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Summary

I am a pastor with more than twenty years of experience as a shepherd, a disciple-maker, an administrator, and a vision-caster. Passionate about Bible exposition, I believe in preaching and teaching that engages, edifies, encourages, and equips people to find and follow Jesus. The purpose of my life is to love God, enjoy God, serve God by serving others, and to joyfully live so that God is seen as beautiful by those who are far from Him.

Ministry History

Lead Pastor

I became the pastor of a deeply troubled church in a large, affluent suburb of Columbus, Ohio and was tasked with unifying a fractured, frustrated and dysfunctional body. Transitioning the church from a traditional Baptist ministry to a ministry equipped to reach people and impact the culture with the grace of God through the gospel of Jesus Christ was the primary goal. The transition process required changing the structure and presentation of our worship services while developing relationships with church members to encourage a culture of service and ministry within the body. Creating a passion for authentic biblical exposition, instilling a desire to make Christ known in our community, and leading the church to reject an unhealthy view of Bible translations were also critical steps to achieving the necessary transformation in the culture of the church. Shepherding the members through such drastic change has been challenging, but it has also been incredibly rewarding.

In addition to transitioning the ministries of the church, many administrative changes were also necessary for the areas of finance, security, employment practices, employee development and retention, operational structures, children's ministry policies, deacon ministry responsibilities, missions policies, ministry recruitment and training, and church governance. These changes have resulted in financial stability, increased the confidence of the members in the ministries and leadership of the church, and they have allowed the church to provide greater care for its members, while also providing avenues of service that enable Calvary to have a greater connection with our community.

Furthermore, God has allowed the people of CrossPointe  to experience significant spiritual growth. Together the church has adopted a comprehensive vision statement and a renewed purpose. The people of CrossPointe now realize their mission is to help people connect with and commit to Jesus. As a result, the number of members actively involved in ministry has grown. Missions giving has increased more than 30%. Two full-time missionary families sent from our membership are taking the gospel to Burkina Faso, and Honduras. Many people have trusted Christ for salvation and made their faith in Him public through baptism, and many members are actively involved in mentoring relationships.

God has shown Himself faithful by healing this church and providing a sweet spirit of unity, cooperation, missional focus, renewed purpose, and growth. These are only a few of the major blessings God has bestowed upon Calvary in the time I have been a shepherd in this body.

New Life Baptist Church

20052008

Lead Pastor

Responsible for shepherding God's church in a small, farming community in north central Indiana. During our time at New Life the average attendance of the church grew from 85 per Sunday to 180+ per Sunday, average weekly offerings doubled, missions giving increased, multiple workers were trained, more than 100 new believers were baptized and discipled, land adjacent to the church was purchased--doubling the size of our property, and the church began to effectively engage the community. Our time at New Life served as a time of personal learning, application, and spiritual growth.

Gilead Baptist Church of Allen Park

20022005

Associate Pastor

Involved in day-to-day operations of the church including, but not limited to: church finances, pastoral counseling, recruiting, and training workers, personal evangelism, and discipleship. I also served as a trusted counselor to the senior pastor assisting in all critical decision-making. This ministry required consistent application of communication, and leadership skills, a strong work ethic, executive-type administration skills, and the ability to focus a large group of people on a specific goal in order to achieve the desired result. During our time at Gilead our weekly average attendance grew by more than fifty percent, while the young married ministry we were called to shepherd grew from four couples to more than fifty people per week.

Assistant Pastor

Served as a key member of the pastoral staff of the fastest growing independent Baptist church in the state of Ohio. My responsibilities included planning, and leading corporate worship, evangelism, administration, creative direction, volunteer recruitment, and training.

Education

Bachelor of Arts in Biblical Studies

Summa Cum Laude

Kansas City, Missouri

Credentials

Ordained to Gospel Ministry

September 30, 2005

Gilead Baptist Church, 23700 W. Outer Drive, Allen Park, MI 48180

Rev. Jim Hopkins, Moderator

Skills

Shepherd

Motivated by a passion to shepherd God's people to know, love, follow, and grow in Christ

Communicator

Spiritually gifted with the ability to effectively communicate the truth of God's Word by exposition for understanding and application

Leader

Desire to lead others by example, through collaboration, and team-based approach to ministry

Organizer

A big-picture thinker who can also administrate, create systems, and has a love for details

Missional

Driven to inspire others to live for the mission, and purpose of God

Creative

Word press/website development, writer, and graphic design

Personality Profiles

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator: ISTJ


StrengthsFinder: Strategic, Relater, Belief, Achiever, Responsibility


DiSC: Classical Profile Pattern: Creative I Highest DiSC Dimension: Conscientiousness (C)

Family Life

My wife and I were married on July 20, 1996, at Gilead Baptist Church in Taylor, Michigan. We initially met at a Christian camp while I was working for Baptist Bible College as a member of the recruiting team. We met once again when Rebecca arrived at Baptist Bible College in the fall of 1995. As soon as I saw her I knew I wanted to pursue a relationship with her, we began dating and were married ten months later. God has blessed us with a great marriage for more than twenty years. She is my best friend, a constant source of encouragement, she loves God and has given her life to serving Him, she is a prayer warrior, an excellent partner in ministry, and an incredible mother to our three children. Excluding salvation, she is the greatest gift God has ever given to me.

