Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Custom Bible Dictionaries for Word

Travis Carden has come up with Custom Dictionaries that you can use in word for the ESV, KJV and NASB. These will help if you write much using scripture and constantly see words as misspelled. I have not gotten to use them yet but I am sure it will be helpful. I know it works for Zerubabael, no I mean Zerubbabel :)

Monday, January 29, 2007

Worshiping Together as a Family

Charley at HomeDiscipling Dad sent me a link to a great article by John and Noel Piper on having children in the worship service called: The Family: Together in God's Presence.

The article touches on many of the things I have mentioned and also gives some particle suggestions as to how things can work with having children with you in the service. I would suggest reading the article and praying as to how God would have you view children worshiping Him as part of the family/community rather than simply sending them off to some extraneous activity, no matter how spiritual you may try and make that activity.

I truly believe that those who have sought to make life easier and more “worshipful” (whatever that means) for adults will have to answer to God for their denying children the glory of worshiping with the family and the community of faith as a whole. Children would best learn how to worship God by them seeing actual worship taking place by adults and specifically their fathers and mothers.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

What does a Family Integrated Church look like to me - PT 5

Up until now most of what I have written about the Family Integrated Church in essence does not look any different than any other biblical local church, and it shouldn’t. The reason it looks this is way is because as much as people like to proclaim that scripture does not say much about what church is to look like, in reality it says much. The problem seems to be that we are so much influenced by the culture around us that we look to the world rather than scripture when it comes to how church is to be structured. This is seen in the corporate type structure that most churches take on. The church sees the success of the business model and thinks that the church needs to take on this look. So we as a church need to rely more on God’s revelation than worldly wisdom.

I mention the above because as I look at what the Family Integrated Church should look like I often get questions that, while sincere, are usually derived from accepted practices and worldly thought rather than scriptural commands. So I will begin with what the worship service would look like in a Family Integrated Church.

In contrast to the churches normative practice of dividing up families for worship the Family Integrated Church sees the need to keep families together during worship. This is not simply keeping the children in the main service for the praise portion of worship and then sending them to the nursery but keeping them there for the entire worship time. Most churches in a desire to somehow make worship better for parents send children off to be entertained and placated.

The usual argument is that if the children go to specialized classes and so called “children’s church” they will learn much better than in the “adult service.” This action of separating children out is often extended to even young adults as they often even have their own service as well. What all of this does is make the church segregated by age and thus denies the unity the church is to foster. As to the argument about the preaching not reaching children I have two comments. First, we do not give children enough credit for what they can learn. Children absorb much more than we could probably comprehend and along with this they can learn how others are to worship by example. By being segregated out they learn that what is most important about worship is play and snack time. Even if the children’s church does much teaching it can never substitute for children seeing their parents and other adults worshiping as a community. They can take in that worship is not about them but about God.

So bottom line is that the church I would like to see started would have the children, of all ages, incorporated into the worship service. This means that there would be no official nursery or other avenue to let parents take a vacation from their parental duties. I do think that there can be a place for parents to go if their children are simply having a bad day, which children will do at various times. Visitors who may not be ready for this would be encouraged to only go there if they really need to and there may even be certain women in the congregation that would be tasked to go out if they see a visitor leaving with their child to encourage them to return when things settle down. I realize that this will be hard for some and if there are single parents that have issues other families could help them with their children.

I understand that this flies in the face of the average church but the goal is not to be average but to be biblical. Over and over we see Jesus preaching with children present and since we do not see such a thing as the nursery or children’s church showing up in the church until fairly recently, I would have to say that seeking to incorporate children of all ages into worship while difficult is imperative. I am sure there were crying babies and restless children when the apostles taught and so why should we seek to avoid it. What do we tell children if we separate them out from others? I know we do this out of a desire to do what is best but the truth is it is not what is best for the children or the parents.

More to come.

Other articles in this series:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Sunday, January 21, 2007

What does a Family Integrated Church look like to me-PT-4

So far in my working through “What a family integrated church looks like” I have started with what I feel is important in any church. First there is the leadership in having Biblical elders and Deacons. Then I touched on the 9 Marks of a Healthy Church by Mark Dever and their importance to the church. Lastly I remarked on at least three important ministries of the church. I am sure there are more than three but these were more general ministries that could involve many other aspects of church life.

