Do We Care for the Sheep or Do We Use the Sheep?

Some of my favorite and most challenging descriptions of pastoral ministry come from the twentieth chapter of Acts and Paul’s farewell address to the Ephesian elders. Here Paul the planter and pastor is bidding a final farewell to the elders at a church he loves. And in verse 28 he comes to what I believe is his description of the heart of pastoral ministry. “Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has …

On Being an Inflatable Tank

It’s one of my favorite tales from a war that was packed full of stranger-than-fiction moments. During the Second World War, the Allied forces created a dummy army. Eager to deceive the Germans into thinking they were stronger than they actually were, the Allies hired a team of artists and designers to create a fake army—one that would look just real enough to deceive spies snooping around nearby or surveillance flights flying far overhead. So they built planes that were …

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The Servers and the Servicers in Every Church

Every church is made up of different kinds of people. There are extroverts and introverts, for example—people who are on the outgoing and sociable side and people who are on the shy and pensive side. There are leaders and there are followers—people who love to lead ministries within the church, and people who are content to be led. There are evangelists and disciplers—people whose passion is sharing the gospel with unbelievers and people whose passion is equipping existing believers. In …

The Ministry of Presence

Sunday’s coming! Many of the people reading these words already know they’ll be going to church on Sunday—it’s their habit, it’s their pattern, it’s their joy, and nothing short of illness or natural disaster will hold them back. A few of the people reading these words already know they won’t be going to church this Sunday. There are some very valid reasons not to attend church on a given week, and we understand that God’s love for us does not …

What Not To Say at the Beginning of a Worship Service

A few weeks ago Jared Wilson wrote an article titled “3 Things to Be Careful About Saying at the Start of Your Service.” In his article he offered some common service-starting cliches that are “worth weighing in terms of their helpfulness to the congregation’s worship.” They were, “How’s everybody doing this morning?”; “I can’t hear you. I said, How’s everybody doing?”; and “Where is everybody?” I’ve heard all three of these many times and expect you have as well. And …

A Pastoral Prayer

From time to time, probably every month or so, I like to share an example of a pastoral prayer that was prayed at Grace Fellowship Church. The pastoral prayer is a time for one of the pastors or elders to pray on behalf of the congregation and to intercede on their behalf. It’s a precious element of a service. This particular prayer was prayed by Dwight, one of our pastors. *** O, great God, your word is true when it …

The Care of Souls

Have you ever read an “if this is true…” book? An “if this is true…” book is one that challenges you so deeply that you realize that if what it’s saying is true, then you’ve got to make some major changes to your life. R.C. Sproul’s The Holiness of God is one of those books—many who read it suddenly realized they had never actually known God as he is, as the God who is three times holy. Nancy Pearcey’s Total …

On Preparing Your Hands for Church

Sometimes I almost prefer not to tell who I am quoting. Sometimes people see the name and either tune out altogether, or they respond so enthusiastically they fail to exercise due discernment. But in this case, this quote is so good and helpful that I wanted to share it with you. I will even tell you where it’s from, but read it first, and I will tell you at the end. I hope it provides you a suitable challenge as …

How We Worshipped One Sunday in August

From time to time I like to share one of our worship services from Grace Fellowship Church. In that vein, here is how we worshiped on one August Sunday morning. This week’s cast of characters included Paul as service leader and preacher, Josh as lead worshiper, Gideon as our Scripture reader, and Steve as the elder who prayed and read the sermon text. Welcome and Call to Worship (Paul) “I invite you to disconnect from your phone or other device …

An Interview with Keith Getty

I recently had the opportunity to ask Keith Getty a few questions about the church and hymnody and whatever else I wanted to talk about. I figured that’s an opportunity I ought to take. Here’s what I had to ask and what he had to say… What do you see as the “lay of the land” in Christian worship right now, perhaps especially as it pertains to congregational Christian worship? What positives or negatives have we seen in the past …