Once again my good friend John Armstrong at ACT3 has put his finger on a major weakness in our American churches. It comes on the day before we Americans go to the polls to choose our national leaders. What he has to say about the absence of prophetic preaching in the pulpits of America and spiritual leadership by vision, has much to do with the challenges our larger society is facing at this moment. In “What  happened to Prophetic preaching”? He writes,

John H. Armstrong, Director ACT3

“The vast majority of pastors, as revealed in a number of surveys, declare that leadership is their greatest weakness. They admit to having become managers of ecclesial organizations and speakers in churches on Sunday. But less than 10% (in one survey) said that they believed they were leaders. A leader exercises influence, casts vision and helps people to follow that vision. Modern ideology and modern ways of training men and women for pastoral ministry have impacted the church profoundly in this area. We need to understand how and why and what we can do about this problem.

Our schools have prepared future ministers to be students who can exegete a text, clinicians who can listen and help people in personal crisis and managers who can direct programs and serve the social structures of the church. But they have not conveyed clearly how to be a godly, praying, spiritually-formed leaders who can inspire and build up people in their daily lives. And they have not been taught how to prophesy the Word of the Lord.

In my lifetime I have seen the role of the pastor change dramatically. I remember my childhood pastors being shepherds of people and leaders who gave a vision to our collective witness. I held my pastors in high esteem. Today this has changed. Pastors are much less accessible to people, far less able to cast clear vision, and churches collectively languish in spirit. This has created a tragic gulf between leaders and people. People now demand managers for the church. They do not want prophets who will challenge them to think and become truly different in faith and virtue.”

I personally believe this is one of John’s better messages to the churches and the way forward in the future.

The entire article available as   Prophetic Preaching Pastors (pdf).

Recommended reading: The Work of Preaching Christ (1864)

Advocacy sometimes means getting off the fence!

You know by now that I am a passionate advocate for human rights which include dignity and justice. I don’t however put my name on very many public petitions. But this one I felt needed my participation, especially in light of so many other conflicting statements from we Christians regarding healthcare.

Here is what I signed today-

As a Christian, I believe my faith calls me to view all people, regardless of citizenship status, as made in the “image of God” and deserving of respect; to show compassion for the stranger and love and mercy for my neighbor; and to balance the rule of law with the call to oppose unjust laws and systems when they violate human dignity.

These biblical principles compel me to support immigration reform legislation that is consistent with humanitarian values, supports families, provides a pathway to citizenship for immigrant workers already in the U.S., expands legal avenues for workers to enter the U.S. with their rights and due process fully protected, and examines solutions to address the root causes of migration.

I believe the current U.S. immigration system is broken and reform is necessary. I call on Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform with the above elements by the end of this year.

Signed by: John Paul Todd, Berea, Kentucky

Living by the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Well we’re already deep into the new calendar year and already face to face with human suffering and the mysteries of life on planet earth. For this blogger that means an opportunity to exchange personal viewpoints about how faith thinks and acts in daily life.

As far as my own faith in the Biblical witness that God Himself has given, that means keeping the Gospel of Christ as the fountainhead of every single day. I found the following post on another blog so powerful that I want to defer to it with little comment. I am focusing on what it says to the misconception that the Gospel is only about the begining-the ABC’s of salvation. Nothing could be farther from the reality. See if you agree.

Maturity doesn’t mean moving beyond the gospel, but more deeply into it.“There are two challenges for preachers, those of us called to announce this good news. First is to help people understand theologically that the gospel doesn’t just ignite the Christian life but it’s also the fuel that keeps Christians going and growing every day. The second challenge, which is much harder for me than the first, is to help people understand how this works functionally.

I address the second challenge by regularly asking myself this question: Since Jesus secured my pardon and absorbed the Father’s wrath on my behalf so that “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,” how does that impact my longing for approval, my tendency to be controlling, and my fear of the unknown?

In other words, how does the finished work of Christ satisfy my deepest daily needs so that I can experience the liberating power of the gospel every day and in every way?

If you’re a preacher, then God has called you to help others make the connection between Christ’s finished work and their daily life. To do this, we must unveil and unpack the truth of the gospel from every biblical text we preach in such a way that it exposes both the idols of our culture and the idols of our hearts.”

(from “The Everyday Gospel”- Tullian Tchividian)

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