• Deny inerrancy and you will kill your church

    Okay it is a provocative title I know. But read this paragraph from Thom Rainers blog on Twelve trends for healthy churches

    A number of research projects over the past four decades point to this trend. Healthy churches have leaders and members who believe the totality of the Bible, often expressed as a view called inerrancy.

    Now I think a lot of people who call themselves Evangelicals deny a parody of inerrancy not the inerrancy that is expressed by The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy. I would say for those of us who have never read anything on inerrancy and yet still denies it you should read the statement.  I think you will find you believe in true inerrancy not the parody of it that gets derided in some Evangelical circles.

    But my concern is that those of us who call ourselves Evangelicals and yet argue against the historicity of the scriptures realize that they are not doing the service to the church that they might think they are but they are actually destroying the church. One of the saddest things I have seen is Christians who are confused because their pastor or a theological college lecturer will say something like “Exodus didn’t really happen exactly like that” and yet say in the next breath “But the Bible is trustworthy”. Or when a pastor or lecturer makes a lot of so called contradictions in the Bible and yet say “But the Bible is historically reliable”. What the pastor or lecturer is generally doing is trying to argue against a parody of inerrancy but what they are really doing is undermining their listeners confidence in the scriptures. With this kind of teaching the chickens don’t come to roost for a few generations when no one holds to anything like an Evangelical doctrine of scripture.[1] But by this time it is too late. The scriptures wont be preached and the gospel will be denied and the church is dead and it all started with some of us trying putting intellectual respectability above faithfulness.

    If you deny true inerrancy you will kill the church. But you probably won’t be around to see it.


    [1] For more on the issue of inerrancy and Evangelicalism read the chapter ‘Intellectual Respectability and Scripture’ (pg. 173-214) in Ian Murrays book Evangelicalism Divided



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  • 12 trends for healthy churches

    Thom Rainer has written a great post called 12 Trends for Healthy Churches . Here are the 12 trends:

    1. The churches have a high view of Scripture.
    2. A large number of church members read the Bible daily.
    3. The churches have a priority and focus on the nations.
    4. The churches have a missional community presence.
    5. The congregations have membership that matters.
    6. The members are evangelistically intentional.
    7. These healthy churches have pastors who love the members.
    8. The churches allow their pastors to spend time in sermon preparation.
    9. There is clarity of the process of disciple making.
    10. These churches do less better.
    11. The process of discipleship moves members into ongoing small groups.
    12. Corporate prayer is intentional and prioritized.

    What do is the one or two things from that list that you think Churches in Sydney have in abundance and what is one or two things that we need to work on?

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  • How to find “The One”

    So many of us who are single are trying to find “The One”. You know the one who I should marry, the one who will complete me, the one who God wants me to marry.

    It goes without saying that if I find “The One” I will have a great life that will be always full of love and joy and will have no tears or heartbreak. But, if I don’t find “The One” my life will be a disappointment and I will not live the happy life I deserve!

    Well let me tell you where you will find “The One”.

    You will find “The One” in Wonderland next to the pot of Gold at the end of the rainbow riding a unicorn!

    You know why you will find them there? Because just like pots of Gold at the end of the rainbow and unicorns “The One” is a myth.

    Because there is no one person who will make you feel great all the time. With whom you will never fight or get frustrated with.

    There is no perfect mate

    No soul mate

    No “The One”

    “The One” is a very dangerous concept. It is not found in the Bible and it frustrates me no end that Christians talk about “The One” without realising that they have got this concept from Hollywood and the media. It is dangerous because it gives people an over inflated sense of what a relationship or marriage is going to do for them.

    “The One” is also an impossible bar that no one will be able to clear. Imagine the pressure of being someone’s “The One”. You are there to make them happy, to fill them with joy all the time and to know what they are thinking and feeling without them or you saying anything. This not only impossible but a dangerous fantasy. I have been married to my beautiful wife for two and a bit years. I still need her to tell me what she is thinking. Sometimes she pulls a face and I am left thinking “Does she want me to get something?” or “Have I missed an important day?” or “Does she have gas?”  Holding onto the concept of “The One” will only end in tears.

    How do we get rid of the concept of “The One”? We do it by hearing what the Bible says about us all. The Bible says that we are all made in the image of God and therefore we are all to be loved and respected. But it also says that we are sinful and selfish and therefore when two sinful people come together in marriage or a dating relationship we will expect that there will be tension, there will be periods of frustration, it won’t always be the romantic comedy fantasy that we hoped for. The concept of “The One” doesn’t give us a realistic view of ourselves, the opposite sex, relationships and ultimately marriage.

    Marriage is a great thing and my life has been enriched by my marriage to my amazing wife in so many ways. It is truly a great gift of God. But let’s get rid of the unbiblical fantasy known as “The One” and lets have our relationships defined by God and not by Hollywood.