We have two girls, Jordan (21) and Meagan (17), and we have one son, Evan (19). By God's grace all three of our children have placed their faith, and trust in Jesus for salvation, and we pray for their continued growth, and surrender to Him.

Beliefs

Most of my doctrinal beliefs are consistent with the Baptist Faith and Message 2000.  Therefore, much of the following doctrinal statement was taken from that document.  However, I have made some modifications and additions that further communicate my personal positions and preferences.

The Scriptures

I believe men who were divinely inspired by God penned the Scriptures, consisting of sixty-six books, from Genesis to Revelation.  Therefore, I confess God as its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error for its matter.  All Scripture is both true and trustworthy as the means by which God specifically reveals Himself to man.  I believe Scripture is complete, sufficient, unchanging, enduring and serves as the center of Christian union and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried.

The True God

There is one and only one living and true God. He is an intelligent, spiritual, and personal Being, the Creator, Redeemer, Preserver, and Ruler of the universe. God is infinite in holiness and all other perfections. God is all powerful and all knowing; and His perfect knowledge extends to all things, past, present, and future, including the future decisions of His free creatures. To Him, we owe the highest love, reverence, and obedience. The eternal triune God reveals Himself to us as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, with distinct personal attributes, but without division of nature, essence, or being.

God as Father reigns with providential care over His universe, His creatures, and the flow of the stream of human history according to the purposes of His grace. He is all powerful, all knowing, all loving, and all wise. God is Father in truth to those who become children of God through faith in Jesus Christ. He is fatherly in His attitude toward all men.

Jesus Christ

Christ is the eternal Son of God. In His incarnation as Jesus Christ, He was conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. Jesus perfectly revealed and did the will of God, taking upon Himself human nature with its demands and necessities and identifying Himself completely with mankind yet without sin. He honored the divine law by His personal obedience, and in His substitutionary death on the cross, He made provision for the redemption of men from sin. He was raised from the dead with a glorified body and appeared to His disciples as the person who was with them before His crucifixion. He ascended into heaven and is now exalted at the right hand of God where He is the One Mediator, fully God, fully man, in whose Person is effected the reconciliation between God and man. He will return in power and glory to judge the world and to consummate His redemptive mission. He now dwells in all believers as the living and ever present Lord.

The Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God, fully divine. He inspired holy men of old to write the Scriptures. Through illumination, He enables men to understand truth. He exalts Christ. He convicts men of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. He calls men to the Savior, and effects regeneration. At the moment of regeneration, He baptizes every believer into the Body of Christ. He cultivates Christian character, comforts believers, and bestows the spiritual gifts by which they serve God through His church. He seals the believer unto the day of final redemption. His presence in the Christian is the guarantee that God will bring the believer into the fullness of the stature of Christ. He enlightens and empowers the believer and the church in worship, evangelism, and service.

Man

Man is the special creation of God, made in His own image. He created them male and female as the crowning work of His creation. The gift of gender is thus part of the goodness of God's creation. In the beginning, man was innocent of sin and was endowed by his Creator with freedom of choice. By his free choice man sinned against God and brought sin into the human race. Through the temptation of Satan man transgressed the command of God, and fell from his original innocence whereby his posterity inherits a nature and an environment inclined toward sin. Therefore, as soon as they are capable of moral action, they become transgressors and are under condemnation. Only the grace of God can bring man into His holy fellowship and enable man to fulfill the creative purpose of God. The sacredness of human personality is evident in that God created man in His own image, and in that Christ died for man; therefore, every person of every race possesses full dignity and is worthy of respect and Christian love.

Salvation

Salvation involves the redemption of the whole man and is offered freely to all who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, who by His own blood obtained eternal redemption for the believer. In its broadest sense salvation includes regeneration, repentance and faith, justification, sanctification, and glorification. There is no salvation apart from personal faith in Jesus Christ as Lord.

Regeneration, or the new birth, is a work of God's grace whereby believers become new creatures in Christ Jesus. It is a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit through conviction of sin, to which the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Repentance and faith are inseparable experiences of grace.  Repentance is a genuine turning from sin toward God. Faith is the acceptance of Jesus Christ and commitment of the entire personality to Him as Lord and Savior.

