Archives For Ministry

Every Life Has a Story

Tim Brister —  February 8, 2012 — Leave a comment

Watch this video . . .

And apply that to my recent blogpost about structuring for maximum edification.  Every person has a story to tell, indeed.  If Chick-fil-a is willing to read them for the asking of a chicken sandwich, are not willing to take the time to read them for the sake of their souls?

A church unwilling to read and address the stories of people will be satisfied with skimming the surface with conversations that probe no deeper than a “Hey, how are you doing?” which almost always is met with a disingenuous response.  No gifts of the Spirit are exercised because no one is listening.

Now, imagine if we took just one of those stories, one of those individuals and placed them in a context where every member listened, understood the story, and felt personally responsible to play a redemptive part in contributing through the spiritual gift entrusted to them by the Holy Spirit? What role would an exhorter play? A giver? An agent of mercy? A leader? Someone with wisdom? Someone with great faith? And so on?

Paul Tripp nailed it when he said that we are all called to be instruments in the Redeemer’s hands because we are helping others change while at the same time we ourselves are in need of change.  Every person you meet is a mess needing someone willing to get messy.  Every person is a sinner needing someone to help them walk in repentance and faith, growing in the gospel, extending mercy and forgiveness to other sinners.  And the Holy Spirit animates the life of the church by His work in and through Christians sovereignly gifted to do good to one another and so edify the church.

Next time you see people, consider why their lives (the subtext) might be really saying. Everything in us militates against listening and engaging–our comfort zones, our busy schedules, fear of man, selfishness, etc.  Yet, we have in us the Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead giving life to our mortal bodies. He intends to do in us what no strength of the flesh can accomplish. I pray the stories of people we encounter will be rewritten by the gospel of Jesus as it is applied to their hearts and transforms their lives.

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Yesterday afternoon, I was discussing with a few guys on Twitter how and where we spend our time working. When I came to Grace nearly three years ago, there was no “office” space for me at the church building, which meant that I was to do the majority of my work either at home or somewhere in the community.  For me, this was a huge win because I’ve always struggled with the idea that a pastor’s ministry is to be confined to an enclosed office space.  That’s not to say it is entirely wrong; it’s just not who I am and how I try to function.

Over the past three years, I have gone back and forth try to determine where is the best place to work for accomplishing certain tasks. With two young boys (3 and 1), my home office is not the ideal place to work, so I have ended up as a patron at various coffee shops and eventually landed at a local Panera Bread where I spend most of my “office” time.

I’ve ministered in churches which have a rather strict policy for where and when a pastor works (“office hours”).  Needless to say, the confinement approach was less than appealing and effective, and fortunately for me I have the privilege of working on a pastoral team with a high level of flexibility and trust.  In any case, I thought I’d post what my typical work week looks like, including the places, times, and purposes of each.

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Several of you will find these questions familiar, but their familiarity does not minimize the piercing factor for this pastor.  I wanted to put them out there in case others might find them helpful.

1.  If our church would cease to exist in our city, would it be noticed and missed?

2.  If all the pastors were tragically killed in a car accident, would the church’s ministry cease or fall apart?

3.  If the only possible means of connecting with unbelievers were through the missionary living of our church members, how much would we grow? (I ask this because the early church did not have signs, websites, ads, marketing, etc.)

4.  What are the subcultures within the church?  Do they attract or detract from the centrality of the gospel and mission of the church?

5.  Is our church known more for what we are not/against than what we are/for?

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5 P’s

Tim Brister —  April 16, 2009 — 3 Comments

Yesterday, I spent about an hour with Tom Ascol talking about the past ten months since I came on staff at Grace Baptist as an Associate Pastor.  At various points during this time, I intended to post some thoughts and reflections on things I’ve learned, challenges I’ve faced, and joys I’ve experienced transitioning from a seminary student working third-shift to a “full-time” minister in a local church (I think there are even some posts sitting in draft mode from several months ago!).

Some of my friends have encouraged me to talk more about what I am doing and learning in the ministry, so I thought I’d try to start doing that as I near my first year serving at Grace.  For starters, I want to mention a paradigm I created focusing on five “P’s” (I alliterate them to prove my true Baptist Identity for anyone checking my credentials).  Here they are with some of my thoughts.

