wave makes them mount to the heaven: their soul is melted because of trouble before he bringeth them to their desired haven.

 

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Pastor Fired by Church

Charles Stone introduces his book, ‘Five Ministry Killers and How to Kill Them‘ with an account of how a Church fired their Pastor. As I started the first paragraph, I thought it was a fictional parable used to kick off the main topic of the book. Wrong!

I read a little further and started to feel a little uncomfortable with the issues being mentioned. Then comes the surprise (for me anyway). The pastor in question is a real person and he is talking about real struggles that defeat many men and women who are in Christian Ministry.

The pastor in question, faced difficulties with power struggles, salary controversies, questions about his leadership style. His visitation policy was considered questionable and he was accused of “not loving the people.” Why? Because he made a decision to concentrate on the strengths and gifts of his ministry and prioritize his time on preaching and teaching instead of following a routine visiting program.

After some time, one particular man lead a factional revolt that would eventually see the pastor fired from his job. The pastor, unhindered by this, then made a decision to introduce changes in the Church policy regarding the expectations of the character of those that wanted to become Church members. He was called to question for this stance and the other matters. He was threatened with losing his job. He stood his ground and they fired him.

Stone closes off this account of the pastor, called “Jonathan”, as follows:

Ten years later, because Jonathan had so graciously responded to his critics and his dismissal, one of his main detractors admitted that pride, self-sufficiency, ambition, and vanity had caused the contention. The pastor’s handling of his ministry crisis left such and impression that eventually the church publicly repented of their actions, exactly 150 years after they sent him packing.

Who was Jonathan? Jonathan Edwards, arguably America’s greatest theologian.

Rev. Jonathan Edwards, a leader of the Great A...

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Dear Pastor friend, if it happened to Edwards, chances are you will face similar challenges. Are you ready to meet them with a godly, gospel oriented approach?

Dear Church Member friend, if you have a Pastor that has different ideas about leadership style and ministry emphasis are you able to model gospel oriented flexibility and serve alongside him for God’s glory?

Related Article:

Ed Stetzer – Church Leadership Book Interview: Charles Stone on 5 Ministry Killers and How to Defeat Them

Also (post-edit) check out this recent post by Don – a supplement to the comment he made below.
Firing Your Pastor

 
 

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Great ministers make a great church

Great “ministers”?! But what or who is the minister? It’s NOT the pastor!

Eugene Hor explains:

It’s striking that the Bible never measures a church’s maturity or strength or power or health or success by 1) it’s music, 2) it’s gifts, 3) it’s pastor, 4) it’s size, 5) what kind of ministries it offers or 6) it’s building.  The Bible measures a church’s maturity by the measure by which all God’s people are being equipped to serve, and are actually serving to make Jesus their shared treasure as a church, and whether he is filling everything in their lives.

Read more at theReformission

 

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Put the cross at the front door

Have been doing some thinking and teaching recently about my vision for a theologically oriented Church as opposed to one that is culturally oriented or pragmatically oriented.

The culturally centered Church focuses on issues of language, food and ethnicity as the key components of identity and mission. The pragmatic Church has a primary concern with attendance, cash flow, building projects etc. None of these are bad things. Some are important operational and logistical components of Church life. However, if they become the primary features and occupy a majority of time and resources, the Church has lost distinction from the local club and, frankly, why bother?!

In the below video (from The Resurgence) James Noriega discusses the place of the cross in Military Chaplain counseling. His challenge applies equally to the priority and emphasis of the Church in general. If you’re fair dinkum about God’s power, strength, might and majesty then “putting the cross at the front door” is perfectly reasonable. Just make sure it’s THE cross that you’re fronting up, not your peculiarities, preferences or other secondary issues.

 
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Posted by on 06/05/2010 in Gospel

 

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Living Safely

Francis Chan on the balance beam and why “safety” usually means “unsatisfied”.

 
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Posted by on 23/04/2010 in discipleship

 

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Video-blog: Moving From Vision to Vitality

My first video blog – very rough – not my area of expertise :)

 
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Posted by on 25/09/2009 in video

 

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