Justification is God's gracious and full acquittal upon principles of His righteousness of all sinners who repent and believe in Christ. Justification brings the believer unto a relationship of peace and favor with God.

Sanctification is the experience, beginning in regeneration, by which the believer is set apart to God's purposes, and is enabled to progress toward moral and spiritual maturity through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in him. Growth in grace should continue throughout the regenerate person's life.

Glorification is the culmination of salvation and is the final blessed and abiding state of the redeemed.

God’s Purpose of Grace

Election is the gracious purpose of God, according to which He regenerates, justifies, sanctifies, and glorifies sinners. It is consistent with the free agency of man and comprehends all the means in connection with the end. It is the glorious display of God's sovereign goodness and is infinitely wise, holy, and unchangeable. It excludes boasting and promotes humility.

All true believers endure to the end. Those whom God has accepted in Christ, and sanctified by His Spirit, will never fall away from the state of grace, but shall persevere to the end. Believers may fall into sin through neglect and temptation, whereby they grieve the Spirit, impair their graces and comforts, and bring reproach on the cause of Christ and temporal judgments on themselves; yet the power of God shall keep them through faith unto salvation.

The Church

A New Testament church of the Lord Jesus Christ is an autonomous local congregation of baptized believers, associated by covenant in the faith and fellowship of the gospel; observing the two ordinances of Christ, governed by His laws, exercising the gifts, rights, and privileges invested in them by His Word, and seeking to extend the gospel to the ends of the earth. Each congregation operates under the Lordship of Christ through democratic processes. In such a congregation each member is responsible and accountable to Christ as Lord. Its scriptural officers are elders and deacons. While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.

The New Testament also speaks of the church as the Body of Christ which includes all of the redeemed of all the ages, believers from every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation.

Baptism and the Lord’s Supper

Christian baptism is the immersion of a believer in water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The act of baptism has no saving power in itself, but is an act of obedience symbolizing the believer's faith in a crucified, buried, and risen Savior, the believer's death to sin, the burial of the old life and the resurrection to walk in newness of life in Christ Jesus. It is a testimony to his faith in the final resurrection of the dead. Being a church ordinance, it is prerequisite to the privileges of church membership and the Lord's Supper.

The Lord's Supper is a symbolic act of obedience whereby members of the church, through partaking of the bread and the fruit of the vine, memorialize the death of the Redeemer and anticipate His second coming.

Evangelism and missions

It is the duty and privilege of every follower of Christ and every church of the Lord Jesus Christ to endeavor to make disciples of all nations. The new birth of man's spirit by God's Holy Spirit means the birth of love for others. Missionary effort on the part of all rests thus upon a spiritual necessity of the regenerate life and is expressly and repeatedly commanded in the teachings of Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ has commanded the preaching of the gospel to all nations. It is the duty of every child of God to seek constantly to win the lost to Christ by verbal witness undergirded by a Christian lifestyle, and by other methods in harmony with the gospel of Christ.

Stewardship

God is the source of all blessings, temporal and spiritual; all that we have and are we owe to Him. Christians have a spiritual debtorship to the whole world, a holy trusteeship in the gospel, and a binding stewardship in their possessions. They are therefore under obligation to serve Him with their time, talents, and material possessions; and should recognize all these as entrusted to them to use for the glory of God and for helping others. According to the Scriptures, Christians should contribute of their means cheerfully, regularly, systematically, proportionately, and liberally for the advancement of the Redeemer's cause on earth.

The Christian Walk

All Christians are under obligation to seek to make the will of Christ supreme in our own lives and in human society. Means and methods used for the improvement of society and the establishment of righteousness among men can be truly and permanently helpful only when they are rooted in the regeneration of the individual by the saving grace of God in Jesus Christ.

Christians should oppose unrighteousness.  In the spirit of Christ, Christians should oppose racism, every form of greed, selfishness, lawsuits between believers and vice, and all forms of sexual immorality, including adultery, homosexuality, and pornography.

Christians should stand for righteousness.  We should work to provide for the orphaned, the needy, the abused, the aged, the helpless, and the sick. We should speak on behalf of the unborn and contend for the sanctity of all human life from conception to natural death. Every Christian should seek to bring industry, government, and society as a whole under the sway of the principles of righteousness, truth, and brotherly love. To promote these ends, Christians should be ready to work with all men of good will in any good cause, always being careful to act in the spirit of love without compromising their loyalty to Christ and His truth.

The Family

God has ordained the family as the foundational institution of human society. It is composed of persons related to one another by marriage, blood, or adoption.

Marriage is the uniting of one natural born man with one natural born woman in covenant commitment for a lifetime. It is God's unique gift to reveal the union between Christ and His church and to provide for the man and the woman in marriage the framework for intimate companionship, the channel of sexual expression according to biblical standards, and the means for procreation of the human race.

