Yesterday I had the privilege of traveling to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, to participate in an elder installation service for the appointment of three elders, Gerald Hartlaub, David Layhew and Gary Powers. I preached from Acts 20 with a focus on verse 8, “Keep watch over yourselves and the flock, shepherd the church of God, which He purchased by His own blood”, Paul’s words to the elders of the church in Ephesus on the beach at Miletus, I encouraged the elders to follow Paul’s pattern in Acts 20, and exhorted the congregation to be a humble and dutiful church that listens intently to the Word of the Lord from these men, and gathers when the elders call for it. I made clear to the congregation that these new elders cannot shepherd them if they don’t come to the gatherings, and recommended that they build their life schedules around the church calendar, instead of just trying to fit them in when it was convenient. Pray for these new elders that they would be a fulfillment of Jeremiah 3:15, “And I will give you shepherds according to My heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding.”
The NCFIC interns and some of the young men from Hope Baptist, accompanied me to a pastor’s conference this weekend, titled “The Reformed Pastor.” Held at Springs of Life Bible Church, the conference featured speakers, Andy Davis, Sam Waldron, and Nathan Finn at Grace Reformed Baptist Church in Durham. It was hosted by pastor Stan Geyer and produced by the people of the church, who furnished facilities and wonderful meals for us. The conference included biographies of Richard Baxter, Jonathan Edwards, Andrew Fuller, and Charles Spurgeon. It provided a wonderful view of pastoral leadership from the seventeenth century to the nineteenth century. The thematic thread in my mind was the defense of the gospel through the diversity of pastoral gifts and roles. Baxter was the quintessential pastor. Edwards: Scholar and evangelist. Fuller: Defending biblical evangelism and arguing against hyper-Calvinism and decisional regeneration. Spurgeon: pastor evangelist. I wanted to bring these young men with me to this pastor’s conference because I wanted them to soak for a while in the biographies of men who were faithful to Christ early in life, and who redeemed the time in the days of their youth. I wanted them to see and understand a vision for godly pastoral leadership in the church….
When speaking of the beauty of the name of Jesus, Calvin quotes a statement from Bernard, “The name of Jesus is not only light but also food; it is also oil, without which all food of the soul is dry; it is salt, without whose seasoning whatever I set before us is insipid; finally, it is honey in the mouth, melody in the ear, rejoicing in the heart, and at the same time medicine. Every discourse in which his name is not spoken is without savor.”—Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book 2, Chapter 16, Section 1.
Jonathan Edwards’ Ministry To Youth In Northampton
I would like to suggest that the method of youth ministry practiced in the church of Jonathan Edwards was more closely aligned with the Biblical commands and patterns than is our current age segregated model. The church in Northampton was age integrated and completely free of the programmatic, age-segregated model which is widely used today. Yet, Edwards had very specific counsel for the young people in the church and he worked to be a blessing to them in a many ways.
Disturbed About Youth Meeting Together
Jonathan Edwards was disturbed by the prospect of too much age-specific interaction of the youth in his church. From time to time, he did gather groups together for special occasions although most of the time it was for some sort of special instruction. For example, after the death of one of young men in the congregation, he gathered five different groups together. One of them was a group of the young people in the church, and on this occasion he described to them how important the years of youth are, saying,
“Our youth is on several accounts the best part of our lives. Then nature is in its bloom, farthest from any decay; then the body is most lively, active, and beautiful, and the powers of the mind are in some respects more sprightly. And it is very pleasing to God when persons offer Him such a sacrifice as themselves in their youth, as it was most acceptable to Him when Abel brought the firstlings of his flock (Genesis 4:4 )....1
This is Geoffrey Botkin with Western Conservatory of the Arts and Sciences. All over America, new churches are being started by families who know that churches need strong biblical families and families need strong biblical churches. This remarkable development is not just happening in a few communities but all over the United States. Guiding these pioneer families and pioneer churches is the NCFIC. The National Center for Family-Integrated Churches is the best resource in America for information on how to form and sustain new churches. America needs these new churches and there are dynamic leaders across America who all agree that radically reforming the church is a crucial priority for our nation.
I am bringing my whole family to the NCFIC Sufficiency of Scripture Conference in Cincinnati December 10-12. At this conference, you can meet these leaders and hear firsthand accounts of fruitful churches who are applying forgotten principles of Scripture to the church today. I hope to see you there.
What have we learned from this controversy over “Family of Families”?
The missionary George Whitefield said that “critics are the unpaid guardians of the soul,” and so we are grateful for both dialog and diatribe. It has shown us that we see through “a glass darkly.” It has demonstrated that in our attempt to explain heavenly things, we often struggle to find human language that meets both the heavenly and the earthly standard. Sometimes we are genuinely misunderstood. Other times men do their best to twist our words, make us worse than we are and find themselves unable to correct their erroneous mischaracterizations. At the end of the day, we understand that we are imperfect men trying to be faithful to the faithful testimony of scripture.
We have no intention to abandon the use of the phrase or the concept behind it. It is a very important principle that undergirds a biblical understanding of church and family life. We think Swindoll said it very beautifully and Baucham explained it with the kind of precision that should answer every question for all to see that it fits within the range of biblical thinking. We think that Kostenberger explained one of the stunning aspects of this as he describes the importance of a marriage under the headship of Christ in God’s redemptive plan….
My name is Andy Davis, pastor of First Baptist Church in Durham, North Carolina. I am grateful to the Lord for Scott Brown’s leadership of the National Center for Family-Integrated Churches.
The movement to harmonize the God-ordained roles of both the family and the church has its roots in the scriptural mandate for each. The same God that settles children in families to be trained and nurtured in Christ also sets individuals and families together in churches for mutual accountability and encouragement in the faith.
It is my prayer that God will use the NCFIC to accomplish His purposes for both the family and for the church of Jesus Christ.
Come join us for a night to remember as the new and controversial film, The Mysterious Islands comes to Durham, NC for a special premiere screening! Meet the film’s executive producer and cast in person and get a behind the scenes experience you will never forget.
The Screening will take place November 17, 7:00 p.m. at the Carolina Theatre in Durham, NC. For tickets call 919-560-3030 (Adults $7, Ages 6-12 $3, 5 and under are free).