Books I’ve Read Recently

412glbtjnrl-_sx326_bo1204203200_On Preaching by H.B. Charles, Jr. I always enjoy reading books on preaching. This was one of my favorites because of all the practical insights it includes. It’s a short book that includes very short chapters. Each chapter covers something in regards to preaching. It feels almost like sitting at a coffee shop with a seasoned preacher who is sharing all the wisdom he has about preaching with you. I enjoyed every chapter of this little book. I’d encouraged anyone who is involved in preaching ministry to read this book. No matter if you’re a beginner or have been preaching for many years, this book will encourage and sharpen your skills.

407250Erasing Hell by Francis Chan and Preston Sprinkle. This is one of those books that have been on my list for a long time. Because I am doing a series with our students on what happens after we die, which includes a sermon on hell, I decided to pick this book up and give it a read. Chan and Sprinkle do a great job at addressing the topic of hell from a Biblical point of view. This book almost serves as a short survey of what the Bible teaches on hell. Believers, and non-believers, would do well to read this book. It brings the reader face to face with the reality of hell and what the Bible says about it. There was much I enjoyed about this book but my favorite parts where the short survey of universalism (chapter one) and two chapters on what Jesus and His early followers believed about hell (chapter two and three).

51g97t4vywl-_sx370_bo1204203200_The Top Ten Leadership Commandments by Hans Finzel. The Bible is full of great leaders that God used to do amazing things. One of those great leaders was Moses. In this book, Finzel looks at the life and leadership of Moses and pulls out ten “leadership commandments” that leaders should follow. I enjoyed Finzel’s Biblical approach to leadership in this book as well as how he helped the reader understand how they can apply these lessons to their own leadership. Mixed in with all of this was many examples and illustrations from Finzel’s own leadership journey. This wasn’t one of the best leadership books I have read but it was encouraging and helpful.

Books I’ve Read Recently

416dXgd3D-L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_A Call to Resurgence by Mark DriscollMark Driscoll is one of my favorite writers. I usually try and read his books when they come out so when I heard about this one awhile back I knew I needed to grab a copy. I’m very glad I did. A Call to Resurgence is an interesting book in that Driscoll covers a lot of ground. Everything from surveying modern culture, tribalism, sexuality, the Holy Spirit, and more. Much of what Driscoll writes is nothing new. It’s stuff he has been saying via speaking and writing for years. However, the timing of this book is perfect. Our culture is rapidly changing and become more and more anti-Christian. With that wave coming and coming fast, we as Christians need not to run in fear, but hold tight to what we believe and move forward with the life-changing truth of the Gospel. That is what Driscoll calls for in this book. He reminds us of where we have been as a culture and where we are going, but more importantly reminds Christians what we believe and what God calls us to be and do. In Driscoll words the book is “for those ready to dig in and hang on…this book is an unflinching look at what we’re up against and what it will take to not just survive but to thrive and accomplish the mission God has given us to extend a hand of rescue to those drowning all around us. It is a call not of retreat but to resurgence” (page 29).

51x7FWCw3GL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_The Judgment Seat of Christ by Samuel HoytOne of my favorite topics to study when it comes to eschatology (the study of end times) is the judgment seat of Christ. However, not many books have been written specifically on the judgment seat of Christ. Most of the time it is simply just given a section within a systematic theology book. Hoyt even points out that “the doctrine of the judgment seat of Christ often has been denied or relegated to minimal consideration under the subject of a general judgment” (page 13). He furthers explain this idea of a general judgment in chapter 2 of this book where he explains the proponents of this theory “believe that there will be one final judgement at the consummation of the world. At this time all people of all ages, both believers and unbelievers, will be simultaneously resurrected and judged. At this event the righteous will receive reward and the unrighteous will be condemned to eternal punishment” (page 17). However, the Bible speaks much about different future judgments and is clear that believers will one day stand at the judgment seat of Christ. Hoyt writes this book to support the judgment seat of Christ and give the reader a thorough understanding of what the Bible says about it. He does everything from explain the historical background of what was going on when Biblical writers like Paul mentioned the judgment seat of Christ. He also explains the nature, purpose, extent, and rewards of the judgment seat of Christ. The thesis that Hoyt sticks to throughout this book is “the judgment seat of Christ is a most solemn evaluation at which there will be no judicial condemnation, nor will there be any judicial punishment for the believer’s sins, whether confessed or unconfessed, but rather commendation according to the faithfulness of the Christian’s life” (page 15). Throughout this book Hoyt supports that thesis with solid Biblical research and exegesis. If you want to learn more about the judgment seat of Christ than I recommend this book.

