Archive for the ‘Church History’ Category

Seeker Churches are Alive and ____

….I would not use the adjective “well” but they certainly seem to be very much alive.  I have heard some suggest today that the seeker movement is dead but I have not seen any such signs of numerical decline.  In our small city of 26k the local seeker church is planting satellite campuses all over the area and beyond (see note below). 

How should we 9 Marks, Shepherd’s Fellowship, Bible-centered churches respond to such ‘progress’?  Let’s keep on keeping on (2 Tim 2:15, 2 Tim 4:1-5).  The following two sermons are most encouraging and are highly recommended: and


E-note from Keith Boyer

GIANTS … At our iGNITE event this past Sunday evening we announced the upcoming launch of three new  campuses and their campus pastors …

Vancouver, WA…Sept 18th, 2011…

Winnebago, IL…Sept 18th, 2011…

Genoa, IL…January 2011…

We also announced that Josh and Kim Mauney have transitioned and will be planting a church in Lexington, KY early next year.  Jon (and Brittany) Neal was installed as the new Campus Pastor in Morrison.

 In addition to that, as a result of the vote on the purchase of a facility for a Freeport Dream Center passing by 92%, we will be making an offer on an ideal piece of property in the ideal location for this type of ministry within the next week.

 By God’s leading and grace, we’re taking more land … land that God has promised.  Similar to the Israelites, as they went in to take possession of the promised land, there were giants to be faced and defeated.  As part of our calling to take the land, we become “giant killers” along the way.  Giant killers have a different spirit … a spirit of faith.  That’s what sets them apart.   When facing giant challenges and/or opposition, they say, “We can do this!”

 Like David, their confidence is in the Lord, not in their own skill, talent, ability or genius.  Our confidence in the Lord increases as we reflect on who God is and what He has done.  (1 SAM. 17)  This week’s challenge … make two lists.  On one, list new ‘land’ God wants you to be a part of possessing.  Second, make a list of all God has done for you in the past. After all, God’s faithfulness in the past, gives us faith for the future!  Let’s take the land, for we can surely do it!

The Reader-Response Method

The most significant hermeneutical paradigm shift in the 20th century involved the repositioning of the interpreter to the center of the interpretive process. According to this approach—commonly known as the Reader-Respond Method—the meaning of Scripture emerges as a product of the interaction between the modern-day reader and the ancient biblical text. In this way, there can be many different legitimate meanings of a given passage, for each new interpreter brings his own presuppositions, experiences, and interpretative framework to the Scriptures. This results in a unique interpretation/meaning for every reader. As Robert Stein observes, because subjectivity is to be welcomed and embraced rather than avoided, the biblical text ends up functioning like an inkblot into which the interpreter reads his own individual meaning. Put simply, this is the scholarly version of “What does this verse mean to you?”

The significance of Bell on Time Magazine

I have a free subscription to Time Magazine (thanks to unused air miles, bargain?). Mine usually comes on Saturday, so as of today I have not seen the new cover for myself. As you have probably heard, Rob Bell’s vision or lack there of, of eternal punishment is all the rage and it is the feature for this week’s Time. In my current edition of Wall Street (yes, also free) it tells me that Mr. Bell’s book is # 3 in non-fiction, the irony of the “non-fiction” label is not lost on me either. That does not mean that it is #3 in all the books on the subject but it is #3 in all books! That is what folks in the publishing world might call a “good day.” No actually, they are probably foaming at the mouth to sign Bell, if they haven’t already, to his next work of non-fiction.

When I watch phenomenons like this I immediately begin to think of the angles that no one is talking about, not even when the great minds get together. Being imbedded into the current culture does not always afford us the opportunity to see the big picture. So here is something to ponder when, say, fifty years from now folks look back at this week’s cover of Time.  In 1959, Paul Tillich made the cover of Time and some in evangelicalism blew a gasket. Then again in 1962, Karl Barth made the cover and some began to sell their livestock and move to the mountains. So, yes, Rob Bell’s teaching is damaging and it is error of the first order. However, in the big scheme of things, and I do mean big, it is nothing more than a pimple on history’s tan line. Is there any church, worthy of the NT designation of “church” that is growing and flourishing today because of Barth or Tillich? Are either of these heavy weights a threat to the Lord’s work in the world through His church? So what is the significance of Rob Bell today? If you live in the moment then there is probably nothing bigger, save who gets voted off Dancing with the Stars. However long-term, I don’t see anyone caring fifty years from now, just ask Mr. Tillich.

You don’t don’t look a day over 446.

The earliest form of the Heidelberg Catechism was published January 19, 1563.

Q: What is your only comfort in life and death?

