Well, it’s time for my annual post on ET. As patterns hold, my posts are decreasing in frequency (longer than 12 months between posts) and in quality. Today I’d like to ask a simple but perplexing question. How do you know when it’s time to leave a church as a teaching pastor? Before anyone from our church reads this and sends frantic emails – I’m not planning on leaving, I’m just asking a question.
I ask simply because I’m on the downhill side of 5 years in the pulpit. It’s much different here than I anticipated. And I’ve had “feelings” of doubt about effectiveness and impact. At those moments I’ve asked, “Is is time to leave?” At those moments I remember the many friends, some of significant ministry status and expositors of the finest order, who have said to me upon leaving a church, “It was time for me to go” or “God was done with me there” or “God told me to go.” Yet as I sit here, having returned from T4G and heard this comment from other pastor-teachers, I am still at a loss for how precisely to know this. In each of the cases where I’ve had the courage to ask these dear brothers how they know God is saying go, the answer I get is less than helpful. To put it more bluntly, I do not think they would apply the same birth to someone leaving their church with the same “feelings” rational.
Qualifier: There was not issue of sin or failure to put food on the table or some massive dividing issue. From a reasonable perspective, everything looked pretty good at the church and leaving seemed not needed.
My post was accelerated by this video which I ran across today. View at your own discretion. Francis Chan
So I ask you brother-pastor (HT to Mark Dever for that phrase), how do you know, if at all, when God is moving you on? And how to we interact with those who offer these perspectives (esp. if we think the decision is not a wise or biblically founded one)?
Certainly there are better “Bible communicators” in the world but i know of no better “Bible expositor” than John MacArthur. I just listened to his sermon on Mark 4 from T4G and was ministered to in such a powerful way. I think my congregation will be hearing that sermon video Sunday PM. Thank you Pastor John for that clear exposition of Holy Scripture. The power is in the Text (Heb 4:12) so preach the Word this Sunday brothers.
Johann Schlaginhaufen, a boarder in the home of Martin Luther and one of the recorders of “Table Talks,” received the following advice on preaching from Luther in 1531. I’m certain I’ve never read this piece of advice on preaching before:
One who diligently reads the Book of Kings [i.e., 1 & 2 Kings] will become a powerful preacher.
And all the OT professors say, “amen.”
Russian playwrite, Anton Chekhov said, “Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on a broken glass.”
The latest volume in Hughes Oliphant Old’s series The Reading and Preaching of the Scriptures has been released as volume 7: Our Own Time. Probably of interest to our readers, Phil Johnson has published the section on “The Preaching of John MacArthur” (read the entire passage here). I have greatly enjoyed Old’s magisterial history of preaching even if his Barthian perspective shows itself at times. There is, quite frankly, nothing else like it. It is light years beyond E. C. Dargan’s history (also John Broadus and T. Harwood Pattison’s works are smaller, less detailed). O. C. Edwards is too brief and his narrow focus reveals that he has a neo-orthodox axe to grind.
Old is not entirely committed to the same theological persuasion as MacArthur yet makes an interesting observation:
What is more than clear to me after listening to these sermons is that those who can take the text the way it is seem to make a lot more sense of it than those who are always trying to second-guess it. Surely one of the greatest strengths of MacArthur’s preaching ministry is his complete confidence in the text . . . .
Why do so many people listen to MacArthur, this product of all the wrong schools? How can he pack out a church on Sunday morning in an age in which church attendance has seriously lagged? Here is a preacher who has nothing in the way of a winning personality, good looks, or charm. Here is a preacher who offers us nothing in the way of sophisticated homiletical packaging. No one would suggest that he is a master of the art of oratory. What he seems to have is a witness to true authority. He recognizes in Scripture the Word of God, and when he preaches, it is Scripture that one hears. It is not that the words of John MacArthur are so interesting as it is that the Word of God is of surpassing interest. That is why one listens.
When do believers receive from God their new “glorified” bodies?
Please provide us with a summary answer and use Scripture to support your assertions.