51fCiUYnbiL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Disciples Are Made Not Born by Walter HenrichsenThis is a book that was originally published in 1974, but is still a very good read for Christians today. The whole idea of this book is discipleship. Henrichsen spends the first part of this book talking about what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. In the second part of the book Henrichsen talks about how Christians should share the Gospel and disciple others. He explains how Christians should practice evangelism and then help those they reach with the Gospel start to grow in their faith. Chapter by chapter, he goes through certain topics and things Christians needs to communicate to newer Christians in order to help them grow. This part of the book is extremely practical and contains a ton of great points on discipling new Christians. This is a short book that I recommend to anyone who is interested in becoming a more fully devoted follower of Jesus and want to help others follow Him as well.

Up next on my reading list is Gospel by J.D. Greear and Paul, the Spirit, and the People of God by Gordon Fee.

Picking The Right Worship Songs for Your Student Ministry

hands-lifted-in-worshipMost student ministries have some element of musical worship in their program. It may be an adult leading worship with their acoustic guitar or a group of students in a band leading their peers. However you do it in your student ministry, the fact remains that we need to strive to pick good songs. Don’t just sing every new worship song that comes out in an effort to be trendy (by the way, most of our students don’t listen to worship music outside of church so singing the latest and greatest worship hit is not that big of deal to them). However, we need to be intentional and pick songs that effectively help our students connect with Jesus through music. How do we pick songs that do that? Let me suggest three things that should guide us when we are picking worship songs for our student ministry.

Theologically Sound and Rich. Music teaches. Even if we don’t realize it or not, the words we sing during worship are shaping our view of God. Music has a powerful way of pushing truths deep down into our hearts. This is a great thing, but when we sing songs that are not Biblically accurate than we are in trouble. It’s important to make sure the songs we pick for our students to sing are theologically sound. That they line up with what Scripture teaches about God. Don’t settle for singing songs that have poor theology. Pick songs that teach our students accurate theological truths about God. An important thing to mention in regards to this is the importance of Gospel-centered worship music. Everything we do should be Gospel-centered, but we need to pick songs that focus on what God has done for us through Jesus. Too many worship songs make us (the singer) the center when in reality Jesus (the Savior) should be the center. In their book The Deliberate Church, Mark Dever and Paul Alexander sums up this point very well: “We want to sing songs that raise our view of God, that present Him in all His glory and grace. We want to sing songs that put the details of Christ’s person and work front and center. We want to sing theologically textured songs that make us think about the depths of God’s character, the contours of His grace, and the implications of His Gospel; that teach us about the Biblical doctrine that saves and transforms” (page 118).

Easy to Sing. Getting teenagers to sing is not easy. Especially when they are in a room full of their peers and they desperately want to look cool and not do anything stupid. But some students do sing and one of the most exciting things in student ministry to see is students who abandon the idea of what their peers think and they worship God freely. No matter how foolish they may look or how bad they may actually song, they are singing out in worship to their Savior. That is awesome! However, sometimes I believe students are not singing because the songs we pick are just not easy to sing. We need to make sure we pick songs that are easy for our students to sing. It may be a good song, but if it’s hard for the average student to sing than it may not be worth doing. We want to make it easy for our students to sing and connect with Jesus.

