Issues in the Church

How To Care For Your Pastor

Care for your pastor. Those four words may not be on your radar right now, but by the end of this article, I hope to persuade you of the importance of caring for your pastor, his wife, and his family. Consider Joe (not his real name), a pastor of many years. He and...

Domestic Abuse and the Church

One in four women. Those are the startling national statics for cases of intimate partner violence. For many of us within the church, those numbers reveal just how desperately our world needs Jesus, but we fail to realize that domestic violence is a serious problem...

Don’t Theologize or Spiritualize Ministry Mediocrity

I believe in the primacy of Christ-centered expository preaching in the life of the church. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones asserted in his classic book, Preaching, and Preachers, “I would say without any hesitation that the most urgent need in the Christian Church today is...

When Christians Hurt You

As the culture war rages on, there is another battle raging to which we must turn our attention....

Five Ways to Prevent Ministry Burnout

Five Ways to Prevent Ministry Burnout

It was a busy day of ministry. Five thousand people covered the hillside where Jesus taught, not including women and children. The evening was coming on fast, and the people were hungry. So Jesus fed them food from a boy’s lunch of two small fish and five loaves of...

Contentment in a Discontented World

Contentment in a Discontented World

Discontentment may be the greatest trap in our culture. It may be greater than lust, greed, and even lying because discontentment leads to all these other sins. It tends to be a well-spring of iniquity. I have yet to meet an individual who engaged in an affair without...

Gospel Motivations for Gospel Ministry

Gospel Motivations for Gospel Ministry

Competitiveness is the companion of quality, right? After all, that seems to be true of the role of competition in healthcare, technology, transportation, sports, restaurants, design, and construction. In all forms of production, men constantly seek to surpass their...

Boring Church Services Changed My Life

Boring Church Services Changed My Life

I’ve never really had a moment in my life—39 years—when I wasn’t going to church. My parents got engaged and married in the church. I was born into, raised in, and baptized in the church. My parents, first-generation Christians, were devout church-goers. We went every...

Learning to See the Beauty of a Gospel-Centered Church

Learning to See the Beauty of a Gospel-Centered Church

I love the gospel and the church, and I can’t wait to teach them every Sunday. But it wasn’t always that way. How Do You See the Church? Admittedly, for me, I was slow to understand and appreciate the importance and beauty of the local church. In high school and...

Four Ways to Respond When a Ministry Leader Is Removed from Ministry

Four Ways to Respond When a Ministry Leader Is Removed from Ministry

It happened yet again. A popular ministry leader fell into sin. Over the years, I’ve sadly seen this happen so many times. Each time a ministry leader falls and has to resign from his position it breaks my heart breaks. I’ve also sadly seen people who come down overly...

Fellowship Within the Church

Fellowship Within the Church

I am a member of a church that has home groups that meet every other week. These groups are filled with many different people, and they come from different areas of life. But there is one thing that unites us. It is the gospel! It is through relationships like those...

4 Reasons for Biblical Leadership Qualifications

4 Reasons for Biblical Leadership Qualifications

I’m thankful that God didn’t leave us to guess about the qualifications of church leaders. Both Titus 1 and 1 Timothy 3 provide some basic traits that should characterize elders and deacons. Elders, for example, should be men who are “above reproach, the husband of...

Keeping Short Accounts

Keeping Short Accounts

My family moved to St. Simons Island, GA in 1989. I was 12 years old. One of the first things that I distinctly remember about that beautiful, little secluded Island was the fact that we could walk into a store, write our name on a ledger and walk out with just about...

Pray for Your Church Leaders

Pray for Your Church Leaders

The warning in the book of James to teachers is sobering, “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness” (3:1). Some of that “greater strictness” is seen in the responses of church members...

New Ministry Resolutions: Remembering the Old Convictions of Preaching

New Ministry Resolutions: Remembering the Old Convictions of Preaching

The old has passed and the new has arrived. The calendar has turned and we’ve entered into 2017. However, we know that the “new” will soon wear off and the fresh reminder of the “old” will define the plowing of pastoral ministry. If you’re like me you probably have...