The husband and wife are of equal worth before God since both are created in God's image. The marriage relationship models the way God relates to His people. A husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church. He has the God-given responsibility to provide for, to protect, and to lead his family. A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ. She, being in the image of God as is her husband and thus equal to him, has the God-given responsibility to respect her husband and to serve as his helper in managing the household and nurturing the next generation.

Children, from the moment of conception, are a blessing and heritage from the Lord. Parents are to demonstrate to their children God's pattern for marriage. Parents are to teach their children spiritual and moral values and to lead them, through consistent lifestyle example and loving discipline, to make choices based on biblical truth. Children are to honor and obey their parents.

Human Sexuality

One of the benefits of God’s gift of marriage is to provide a channel of sexual expression between husband and wife according to biblical standards; therefore sexual acts outside marriage are prohibited as sinful. Consequently, Christians must resist and refrain from any and all sexual acts outside marriage — including but not limited to adultery, fornication, incest, zoophilia, pornography, prostitution, voyeurism, pedophilia, exhibitionism, sodomy, polygamy, polyamory, sologamy, or same-sex sexual acts.

Sexual Identity: God created mankind in His image: male and female, sexually different but with equal personal dignity. Consequently, Christians must affirm their biological sex and refrain from any and all attempts to change physically, alter, or disagree with their predominant biological sex — including but not limited to elective sex-reassignment, transvestite, transgender, or non-binary "genderqueer" acts or conduct.

Sexual Orientation: God created and ordered human sexuality to the permanent, exclusive, comprehensive, and conjugal “one flesh” union of man and woman, intrinsically ordered to procreation and biological family, and in furtherance of the moral, spiritual, and public good of binding father, mother, and child. Consequently, Christians must affirm the sexual complementarity of man and woman and resist any and all same-sex sexual attractions and refrain from any and all same-sex sexual acts or conduct, which are intrinsically disordered.

Sexual Redemption: All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God and should seek redemption through confession, repentance, and faith in Jesus Christ. Consequently, Christians must welcome and treat with respect, compassion, and sensitivity all who experience same-sex attractions or confess sexually immoral acts but are committed to resisting sexual temptation, refraining from sexual immorality.

Celibacy: The Bible grants two life-enhancing options for human sexual behavior: (a) the conjugal “one flesh” marital union of one man and one woman, and (b) celibacy. Either is a gift from God, given as He wills for His glory and the good of those who receive and rejoice in His gift to them.  Celibacy and faithful singleness are to be celebrated and affirmed.

The Righteous and the Wicked

There is a radical and essential difference between the righteous and the wicked; that such only as through faith are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and sanctified by the Spirit of our God, are truly righteous in His esteem while all such as continue in impenitence and unbelief are in His sight wicked and under the curse; that this distinction holds among men both in and after death, in the everlasting felicity of the saved and the everlasting conscious suffering of the lost.

Religious Liberty

God alone is Lord of the conscience, and He has left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men which are contrary to His Word or not contained in it. Church and state should be separate. The state owes to every church protection and full freedom in the pursuit of its spiritual ends. In providing for such freedom, no ecclesiastical group or denomination should be favored by the state more than others. Civil government being ordained of God; it is the duty of Christians to render loyal obedience thereto in all things not contrary to the revealed will of God. The church should not resort to the civil power to carry on its work. The gospel of Christ contemplates spiritual means alone for the pursuit of its ends. The state has no right to impose penalties for religious opinions of any kind. The state has no right to impose taxes for the support of any form of religion. A free church in a free state is the Christian ideal, and this implies the right of free and unhindered access to God on the part of all men, and the right to form and propagate opinions in the sphere of religion without interference by the civil power.

The Kingdom

The Kingdom of God includes both His general sovereignty over the universe and His particular kingship over men who willfully acknowledge Him as King. Particularly the Kingdom is the realm of salvation into which men enter by trustful, childlike commitment to Jesus Christ. Christians ought to pray and to labor that the Kingdom may come, and God's will be done on earth. The full consummation of the Kingdom awaits the return of Jesus Christ and the end of this age.

The Last things

God, in His own time and in His own way, will bring the world to its appropriate end. According to His promise, Jesus Christ will return personally and visibly in glory to the earth; the dead will be raised; and Christ will judge all men in righteousness. The unrighteous will be consigned to Hell, the place of everlasting punishment. The righteous in their resurrected and glorified bodies will receive their reward and will dwell forever in Heaven with the Lord.

Future Events

There are various orthodox positions concerning the rapture of the church and subsequent events.  However, it is my conviction to hold to, and teach a pre-tribulation rapture position.  I believe Jesus will appear in the clouds at a time known only to the Father.  At the time of His appearing, the dead in Christ will rise first to meet Him in the air. Resurrected Believers will be followed immediately by all believers who are alive at the time of Jesus’ appearing.

