Grateful for Tim Keller’s latest book Preaching: Communicating Faith in an Age of Skepticism, in which he writes that the New Testament call to preach goes beyond just pulpit ministry. Keller argues that there are three levels of preaching.
Level 1 would be through everyday Christian conversation. “Paul calls all believers to ‘let the message of Christ dwell among you richly’ & ‘teach & admonish one another in all wisdom’ (Colossians 3:16).”
Level 2 would be through things like “writing, blogging, teaching classes & small groups, mentoring, moderating open discussion groups on issues of faith, & so on.”
Level 3 would be preaching as we typically define it today – “the public preaching & exposition of the Bible to assembled gatherings.”
I appreciate these distinctions, because I’ve run into people that say they are called to preach, but then when you suggest they come along to the jail or start a small group or teach a sunday school class, they are unenthused. Biblical preaching seldom included a pulpit because such a thing didn’t yet exist. And sometimes we seem to think that vocational preaching is the highest rung on the ladder & everybody else is just a mere volunteer. Praying we recover Levels 1 & 2, without neglecting Level 3 & that we see all our conversation as preaching instead of preaching as just a possible career.
A few other favorite quotes from Tim Keller in Preaching:
- Every Christian needs to understand the message of the Bible well enough to explain and apply it to other Christians and to his neighbors in informal and personal settings.
- It is dangerous, then, to fall into the unbiblical belief that the ministry of the Word is simply preaching.
- No church should expect that all the life transformation that comes from the Word of God comes strictly through preaching.
- We must beware of thinking the Sunday sermon can carry all the freight of any church’s ministry of the Word.
- a church’s gospel ministry should be “pulpit-centered, but no pulpit-restricted.”
- while the difference between a bad sermon and a good sermon is mainly the responsibility of the preacher, the difference between good preaching and great preaching lies mainly in the work of the Holy Spirit in the heart of the listener as well as the preacher.
- Every time you expound a Bible text, you are not finished unless you demonstrate how it shows us that we cannot save ourselves and that only Jesus can.
- we are loved sinners in Christ – so loved that we don’t have to despair when we do wrong, so sinful that we have no right to be puffed up when we do right
- the temptation will be to let the pulpit drive you to the word, but instead you must let the Word drive you to the pulpit.
Keller’s book is also VERY insightful, as always, on preaching in our modern cultural context. Highly recommend adding this book to your library if you haven’t already.
The gravitational pull of any church is toward insiders, not outsiders. Left unattended, your church will become a place where preferences of the members trump passion for the mission. There are two primary ways to address this drift:
- In every decision, focus on what you want to reach, not on who you want to keep.
- Commit to losing yourself for the sake of finding others.
people automatically respond with “What about me and my needs?
… People who focus on helping others and honoring Christ soon discover that their needs are met far more deeply than they ever experienced otherwise.
Carey Nieuwhof in his incredible new book Lasting Impact: 7 Powerful Conversations That Will Help Your Church Grow.
Updating my Recently Read, Currently Reading, or Will Soon Read list today. Here’s my recent favs that I’d highly recommend to you if you enjoy church leadership, history, good guy stories:
- Fearless: The Undaunted Courage and Ultimate Sacrifice of Navy SEAL Team Six Operator Adam Brown by Eric Blehm. Aw man!!!! This was an incredible story!!! Supposed to be a movie being written now. Can’t wait to see it! Adam Brown’s story of overcoming incredible circumstances (drug addiction, loss of an eye, loss of part of his hand) to become one of the world’s elite soldiers. You will not want to put this book down!
- Mission at Nuremberg: An American Army Chaplain and the Trial of the Nazis by Tim Townsend. Now this book will make you think! How should we treat the worst of the worst? And this chaplain demonstrated great resolve to share the gospel & give grace a chance with the top Nazi’s who faced the world at the Nuremburg trials. Incredible story!!!! Can’t wait til it comes out on Audio.
- How the West Won: The Neglected Story of the Triumph of Modernity by Rodney Stark. Love Rodney Stark! A lot of myth busters & history nuggets that defy modern conventional wisdom on why things are the way they are globally. Helped me see the world differently.
- Saturate: Being Disciples of Jesus in the Everyday Stuff of Life by Jeff Vanderstelt. Great book to get you thinking on missional church strategy. Real about the struggles of missional life & discipling new believers. I’ll definitely share more about this book soon. This ones gonna tag along with me for a while.
- Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall. I’ve not been a huge runner since the late 90’s. Now trying to get back into it & came across this book because I’m more concerned about injuries & frankly, disability now that I’m in my 40’s :). Very inspirational. Great stories of ancient people groups, how God made humans for endurance & why (though the author does not come from a Christian perspective), & a race for the centuries that no cameras caught. Added fuel to my current desire to get back to running & gave me some tips on doing it without injury. Supposed to be a movie coming out in the future with Matthew McConaughey. Will be a must see.
Any good books to recommend?
In the book Small is Big Slow is Fast: Living and Leading Your Family and Community on God’s Mission, Ceasar Kalinowski paints a picture of the kingdom of God that makes you believe anybody can be a part of expanding it. That’s the belief we need to go viral in the church today if we’re going to see a movement of evangelism & discipleship in North America, so I want to highly recommend this book to you. The book challenges popular notions that have slowed multiplication including church has to be made up of big crowds & buildings to be real, discipleship should be scheduled in the midst of the busyness of everyday life, & only a few highly trained people should develop the skills to lead churches. Here’s a few of my favorite quotes:
- A disciple is someone who has reoriented his or her life around another to become, in essence, who that person is.
- We don’t live on mission because we are supposed to. It is our birthright. We get to do this.
- We will never lead another group of friends or anyone else father and deeper into discipleship and mission than our own family.
- If we are not careful, we can end up being the nicest, friendliest people in the neighborhood but fail to lead anyone one step closer to walking in the ways of Jesus.
- multiplication doesn’t just happen accidentally. Everything we do must be intentionally simple, scalable, and reproducible.
- the secret to increasingly living our lives together on God’s mission is to move away from seeing discipleship as something that needs to be tacked onto an already busy schedule, toward seeing all the normal stuff of life as full of opportunity for discipleship and growth in the gospel.
- This is not a call to life plus mission, rather, it is a call to life on mission.
- When looking to develop leaders, we initially have to identify who wants to lead. We do this by looking at who is ready first to be a follower.
- Some days are packed with very obvious kingdom activity, while others feel like nothing special… until you look back.
- Not everything happens as quickly as or in the way we want it to. People drop off the radar and out of community. This is messy stuff! On this journey, you must trust that God is filling your lives with opportunities for discipleship and kingdom expansion every day. Some you will notice; others you may not.
- Do we need to have larger gatherings… No. But you get to.
- Our identity is found in Christ, not the frequency of size of our gatherings.
- The mission of the church is discipleship, not creating church services.
The book also includes a very helpful chapter outlining what life on mission may look like in the typical week & a great appendix outlining the first 3 years or so of steps to launching a missional community movement, as well as a great list of tools & resources for multiplication of groups. Great resource for anyone looking to simply multiply & bear fruit for God’s kingdom.
the secret to increasingly living our lives together on God’s mission is to move away from seeing discipleship as something that needs to be tacked onto an already busy schedule, toward seeing all of the normal stuff of life as full of opportunity for discipleship and growth in the gospel.
This is not a call to life plus mission; rather, it is a call to life on mission.
If life on mission, a life of discipleship, is too hard, or seems impossible with your schedule… Choose a different rhythm.
Loving this book!
This past summer I worked through a 12 lesson study by Brad Brisco & Lance Ford called Missional Essentials. This is a great primer for discovering life on mission right where you are and understanding basic missiology. It would be great for small groups, discipleship groups, or personal use. Deals with issues like the nature of God & the church, consumerism & mission, rest & time management, biblical hospitality, & more. Check it out here:
A few of my favorite quotes:
- in the church, we have focused almost exclusively on the idea of sending rather than being sent. We think primarily of sending and supporting missionaries in faraway places rather than seeing ourselves, both individually and collectively as being sent.
- We should be sending people in the church out among people of the world rather than attempting to attract people of the world in among the people of the church.
- We in the church often wrongly assume that the primary activity of God is in the church, rather than recognizing that God’s primary activity is in the world, and the church is God’s instrument sent into the world to participate in his redemptive mission.
- Instead of thinking of the church as an entity that simply sends missionaries, we should instead view the church as the missionary.
- God has sent you on assignment as a participant in his mission to the world. Your locale is no accident.
- Hospitality involves living life in a way that places a higher value on relationships and community than on consumption and productivity.
- Our families and our homes should be places where people experience a foretaste of heaven.
- LIGHT: Listen to the Holy Spirit, Invite others to share a meal, Give a Blessing, Hear from the Gospels, Take Inventory of the day.