The Church: A Community and a Family

The Church: A Community and a Family

The Church in Acts The early Church, as described in the Book of Acts had a beautiful sense of community and family. They sold possessions for the sake of the poor and sold houses to the point that “there was not a needy person among them”. There was devotion to the...

A Marathon Mentality for Ministry

A Marathon Mentality for Ministry

I was always better at sprinting than running long distance--back in the days when I actually ran...in high school. My wife, by way of contrast, was and is a marathon runner. One of the things that I've noticed as I have watched her run over the years is that she...

The Four DNA Elements You Must Understand About Your Church

The Four DNA Elements You Must Understand About Your Church

Every local church is one of a kind. Each one is unique. There are an estimated 350,000 churches in the United States. They are all distinct and unlike any other. You can find churches with similarities based on common beliefs or methods, but no church is exactly...

Killing Envy

Killing Envy

There are certain sins that we tend to tolerate in our own hearts and lives, as well as in the church. They are what Jerry Bridges has called "respectable sins"--gossip, slander, envy, covetousness, pride, etc. We like to single out what we deem to be other, more...

The Need for Rest and Solitude

The Need for Rest and Solitude

Recently I wrote about my experience with a failed adoption. In that post, I talked about how that situation revealed to me several areas that the Lord needed to work in my life. One of those areas is my ability to rest and relax. As a type-A personality, I’m...

Pastoral Ministry in a Post-Christian Context

Pastoral Ministry in a Post-Christian Context

Things are changing for American churches. The cultural landscape is shifting. Whereas even a generation ago, Christianity was valued for its contribution to the fabric of our nation, today, the church is becoming marginalized. While there are certainly some areas...

The Pain of a Failed Adoption and God’s Grace in the Midst of It

The Pain of a Failed Adoption and God’s Grace in the Midst of It

The past Fall and even early Winter have been a very difficult and trying season for my wife and me. Early in the Fall, we were asked if we would be willing to adopt a child. Of the two times, we’ve been asked to adopt a child; this past one hurt the most as we were...

The Blessing of Visiting the Sick

The Blessing of Visiting the Sick

In 1892, John D. Wells delivered three lectures at Princeton Theological Seminary that were transcribed and subsequently published in a little booklet titled, The Pastor in the Sickroom. This book is one of those unique little volumes that every man preparing for...

Five Ways to Prepare for Challenges in Ministry

Five Ways to Prepare for Challenges in Ministry

If you’ve been in ministry for any length of time then you’ve probably heard or said that oft-repeated refrain, “There are so many things that they don’t teach you in seminary to prepare you for the challenges in ministry.” While one could easily lay the blame at the...

Preaching the Earthiness of Heaven

Preaching the Earthiness of Heaven

You are preaching to your congregation. You are proclaiming the wonders of the cross. You thunder out the incredible promise, “Not only have you been given access to God now, you have been given the promise of eternal life with Him in heaven!” Here is my question for...

The Delusional Dream of Secret Sin

The Delusional Dream of Secret Sin

“What I did is certainly known.” Moses (Exodus 2:14; HCSB) Sin absolutely wrecks the lives of men and secret sin wrecks them absolutely. In my experience counseling with men, it has usually been public sin issues that have garnered the concern of family, friends, and...

How Pastors Can Help Their People Find Their Calling

How Pastors Can Help Their People Find Their Calling

I remember sitting in church hearing sermon after sermon on the importance of giving it all up to serve God. These were great convicting sermons God used to melt my heart toward him. But I never knew exactly what God’s will looked like, specifically. Did it mean...

Gospel-Centered or Practically-Sensible? Yes.

Gospel-Centered or Practically-Sensible? Yes.

Imagine this scenario that is all too real: A family who has not been to church in years pulls into your parking lot. The husband works with a member of your church who has been faithfully proclaiming and embodying Jesus to this man for years. Invitations to attend...

