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By Tim Challies HERE
You know the kind of book that is so good you don’t want it to end? I typically experience this with fiction, but this year there have been a few non-fiction books I have read slowly and not finished–because they are so good! Over the next few weeks, I’ll share from some of my reading in the books that I don’t want to end.
Death By Love – This is easily Mark Driscoll’s best book yet. Death By Love is a series of actual letters Mark wrote to people struggling with serious sin and suffering. Here are a few of the chapter titles:
- “Lust Is My God”
Jesus Is Thomas’s Redemption
“My Wife Slept with My Friend”
Jesus Is Luke’s New Covenant Sacrifice
“I Am a ‘Good’ Christian”
Jesus Is David’s Gift Righteousness
“I Molested a Child”
Jesus Is John’s Justification
“My Dad Used to Beat Me”
Jesus Is Bill’s Propitiation
“He Raped Me”
Jesus Is Mary’s Expiation
Chapter after chapter is charged with honesty, empathy, and wisdom. Rich in practical counsel and biblical theology, this book should be required reading for all courses in Pastoral Ministry. Driscoll takes categories from systematic theology and applies them using biblical theology in a very practical way. Brilliant and grace giving. A basic outline for counseling I use was coined by David Powlision: 1) Listen to their Story 2) Empathize with their Story 3) Redemptively retell their Story. I’ll use this to frame Driscoll’s counsel for a victim of abuse:
- Empathize with Story: “I think I understand what you are trying to say. For a man to devastate his family like your father did means that his simply saying ‘sorry’ is not enough to erase the list of sins he has accrued or the damage h has done. I hope to untangle some of the conflict you are living in…”
- Listened to Story: “you spoke of building forts in the backyard and pretending you lived there instead of in the house with your father because you longed for the day you could move out and never return.”
- Redemptively Retell Story: “Bill, you must realize that not only could God’s active wrath be poured out on your father, but it just as easily could have been poured out on you…not only is your father a sinner who needs his sins propitiated, but you too are a sinner who likewise needs his sins propitiated…not only did Jesus suffer like you; in a very real sense he suffered at the hands of both you and the father at the cross…therefore, therefore you need not merely let your father of the hook because he became a Christian. Further, you need not punish him…I know that you fear forgiving your father…However, because God is sovereign and good, through that evil you have been given one of the deepest appreciations and insights of the doctrine of propitiation of anyone I have ever met.”
Some of Mark Driscoll’s most recent talks have been packed with pastoral wisdom. Do not miss his talk A Call to Endure which deserves to be heard or watched by pastor and wife together. He calls us to endure: emotionally, physically, spiritually, parentally, spiritually. Some of his insightful points include:
- The only person that can truly pastor you is your wife.
- Your personality calcifies as you get older apart from the gospel you will become a calcified version of yourself.
- The one idol your church will let you worship is ministry. Don’t lose intimacy with Jesus.
In his 1 Timothy address at GC, Driscoll lays out three types of people pastors are called to interact with: positives, negatives, neutrals. He reaches deep into his own experience to bring pastoral empathy and ministry wisdom.
Read his notes here.
The Seattle A29 bootcamp was one of the best I’ve been to. Here are a few highlights:
Preach the Word
With intoxicating passion Matt Chandler exhorted us, text after text, to be the unlikely people who proclaim the gospel and encounter opposition for being faithful to the Word of God. A standby message that can’t be preached enough in an age of theological fads, cultural fascination, church planting tricks, and the very scary American church industry.
He reminded us that when God wants to work, he repeated comes to a man. He met Moses on a mountain instead of dethroning Pharaoh by himself. He likes to use the unlikely to accomplish his redemptive purposes in history. What hope for us. But calls us to preach unpopular messages, like Isaiah’s sensory malfunction message in chapter 6, or Jeremiah’s message to “uproot and tear down,” without very little experience of “building up.” And it is this kind of embodying and preaching of the gospel of Christ crucified that, though unpopular, actually changes the whole world!
Matt was a little hard on progressional dialog/dialogical preaching. The crux of his point was that the Bible repeatedly shows people “preaching” not “dialoging” the Word and therefore that should be our method too. I think people will probably mishear Matt on some of this. In explaining the progression of dialog Matt summed it up as going from “nothing to nothing.” To be fair, his explanation came from Preaching Reimagined by Pagitt which carries a whole host of theological baggage with it. But I wonder if we can separate the method out and celebrate the dialogical homiletic a bit more? I have friends who use diaological preaching that is robust, gospel-centered, and far from “nothing to nothing.” Matt, do you think there’s room for this method provided the content delivered is biblically faithful?