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  • Book Reviews for February

    The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni

    I had heard of Lencioni for quite some time now through recommendations and seeing that he is a regular speaker at the Willow Creek conferences. After reading this book I can see why. in The Five Dysfunctions of a Team Lencioni tells the story of Kathryn who takes over a company led by a dysfunctional team. Through the leadership fable that Lencioni writes we are introduced to the five Dysfunctions that can plague teams. They are:

    1. Absence of trust
    2. Fear of conflict
    3. Lack of commitment
    4. Avoidance of accountability
    5. Inattention to results

    After telling the fable Lencioni then goes through each dysfunction and then outlines strategies for dealing with each. This book is a must read for anyone who is a leader.

    Selected Writings on Scripture by D.A Carson

    Carson is one intimidating dude. If you have ever chatted with him you he stares at you so intensely you feel like he is analyzing your grammar as you speak. But leaving that aside the guy is brilliant. He is one of the few authors that I can honestly say that I have profited from everything I have read of his.  This book is a collection of essays and book reviews on the topic of scripture and even though some of the essays are over twenty years old there is so much great stuff here.  We are giving His first easy “Approaching the Bible” to every one of our community group leaders to read in preparation for our upcoming series on the doctrine of scripture. If you haven’t read a book on scripture in a while or if you are a pastor but this book and read it!

    Don’t Call it a Comeback edited by Kevin Deyoung

    This is a great book to give to anyone just starting out in exploring theology. The chapters are short, clear, and eminently readable and chock full of great, practical theology.  The essay by Ted Kluck on vocation should be read by every pastor and every worker because it is lucid, sane and explodes a bunch of the myths that surround Christians and secular work. If I was a youth pastor I would buy this book and get my youth leaders to read a chapter a week and discuss it in our leadership meetings. A top little book!

    Does the Noise in My Head Bother You?: A Rock ‘n’ Roll Memoir by Stephen Tyler

    I like to read Rock and Roll biographies for fun but I will give you a tip if the biography is written by the artist without any help from a professional writer it is usually poorly written and self indulgent. This is the case with this book. You get to see what an ego maniacal dude Steven Tyler is. It is quite a sad book especially when he talks about how he has messed up his life but as soon as he starts talking about that he is off talking about how this or that experience was amazing.  I thought this was going to be

    I want to read 50 books this year. So far I have read 8 and I have got 42 to go!

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  • The Clergification of the church

    “Most Protestant churches today resemble pre Reformation Roman Catholic churches” – Ed Stetzer

    As I said in my last blog I had the privilege of sitting down and asking Tim Sims and Ed Stetzer a bunch of questions about church growth and leadership. They both said is that most churches have an underutilized laity. If there is something important in our churches to be done we get a paid member of the clergy to do it. This is why Ed thinks that “Most Protestant churches today resemble pre Reformation Roman Catholic churches” because we have an unbiblical clergy/laity divide where we only trust those with a theological degree and they have to have attended the right theological college!

    The issue here is that we have not only been unbiblical because we, as evangelicals, believe that every Christian is has gifts to bring to the church (1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4, Romans 12:1-8). But keeping important ministry to the paid clergy disempowers the laity. It is says that you aren’t good/smart/godly enough to do these things but please be on the supper roster!

    While I was on holidays I had the revelation that we at Resolved have been bad at asking people who aren’t elders to be joining in discipling each other and leading ministries. Since then we have started to be on the front foot with asking people to be involved in ministries and discipling each other.

    What has been the result?

    I have seen people more enthusiastic about Resolved, people getting together to read the bible and pray together, people encouraging each other to tell their friends and family about Jesus and invite them to church. I have heard people say how they feel more valued now and how they feel like Resolved is more their church than ever before!

    I was arrogant. I thought if I preached well and we had a good service in a cool location people would be enthusiastic about church and they would invite their friends to church.

    I was wrong.

    Let’s not have our people spectate let’s have them participate!

    Not only is it biblical but it will empower them and they be more enthusiastic about Jesus, our churches and reaching the lost!


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  • Pastors, bad priorities and wasted time

    Last week I was very privileged to sit down and ask Ed Stetzer and Tim Sims a bunch of questions. Ed and Tim have both done extensive study on many aspects of the church. One of the things I asked them both was about how pastors use their time.

    Ed said that the average Pastor doesn’t spend enough time with two groups: the leaders of the church and the lost. He said that most pastors spend too much time in their desk on things like admin and sermon preparation and little to no time in people work. Tim said he basically agreed with this statement but he would add that a lot of pastors don’t devote enough time to care for themselves spiritually either.