Before I go on I wanted to mention why I am going through this process. First, is that by thinking more about these things and writing on them they become clearer to me. This is a process I would encourage anyone to do even if writing is not your “thing”. There is something about writing, no matter how imperfect it may be, that makes you think through things much more than simply mulling them over in your mind.

Second, I began sending out resumes regarding pastoring fulltime almost 4 years ago and have heard relatively nothing at all. So, in the past months I have more and more felt (there is that elusive feeling thing) that maybe the direction God is guiding me is to start a church. To be honest starting a church was the farthest thing from my mind only a year ago but things change. I started to realize that as I went through the process of defining how I saw church functioning I was more and more shrinking the possibilities of being called to an existing church. Most churches are either entrenched in how they do ministry and only want a leader who is similarly entrenched or the church is ever morphing to look like what the latest fad says will increase their numbers. Neither of these options seems too inviting. So, again as I began to write on my thoughts on church and began to see how I felt God wants His, and it is His, church to look like I began to realize that I may be heading in a different direction than I would previously have thought of.

The third reason which follows on the second is that this would be a place to send others who wanted to know what I thought about church, especially one that I would be part of the start of.

The forth reason (there may be others I have not thought about) I was writing on the church was in hope to give food for thought to those who read this blog. This forth reason in truth resulted from what I see as a total disregard for the function of the church. It has moved from a gathering of the “saints” to simply a gathering of whomever can be convinced to come, usually using what ever means seemed necessary.

So there you have my reason for wring on the church. I hope in the next weeks to look at more specifics of a multigenerational church. I fully understand the struggles this can be in the culture we have but we cannot let the culture dictate how the church functions. This does not mean the church simply ignores culture it just means that we have to be very careful that the culture is not what dictates things.

In an attempt to reach a dying world the church has become like it instead of being the oasis it is called to be. We think we are doing what is best for the hurting but in simply telling people they are OK and catering to their needs we are furthering the various issues that are faced. I was reading somewhere were it was said that the family is not like it used to be and thus ministry needs to be different. Well it may be true that the family is not as it was or should be but if we simply ignore what the family is called to be it will never be restored to God’s design. We for sure need to understand the times but we need to understand them in a way that is designed to help them be what God desires in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Next, how does a multigenerational church function, to me?

Previous Posts in this series:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Where do you find your joy?

Over at Home Discipling Dad in his post called Joy!!! he comments on a conversation between Kevin Swanson, who heads up the Colorado Homeschool Association, and Steve Maxwell on preparing sons to be single income heads of their families. Here is the link to download the MP3.

One of the areas that was spoken of was simply in saving money and how if our joy is found in entertainment that is where our money will go. So when the money runs out for entertainment so to will the joy we think we find in it.

But even bigger than this is that in many ways we, by finding joy in entertainment, trade the spiritual capital we should be seeking for secular, or to use good old puritan language profane, capital. (By the way I think if we used the word profane more often we might be more inclined to avoid such things.) We only have so much time and in this day and age a vast majority of it, for both Christians and non-Christians, is spent in and on entertainment. We seriously, me included, need to re-evaluate how we use the time God gives us each day.

It is at least something we should contemplate as where we truly find our joy is not only something we are to proclaim but it is to be reflected in what we do, which includes what we spend.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Machen on Family Education

Doug Philips has on his blog a piece titled Machen's Wisdom on Family Education written by John Gresham Machen on Family education from Machen’s book What is Faith?. What is interesting is that this was written in 1965 and I am sure based on what I have observed that things are no better and actually would seem far worse today 41+ years later.

Machen in speaking on the ignorance of the church and the lack of education in the home on spiritual matters says:

“The depreciation of the intellect, with the exaltation in the place of it of the feelings or of the will, is, we think, a basic fact in modern life, which is rapidly leading to a condition in which men neither know anything nor care anything about the doctrinal content of the Christian religion and in which there is in general a lamentable intellectual decline.”

