Church & Ministry

(An Interruption to the Series) The Call of God

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by Daniel R. Brown

The call of God to the gospel ministry, apart from salvation, is the single greatest qualifying mark for anyone who is a minister of the gospel. For this reason, ordination councils examine a man in three separate areas: his conversion, his call to the ministry, and his convictions on doctrine. The call of God is widely recognized as a first order priority by virtually every book on pastoral theology. These authors, crossing every spectrum of theological position, devote a section or an entire chapter to the subject. Most churches will usually ask a potential pastoral candidate to give expression to his call to the ministry.

Even after this emphasis in both our literature and our practice, the call of God has fallen upon hard times. My experience in ordination councils, as well as discussions with pastors and teachers, indicates that a great deal of confusion and doubt surrounds the discussion of God’s call to the ministry.

I believe there are several causes for this increasing lack of clarity about God’s call to the ministry. First, while an abundance of literature addresses the call of God, authors tend to describe the call in their own terms, so that great variety exists in how the call is defined and described. Second, the call of God is confused with a subjective, existential experience equivalent to someone saying, “God spoke to me.” Third, some are openly antagonistic against the call of God to the ministry (e.g., Friesen, Decision Making and the Will of God). This is not an apologetic against that position, but if a man states that he is definitely not called by God, I am willing to take him at his word. Fourth, the call of God is a part of understanding God’s individual will for one’s life. Those who deny that God has an individual will for the life of each Christian will undoubtedly choke on accepting God’s call to the ministry. Read more about (An Interruption to the Series) The Call of God

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Book Review - Loving the Church

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Image of Loving the Church: God's People Flourishing in God's Family
by John Crotts
Shepherd Press 2010
Paperback 140

“I’m a member of the body of Christ. Why should I have to join a church?” In one form or another, this is one of the most common sentiments that I have heard in the past five years of ministry in Colorado Springs. A simple but profound part of the answer to that question can be given in one word—“love.”

It is no secret that American individualism has left its mark on the way we practice our Christianity, particularly with regard to the church. Some have gone so far as to say that American evangelicalism has no ecclesiology. In recent years a loose crowd has coalesced of those who not only tacitly accept churchless Christianity but explicitly promote it. From the vantage point of my little prairie dog mound surrounded by mountainous para-church ministries, it can almost appear that there are few left who believe that the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church is actually something tangible that has biblical shape and includes real commitments to real people. Many love the church like a young girl who has watched too many romantic movies—they are passionate about something that does not exist except in their own fevered imaginations.

In that context, the title of this recent book by John Crotts, a pastor at Faith Bible Church in Sharpsburg, Georgia, caught my attention, and I must say that reading it was refreshing. This is a book designed to woo the believer into loving the actual bride for whom Christ died. In Loving the Church, Pastor Crotts aims “to help you see how glorious God’s family really is, and then to see the countless ways you and your family can flourish within it” (p. 30). Crotts seeks to accomplish this with one section summarizing the Bible’s teaching about the church and a second section applying this teaching to Christians and their families.

The thread that holds the book together is a series of fictional coffee shop conversations among a diverse group of professing Christians who are disaffected with the church for various reasons. In between their encounters, Crotts lays out some simple and clear Scriptural teaching on the nature and function of the local church. With this approach, Crotts gives a gentle rebuke to some common errors regarding the church while maintaining a positive and encouraging tone. For example, he stirs up reflections about the relationship of families vis-à-vis the church, about ministering apart from the church, about moral failures and churches’ responses, and about choosing a church because of its use of technology or its singles’ group. Read more about Book Review - Loving the Church

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