The Joy of Glory

Discovering endless joy in the boundless glory of God…

Tag: ministry

Letter #20: Your Education is not Over!

Dear Jonathan,

Graduation is just around the corner…literally a few weeks away! Congratulations again on making it to this point! Now, don’t fail your finals and blow the whole thing! I’m just kidding. I have to mess with you a little now that you are about to be a “Master of Divinity.”

We have had so many good conversations over the past few years and written a number of letters back and forth. I hope they have been helpful and ministered to your heart, even if only a little. So what is there left to talk about? Why am I writing you this close to graduation? What else could I possibly have to say? Well…there is at least this one thing…

Free-Arizona-Continuing-Education-for-Realtors-285x280Your education is not over!

Sorry to drop that bomb on you right as you approach the finish line, but I am trying to be a little preemptive here. What do I mean? Well, let’s just say that it is not uncommon for seminary graduates to “quit” reading and studying due to post-school burnout.

Typically, language skills are the first thing to go. All that hard work, hours, blood, sweat, and tears that you put into Greek and Hebrew…all I can say is use it or lose it brother! Honestly, that goes for all fields of study into which you have taken the plunge.

You must keep reading, writing, and thinking deeply or you will lose all the skills you have gained. Listen, it is very easy to enter ministry and become caught up in a million different things, let your studies take the back seat, and simply be a surface level teacher. You don’t want that!

You want to be able to speak to your people out of deeply dug wells, from which you draw up the purest water of the Word to help sustain their thirsty souls. You want to show them how they can mine the treasures of God’s Word themselves. You can only do that if you are doing it yourself.

Now, I’m not telling you to be an ivory tower theologian. You should never sit in an office all day, every day, surrounded by books, and disconnected from the people you serve. No. Discipline yourself to make a schedule that keeps you connected to their lives and connected to Christ through the Word. It is possible.

Jonathan, graduation is nearly here, but don’t let that be the last time you crack a book or mediate on Scripture. You have worked hard to develop the tools you need to study the Word for the glory of God and the good of the church. So do that!

Your education is not over!

Grace and Peace,


*To know/understand the premise behind these letters please click here.


Letter #8: You’re a Patient, Not a Physician

Dear Jonathan,

Thank you for not being too upset by my last letter. I do hope it didn’t sound like I was being “holier than thou” or “attacking” you. Honestly, if I was attacking anyone it was myself.

I so badly want to help you avoid many of the pitfalls I dove head-first into while in seminary…especially the endless void of pride. There is actually one simple truth that really helped me combat pride during my seminarian years…

skeptical-doctorYou’re a patient…not a physician.

Over time, I noticed that I could tell when pride was beginning to swell within my heart because I would put myself in the position of a physician. I would look at the world of Christendom, diagnosing all the ills I saw and proudly proclaiming my miracle prescriptions that I just knew would bring healing!

How pompous I could be?!?! I looked down my nose at local churches and at pastors in the trenches of ministry…and from the safe, lofty heights of academia I would point out their infected theology and diseased practices. All the while, I was so blind that I could not see I was only being part of the problem…not the solution.

I was acting like a physician…yet I was truly a patient.

In other words, I was not seeing myself as part of the body of Christ! I was separate somehow. The body was sick, but not me…I was God’s gift to “fix” the body! Ha!

We are not physicians, Jesus is! He is the great physician! We are part of the body in need of his healing.

The only way I was able to see this was to actually be a part of the body. The Lord convicted me of safely distancing myself from the local church, and I knew I had to plunge in and become a part of it.

Jonathan, I would highly encourage you to be an active member of a local congregation.

Serve within the body…teach within the body if you can! Teaching should humble you and drive you to your knees as you see your own feebleness/inability and your need for Christ’s sufficiency! Teaching should help you see yourself as a patient in need of Jesus’ miraculous healing work!

It becomes very difficult to criticize the church when you see that you are a part of its brokenness.

I’m not saying there is no room for critiquing the church (perhaps I’ll write about that later), but I am saying that the posture from which you critique it transforms when you are a member of the body instead of trying to be a master over and against it.

Don’t be an arrogant seminarian who thinks he is the “Doctor” the church needs. There are enough of those. Swallow that bitter pill of pride and remember you are a part of the church that needs healing…you are broken too.

You’re a patient…not a physician.

Grace and Peace,


*To know/understand the premise behind these letters please click here.

Seeker Friendly?

?????????????“How do you feel about seeker friendly ministry?”

I felt a little awkward when my friend posed the question…not because I didn’t have an answer, but because I had never really tried to voice it.

The basic idea behind the seeker-friendly philosophy is to view everything that happens within a worship gathering through an evangelistic lens. You do everything you can to make people who don’t know Jesus (aka seekers) comfortable and interested in what you have to say. This typically results in a big stage production with lights, cameras, and action. There’s drama, music, performance, videos, a short and immediately applicable message, etc…all delivered in a concert like atmosphere.

The whole gathering is meant to be as engaging and inviting as possible…make it friendly to the seekers. Then, pastors are to encourage the congregation to invite their lost friends. Bring them here, we’ll get them interested, and we will evangelize them for you…eventually.

I know I sound harsh, and not everything I just mentioned is necessarily bad in and of itself, but I speak as one who spent many years implementing this method within my own ministry and gradually noticed some major problems. I slowly began to see a disconnect between my theology and my practice…a great divide between what I saw in Scripture and what I did on Sunday.

Slowly…I saw that everything was backwards.

As a pastor, I had been called to equip the saints for the work of the ministry, but my methodology actually stripped the saints of the work of the ministry. Wether I meant to or not, I was communicating to the congregation that I did not believe they were equipped for evangelism so they should just bring their lost friends to the professionals.

I was doing the opposite of what I had been called to do.

God began to reform the way I thought about time spent as the gathered church.  I turned my focus towards equipping instead of stripping. All of a sudden, things that had once seemed so important felt superfluous. There was no real need for the incredible lights, performance, and hype.  Don’t get me wrong, lights/dramas/videos/and music are not evil things and can be used for the glory of God and the equipping of the saints. Yet, the priority and the use of these things drastically shifted in my theology of worship.  Expositional preaching, prayer, communion, testimonies, and praise…these things become much more important.

Equipping took the place of entertaining…


…Evangelism was no longer about bringing, but about going.

saveJesus came to seek and save the lost.  He was the ultimate seeker who befriended those in need of him.  He continues this seeking and saving mission by the power of his Spirit through his people…all his people!  We are all ministers of the gospel, empowered by the Holy Spirit to proclaim Jesus.  We are to be seekers, befriending those who need Jesus.

When my friend asked, “How do you feel about seeker-friendly ministry?” I responded, “I am all for it…as long as were thinking backwards!”  What I mean is this… The church gathered is not to do everything with the goal of appearing friendly to so called “seekers.” No. The church gathered is to do everything to equip themselves as seekers…as people who will go and seek out the lost and extend to them the friendship of Christ!

The Gospel is not about people seeking God, but about God seeking people! That is still the Gospel and we have been commissioned as seekers who will go to the ends of the earth with the good news that all who trust in Christ are  friends of God! This is what the church desperately needs to be equipped for, this is the friendship the world desperately needs for the lost are plentiful, but the seekers are few!

Do I believe in seeker-friendly ministry? Absolutely. We are to seek the lost who need to know that friendship, sonship, a relationship with God is only possible through Jesus. That is true seeker-friendly ministry!

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