Spirit-Filled Worship is Christ-Centered Worship

Spirit-Filled Worship is Christ-Centered Worship

How do you know if your church is Spirit-filled? One answer, the charismatic one, is to equate passion with presence. The presence of the Spirit is displayed in a congregation’s passionate expression and rockin’ music—to use technical language. As an example, recently...

Three Ways to Receive a Compliment While Giving God Glory

Three Ways to Receive a Compliment While Giving God Glory

Receiving compliments can be awkward. This is especially true if you are in ministry. While you want to be appreciated for the work you do, you also want to avoid taking the glory. Nobody wants to be guilty of—or experience in—what Herod did in Acts 12 when the crowds...

Improving Your Preaching

Improving Your Preaching

Earlier this summer I had a conversation with David Prince and he mentioned to me that he was thoroughly enjoying H. Grady Davis’ Design for Preaching. Davis was a Lutheran pastor and then homiletics professor at Chicago Lutheran Seminary, and he published this work...

A Greater Vision for Your Church: Pastoral internships

A Greater Vision for Your Church: Pastoral internships

As a local church, dare to think beyond yourself. There is everything right about encouraging or inviting people to your church services, and promoting such outreach events as a summer VBS. In fact, it is good and right to focus on ministry in our own little portion...

Why You Should Become a Knowledgable AND Wise Leader

Why You Should Become a Knowledgable AND Wise Leader

I pastor a fast-growing church, and our staff is incredible. We are young. The median age of our staff is 31 years old, and if it wasn’t for our 52-year-old family pastor—who is a rockstar, but busts the curve—our average would be 29 years old. Having a young staff is...

Six Ways to Fight the Monday Morning Pastoral Blues

Six Ways to Fight the Monday Morning Pastoral Blues

Monday Morning. The weight and pressure of another week rolls around as you roll out of bed to find that first cup of coffee. But this Monday is different. You feel “off,” like something is wrong. There is that lingering thought in the back of your mind to just stay...

Three Emotions Pastors Bear Which Are Unknown to Most Congregants

Three Emotions Pastors Bear Which Are Unknown to Most Congregants

Pastors are like ogres. No, we are not hideous monsters who smell, at least not all of us. We are like ogres because we have layers. My Shrek reference and a poor attempt at humor are to lead into a discussion about the emotions pastors often feel. As I seek to...

How Much Should a Pastor or Elder Tell His Wife?

How Much Should a Pastor or Elder Tell His Wife?

What should an elder or pastor share with his wife about issue or people in the church? My guess is that previous generations of elders/pastors probably shared too little with their wives. Again, it is only a guess, but I would submit that in our day and age many...

Your First and Most Important Labor: Communion with Christ

Your First and Most Important Labor: Communion with Christ

Most of the people I know in ministry are exceptionally busy people. Yes, there are some who are lazy and idle, but they are like overweight distant runners or pale lifeguards – rare. The majority of those in ministry are usually running after more things than time...

Discipleship 101: What is a Disciple?

Discipleship 101: What is a Disciple?

What is a disciple? The answer may not be as easy as it might first appear. First, there is a shift in the meaning of the term ‘disciple’ from the Gospels to the book of Acts. For instance, in John 6 many of Jesus’ ‘disciples’ leave him. These are the ones who...

Extending the Forgiveness We Preach

Extending the Forgiveness We Preach

Forgiveness is often a subject that resounds from our pulpits. We herald the most incredible message of forgiveness imaginable. The God who is holy, holy, holy sent His only Son, Jesus, into the world, to save sinners, by dying on the cross as our substitute. All who...

Platforms or Stewardship: The Issue of Influence in a Digital Age

Platforms or Stewardship: The Issue of Influence in a Digital Age

The other day I was talking with a good friend at my local church about my writing and ministry in general. We were talking about celebrity pastors and the tendency with this approach to pastoral success for them to fall from their ministry position. I made the...

