February 28, 2013 by
"My people's greatest need is my personal holiness." -Robert Murray M’Cheyne
Jeff Purswell, Dean of the Sovereign Grace Pastors College, sat down with Dr. Mike Bullmore to discuss the importance of the spiritual life of the pastor/preacher, cultivating and nurturing godliness on the pastoral team, and building a church that has "a life in the Word."
This interview concluded another fruitful week in the Pastors College where Dr. Bullmore served as our guest instructor on the theology and practice of the spiritual disciplines in the Christian life.
An Interview with Dr. Mike Bullmore
Homiletics, Spiritual Disciplines, and the Church
[00:01] Introductory comments
[01:25] Dr. Bullmore’s family background
[02:27] His theological training and dissertation.
[04:15] Why Dr. Bullmore left teaching at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School to plant a church?
[06:57] What has changed in Dr. Bullmore’s understanding of homiletics over the last 15 years?
[09:10] The importance of the spiritual life of the pastor/preacher
[12:40] The pastoral temptation to neglect the spiritual disciplines for the work of ministry
[13:45] The preacher’s example: the difference between perfection and fidelity
[15:21] The preacher’s life and doctrine
[19:05] Cultivating and nurturing godliness on the pastoral team
[21:15] Reading together as a pastoral team
[22:10] Prayer and the pastoral team
[23:17] How a pastor’s example influences the church
[25:23] Building a church that has “a life in the Word"
[28:38] The role of nature in our spiritual lives
[32:15] Upcoming message at the 9Marks@SBTS Conference: “Why Do We Need Expository Preaching?"
February 27, 2013 by
The Importance of Transferring
Transferring is important to life. Very important. In fact, it can be a matter of life and death.
I have four great kids at home. Each of them is his/her own little person, with his or her own exciting personality and skills. But regardless of their personality, there are certain things that each one of them must be taught—certain things that I must transfer to them for their own good.
One of these things is the basic skill of eating real food. For every one of my kids, there came a time when drinking milk was no longer sufficient to nourish them. When my kiddos were 18 months or so, they didn't know that it was time to start eating real food, but it was! They would have been perfectly happy with milk for the rest of their lives—but Ashley and I knew better. We knew that they needed real food to live. We needed to transfer to them the skill of eating solid food.
It's very much the same with our Christian lives. Any young generation can assume that what they have already is sufficient for their lives before God. Young Christians can assume that their basic knowledge of the Gospel is sufficient for their lives (and in one sense it is), but they often do not understand the immaturity that results from being satisfied on milk and not solid food. There can often be a lack of nourishment—that if not addressed will lead to spiritual malnourishment and even death.
Feasting on the Word
The value of feasting God's Word must be transferred to the next generation.
In Hebrews 5, the writer to the Hebrews offers a bit of a correction to a group of young Christians, and it's a correction that is needed in my generation and in the generation that follows me as well. He says:
"For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. Therefore, let us leave the elementary doctrines of Christ and go on to maturity!"
The author of Hebrews is eager to transfer truth to these young Christians. He knows that the world they are living in requires great spiritual strength and maturity. He knows that they will grow weary in the journey if they do not have real nourishment to strengthen them. They must grow! They must mature.
And so he takes 13 glorious chapters of Scripture to lead them towards maturity. He proclaims from the Word of God (the Old Testament) solid truth that will put meat on their spiritual bones. He proclaims timeless truth that he knows they desperately need. He transfers a love for God's Word.
Do We All See the Need?
Do we see the need for this transfer? Are younger generations hungry for it? Are older generations eager to give it?
It won't always be easy. It can even be messy. I remember watching each one of my kids learn what solid food was. They spit it out; they mushed it around in their mouth; they smeared it into their hair; they dumped it on the floor...they did everything BUT eat it. But we kept giving it and they kept trying.
How about you? Has a hunger for the meat of God's Word been transferred to you? Are you ready to grow? Are you ready to learn bite by bite how to get more out of God’s Word? It may not always be easy (which is why we need to be taught!), but one thing is clear: the generation that learns to eat meat is the generation that goes on to spiritual strength and maturity. Our generation needs more meat.
* This post originally appeared on the Transfer blog.
