Church & Ministry

The Church and the College

From Voice, Nov/Dec 2014.

Leading a Christian college, university, graduate school, or seminary is a challenge in the varied uncertainties of our day. It is especially disheartening when academic publications use terms like “tsunami” and “danger” and “at risk” to describe the perilous nature of the traditional education landscape. One wonders how the smaller private Christian colleges will surf the coming tsunami and overcome the challenge.

This brief presentation is not meant to be a “how to” survival guide for the small college. Rather, it is a perspective on why ecclesiology matters in the overall mission and purpose of a Christian liberal arts college. In what follows I address the nature of the church, the mission and core values of the college, and then consider how ecclesiology informs college life and operations.

What I mean by the church

So what do I have in mind when I reference the Church? I am not writing about a particular denomination nor am I writing about a specific style of ministry. Rather, I am considering what the Bible reveals to us about the nature of the Church in both its universal and local significance. Read more about The Church and the College

Reformation That Brings Revival (Part 2)

From Voice, May/June 2014. First appeared at Always Reforming. Continued from Part 1.

3. Reject everything contrary to God’s Word

2 Chronicles 17:6, 30:14, 31:1, 34:3-5

King Jehoshaphat was clear about the prohibition of idol worship. So had all the other kings before him that had allowed it. But in 2 Chronicles 17:6, it tells us that Jehoshaphat did something about it. The text says, “His heart was courageous in the ways of the Lord.” This courageous heart sought to obey the Lord in all things, including the destruction of the popular high places of worship and the Asherim.

For his part, King Hezekiah did similarly brave acts recorded in 2 Chronicles 30:14 and 31:1. And Josiah at the ripe young age of 20 likewise followed in the godly footsteps of these two kings (2 Chron. 34:3-5), making sure to defile the graves of the pagan priests. Read more about Reformation That Brings Revival (Part 2)

Reformation That Brings Revival (Part 1)

From Voice, May/June 2014. First appeared at Always Reforming. Used by permission.

There is no doubt that the church today needs revival. But not revival as it is sometimes defined: evangelistic tent meetings in which the Holy Spirit is scheduled to arrive on our set dates. Revivals or “awakenings” as they used to be called, mark a special time when God moves upon God’s people and there is evidence of the Spirit’s powerful work among His people and those He draws to salvation through the proclamation of the gospel message.

Today there is a lot of activity in the evangelical church—lots of money being spent, books printed, and conferences held, churches planted and sermons preached. With the technology of our day, there is more access to the Bible, sermons, and the gospel worldwide than ever before. We have in our country a majority of the world’s largest churches.

But would we say that there is revival happening in our nation or our churches? Most of us would say no, and I would heartily agree. There are victories and people are being saved but the Church today, especially in North America, is a long way from revival. Do you desire revival in our churches and our nation? I do, and I think that you do as well. Read more about Reformation That Brings Revival (Part 1)

Embrace Disillusionment

When wisely managed, disillusionment is a beneficial misery. It qualifies as what the Puritans called “a severe mercy”—a torment that purifies the soul. Since disillusionment is emotionally painful, we naturally regard it as an enemy. But to be disillusioned is to be set free from illusion, and that is never bad. Disillusionment bursts an illusion much as a pin pops a balloon. The experience is jarring; but in the case of illusions, it is equally liberating.

Illusions are, of course, not real. They are enchanted dreams, deceptive mirages. Illusions may temporarily help us cope with the challenges of life—the little boy who is a gangster’s son may profit from the illusion that his father is a brave and principled man. But illusions that persist too long damage the soul—should this boy’s illusions never be demolished, he may well follow his father into a life of crime and become nothing more than a predatory thug.

We find it particularly natural to adopt illusions in the early stages of covenantal relationships. A newly married couple entertains illusions about marriage and one another. New church members imbibe illusions about their church. But for every married couple and every church member, these illusions are eventually overwhelmed by reality. The illusion of a perfect marriage, the illusion of an ideal church, is eventually shattered. Read more about Embrace Disillusionment