Chuck Smith passed away on Thursday. He was a major influence in the church of North America, and I really enjoyed stories from his ministry like this one (from Ray Ortlund’s blog).
He was pastoring a little church in Costa Mesa, California, in the late 1960′s, not far from the beach. God began to pour out his Spirit. Teenage kids started getting saved and coming to Smith’s church. But there was a problem. The oil deposits off the coast of California bubble up little globs of oil that land on the beach. If you step on one, it sticks to the bottom of your foot and you mess up the carpet when you get home. So these young people began coming into church right off the beach. They didn’t know they were supposed to wear shoes. They didn’t know church culture. All they knew was Jesus. But the new carpets and pews at Smith’s church were getting stained. One Sunday morning Chuck arrived at church to find a sign posted outside: “Shirts and shoes please.” He took it down. After the service he met with the church officers. They talked it through. They agreed that they would remove the new carpet and pews before they would hinder one kid from coming to Christ. And that wise decision cleared the way for God to visit Calvary Chapel with wonderful revival (Isaiah 57:14-15). I was there when they were holding services five nights a week, standing room only. The breakthrough came when they humbled themselves and chose to care about what God cares about, and nothing else.
I love the passion to embrace the outsider. Check out his biography here.
Over at her blog, my wife made a [not so] tiny announcement. We’re super excited.
I recently read three books I’d like to share that have impacted the way I look at pastoral ministry. I’m anticipating that their effects will be felt in my life and vocation for many years.
The first is Eugene Peterson’s The Pastor: A Memoir, which is an engaging look at his own journey from the Montana wilderness to the east coast as he uncovers his calling as a pastor. Peterson has always been a big influence on me, and seeing his development in the ministry was interesting and encouraging.
Letters to a Young Pastor is the late Calvin Miller’s collection of advice to young leaders in letter form. His commentary on the pastoral life was both challenging and hilarious as he talked about setbacks, victories, and the occasional church politics run-in.
Finally, Paul David Tripp’s Dangerous Calling: Confronting the Unique Challenges of Pastoral Ministry addresses the overall state of the North American pastorate from a behavioral health standpoint. Gut-wrenching in all the necessary ways, this book is a wake-up call to pastors who labor to see Jesus magnified, their families cared for, and their own ministry longevity.
At Pastors.com, Kurt Bubna gives list of 10 non-negotiables for aspiring church planters:
- A clear call to church planting which is confirmed by other leaders and pastors who know them and have worked closely with them.
- A supportive spouse and a stable, healthy marriage and family.
- A strong emotional resilience. (Without it, they won’t likely survive.)
- A heart for evangelism with a proven gift and ability to reach the lost.
- A capable teacher who is an anointed and gifted communicator.
- A proven ability to gather and inspire others.
- A demonstrated ability to start something new.
- A proven ability to recruit, train and deploy others into ministry.
- A demonstrated track record of wisdom in life and in leadership.
- A teachable heart proven by the ability to take direction and constructive criticism without defensiveness or arrogance.
While I don’t claim to be an expert in missiology, my experience over the last year at theWELL supports his post. Every point above is critical to the long-term success of the church and the well-being of the planter.
You can read the entire article here.
There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket — safe, dark, motionless, airless — it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.
-C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves
HT: Take Your Vitamin Z
I recently read an article from James K.A. Smith concerning the disparity between encouraging people to become economically stable while deriding the hallmark tenet of American dream: Upward mobility.
Those who are passionate advocates of the poor are often, oddly, knee-jerk critics of the American dream and aspirations to be middle class. How odd. It reminds me of the lyrics of an Everclear song: “I hate those people who love to tell you / money is the root of all that kills. / They have never been poor, / they have never had the joy of a welfare Christmas.” The God who cares about the poor must also be a God who celebrates economic flourishing and stability as features of shalom.
I do think it’s important to encourage people to be responsible with money, whether it be helping the impoverished reach for higher financial goals or the wealthy be generous with what they have. And, yet, all the while doing so while discouraging the worship of money as a means to happiness, security, and identity.
You can read the article here.