My Top 12 Quotes from Tim Keller’s “Center Church”

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I read Tim Keller’s Center Church: Doing Balanced, Gospel-Centered Ministry in Your City toward the end of 2012, and found it extremely formative in regard to philosophy of ministry. Out of my 132 Kindle highlights, here are my top 12. 1. On the inescapability of contextualization If we never deliberately think through ways to rightly contextualize [...]

13 Gospel-Centered Catch Phrases and 29 Bible Verses that Support Them

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This post is a follow up from my previous post, “Are Your Gospel-Centered Catch Phrases Biblical?” I’ve provided thirteen examples of gospel-centered catch phrases below, along with verses from the Bible that express the idea the phrase is meant to communicate. Remember, a gospel-centered catch phrase is one that connects “gospel” (as an adjective) with [...]

Are Your Gospel-Centered Catch Phrases Biblical?

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Have you noticed that the Reformed vernacular has shifted from biblical language to gospel-centered language? Not that it has completely shifted. But, if you’re like me, lately you’ve heard the phrase “gospel joy” more often than, “rejoice in the Lord always.” What is a gospel-centered catch phrase? To go super nerdy on you, a gospel-centered [...]

5 Lessons I’m Learning in My First Year as a Lead Pastor

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This is a guest post by Brandon Levering. Brandon is a recent graduate of the Pastoral Residency Program at College Church (check out the program’s intro video and info packet). He now serves as Lead Pastor at Westgate Church in the suburbs of Boston. Learn more lessons on ministry from Brandon at his blog and on [...]

Pastoral Idolatry: 10 Common Forms of False Righteousness in Ministry

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Brothers, we are all idolaters. If Calvin was right when he said that our hearts are idol factories, and he was, then pastors are no exception. Which insufficient form of righteousness are you guilty of seeking from ministry? Or – if you are like me – which one are you not guilty of seeking? 1. [...]

Do You Use “Gospel” as an Adjective More Often than a Noun?

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Did you know that you can make anything gospel-centered just by adding the word “gospel” in front of it? There is contextualization. But then there’s gospel contextualization. There is church growth. But then there’s gospel growth. There are the arts. But then there are gospel arts. Gospel centrality has morphed from a movement to a culture. [...]

A New Definition of Seeker Sensitive Ministry

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My philosophy of ministry is strongly geared toward Seeker sensitivity. I hope that by the time you finish this article yours will be, too. But it’s not the seeker sensitivity you’re used to hearing about. In fact, it’s probably the exact opposite. In John 4:23, Jesus says this to the woman at the well, “But [...]

3 Ways Good Churches Slip Into Man-Centered Worship

Photo by Dustin Bryson at Flickr

Man-centered worship happens in the best of churches. It happens in yours and mine, even though we don’t intend it. It’s a manifestation of the sin that so easily entangles us. True worship is a response to what God has done for us in Christ, by his Spirit. It is a demonstration of thanksgiving to [...]

Grow in Faith, Hope, and Love by Meditating on the Gospel – Past, Present, and Future

  “Grow in Faith, Hope, and Love by Meditating on the Gospel – Past, Present, and Future” is another guest post for the blog of my friend, Chris Castaldo (Chris is suffering for the Lord on a ministry trip to Hawaii). Chris is the author of Holy Ground: Walking with Jesus as a Former Catholic.  [...]

A Gospel-Centered Philosophy of Youth Ministry

My partner in crime, Jon Nielson, just finished a three-part series on youth ministry at The Gospel Coalition Blog. Jon draws a balance between two extreme approaches to youth ministry: 1) the approach that isolates the youth ministry from the rest of the church, and 2) the approach that eliminates youth ministry in order to [...]

What the Letter to Philemon Teaches About Forgiveness

I had the privilege to preach in the main service at my church last Sunday. I have done several evening services, but this was my first time in front of everyone. Multiple services are exhausting! My sermon was on Paul’s Letter to Philemon, and was entitled, “The Unique Characteristic of Christian Forgiveness.” It’s on the [...]