Preaching Is Not the Old Way

Preaching Is Not the Old Way

The 18th Century preacher, John Wesley, once said, “Give me one hundred preachers who fear nothing but sin, and desire nothing but God, and I care not a straw whether they be clergymen or laymen; such alone will shake the gates of hell and set up the kingdom of heaven...

Sin, Discipline, and Not Being the Next Pastor Who Falls

Sin, Discipline, and Not Being the Next Pastor Who Falls

Sin is no respecter of persons. It does not care what your name is, what your title is, how successful you are, or how large your platform is. It’s not impressed with how long you have been in ministry, how big your church is, or what degrees you have hanging on the...

More than Marriage Tips

More than Marriage Tips

It was my very first marriage counseling case and I was a very young counselor. The couple was in all out chaos in their marriage. She had cheated on him, he had cheated on her, and both were living the results of a lifestyle of self-indulgence. They needed lots of...

Striking the Right Balance with the Past

Striking the Right Balance with the Past

The past can be incredibly powerful. We all have one, and it shapes us to varying degrees, ranging from childhood trauma to the accepted patterns of our homes that created a sense of normalcy throughout childhood. Our past shapes us. Yet counselors have often...

Why We Speak of Addiction As Sin

Why We Speak of Addiction As Sin

I am pointed in my conversations with all the men and women that come to our recovery program: we think and talk about addictions from within a robust Christian worldview. That means that while other programs intentionally avoid the word “sin,” we do not. We speak of...

Habits and Confrontation Within the Church

Habits and Confrontation Within the Church

“You either love Jesus or you love your sin.” It was a true-ish statement, but it was so simplistic that it was dangerously unhelpful. My friend had said it of himself, but with a sense of desperation. He wasn’t sure he was a Christian because, after all, Christians...

Primacy of Preaching

Primacy of Preaching

Preaching is the priority of Christian ministry. It is the most important aspect of ministry within the church because all other ministries are an outpouring of what is preached. The guiding of the Holy Spirit within the preaching ministry of the church is what builds...

5 Ways to Listen to the Preaching of God’s Word

5 Ways to Listen to the Preaching of God’s Word

In part 1 of my advice on how to listen to a sermon, I said that listening to a sermon begins on the drive home Sunday afternoon and continues throughout the week. The Sunday sermon is a sacred part of our worship, but it's not the only part of our worship. Worship is...

Three Ways to Prepare to Listen to a Sermon

Three Ways to Prepare to Listen to a Sermon

Yesterday I wrote about four things to look for when listening to a sermon. My aim was to get at the heart of what we should want from a sermon. This is difficult because some (it would seem) don’t even know why there should be a sermon let alone the what of one. From...

Four Things to Look for When Listening to a Sermon

Four Things to Look for When Listening to a Sermon

Disclaimer: I don’t mean for the title of this blog post to sound so self-serving. “I want this, I want that, me, me and more me.” I’m not coming at it from that angle. I’m coming (hopefully) from the angle of Scripture and what we ought to want from the preaching of...

Six Ways God Uses Difficult People in the Life of His People

Six Ways God Uses Difficult People in the Life of His People

Dealing with difficult people in a Christ-like manner may be one of the most difficult ways to live out the Gospel. Difficult, because this requires patience, something I struggle to display. It has been said that if you pray for patience, God will indulge you with...

Four Reasons You Should Read and Preach the Old Testament

Four Reasons You Should Read and Preach the Old Testament

“Long ago, at many time and in many ways, God spoke to our father by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through who also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the...

A Blessing and a Means of God’s Grace

A Blessing and a Means of God’s Grace

Discipline in the Christian life is often viewed as drudgery. I know this mindset well since I became a Christian at a young age. Sometimes to this day I struggle to regularly read my Bible and pray. When this happens, I’ve learned it is easy to then proceed to beat...