A: That I am not my own, but belong with body and soul, both in life and in death, to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with His precious blood, and has set me free from all the power of the devil. He also preserves me in such a way that without the will of my heavenly Father not a hair can fall from my head; indeed, all things must work together for my salvation. Therefore, by His Holy Spirit He also assures me of eternal life and makes me heartily willing and ready from now on to live for Him.

Biblical Church Government & Trustee Boards

The church I have the privilege of pastoring has pastors/deacons/deaconesses and trustees.  Our deacons function in many regards like biblical elders but that sermon is for another Sunday.  New Testament church polity is really not that confusing.  The apostles appointed a plurality of godly men to help govern, lead, and shepherd the early church.  Those men (elders) served as spiritual overseers and were the primary spiritual teachers in each local church.  My sermon series on this subject can be examined here (note the series: “By Whose Authority? Spiritual Leaders in the Local Church”)

I am currently reading Wesley and Men Who Followed a book written by my favorite author, Iain H. Murray.  In this book I came across the following comment on trustees.

There was, however, on preparation for the future that Wesley had made and one which was to prove his wisdom.  By 1791 there were about 400 meeting-houses belonging to his connexion and the deeds of these buildings were held by local trustees.  From time to time these trustees were so attracted to certain preachers that they would have been glad to have them permanently.  No such option was allowed in Wesley’s lifetime but it suggested one possibility for the future: let the Assistants all become ministers settled in local churches.  Wesley had foreseen such a scenario and put arrangements in place to prevent it.  His reasons were twofold: first, such a change would put the appointment of preachers into the hands of trustees, men who were not called to be spiritual leaders.  This would necessarily have been the case because the people in his societies knew nothing of the ‘democracy’ of independency, and were (not without reason) prejudiced against any form of Presbyterianism.  Second, and more important, settling men in local churches would bring an end to the itinerant plan upon which, he was convinced, so much good depended.

Because a trustee board is a non-biblical office and because with the exception of my current pastorate I have never been apart of a local church that had trustees I have yet to do a historical study on this “office” (for lack of a better word).  I always assumed that a trustee board was a modern Baptist invention.  That assumption was held until I read this paragraph in Murray’s latest book on John Wesley (is it a Methodist invention?).  Does anyone know of a good resource that accurately chronicles the development of trustees throughout church history?

If you want to know what my convictions are with regard to the subject of biblical church polity I direct your attention again to our church website  and the sermon audio section.  The best books that I know of on this subject are those written by Alexander Strauch and John MacArthur’s the Master’s Plan for the Church.

Augustine and the purpose of preaching

Having established that the purpose of preaching is to strengthen the bond of love between God and his people as well as the bond of love between Christians, Augustine moves on to speak of how the preacher is to go about the interpretation of Scripture, for the work of the preacher consists of two parts: first, to ascertain the meaning of Scripture, and second, to communicate that meaning once it it ascertained.

(Hughes Oliphant Old, The Reading and Preaching of the Scriptures in the Worship of the Church: Volume 2 The Patristic Age, 388)

Shake the tree

Luther said, “Divine Scripture is a very fertile tree, and there is no branch which I have not shaken with my own hands, and knocked down a few apples” (Table Talks, no. 5355).

Remembering Luther

We remember Luther best when we proclaim Christ and the gospel to our world of need. And we do so fully clothed in our humanity.

Stephen J. Nichols, The Reformation:How a Monk and a Mallet Changed the World (Wheaton: Crossway, 2007), 38.

Luther on sermon length

In September of 1532, Luther said in his Table Talks (2643a):

I hate a long sermon, because the desire on the part of the congregation to listen is destroyed by them, and the preachers hurt themselves.

A few months before in June he said (3137):

I cannot bring things together short and to the point like Philip and Amsdorf.

In the fall of 1533 he said (3422):

The sign of a good speaker is that he stops just when people are most interested in hearing him and feel that he has just begun. But when he is boring and people wait for the end of the speech, that is a bad sign. The same is true of preachers. When someone says: “I would have liked to listen longer,” that is good. When someone says, however, “He was prattling on and could no longer stop,” that is a bad sign.

In August of 1540 (5171a):

A preacher climbs up to the pulpit, opens his mouth, and then stops. That means a preacher must be called before he advances to the pulpit. He should preach carefully and be understood by all, and not burden his listeners with too much verbosity.

That same month it is reported (in 5171b) that Conrad Cordatus asked Luther: “Reverend Father, tell me in a brief way how to preach.” Luther replied:

First, you must learn to go up to the pulpit. Second, you must know that you should stay there for a time. Third, you must learn to get down again.

It is reported that this infuriated Cordatus.

Unusual advice on preaching (from Luther)

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.”

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