Joel joined the pastoral team of Covenant Fellowship Church in 2005, and graduated as part of the Pastors College class of 2008. He currently serves as the pastor of THRIVE, the singles & college ministry of Covenant Fellowship Church as well as Cross Culture, our youth ministry. Joel resides in West Chester with his wife Ashley and their four children.
This week the Pastors College welcomes Mike Bullmore as our guest lecturer on the theology and practice of the spiritual disciplines in the Christian life. Dr. Bullmore is a frequent teacher in the Pastors College, is a former professor at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and since 1998 has led CrossWay Community Church in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
In this course Dr. Bullmore provides a clear definition of the sometimes fuzzy concept of spirituality: “Christian spirituality is the pursuit of godliness.” And after reading “the key text for this course” (1 Timothy 4:6–16), he continues,
There’s a lot at stake in your godliness. There’s heavy, weighty things attached to your personal pursuit of godliness. This week is all about attentiveness to your spiritual life—the pursuit of godliness. The most important factor in your pastoring is not your gifting; it’s your godliness. And that’s the most important factor in your parenting, and your being a husband. Your people are going to appreciate your gifting and your wisdom, but what they will look to, and long for, is your personal godliness.
Proverbs 14:26 is directed towards fathers: “In the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence, and his children will have a refuge.” I think the same thing is true in pastoring. It’s a leadership issue. A man who fears the Lord has a fortress. And for your people that will be a refuge.
Dr. Bullmore also shares Robert Murray M’Cheyne’s famous adage: “My people's greatest need is my personal holiness,” a sentence where, Kevin DeYoung once wrote, “almost my whole philosophy of ministry is summed up” (Don't Call it a Comeback, 26).
We anticipate another rich week of pastoral training. For more on the topic you can listen to Bullmore’s 105-minute message “Spiritual Disciplines” recorded at CrossWay Community Church.
February 25, 2013 by
Categories: Board updates | Polity
The following letter and attachments went out to the Sovereign Grace pastors today from Phil Sasser on behalf of the Polity Committee and the SGM Board of Directors.
You are receiving two documents.
- The first is a “clean” copy of the Revised Polity Proposal, which includes the Book of Church Order along with accompanying prefatory material.
- The second document is a marked up version showing all of the additions, deletions, or changes made to the original Polity Proposal. The second document will be difficult to read. We included it so that you could see the editing process and what was changed and how exactly it differs from the original. Disregard all the different colored fonts in the marked up copy. They’re related to the various layers of the editing process.
Again, the Polity Committee and the SGM Board of Directors would like to thank you all for your feedback on the original proposal. Interacting with your questions and comments greatly served us in this process and resulted in many changes you will see in this new version. Our interaction with so many of you was an invaluable experience. Thank you.
The SGM Board has scheduled the ratification vote on the Revised Proposal for Friday, April 12, 2013. As we communicated in our last update, the date of the ratification vote was moved back in order to allow a longer period of time for examination. The ratification vote will be held in a manner consistent with the Polity Proposal. I.e., it will be voted on by a “provisional” Council of Elders. That means that every SG church eldership must delegate one of their number to represent them in the vote. Mark Prater will oversee the ratification vote process, so you will need to send the name of your representative to Mark (email@example.com) no later than April 5th. We anticipate that the vote will be by some kind of electronic communication. Once all the votes are in we will let you know the result and post it on the SG website.
Should the polity be ratified, the next important date in the process is the church’s declaration of participation in SG, that is by Friday, May 3, 2013. We are foregoing the signing of the more formal SG Partnership Agreement pending a legal review of the document. Instead, we are asking that participating churches sign a more informal “letter of intent.” A copy of this is included in the proposal. Mark Prater will communicate further details on the polity implementation process.
In the midst of challenging times, we are nevertheless hopeful, even excited, about the future of our family of churches. We are buoyed by the knowledge that Christ is building his church and that none of his purposes will fail. May God grant us his grace to ever proclaim his glorious gospel and to live lives worthy of such a gospel.
On behalf of the Polity Committee and the SGM Board of Directors,
SGM Polity Proposal Final
SGM BCO Marked Up
February 22, 2013 by
For the latest news and resources for Sovereign Grace churches we'd encourage you to subscribe to the Plant & Build blog where we post Monday through Friday each week. You can also stay connected by following us on Twitter or liking us on Facebook.
But for monthly updates highlighting the most relevant news and resources from that month, consider subscribing to our eNews.