Balance between student ministry songs and the songs the church does on weekends. Let me explain what I mean here. I think it is healthy to sing some of the songs your church may sing during weekend worship in your student ministry as well. At the same time, I think your student ministry needs to do songs that your church may not do during weekend services. For example, our student ministry does a lot of songs from the band Citizens. The style and feel of their songs fit well with our students. However, Citizens may not fit well during our weekend worship service. The style is a little different from what our worship band normally plays on Sundays. However, many of the songs the band does on Sundays we do in our student ministry as well. The whole idea is to create a balance so students don’t feel like it’s the student ministry worship vs. the weekend adult worship. We are one local body of believers and the student ministry is part of the larger local church. It’s finding unity, but also creating different environments for the different groups.

Those are just a few thoughts on picking worship songs for your student ministry. I love watching my students worship Jesus through music and it’s a privilege to partner with my student ministry worship leader to pick songs that help our students do just that. When you go about picking songs, make sure they are theologically rich, easy to sing, and there is a balance between your student ministry and the weekend worship.

Guest Post: Does Theology Really Matter in Youth Ministry?

theology-matters“Is theology really that important for youth ministry?” I would say that such a question is comparable to asking an auto mechanic, “Is gasoline really that important for my car?” Sure, a youth ministry can appear to be thriving with fun games, professionally performed music, and a growing number of students in attendance, but if it’s based on anything apart from sound doctrine, is it really a thriving “ministry”? I would say that sound doctrine is the lifeblood for every youth ministry. Here’s why:

The Bible portrays doctrine as a serious matter. The Apostle Paul says in Galatians 1:8, “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.” To men in the Bible, preaching another gospel was essentially the most harmful thing anyone could do – the word “accursed” means “eternally condemned” (Bible Knowledge Commentary). A youth minister doesn’t get a free pass on this warning just because students are younger than adults; Paul’s warning covers all generations. Why are words so strong? Think about it, if the gospel is absent in our youth ministries, then we have nothing of eternal value to offer – “chubby bunny” lasts 5 minutes tops. In all seriousness though, Scripture identifies the gospel – the message of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection – as being “of first importance” (1 Cor. 15:3). And if we ignore the gospel (which, if you caught the connection, is foundational to “sound doctrine”), then we are running our youth ministries on something other than Christ and His Word. I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t want that to happen in any youth ministry.

The way you run your youth ministry is a reflection of your doctrine. Why do you teach from the Bible? Why do you minister to your surrounding communities? Why do you sing songs to God? Why do you work within the context of a local church? The way you answer these questions and every question related to “why you do what you do” will reveal your doctrinal convictions. Think about these implications for just a moment. If your view of the Bible (bibliology) is weak, then you won’t care to spend much time teaching it corporately, nor will you counsel youth according to biblical applications. If your view of sin (hamartiology) is shallow, then you distort the message of the gospel and forsake its value. There is no reason for Christ to die for people that are spiritually “okay,” who simply need a solid moral example – that’s called heresy (Christology & soteriology). If your view of the church (ecclesiology) is unbiblical, then you could care less in being committed to your brothers- and sisters-in-Christ. Plus, there will be a mentality of “anything goes” when it comes to ministry philosophies and programs – that’s dangerous. I could go on and on with countless examples, but it just goes to show that your theology will direct your ministry.

Sound doctrine affects our personal lives. You are allowed to raise your hands on this question: “How many of you have ‘asked Jesus into your heart’ at least ten times in your life?” I remember growing up with such a terrible fear of not genuinely meaning my prayer of repentance and conversion. Yes, this is a pattern found in most teenagers today as well. If you’ve read your Bible enough, you will know that “asking Jesus into your heart” is not what saves you, it’s Christ’s substitutionary sacrifice on the cross for your sin, and Him being “raised for our justification” (Romans 4:25). All that a person needs to do is repent and believe in this good news. Man, I wish my theology wasn’t so messed up growing up; that would’ve saved me so much trouble. But sound theology affects more than your conversion to Christianity – it affects proper worship, evangelism, love for others, moral choices, work ethic, dating guidelines, responding to tragedies, fighting sin, etc. Every question that a teenager might have is related to theology in some way.

