David’s words are mine some days. Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. The troubles of my heart are enlarged; bring me out of my distresses. Consider my affliction and my trouble, and forgive all my sins (Psalm 25:16-18). I know some of you would slowly nod your head to this too, as your eyes are cast downward, the contemplations of your heart reeling in a grey, slow-motion fog. “Have I been made for this work?”, you ask? “Of course”, you answer. But probably too quickly, and maybe for the first time you are not so sure.
So what does it look like for an evangelical, Reformed, church-planting church to be appropriately Pentecostal today? How can we embrace the power of God for our lives, relationships, ministries, and churches? How can we become pentecostal (small “p,” not the capital “P” denomination and subculture) without giving up an inch of our liturgical, Reformed tradition?
I’ve not met too many pastors who come skipping into the pulpit on Sunday convinced they have the next “Don’t Waste Your Life” or “Sinners In the Hands of an Angry God” in their hot little hands. At least any who’ve been out of seminary for like a week. The reason why is that preaching is supposed to put a pastor in his place, and remind him every Sunday morning that he has one job to do that he didn’t get to write the job description for. Here’s three ways preaching puts us in our place, and why it should.
When you hear the word “Pentecost,” what comes into your mind? The majority of us, I’m guessing, think of “Pentecostalism,” the denomination that emphasizes speaking in tongues and prophesying. At the seminary I attended, “Pentecostal” is a general term you could call somebody who gets a little carried away with the Spirit, isn’t quite gospel-centered enough, or gets less than a B- in elementary Greek. So we need to recapture this word.
Let me start with a definition of humility derived from A Theology of the Ordinary by Julie Canlis; humility is understanding who God is and who we are. This truth is allowing me to begin to see and experience conviction in two areas: my utter lack of true humility and second, the way that my pride, stress, and anxiety are intrinsically linked together. My pride will give me an inflated sense of self, telling me to do and be more than I was intended for. Burnout chases after those who do life and ministry without humility.
We here at Sojourn Network want to extend our gratitude to J.D. for serving the church so well over the years. We're thrilled that he's been elected to this position and want to extend a heart-felt congratulation to him, his family, and his church. We will be praying for you and encouraging the pastors and churches of Sojourn Network to do the same.
Consider the area where your church is located. The faithful, the unreached people groups, the brokenness, the flourishing…all of it. As you evaluate your geographic region – the area God has called your church to serve – what would it take to see the knowledge of the glory of the Lord fill your geography to achieve gospel saturation?
Sojourn Network is a family of pastors and churches partnering together through a beautiful gospel to see healthy pastors planting, growing, and multiplying healthy churches that last. Our family of churches spans the width and breadth of the United States — from Hawaii to New York, Washington to Florida, Texas to Michigan. Read more about the who we are, the work we do, and the impact our churches are having all across the country in our annual report. We also encourage you to pray for our supported church planters below.
Every pastor's wife has an unwritten job description for herself. It might be unconscious and loosely defined but it's there. We know the feeling of not measuring up to what we think we are supposed to do and be. We know the areas that we're falling short. You might not be a pastor's wife. You might be a mom, a ministry leader, or whoever. We have this mental checklist, job description, at all times that we measure ourselves against. It is so tiring!
Don’t worry, this is not another article on the nature and effect of prayer as a spiritual discipline in the life of believers. For that, read “Prayer” by Tim Keller, “Recapturing the Wonder” by Mike Cosper, “Habits of Grace” by David Mathis or “A Praying Life” by Paul Miller. What I want to briefly discuss is two practical aspects of praying and why “prayer without ceasing” should become as natural as the daily conversations you have with friends and loved ones.
Russell Moore on parenting. Articles on addressing race in the church, similarities and differences between urban, suburban and rural communities in America, how famous creatives spent their days, and much more!
The death of racism is not a concept created in political thinktanks. It is God’s very own design for a new reconciled humanity created in and through the sacrificial life, death, and resurrection of the Christ. Even if we may come to varying conclusions of what a biblically faithful view of race means, actively teach your people how to consider race and the Christian faith in the culture of your church.
From Moses (Psalm 90) all the way through the 18th Century, the Psalms were the primary prayer book and the hymnal of the people of God. If you wanted to know how to grow in your intimacy with God, if you wanted a glimpse into God’s heart, if you wanted to learn how to pray, throughout the ages, most pastors would have had the same answer: “Work your way through the Psalms, and let the Psalms do their work upon you.”
Beginner’s Guide to Journaling. Why You Should Get Bored More Often. 12 Reasons People Leave a Church. How to Teach Boys to Respect Women. Exactly How To Spend The Last Hour Of Your Workday. Church Planting is Impossible. Why Retreat? And more…
You can borrow disciples from other congregations — attracting them by your pulpit service or small groups. But filling a church with ready-made disciples and planting a church, in my mind, are two different things. Pastoral professionals fill churches, God plants them.