-John Gresham Machen, What is Faith?, pp. 21-23, Eerdmans Publishing, 1965-

I would agree that it is the lack of concern for right doctrine and beliefs that is filtering down to the family. The Puritans were instant on family devotions and training because they saw the word of God as supremely important. Today we seem to find everything but God’s word as important. I realize most people will not say this but our actions, mine included, often portray something much different from what we proclaim.

I would encourage you to read this piece as it will either convict you to act differently or will encourage you to stay the course, I am not sure there is a middle ground. If we are not training our children adequately we need to do so. This is not simply by sending them to Sunday school to have someone else do the training once a week but we are to train them as we are commanded to do in Deuteronomy 6:4-9 , diligently at every opportunity, and encouraged to do in Proverbs 22:6, as it has effect on their future. So let us not neglect those closest to us no matter the reason but turn back to our families as God desires us to. Culture is not to dictate to us what a family is and does but God is to do so therefore let us rely on the sufficiency of His word in this matter.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Update on Drs Mohler and Kennedy

Update on Drs Mohler and Kennedy

I am a little late on the news but Dr. Albert Mohler was released from the hospital. Over at the T4G Blog they have shared the following:

Dear Friends of Southern Seminary:

I am very pleased to share with you that a short while ago Dr. Albert Mohler was discharged from Baptist East Hospital in Louisville, KY. After a two week hospitalization that included extensive abdominal surgery and a four day stay in the Intensive Care Unit due to pulmonary emboli in the lungs, he and the family are overjoyed to be home. This, indeed, is welcome news and a much anticipated milestone in Dr. Mohler's recovery.

Please now pray that Dr. Mohler will gain the rest and strength he needs while recuperating at home in the days ahead. As you may guess, he is eager to resume the full rigor of his Presidential and ministerial duties.

The Mohlers are deeply grateful for the many prayers that have been offered and the expressions of concern so many of you have shown over these past couple of weeks. On behalf of the Mohler family, thank you once again for the Christian love and support you have shown them.

Jason K. AllenExecutive Assistant to the President
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
2825 Lexington Rd.
Louisville, KY 40280
(502) 897 4121

With regards to Dr. Kennedy, the Coral Ridge web site said on January 11th:

As of Wednesday morning, January 10, Dr. Kennedy remains hospitalized in stable condition. He continues to receive treatment and therapy as his doctors anticipate a full recovery. As has been reported earlier, Dr. Kennedy suffered heart arrhythmia leading to cardiac arrest on Thursday, December 28. He was given CPR and admitted to the hospital. He has since improved. On Wednesday, January 3 he underwent a procedure to implant a pacemaker/defibrillator and continues to make progress. We are so thankful for your prayers and encouragement! Please continue to intercede on Dr. Kennedy’s behalf for a complete recovery and for his return to his normal ministry duties.

Please continue to keep both men in your prayers.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

What does a Family Integrated Church look like to me - PT 3

I keep thinking that I should be to the part of my thinking on a FIC that relates to the family integration part but the truth is that while I feel that a multigenerational church is the most biblical form of church there are other aspects that are just as important if not more so. The whole concept of keeping different generations together is very important to the life of the church but if a church focuses too much on this they may neglect other aspects that are also important.

So I would like to look at some ministries of the church that are absolutely necessary. One of these is the “Ministry of the Word.” In today’s church this is one aspect that is either overtly minimized as archaic or in other instances minimized in not so overt ways. Paul in Romans 10:10-15 reveals the importance of preaching in the revealing of the Gospel to the unconverted. Throughout scripture believers are admonished to know who false teachers are and to denounce them and how can this be done unless one knows what correct teaching is. Thus is imperative of the elders of a church to preach and teach the word of God to its fullest. Scott Brown wrote a good article entitled: Preaching the Word in the Family Integrated Church that speaks on how we need to make sure that the Word of God does not lose its right place in the life of the church even in a Family Integrated Church.