I believe the rapture of the church will precede a seven-year period of great tribulation during which God will pour out His wrath in judgment upon those who have rejected Him.  At the conclusion of the Great Tribulation, Jesus will return, bodily to this earth, at which time He will bind Satan and cast him into the pit, where he will remain imprisoned for one thousand years. Jesus will then establish His millennial kingdom in which He will rule and reign.

The millennial reign of Christ will end when Satan is loosed from prison and will once again deceive the nations in a final effort to overthrow God.  His effort will fail, and Satan will be cast into the Lake of Fire for eternity.  The earth will be destroyed and made new, and the dead will be subject to the Great White Throne Judgment.  Every person whose name does not appear in the Book of Life will then be sentenced to eternal suffering in the Lake of Fire.  However, those who are saved through faith in Jesus Christ will live eternally with God in a new heaven and a new earth.

Predestination/Foreknowledge/Election

God is sovereign, and His sovereignty extends to the divine rescue of man.  Therefore, it is rightly said that God alone originates salvation by electing and calling sinners to Himself.  Scripture clearly teaches that no man seeks after God, yet God sent His Son to this world to seek and save the lost.  Salvation, therefore, is made possible by the love of God for sinners and the outstretched hand of God to the lost.

While God is sovereign in salvation, Scripture also teaches that man has a responsibility to respond to God’s call to salvation.  No one can be saved apart from making a conscientious decision to exercise faith in Jesus Christ as the only means of salvation.  According to Scripture, saving faith must also be accompanied by repentance for sin.

There is a natural tension that exists between God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility in salvation.  While some exert enormous time and energy to resolve this tension, I am comfortable with, and will teach both truths, understanding that finite human beings are incapable of fully understanding the infinite mind of God.  As a result, I seek to avoid extreme positions that are born of these two truths.  I reject fatalism, and the empty, passionless attitude for missions and evangelism such a position creates.  At the same time, I will avoid a man-centered approach to evangelism that seeks to emotionally or intellectually manipulate the lost to accomplish by human means, what only God can do—draw sinners to Himself in salvation.  

Denominations and Church Affiliation

Every church that accurately preaches the biblical gospel of Jesus Christ is a true church.  Furthermore, denominational affiliations or associations do not define true believers and the true church.  Therefore, a local church may choose to affiliate with a network of churches, with the understanding that such affiliations are only valuable in so much as they acquire no controlling interest over a local church and any such affiliations serve the purpose of the local church and the mission of Jesus Christ.

Church Government

Scripture was given to be applied at all times, in all places, and with all people.  For this reason, we believe that a particular model of church government is not directly prescribed by God in His word.  This means that I reject the idea that there is one, and only one “right” model of church government. 

While Scripture does not prescribe one specific model of government, it does name two specific offices, elder (commonly referred to as pastor), and deacon, that should exist in the church.  Pastors must be spiritually mature men who desire to shepherd God’s people.  Pastors must be spiritually gifted teachers tasked with equipping the congregation to do the work of the ministry, while also overseeing the ministries, people, and focus of the local church. Deacons exist as servants of the church.  The Spirit of God must lead these men, they must possess a godly reputation and character, and they must be willing to serve in whatever capacity is needed for the good of the church, and the advancement of the gospel.

Scripture gives latitude to initiate a governmental structure containing both biblical offices, functioning in their God-ordained roles, for the purpose of bringing glory to God, and to fulfill the mission of the church.

The Lord’s Supper

There are three common practices as they relate to the Lord’s Supper.  Some churches practice “closed” observance in which only members in good standing of that local church are free to partake of the Lord’s Supper.  Some churches practice “open” observance in which every person in attendance is free to partake of the Lord’s Supper.  I believe in a  “close” observation, in which members of the church in good standing, and those who are non-members but have been saved by grace, through faith, and have been scripturally baptized by immersion, are welcome to partake of the Lord’s Supper. 

Vocational Elders 

God, by His sovereign will and plan, calls some men to serve His church in vocational ministry.  I believe the New Testament limits spiritual leadership for the office of elder to men.  However, I recognize the immense value of women in the life and ministry of the church. Furthermore, I know that men and women are created equal, but in creation, God gave both different and distinct roles in the home, and later, in the church.

Those who are called to serve the church in vocational ministry are to be esteemed as gifts to the church.  Therefore, Scripture teaches it is both right and ethical for the church to provide financial support for vocational ministers.  It is the responsibility of those who benefit from their ministry to meet their needs and the need of their families which will enable them to focus solely on the ministry of the Word.  Scripture also teaches that all elders  (vocational and non-vocational), so long as they are teaching the truth of God’s word, should be obeyed seeing they have been given the responsibility and authority for the spiritual well-being of the Lord’s church.

