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Preventive Maintenance against Sermon Stealing

Reading the recent article in The Banner called “I Think the Pastor Stole that Sermon” got me thinking about sermon stealing. Over the years I’ve read a lot of articles on the topic of plagiarism, but I don’t recall that any of them provided concrete suggestions on how to prevent and/or stop this stealing sin. It’s been my experience that if we want either to stop a certain sin or avoid temptation, we need to prepare in advance...

Pastors
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#helphimjesus

Two weeks ago I was privileged to sit in on a consultation on preaching hosted by my colleagues. One theme we circled back to often had to with the use of social media in the preaching event. Many of us who were at the consultation had been pastors of congregations in the past and we admitted to each other that it's an odd thought to ponder someone in a pew Tweeting about a sermon even as we are delivering it...

Church CommunicationsPastors
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The Joy of Generosity

It was recently observed that although our weekly worship service attendance had increased steadily over the last few years—thanks be to God!—our weekly giving had not. Why? My mentor reminded me this isn’t necessarily a bad sign, as our church does bring in people with little if any church background. For some of those folks, giving to the church is a new thing, and must be taught. So that’s what I set out to do...

DeaconsPastors
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Which "If" Is It?

One of the more important things a preacher should do when working with a passage of Scripture is to examine every conditional sentence that you encounter, especially in the New Testament. In the English language, we have only one word to express a conditional clause: the word “if.” Greek, however, has two different Greek words to introduce conditional clauses and how each conditional sentence is structured grammatically goes a long way to...

Pastors
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Growing the Church in the Power of the Holy Spirit

Recently I was encouraged to read Growing the Church in the Power of the Holy Spirit, a book I probably would not have picked up on my own. The title set off my warning bells. Exactly why that is, I’m not even sure I know myself. Somehow I feared gimmickry or formula or an unspiritual pragmatism. But I read it, and I want to recommend it...

ClassisPastors
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The Stewardship Series

Financial stewardship is a topic we don't touch on frequently in the church, yet we deal with money daily! This week we're starting our journey into the questions related to tithing, giving and money in general.

DeaconsPastors
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Peterson's Memoir On the Life and Ministry of the Pastor

This past Christmas my children blessed me with Eugene H. Peterson’s memoir The Pastor. What a joy it has been to take a leisurely stroll through Peterson’s reflections on his life and ministry. Here’s one word that echoed in my life: Was it realistic to think I could develop from being a competitive pastor to something more like a contemplative pastor ...

Pastors
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A Rusty Spare

We have this beautiful mission statement that expresses a common commitment that we exist to serve our community. The challenge is that we too often take that statement for granted. We have been out of the habits of listening to our neighbours, of spending time with them, of inviting them over, of simply being present in our neighborhood. When a situation comes up, we struggle with what it means for us to serve our neighbors...

Pastors
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Outsiders: Our History of Exclusion

Unfortunately, the church has created "outsiders" for more than 2000 years. Here's an example: around 200 A.D., Tertullian, a North African theologian, denounced the theatre— truth be told, he had some good reasons—then, in 398 the Council of Carthage declared excommunication for any Christian who went to the theatre rather than to church on holy days. Additionally, actors were forbidden participation in the sacraments... 

Pastors
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A Public Faith

We are the first generation in Western culture that is facing the real prospect of living in a statist society. Although there are many faiths under the roof of our pluralistic house, it is becoming rather clear with each passing year that the one approved faith is acceptance of the rule of the mother state...

Pastors
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The Transformation of “Hope”

In my work as an editor, I often come upon some interesting scholarly discoveries. A revision of The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, is being worked on by New Testament scholar Moises Silva. His comments on the transformation that took place in the meaning of the Greek words ἐλπίζω and ἐλπίς (the verb “to hope” and the noun “hope”) is truly amazing...

Pastors
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No Outsiders: Relating to Those Who "Don't Belong"

Like it or not, there are those who don't feel welcome or comfortable within the Church, or among Christians, in spite of their own preferences; they'd like to participate in church-life, and associate with Christ-followers, but they can't because of choices that we've made. They're excluded. The truth is that we've made "outsiders" of many people over the years...

