Notice: The details of this article are subject to change.
Over the past few weeks, the idea has been tossed around to form a sort of "guild" or coalition of Pastors or Pastors in training.
After coming up with the idea, it was seen the following day online of some good tactics to follow when creating such a group. This was taken to be an intensive to move forward with the idea.
As of now, there is no official plans to progress with the idea. Christian Cornerstone would first like to find a couple ministers who would like to take up this project. We are looking for at least 3 active ministers of a pastoral position.
What is the purpose?
The purpose of this "guild" is simple, a group that would act as a support group for other ministers.
Connection - Many pastors out there don't have much of a group in which they can reach out to as a means to share what is going on in their own ministry. This can be a struggle sometimes and the minister may even question certain things. Connecting to other ministers helps bring additional perspectives to the mind to help resolve certain issues.
Critique - Another element that pastors need is someone to critique their work. Pastors may not always have the best group of people that can help evaluate their lesson plans, often the people who they do have are the ones that need the lesson. A group of ministers can help evaluate one another sermons to ensure they are theologically sound, and deliver the proper message with clarity and without personal bias.
Community - While many churches talk about being a community of believers, it is usually a concept within the walls of their own church. Christian Cornerstone would like to change that by bringing ministers together for the sake of Christian community. With this principle in mind, we will be providing a private social community for the group members to interact with each other outside of our schedules meets. This will help us keep up with each others current status as well as provide resources through out.
Members are to be men only. While we do welcome women into the Christian body as ministers. It is important to note that this ministry stands to uphold conservative Christian views. Being that this group is open to pastors or pastors in training, we do hold to the biblical roles as found in 1 Timothy 2.
Associates Degree - because of the purpose of this ministry group, we would require all members have at least (or currently enrolled) an associates degree in Divinity, or equal education. This shows the group that you are actively pursuing what God has called you into. As well as your own personal sincerity to the call.
Inside Reference - new members to this group must be referred by an existing member of this group. While we can not confirm the status of everyone, this referral program ensures the individuals status in the Christian faith. The active member who would know the individual by means of a closer relationship within a local church ministry will be able to voice the approval of their walk in the Christian faith.
Active Ministry - Members are required to be in an active ministry role. This can be anything from the establishment of a ministry, or the ongoing work within an established ministry.
It is important to note, this group has no authority over each members individual ministry. Outside of the biblical authority to hold each other accountable for the sake of righteousness.
One of the dominant myths in evangelicalism is that the growth of Christianity hinges on its popularity. The idea that more people will repent if only the preacher were cooler or funnier invariably causes the church to suffer through a ridiculous parade of entrepreneurial types who act as though their personal charm can draw people to Christ. But you cannot manufacture converts by changing the message or stylizing the messenger.
This error leads to the harmful notion that a pastor’s conduct and speech should be shaped by the culture in which he ministers. Many preachers have such strong cravings for cultural acceptance they are actually willing to alter God’s message of salvation in order to achieve it. Subjects like sin, guilt, and repentance are regularly jettisoned so as not to offend or alienate non-Christians.
Such compromises do nothing to increase the church’s witness within the culture. In fact, they have the opposite effect. By creating celebrity preachers with synthetic gospels they only succeed in filling churches with unrepentant sinners. Instead of making the world more like the church, such efforts only succeed in making the church more like the world. This is precisely what Christ’s teaching in Luke 8:5–8 was designed to avoid.
The Nagging Question in Evangelism
The disciples, having a genuine burden that others would believe, must have been astounded that the masses were not repenting. The problem wasn’t Jesus’ ability to attract an audience—the crowds were huge, often numbering in the tens of thousands. But very few were repenting and embracing the Savior. The disciples’ own expectations of a global kingdom without end (Isaiah 9 and 45) were faltering. It must have been easy to lay the blame at the indicting, hard, demanding message that Christ preached (cf. John 6:60-61).
The Lord responded to the rising tide of doubt by telling a series of parables about evangelism. A year before He would give the Great Commission, Jesus told His first parable about a farmer sowing seed:
The sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell beside the road, and it was trampled under foot and the birds of the air ate it up. Other seed fell on rocky soil, and as soon as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. Other seed fell among the thorns; and the thorns grew up with it and choked it out. Other seed fell into the good soil, and grew up, and produced a crop a hundred times as great. (Luke 8:5–8)
This agricultural illustration is a paradigmatic explanation of what evangelism should look like. It is designed to answer the fundamental evangelistic question: Why do some people repent and believe the gospel while others reject it?
The Invariable Sower
Luke 8:5–8 is commonly known as the Parable of the Sower. But that popular title is indicative of the widespread confusion we see today regarding its interpretation and application. The parable isn’t about the sower.
What is surprising about the farmer in the story is how little control he actually has in the growing of crops. There are no adjectives used to describe his style or skill.
In a subsequent parable (Mark 4:26–29) Jesus states that he who sows the seed is actually ignorant of how the seed transforms itself into a mature plant. After sowing the seed, the farmer “goes to bed at night and gets up by day, and the seed sprouts and grows—how, he himself does not know” (Mark 4:27).
This ignorance is not unique to the sower in Christ’s parables but rather is true of everyone who sows. The growth of the seed is a mystery that even the most advanced farmer cannot explain. And that reality is the key to understanding the Lord’s first parable.
Jesus explained that the seed is the gospel or “word of the kingdom”, the farmer is the evangelist, and the soil represents the heart of the hearer (Matthew 13:19). The evangelist scatters the seed—that is, explains the gospel to people—and some of those people believe and receive life. How this happens is a divine mystery to the evangelist. One thing is clear, however: though he is the human means, it does not ultimately depend on him. The power of the gospel is in the working of the Spirit, not in the style of the sower (Romans 1:16; 1 Thessalonians 1:5; 1 Peter 1:23). It is the Spirit of God who raises souls from death to life, not the methods or techniques of the messenger.
