RSS

Tag Archives: Ecclesiology

Book Review: Am I Called? By David T. Harvey

Great Handbook For Helping You Confirm Your Calling to the Pastoral Ministry

 Dave Harvey has done a great service to the church-at-large- as well as for individual Christian men who are wondering whether or not God is calling them to serve the church in full time pastoral ministry. I finally have a book that I can hand out without any reservations to those who come to me and ask, “How can I know for certain that I have been called by God into the pastorate?”

In three parts: a) Approaching the Call; b) Diagnosing the Call; and c) Waiting, Harvey mines theological, and exegetically based advice with a plethora of helpful bullet points, questions to ask, evaluations, and practical steps to take as one wrestles with and pursues God’s vocational calling to the pastorate.

I especially appreciated how Harvey focused on applying the gospel to an individuals life and how he addressed key issues like character development, service and affirmation from the local church, and the importance of working with a plurality of leaders in the context of a local church – alongside the necessary theological training.

One of the highlights for me was reading the biographical stories at the end of each chapter on the pastoral calling in the lives of some well known and unknown pastors of history: Thomas Scott, Charles Simeon, Lemuel Haynes, Martin Luther, David Martyn Lloyd-Jones, James Montgomery Boice, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, John Bunyan, and John Newton.

I highly recommend this book for young men who are wondering if they are called, those pastors who are struggling with their calling, and pastors and elders who are looking to invest in young men to develop as future pastors and church planters in the context of planting gospel driven churches around the globe.

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Book Review: The Gospel Centered Church by Steve Timmis and Tim Chester

A Fantastic Resource For Making Multiplying Disciples

 Veteran British church planters Steve Timmis and Tim Chester have put together a very helpful workbook for churches that desire to be more intentionally & strategically gospel driven. In three loaded sections this guide (suited ideally for discipleship, leadership teams, or small group’s of various kinds) covers six sessions on the Priority of Mission; six sessions on the Priority of People; and another six sessions on the Priority of Community and the last chapter which is on why “It’s all about the gospel.” This book is ideal as a workbook for church planting core groups, or churches that want to be more missional and multiplicational in their process of making and maturing disciples of Christ.

Each chapter stands alone and contains the following five sections:

Consider this – A scenario—often based on a real-life situation—which raises some kind of dilemma or frustration in gospel ministry.

Biblical background – A relevant Bible passage together with some questions to help you think it through.

Read all about it – A discussion of the principle, both in terms of its theological underpinning and its contemporary application.

Questions for reflection – Questions that can be used for group discussion or personal reflection.

Ideas for action – Some ideas or an exercise to help people think through the application of the principle to their own situation.

I think this is a phenomenal resource that helps a church think through how to contextualize the gospel message in its own unique setting. It is concise, deep, Christ exalting, biblical, gospel oriented, God-glorifying and extremely practical. I can’t recommend this resource highly enough.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Book Review: Going Deep by Gordon MacDonald

Go Deeper and Out of the Shallows

 I am a fan of Gordon MacDonald’s books because he has a unique style of writing where he synergistically integrates principles, personal experiences, and biblical insights in such a way that he makes one think and desire to put into practice what he is writing about.

In his newest offering – continuing in the context of what he wrote about in a previous book, “Who Stole My Church” – MacDonald sets out to explore and develop the statement, “The future of the Christian faith will not be determined by the number of people who fill the pews but by the spiritual depth of those people…We seem to know how to get unchurched people to visit our buildings. We even seem to know how to draw them across the line into a declaration of personal faith in Jesus. But what we do not seem to know is how to cultivate spiritually deep people. Tomorrow’s church could be headed for trouble.” This book is a fictional exploration in answering these observations based on the experiences of the fictional pastor – GMAC – and his large congregation set in New England in the modern era. Macdonald sets out to “offer a detailed plan of helping churches cultivate people of depth–spiritually mature Christians that truly desire to make a difference for Christ with their lives, that will help grow the church.”

I personally enjoyed the book because as a pastor myself I can relate to almost every story, person, thought, and implication in the book. Like MacDonald I am a pastor that has had many ups and downs with people in seeking to be a “deep Christian” and what that means in the context of seeking to grow a disciple making church. I think pastors will enjoy this book more than most people – because they will be able to identify more with the story than non-pastors will. I would recommend this book either be read while on vacation, or a chapter a day – for Type A people – you will get frustrated because the story line will move too slow for you. As for the more reflective and melancholy types – you will enjoy the story more because it will appeal to you emotionally and you will be more patient with the developing story.

