What does someone need before being sent out by the church to serve in cross-cultural missions? Certainly, one should have a clear profession of faith and give some evidence of fruitfulness in evangelism and discipleship. One should have a sense of calling for the work, both subjectively and objectively. There will need to be a team of financial and spiritual supporters. Anything else?
Here’s something that often gets overlooked: Ecclesiology! Before being sent out, they should have a biblical, convictional understanding of the church. This was a lesson that Adoniram Judson learned the hard way.
This talk was given at Hinson Baptist Church in Portland, OR on Oct. 29, 2017, in celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.
Was the Reformation a success?
That probably seems like a strange question for us to think about. Here on this historic Reformation Sunday, this is a question worth considering. How do we know the Reformation was a success? Megachurches? Political church alliances? Rapid church multiplication? New York Times bestsellers? What could we point to?
Social progress doesn’t fix every problem. Healthy doctrinal shifts don’t always fix cultural biases. Even the Reformation that so many Protestants cling to as the greatest spiritual salve of all time didn’t begin to mend many deep-seated sins. Unfortunately, this is evident in the sordid history of violence against women in the church, by the church, and for the church. The suspect status of women in portions of modern Christianity is the ugly gargoyle adorning the beautiful Bride of Christ—blatantly grotesque to all on the outside but invisible to the worshipers inside.
John Piper has said that, “Books don’t change people, paragraphs do—Sometimes sentences.” I’ve certainly read paragraphs that are forever seared into my mind (like this one from C. S. Lewis’s The Weight of Glory) and I know what it’s like to have a single verse from Scripture captivate me. But I hadn’t experienced (as far as I can remember) that same feeling from a sentence in a book other than the Bible. That is, until I read a sentence from 12 Faithful Men: Portraits of Courageous Endurance in Pastoral Ministry.
John Smyth won fame from himself when he established the first English Baptist Church in 1608. Yet, few Baptists know of Smyth’s contribution to the Baptist faith because he undermined his own legacy, rapidly changing his theological convictions.
Malachi is a book about corruption and justice. Corruption still lives today as we find ourselves standing on the brink of forgetting the final covenant between God and mankind. We must learn from the last precipice as the prophet of a dying age leaned over his own Nebo to glimpse the coming Messiah. Today’s church still needs Malachi. Your church still needs Malachi.
Schism is a scary, serious word. We often think of a schismatic as someone who has caused a split in a denomination over a hot topic issue or walked away from the church entirely, and these never include ourselves. But John Owen’s teaching on schism reminds us that schism can be much less dramatic than this and thus much easier to fall into without realizing it.
Founded in 1652, the New Park Street Chapel had been around for over 200 years when they called 19-year-old Charles Spurgeon to be their pastor in 1854. Like many other churches, this historic Baptist church went through many ups and downs throughout its long history. Reflecting on those pastoral transitions, Spurgeon shares nine lessons for pastors and church leaders to consider as they prepare their churches for the next pastor.
It was a clear and hot Sunday for October in Southwest Missouri. The doors of Stotts City Baptist Church opened to invite a breeze as the temperature climbed to 88 degrees outside. Inside, a fervor of God brought another kind of warmth that was unique to such a small outpost in God’s Kingdom. A young father had surrendered to a call to preach, and the church body rallied to recognize and endorse this divine appointment.