The apostle Paul understood this principle. When he brought the gospel to Corinth, he planted the church and left it in the care of Apollos. Later he described the experience this way: “I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth” (1 Corinthians 3:6). God was the one who actually drew sinners to Himself, changed their hearts, and caused them to be sanctified. Paul and Apollos were both faithful, but they most certainly were not the explanation for the supernatural life and growth. This truth caused Paul to say, “So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth” (1 Corinthians 3:7).
This runs counter to the notion that the results of evangelism can be influenced by the cultural assimilation of the pastor or the style of music used at his crusades. The preacher who thinks designer jeans will make his message more palatable is akin to a farmer investing in a designer seed bag so that the soil will be more receptive to his seeds.
Jesus intentionally highlights the farmer’s lack of influence over the growth of the seed. The entire parable makes the statement that as far as evangelism goes, it simply does not matter what the evangelist wears or how he does his hair. Such externals are not what makes the seed grow. Anyone who argues that a preacher who imitates a particular segment of culture is better able to reach that culture, has completely failed to understand Jesus’ point in the parable.
All the farmer can do is sow, and all the evangelist can do is proclaim. As a preacher, if I thought someone’s salvation was contingent upon my persuasiveness or relevance, I could never sleep. But instead I know that “the Lord knows those who are His” (2 Timothy 2:19). It is not coincidental that the New Testament never calls evangelists to bear the responsibility for another person’s salvation. Rather, having proclaimed the message faithfully, we are called to rest in the sovereignty of God—much like the farmer in Mark 4:27 who sleeps through the night after a day of scattering seed.
Christ’s description of the farmer provides the biblical model for evangelism. The evangelist must plant the gospel seed, without which no one can be saved (Romans 10:14–17). Then he must trust God with the results, since only the Spirit can give life (John 3:5–8).
The Invariable Seed
Not only is the farmer’s style irrelevant to the success of his crops but Jesus also does not suggest that the sower should alter his seed to facilitate growth. And this absence of discussion about the seed directly corresponds to evangelism. Jesus assumes that Christians will evangelize using the true seed—the gospel.
Most preachers outwardly profess that the gospel is an unalterable non-negotiable, but that doesn’t stop them from subtly softening its sharp edges. Modern gospel presentations frequently portray God as indifferent to sin and not its judge; the sinner as the victim, not the offender; the cross of Christ as the remedy to frustrations and unfulfilled dreams, not the propitiation for our sins; and a divine endgame that revolves around our temporal happiness, not our eternal state.
One of the primary refrains about evangelism today is that the church needs to update the methods without altering the message. But if we’re not faithfully preaching the truth about man’s sinfulness, God’s grace and mercy, the sinner’s need for repentance and faith, and the completed work of Christ, we’re not protecting and preserving the gospel message.
Believers are sternly warned in Scripture against tampering with the message (Galatians 1:6–9; 2 John 9–11). If a frustrated evangelist looks at how difficult his task is, or how closed his culture seems to be to the gospel, the problem is not with the faithful messenger or the true gospel. Rather, it lies in the nature of the soil into which the true seed falls.
Thus the sower and the seed are constants in Christ’s parable. The only variable is the soil—the receptivity of the hearer. And in the days ahead, we’ll take a closer look at the characteristics of each soil type we’ll find on our mission field.
(Adapted from The John MacArthur Pastor’s Library: Evangelism.)
“Copyright 2017, Grace to You. All rights reserved. Used by permission.”)
The making of disciples is our Lord’s means for answering the prayer, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name, Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:9-10). In His infinite wisdom, Jesus chose to use dedicated followers, His disciples, to carry the message of salvation to all peoples of the world. He included this as a command in His last words before His ascension to heaven: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20).
Making disciples is important because it is the Lord’s chosen method of spreading the Good News of salvation through Jesus Christ. During His public ministry, Jesus spent more than three years making disciples—teaching and training His chosen twelve. He gave them many convincing proofs that He was the Son of God, the promised Messiah; they believed on Him, though imperfectly. He spoke to the crowds, but often He drew the disciples aside privately to teach them the meaning of His parables and miracles. He sent them out on ministry assignments. He also taught them that soon He would be returning to His Father following His death and resurrection (Matthew 16:21; John 12:23-36, 14:2-4). Though they could not comprehend it, He made the disciples this astonishing promise: “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in Me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father” (John 14:12). Jesus also promised to send His Spirit to be with them forever (John 14:16-17).
As promised, on the Day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came with power on the believers, who then were emboldened to speak the Good News to everyone. The remainder of the Book of Acts gives the exciting account of all that was accomplished through them. In one city the opposition said, “These who have turned the world upside down are come hither also” (Acts 17:6 KJV). Multitudes placed their faith in Jesus Christ, and they also became disciples. When strong persecution came from the false religious leaders, they dispersed to other areas and continued to obey Christ’s command. Churches were established throughout the Roman Empire, and eventually in other nations.
Later, because of disciples such as Martin Luther and others, Europe was opened to the Gospel of Jesus Christ through the Reformation. Eventually, Christians emigrated to the New World to make Christ known. Though the world still is not completely evangelized, the challenge is as viable now as ever before. The command of our Lord remains – “Go and make disciples, baptizing them, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” The characteristics of a disciple may be simply stated as
• one who is assured of his salvation (John 3:16) and is activated by the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 14:26-27);
• one who is growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior (2 Peter 3:18); and
• one who shares Christ’s burden for the lost souls of men and women. Jesus said, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field” (Matthew 9:37-38).