I am convinced that sound doctrine is the lifeblood to a healthy youth ministry. Are you?

This guest post was written by John Wiley. John is the Youth Pastor at Gospel Baptist Church in Archdale, North Carolina. He just finished his BA in Christian Ministries from Piedmont International University, and is beginning his MA in Biblical Studies from PIU this January. He is happily married to his beautiful wife Cindy, and enjoys drinking strong coffee with her on sunny Saturday afternoons while either reading or watching movies in Winston-Salem, NC.  

What I Learned From a Week of Church Interviews

This past week I was able to have a couple of interviews with a few church in North Carolina. I have been looking for my first full-time student pastor position since finishing my undergrad degree in November. I’ll be honest, not much has been happening since November. I have sent my resume to over a hundred churches, but was not getting any feedback or calls from those churches. All that changed this past week. Out of nowhere three churches called me and wanted to meet with me! I enjoyed each interview and believe God taught me a lot about myself and my future ministry. Here are a few things I learned that I believe will help you if you’re looking for a full-time pastoral position in a local church:

1. Know your theology. One of the first questions two of the churches asked me was where I stood on certain theological issues. Good churches will want to know where you stand with your theology. They are looking to hire someone who lines up with their theology so it is vitally important you know where you stand. If your theology doesn’t match theirs, don’t waste your time or their time. Hopefully, you have studied theology in college and have a good understanding of where your stand, but make sure your ready to answer questions that are theological in nature. If the church is not concerned about your theology than it’s probably not a church worth talking to. Your theology will direct your ministry, so it is important that a church knows your theology. Before I go on let me explain something. Their are “closed handed” and “open-handed” issues. Usually, “open-handed” issues are things we can agree to disagree on and fellowship and worship together in humility. But when it comes to working on staff at a church, most churches will ask you to be on the same page with even the “open-handed” issuess. So when you step into an interview, make sure you know where you stand on the “closed-handed” issues as well as the “open-handed” issues.

2. Know the role your wife will play in the ministry. Every church I interviewed with asked me how my fiancee, soon to be wife, will fit into the ministry. They want to know how your wife will serve in the ministry. Some churches will expect your wife to play a vital role while other will not expect her to do too much. Determine before an interview that you are being hired for the position, not your wife. If she wants to play a big role in the ministry, great, but if she doesn’t, that is perfectly ok. In order to answer this question, spend some time talking to your wife about how she sees herself fitting in to your ministry. Allow her to serve where her strengths and passions lie. Then explain to the church how she will serve with you and what particular roles she will play. If your not married, realize most church will look to at candidates that are married first. Don’t get married just for ministry, but realize it’s an important asset to churches. One quick tip. Allow your wife to speak in the interview if she is present. Let her share her heart and passions for ministry. Churches not only want to hear you, but want to hear your other half.

3. Make sure your like the overall ministry of the church, not just the particular area your looking to serve in. I am looking for a student pastor position so I looked very closely at their students and how the church views student ministry. It is important to make sure you like where the church is going with the ministry area or applying for, but make sure you like the church overall. Don’t take the job if you are falling asleep during the Sunday morning worship servive. Don’t take the job if you don’t feel like you will get spiritually feed by the preaching. Don’t take the job if you feel like your wife and children don’t like the the ministries that are geared towards them. I look at it this way, find a job at a church you would attend if you didn’t get a job there. Would you enjoy the Sunday services if you wasn’t the student pastor? Would you send your children to the children’s ministry if you didn’t work for the church? Find a church that ministers to your personally.

These are just a few of the things I learned this past week. I hope they help you as you are looking for that position or will help you encourage someone who is currently looking. At the end of the day, God is sovereign and will lead you to the right place and position. Pray and ask God for guidance and discernment as you look for that perfect position.