This Is Not Your Grandparents’ Church

One of the ugliest boasts of so many of the churches created during the era of the Church Growth Movement was this: This is not your grandparents’ church. This was a slogan they proudly broadcast on signs outside their churches multi-function ministry centers, a motto they printed on postcards and mailed to nearby homes. Just about every upper middle class neighborhood in North America got at least a few of these in the late 90s and early aughts. These churches …

8 New and Notable Books for June

It’s that time again! I couldn’t possibly read or review every good book (not to mention every bad book) that finds its way into my mailbox. However, I do like to look them all over and let my readers know about some of the new ones that are most noteworthy. So here are the new and notable books that appeared in my mailbox over the last month or so. In each case, I’ve included the publisher’s description to give you …

Become a Patron

Peril on Both Sides

I’m thankful that preachers are increasingly aware of the Bible’s big picture and are preaching accordingly. I’m grateful to see preachers focused on understanding and explaining how the Bible is a cohesive, coherent book, and doing this by exploring the many connections within it. This compares favorably with using the Bible as little more than a collection of isolated proverbs to be hauled out to prove whatever point a preacher wishes to make. But it has been my observation that …

Love Is Not Heavy-Handed

Whatever else we learn about church life, we learn quickly that it will at times come with conflict. We are, after all, sinful people attempting to share community with other sinners. It’s inevitable that problems will arise, inevitable that there will be angry words, unfortunate misunderstandings, unintentional insults. While there will be many great blessings that come through the local church, there will also be real sorrows. Thankfully, God has not left us unequipped when it comes to dealing with …

Whether I Sink Too Low or Soar Too High

I studied diligently. I prayed fervently. I prepared purposefully. I stood before that crowd of people and did my best to preach God’s Word in a way that would be accurate and applicable. I preached my heart out. As the band took over and I left the stage, I would have said with a clear conscience that I had discharged my duty before God, that I had done my utmost to honor him and bless his people with the opportunity …

What Is a Family, Anyway?

What is a family? It’s a simple question, but one that is surprisingly difficult to answer. I suppose it may be easy enough if you ask it in only one place and to only one kind of people, but I live in Toronto, the most diverse city in the world. One Sunday I went around my church asking, “What is a family?” I spoke to people who have immigrated from several different countries across several different continents and the answers …

A Pastoral Prayer

From time to time I like to share an example of a pastoral prayer drawn from Grace Fellowship Church. Here is one I prayed a few weeks ago. *** Father, here before you and before one another we freely and gladly declare that we love you. We love you for being the God you are. You’re a God of love. You’re a God of mercy. You’re a God of truth. You’re a God of justice. You’re a God of absolute …

Ordinary Work, Extraordinary Opportunity

There are very few jobs in this world that are consistently exciting. Not only that, but there are very few jobs in this world that are consistently fulfilling, where the person doing the job maintains the sense that he is really making a difference in the world, or that she is using her talents and passions to the fullest. To the contrary, most jobs are mostly mundane most of the time, and few people do work that fully engages or …

But God Makes No Mistakes

Nothing in this world is haphazard. There is nothing random or unplanned about the circumstances you are in right now, even if those circumstances seem very hard. Rather, God is leading you by the way he deems most appropriate, the way he has determined is most fitting for your spiritual growth. Just as one tree grows best in a sheltered valley and one by the edge of a gentle stream, another grows best on a bleak mountaintop where it is …

The Five Things You Want Your Church To Be

Let’s say there are five things you really want in a local church. Through reading good books and listening to helpful podcasts, you’ve drawn up a list of key qualities. You want deeply biblical expositional preaching, passionate zeal for evangelism, close-knit and sacrificially-minded small groups, worship that is both physically expressive and grounded in truth, and a congregation that displays all the diversity of the neighborhood around. Those are good and noble desires. But this is the real world. So …