Not too long ago, I enjoyed a cup of hot chocolate with a friend from seminary. He graduated not long after I did, and he was telling me about how involved he was in his local church. As we were reminiscing about our seminary days, he said something that stunned me:
"I regret seminary."
In talking with my friend, I realized that his regrets were largely the result of his lackluster church involvement during his seminary years. I have another friend who told me that seminary was a particularly "dry" time spiritually. He admitted the tendency to substitute theology for passion. These conversations have led me to reflect on four things every seminary student should remember:
1. Remember Your Youth
2. Remember Your Heritage
3. Remember Your Soul
4. Remember Your Mission
Resurrection Re-Focus -- Russ Glessner
The lack of focus given to the resurrection of Jesus Christ in theological thinking, preaching and teaching today is troubling. Surprisingly, many evangelicals seem to undervalue it. It's not that they do not believe it to be important, nor do they disbelieve its historical authenticity. Yet anecdotal evidence and a perusal of theological works reveal a substantial lack of passion for the importance of Christ's resurrection.
A brief overview of Scripture-as reflected in Jesus' teaching, verbal portraits of the evangelists, and the early church in Acts and the epistles-provides strong emphasis on the value and significance of Christ's resurrection. Therefore, it should be a major part of our thinking, proclamation, and theological framework. It is integral to our faith.
I can clearly recall the day many years ago when a guest speaker at our small church in Dallas, Texas, used a vivid illustration to explain that the Gospel includes the truth that Jesus died for our sins and that He was raised to life on the third day. He boldly declared, "When you refer to the Gospel, you need to offer people a whole loaf, not just a half a loaf! It includes His resurrection as provision for our salvation."
More recently, while visiting what seemed to be a good, thriving church, I listened in vain for any reference to Jesus' resurrection as the pastor referred to the Gospel. Tracts, evangelistic challenges, prayers, sermons, songs, and theological discussions also often fail to mention the resurrection. This lack makes me deeply appreciate the bold lyrics of a classic hymn, "Hallelujah, What a Savior!" by Philip P. Bliss, "Lifted up was He to die, 'It is finished,' was His cry; Now in heav'n exalted high: Hallelujah! What a Savior!"
In David Powlison's article "Do You See?" (The Journal of Biblical Counseling, XI/3 : 3-4) he asks his readers what they see when they look at the Bible:
What do you see when you look at your Bible?
Do you see a book crammed with relevance?
Do you see a book out of which God bursts as He speaks to what matters in daily life?
Is your Bible packed with application to the real problems of real people in the real world: inexhaustible, immediate, diverse, flexible?
Or is the Bible relatively thin when it comes to addressing human struggles?
Powlison then explains the two kinds of contemporary Bible‑believing, evangelical Protestants that he sees.
One sort has a Bible crammed with relevance to human life.
The other sort has a Bible of modest utility.
This difference in seeing underlies many of the conflicts and misunderstandings within Christian counseling.
Structure doesn't cause growth; the structure of your church determines how fast you'll grow and the size to which you'll grow. There is no clear organizational structure in the New Testament, and I think God did that intentionally so the Church can adapt to different stages, ages, and cultures. God gives us broad principles and not narrow rules. There is no perfect structure.
As we study Scripture, we learn two general principles about organizing and structuring for growth. First, God wants us to organize around the purposes for which he created the Church. And, second, God wants us to organize around the gifts of our members. Purpose and giftedness determine how you should organize your church.
Here are some advantages to a simple, gift-based structure:
• It focuses the church on ministry, not maintenance.
• It makes better use of talent.
• It builds morale.
• It allows spontaneous growth.
• It promotes growth.
• It allows more efficient decision-making.
A simple structure is more stable. The more complicated a structure is, the easier it is to break. How do you simplify your structure?
• Reduce the number of meetings you have in your church.
• Reduce the number of items you vote on.
• Release ministries to make their own decisions.
• Let your budget determine your priorities. The way you spend your time and your money determines what's important in your church.