Archive for the ‘ministers’ Category

But true Christians will, and do, set a high value upon the ministers who, with simplicity and godly sincerity, preach the Gospel of peace, in such a manner as to evidence that they are influenced by a regard to the glory of God, and to the good of souls; and they give proof of their affection in more ways than by speaking well of them.

By taking kindly and in good part his most searching discourses in public, or even his reproofs and admonitions in private, if needful. For they know that he watches over their souls, as one who must give an account. And because they love him, they do all in their power to make the service a pleasure, and not a grief to him. They do not wish him to speak smooth things to them, or to entertain them with the discussion of points in which they have little concern, but to hear that which is suitable to their own case and circumstances. And if the preacher discovers to them, that, through inadvertence, they have allowed themselves in any wrong practice, or have lived in the omission of any duty, instead of being offended with his plain dealing, they love him the better for it.

By their tenderness and sympathy with him in all his exercises; and by their care, according to their ability, to make his situation comfortable, and to avoid every thing that might give him just occasion for complaint or grief. The trials of a faithful minister are neither few nor small. His work is great; he is sure to meet with enemies and discouragements. He travails in birth for souls; he is pained by the opposition of the wicked, the inconstancy of the wavering, and the inconsistency of many who make profession of the truth. He feels many anxieties for those who are inquiring the way to the kingdom, lest they should be turned aside and hindered; and too often the hopes he had indulged, of some who discovered a concern for religion, are disappointed. His inward conflicts are many. He often walks in much weakness, fear, and trembling. When he considers what he is, what he ought to be, and what he has to do, he is often distressed, afraid, and ashamed, and unable to speak. His path is spread with snares, his heart wounded with temptations. But his judicious hearers have some knowledge of what he endures for their sakes and in their service; they love him, pity him, and pray for him, and their kind attention comforts him under all his tribulations.

[A] true minister will account it his honor and pleasure to preach to an enlightened people, who love and study the Bible, and, like the Bereans, search the Scripture, to see if things are so as represented.

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Faithful ministry

"Faithful ministry leads God’s people into the Word so that the Word by the power of the Holy Spirit renews them."

Source: W. Robert Godfrey ‘ Faithful Theological Education’ Jun 16, 2014


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Know humanity

Phillips Brooks:

“It is remarkable how many of the great preachers of the world are inseparably associated with the places where their work was done, where perhaps all their life was lived …

Certainly the long pastorates of other days were rich in the knowledge of human nature, in a very intimate relation with humanity.

These three rules seem to have in them the practical sum of the whole matter.  I beg you to remember them and apply them with all the wisdom that God gives you.

First. Have as few congregations as you can.

Second. Know your congregation as thoroughly as you can.

Third. Know your congregation so largely and deeply that in knowing it you shall know humanity.”

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A letter, written by a pastor called John Brown, to one of his students, who had been appointed to a small congregation.

It’s a gentle warning to those who aspire to ‘greater’ things.

I know the vanity of your heart and that you will feel mortified that your congregation is very small, in comparison with those of your brethren around you; but assure yourself on the word of an old man, that when you come to give an account of them to the Lord Christ, at his judgement seat, you will think I have had enough.

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Thus saith the Lord

Self-examination in preachers was a trademark of New England Puritan preaching. “Before calling the congregation to account to God for their lives, thoughts and feelings, the minister first had to submit his own life to a withering, divine scrutiny. Only then could he project that message outward and say to his congregation with the proper combination of humility and finality, “Thus saith the Lord.”‘

source: Harry Stout

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… for a man to undertake the interpretation of any part or portion of Scripture in a solemn manner, without invocation of God to be taught and instructed by his Spirit, is a high provocation of him; nor shall I expect the discovery of truth from any one who so proudly and ignorantly engageth in a work so much above his ability to manage.

– Pneumatologia, Book 6 (Part 2) Chapter VII

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I’m particularly challenged by what he has to say about “triffle conversation”.

As long as men have eyes as well as ears, they will think they see your meaning as well as hear it; and they are apter to believe their sight than their hearing, as being the more perfect sense of the two. All that a minister doth, is a kind of preaching; and if you live a covetous or a careless life, you preach these sins to your people by your practice. If you drink, or game, or trifle away your time in vain discourse, they take it as if you said to them, ‘Neighbours, this is the life you should all live; on this course you may venture without any danger.’ If you are ungodly, and teach not your families the fear of God, nor contradict the sins of the company you are in, nor turn the stream of their vain talking, nor deal with them plainly about their salvation, they will take it as if you preached to them that such things are needless, and that they may boldly do so as well as you.

Nay, you do worse than all this, for you teach them to think evil of others that are better than yourselves. How many a faithful minister, and private Christian, is hated and reproached for the sake of such as you! What say the people to them [the good ministers]? ‘You [the good minister] are so precise, and tell us so much of sin, and duty, and make such a stir about these matters, while such or such a minister, that is as great a scholar as you, and as good a preacher, will be merry and jest with us, and let us alone, and never trouble himself or us with such discourse. You can never be quiet, but make more ado than needs; and love to frighten men with talk of damnation, when sober, learned, peaceable divines are quiet, and live with us like other men.’ Such are the thoughts and talk of people, which your negligence doth occasion.

They will give you leave to preach against their sins, and to talk as much as you will for godliness in the pulpit, if you will but let them alone afterwards, and be friendly and merry with them when you have done, and talk as they do, and live as they, and be indifferent with them in your conversation.

For they take the pulpit to be but a stage; a place where preachers must show themselves, and play their parts; where you have liberty for an hour to say what you list; and what you say they regard not, if you show them not, by saying it personally to their faces, that you were in good earnest, and did indeed mean them, Is that man then likely to do much good, or fit to be a minister of Christ, that will speak for him an hour on the Sabbath, and, by his life, will preach against him all the week besides, yea, and give his public words the lie?

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for a man to undertake the interpretation of any part or portion of Scripture in a solemn manner, without invocation of God to be taught and instructed by his Spirit, is a high provocation of him; nor shall I expect the discovery of truth from any one who so proudly and ignorantly engageth in a work so much above his ability to manage.

– Pneumatologia, Book 6 (Part 2) Chapter VII

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Charles Simeon in the preface to Horae Homileticae wrote that three questions should be asked of a prepared sermon: “Does it uniformly tend TO HUMBLE THE SINNER? TO EXALT THE SAVIOUR? TO PROMOTE HOLINESS? If in any one instance it loses sight of any of these points, let it be condemned without mercy”

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