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Category: Ministry and Leadership

  • Joe Hellerman — 

    I have always had mixed feelings about the whole idea of sermons broadcast over the airwaves. And now with the internet we can listen to preachers from thousands of churches around the world without having to interact with a single human being. There are, of course, great benefits to the dissemination of all these sermons. But there are distinct liabilities, as well.

  • Kenneth Berding — 

    I was living with my family on the north edge of New York City on September 11, 2001. The entire nation was stunned and outraged by the attacks on the Twin Towers. The shock reverberated across the nation. The effect on those living in New York was something else altogether.

  • Joe Hellerman — 

    One Sunday not too long ago I preached on Daniel 4, where Nebuchadnezzar discovers the hard way that “the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes” (v. 17). I serve a wonderful, God-loving congregation of mostly conservative Republicans. A couple weeks earlier, I had delighted my people by informing them that I would not make a very good Democrat, because I don’t trust big government. Their delight was short-lived, however, because I immediately said that I also wouldn’t make a very good Republican, because I don’t trust big business. Then, I really got ‘em thinking when I added that I probably don’t make a very good pastor—at least not according to current American evangelical criteria for pastoral success—because I don’t trust big institutional churches.

  • Joe Hellerman — 

    Scenario #1: A single mom is in a small group with a first-year seminary student. The young man just completed an introductory course in biblical hermeneutics. During the group’s sharing and prayer time, the following interaction unfolds: MOM: I have been really struggling to make ends meet. But just this week I found a verse that has really given me confidence and peace about my finances: ‘And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus’ (Philippians 4:19). STUDENT: You might wanna be careful about claiming that verse as a promise for your personal finances. As the context of Philippians indicates, that is a specific promise Paul gave to a local church because of their sacrificial financial contribution to his missionary efforts. It is not a generic promise to be claimed by just any individual Christian struggling with his or her finances.

  • Mick Boersma — 

    It was fun while it lasted. My wife Rolane and I just returned from a week in a seaside condo in Huntington Beach, CA. We came back home just before the U.S. Open surfing championship there, in time to escape the record throng that attended.

  • David Talley — 

    This next month is an important time to be praying for the Muslim world.

  • Walt Russell — 

    My 83-year-old mother has dementia. To help me work through the pain of this living death, I recently gave her a gift she was not able to receive: a letter commemorating her 10th anniversary in the nursing home.

  • Ben Shin — 

    Choosing the right leaders helps determine good leadership. This is true for every organization that requires leadership. Even the business world understands this important axiom. Jim Collins for example in his book Good to Great uses the analogy of getting the “right people on the bus” before any kind of leadership could move, develop, or flourish. This is not only a proven principle from experience but also something that the Pastoral Epistles certainly emphasizes. This is why following the prescription of what makes a good leader according to the Word of God is so crucial for the church. Without referring to the qualities mentioned in the Scripture, potentially wrong criteria could be imposed in choosing leaders for the church and this would be tragic!

  • Dave Keehn — 

    “Eye spy with my little eye…” –is this a child’s game, a way to pass the time on a long road trip or the secret to effective ministry? You decide…

  • Mickey Klink III — 

    I just returned from a symposium on ecclesial theology in Chicago, IL (Oak Park, to be exact) hosted by The Society for the Advancement of Ecclesial Theology (SAET). The annual symposium of the SAET pulls together a diverse body of evangelical pastor-theologians from across the country, with fellows (“members”) representing the Lutheran, Pentecostal, Episcopal, Baptist, Messianic Jewish, Methodist, Presbyterian, and Independent Bible church traditions. Each three-day symposium gathers for discussion and collaboration on theological issues related to the life of the church. Mentoring fellows include Doug Sweeney (Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) and Scott Hafemann (Gordon-Conwell, soon to be University of St. Andrews), and often involves visiting scholars/pastor-theologians: this year it was Kevin Vanhoozer (Wheaton College/Graduate School). I have been a fellow of the SAET for two years because we believe that theology is not merely done for the church but in and by the church. For the SAET the difference is crucial. Here is the mission of the SAET:

  • Ben Shin — 

    The whole mentorship movement continues to increase in popularity especially within the church. Many young people today are seeking out mentors. This even seems to be a value for the younger generation. But in actuality, this movement is not a new one at all but rather one that dates back even to the first century.

  • Rob Lister — 

    In my previous post, I reflected on a lesson about humility that I learned as a seminarian. Since then, I have encountered a few folks who have observed that a struggle with spiritual pride is not altogether infrequent in the halls of evangelical seminaries. Initially, seminary might seem an unexpected place to encounter such a struggle. Why is it, then, that this temptation is often found in this context? Is seminary somehow intrinsically antithetical to gospel humility?