As I mentioned in the last post on this one of the nine marks of a healthy church was expositional preaching. It is in expositional preaching that not only does the congregation learn the true meaning of particular scriptures but it is also expositional preaching that holds the preacher accountable to the text. If one simply seeks after topics to preach the nature of man will lead him to avoid those texts that are difficult or may simply be controversial. When we preach sequentially through scripture we cannot avoid those areas we may otherwise avoid. This said there are times and situations that may call for topical sermons but they can be done expositionally. Even so the best way to teach scripture is to go through it as it comes and deal with the text as it is presented by God.

Another ministry that is often neglected in the life of the church is that of the “Ministry of Prayer.” In our hurried and busy life we all too often have little time for meaningful prayer. When I say meaningful prayer I am speaking of prayer that is not simply words spoken with eyes closed but prayers that flow from a heart owned by God. I know that this is an area that I sorely need to develop more in as I too often offer up prayers that while sincere are devoid of revealing a heart focused wholly on God. This is an area that I have learned much from the Puritans. When I began reading Valley of Vision and the many prayers and devotions of the Puritans I began to see what can come from a heart that was sold out to God. Prayers that are full and meaningful flow from one who has spent time with God and knows God as more than simply a vending machine that is sought after when we want something. I also think that ones prayer life can be directly affected by how diligent the “ministry of the Word” is done. There is an intimate tie in between prayer and preaching because if we are taught well and completely our prayers can also be more complete.

Yet another important ministry would be the “Ministry of Service.” When I speak of service I am not speaking of the seeming endless list of things churches attempt to do but I am speaking of the heart of the church being to serve. So as with prayer service flows out of a heart that is correctly positioned before God. Service is not the sole job of the deacons as we are all called to serve. We are to serve God first, not because He needs our service but because hearts turned towards Him will desire to do so and as fully as possible. We are also called to serve others rather than to simply be served. The church all too often is filled with people seeking how to be served and with this attitude there is no service done at all. The truth is that if every believer was intent on serving others then everyone’s needs would be met. So the “Ministry of Service” is imperative to the health of the church and needs to be nurtured.

These are very general areas of ministry and there are probably more that I have not mentioned but will probably come up as I continue along. A biblical church needs to function in a biblical way and I think these three ministries are a mainstay of any church. If one is to have a biblical multigenerational, Family Integrated, church we need to make sure it has a firm foundation in God’s word. We also need to make sure that people do not simply seek a multigenerational church because it is a fad or cultural need but because it is what God desires a church to be, as I think it is. We need to be in prayer as to how God desires us to function as a church and how to live daily as a church so prayer is very important to church life. Lastly it is when we are truly willing to serve each other that true church life will take place. So again, these three areas are vitality important if one is to have a vital Family Integrated Church.

Many other areas will flow out of these three such as; evangelism, discipleship, fellowship and many other possible areas. I say they will flow out of these three because it is when we are immersed in the word dedicated to prayer and intent on service that we will do the many other things we are commanded to be by God.

I think the next installment will touch on what the multigenerational aspect of church looks like, or at least looks like to me, in more specific terms.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Let me know your there.

I know most people just read what it written on various blogs and do not really want to comment but I think it would be nice to just know about those that stop by. So if you feel inclined just leave a comment about your self even if it just your name, where you live or even a link to your blog or web site. In many ways I write what I do for me to work things out but if what is here makes you think about things let me know.

I hope to hear from some of you.

Grace and Peace,


Thursday, January 11, 2007

Did Jesus have an Eschatological View?

Of course He did as we all do, except His is perfect and ours is not. Never the less we should still seek truth and that includes eschatological issues as well.

Sam Storms asks what for some may be a controversial question in his Enjoying God Ministries Newsletter of 1/8/07. Here is the article in its entirety:

Was Jesus an Amillennialist? (Rev. 2.26-29)
Sam Storms - Jan 8, 2007

I know that’s a provocative question, perhaps even incendiary to some of you! But let’s look closely at the promised reward in this letter to the church in Thyatira:

“The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father. And I will give him the morning star. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Revelation 2:26-29).

Those who “overcome” or “conquer” are the very people who are persecuted, thrown in prison, and even subjected to martyrdom (see Rev. 2:3,9-11,13). The promise to them is that if they keep Christ’s “works until the end” they will be given authority to rule over nations even as Christ has been given authority from his Father to rule (see Psalm 2).