Spiritual Gifts

When a person is born again they are given spiritual gifts.  These gifts are divinely empowered abilities, not for personal edification, but to be used to strengthen and serve the body of Christ.  All believers are given gifts, but no believer has every gift.  For this reason, God puts believers, endowed with particular gifts, into every local church.  It is the responsibility of all believers to identify their gifts, strengthen their gifts through service, and use those gifts to advance God’s plan locally and globally.

Giving (The Tithe)

The primary purpose of the tithe in the Old Testament was to show gratitude to the Lord and to support the work and workers of the Temple; however, the New Testament is almost silent on the issue of Tithing.  I believe the Great Commission fundamentally changed the attitude of the church toward giving.  While God’s people in the Old Testament were not given a mission to evangelize the world, the church was given the mission to make disciples of all nations; this task requires a massive investment of commitment and money.

Because God owns all things and has given His people a mission to fulfill, I believe giving should not be based solely on a fixed percentage.  Instead, the New Testament teaches that giving should be a generous, grateful response to God’s grace and mercy as extended to us in Salvation.  To fulfill our mission, giving should be based on the financial provision of God for each and every believer, and it should be sufficient to meet the needs that exist.

For this reason every believer should seek to give as much as possible, as often as possible, regularly practicing the kind radical generosity necessary to reach the nations with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Philosophy of preaching

H.B. Charles wrote, “There are three kinds of preachers: The ones you can listen to, the ones you cannot listen to, and the ones you must listen to.  I desire to be the kind of preacher that you must listen to.  But that requires more than desire.  It requires hard work.  And the hard work never ends, if you take your preaching assignment seriously.”[1] Dr. Charles’ words succinctly summarize my philosophy of preaching.  Furthermore, Dr. Charles' statement points to the type of preacher I aspire to become. Preaching is not limited to standing before a congregation for forty-minutes every Sunday—although that aspect of public ministry is a vital part of the preaching task.  More importantly, preaching is work—work in the study, work in prayer, work in personal application and holiness, work in planning, and, yes, work in the pulpit.

The purpose of this document is to explain, in detail, my philosophy of preaching ministry.  In this document, I will reveal what I believe is the nature of preaching, the responsibility of the preacher, the desired approach to sermon preparation and delivery, and the blessings that come from a biblical preaching ministry.

The Nature of Preaching

The Apostle Paul instructed Timothy to “preach the word: be ready in season and out of season: reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching…always be sober minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry” (2 Tim. 4:2, 5).[2] Paul’s desire for Timothy was that the young preacher would faithfully remember to preach the text.  The word preach was a political term that described the task of the king’s herald.  When the king wanted to pass information to his subjects, his herald was dispatched to the town square where he would “cry out his message in a grave, formal, and authoritative voice.”[3]  The Herald did not have the liberty to alter the message, nor did he have the authority misrepresent the message.  The Herald was to proclaim the message as it was given with clarity and accuracy. Additionally, when the king's herald spoke, the people under the king's authority were expected to listen to and comply with the message.  Because Timothy was familiar with the task of the Herald, the young preacher would have understood the gravity of Paul's charge and the weight of his responsibility before God.

Considering Paul’s instruction to Timothy, I believe the nature of biblical preaching begins with the commitment of the preacher to communicate the truth of God from the Word of God to the people of God for the glory of God.  The nature of preaching, therefore, demands preaching with clarity.  The preacher must leverage his teaching gift, his training, and the entirety of his skill-set to communicate the word of God in such a way that the listeners are certain about the meaning of the text.  David Helm wrote, “do the legwork of making sure that your preaching is clear.  Pay close attention to the words you use and the manner in which you make points.  Be content if the glories of Christ are made clear only for those who come to hear.”[4]   

The preacher should also deliver his message with a conviction that is born of the belief that the message he proclaims is true and those he is tasked to lead desperately need to hear a word from God.  Consequently, when a preacher is convicted of the truth of his message, he will deliver his sermon with passion.  Passion is often ill-defined as raw emotionalism, but Kaiser provides a better understanding of the term as it relates to preaching,

From the beginning of the sermon to its end, the all engrossing force of the text and the God who speaks through that text must dominate our whole being.  With the burning power of that truth on our heart and lips, every thought, emotion, and act of the will must be so captured by that truth that it springs forth with excitement, joy, sincerity, and reality as an evident token that God’s Spirit is in that word.  Away with all mediocre, lifeless, boring, and lackluster orations offered as pitiful substitutes for the powerful Word of the living Lord. If that Word from God does not thrill the proclaimer and fill [him]…with an intense desire to glorify God and do His fill, how shall we ever expect it to have any greater effect on our hearers?[5]

In addition to clarity, conviction, and passion, the preacher must also preach with purity.  In other words, those who preach must deliver the message as it was given, with the clear understanding that the Scripture has been breathed out by God (2 Tim. 3:16).  The preacher must also deliver the message with a pure heart and God-honoring motives.  The desire of the preacher cannot be self-exultation, but a selfless desire to magnify Christ before the people.  Christ and His surpassing worth and not the preacher’s personality or ability should be on display for all the people to behold.  For this is the nature of preaching—to make much of Jesus.