    With this problem in mind I asked Ed how should pastors use their time? He said that he would advise pastors to spend 15 hours a week in each of these areas:

    • Training their leaders
    • With the lost
    • Doing admin
    • Preparing sermons

    I was thinking about this and thought what would happen in my church if I gave 15 hours a week in meeting with people who didn’t know Jesus? What would happen if I spent 15 hours a week training the leaders of Resolved? I can only imagine the benefits Resolved would reap if I spent 30 hours a week with these two groups of people.

    Because of Tim’s statement that Pastors don’t spend enough time with working on their own spiritual condition I changed Eds breakdown. I am trying to divide up each week into the following categories:

    12.5 hours with the Lost. This can mean anything from doing a bible study to just playing guitar/basketball and hanging out with them

    12.5 hours on leadership development. This is active discipling and the intentional training of the leaders at Resolved

    10 hours on self. This is reading the bible and praying, reading books, listening to sermons and meeting with mentors or others who can help me and my ministry

    10 hours on Admin. This is emailing, calls, social media, blogs anything I have to write for Resolved

    15 hours on Sermon preparation.

    5 Guitar – This is something I do for fun but I also use this time to hang with non Christians and so kill two birds with one stone.

    5 Exercise – This is crucial because I don’t want to be a fat pastor/dad but I also will be using this time to hang with non Christians thus once again killing two birds with one stone.

    This last week I have been very challenged in how I use my time.

    How are you using your time?

    Are you using your time as effectively as you can?


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  • Tough questions from a girl who was hurt by adultery

    Last year I sat down with a friend of mine who was at Bible College. A few years ago a mutual friend of ours had committed adultery and was disqualified from ministry. It hit us both very hard but I think it hit her harder because he was her youth minister who led her to Jesus and the girl he cheated on his wife with was her best friend.

    I found myself asking a question that I am not sure I wanted to know the answer to. I asked:

    “What do you think I can learn from this situation?”

    She said I should ask myself these questions:

    Do I think I am above it? She said that no one is above it and to think otherwise shows we are arrogant. But if we think we aren’t above being committing a sin that disqualifies us from ministry we will make every effort to guard against it.

    Do you admit that you are wrong? Her youth Pastor was challenged about the relationship he had with this girl before the scandal came out and yet he never admitted that it was wrong. In fact, he never he admitted he was wrong about anything. Pride does come before the fall.

    What’s in your closet and who knows about it? She said everyone has junk in their closet but what kind of junk is it? A porn addiction? Do you lust after girls/guys in your church or youth group? Who knows about the junk in your closet? If no one knows then no one can hold you accountable and if no one can hold you accountable the sin will overcome you.

    Is your wife involved in your ministry? She said that our friends wife didn’t know what he was doing in his ministry, she didn’t know the relationships that he was forming or where he was most of the time. She said partnering with your wife in ministry is not only helpful to you in ministry but is an added level of accountability.

    If God took away your title as pastor would you still be a Christian? Her ex youth pastor and my friend since the indiscretion has since walked away from Jesus and yet she told me a touching story about seeing him and how he said he still has sermons to preach and  how he loved being a youth pastor. He said that he wished he could all take it back. She reminded him of the gospel and how Jesus loves him and died from him. But he hasn’t come back to church. Maybe it is because of the shame of his sin but she thinks he was more in love with the title of Pastor than Jesus. This is a question of identity. Where do we find our identity? Is it in our Job/title/role or in Jesus? If it is in our job we will want to be needed/wanted by our people if it is in Jesus we will create proper boundaries in our ministry and pastor those people by pointing away from us as their functional saviour to their real saviour Jesus.

    These are very tough and yet timely questions.


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  • Church culture is more important than strategy or vision.

    “Culture eats strategy for Breakfast!” – Peter Drucker

    It seems like so many churches and pastors go on about strategy and vision. These are good things which, if used right, will help churches to impact people, cultures and cities with the gospel. But I do know of a bunch of churches who have a clear strategy and a compelling vision and yet people are leaving their church or the church is not growing.

    Why is this?

    It may be that their culture is wrong.

    Culture is the way your organization or church operates. Culture incorporates your customs, attitudes, etiquette, what you value and do not value, what you reward and what you put up with, what behaviour you tolerate and what behaviour you don’t.

    Sometimes our culture does not match our vision or strategy. Say we have a vision to see a church grow to three hundred from two hundred. What a great vision! Can you imagine another 100 people coming to know Jesus? That would be awesome! But if you don’t have a church culture of evangelism and inviting friends to church/ evangelistic events/ evangelistic bible studies it will never happen. Or maybe you have a vision of a vibrant creative church that finds its identity in the gospel and the joy that it gives. Once again a great vision! But if you have a culture where people shut ideas down before they start and are overly critical the culture will squelch the creativity and will suck the joy and fun out of church.

    Your culture needs to match your vision and your strategy. In fact Culture is far more important than strategy or vision. Last year I went to a church with no vision statement and no discernible strategy but the culture was upbeat and very evangelistic. This church was seeing people come to know Jesus all the time and it was planting churches.

