Church & Ministry

Purpose & Principles of a Local Church, Part 2

Introduced by Pastor Ed Vasicek. Read Part 1.

In the first installment of our “Purpose and Principles of Highland Park Church” document, I explained how the elders (1996) unanimously embraced the views expressed in it, and that this document still represents my viewpoint.

When I tell folks, “I don’t want our church to be like other churches,” they almost always say, “I don’t either.” But we often mean different things by that statement. This document goes a long way toward explaining what I mean.

Last time, we saw that involving a lot of people in our gatherings (body life) was key to our view of a successful church. We look at edification as the template and rubric for our services. This is one of the major, intentional distinctives between our church and most others in our area. While many other churches are putting their “best” in the limelight, we want to develop our people via participation and body life (as we understand the Bible to mandate). We also want people to be attracted to HPC because they see God at work in our people (not just a few), and we want to showcase that reality as much as we can. Read more about Purpose & Principles of a Local Church, Part 2

How to Insult Your Pastor Creatively

I have concluded that most church people are positive, encouraging, and supportive. Nonetheless, it generally takes at least ten encouraging things to offset one discouraging thing (this varies a lot with intensity).

The greatest discouragement most pastors face is from within the Kingdom. Jesus warned his disciples that they would have to bear insult because they belong to him (Matthew 5:11). What Jesus did not warn his disciples about is that Christians would insult fellow Christians, and particularly that Christians would insult or demoralize their leaders. I call these offenders the “ungracious ten per cent.”

Most insults are passive-aggressive—insinuation and inference. Here are some common insults—coupled with my subjective rating scale rating intent to insult. Read more about How to Insult Your Pastor Creatively

2016 GARBC Resolutions

Church messengers from all across the country convened on Wednesday, June 29, to attend the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches’ national association 2016 business meeting. Among other actions, the association adopted the following resolutions.

Proclaiming Christ from the Old Testament

The messengers of the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches, meeting together in regular conference June 28—July 1, 2016, at Harvest New Beginnings in Oswego, Illinois,

Believing that the Old Testament Scriptures are rich in teaching concerning Christ (Luke 24:27; John 5:39), regarding such topics as His incarnation, death, resurrection, glory, Messiahship, kingship, and much more,

Rejoicing in the privilege of preaching, teaching, and proclaiming the Old Testament in the light of Christ and New Testament revelation, Read more about 2016 GARBC Resolutions

Regaining the Joy of Ministry, Part 4

From Voice magazine, May/June 2016. Used by permission. Read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

We Rejoice in the Proclamation of the Truth

We must ask ourselves this critical question: “What brings us the most pleasure?” As we have already pointed out, most often we answer the question based upon personal affirmation and ministry success. Those events and accomplishments that serve to affirm our value and worth bring us joy. We experience greater personal satisfaction when people appreciate our efforts and our activities accomplish significant results. Let’s be honest, Monday morning is always brighter if our attendance was up on Sunday and people were complimentary. While these are nice, the problem is that these things are not always present. However, when we look at the early apostles, the basis for their joy differed radically from ours. We find our joy in what we accomplish in ministry; they found their joy in the ministry itself. We find our joy in the results of service; they found their joy in the act of service. The difference is enormous. Read more about Regaining the Joy of Ministry, Part 4

Regaining the Joy of Ministry, Part 3

From Voice magazine, May/June 2016. Used by permission. Read Part 1, and Part 2.

We Rejoice Because of the Growth of Others

Imagine standing before a newly planted tree. For the first several years, we see rapid growth; but after a number of years, the tree seems to stop growing. In the first few years, we could measure the height of tree and measure the growth by feet. But as the years go by, the rapid upward growth slows and even seems to stop. Year after year we look at the tree and see little, if any, growth. However, reality often differs from perception. What we perceive to be the periods of little growth is actually when the tree grows the most. The greatest growth in the volume of board feet comes when the tree becomes so large it no longer appears to be growing.

So it is with the spiritual growth of people. When a person first experiences the redemption of Christ, the transformation is both dramatic and highly visible. But as time goes on, it seems as though people become stagnant with little growth occurring. However, what we fail to realize is that God is still at work within the individual. Read more about Regaining the Joy of Ministry, Part 3

Regaining the Joy of Ministry, Part 2

From Voice magazine, May/June 2016. Used by permission. Read Part 1.

We Rejoice in Ministry Because of the Privilege of Serving

When we encounter trials and difficulties, ministry can soon become a burden. Instead of the joy, we wonder if ministry is a curse that we must endure. However, for the apostles, the call to ministry was the greatest privilege that could be given. It is not an accident that the writers of the New Testament refer to the service of God as a “gift.” But the word “gift” is more than something given without cost. Paul uses the same word to both describe the incredible gift of our salvation (Romans 6:23) and to describe the spiritual gifts we have received to serve him (Romans 12:6; 1 Corinthians 12:28). In contrast to a wage which someone gives based upon the merit of the recipient, a person gives a gift freely, and it demonstrates the benevolence and loving character of the giver. Read more about Regaining the Joy of Ministry, Part 2

Regaining the Joy of Ministry, Part 1

From Voice magazine, May/June 2016. Used by permission.

You started ministry enjoying the calling given by God to those who shepherd his flock. You enjoyed communicating God’s Word each week. You fell in love with the people. Every week you rejoiced that God would enable you to give your life to the very thing you love.

With time, however, the struggles mount and the discouragements continue such that ministry soon moves from a joy-filled activity to little more than a duty thrust upon you. You begin to see ministry as merely a task to perform rather than also a privilege and calling from God. While Paul saw ministry as a gift graciously given to him (Ephesians 3:7), when going through trials in ministry you begin to wonder if it is a curse. You soon lose the joy of ministry. But is that God’s intent? Did he call you to do something where there is no joy in the task? Are you to begrudgingly go about the day “suffering for Jesus” with the hope that you will only experience the joy of Christ in the eschatological future? Read more about Regaining the Joy of Ministry, Part 1

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