The Responsibility of the Preacher

Pointing back to Paul’s instruction to Timothy, it is clear that Timothy was to preach the Word whenever, wherever, and to whomever, the opportunity was given.  Additionally, Timothy was tasked with using the Word to “reprove, rebuke, and exhort” (2 Tim. 4:2) the people of God.  Paul’s admonition to Timothy reveals that God’s messenger must consistently proclaim the truth, even when the truth is difficult to hear and unpleasant to speak.  The text clearly shows that the responsibility of the preacher is to be faithful to God by being faithful to the text; only then will he be faithful to his calling.  The key word for understanding the responsibility of the preacher is faithful

Faithfulness in preaching begins with faithfulness in preparation.  Those who preach must faithfully develop their skills by deepening their knowledge of theology, Bible interpretation, writing, and delivering sermons.  More important than developing skills, the preacher must faithfully prepare spiritually for the task.  Preaching is an extraordinary, supernatural task that God has ordained to accomplish through ordinary men.  No preacher can accomplish the work to which God has called him apart from realizing the power of God that comes only through intimate fellowship with his Creator.  Because preaching requires a power that does not belong to any human, the preacher must spend time with God, soaking up the Word and communing with God through prayer.  Spurgeon wrote, “Prayer will singularly assist you in the delivery of your sermon; in fact, nothing can so gloriously fit you to preach as descending fresh from the mount of communion with God to speak with men. None are so able to plead with men as those who have been wrestling with God on their behalf.”[6]

Faithfulness in preaching requires ongoing development.  No preacher should become satisfied with where he stands concerning his craft.  In the introduction to his book, One Year to Better Preaching: Fifty-Two Exercises to Hone Your Skills, author Daniel Overdorf observed, “Many preachers graduated from Bible college or seminary with honed and gleaming homiletical skills [but]…as the years passed, most of our homiletical tools sank to the rusty depths of our toolboxes, and they haven’t seen the light of the sanctuary since.”[7] Additionally, every preacher can unknowingly develop bad habits.  Continual evaluation is critical to the ongoing development of the preacher.  Spurgeon wisely advised his students to "Get a friend to tell you your faults, or better still, welcome an enemy who will watch you keenly and sting you savagely, What a blessing such an irritating critic will be to a wise man, what an intolerable nuisance to a fool! Correct yourself diligently and frequently, or you will fall into errors unawares, false tones will grow, and slovenly habits will form insensibly; therefore criticize yourself with unceasing care. Think nothing little by which you may be even a little more useful. But, gentlemen, never degenerate in this business into pulpit fops, who think gesture and voice to be everything."[8]

Finally, faithfulness in preaching requires training the members of the church to listen to biblical preaching.  Believers need to know that good preaching is Bible preaching.  Thabiti Anyabwile noted that members of the church “should listen primarily for the voice and message of God as revealed in his Word [listening]…to hear what he has written, in his omniscient love, for his glory.”[9] Anyabwile continues by pointing out that training church members to become expositional listeners creates a hunger for God’s Word, helps focus the congregation on following the will of God, protects the gospel and the church from corruption, encourages faithful pastors, and protects the unity of the congregation.[10] 

The responsibility of the preacher is to remain faithful to God, faithful to his calling, faithful to the Word, and faithful to the people God has chosen him to shepherd.

The Approach to Sermon Preparation and Delivery

While there are many different approaches to sermon delivery, I believe expositional preaching is the approach that is supremely faithful to the mandate Paul gave Timothy to “preach the word” (2 Tim. 4:2).  Mark Dever defines expositional preaching as “preaching that takes for the point of a sermon the point of a particular passage of Scripture [it]…is preaching in service to the Word.”[11] The point of expositional preaching is to preach the text, preach the whole text, preach the whole text in its context, and apply the text faithfully to your audience. Charles Simeon wrote, “My endeavor is to bring out of Scripture what is there, and not to trust in what I think might be there.  I have great jealousy on this head; never to speak more or less than I believe to be the mind of the Spirit in the passage I am expounding.” 