Who or what are these “nations” and when is it that Christians will exercise their rule over them? Some (perhaps most) believe this is a promise to be fulfilled on the millennial earth, that 1,000 year period of human history that Premillennialists believe will follow the second coming of Christ and precede the inauguration of the eternal state.

Bear with me as I make an alternative suggestion. Could it be that the reward noted here is the authority granted to the saints when they enter into co-regency with Christ in heaven, now? A similar promise is made to the faithful in Laodicea: “The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne [namely, the place of rule, government, and authority], as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne” (Rev. 3:21).

My point is that this co-regency with Christ is fulfilled now, in heaven, that is to say, in the so-called “intermediate state” where the dead in Christ live in conscious, intimate fellowship with the Savior. This co-regency, as I have called it, is therefore the same as the coming to life and “reigning” with Christ described in Revelation 20:4 and 20:6. The “millennium” or thousand-year rule is currently in session, as Christ, together with the “overcomers” or “conquerors”, rules with authority over the nations of the earth.

To put it simply and to the point: The “conquerors” / “overcomers” are not merely those over whom Christ will rule but those with whom Christ now rules.

We often fail to grasp the glory of what awaits those who “die in the Lord” and enter his presence. Although it is an intermediate state, that is to say, it is in between our present earthly existence and our final and glorified experience when we receive the resurrection body, it is nevertheless a wonderful and joyful and meaningful time. It is during this time, simultaneous with the present church age, that those who have died in Christ experience the fulfillment of this promise: they are even now ruling and reigning over the nations of the earth in tandem with their sovereign Lord!

For those of you not familiar with the debate over biblical eschatology, this is the perspective known as Amillennialism. Contrary to the label which suggests we don’t believe in the existence or reality of a millennium (observe how the alpha privative “a” seemingly negates the word “millennial”), we most assuredly do! The “millennium” is concurrent with the church age in which we live.

Again, contrary to the charge of “spiritualizing” the millennial kingdom, the saints truly and literally are enthroned with Christ, they are truly and literally reigning with Christ. This is not metaphor, but a concrete and living reality. The millennium, therefore, isn’t the experience of Christians in the Church on earth but that of the saints in heaven. They have been enthroned. They now rule. They share in the exercise of Christ’s dominion and sovereignty over the affairs and events and nations of the earth.

The apostle Paul had this in view in 1 Corinthians 15:24-26. There he describes Christ’s current sovereign rule over the affairs of both heaven and earth, one in which Jesus says (in Revelation 2:25-29) his people who “conquer” will share. Look at it closely:

“Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.”

Practically speaking, this means that Ignatius and Augustine, as well as Anselm and Aquinas, Calvin and Luther, Edwards and Wesley, Owen and Whitefield, together with Mary Magdalene, Aimee Semple McPherson, Susannah Wesley and the untold millions of others who are absent from the body but present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:1-10) are now exercising a divinely delegated authority in the providential oversight of the nations of the earth!

This enthronement and rule of the saints in heaven, with Christ, will continue far beyond the “millennial” phase in which it currently exists. There is an eternal expression of this experience that will unfold not only in the New Heavens but also on the New Earth (cf. Rev. 5:10) that will be created at the coming of Christ (Revelation 21-22). The nature of that authority and rule will undoubtedly change, given the fact that all unbelievers will have by then been banished to their eternal punishment in hell, but our co-regency with Christ will never cease.

As I read further in this passage it appears that the promise of co-regency with Christ is reinforced yet again. In v. 28 Jesus declares that the overcomer will receive “the morning star”. It’s possible that this is a reference to Jesus himself (see Rev. 22:16). But there is another option that relates this statement to what has preceded in the immediate context. The “morning star” is generally regarded as referring to Venus (although technically a planet), which itself was an ancient symbol for sovereignty. In Roman times, notes Beasley-Murray,

“it was more specifically the symbol of victory and sovereignty, for which reason Roman generals owned their loyalty to Venus by erecting temples in her honour . . . and Caesar’s legions carried her sign on their standards. . . . If then the morning star was the sign of conquest and rule over the nations, this element in the promise to the conqueror strengthens the statement that has gone before. It embodies in symbol the prophecy already cited from the psalmist. The conqueror is therefore doubly assured of his participation with Christ in the glory of his kingdom” (94-95).

