One of the most encouraging and challenging messages I heard while in Louisville during Together for the Gospel was the 10 minute talk by Ligon Duncan where he answered the question, “If you, an experienced pastor, had 10 minutes to exhort 200 of the next generation of ministers what would you say to them?”  His answer was laid out in the following six exhortations:

1. Preach the Word

“J.I. Packer says that for those of us who are conservative, evangelical Protestants, when we are faithfully preaching the Word of God, the Word is delivering God’s message through us to His people. It is not that we are delivering the Word of God to His people, it is that His Word is delivering through us His Word to His people.”

2. Love your people

“You cannot reform what you do not love . . . your people will receive even your rebuke when they know that you love them. But if they catch a whiff of your distance, detachment or cynicism they will not bear the wounds of a friend that you must deliver if you are going to be a faithful pastor. You must love your people passionately.”

3. Pray down heaven

“A young woman met me at the door of the church at the end of Sunday morning worship services with tears in her eyes and she said, ‘Dr. Duncan, what was it that he did (pastor Derek Thomas) in the middle of the service?’ I started going back over the order of service and it occurred to me that he prayed a lengthy, biblical pastoral prayer,” Duncan said. “I said ‘do you mean the prayer?’ ‘Yes, that thing’ she said. ‘What was that?’ I said ‘are you from a Christian background?’ ‘O, yes,’ she said. ‘Have you grown up going to church?’ I asked. ‘O, yes: my father is a pastor,’ she said. She grew up in church. But she had never heard a pastor assail the gates of heaven in prayer for his people.”

4. Promote family religion

“Did you know that Calvin and many of the Reformers wanted daily preaching?  After 50 or 60 years or so it became apparent that there was not going to be daily preaching regularly attended in Protestant churches so Matthew Henry and others recognized that they had to make every home a local church. If we do not family religion it will contradict what happens every Lord’s Day as you preach the Word.”

5. Equip your elders

“Whoever the shepherds are in your local congregation, you must pour your lives into them. Every follower of Jesus Christ in the local church is to be one who not only follows Jesus Christ herself or himself, but calls others to follow the Lord Jesus Christ. You must have a group of godly, qualified male elders, or shepherds, nurturing and admonishing that congregation, discipling alongside of the public ministry of the Word on the Lord’s Day.”

6. Live a godly life

“Robert Murray McCheyne said, ‘my people’s greatest need is my own holiness.’ We will contradict what we say from the pulpit if our lives do not bear it out. The Gospel cannot be preached wordlessly, but it can be contradicted wordlessly. Our lives can contradict what we speak.”

HT: Towers