Think of this article as a template, a form (or pattern or framework) which may be laid over the entire 21 verses, and which depict a healthy church.
The word “church” is not used in Romans 12. In fact, it’s found only 5 times in the entire Epistle and all are in the final chapter. Yet, there is no question that the Apostle Paul is writing to all the Lord’s churches in general and His church at Rome in particular.
Likewise, there is not a single reference to Romans 12 being a pattern for a healthy church. Some things are so obvious it’s not necessary to spell them out. The healthy church description of this chapter is one such.
Why does this matter?
The health of the Lord’s churches in this 21st century is a major concern for everyone called to shepherd God’s people. So many churches that were once healthy and strong, vibrant in their witness and effective in their mission have fallen onto hard times. Some came under the influence of corrupt leaders, some were hijacked by carnal power-brokers, and some grew discouraged and surrendered to the world.
The typical young adult called into the ministry today has never seen a healthy and strong church. He goes forth to fulfill a mission in the faith that there must be such a church out there somewhere and if not, he is to build one from scratch.
Here is a snapshot of such a healthy church
This is a song written by Glen Shulfer of Mukwonago, WI, featuring Helen Sigur, which is an application of Psalm 22 (quoted by Jesus from the cross) to the contemporary believer.
By Bob Williford, former director of the Hope Migrant Mission Center at the Migrant Farm Labor Center near Hope, Arkansas (a ministry of the Arkansas Baptist Convention), and author of Fence Post Digest blog.
The only solution for sin is the Cross of Christ
When one has failed while doing everything to keep from failing only darkness and confusion remain. Because the Lord is NOT the author of confusion without Him life becomes unbearable in a tumultuous sea of storms.
Everyone knows failure at some juncture and will give some kind of advice about how to succeed, but the truth is, they do not know. Many who claim to know Christ give advice about how to live and have no idea what it means to live ‘in Christ’. Because of this I find it difficult to believe that a born again Believer in Jesus Christ cannot or does not live for the Lord. If a Believer does not understand the message of the Cross there is no direction about how to live for God.
Paul writes that if we place our faith in anything apart from Christ and Him crucified that He will be of no value to you. “that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you.” (Galatians 5:2).
Clearly, the work that we attempt apart from faith in the Crucified and Resurrected Christ will amount to nothing.
“Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:19-21).
If the Believer does not understand the Cross of Christ these “works of the flesh” will manifest themselves in life. However, many Christians ignore each of them believing they simply cannot apply today because our culture has ‘matured’.
BEYOND CALVINISM AND ARMINIANISM:
TOWARD A BAPTIST SOTERIOLOGY
This is part one of a four part series. These posts are adapted from Eric Hankins’s article “Beyond Calvinism and Arminianims: Toward a Baptist Soteriology,” published in the online Journal for Bapist Theology and Ministry, Spring 2011, Vol. 8, No. 1, and may be accessed here. The material published here is used by permission of the author.
For over a century, Southern Baptists, by-and-large, have not felt the need to identify themselves as either Calvinists or Arminians. We were glad to affirm different aspects of each system, politely reject the points that were at variance with the clear teaching of Scripture, gladly accept those in our tribe who did affirm one or the other, and go on about the business of reaching the world around us for Christ. We did so without formulating a distinctive soteriology of our own. This has served us well, but, unfortunately, such détente appears to be coming to an end. For the last several years, voices calling for a recommitment to Reformed theology in Baptist life have become louder and louder. The Reformed-minded want to make the case that Baptists have always been made up of two groups, Calvinists and Arminians, and that they are representing and calling for a revival of just one stream in our soteriological tradition. They believe that this would be a return to the “normal” state of affairs and would balance what they perceive as an Arminian tilt in Southern Baptist life over the past couple generations. So, the way to get us back to where we are supposed to be is to force us to choose one system or the other. And that’s the problem. Most Southern Baptists don’t want to be one or the other. It is becoming clear, however, that simply stating that we are “neither” is not going to work.
The time has come for Southern Baptist to spell out exactly what we believe about the nature of salvation without appealing to either Calvinism or Arminianism. We must break with the notion that these are the only two options. We must break with the notion that these two options can be successfully integrated. We must break with the notion that we can “all just get along” without having a serious debate. We must break with the notion that the “Neither” position has a future. These blog posts are written in hopes that a new direction can be forged.
Bivocational Ministry, Part 4:
Bivocational Ministry is Normal
Dr. Dorsett is a bivocational pastor and church planting missionary in Vermont. He is the author of Developing Leadership Teams in the Bivocational Church and Bible Brain Teasers: Fun Adventures through the Bible. He also serves as a church planting catalyst with the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. He has a passion for helping the next generation discover a meaningful faith and become leaders in sharing that faith with others.
This series looks at the importance of bivocational ministry and bivocational ministers in today’s church. The previous articles in this series are:
Part 1: Bivocational Ministry is a Growing Method for Ministry.
Part 2: Lay People Are Willing to Help Pastors – But Only If They Are Trained.
Part 3: Rethinking Our Perception of Bivocational Ministry.
In part 3, I wrote about the need to rethink our perceptions about bivocational ministry. The main point of that article was that bivocational pastors are not second-class pastors. In this post I would like to develop that idea further. I believe that not only are bivocational pastors not second-class, they represent the “normal” way in which God intended pastors to serve. I understand that some of my fully-funded peers will struggle with this concept. Therefore, let me explain why I believe this.
The New Testament demonstrates that bivocational ministry was normal for the church during the New Testament era. Though many twenty-first century church attendees in North America do not understand that New Testament churches were often led by bivocational pastors, this does not change the reality of history. The most well-known New Testament example of bivocational ministry is the Apostle Paul. Luke records one of Paul’s bivocational experiences in Acts 18:1-4:
After this Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. And he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome. And he went to see them, and because he was of the same trade he stayed with them and worked, for they were tentmakers by trade. And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and tried to persuade Jews and Greeks.