I recently had the opportunity to attend the Acts29 bootcamp in St. Louis. My wife was able to go with me, and I must say we both left encouraged, challenged, and thankful. I’ve long appreciated what Acts29 guys are saying, promoting, and writing (The Resurgence); so I wanted to get a closer look and here are some of the observations I walked away with.
- They want to make Jesus and the Gospel big. They want to preach Jesus from the Scriptures, and they want to make the gospel the core of everything they do. This emphasis was not just theme of the bootcamp, but it is the theme and driving force of the entire network.
- I saw a real sense of brotherhood. These guys care about other pastors. They want to coach, mentor, and disciple you. We had so many great conversations with other men and women; people facing similar challenges, but trusting in the same Lord.
- As much as these guys care about pastors, they care the same, if not more about healthy gospel-saturated marriages. The had some really good stuff to say to men about being husbands, and had a time for the women to interact and talk about the challenges of ministry and church planting. This emphasis was really encouraging for both of us.
- They want a culture of multiplication. They are all about sending more men out and planting more churches. As much as they want to see more church plants, they are honest about the struggles and pitfalls associated with it. I was deeply challenged and grateful at the same time as I heard this theme of multiplication throughout the bootcamp.
- These guys are honest about their struggles and sins. I sensed a real transparency from the speakers and the men I spoke with. I see that the gospel is not just something these guys preach, but actually believe. Despite our sin, they continued to point all of us back to our acceptance in Jesus.
- The network is more diverse than I thought. A lot of men at the bootcamp were from all walks of life. I think there are some stereotypes about Acts29 guys that are misguided. These guys care about seeing the church made-up of people from every tongue, tribe, and nation.
- Even though the network doesn’t have a strict top-down model on ministry philosophy, almost everyone reflects the same mindset. They are big on strong leadership, godly men, relationships, discipleship, being missional, and multiplication.
While there still is a lot to process from these two-days, more than anything the Lord gave us confirmation on many things we were already thinking and believing. Whatever place you find yourself in; you should attend a bootcamp.
The Monday before T4G started, Russell Moore hosted a panel discussion on Christ-Centered Theology and Ministry. The participants were: Carl Trueman, Jefferson Bethke, J. D. Greear, Josh Harris, Russell Moore, Matt Pinson.
A wide range of views were represented and helpful discussions took place about the dangers of being gospel-centered, religion vs Jesus, Calvinism, Arminianism, baptism, and multi-site churches. I would highly recommend you listen or watch. Listen to it here. Watch it here.
Powerful thoughts by Paul Tripp today on ministry. It’s not just what pastors need, but what all of us need. What Every Pastor Must Hear and Confess
I recently finished Thabiti Anyabwile’s new book, Finding Faithful Elders and Deacons. I particularly appreciated his comments on 1 Timothy 4:10 (we have our hope set on the living God).
We pastors face constant temptation to do pastoral ministry in our own strength and wisdom. We are invited on so many occasions to be men of strength and spiritual courage that we begin to believe that such strength and courage are matters of self-exertion. We may imagine ourselves mustering enough willpower to push our way to any goal.
But this brief phrase from Paul’s letter confronts every pastor with the question, Where have we put our hope?
Sometimes we place hope in our study and preparation. Sometimes we place our hope in books read and the convincing arguments they contain. Other times we place hope in relationships, in the affection we share with others in the body. Or we place hope in our articulate expression, clever counsel, and good sermons. Our hope soars when things go well, when people seem pleased with our performance.
All of these hopes are deadly temptations! All of them fade, weaken, and disappoint.
Crossway recently took the 14 Gospel Coalition booklets and put them into one volume in, The Gospel as Center: Renewing Our Faith and Reforming Our Ministry Practices. We have carried these booklets on our church Resource Table and have they have been quite helpful. If you don’t have the booklets or the book, you can download 10 of them for free below.
- The Holy Spirit by Kevin DeYoung
- The Plan by Colin S. Smith
- Justification by Philip Ryken
- Creation by Andrew M. Davis
- The Kingdom of God by Stephen Um
- Gospel-Centered Ministry by D.A. Carson and Tim Keller
- Christ’s Redemption by Sandy Wilson
- The Church: God’s New People by Tim Savage
- Baptism and the Lord’s Supper by Ligon Duncan and Thabiti Anyabwile
- The Restoration of All Things by Sam Storms
Also, Eric Shumacher gives a couple of good suggestions of how to use them in discipleship. Read here.
In case you aren’t familiar with the Elephant Room you can check it out here. If you are familiar with it, then you know the recent swirl that has taken place with the invitation of T.D. Jakes. Below are three helpful reflections that I benefited from.
Grace and Truth Beyond the Elephant Room, by Trevin Wax
Truth, Debate, Unity, and The Elephant Room, by Joe Thorn
The Elephant in the Room, by Voddie Baucham
Seven Thoughts on the Elephant Room and T.D. Jakes, by Kevin DeYoung
11 Things I’m Thinking in the Wake of Recent Events, by Thabiti Anyabwile
Carson and Keller on Jakes and the Elephant Room, by Don Carson & Tim Keller
If you don’t have a copy of The Valley of Vision, you need to get one. It is a collection of Puritan prayers and devotions. I have found great encouragement in this little book. In particular, I love the prayers of Service and Ministry. Reading these prayers remind me that the things I am tempted with as a pastor and the struggles I face are no different from other pastors who have come before me. Here is one that blessed me today.
O my Lord,
Let not my ministry be approved only by men,
or merely win the esteem and affections
But do the work of grace in their hearts,
call in thy elect,
seal and edify the regenerate ones,
and command eternal blessings on their souls.
Save me from self-opinion and self-seeking;
Water the hearts of those who hear thy Word,
that seed sown in weakness may be raised
Cause me and those that hear me
to behold thee here in the light of special faith,
and hereafter in the blaze of endless glory;
Make my every sermon a means of grace to myself,
and help me to experience the power
of thy dying love,
for thy blood is balm,
thy presence bliss,
thy smile heaven,
thy cross the place where truth
and mercy meet.
Look upon the doubts and discouragements
of my ministry
and keep me from self-importance;
I beg pardon for my many sins, omissions,
as a man, as a minister;
Command thy blessing on my weak,
and on the message of salvation given;
Stay with thy people,
and may thy presence be their portion
when I preach to others let not my words
be merely elegant and masterly,
my reasoning polished and refined,
my performance powerless and tasteless,
but may I exalt thee and humble sinners.
O Lord of power and grace,
all hearts are in thy hands,
all events at thy disposal,
Set the seal of thy almighty will
upon my ministry.
I really appreciate the 9Marks ministry. Where I have really benefited from them is how to put “flesh on the bones” so to speak. Scripture clearly gives us the theology and direction for ministry, but at times pastors need encouragement in connecting the dots and thinking practically about certain situations. Recently I found two posts by 9Marks that were especially applicable.
One of the things I have enjoyed doing is using this blog to keep people up to date with what is happening at our church. This Sunday I am taking a break from our series in Matthew and will begin a new 3-week series on the gospel. Over the next three weeks I will attempt to answer these three questions.
1.) What is the Gospel?
2.) What is the Gospel-Centered Life?
3.) What is a Gospel-Centered Church?
In addition to the new sermon series, our Growth Groups will be going through a curriculum centered around the gospel in our everyday lives and on Sunday our church will start a Book Resource Table. We have about twenty or so books available, as well as Gospel-Coalition and CCEF booklets.
I am praying God really use this series to unite the church in a clear gospel-centered direction for the glory of Christ, the health of his people, and the good of the community.