  • Dave Keehn — 

    Is your church similar to a family holiday celebration? The table is set, the decorations adorn the room, all ages are gathered together… but sitting at different tables. The “adult’s table” is the set with the large platters of food, and the fine wine to match the fine china. At the “kids’ table” are plastic plates that won’t break, no table clothes that could be stained, and no food platters – the plates of food will be served to the children by a parent in pre-approved samplings that the adult chooses. Does this sound like the difference between the adult worship vs. kids worship: one gets the better equipment and musicians while we assume the kids are content with student musicians. Adult mission trips push the limits of opportunities while kids are often ignored for true missional experiences. Even our language of “big church” gives away the “second-class status” with which we classify the children and youth ministries. The larger the church, the more professional the youth ministry becomes… the more segregated youth are from the church. The result is tragically youth are “guests” in church, and hear the message “don’t mess it up”.

  • Mickey Klink III — 

    This week someone wrote me an email asking if I was able to give a defense of Calvin. This person had recently heard things about Calvin that he found “disturbing,” and wanted to know if they were true: harsh views on God and hell, abuse of intelligence and power in Geneva, sentencing people to death over theological disagreements, etc. Here is my response.

  • Jeffrey Volkmer — 

    I am now in my second year as a faculty member at Biola University’s Talbot School of Theology. Prior to this, I’ve spent the last 16 years of my life doing primarily two things: 1) attending three different universities, and; 2) working for local churches in a variety of capacities. You would think that after that amount of time invested in both theological higher education and church service, I would have learned quite a bit about the local church. Yet, this is anything but the case and not because the curriculum of my seminary lacked adequate focus on ecclesiology. Rather, teaching at a Christian university has opened up an amazing new curriculum for me and afforded me a unique and fresh vista from which to view the Church and learn from one of her most precious treasures – young people – and in this case, undergraduate students. I would like to share some of the greatest lessons this new curriculum has taught me as I seek to teach undergraduates.

  • Gary McIntosh — 

    Church leaders occasionally talk about the Rule of Four. Here is how it works. If you know 50 people, and each of them knows 50 more people, you have 2,500 friends of friends. If each of them knows 50 more people, you have 125,000 friends of friends of friends. And, if each of them knows 50 others, you have more than six million friends of friends of friends of friends.

  • Dave Keehn — 

    I have noticed the same principals that I am trying to teaching my son to be a better ballplayer are really the same fundamentals that help me coach students to be tools in God’s hands.

  • Erik Thoennes — 

    We should want to know God more than we want to know his will for our lives.

  • Gary McIntosh — 

    I spoke to a gathering of pastors this last month on the topic of Healthy Churches. I suggested to the pastors that there are four, perhaps five, types of churches in a health paradigm. First, there are Hospice Churches. These churches are extremely ill, having declined in worship attendance for a decade or longer, and most likely will close. God can, of course, perform a miracle and restore hospice churches to health, but this is rare.

  • Ben Shin — 

    Leadership in the church is certainly not an easy task. It requires great diligence, faithfulness, time, energy, competence, and spirituality. The weekly demands of a pastor, for example, is much more than just preparing a sermon (even though the prep time certainly takes up a good portion of the week!). There are staff meetings, visitations, administrative duties, and many other responsibilities. Add to this, the personal responsibility of family and home life and you get a pretty full week! So how can a leader in ministry keep up all of these things, maintain a Spirit-filled life, fruitful ministry, and do so without going insane?

  • Rob Lister — 

    I loved my time in seminary. The seminary years were formative and growth-filled for me in many ways. I learned more about God in a concentrated period of time than ever before. My professors were scholar-pastors. I was blessed to be part of a healthy church. I made some of my best (and lifelong) friends during seminary. And God graciously started and grew our family during those years.

  • 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.

  • Dave Keehn — 

    One of the greatest compliments I ever received was from a student who rose to speak at a “thank you” celebration when I left my first church. I had been involved in youth ministry at this church for 14 years, the last ten as the youth pastor. I had begun to recognize the benefits of developing a comprehensive mentoring program for the youth ministry and invested many hours in the lives of a few young men. All five of these men are currently serving in full time ministry today, most as youth pastors. This particular student, James, was one of those five I poured myself into during the last few years at that church. As many people stood to say nice things to my family and I, this young man silenced the room when he simply said, “You are my Paul and I am your Timothy!” And with that he sat down. The emotion I had been trying to control burst forth at that moment and I realized I was finished. I had completed the task God had called me to at that church. What a compliment that student paid me; on my worst days, I think about that moment and smile. Mentoring may be a “buzz-word” in the business world but the practice of developing another person for specific purposes of skill development or leadership (Smith, p. 95) has been around since the beginning of civilization, evident throughout Scripture – especially in the lives of Paul and Timothy.

  • Joe Hellerman — 

    I am presently at work on a book about the use of power and authority in Christian leadership. The provisional title is When Pastors Were Servants: Recapturing Paul’s Cruciform Vision for Authentic Christian Leadership. The primary biblical materials in play are Paul’s letter to the Philippians and the apostle’s ministry in Philippi, as related by Luke in Acts 16.

  • 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.