A Crash Course in Church Growth (Ephesians 4:1-16)

Ephesians

This past weekend at Eastbrook Church, I continued our series “Ephesians: A Crash Course in Basic Christianity,” by looking at Ephesians 4:1-16 with the message: “A Crash Course in Church Growth.” The message aims to recalibrate our understanding of what church growth is all about by focusing on the direction of growth outlined by the Apostle Paul in this chapter. Along the way, I spend some time discussing what it means to walk worthy of our calling, what is the fivefold ministry and what does it mean now, and a little bit around the topic of individual versus community spiritual growth.

You can watch my message from this past weekend and follow along with the message outline below. You can also engage with the entire series here or download the Eastbrook mobile app for even more opportunities for involvement.

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Exemplary Lives of Renewed Pastors

Richard Baxter.jpgIn reading J. I. Packer’s A Quest for Godliness some time ago, I came across this moving quotation from Richard Baxter about the need for pastors to attend to their own lives in ministry. Baxter was an interesting figure, best known for his writing of that classic of pastoral practice, The Reformed Pastor.

Just a quick note that the term ‘reformed’ for Baxter does not merely refer to the reformed theological tradition, but also to the pursuit of a thoroughly reformed life before God. A more easily understood title for that book today might be “The Renewed Pastor.” I am confident that more than a few readers might agree with me that what we need today, no less than in Baxter’s day, is renewed pastors whose lives are exemplary and saturated with the character of Christ.

Take heed to yourselves, lest you be void of that saving grace of God which you offer to others….be also careful that your graces are kept in vigorous and lively exercise, and that you preach to yourselves the sermons which you study, before you preach them to others….watch therefore over your own hearts: keep out lusts and passions, and worldly inclinations; keep up the life of faith, and love, and zeal; be much at home, and much with God…take heed to yourselves, lest your example contradict your doctrine…lest you unsay with your lives, what you say with your tongues….we must study as hard how to live well, as how to preach well.

This is a challenging and good word to those of us who serve the Lord and His church in pastoral ministry. Baxter draws attention to the key topics: the steadiness in our exercise of faith, the personal response to the message we preach to others, dealing with the desires and longings within our own hearts, our zeal in ministry, and our everyday living for God. There is hardly any part of our lives to which Baxter fails to call attention. God forbid that we should take lightly our call and the example which we must set as servants of Christ in His body!

With confidence, Paul could say these words to one of his congregations: “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). Pastor, I ask myself and invite you to join me in considering whether we can we offer the same confident statement to our people from our own lives. With a tip of my hat to E. M. Bounds, I must say that what we need today as pastors is not primarily more activity in the church, or more impact in the social arena, or better programs, or more-updated models of ministry. No. For all the good that those things can offer, they are not the primary necessity in pastoral ministry today or in any other era. Our primary need for pastoral ministry in today’s church is that humble servants of Christ will lay down their lives daily in order to be made completely new and alive to God in Christ. May God transform us as pastors into examples others can follow for His glory.

The Apostle James’ words come to mind:

Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers and sisters, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly (James 3:1).

Who Do You Say I Am

KingComing_Thumbnail_200x200

This weekend, I began a new series, “King Coming,” as we continue our journey through the Gospel of Mark at Eastbrook Church.  My message was entitled, “Who Do You Say I Am?,” and focused on Mark 8:27-30.

The main thing I was getting at was how there are some questions that can define our lives.

You can listen to the message at the Eastbrook web-site here. You can also follow the RSS feed for Eastbrook sermons or follower Eastbrook Church on Twitter or Facebook.

The outline for the message, which I actually didn’t end up using strictly for the message on Sunday, is included below:Read More »

Provider (discussion questions)

Here are the discussion questions that accompany my message at Eastbrook Church this past weekend, “Provider,” from Mark 6:30-43 and 8:1-13

Discussion Questions:

  1. When have you experienced God’s provision in your life? Identify a specific situation or event.
  2. This week, we are looking at Jesus the provider as seen in two parallel Bible passages, Mark 6:30-43and 8:1-11.  Whether you are alone or with a small group, read these two passages out loud. Ask God to speak to you as you continue the study.
  3. In Mark 6:30-43, what is the situation that leads into the miraculous feeding? What is the hope of the disciples at this point? (You may want to consult Mark 6:6-13.)Read More »

Provider

This weekend, I concluded our series on the first half of the Gospel of Mark, “The Real Jesus,” at Eastbrook Church.  My message was entitled, “Provider,” and brought together two miraculous feeding stories in Mark 6:30-44 and 8:1-13.

While these stories do speak of God’s miraculous provision for us as people, I wanted us to see how they reveal more about who Jesus is as the ultimate provider – and provision – Himself.

You can listen to the message at the Eastbrook web-site here. You can also follow the RSS feed for Eastbrook sermons or follower Eastbrook Church on Twitter or Facebook.

The outline for the message is included below:Read More »

Teacher (discussion questions)

Here are the discussion questions that accompany my message at Eastbrook Church this past weekend, “Teacher,” from Mark 4:1-34.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Who has been one of your most memorable teachers – good or bad – in your life? Why were they so memorable?
  2. This week, we are looking at Jesus as the teacher.  Our text this week is Mark 4:1-34. Whether you are alone or with a small group, take a moment to read that text out loud. Ask God to speak to you.
  3. In this passage, we see Jesus teaching through a series of parables, or pithy stories. Why do you think Jesus taught using parables?Read More »

Teacher

We continued our journey through the first half of the Gospel of Mark in our “Real Jesus” series this weekend at Eastbrook. I brought a message on Jesus as the teacher from Mark 4:1-34. What I was trying to present is that Jesus is a powerful teacher about all of life and that we would do well to attend to His words.

You can listen to the message at the Eastbrook web-site here.

The outline for the message is included below:Read More »