Six Ways Pastors Can Equip Churches to Engage Cultural Issues

Six Ways Pastors Can Equip Churches to Engage Cultural Issues

Editor’s note: The purpose of this series is to write on "Issues in the Church" that either aren't talked about, ignored entirely, or that we want to contribute to the discussion on. Our goal with this series is to help our readers think through these issues from a...

Three Reasons Why People Leave Your Church

Three Reasons Why People Leave Your Church

Editor’s note: The purpose of this series is to write on "Issues in the Church" that either aren't talked about, ignored entirely, or that we want to contribute to the discussion on. Our goal with this series is to help our readers think through these issues from a...

Five Helpful Considerations for Sermon Preparation

Five Helpful Considerations for Sermon Preparation

Editor’s note: The purpose of this series is to write on "Issues in the Church" that either aren't talked about, ignored entirely, or that we want to contribute to the discussion on. Our goal with this series is to help our readers think through these issues from a...

Handling Grumbling and Critique from the Congregation

Handling Grumbling and Critique from the Congregation

Editor’s note: The purpose of this series is to write on "Issues in the Church" that either aren't talked about, ignored entirely, or that we want to contribute to the discussion on. Our goal with this series is to help our readers think through these issues from a...

Loving Christ, Loving the Church

Loving Christ, Loving the Church

Editor’s note: The purpose of this series is to write on "Issues in the Church" that either aren't talked about, ignored entirely, or that we want to contribute to the discussion on. Our goal with this series is to help our readers think through these issues from a...

Entertainment and Worldview

Entertainment and Worldview

Editor’s note: The purpose of this series is to write on "Issues in the Church" that either aren't talked about, ignored entirely, or that we want to contribute to the discussion on. Our goal with this series is to help our readers think through these issues from a...

Five Requirements for Pastoral Preaching

Five Requirements for Pastoral Preaching

Editor’s note: The purpose of this series is to write on "Issues in the Church" that either aren't talked about, ignored entirely, or that we want to contribute to the discussion on. Our goal with this series is to help our readers think through these issues from a...

Evangelizing in the Authority of Christ

Evangelizing in the Authority of Christ

Editor’s note: The purpose of this series is to write on "Issues in the Church" that either aren't talked about, ignored entirely, or that we want to contribute to the discussion on. Our goal with this series is to help our readers think through these issues from a...

Brotherly Love: Because Jesus Loved Us First

Brotherly Love: Because Jesus Loved Us First

Editor’s note: The purpose of this series is to write on "Issues in the Church" that either aren't talked about, ignored entirely, or that we want to contribute to the discussion on. Our goal with this series is to help our readers think through these issues from a...

Protecting the Lord’s Table

Protecting the Lord’s Table

Editor’s note: The purpose of this series is to write on "Issues in the Church" that either aren't talked about, ignored entirely, or that we want to contribute to the discussion on. Our goal with this series is to help our readers think through these issues from a...

Patience with an Unresolved Heart

Patience with an Unresolved Heart

Editor’s note: The purpose of this series is to write on "Issues in the Church" that either aren't talked about, ignored entirely, or that we want to contribute to the discussion on. Our goal with this series is to help our readers think through these issues from a...

Growing Together Towards Love and Good Deeds

Growing Together Towards Love and Good Deeds

Editor’s note: The purpose of this series is to write on "Issues in the Church" that either aren't talked about, ignored entirely, or that we want to contribute to the discussion on. Our goal with this series is to help our readers think through these issues from a...

Brotherly Affection Protects the Purity of One Another

Brotherly Affection Protects the Purity of One Another

Editor’s note: The purpose of this series is to write on "Issues in the Church" that either aren't talked about, ignored entirely, or that we want to contribute to the discussion on. Our goal with this series is to help our readers think through these issues from a...

W.E.L.C.O.M.E. Seven Good Actions Towards a Better Welcome

W.E.L.C.O.M.E. Seven Good Actions Towards a Better Welcome

Editor’s note: The purpose of this series is to write on "Issues in the Church" that either aren't talked about, ignored entirely, or that we want to contribute to the discussion on. Our goal with this series is to help our readers think through these issues from a...