This month’s edition released today. It covers upcoming church plants, conferences, the polity process, and more. You can view it here.
February 21, 2013 by
Categories: Church planting | Conferences | Video
From generation to generation... What we treasure, we must transfer!
For over 30 years, Lynn Baird has been pastoring God's people and communicating a passion for the gospel. His dream is to see this same passion passed on to the next generation, for the planting and building of more churches. Thank you Lynn; we want to learn from you.
Join us May 25-28 in Orlando, FL for Transfer, a four-day gathering hosted by the churches of Sovereign Grace Ministries to celebrate and proclaim those biblical truths that are most important to pass on from one generation to the next.
February 20, 2013 by
Last Friday and Saturday young adults gathered at Sovereign Grace Church in Gilbert, Arizona for the second annual Relate Conference.
The Relate Conference originated with a desire to create lasting, Christ-centered friendships among Christian young adults from various cities and churches. In a society and culture where it seems fashionable for Christian young adults to gather around any number of things, we wanted to make sure that we created a context where they could gather around the best and most important thing, the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
For your encouragement, I pass on a few highlights from our time together this past weekend:
- The messages focused on the reality that the Banner, or identifying flag, of the Christian life must be the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Bob Kauflin, Jon Payne, Rich Richardson, and I sought to equip those in attendance to go back to their local churches and celebrate this reality in their daily lives.
The Gospel and the Word
The Gospel and the Gathering
The Gospel and the Church
The Gospel and Our Lives
- One of the best additions to the 2013 conference was having Bob Kauflin lead us in singing praise to God. Bob’s gifting along with his passion for the exaltation of Christ through song is contagious and it helped to emphasize the theme of the conference. It was truly a privilege to have Bob and his wife Julie join us this year.
- Throughout the weekend, fellowship was not only encouraged but also strategically planned. The reports from those in attendance would point to the reality that camaraderie among the attendees was built, new friends were made, and old friendships were strengthened; all to the glory of Christ.
It is our prayer that everyone who attended Relate returned to their home churches encouraged and eager to:
- Rehearse the Gospel in their gatherings,
- Exercise the Gospel in their relationships,
- And proclaim the Gospel in their communities.
Look for information about Relate 2014 at our website. We would be honored to have you join us next year.
Jason has been a pastor at Sovereign Grace Church of Gilbert, AZ since 2009 where he leads the Worship Ministry as well as their College/Career Ministry called TwentyFour:Seven. Jason graduated from the Sovereign Grace Pastors College in 2009. He lives in Gilbert with his wife Tiff and their four children.
February 19, 2013 by
Registration for WorshipGod East and West has finally opened. And I can’t wait.
This year’s theme is Called to be Faithful.
A large number of past WorshipGod attendees have come from churches of 500 or less. In addition, when I posted A Salute to the Average Worship Leader a few months ago, it seemed to resonate with a lot of folks. That’s why I wanted to focus this year on being faithful.
Being faithful is hard. It’s not flashy. It doesn’t make for good sound bites or Facebook status updates. Being faithful isn’t sensational, doesn’t attract big crowds, and almost never makes the headlines. And when it does, the focus is usually on success and statistics, not faithfulness.
But being faithful is something God highly values.
Many a man proclaims his own steadfast love, but a faithful man who can find? (Prov. 20:6)
A faithful man will abound with blessings, but whoever hastens to be rich will not go unpunished. (Prov. 28:20)
His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ (Mt. 25:21)
Why the biblical emphasis on being faithful? Because God wants to make us like himself:
God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. (1 Cor. 1:9)
But what does faithfulness look like? As a leader? As a musician? As a sound engineer? As a songwriter? How do we make sure we’re keeping the main things the main things? How do we resist the world’s definitions of success and pursue what matters to God?
Those questions and more will be addressed at WorshipGod 2013. In the main sessions we’ll be reminded that God calls us to be faithful to receive his grace, proclaim the gospel, serve others, grow in our knowledge and skills, and prepare people for eternal realities.
Main session speakers at West this year include Craig Cabaniss, Kevin DeYoung, Jon Payne, and myself. At East we’ll be hearing from Craig and me, along with Dr. Russ Moore, Jared Mellinger, and Indelible Grace’s Kevin Twit.