I am very concerned about the shallowness and lack of depth of most churches today, and I am all for “going deep” and think that MacDonald’s book will be used to help steer many church leaders, and thus churches in a positive direction. I hope that this type of book will spur church leaders toward deeper thinking, and result in developing disciples that are deeper and less shallow than what our previous leaders have done with their churches.

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

 

Gordon MacDonald has been a pastor and author for over forty years. For many years he pastored Grace Chapel in Lexington, Massacusetts and continues to serve as Pastor Emertius. He has also provided leadership to influential ministries such as Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, which he served as President for three years, and World Relief, which he currently serves as Chairman. Gordon’s best-selling books include Ordering Your Private WorldMid-Course Correction and, most recently, A Resilient Life. He also writes and serves as Editor-at-Large for Christianity Today’s Leadership Journal. When not writing, leading or speaking at conferences, Gordon and his wife Gail can be found hiking the trails of New England.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 12, 2011 in Book Reviews, Leadership

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Book Review: Four Views On The Spectrum of Evangelicalism – Edited by David Naselli and Collin Hansen

A Scintillating Dialogue on Evangelicalism Historically and in the Present

I love the format of the “Views” books in that they allow the reader to wrestle with and think about crucial issues that oftentimes divide Christians. Instead of having the bias of one author – you get to see an offensive and defensive articulation of each view and weigh the evidence based on the strengths and weaknesses of the evidence given by each author. This new offering in the “Views” series particularly addresses important aspects that unite and divide “evangelicals.” An evangelical is someone who holds to the “good news” as declared from the Scriptures. However, what is the good news? What are the uniting factors of the good news? And what are the boundaries required in disseminating the message, and uniting around the good news in order to penetrate society with the gospel?

The reason this book and the issues are so important is that what is at stake in all of this discussion is the heart of the gospel, and if there is no agreement on the gospel than unity is ultimately a vain pursuit, and the power of the gospel is squelched in isolated enclaves, rather than in a unified front.

In this book the panel of experts specifically focus on three areas in evaluating the spectrum of evangelicalism:

1) They evaluate their views on Christian cooperation with respect to Evangelicals and Catholics in evaluating the Evangelicals and Catholics Together movement led by Charles Colson and the late John Neuhaus, which began in the 1990’s. Also, they address the more recent Manhattan Declaration in order to bring more clarity to cooperation among social and theological concerns.

2) They evaluate doctrinal boundaries – what are the “essentials” that make one a doctrinally sound evangelical – specifically with reference to the recent debates over “open” theism (does God know the future).

3) They explain their specific views on key issues related to the atonement with specific reference what it means that Christ took on God’s wrath meant for sinners.

The Four Distinct Views Presented Are:

View #1: Fundamentalism – Kevin T. Bauder (Research Professor at Central Baptist Theological Seminary in Minneapolis)

View #2: Confessional Evangelicalism – R. Albert Mohler Jr. (President and Joseph Emerson Brown Professor of Christian Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville)

View #3: Generic Evangelicalism – John G. Stackhouse Jr. (Professor of Theology and Culture at Regent College in Vancouver, Canada)

View #4: Postconservative Evangelicalism – Roger E. Olson (Professor of Theology at George W. Truett Theological Seminary of Baylor University)

After each writer presents his view there is a response from each of the others with insightful commentary on the others’ views. I found this book to be historically enriching, doctrinally thought provoking, and challenging in its ecclesiological and sociological implications. I hope this book will summon a wide reading and will help balance the thinking, behavior, and unity of all who care about being an evangelical – and more importantly getting the gospel right so that we may speak it and live it boldly in a world that desperately needs to know Jesus and what it means to be a part of His body on earth.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Book Review COMMUNITY: Taking Your Small Group Off Life Support by Brad House

An Exceptional Resource For Building and Sustaining Multiplying Missional Communities

Brad House is on staff at Mars Hill Church in Seattle – a church that is solid theologically, philosophically, and missionally. They are a church that is exceptional in theological depth and missional outreach in impacting their culture for the sake of Christ. The message of the gospel comes through loud and clear, and without compromise in both their corporate and communal contexts. In one of the least churched cities in America they have proven that what took place in the book of Acts, is still possible today – especially through the medium of the teaching of the Word and its balanced application within the context of community groups.