    Why was it growing?

    Why was it planting churches?

    Because it had the right culture

    And church culture is more important than strategy or vision


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  • How to forgive your Pastor

    Pastors can be the most disappointing people in the world. I know because I am one. We disappoint ourselves; we let down people in our congregation sometimes by forgetting something and sometimes by a hasty word or action.

    We all can recount times when we have been hurt or at least frustrated by a pastor. This hurt or frustration if left unchecked can fester and destroy our respect and love for our pastors and can even destroy our faith

    What is the solution?

    The Gospel is our solution. Nothing more nothing less.

    Sorry to disappoint you that I didn’t come up with something new and hip but the Gospel is the solution for the following three reasons:

    1. The Gospel teaches us that all people are sinful. Pastors are called to a different standard of Character (e.g. 1 Timothy 3). But we pastors are still sinners, we do make mistakes and we will do in the future. The gospel teaches us to expect this and not to subscribe to some wrongheaded notion of “Pastor Perfect”. Now this can’t be an excuse for pastors and if there is sin your pastor’s life he, just like you, needs to be made aware of it and helped with it in loving and helpful ways. If we recognise that our pastors, just like us, are sinful then we would be more able to forgive them. It also gives us pause to think about what sin I have brought into the relationship that I have with my pastor.

    2. The Gospel teaches us that we have been forgiven. You have been forgiven for everything, how amazing is that? Have you ever thought about how much your God loves you and how much he has forgiven you? When we compare what we have been forgiven to what we need to forgive the two are incomparable. We have been forgiven infinitely more than anything we should forgive. When you pastor sins, upsets you, disappoints you remember forgiveness and how much you have been forgiven and see your pastors sin in this light.

    3. The Gospel teaches us that God is in control. God wasn’t surprised by what happened between you and your pastor. God is not in heaven thinking “I didn’t see that one coming!!” No, God works all things for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28) and so God is working what just happened for your good and his glory. If you knew this would it be easier to forgive your pastor?

    The answer is always the gospel nothing more nothing less.


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  • Pastor Fashion?

    Pastor Ed Young Jr. has a new website for Pastors it is called Pastor Fashion.com. (No I am not lying click the link!)

    Here is the first blog on the site:

    “Pastors aren’t typically known for their fashion. Most people don’t think of the runway leading up to the pulpit. But why not?! Why can’t the men and women of God set the standard for the rest of the world in fashion as well as faith? That’s why we’re launching PastorFashion.com. We want to set the trends.

    Check back with us regularly, as we’ll be posting things like what not to wear, fashion tips, the latest trends and so much more!

    We’re not trying to be like the world…we just want to be fashionable while we try to change it! Have fashion tips, things you’ve seen done (whether right or wrong)? This is the place we’ll keep the conversation going and the trends growing!”


    Now a couple of reflections are worth considering:

    1. There is really nothing inherently wrong about pastors wanting to look good or giving each other advice about what to wear or not wear if that is what floats their boat and as long as looking good doesn’t define them. In fact I have seen in some churches Pastors dress down as much as possible in reaction to a tradition where pastors have to wear a dress and a collar. This is an overreaction which communicates more than dressed down pastor wants to communicate.

    2. What we look like communicates a hell of a lot. If I go to church in my daggiest clothes what is communicating? If I rock to church in a suit or robes or a footy Jersey what is it communicating? What I wear communicates how I want people to treat me, what I think of myself and in some sense what I think of God. If drag some clothes off the floor and sniff them to make sure they don’t smell too bad and then put them on and go to church I may be seen to be saying “I don’t care about how I look” Or “I have no self confidence” or “Meeting with God and his people isn’t a big deal”. Conversely, if I wear a really expensive suit I may seem to be saying “I care a lot about what you think of me” Or “My God is a blingy God who will bless you!” What we look like communicates a hell of a lot.

    3. In the Bible women are told that they shouldn’t be known by what they wear but their inner character (1 Peter 3:3, 1 Timothy 2:9). This command surely has to be applicable to men also. What a website like pastor fashion does is take our attention off what the bible says should define us as pastors (godliness, theology, love for people etc) and put the attention onto the very thing that shouldn’t define us i.e. what we look like. So even though we have to be careful that what we wear communicates the right things about us we cannot fall into the trap of making something that should be far on the periphery come to centre stage.

    4. It is a sad day when one of the most well known pastors in the world launches a new website for pastors and it is not about theology, joy in God, pastoral skills or something else that God is concerned about but fashion, which is something that the world is deeply concerned about but which God doesn’t care about. But this gives us pause to reflect on our own lives. If one very intelligent pastor who wants to reach people for Jesus is spending his time talking about periphery are we doing the same?

    What do you think?



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