Music at West will be led by me, my son, Devon, Pat Sczebel, and Enfield. Music at East will be Devon and me again, along with Mike Cosper and a group from Sojourn Community Church, as well as Matt Mason, who now leads at The Church at Brook Hills.
We’ll be offering 28 seminars at each conference (thanks for all the recommendations), of which you’ll be able to attend 4. Topics include planning your meeting, the leader’s relationships, working with other generations, songwriting, making room for the Spirit’s leading, prayer, sound applications, vocal and instrumental classes, and more. Some additional focused gatherings are in the works as well.
WorshipGod East will also offer three hour pre-conference intensives on Wednesday in the areas of basic sound, contemporary piano, choir, and essential guitar skills.
Prices this year are similar to last year, with super early bird prices starting at $90 for students, $115 each for groups of 5+, and $140 for individuals. Those prices go up $30 on March 16 for West and April 1 for East.
For the first time ever, the first 100 senior pastors who register at East or West will pay only $75. We want them to come that badly.
As in previous years, WorshipGod 2013 will include loads of giveaways, free on-site lunches, a great bookstore, plenty of laughter, and opportunities to meet hundreds of like-minded believers devoted to worshiping God in spirit and truth.
Most of all, it will be an opportunity to encounter God, and be trained, refreshed, and revitalized for the role you play in serving your local church.
Bring your team, bring your pastor, bring yourself.
If WorshipGod11 was any indicator, we’re going to have a great time.
* This post originally appeared on Bob Kauflin's website, Worship Matters.
Bob Kauflin is the Director of Sovereign Grace Music. His responsibilities include equipping pastors and musicians in the theology and practice of congregational worship, and contributing to Sovereign Grace CDs. He is a pastor and one of the worship leaders at Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville, KY. He is the author of, Worship Matters: Leading Others to Encounter the Greatness. Bob blogs at Worship Matters and hosts the bi-annual WorshipGod conference.
February 19, 2013 by
Categories: Board updates
The Sovereign Grace Board wrote the following letter to update the Sovereign Grace pastors on a change with the Board. Thank you for your continued prayer and support.
After serving the past 20 months on both the Interim Board and the current SG Board, Craig Cabaniss submitted his resignation from the Board at our recent retreat. After such an extended time of serving on the Board, Craig and the elders of Grace Church Frisco believe that it is wise for him to resign so he can give more of his time to support their local church, and we support that decision. We are deeply grateful for Craig’s hard work over the past two years. He has consistently been a source of wise, pastoral input and represented our churches in a manner that we believe has been pleasing to God. We will miss Craig's participation very much in this key role.
As with John Loftness’ vacancy, we do not plan on filling that position until the new Polity is implemented, should it be ratified. The remaining seven Board members currently plan on serving until we make this transition.
Thank you for your prayers for Craig as well as for the Board as we trust God for grace and wisdom to lead us in our gospel mission together.
Your brothers on the Sovereign Grace Ministries Board
February 18, 2013 by
Categories: Church planting | Interviews
For several years, the pastors of Grace Bible Church in Northeast Philadelphia have been dreaming and praying about planting more churches in the neighborhoods of Philadelphia. It has been their desire to work with Sovereign Grace Ministries to see churches established which stand in strong relationship to one another, with their eyes focused on a common mission.
In part 1 of this interview Dan shared with us his calling to pastoral ministry, his vision for church planting in the northeast region of Philadelphia, and how the Sovereign Grace Pastors College helped equip him for this plant. Today, Dan shares with us some of his church planting residency experience and describes the unique blessings and challenges of planting in an urban setting.
Can you describe some of the things you're doing and learning in your church planting residency that will help you as you plant your church?
Right now I am learning that church planters wear many hats, perhaps too many hats. Building construction, websites, fund raising, core group training, neighborhood initiatives, counseling etc., - first, I find my pride being offended that I can’t do it all. It’s been a great reminder of my frailty and God’s sufficiency. God uses men for the in breaking of his kingdom, but without God, man is mere man. So I need God, but I also need to remember that I am not a lone ranger. God has lovingly provided partnership on a variety of levels.
- First, I thank God that he has provided a loving core group which is uniquely gifted by God to specifically meet needs on the ground.
- Second I thank God that he has provided a wise and selfless sending church. They have encouraged, counseled, and sacrificed.