The Blindness of Social Wealth. No Small Pastors. Two Kinds of Grateful Parenting. 45 Qualities Every True Leader Must Have. Are We Accidental Continuationists? Back from Sabbatical: 10 Reflections Upon Reentry. And more!
I realize that not all of us have the luxury of taking a sabbatical 5-7 years into our church plants, but I would encourage all pastors reading this to begin to have serious conversations with your elders or leadership teams about the necessity of sabbaticals for your spiritual, emotional and physical health.With that said, Melissa and I decided to jot down a few reflections (in no particular order) which we hope might be helpful to you whether a sabbatical is coming soon or later.
It appears that Alexander Pope was right when he said that a little learning is a dangerous thing. We've got resources on overconfidence, the dream of a disciple-making church, urban church planting, the rise of church planting networks and bi-vocational pastors, disconnecting from social media, and the average amount of debt each US age group has. Enjoy!
Last Saturday, April 7, Sojourn Network churches from the Pacific Northwest gathered, bringing lay-leaders and "normal" church members together for half-a-day to focus on being encouraged and equipped to serve in the local church for the long-haul. Here's a recap, complete with all event media — audio, video, and photos.
The church is responsible to baptize only believers, those whom God has saved and changed. So, as you, parents and church ministry leaders, consider whether or not the child in your care is ready, here are seven things to keep in mind
After a quick stop in San Francisco to visit Dave Ainsworth and CJ Bergmen and hear about all that God is doing through Citizens Church (you can read more about this trip here), I got up early to beat the bay area traffic, launching out of the city and into a misty Monday morning making my way to Fresno to visit another Sojourn Network church planter: Troy McComas.
Almost 1 in 5 women in Japanese prisons is a senior. Their crimes are usually minor—9 in 10 senior women who’ve been convicted were found guilty of shoplifting. This week's Roundup features a piece that demonstrates just why community is so important for human flourishing. We've also got resources on paper airplanes, child dedication services, using the creeds and confessions in corporate worship, how to preach Ecclesiastes, and a hilarious, 9-year-old caption creator for the New Yorker. Enjoy!
Recently, I joined two other pastors in a panel discussion on endurance in pastoral ministry. We averaged 28 years in the same church. Since that may seem daunting to a young pastor, the moderator asked if we originally planned to stay so long in our ministries.That question sent me drifting back 31 years to the start of my present pastorate. I don’t remember thinking consciously at that stage, “I’m planting my life in Memphis.” Many in my generation tended to go light on ecclesiology, and so thought of climbing instead of staying. Discussions of moving on to bigger and better things frequently marked the ministerial gatherings. Staying in one place, planting your life, enduring the many changes accompanying any congregation, just didn’t seem to be the focus.
Recently, I got a chance to travel out to California to visit two of our Sojourn Network churches: Citizens Church in the San Francisco area and New City Church in Fresno. In this post, I’ll share a bit about my time at Citizens Church through several photos and short captions that should provide a visual story-arc of my time in San Francisco.
Hard to believe it, but 50 Resource Roundups have now come and gone. Since this seems like it should be considered some sort of milestone, we decided to go all out and provide our BIGGEST Roundup ever. You won't want to miss this one.
As Christians, we can live in the power and joy and peace of the resurrection. By pressing deeper into the events of Holy Weekend — even the darkness of Good Friday and the silence of Holy Saturday — we discover the power of the resurrection on Easter Sunday.
In more than a decade of pastoral ministry, I’ve wrestled with this tension. How much should we cultivate special, extraordinary experiences in the faith, and how often should we just put our heads down and follow God — living quiet lives, minding our own business, working with our hands (1 Thess. 4:11) Thankfully, we are not alone in this struggle: The Church has historically wrestled with the times and seasons of the Christian life, and the Church Calendar was formed and embraced as a way of living in this tension.
Proponents of the multicultural church are sometimes targeted with accusations of kowtowing to secular political correctness rather than fidelity to the true message of the scriptures. It is critical, therefore, to establish a robust biblical and theological basis in framing the multicultural church as a powerful and contextually relevant expression of our mission.
Another Roundup is here. Get ready for articles on self-awareness, science and Stephen Hawking, leading multi-ethnic churches, the necessity of silence and solitude, the frightening link between teen depression and suicide rates and smartphones, and the most important part of your sermon. Enjoy!
It’s good for pastors to come before God utterly helpless and completely dependent on him as we prepare to imperfectly preach his perfect word to our imperfect people. But I think a pattern of discouragement can easily consume us if we don’t guard our preaching from becoming a preoccupation with self-improvement.