A Call to Endure
Mark Driscoll’s message on endurance was jam-packed with wisdom for people, pastors, and planters alike. Focusing on the practicals of running the Christian race well and to the end, Driscoll highlighted a number of areas in which we need to endure: spiritually, physically, maritally, parentally, pastorally. His call to “love Jesus not use him” should pierce the armor of self-made ministry significance. Every pastor battles this—significance by ministry—instead of significance by Jesus. He reminded us that: “ministry is the one idol the church will let you get away with.“
Additionally, Driscoll’s comments on our wives being pastors to their husbands was rich. People used to scathing Mark for his complementarianism will do well to heed his words on this. Far from bull-headed masculinity and chauvinism, Mark pleaded with pastors and their wives to move together in ministry. How? By a pastor allowing his wife to minister to him emotionally, spiritually, relationally, etc. The calling of a pastor’s wife is not to some fanciful, exalted position of “first lady” but to the all-important place of strengthening her husband. Mark commented regarding this role of pastor’s wife: “everything else can be delegated in the chruch.
Plant & Thrive looks like it will be an immensely practical conference for guys checking out planting or already several years in. Check out the speaker line-up and topics:
Track 1 – For all potential A29 church planters
- Mark Driscoll
- Wayne Grudem – Gospel Centered Reformed Theology
- Danny Akin – Preaching the Gospel
- Scott Thomas – The Biblical Mandate on the Man
- Andreas Kostenberger – The Effects of Planting on Family & Self
- Mark Driscoll & Wayne Grudem – Q & A
- Tyler Jones – Mission Rises out of Community
- Ed Marcelle – Mission Rises out of Discipleship
- Daniel Montgomery – Our Mission
- Mark Driscoll
Track 2 - For planters in years 1-4
- Jason Roberts and Chris Atwell – Coaching Introduction
- Elliot Grudem – Leadership Development: Elders, Deacons, Volunteers
- Mark Driscoll – Q & A
- Jamie Munson & Nate Williams – Systems & Structures
- TBA – Strategic Planning
- Jamie Munson, et al. – Q & A
- TBA – Small Groups
- Chris Atwell – Assimilation to Membership
- Wayne Grudem – Q & A
- TBA – Children’s Ministry / Funding / Holistic Justice
- Jason Roberts – Debriefing: Long Term Implementation
- Mark Driscoll
Feb 4-5. More info here.
A couple of weeks ago Acts 29 hosted a Church Planting Bootcamp in Dallas, hosted by the Village Church. The aim of these bootcamps is to assess, equip, and release church planters into planting gospel-centered, missional churches that plant more churches. The theme of the Dallas Bootcamp was Depth.
The were a number of plenary speakers and a variety of breakout sessions (see schedule here). Audio and electronic resources are being released as they are ready (I am trying to figure out how to upload my audio to wordpress). Mark Driscoll’s talk on the Mission and Vision of Acts 29 includes a clear and compelling vision for a church planting movement that keeps Christ at the center and takes the gospel to periphery of the world. My session was Spirit-led Ecclesiology: Following the Spirit thru Church Planting, which critically examined motives and methods of church planters that lean away from the Spirit-led center of church planting. This was followed by a brief biblical theology of the Spirit and practical reflections on how we can follow the Spirit through unplanned change, resistance and barriers. In short, it was a plea to not replace the Spirit with the gospel in church planting.
For now, here are the resources I have gathered:
Tonight we had our first of three sessions on deacon training. I was moved by the number of quality of potential deacons sitting in our house. God has been so kind to Austin City Life! In preparation for training our deacons, I did the following:
- Studied the deacon passages of Scripture
- Read Alexander Strauch’s Ministers of Mercy and re-read Mark Driscoll’s A Book You’ll Actually on Church Leadership.
- Re-read Darrin Patrick’s notes on developing-elders-deacons-members.
- Read Bob Thune’s paper, Deacons: A Theological Study
- Read Tim Keller’s section on Leadership Development in the Redeemer Church Planting Manual
- Oh, I found this deacon outline after the training, which is quite good. I agree with most of it.
Then I wrote and mailed a letter of invitation to potential deacons, gave them a copy of Driscoll’s booklet, and developed a teaching outline for our three session Deacon Training. In all of this I borrowed heavily from Bob Thune and David Fairchild. Thanks guys! Here’s the list of topics we are covering each month:
October 5, 2008 – 1st training meeting @ Dodson’s house
Discussion topic: A Theology of Deacons
Assignment: One Page Reflection Paper on 1 Tim 3:8-13
November 2, 2008 – 2nd training meeting @ Dodson’s house
Discussion topic: The Practice of Deacons
Assignment: One Page “Dream” Ministry Description
December 7, 2008 – 3rd training meeting @ Dodson’s house
Discussion topic: Holding to the Mystery of Faith
Next Assignment: One Page Summary of the Gospel
December 8-14, 2008 – Interviews and Installation
In case you don’t know, Acts 29 is hosting a Church planting Bootcamp in Dallas Nov 19-20 at the Village Church. Matt Chandler, Mark Driscoll and Scott Thomas will be speaking.
Chad Hall offers a critical review of Driscoll and Jones’ new books, books from the right and left wings of the Emerging Church.
Mark Driscoll has written a series of booklets called A Book You Will Actually Read. The one on Church Leadership is a gem–concise, biblical, informative. We ordered a bunch for our leaders and will distribute them at our next leadership training.
- Jesus in the Church
- Women in leadership
- Organizing the Church
- Air war and ground war