- Third, I thank God for the fellowship of churches in Sovereign Grace. We have received funds, encouraging emails, and helpful counsel.
God has uniquely gifted his local and extra-local body to ensure the health of new, local church plants.
What advantages do you see to partnering with Sovereign Grace as a church planter?
In simple terms, we as Grace Bible Church, could not plant without Sovereign Grace. The advantages are vast. They include counsel, training, accountability, funding and plain-old, good relationship. We value partnership because of these advantages and we would encourage other planters to find a similar partnership.
But more specifically, I am grateful for Sovereign Grace because it is a partnership with the previous mentioned advantages that carries with it distinct theological values, and yet flexible methods. We are embarking on something unique here in Philly, and we are attempting to determine the most effective methods of going about it. It has forced us to think outside of the box, but in doing so, we do not want to compromise our shared theological distinctives. Sovereign Grace has become a partnership where helpful discussions can take place, challenging counsel can be given, and mutual prayer can be provided.
Your email address is Grace4addictions...do you have a vision for reaching out to those struggling with addictions? If so, how would you describe that vision and the part you see it playing in the new church?
For several years God has given me the opportunity to interact and disciple those who are struggling with substance abuse. I had not attempted to gain a particular burden for those in addiction, but God has definitely orchestrated opportunities, and in so doing, stirred up a burden for those who are struggling with this life dominating sin.
The new church will inevitably be attended by those who are struggling with substance abuse. So it is our vision, as with any struggling individual, to see Christ set them free unto a God-glorifying life. As a new church we don’t have specific programs for the addicted, but we do have the tool that God most often uses – loving relationships. It is our desire as a church to embrace those who are struggling as God embraces us when we are struggling. It is our desire to be ok with getting messy, because Christ has lovingly entered our mess. In other words, it is our desire to embrace gospel-living with the hope of gospel renewal.
As you prepare to plant in an urban setting, what do you see as the unique blessings and challenges of "urban church planting?"
In an urban setting like blue collar NE Philly, sin and suffering are overt. There is no hiding it. Brokenness abounds. Therefore, the challenge is to guard from becoming calloused toward the brokenness especially when the brokenness is pointed at you. Your car gets broken into. Trash is piled up in front of your apartment door. Graffiti is written across your apartment door. Sirens wake you up on a regular basis. Urban life can regularly give occasion to expose your heart for what it is, self-righteousness. The brokenness gets up in your grill and if you have not reflected on your own brokenness and God’s mercy to you through Christ, then your heart begins to become calloused with self-righteousness. This is the challenge.
On the other hand, since the brokenness is overt there is little struggle in persuading people of their brokenness. They are willing to discuss their hurt. And they are even willing to discuss their vain attempts for help. The blessing is that there are abundant opportunities to share the sure help of the gospel!
What advice would you give to someone considering an urban church plant?
This would depend on the individual... But broadly, I would suggest that urban church planting is not for everyone. Don’t get me wrong. I love the city and I want others to gain a vision for urban church planting, but we have to be honest - it is not for everyone. To the individual who is considering an urban church plant, do all you can to give six months to a year, if not longer, to be in an urban neighborhood, doing neighborhood stuff with neighborhood people. Giving time to learn the city and the cultures represented in a particular area of your city will be extremely beneficial. I would also suggest this be done in partnership with a local church that is familiar you and with that particular area of the city. And if your experience becomes anything like mine, God will use that time in the city to change you. God will show you if the city is his specific mission field for you.
How can we pray for you as your church gets started?
Thank you for asking! Please begin praying by thanking God. He has done much for his church! We have seen God already at work in calling a people out for himself. Please pray for those who have recently come to know him, that they ‘might be filled with a knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding’.
Secondly, we realize that it is a rare thing to plant a church having been given a building. From the get-go, we have a unique responsibility to steward this building for the good of the church and for the good of our neighborhood. The church building is in need of some significant repairs, and therefore we are seeking to raise funds and to call on teams who can help us repair the building for the glory of our God! So please be praying for God’s continued provision.
How can those interested in your church plant find out more?
Individuals who are interested in the plant can contact me personally at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, individuals can go to www.gbcphilly.com/wiss for our guest page and for those interested in getting further info and potentially helping support the plant, they can go to www.plantwiss.com.