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All articles in category Ecclesiological & Pastoral

September 2018
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

Writing for God: appreciating Christian authors

The reason for this article is to consider the subject of Christian authors and the writing and publishing of Christian literature. I recently submitted a manuscript to a Christian publisher who, in their acknowledgement promised to have a look at it later in the year and also thanked me for my support. Their appreciation for my submission, whether successful or unsuccessful, set me thinking about the Christian publishers’ need for a regular supply of work from Christian authors. Over the years in evangelical circles we have been blessed with men and women with the gift and ability to write edifying Christian books and also write...

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July 2018
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

Missionary support: Let’s talk about money

Let’s talk about missionary support —  or, rather, let’s not. I think we have a problem with vocabulary and the language of ‘support’ is not adequate to describe the relationship between a church and the people who it sets aside for ministry. Friends and families support missionaries; they provide finance, they pray, and they send encouraging letters and bars of chocolate. A sending church should have a much broader relationship than this and while they do support their mission partners, I would much rather think of a church having responsibility towards those they commission for mission work (missionaries also have responsibility to their churches —...

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July 2018
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

Sexuality: identifying Our identity

At present, two popular —  yet antithetical — positions about sexuality and identity exist within the orthodox Christian community. In their recent book Transforming Homosexuality, authors Denny Burk and Heath Lambert identify these as the traditional and neo-traditional positions. Both of these positions exclude from acceptable Christian behaviour sexual acts that are outside of scriptural marriage between one man and one woman. Also, both sides should acknowledge that even if they see the other side as wrong, they are Christian brothers aiming to work out a practical and biblical theology to minister to same-sex attracted individuals. So what is the major difference between these positions?...

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July 2018
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

How to be a successful church planter

With all due respect to the various people who write about church planting in the UK, I thought that it was time that I did everyone a favour by writing a short guide on how to be a successful church planter. The first thing to do is to define what we mean by success. Now some people measure church success by the number of people who attend the various meetings — behinds on seats. Obviously, that is not a good criterion by which to measure success in Christian ministry. No, a successful church planter is someone who has been commissioned to write a book, a...

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July 2018
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

The Preacher and Politics: Seven Thoughts

This post is addressed to preachers and is about preachers. While many of the reflections may be useful for all Christians, I’m writing specifically with my fellow pastors in mind. [Note from the ET editors: this article was first published within an American context, but the principles are equally applicable here in the UK]. We live in a day where politics are everywhere, and everything is about politics. On one level this has always been true. Jesus is Lord, not Caesar. That’s a political statement. Every sermon touches on the polis, on the city of man, on our earthly citizenship. But that’s not what I have...

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June 2018
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

Too busy to rest?

Some time ago, I was talking to some colleagues from the organisation I worked for before I joined Mission Aviation Fellowship. One had come from Australia and said that, because of his work, he spent half his life with his family, and the rest travelling between various countries. After a detailed account of his physically exhausting itinerary, he concluded by saying, ‘And after that I return home’. ‘Well, try and get some rest,’ I replied. ‘Rest?’ he exclaimed somewhat disapprovingly, ‘What’s that?’ I was about to respond, when my other workmate chimed in, ‘It’s a four-letter word!’ They both laughed, though I didn’t. It may...

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May 2018
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

Refreshment for gospel ministers

There is a problem in our churches with many empty pastoral positions across the UK. There are many reasons for this problem, one that could possibly get worse as the ‘baby boomer’ generation steps down from ministry responsibilities. The FIEC identified a possible obstacle to ministry staffing as the lack of clearly defined access, training and progression routes, but the problem is clearly more complex. Retention Recently I was talking with a Christian brother, who is a manager in a large international warehouse chain. I was struck by how much emphasis he placed upon staff retention. The staff incentives, management training and work ethos all...

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May 2018
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

Pastoring a victim of abuse in the glare of the media

Pastoring a church member who has suffered childhood sexual abuse is hard enough. Doing so when the person in question has entered the national and international media spotlight is even harder. That is precisely what Jim Savastio has faced in recent months. Jim is the pastor of the Reformed Baptist Church of Louisville, Kentucky. It is the church were Rachael Denhollander and her husband Jacob are members. Rachael’s televised ‘victim impact statement’ in the case of sex abuser Larry Nassar was reported globally. Her words were full of courage and grace, justice and forgiveness. Speaking in court to her abuser, Rachael said, ‘Should you ever...

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March 2018
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

Solving conflicts in the home

We have an announcement to make — today, our families and marriages are under siege. Good communication and conflict resolution are important in a healthy and edifying marriage and home life, but are they missing in ours? Marital disagreements may occur for various reasons. There can be unrealistic expectations of our spouse, or the discovery that he or she does not possess the qualities we expected of them before marriage. Since we want to see desirable traits acquired and distasteful ones eliminated, we proceed with the monumental task of ‘remaking our spouses into ideal mates’, and the conflict begins. Conflict It has been claimed that...

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March 2018
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

The pre-emptive resignation: a ‘Get out of jail free’ card?

Church leaders often ask how they should respond when a person who is being disciplined by the church resigns before the process of discipline is complete. Should they accept the resignation or continue moving toward excommunication? Suppose a man decides to leave his wife for another woman. Other members of the church ask the man to repent and return to his wife. He doesn’t. They ask again, but this time they also warn him about the possibility of excommunication. So, he resigns his membership. Case closed. He’s now immune. Or at least that’s what the adulterous man is saying. Is that correct? The case in...

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March 2018
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

Same gender love

‘The soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David’ (1 Samuel 18:1); ‘your love to me was extraordinary, surpassing that of a woman’ (2 Samuel 1:26). In China’s past, close female friends sometimes bound themselves to each other in friendship by means of a voluntary contract called Laotong — a contract in which they vowed to be sisters for life. These vows were often formalised and sealed with a small religious ceremony in a Chinese temple. In Chinese thought, such friendships were to last for eternity. Marriage, children, distance, illness or age would not erode the commitment of friendship each had made to...

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February 2018
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

‘I shall not die, but live and tell’ — an author’s testimony

In May 2017, I sent the completed manuscript of my recent book, Prayers of the Bible, to my publisher. In June, I was rushed to the hospital, after coming down with an extreme case of altitude sickness at a Christian conference in Colorado. Relentlessly dizzy and nauseated, I threw up for 21 days in a row, defied all treatment, and showed no improvements. The doctors warned my wife that I might never recover. Food and fluid were pumped into me intravenously; my death was awaited with baited breath, and my life was prayed for by many of God’s people. One day, early in this ordeal, I...

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