I certainly have no illusions about resolving the often acrimonious debate over biblical eschatology. In fact, I suspect my comments in this meditation will provoke no little response (perhaps most of it negative). But as I read this passage, in conjunction with the whole of Scripture, I see a glorious affirmation of the destiny of the faithful who die in Christ.

To all outward appearances and the judgment of the unbelieving eye, it may seem that we have suffered loss. Yet, for the believer, to die is to live! What strikes the world as defeat and humiliation is for the Christian an entrance into life and exaltation! Let us never forget that the saints have “conquered” Satan “by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death” (Rev. 12:11; see also Rev. 15:2; 17:14.).

So, was Jesus an Amillennialist? Yes, I believe he was (and is).


Sam gives one something to think about as we read through Revelation so that we at least try and see it, possibly, in a new light. You may not agree with his conclusions but we need to at least seek to come to our conclusions from scriture rather than simply from traditions which is for a long time how I would have seen much of scripture.

You can go here to sign up for the Enjoying God Ministries newsletter.

(Update: 7/12/10 – Since I posted this a few years back I have changed my eschatological position to that of postmillennialism. That said this is still a good article to read as some aspects of amillennialism and postmillennialism are the same)

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Jonathan Edwards Resolution # 9

A change of subject for a day:

As I was reading through the 72 resolutions of Jonathan Edwards I read #9 which says: Resolved, to think much on all occasions of my own dying, and of the common circumstances which attend death.

Death is not a popular topic, maybe because we all know it is a subject we will all have to face sometime, but never the less Edwards understood its place when relating to life. Thinking on ones dying is very much antithetical to the modern mans way of thinking. We try more than anything not to only postpone death but if it where even remotely possible to ignore it all together.

Is not today’s attitude, unfortunately taken up by many Christians, the opposite of Paul’s claim in Phil 1:21 where to die is actual “gain”. This is not to dwell on death in a morbid and even narcissistic way but to see death as Paul did. I think that if we were to follow Edward’s resolution and think on our own death and those things that surround it we would have a better view of living. In the United States we are so insulated from the death that much of the rest of the world faces daily that we do not contemplate it as it relates to our living.

To truly see if our living is to “Christ” I think this may best be done in light of thinking on our own mortality as Edwards intended. A healthy look at death, which I think only a true believer can have, gives us a right perspective on life. So I would pray that we would heed Edwards’s resolution and not avoid the thoughts of death but as believers see death as God intends us to see it and see and live life from this new perspective.

Over at The Spugeon Blog they also look at Resolution #9.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

What Does a Family Integrated Church Look Like To Me - PT 2

I have changed the name of this series because at the end of the day my goal is to work out how I think God would desire me to lead a church that is a Family Integrated Church (FIC). Since I see the Family Integrated Church, in it’s many forms, as a leading back to how God intends church to function I wanted to rename the series. I may not get to the Family Integrated part right away and that is by design. While I see the integration of all of the family into the church as important it is not the most important as there are many other aspects that if not done correctly will in the end take away from the family integrated aspect of ministry.

While in part one I started with the idea that a local church should have “Biblical” elders and deacons this does not mean this is the most important thing a church should do as a church can appear to have elders and deacons in place and still not be fulfilling the role the local church is to have.

Also, with elders, I do think that an elder led church is preferable over an elder ruled church and I see this in scripture. In Matthew 18:15-17 when he speaks of church discipline the final action is towards the church as a gathered body of believers. We also see the involvement of the church body in Acts 6:2-5 in the choosing of what is often seen as the first deacons. Another place where we see the church as a whole involved in the actions led by the elders is in 1 Corinthians 5:4-5. The church is even held responsible for the teaching that is before than as we see in Galatians 1:6-9. So it would seem clear that while elders are to lead the church this does not negate the responsibility of the church membership itself from being part of what goes on in the church. This said I do see where an Elder ruled church can also be biblical, as one that is ruled correctly will know the heartbeat of the congregation and do what is right in light of that and above all God's leading. Thus, in this way an Elder ruled church is doing so in a way that indirectly involves the congregation.

