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Church Life Articles

  • Joe Hellerman — 

    The following post outlines some of the nuts-and-bolts of leading a church as a plurality of pastors. It is an excerpt from a manuscript tentatively titled, When Pastors Were Servants: Recapturing Paul’s Cruciform Vision for Authentic Christian Leadership.

  • John Hutchison — 

    I recently asked one of the elders of our church this question, “If you were choosing one factor that is most crucial in strengthening a marriage, what would it be?” He and his wife regularly do “crisis” marriage counseling with couples seeking help and on the verge of divorce. The response: “Bear one another’s burdens—learn to be a good listener, pray for your spouse, and communicate that you really care.” Sounds simple, doesn’t it? But even with the best of intentions, practicing this requires good communication skills. Ephesians 4:29 (NASB) says . . .

  • John Hutchison — 

    Just think about the meaning of the words in our wedding vows—“for better or for worse . . . in plenty and in want . . . in joy and in sorrow . . .in sickness and in health . . . as long as we both shall live.” What a commitment we make in that moment of time, with “God and these witnesses” listening! Are these just empty words of tradition, or do they represent a genuine promise of commitment? The longevity and quality of your marriage depends upon it!

  • Ashish Naidu — 

    A friend of mine has a coffee cup with the following words printed on the outside, “Presbyterian Coffee: Predestined to be brewed decently and in order.” I chuckled when I saw it for the first time several years ago. The humorous one-liner nicely captures a couple of representative ideas that are associated with a particular church denomination. An amusing tongue-in-cheek way to integrate the love of coffee, a distinctive theological perspective, and a related view of church polity, one might say! Funny sayings aside, the hallmark of church polity of things being done “decently and in order” actually derives from Paul’s remark in 1 Cor. 14:40, where he instructs believers to be orderly in their worship and to avoid discord and confusion. I suggest that this regulative principle of church polity can be of great service outside its walls, especially in conversational contexts that can be potentially explosive.

  • Joe Hellerman — 

    Consider the following observations from two Christian thinkers representing two different theological traditions (Anglican and Eastern Orthodox): Fleming Rutledge comments on the earthquake catastrophe in Haiti: A frequent response heard from Christians is, “God has some purpose in this.” “Something good will come out of this.” “Haiti will become stronger as a result of this.” In one sense, all these things are true; however, these are deeply wrong responses, both theologically and pastorally….Glib, monochromatic responses to catastrophe should have no place in our faith.

  • John Hutchison — 

    This summer my wife and I will celebrate our 39th wedding anniversary . . . I am discovering when we say that publicly, there are noticeable gasps from the audience, and even a little applause now and then! Different from my parents’ generation, marriages that last have become the exception rather than the rule. What is it that makes marriage work well and last long? I have reflected on that a bit lately, and I’m convinced that the ancient wisdom of God’s Word, practically lived out in our complicated world, will bring longevity and quality to any marriage. Here are a few thoughts from the “blueprint” of marriage in Genesis 2:20-24.

  • David Talley — 

    In addition to my faculty responsibilities at Biola University, I am a member of a pastoral team at a local church (www.graceevfree.org). We do not have a senior pastor. Our understanding of this is captured in two ministry values, namely “Elder Leadership” and “Spirit-led Decision Making.” It is my hope that the following summary of these ministry values might challenge you in your understanding of how the body of Christ is to function.

  • Kenneth Berding — 

    “It really doesn’t matter whether I go to church. I have Christian friends, Bible classes, and chapels at Biola; why do I need a church?” I’ve heard some version of this statement at least three times during the past week. Although many Biola students truly understand the importance of the local church and are actively involved in their churches, some of our students still don’t get it. They think that they already have plenty of access to good Bible teaching, fellowship, worship services, and opportunities to go on short-term missions trips. So what’s the big deal about the local church?

  • Joe Hellerman — 

    If we’ve learned anything about Romans in recent years from the New Perspective folks, it is that Romans is not just about me and God. It’s also about me and you. Paul, in fact, leverages many of the familiar soteriological truths that we typically associate with the book of Romans in the service of what I take (at least in part) to be an ecclesiological agenda. The church at Rome was apparently divided along ethnic lines. Paul’s letter to the Romans represents (among other things) the apostle’s concerted effort to address the issue, in order to restore some inter-racial harmony in the congregation.

  • Joe Hellerman — 

    I have found it rather easy over the years to convince our Talbot students of the value of expository preaching. The challenge comes when our students leave the classroom and find themselves ministering to church folks who live in a sound-bite culture, and who have a strong affinity for topical sermons that “scratch ‘em where they itch.”