SCHOLARSHIP AND PIETY

A Christian worker bemoans the fact that religion professors too often do not instill faith or encourage piety in students, and that the academic study of the Bible in institutions of higher learning sometimes even diminishes faith and stifles spirituality. A religion professor responded, in effect, that scholarship and piety do not mix. * * * Every disciple of Jesus is called to a life focused … [Read more...]

BIBLICAL HELP IN PREACHER SEARCH

A Northeastern subscriber writes, "Our pastor has retired after a lengthy tenure and we are seeking a replacement. Can you offer any biblical suggestions to help us in this process?" * * * I honestly know little to suggest from a biblical standpoint concerning the search process itself. The modern institutional church with buildings, budgets and professional staff is an invention more recent … [Read more...]

TEN TRAITS FOR CHRISTIAN LEADERS

"I want to serve God as the preacher or pastor of a local church," someone asks. "Do you have any suggestions for my personal and professional goals?" * * * Following are ten traits of successful Christian leaders -- not necessarily "success" as the world measures it -- which I have adapted from a "want list" I drafted for our congregation several years ago in a search for a preaching minister. … [Read more...]

GATHERED IN JESUS’ NAME

While considering Jesus' promise in Matthew 18:20 to be present wherever two or three gather in his name, a gracEmail subscriber thought of two questions. "If a specific gathering lacks the Lord's presence," he asks, "how can we know that he is not present, and what is the cause of his absence?" * * * One might suspect that Jesus is absent from a meeting when nothing is accomplished that … [Read more...]

CHURCH DISCIPLINE

A gracEmail subscriber in Europe asks about the purpose and practice of church discipline. Is it ever proper to exclude someone from the faith community? If so, when? * * * Because Christian fellowship and hospitality are so meaningful to believers, it is a very significant matter to exclude a professing disciple from the Christian "family circle." But sometimes it must be done. The person who … [Read more...]

CONNECTING AT THE HEART LEVEL

A brother involved in a new church ministry writes that his parishioners are "older and nice," although they don't verbally respond much to his teaching. This minister friend has been teaching in Romans, and wonders how much of it is sinking into his congregation's minds. A church elder, who has missed several classes due to illness, keeps reminding him that "we must do our part to stay saved." * … [Read more...]

WHEN CHURCH LEAVES YOU DRY

A gracEmail subscriber in the Bible Belt writes that the church with which he is affiliated is "very traditional and stagnant." He wants to be "free" -- but he is also "concerned about God's authority and abiding in it." He asks, "Can you give me any advice?" * * * "God's authority" states that believers in Jesus are "free" from law, from human tradition and from the condemnation of others. That … [Read more...]