In the end the whole area of elders and deacons is just part of the whole. Mark Dever wrote a great book called Nine Marks of a Healthy Church where he speaks of nine marks, there are undoubtedly more, a healthy church needs to have. Here are the nine things he mentions, with my comments:

1-Expositional Preaching – This is in short preaching that takes the point of the passage and has it as the point of the sermon. Expositional preaching takes the word of God seriously and, to me, reveres the word of God as just that, THE WORD OF GOD.

2-Biblical Theology – This is not simply theology that is Biblical but theology that sees all of scripture as it was intended and as a whole. For a better understanding of Biblical Theology read this article at 9Marks Ministries entitled What is the Discipline of Biblical Theology?.

3-The Gospel – A right proclamation of what the Gospel is is imperative. I would also suggest John Piper’s book God is the Gospel.

4-A Biblical Understanding of Conversion- Understanding how one is converted plays a large part in how one lives ones life as a believer and greatly influences how one does evangelism, see mark 5.

5-A Biblical Understanding of Evangelism – How we approach the great commission not only says much about what we understand of the Gospel but also affects the one we are being used to lead to Christ and to disciple.

6-A Biblical Understanding of Church Membership – Today the whole idea of committing to be a member of a church seems to be out of fashion but scripture seems to be clear that we are called to participate in a local body of believers and covenanting with that body is important.

7-Biblical Church Discipline – Here is one mark that is missing almost everywhere, both because it is simply not done and because with so many places one can go people simply just disappear so as to avoid discipline.

8-A Concern for Discipleship and Growth – These both need to go together because it seems that today we have focused so much on growth that ‘true’ discipleship is missing.

9-Biblical Church Leadership – We are not simply called together as a disjointed group of believers but as a local organized body of Christ and a correct model of leadership is necessary and called for by God.

So these are simply nine marks that I feel are necessary in a healthy God honoring church. What is great about this is that regardless of where ones church is or the form it takes the nine marks mentioned above are still viable, necessary and I think required. This is important because all too often we get so caught up in the mechanics of church or some singular aspect of church that we neglect things that are required for the church to be the true bride of Christ it is called to be.

From my perspective even in a Family Integrated Church it is important not to neglect the above principles and practices. While we do need to seek to help restore the family to its biblical moorings and design we need to do it is such a way as not to neglect any one of the other aspects of the church. In truth it is when we are a truly healthy church and following God’s guidelines that we will best fill the role of a Family Integrated Church.

I was intending to have moved onto how ministry works in the church but found as I thought about things that it is important that we have a firm foundation before one even seeks to do any particulars. If there is no foundation we are liable to be so focused on particulars that we will miss what we are truly called to do.

(Note: Some links in my last post were incorrect and they have been fixed)

Monday, January 01, 2007

What Does a Family Integrated Church Look Like To Me - PT 1

As I begin to take a closer look at what I feel the local church should look like I need reiterate that this is my view and how one gets to this differs depending on whether the church is already formed or is a new start. I also think that it is important that a church, and its leaders, have its own convictions as they move to a new model of how church should function. All too often churches may try and change without truly owning the convictions as to why they need to change. A church may even change to what is more faithful to God’s design for the gathered church but if the change is done simply due to pressure or seeing a model that may bring success it will in the end not glorify God as it should if the leadership does not hold strong convictions with regards to the changes being made. Without strong convictions the leadership will invariably seek to change every time some one has a new whim or there is some new “church model” that is espoused at some convention or seminar.