1.  Preaching

The fundamental means of grace in the local church is the right preaching of the gospel.  With Tom preaching for the past 22 years strong, gospel-centered, expositional preaching, this is not a weak area of Grace.  However, preaching has been a weak area in my ministerial development, having done little in my seminary days.  When Tom was struck my lightning, I was thrown into the fire, from struggling to prepare for one sermon every two weeks to preaching Sunday morning and Sunday night as well as teaching an evangelism series to the adults and occasional Bible Study on Wednesday night.  Nevertheless, God used that to land me on my face with a sense of dependence and desperation I had not known.

Since June of last year, I think I’ve preached somewhere around 30 times, and every one of my messages have been critiqued by the elders as I have welcomed the constructive input to help me become a better communicator of God’s Word.  Various things like writing and preaching from a manuscript, length of message, pace and enunciation in delivery, thesis construction, coherence/clarity and simplicity, and pastoral application have all been addressed.  While I have a long way to go, I can honestly say that I have been tremendously helped by the feedback and follow-through of more experienced preachers who care enough to help me communicate the gospel message with passion, precision, and pastoral insight.

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This past Sunday we had the discussion of ministerial expectations of pastors as part of our Sunday School journey through Life in the Body by Curtis Thomas.  I watched this video just the day before, and though it is very short, it is very true.  May the Lord grant me end-time vision to appreciate the mean time gifts of my wonderful wife and son.

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Brethren, Pray for Us

Tim Brister —  August 1, 2008 — 3 Comments

This morning, I was directed by a brother from Grace to read Winslow’s Morning Thoughts.  (Isn’t it a blessing to be fed, edified, and encouraged by others in the body of Christ?)  I found this devotional thought wonderfully true and convicting.

“Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that you strive together with me in your prayers to God for me.” Romans 15:30

There are many weighty and solemn considerations which powerfully plead for the prayers of the Church of God, in behalf of her ministers and pastors. The first which may be adduced is- the magnitude of their work. A greater work than theirs was never entrusted to mortal hands. No angel employed in the celestial embassy bears a commission of higher authority, or wings his way to discharge a duty of such extraordinary greatness and responsibility. He is a minister of the Lord Jesus Christ- an ambassador from the court of heaven- a preacher of the glorious gospel of the blessed God- a steward of the mysteries of the kingdom. Properly to fill this high office- giving to the household their portion of food in due season- going down into the mine of God’s word, and bringing forth to the view of every understanding its hidden treasures- to set forth the glory of Emmanuel, the fitness of His work, and the fullness of His grace- to be a scribe well instructed, rightly dividing the word of truth- to be wise and skillful to win souls, the grand end of the Christian ministry- oh, who so much needs the sustaining prayers of the Church as he?

Secondly. The painful sense of their insufficiency supplies another affecting plea. Who are ministers of Christ? Are they angels? Are they superhuman beings? Are they inspired? No, they are men in all respects like others. They partake of like infirmities, are the subjects of like assaults, and are estranged from nothing that is human. As the heart knows its own bitterness, so they only are truly aware of the existence and incessant operation of those many and clinging weaknesses of which they partake in sympathy with others. And yet God has devolved upon them a work which would crush an angel’s powers, if left to his self-sustaining energy.

Thirdly. The many and peculiar trials of the ministry and the pastorate ask this favor at our hands. These are peculiar to, and inseparable from, the office that he fills. In addition to those of which he partakes alike with other Christians- personal, domestic, and relative- there are trials to which they must necessarily be utter strangers. And as they are unknown to, so are they unrelievable by, the people of their charge. With all the sweetness of affection, tenderness of sympathy, and delicacy of attention which you give to your pastor, there is yet a lack which Jesus only can supply, and which, through the channel of your prayers, he will supply. In addition to his own, he bears the burdens of others. How impossible for an affectionate, sympathizing pastor to separate himself from the circumstances of his flock, be those circumstances what they may. So close and so sympathetic is the bond of union- if they suffer, he mourns; if they are afflicted, he weeps; if they are dishonored, he is reproached; if they rejoice, he is glad. He is one with his Church. How feelingly the apostle expresses this: “Then, besides all this, I have the daily burden of how the churches are getting along. Who is weak without my feeling that weakness? Who is led astray, and I do not burn with anger?” To see a Christian pastor, in addition to his own personal grief, borne often in uncomplaining loneliness and silence, yet bowed down under accumulated sorrows not his own- others looking to him for sympathy, for comfort, and for counsel- is a spectacle which might well arouse in behalf of every Christian minister the slumbering spirit of prayer. We marvel not to hear the chief of the apostles thus pleading, “Brethren, pray for us” (1 Thess. 5:25).

Amen!

Octavius Winslow, Morning Thoughts (August 1)

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