Pastors
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Regrets – As We Enter a New Year

“Regrets, I’ve had a few. But then again, too few to mention.” Anybody remember that song? Too few regrets? Not me! I’ve got lots! Just thinking back across 2012 – missed opportunities, people I let down, thoughts harbored that should have been rejected, failed projects. There have been enough of these for me. How about you?

Pastors
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The Weariness of Christmas

The sun had set hours ago as Joseph and Mary slowly continued to make their way towards Bethlehem. When they left Nazareth days ago they had tried to stay with those they knew from the villages around, but it was no use. As Joseph led the donkey at a snail’s pace along the darkened road, some less than noble thoughts raced through his troubled mind...  

Pastors
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The Church of the Future?

Yesterday I picked up an old book by a "futurist." As I re-read and pondered Leonard Sweet's book Soul Tsunami, I was impressed with his vision for the future. Writing in 1999 at the turn of the millennium, I think he nailed some important concepts for ministry that have marked the last 10 years. 

Pastors
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Mary and Joseph in Bethlehem

Births in the ancient world normally took place at home, and one might have expected Mary to remain in Nazareth. But let’s remember also that the ancient world was an honor-shame society, and for an unmarried woman to be pregnant could lead to dire personal consequences...

Pastors
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CRC Position Papers: Bookshelf Materials or Effective Starters for Outreach?

In the November issue of Christianity Today, there is a book review of Fred Sanders' newest book, The Creedal Imperative. In that book he states that our modern culture's greatest goal is “to be authentic and speak spontaneously,” whether or not anything of value is said. Therefore, we need creeds written down and followed as never before...

Pastors
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5 Lessons, 5 Years of Ordained Ministry

I recently celebrated five years of ordained pastoral ministry. Not a big deal, I know, but significant for me. So what have I learned in my first five years? Obviously many things, but a few particular lessons come to mind...

Pastors
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Irresistible Influence

I recently had a conversation with someone in our church who felt somewhat frustrated with where the church seemed to be heading. This particular member thought it a waste of time and money to send myself and another church member to Zambia on a scouting trip to assess ministry needs in an area where we support a local pastor. They saw no value ...

Pastors
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Hebrew Word Play

Have you ever been in a group where most of the people spoke fluently in a language you barely understood? You could sort of follow the conversation until someone says something and everyone but you bursts out laughing. Why? Because someone told a joke that involved some wordplay or the double meaning of a particular phrase—and you didn’t get it. 

Pastors
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God's Referee?

Because the majority’s spoken opinion is that almost anything goes and is acceptable, almost everyone is afraid to call anyone’s hand on anything. But we as Christian believers “are our brothers’ keepers,” which means among other things that we are the truth tellers and moral compasses to the unbelieving world... 

Pastors
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Today's Compelling Story of Grace

In Classis this past week, a fellow pastor stood up and shared his experiences in the CRC and our outreach efforts. He shared that since the mid-1980s, we have twice the amount of the churches we once did with the result of less on our membership roles. He shared that we have raced after different outreach models- the Crystal Cathedral, Willow Creek, Saddleback- and still nothing changed. 

Pastors
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Examining the First Letter of John

I have found 1 John to be one of the most difficult to figure out thematically. It is certainly not linear like Romans, or problem-oriented like 1 Corinthians, or rhetorically focused like Galatians. I have come to the conclusion that it is best to view the letter as a sphere, and John is taking snapshots of this ball. 

Pastors
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Establishing 'Beachheads'

I just finished reading Kent Carlson and Mike Lueken’s book, Renovation of the Church (IVP Books, 2011). What an interesting and thoughtful read! I saw myself and my church in their story many times. The last chapter was especially intriguing, where they sought to cast a vision for the future. Borrowing a metaphor from Dallas Willard, they encourage the church to establish “beachheads.” 

Pastors

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