Woman Says That Jesus is Not Optional, but Marriage Is (a.k.a., Gospel Centrality Fail)

“Can you be a Christian even if you sleep with someone you are not married to?” That was the question a DJ posed over the radio waves as my wife, kids, and I drove back from visiting family in Columbus, OH. I immediately braced myself for some high quality idiocy. But the first caller surprised [...]

The Gospel-Centered Way Paul Starts All of His Letters

You hear a lot about the “functional centrality of the gospel” these days. The idea that the gospel ought to be central in how we function has people has given rise to organizations, conferences, books, blogs, and even rap CD’s (not that anyone buys CD’s anymore). But is this really biblical? I like it. It [...]

10 Things That Make a Pastor Remarkable

The thing that makes pastors remarkable is not what they do for God. It’s what God has done for them. Marvel at the work of God that makes your life and ministry remarkable: 1. He saved you from your sin and his wrath by making you alive in Jesus (Eph. 2:1-5). 2. He gave you [...]

A Not-Famous Pastor’s Take on the Evangelical Hollywood

I was reminded of the polarizing effect famous Christian leaders have on the masses at The Gospel Coalition National Conference last week. It seems to me that people can potentially fall into two extremes. First there is the cynical camp. At best, the cynic derides everyone who attends conferences as wide-eyed fan-boys. At worst, he [...]

Salient Sound Bites From Al Mohler at The Gospel Coalition

Al Mohler kicked off the offical Gospel Coalition Conference with a message titled, “Studying the Scriptures and Finding Jesus,” from John 5:31-47. His point was that Christians must read the Old Testament, and see the redemption of Christ that is written into it. Here are some quotes I wrote down during the message. I don’t [...]

The Difference Between the Law and the Gospel: Which Do You Preach More?

I’m pursuing ordination with the goal of finishing in early October. So far, my greatest joy in the process has been working through the four volumes of Bavinck’s Reformed Dogmatics. He brilliantly summarizes the difference between the law and the gospel in the paragraph below. As you read, ask yourself if one comes out in [...]

How NOT to Deal With Your Frustration In Ministry

Frustration is common in ministry. The pastors who avoid frustration best tend to be best at avoiding preaching the gospel. But if we follow the Lamb wherever he goes, and preach his blood, we will encounter slices of the conflict and opposition that eventually got the Lamb slain. So the question is not how do [...]

Something for Pastors to Remember on Monday Morning

“All things considered” is an ingredient that will tame the zing of a spicy Sunday church service. The sermon wasn’t that bad, considering that important visit to the hospital that ate up some prep time. The attendance at the evening service wasn’t that bad, considering it was the start of spring break. The singing wasn’t that bad, considering [...]

5 Characteristics of Constantly Improving Preachers

What tricks have you tried to make your preaching better? Writing more interesting introductions? Stating your your main point more memorably? Is it actually working? Ironically, I have found that the more I try to preach better, the worse I do. But the more I just try to preach, the better I do. In other words, [...]

10 Questions You Better be Ready to Answer at a Pastoral Interview

A reader emailed me today to let me know that the articles here have been a big help to him as he finishes seminary and prepares to candidate at a church in a couple weeks. It reminded me of an article I read a year ago by R.C. Sproul entitled “10 Important Things to Ask [...]

Get Rid of Inefficient Sermon Prep with Preaching Templates, Part 2

One reason we prepare sermons inefficiently is because we get stuck. Either our mind somehow wanders off, or we lose momentum between steps. That’s why preaching templates help. Its headings focus your attention on the task at hand, gliding you from step to step. The exegesis template focused on figuring out the text. This one guides us [...]

Get Rid of Inefficient Sermon Prep with Preaching Templates, Part 1

Could you say that you have your sermon preparation process nailed down? Ever since my first preaching class, I’ve searched for the method that “works for me” like a pimply faced teenager goes through acne medication regimens. I’ve seen blemishes disappear here and there over the years, but I have finally found something that really works. [...]