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BETANIAKYRKAN – Nära livet, nära din tro
(se närmare program i kalendern)
1 juli 10.00 Gudstjänst med nattvard
Bryan Galloway, Birgitta Edström.
Missionärshälsning Bengt och Gunborg Lillvik.
So this may be my last post until next week!
(by Ed Setzer)
There’s a popular saying often repeated by Christians. It has found new life on Facebook and Twitter. Maybe you have even uttered these words, commonly at tributed to Francis of Assisi: “Preach the gospel. Use words if necessary.”
I think we can appreciate what many are getting at when they say something like this. As Christians, we should live in such a way that our lives point to the person and work of Jesus. However, good intentions cannot overcome two basic problems with this quote and its supposed origin. One, Francis never said it, and two, the quote is not biblical.
Mark Galli has pointed out that there is no record of Francis, a member of a preaching order, uttering anything close to this. In fact, everything we know about the man suggests he would not have agreed with his supposed quote. He was well known for his preaching and often preached up to five times a day.
The idea may not have resonated with Francis, but for many today, wordless ministry is a compelling approach. “Words are cheap,” we like to say, and “Actions speak louder than words.” Galli explains that the sentiment complements our culture rather well:
“Preach the gospel; use words if necessary” goes hand in hand with a postmodern assumption that words are finally empty of meaning. It subtly denigrates the high value that the prophets, Jesus, and Paul put on preaching. Of course, we want our actions to match our words as much as possible. But the gospel is a message, news about an event and a person upon which the history of the planet turns.
And this is the real problem — not from whom the quote originally came, but just how it can give us an incomplete understanding of the gospel and how God saves sinners. Christians are quick to encourage each other to “live out the gospel,” to “be the gospel” to our neighbors, and to even “gospel each other.” The missional impulse here is helpful, yet the gospel isn’t anything the Christian can live out, practice, or become.
The Apostle Paul summarized the gospel as the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, through whom sin is atoned for, sinners are reconciled to God, and the hope of the resurrection awaits all who believe.
The gospel is not habit, but history. The gospel is the declaration of something that actually happened. And since the gospel is the saving work of Jesus, it isn’t something we can do, but it is something we must announce. We do live out its implications, but if we are to make the gospel known, we will do so through words.
It appears that the emphasis on proclamation is waning even in many churches that identify themselves as evangelical. Yet proclamation is the central task of the church. No, it is not the only task God has given us, but it is central. While the process of making disciples involves more than verbal communication, and obviously the life of a disciple is proved counterfeit when it amounts to words alone, the most critical work God has given the church is to “proclaim the excellencies” of our Savior.
A godly life should serve as a witness for the message we proclaim. But without words, what can our actions point to but ourselves? A godly life cannot communicate the incarnation, Jesus’ substitution for sinners, or the hope of redemption by grace alone through faith alone. We can’t be good news, but we can herald it, sing it, speak it, and preach it to all who listen.
In fact, verbal communication of the gospel is the only means by which people are brought into a right relationship with God. The Apostle Paul made this point to the church in Rome when he said:
For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. But how can they call on Him they have not believed in? And how can they believe without hearing about Him? And how can they hear without a preacher? (Rom. 10:13-14, HCSB)
If we are to make disciples of all nations, we must use words. Preaching necessitates the use of language. So, let me encourage us to preach the gospel, and use words, since it’s necessary. But let me also say that agreeing to the centrality of proclamation is not enough. We need to move from agreement with the idea to effective execution of it. Let me encourage us to be a people who not only use gospel words but use them in four ways.
1. Let your gospel words be comprehensible.
In our bid to be accurate about theological issues, we must also make certain we are comprehensible. We want to declare the biblical gospel in a culturally accessible manner. This requires us to define theological words as well as embrace the language of the people to whom we speak wherever appropriate. I find it ironic that some who love the Puritans sometimes betray the Puritan practice of speaking “plainly.” Gospel words should be offered, as much as possible, in the common language of the listeners. How shall they hear if we speak in another language?
We are heading to Vaasa, Finland area for about two weeks. I have the opportunity to speak six times over the next couple of weekends. The first weekend will be at the summer conference for the Finland Swedish Baptist Union (Swedes who are Baptists who live in Finland). The second weekend, I will preach in three different churches!
I am not sure about my internet access for the first few days.
By next week, I should be able to post updates!
More than a half century after his death at the hands of Nazis, Dietrich Bonhoeffer still has much to teach the world.
That’s the idea behind “Bonhoeffer,” an overview of the life and writings of the German theologian recently published by the Rev. John Matthews, a Bonhoeffer expert and pastor at Grace Lutheran Church in Apple Valley.
Bonhoeffer was imprisoned and killed for speaking against Nazi policies, smuggling Jews out of Germany and his involvement in a plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler.
Matthews has studied Bonhoeffer since he was in college, even writing his master’s thesis on Bonhoeffer’s work. See more in Andrew Miller’s Sun Thisweek story.
You can easily find pastor burnout statistics all over the internet. Some are very overwhelming – like saying that 48% of pastors marriages end in divorce. I for one have my doubts about that one. As do I about quite a few numbers.
I wish they were all true – because then my job of convincing people that pastoral burnout is ravaging pastors would be easy. I tried to find the truth behind the pastor burnout statistics. I tried to find the original studies that produced the numbers. But in most cases I couldn’t find the source.
However, there are a lot of pastor burnout statistics that are reputable… and they are very troubling. Many of the numbers below come from H. B. London’s book, Pastors at Greater Risk.
Pastor Burnout by the Numbers
According to the New York Times (August 1, 2010)
“Members of the clergy now suffer from obesity, hypertension and depression at rates higher than most Americans. In the last decade, their use of antidepressants has risen, while their life expectancy has fallen. Many would change jobs if they could.”
- 13% of active pastors are divorced.
- 23% have been fired or pressured to resign at least once in their careers.
- 25% don’t know where to turn when they have a family or personal conflict or issue.
A professor of preaching says that pastors need more moral courage to deliver the Gospel message in today’s skeptical world.
Haddon Robinson, who currently serves as the distinguished professor of preaching at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Mass., told The Christian Post Thursday that the media is much bolder in its criticisms of the church than it used to be, and in many ways it builds upon the skepticism already found in the culture. This dramatic shift in attitude toward the church and the Bible means, to some extent, preachers may have to adjust their approach to preaching.
“When I started preaching years ago, the church had home-field advantage. People respected it. They may not have lived up to its teaching, but they would think, ‘Church is certainly a fine moral example’…that’s no longer true,” Robinson said.
“I think the thing that is needed now is moral courage,” he said.
Robinson was the featured speaker at the first annual National Ministry Conference last week. The conference, which focused on the topic of “Preaching Into the Wind: Biblical Preaching in a Skeptical Culture,” was held at Biola University in La Mirada, Calif.
Robinson was named among “the most effective” English-speaking preachers in the world in a Baylor University survey in 1996.