I am genuinely concerned by a phenomenon taking place in evangelical Christianity. No, its not some kind of insidious plot to overthrow orthodoxy. Nor is it a conspiracy to undermine missional efforts. Instead, it is the attitude that serving a local church is a means to an end. Far too many men who are “called” to ministry view the local church as the place to build their brand and establish a platform. It seems that many seminary students have dreams of becoming the next Matt Chandler, John Piper, or David Platt. Few desire to be Steve Lewis.
Who is Steve Lewis, you ask? Exactly! I didn’t know him either. However, the city in which I pastor is littered with people whom “Pastor Steve” impacted. Evidently he was a man who really believed the gospel, faithfully served his church, and then died. What’s my point? Well, “Pastor Steve” never wrote a book (to my knowledge), never spoke at a major conference, and he didn’t have a blog or his own personal logo. He was simply a faithful pastor whose gospel legacy has lived on well beyond his life.
My fear is that we have so many guys aiming to be the next David Platt (and sorry guys…99.9% of you will miss this target), that they will never become Steve Lewis. Genuine pastoral ministry isn’t flashy, it is faithful service. It isn’t about building a brand, it is about making much of Jesus. It isn’t about building a platform, it is about advancing the kingdom.
If you serve Christ as a faithful pastor like Matt Chandler, John Piper, and David Platt have and in the midst of this service God gives you a platform, then use it well. However, Chandler, Piper, and Platt were not aiming to be the next Adrian Rodgers or Charles Spurgeon. They were aiming to be guys like Steve Lewis. Don’t aim for fame. Purpose to be faithful. Wait, don’t just purpose to be faithful. Instead, pray that God would keep you faithful.
My friend Stephen Bedard has written a new book on engaging Jehovah’s Witnesses. I’m looking forward to reading it.
Check out the description from his website:
“Have you ever tried to have a conversation with a Jehovah’s Witness? You have all the right intentions but the conversation quickly goes down a dozen rabbit trails. How can you have a productive conversation?
My new book, The Watchtower and the Word, is an attempt to provide the resources you need. Although it is a response to What Does the Bible Really Teach? it really is a guide to having a good conversation with Jehovah’s Witnesses without getting sidetrack on the nonessential issues. The book is purposely short so that it is accessible to laypeople. And yet it is based on careful research. The Watchtower and the Word is written in a respectful way and it is one of my hopes that you will be able to get a Jehovah’s Witness to read it in exchange for you reading their material.
Make sure to get your copy now.” – Stephen J. Bedard
I am very thankful for the kind endorsements from the following academics:
Sorry! Seriously, I’m sorry! This blog has become essentially dormant. I have big plans for 2014 and blogging, but for now until the end of 2013, I’m just trying to catch my breath. I have not given up on writing books reviews nor have I thrown in the proverbial towel when it comes to interviewing well-known authors. In fact, I’m just getting started. Yet, in light of how rarely I have posted in the last few months, I do want to thank those of you who have remained faithfully connected to this blog.
2013 has been a year dripping with evidences of God’s grace. So, rather than merely providing a glimpse of what is coming in 2014, allow me to recount what God has done over the past 12 months.
Well, this is a big year for the Hartmans! We have officially entered min-van land. That’s right, baby Hartman #2 is on the way (2014). We are thrilled and thankful for God’s grace in giving us another child. Parenting our first son, Jude, has been a gospel-centered learning experience. Rebekah is a great mother and cares for him in a way that reflects the love of Christ. Me on the other hand, well, I’m still figuring things out. I constantly remind myself that I am the picture of God in Jude’s life, so I must be an accurate picture. Also, Mr. Waffles (our dog) is now the size of a small horse. Yay!
Last Christmas our family started the journey toward church planting. In April of this year we officially stepped down from our position in an established church to plant Redeemer Church in Rocky Mount, NC. God has blessed this new gospel work since its inception and we are thankful. Church planting demands much of both me and Rebekah, which is in part why my blogging has come to a grinding halt. Learn more about Redeemer Church by visiting our website or watching our intro video.
I finally finished my Ph.D. studies and was awarded a Ph.D. in Church and Dogma History from North-West University. Also, I began teaching classes for Judson College (online) and North Carolina Wesleyan College (on-campus). Throughout the year I have been enjoying writing various articles, but I am most excited that a re-worked version of my dissertation is being published by Wipf and Stock.
By God’s grace I desire to continue to grow more into the image of Christ. I want to be a clearer picture of Christ as a husband, father, and pastor. I pray that by the leading of the Spirit I will be more intentional in my pursuit of the lost that God places in my life.
There is a lot coming up next year…
- My wife and I celebrate our 6th wedding anniversary
– Our second son will be born
– I will begin working on my next book
– Redeemer Church will be making a greater impact in Rocky Mount
– Our (Redeemer Church) newly forged partnership with Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary will help us prepare young men for ministry
And there is much more I could list. However, if at the end of 2014 me, my family, and my church are no more like Christ than we are today…then no matter how busy our calendar has been or how many benchmarks have been met, 2014 will be a waste.
May Jesus be glorified in the days to come.