I am, therefore, committed to text-driven, systematic, expositional preaching and will endeavor to prepare and preach expository sermons faithfully.  As an expository preacher, I will work to discover the meaning of the text carefully, the points of my sermons will explain the meaning of the text, my illustrations will be chosen carefully to enlighten the audience about the meaning of the text, and my applications will serve to connect the meaning of the text to the lives of those who listen to the message.  My sermon introductions will make the listener curious about the text and how the Scripture connects with their life, while the conclusions will reinforce and encourage the listeners to live out the text.  My delivery of the sermon will not distract from the text, but help people remain engaged while I am preaching the text.  Finally, my prayer for those who sit under my preaching ministry is that they listen to the text, understand the text, apply the text and praise God for His faithfulness in providing the text. 

Being a teacher of the Word is one of the greatest privileges afforded to anyone.  Those who proclaim the truth must be careful to handle it correctly, realizing that we preach a divine message.  H.B. Charles wrote, “Make it your top priority to study, trust, obey, teach, preach, and defend the Word of truth.”[12] Faithful, systematic, expositional preaching safeguards the preacher from mishandling the Word or propagating false doctrine.  Additionally, expositional preaching helps to ensure that the public worship of the church will bring glory to God.

The Blessings of Biblical Preaching

The potential blessings of biblical preaching are too many to enumerate or expound upon in this document, however, some specific blessings are worth mentioning.  First, those who faithfully preach the Word will fulfill their calling.  Paul said that Timothy would fulfill his ministry if he faithfully and consistently preached the Word (2 Tim. 4:5).  The highest priority of the preacher is not to preach a sermon, but to fulfill the call that God has placed upon his life.  The way a preacher fulfills the call of God is by preaching the Word of God. 

Second, faithfully preaching the Word contributes to the spiritual growth of the preacher.  The time dedicated to studying, preparing and preaching the Word should manifest itself in personal growth and greater spiritual maturity for the preacher.  Someone once said a preacher has to understand the message before he can preach the message.  Understanding the message implies putting the truth of the text in action and becoming obedient to the Word.  One cannot faithfully preach the Word without being changed by the Word. 

Third, by faithfully preaching the Word, those who listen to the sermons will also experience life-change.  The writer of Hebrews said, “the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). Furthermore, in the book of Isaiah, God said,

For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:10–11). 

 The fact that preaching the Word of God is never pointless should serve as a word of enabling encouragement to every preacher.  God is faithful to do through preaching what the preacher could never do—change the lives of those who listen.

Finally, one of the great blessings of preaching is the privilege to serve as a messenger for the King of kings.  Standing before the ransomed people of God and declaring a message from God that brings glory to God is, at times, surreal.  The Psalmist rightly asked, “Who can utter the mighty deeds of the LORD, or declare all his praise?” (Psalm 106:2).  Yet, week-after-week, preachers have the honor of speaking for the Lord and declaring His glory and majesty to all who will listen. 

Conclusion

Gypsy Smith was a great English evangelist in the latter half of the 19th century.  Smith was not well educated, but he was a powerful preacher who remained vigorous in the pulpit despite his advancing age.  The story is told that a woman once asked him how he continued to preach with such excitement and fire to which Smith replied, “I have never lost the wonder.”[13] My prayer and my greatest desire are never to lose the wonder of the call of God on my life and the honor of making Christ known through the hard work of biblical preaching.

[1] H.B. Charles, On Preaching: Personal and Pastoral Insights for the Preparation and Practice of Preaching (Chicago: Moody, 2014), 10.

[2]All Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Crossway, 2001), unless otherwise noted.

[3] H.B. Charles, On Preaching: Personal and Pastoral Insights for the Preparation and Practice of Preaching (Chicago: Moody, 2014), 15. 

[4] David Helm, Expositional Preaching: How We Speak God’s Word Today (Wheaton: Crossway, 2004), 99.

[5] John MacArthur, ed., Preaching: How to Preach Biblically, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2005), 266.

[6] Charles H. Spurgeon, Lectures to My Students, Kindle ed. (Fig, 2012), 45. 

[7] Daniel Overdorf, One Year to Better Preaching: Fifty-Two Exercises to Hone Your Skills (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2013), 9.

[8] Charles H. Spurgeon, Lectures to My Students, Kindle ed. (Fig, 2012), 123.

[9] Thabiti M. Anyabwile, What Is A Healthy Church Member? (Wheaton: Crossway, 2008), 20.

[10] Ibid, 20-21

[11] Mark Dever, Nine Marks of a Healthy Church (Wheaton: Crossway, 2000), 44.

[12] H.B. Charles, On Preaching: Personal and Pastoral Insights for the Preparation and Practice of Preaching (Chicago: Moody, 2014), 155.

[13] A. Daniel Goldsmith, Jokes Quotes and Anecdotes (Maitland: Xulon, 2010), 196

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References

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