Battling Discouragement and Depression with the Gospel

Battling Discouragement and Depression with the Gospel

Editor’s note: The purpose of this series is to write on "Issues in the Church" that either aren't talked about, ignored entirely, or that we want to contribute to the discussion on. Our goal with this series is to help our readers think through these issues from a...

Applying the Doctrine of the Authority and Sufficiency of Scripture

Applying the Doctrine of the Authority and Sufficiency of Scripture

Editor’s note: The purpose of this series is to write on "Issues in the Church" that either aren't talked about, ignored entirely, or that we want to contribute to the discussion on. Our goal with this series is to help our readers think through these issues from a...

Confronting Falsehood in the Church

Confronting Falsehood in the Church

Editor’s note: The purpose of this series is to write on "Issues in the Church" that either aren't talked about, ignored entirely, or that we want to contribute to the discussion on. Our goal with this series is to help our readers think through these issues from a...

Four Ways I Deal with Anxiety in My Own Life

Four Ways I Deal with Anxiety in My Own Life

Editor’s note: The purpose of this series is to write on "Issues in the Church" that either aren't talked about, ignored entirely, or that we want to contribute to the discussion on. Our goal with this series is to help our readers think through these issues from a...

Orchestrating Seasons For His Glory

Orchestrating Seasons For His Glory

Editor’s note: The purpose of this series is to write on "Issues in the Church" that either aren't talked about, ignored entirely, or that we want to contribute to the discussion on. Our goal with this series is to help our readers think through these issues from a...

Preventing Poverty of the Soul Through Bible Intake

Preventing Poverty of the Soul Through Bible Intake

Editor’s note: The purpose of this series is to write on "Issues in the Church" that either aren't talked about, ignored entirely, or that we want to contribute to the discussion on. Our goal with this series is to help our readers think through these issues from a...

Five Ways to Pray for Your Pastor

Five Ways to Pray for Your Pastor

Editor’s note: The purpose of this series is to write on "Issues in the Church" that either aren't talked about, ignored entirely, or that we want to contribute to the discussion on. Our goal with this series is to help our readers think through these issues from a...

The Importance of Church History

The Importance of Church History

Editor’s note: The purpose of this series is to write on "Issues in the Church" that either aren't talked about, ignored entirely, or that we want to contribute to the discussion on. Our goal with this series is to help our readers think through these issues from a...

Dramatizing the Gospel: Church Membership

Dramatizing the Gospel: Church Membership

Editor’s note: The purpose of this series is to write on "Issues in the Church" that either aren't talked about, ignored entirely, or that we want to contribute to the discussion on. Our goal with this series is to help our readers think through these issues from a...

Doctrine: The Fuel for Discipleship

Doctrine: The Fuel for Discipleship

Editor’s note: The purpose of this series is to write on "Issues in the Church" that either aren't talked about, ignored entirely, or that we want to contribute to the discussion on. Our goal with this series is to help our readers think through these issues from a...

Biblical Doctrine: The Lifeblood of the Christian Life

Biblical Doctrine: The Lifeblood of the Christian Life

Editor’s note: The purpose of this series is to write on "Issues in the Church" that either aren't talked about, ignored entirely, or that we want to contribute to the discussion on. Our goal with this series is to help our readers think through these issues from a...

The Priority of Regularly Communing with God

The Priority of Regularly Communing with God

Editor’s note: The purpose of this series is to write on "Issues in the Church" that either aren't talked about, ignored entirely, or that we want to contribute to the discussion on. Our goal with this series is to help our readers think through these issues from a...

Expository Preaching: An End Goal More than Style

Expository Preaching: An End Goal More than Style

Editor’s note: The purpose of this series is to write on "Issues in the Church" that either aren't talked about, ignored entirely, or that we want to contribute to the discussion on. Our goal with this series is to help our readers think through these issues from a...