Also, while I would hold to a Family Integrated model of the local church I am not going to start with this aspect of church because one can seek to have a Family Integrated Church (FIC) but if they do not have a biblical focus or structure they will not in the end be Biblical. Another issue is that we need to take care that ones model of church does not begin to take precedence over a focus on God and His Word. The church all too often in seeking to promote some model or function of church begins to make that what is worshipped other than God, often inadvertently. One example of this is the church that is so focused on it’s music that the word of God is minimized. This can happen when we are so focused on doing church correctly that we neglect to be the church. I also believe that this can happen when the church holds more to a normative view of worship rather than a regulative view (more on that later)

As one looks at the church today one of the, to me at least, glaring issues is a lack of biblical leadership. All too many churches lack Biblical Elders and Deacons and thus do not function as scripture dictates. Either the church has the Lone Pastor” model of leadership or they have the “Corporate” model and everywhere in between. But I would have to ask that since scripture is clear that the local church is to be led by a plurality of Elders (Acts 11:30, 14:23; Titus 1:5b; 1 Peter 5:1: and others). For a good understanding of the Biblical function of Elders you can read Alexander Strauch’s Biblical Eldership.

Without Biblical Eldership the church will tend to become a one man show that has little if any accountability. Again, the goal is “Biblical Eldership” as there are probably many churches that have elders that either do not meet the standards of 1 Tim 3:1-7 & Titus 1:5-9 or do not function they should. A plurality of elders helps to keep the church focused and accountable and functioning as God desires. So any church regardless of how it sees ministry needing to be done, if it is to be faithful to scripture, needs to move towards an Elder led model of the local church.

The church needs to also seek to have Biblical Deacons in both standards and function. In many of today’s churches Deacons are either minimized below there importance or maximized in leadership. The truth is we need to see the importance of the servant aspect of deaconship and seek after men that fit the standards as 1 Tim 3:8-13.

As with Elders Deacons are not chosen by man’s standards but by God’s. Thus the best Elders and Deacons will not necessarily be the most successful business men and secular leaders in the church. That is why God has given us standards as those in 1 Timothy because He knows how we as a fallen man will seek our leaders.

I think next on the agenda of looking at the church will be to look at what the various ministries of the church should at a minimum be.

The following are some past things I have written that relate to how I see the Local Church gathering

The Church:
The Local Church Pt1
The Church Pt 2 - Ekklesia
The Church Pt 3: Church Local or Universal
The Church, Where? Part 4
The Church - Part 5
The Gathered Church - Pt 1
The Gathered Church – Pt 2
The Gathered Church - Pt 3
Some Random Thoughts on the Church

Family Integrated Church:
Family Friendly?
Family Friendly II
Family Integrated Church is not new
More on Family Integrated Church
Some Random Thoughts on the Church

Youth Ministry:
What to do with Youth Ministry
More on Youth Ministry .

Pray for Drs Kennedy and Mohler

Pray for the health of D. James Kennedy as at the Reformation21 site is the following:

Please pray for Dr. D. James Kennedy, his wife and daughter, and Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church. Dr. Kennedy is in grave condition following a heart attack last evening.

Jim's health has deteriorated markedly in the last several months, and he has manfully continued his ministry to the best of his ability. During all my interactions with him even during this trying time, he has exhibited his characteristic good cheer, charm, and force of mind. Along with being a man with great vision for the kingdom of Christ, Jim Kennedy is a true Christian gentleman. Please pray for God to restore him to full health and give him grace as his situation should require.

Here is an update:

I want to thank everyone who is praying for Dr. D. James Kennedy. His condition is improved, though very serious. I spent a good deal of time with him today, praying and reading Scripture. He recognized me and was clearly responsive, although his condition remains very serious. Please pray for continued improvement and a full restoration to health. I was able to assure him of the prayers of many Christians and he was able smile in response.

Also at Baptist Press they are asking for prayer for Dr. Mohler:

R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, is recovering at a hospital in Louisville, Ky., following abdominal surgery Dec. 28.

Mohler was admitted to the hospital Dec. 27 after experiencing abdominal pain. During a three-hour procedure, surgeons removed scar tissue from an operation he underwent during the 1980s. Mohler is expected to be released from the hospital within a week and will continue his recovery at home.

Russell Moore, dean of the school of theology and senior vice president for academic administration at Southern, will host Mohler’s national radio program until he is able to return to the air. The Southern Seminary community is praying for Mohler’s quick and total recovery, according to a news release Dec. 29.