According to the author one study indicates that less than 18% of young evangelicals ages 18-23 participate in a small group, Bible study, or prayer group that is sponsored by their local churches. This book is not only written to combat this problem, but provides ample Biblical solutions and real life illustrations of how to build a solid foundation for building community groups that are healthy and result in personal, corporate, and communal life transformation via living out the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I highly recommend this book for the following types of people:

1)    Senior Pastors – It will motivate you to launch community groups in your church and help you to be more strategic and missional in your ministries of in reach and outreach.

2)    Existing Small Group Leaders and Participants – It will help give you ideas, tools, and applications that you have never thought of – in order to have a more effective, strategic, and balanced community group.

3)    Church Planters – This book will give you a huge jump-start on what you need to launch a healthy church that provides ideas for training, equipping, and providing the infrastructure needed to have a healthy and growing gospel centered church.

Overall, I loved this book because it’s Biblical, practical, and comprehensive in scope. Any one who loves Christ and His church will benefit from the study and practical implementation of this excellent resource for building gospel communities that make a huge difference for the glory of Christ.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on September 21, 2011 in Book Reviews, Small Group Resources

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Book Review: What is The Mission of The Church? By Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert

Balanced Because It’s Biblical In What It Says About The Mission of the Church

As a pastor for over twenty years you see a lot of fads come and go in the way churches seek to make an impact in our communities and culture.  I have never met a pastor (worth his salt) who didn’t want to be pleasing to God and make a difference for the sake of Christ in his community and culture. However, I have become more and more concerned as I see pastors watering down the message of the gospel; focusing more on programs than on the message of the gospel; and being influenced more by the culture, than influencing culture with the message of the Bible. Therefore, I wholeheartedly endorse and applaud this latest offering on the “mission” of the church because I think it is an excellent treatment of the relevant biblical passages and how they bear on the issues we are facing in the 21st century on what the mission/purpose of the church should be. It is missional and Biblical; truthful and loving without compromise; theologically profound and culturally relevant.

Without giving away the mission of the church as defined and defended in this book, I can say that DeYoung and Gilbert do a fantastic job of discussing issues like helping the poor, economics and social justice, the Kingdom, the gospel, and how a church can make an impact on the world without sacrificing the truth and absolutes.

The strengths of this book lie in its simplicity and clarity, exposition and insightful interpretation of the Scriptures, and it’s very clear explanation and application of the gospel as revealed in the 66 books of the Bible. I recommend this book especially for pastor’s young and old, leadership teams of churches, missionaries, and Christians who want to know how they can be purposefully a part of the only organization of which the “gates of hell will not prevail.”

At the end of the day – this book is highly recommended because the author’s build a great case for how to be biblically focused, God-centered, and culturally penetrating without sacrificing the most important truths and main story line of the Bible – the centrality of Jesus Christ as Lord and King to whom is all praise, glory and honor forever.

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Book Review – For The City: Proclaiming and Living Out the Gospel By Darrin Patrick & Matt Carter

How The Gospel Impacts and Transforms Culture for Christ

Darrin Patrick (Pastor of The Journey in St. Louis, MO) and Matt Carter (Pastor of Austin Stone Community Church in Texas) both tell the stories of their calling to plant churches – specifically in the city. The two pastors’ inspire existing churches to think through how we proclaim and live out the gospel, and extend a call to the masses to influence our cities with and for the gospel.

I love Carter’s description of his “church model” taken largely from His reflections on reading about Charles Spurgeon’s amazingly effective ministry in London, England in the mid-1800’s:

“Imagine an urban church so influenced by the power of the gospel that it seized every opportunity to proclaim and live out the gospel for the good of the city. Imagine that this church physically and spiritually served the poorest of the poor, but also lovingly rebuked the wealthy. Imagine this church as the epicenter of straight-up, God-fearing, Spirit-filled, revival, leading thousands of people to eternal life in Christ in just a few years. Imagine a church that built elderly housing, housed all the orphans in the city, and taught wealthy business people to have a ‘double bottom line’ so they could run a profitable business in order to support the work of the church and meet the needs of the city. In other words, imagine a church that boldly preached the gospel and lived out the values of the kingdom. Don’t you want to be a part of a church like that?”

My answer is “yes” I do! Along the way the authors show what a gospel centered ministry looks like from their perspectives of planting and pasturing in Mid America and in the South. The subjects they address are how the gospel relates to contextualization, building community, serving in the city, equipping the saints, suffering, and sharing their weaknesses, failures, and by God’s grace – their successes too.

I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to grow in their understanding and application of the gospel and how to penetrate the culture with the gospel through the ministry of the local church.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on June 27, 2011 in Book Reviews, Leadership

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,041 other followers

%d bloggers like this: