Contents Voice Feature articles

An Independent Church Journal
Vol. 87 No. 5 • september/october 2008
Editor. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Dr. Les Lofquist
Design. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Jim Connelly Studio
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© 2008 IFCA International
Feature Articles
Report from Oregon, Les Lofquist ....................................................... 7
How to Start a Church, Henry Vosburgh. ............................................ 31
A Simple Sermon Template, Michel L. Dodds................................... 27
Training Care-Mentors, James L. Clark............................................. 20
Using Jesus’ Commands in Matthew to Make Disciples
Neil D. Nelson, Jr................................................................................... 16
The Truth Behind Prayer in the Psalms, Joel T. Williamson, Jr.............. 13
Eschatology: Life’s Motivation, John C. Klaassen. ............................ 10
In Every Issue
Women’s Voice............................................................................... 34
Chaplains Diary.............................................................................. 35
Community Care Today................................................................ 36
New Members................................................................................ 37
Death of His Saints........................................................................ 40
Book Review................................................................................... 41
Report from Oregon
c Les Lofquist C
Executive Director
t has been a tremendous summer filled with a number of
exciting ministry opportunities.
The highlight of the summer was
the 2008 IFCA International Annual
Convention. The 2008 Annual
Convention was held June 20-24 in
Eugene, Oregon. Our conventions are
not simply Bible Conferences, but
rather the annual time when we gather
to be challenged from the Bible as well
as review our organizational purposes
and goals and plan for our future. The
annual convention is always a great
time for everyone.
A number of features at the 2008
Annual Convention stand out. These
are as follows.
Vision America
There was something “different”
about this year’s gathering of delegates
from across the country. The difference was a passion for the convention
theme of church planting. This year’s
theme was “A Vision for America”
and it was a convention with a well
defined focus in the General Session
messages and seminars. This theme
was enhanced by the dual events
of celebrating the 50th anniversary
of Northwest Independent Church
Extension and the public premiere of
the Vision America DVD.
All the convention delegates were
challenged from Acts 1:8 to reach
our Jerusalem (where we live), our
Judea (our surrounding region), and
our Samaria (our cross-cultural neighbors). We also reported that the 2009
Annual Convention next year would
emphasize the last part of Acts 1:8 with
a challenge to reach the uttermost part
of the earth (international ministries,
missions). The themes for 2008 and
2009 were chosen to work in coordination with each other as the IFCA seeks
to fulfill the Great Commission.
A number of
features at the 2008
Annual Convention
stand out.
At this year’s convention, Vision
America’s purpose was emphasized:
to generate a perpetual surge of IFCA
International reproductive church planting efforts. Also at the convention Vision
America’s goal was stressed: to initiate by
June 2010 as many IFCA International
church plants across the United States
as possible involving at least 100 IFCA
related churches, each in proximity to
one of those individual plants.
We are expecting God to do great
things through Vision America! Please
pray about how you and your church
will become involved.
Divorce and IFCA
While presenting the proposed revision of the entire IFCA
International Constitution at the
Annual Convention in 2003, the IFCA
Board of Directors made a commitment to the constituents to conduct
a detailed examination of the matter
of divorce and its relationship to the
standards for individual membership
in IFCA International.
In November 2004, after engaging in extensive discussions of the
matter, the Board of Directors authorized
the President of the Board to appoint a
blue ribbon committee to study the
matter. Each of the Board members
submitted, in writing, their suggestions
to the President as to whom might be
considered for appointment. After prayerful consideration, the President made his
appointments in December 2004.
The assignment given to this committee was “to review the position and
rationale of IFCA International relative
to the matter of divorce, ministry qualifications, and IFCA membership.” They
were further instructed that, should they
have any changes to recommend, “they
shall make such recommendation to the
IFCA Board of Directors, with appropriate defense of their recommendation.”
This committee was called “The
Committee on Divorce and IFCA
Relationship” and they met for the first time
just prior to the 2005 Annual Convention in
september/october 2008 7
Hunt Valley, Maryland. Subsequently they
worked together via e-mail and other modes
of communication, meeting again together in
La Puente, California on January 3-5, 2006. Despite our
repeated efforts,
the income for 2007
and 2008 has fallen
compared to 2006,
and the deficit
has grown.
A report of the committee’s work,
including a statement of recommendation adopted by that committee, was
submitted to the Board of Directors
in November 2006. Supporting documents were also provided by the
Committee in which the committee
members detailed several biblically
defensible positions on the matter of
Pray for
our IFCA
Your church can adopt
a chaplain and pray
regularly for him and his
ministry in the military.
Contact IFCA Director of
Chaplaincy Warren Dane
for details.
[email protected]
8 Voice
An informational report was given
to the delegates at the Convention in
Tulsa, Oklahoma in June 2007 and
that report with the above-mentioned
documents was subsequently sent out
to the entire membership.
After another year of prayerful discussion and study, the IFCA Board of
Directors came to a final decision regarding the matter and they released their
final report on the four year study of
divorce as it relates to membership in
IFCA International. You will find this
report inside this issue of VOICE. If
you would like to access all the supplementary documents referred to above,
you will find them on the IFCA website
( and on the home page
click on “2008 Convention Report”).
In all these reports and documents
there is no way to convey the high
degree of emotional anguish and struggle that were experienced throughout
these deliberations on the part of all
involved. In the end, the decision
made was the one that the Board felt
best enabled IFCA International to
effectively carry on as an organization
dedicated to working together in biblical ministry.
Financial Challenges
Due to an ongoing financial shortfall in the General Fund, Director of
Church and Pastoral Ministries Dan
Fredericks left the Home Office staff
Les Lofquist’s Itinerary
6Leadership Training Conference, Reeves (LA) Bible
Reeves (LA) Bible Church
Camp Pearl Ministries Conference, Reeves, LA
2009 Pre-Convention Meeting, Kalamazoo, MI
Faith Bible Church, Albuquerque, NM
Alameda Bible Church, Albuquerque, NM
NM/West TX Regional, Albuquerque, NM
Calvary Bible College Board Meeting, Kansas City, MO
NICE 50th Anniversary Celebration, Auburn, WA
MI Regional Retreat, White Cloud, MI
First Fundamental Bible Church, Monterey Park, CA
The Master’s Seminary Chapel, Sun Valley, CA
The Master’s College Chapel, Santa Clarita, CA
IFCA Board of Directors Meetings, Grandville, MI
Northern IL Regional, Chicago, IL
of IFCA International on July 31. On
August 1, Dan assumed a different
ministry position as the Executive
Director of IMI / SOS (the position
Dr. Rich McCarrell held before taking
the Senior Pastorate of Byron Center
[MI] Bible Church).
Despite our repeated efforts, the
income for 2007 and 2008 has fallen
compared to 2006, and the deficit has
grown. Several specific appeals to our
IFCA constituency in the last year and
a half yielded little result, so the Board
determined they had no other options
than to cut the Home Office staff. Pray
for this transition period. Dan’s faithful
ministry will be sorely missed and his
absence will place a greater burden on
our already burdened Home Office staff.
The convention delegates adopted several important resolutions
during the business sessions of the
Convention. Find these resolutions
at Among the issues
addressed were:
• Vision America
• Definition of Marriage
• Planned Parenthood
• Parental Oversight of Education
• Family Discipleship
Commitment to Amend
the IFCA Constitution
in 2009
Recent decisions by state legislatures and judges in the U.S.
court system caused the 2008 IFCA
Convention delegates to make a strong
commitment to amend the IFCA
Constitution at the 2009 Convention.
Specifically, the two issues to be
addressed will be the definition of
marriage and the biblical specification of male leadership in the church
(pastors and elders). We have passed
resolutions in previous conventions
regarding these issues, but we determined that the IFCA Constitution and
By-Laws should be strengthened to
reflect our convictions. You will hear
more about this in the months before
the 2009 Convention.
It was a great convention and the
delegates left Oregon with renewed
commitment to achieve two of the stated goals of IFCA International: “To
strengthen local churches toward biblical maturity” and “To work together
as healthy churches.”
Partners in Evangelism
Pick up from J/A 2008 unless new material is received
september/october 2008 9
Life’s Motivation
c John C. Klaassen C
et not your heart be troubled.”
What a statement to a group
of distraught disciples. They
had just been told that all they knew
and expected of Messiah was about to
change- their hopes had been dashed
on the rocks of reality. Jesus did not
attempt to dispel their fear by telling
them “life will be better” or “just hang
in there.” No. He reassured them by
teaching eschatology (the study of last
things). They were to believe with a
faith that not only trusted God for the
present but also trusted God for the
future. Jesus was leaving but He reassured them He was coming again to
take then to be with Himself.
But eschatology is theology, and
“isn’t theology what messes people
up?” A sincere believer in a solidly
fundamental evangelical church posed
this question. Many people are afraid
of theology and so the tendency is to
preach something that is more applicable to our everyday lives. We want
application not theology!
Why is theology so important to
10 Voice
the life of the church? As we observe
Paul’s writings, we see that theology is
the basis of all life-style instructions. In
Romans he deals with theology for eleven chapters and then begins chapter 12
with “therefore”. The practical advice
of Romans 12-16 is based on theology.
We also see this in Ephesians where
chapters 1-3 are theology and chapter
4 begins with “therefore.” The same
is true in Colossians where Chapter
3 begins with “since.” Application is
based on theology. Theology teaches us
how to think. Actions are an outgrowth
of how a person thinks.
Many people are
afraid of theology and
so the tendency is to
preach something
that is more applicable
to our everyday lives.
It seems that Paul believed eschatology was such an important topic that
he taught it to new believers. Paul
was in Thessalonica for at least three
weeks planting a church. During that
time, he taught those new believers
about the Rapture and the Day of the
Lord. Just as today, it did create some
confusion and thus we have the two
epistles to the Thessalonian believers.
Excuses for not
preaching eschatology
When preaching through books of
the Bible, Daniel and Revelation can
be a challenge. It seems easier to teach
these in a classroom setting than a
Sunday morning sermon. Rather than
taking on the challenge of preaching
difficult books, many preach those
that preach easily. When preparing a
topical sermon, many topics are easier
and we tend to preach those that are
easiest. As busy pastors, we excuse
ourselves from preaching eschatology
simply because it is too difficult.
A second excuse for not preaching
eschatology is the numerous different
viewpoints and the divisiveness that follows. Why stir up unneeded trouble?
While it is true that there are many
views and that people can be strongly attached to their particular view of
eschatology, is it possible that we are
unsure of our own position so we hide
behind others’ lack of clarity rather than
become strongly convinced ourselves?
We are not afraid to preach God’s hatred
of sin even though many people strongly
and emotionally disagree with us.
Another reason given for avoiding eschatology is a lack of relevance.
Some take the view that if the prophecies are not immediately relevant to the
audience, then they have no meaning
for the audience at all. Those who hold
the Preterist view of Revelation might
argue that the events of Revelation,
occurring more than 2000 years away,
hold no relevance because the Bible
was relevant to its immediate audience.
Pastors may conclude that eschatology
is irrelevant because we don’t know
when these events will occur and we
certainly don’t expect them to happen
in the immediate future. We need
something we can apply this week!
A final excuse is the rationalization
that it really does not matter since it
will all work out in the end. Since we
have no control over these events and
since there are so many other important issues to preach, we just neglect
Excesses in preaching
While for some, eschatology is to be
avoided, for others, preaching eschatology can lead to excesses. Too often we
have heard statements such as “1975
is the year of the Rapture,” “there are
eighty-eight reasons why Christ will
return in 1988,” and “forty days and God
will destroy this world.” What is the latest proclamation? “Something great is
going to happen in 2012, we know that
the Millennium must start that year.”
This is the excess of setting dates.
God told us that we cannot know
the exact time of the Rapture and there
are no signs which need to be fulfilled
for the immanent Rapture to occur.
Preachers who have wrongly used the
biblical texts in this way have led many
pastors to believe that any discussion
of the future will align them with these
excesses and thus avoid the topic.
Using newspaper headlines as a
source for eschatological sermon material results in another excess. One
pastor recently declared that we are
three years into the Tribulation as
evidenced by President Bush signing
a peace agreement with Israel. This
signaled the start of the Tribulation
and the new national identification
card is the mark of the beast, mak-
ing the Tribulation three years old.
Reading every detail of today’s news
into the prophetic calendar creates
chaos. Similarities between the news
and prophecy do not indicate that the
events are synonymous.
Prophecy excesses can also translate
into precise details of the future. Some
are quick to give exact details of what
must come to pass. While the Bible
does give us some specifics, we do not
know exactly what the future will hold.
We can speak with confidence where
the Bible is clear, but we must not
force our solutions on questions the
Bible leaves unanswered.
While for some,
eschatology is to be
avoided, for others,
preaching eschatology
can lead to excesses.
The value of eschatology
Paul believed in the importance
of teaching eschatology. He prayed
that the Ephesian believers would be
steadfast in their hope. In Ephesians
1:18-23 the basis of our hope is the resurrection and exaltation of Christ. The
power that accomplished these great
works in Christ is also the power that is
at work in us to give security and hope.
The hope of eschatological thinking is
based on God’s power and this hope is
part of the process of spiritual growth.
The Holy Spirit’s inspiration of the
book of the Revelation demonstrates
the importance of eschatology. Jesus’
coming is a part of the message to most
of the seven churches of Asia Minor.
His promised coming was meant to
motivate the individuals in those
churches to repent and gain the proper reward for their repentance. The
first value of eschatology is it causes
us to repent of our sins. First John
says “Beloved, now we are children of
God; and it has not yet been revealed
what we shall be, but we know that
when He is revealed, we shall be like
Him, for we shall see Him as He is.
And everyone who has this hope in
Him purifies himself, just as He is
pure” (3:2-3, NKJV, emphasis added).
Repentance and purity not only bring
positive results during this life, they
also bring rewards in the future at the
Judgment Seat of Christ.
A second benefit of eschatology is
the purification of the life of the believer, as seen in First Corinthians 15. Paul
uses most of the chapter to teach us of
the reality of the resurrection. He then
teaches specifically about the Rapture,
“the mystery,” and breaking the grip
of death on us all. He concludes this
theology lesson with a great statement.
Because the Rapture is coming and
with it an accounting of life, we are to
be steadfastly living our lives in faithful service. First Corinthians chapter
9 concludes with teaching the need
to discipline the body to make it our
slave. Our reward will not be lost if
we exercise this discipline. We see
that eschatology, more specifically the
accounting and rewarding associated
with the Rapture, is taught to motivate
faithful service.
We all face difficulties in life and
eschatology should help us look beyond
the trouble to the joy we will receive in
heaven as our reward for persevering
in trials. According to Hebrews chapter
12, looking beyond the cross to the joy
of the Father was part of the motivation
for Christ’s facing the cross. “Who for
the joy that was set before him endured
the cross, despising the shame, and is
set down at the right hand of the throne
of God. For consider him that endured
such contradiction of sinners against
himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in
your minds” (Hebrews 12:2-3 NKJV).
Philippians chapter 2 also contains the
idea that because of Jesus’ sufferings he
has gained a reward. This third benefit
of eschatology shows us our objective in
life- the joy of the Father and our eternity with Him.
Not only does eschatology encourage right living, it also is a means of
adjusting wrong motivation. First John
2:15-17 tells us that because the world
is ending we should stop loving the
world. Because the world is temporary,
it should not be our love; we should
love what is eternal.
september/october 2008 11
First Peter 5:1-4 gives another value
to teaching eschatology. Elders are to
shepherd the flock as servants and not
for self gain. When they are so motivated, they will receive a crown of glory
when the Chief Shepherd appears.
The rewards for selfless service should
prompt Elders to have a proper motivation in shepherding.
The Judgment Seat of Christ is also
a part of eschatological understanding.
All that we have done will be evaluated
to determine its worth. Based on the
reality of this judgment, Paul instructed
his audience to persuade men because
of the “terror of the Lord” (2 Cor 5:11
NJKV). The chapter concludes with
instruction for us to act as ambassadors,
preaching a message of reconciliation.
Eschatology should motivate us to be
involved in proclaiming the message to
those who are not born again.
Probably the most common passage
expressing the value of eschatology
is our hope at the time of death. First
Thessalonians 4:13-18 tells us that
because of our assurance of the Rapture
we can face the death of a believer
with hopeful sorrow and not hopeless
sorrow. We are to comfort one another
with the message of the Rapture.
As the next chapter of 1 Thessalonians
develops, Paul instructed the people to be
actively encouraging others to godliness
because of the Day of the Lord and our
salvation from the wrath to come. First
Thessalonians 5:6-24 instruct us to comfort
and encourage others to live godly lives- by
respecting elders, expressing right actions
and attitudes, and by knowing that we will
be preserved until the coming of our Lord.
God is faithful to accomplish all that he has
told us he will accomplish.
Even being alert and making prayer
a priority is linked to eschatology in
1 Peter 4:7. We are told because “the
end of all things is at hand; [we are to]
be sober, and watch unto prayer.”
We need theology and we need
eschatology. We need it for knowledge,
for encouragement, for motivation in
living, for steadfastness, for evangelization, for comfort and for hope. Let’s
not deprive our people of the greatness
of eschatology and its impact on life.
We need to think beyond this world
12 Voice
and its problems and focus on eternity
as a motivation to make right choices.
Finally, we also need the knowledge of future things to make our
praise to God when life turns difficult.
Peter said “the God of all grace, who
called us to His eternal glory by Christ
Jesus, after you have suffered a while,
perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. To Him be the glory and the
dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (1
Peter 5:10-11 NKJV)
John Klaassen is Associate Professor at
Calvary Theological Seminary, Kansas
City, Missouri. He is a graduate of Grace
College of the Bible in Omaha, Calvary
Bible College, and Dallas Theological
Pick up from J/A 2008
Pick up from J/A 2008
The Truth Behind
Prayer in the Psalms
c Joel T. Williamson, Jr. C
vangelicals believe that theology is important, but when
circumstances get bad, even
the staunchest evangelical may minimize its immediate benefits. We want
our churches and seminaries to be
sound, and expect pastors and professors to know their theology well.
For many, however, doctrine doesn’t
seem to make much difference in the
real world: “it just isn’t practical.” In
bad times, we may cling to the idea
that God is love. Like hugging a teddy
bear during a thunderstorm, that belief
helps us feel safer, but it doesn’t
change the problem. It pays no bills;
it buys no medicine. Beyond its psychological benefits, theology doesn’t
seem to have much value, especially
when we need help the most— in the
middle of a crisis. Ironically, at such
times, we often turn to the psalms.
Psalms do not teach theology; they
share experience. They are personal and
concrete, full of emotion and rooted in
real life. They seem to be everything
that theology is not. This assumption,
however, is wrong. The psalms express
some of the deepest and richest theology in all of Scripture. They just do it
differently than we expect. Rather than
explain truth, they allow the reader to
learn it by experience in the controlled
environment of the psalm. It is the
psalmist’s pain, the psalmist’s joy that
we experience, but in the process, we
discover how real theological truth is
and how great an impact it makes in life.
The psalms express
some of the deepest and
richest theology in all
of Scripture. They just
do it differently than
we expect.
In the psalms, theological truth is not
a teddy bear, not a placebo. In fact, it
is the profound theology of the psalms
that makes them so practical. If we
miss this fact, we forfeit most of the
benefits that psalms have to offer. The
benefits of theology are especially evident when the psalmist is in physical
or spiritual agony, such as in Psalm 13.
As in Psalm 13, so in the rest of
the psalms, at least three theological
truths inform prayer: 1) that God cares
about those who pray to him, 2) that
God can make a difference in their
circumstances, and 3) that God will
faithfully meet their need. If we take
these truths seriously, we will pray differently, with different expectations
and greater confidence. We will be
more forthright in our communication,
more bold in our requests, more confident in God’s provision, even though
we don’t know how God will answer.
Above all, we will pray with the proper
objective: to bring to our great and gracious God the glory that He deserves.
Truth 1
God Cares
It is amazing how readily we
attempt to manipulate God in our
prayers. Instead of opening our hearts
to Him, we tell Him only what we
think He wants to hear. In turmoil, we
say we are at peace. When frightened,
we say we are confident. David has too
much respect for the Lord to do this.
Instead of trying to bolster God’s presumably fragile ego, he begins Psalm
13 with a cry that few of us would dare
use in prayer: “How long, O Lord? Will
you forget me forever?” As wrong as it
may sound to us, this sort of expression occurs repeatedly in the psalms.
september/october 2008 13
Psalm 10 begins “Why do you stand
afar off, O Lord?” Psalm 22, “My God,
My God, why have You forsaken me?”
Similar questions appear in Psalm 42:9;
43:2; 44:23-24; 74:1, 11; 79:5; and 80:4.
In fact, 62 of the 150 psalms begin with
the psalmist expressing depression,
despair, or pain.
What are we to make of these cries?
Does David doubt God’s faithfulness?
As the rest of the psalm shows, the
answer is no. David is praying in faith,
trusting in the Lord’s unfailing love
(13:5). He is sure that his God is both
great enough and good enough to meet
his need, so sure that in verse six, he
assumes that God will answer: “I will
sing unto the Lord because He has
dealt bountifully with me.” He cries
out “How long?” not because he is
in doubt, but because he is in pain.
David is just being honest about his
feelings. His powerful language merely
expresses his powerful emotions. To
communicate these feelings, he uses a
figure of speech called a “synecdoche.”
In this case, the synecdoche asserts
not that God has forgotten David, only
that God’s apparent inaction makes it
look that way. David is on the verge
of death (13:3) and has found no relief
from his troubled thoughts (13:2, see
77:3-6). Meanwhile, his enemies are
rising up to utterly defeat him (13:2,
4). The problem has been worsening
for some time (“How long?”), but God
has done nothing (13:1). Nevertheless,
David is convinced that God cares
about him and will empathize with his
sorrow. That’s why David cries out,
“How long?” He is utterly frustrated, and he wants God to know how
much. He is not doubting God; he’s
relying on God’s concern. In fact, his
first request is for God to pay attention
(13:4). Above all else, David craves
fellowship with the Lord, a sentiment
expressed repeatedly in the psalms.
For example, in Psalm 142:4-5, David
cries out, “No one [else] cares for my
soul. I cried out to You, O Lord.”
The belief that God genuinely
cares about his people is at the core
of all biblical prayer. Unbiblical prayer
is quite different. Pagans use prayer
as a means of manipulation. Through
magic words, incantations, and “vain
repetitions” (Matthew 6:7), they try
14 Voice
Why We Can Trust God
No Matter What the Situation
The Nature of God
God Is Perfect
1.He is holy (Psalm 22:3)
2.He is just (Psalm 7:10–16; 25:9;
3.He is good (Psalm 25:8; 27:13;
35:24; 86:5)
4.He hates sin (Psalm 5:4–7)
God Is Invincible
1. He is unique (Psalm 86:7–10).
2. He is supreme (Psalm 57:2; 59:8)
3.He is all-knowing (Psalm 56:8;
69:19; 142:3a)
4.He is all–powerful (Psalm 59:9;
77:13–14; 86:7-10)
5.He is eternal (Psalm 102:12, 26–27)
God Is Gracious
1.He is gracious (Psalm 86:15).
2.He is forgiving (Psalm 86:5;
God Is Faithful
1.He acts in dependable–love
(Psalm 6:4b; 13:5a; 25:10; 52:1, 8;
57:3; 59:10;86:5, 15; 109:21, 26)
2.He is true (Psalm 31:5)
3.He will not change (Psalm 102:27)
Our Relationship
With God
God Has A Special Relationship
With His People
1. He is their God (Psalm 31:14;
35:24; 38:15; 40:17)
2.He is on their side (Psalm 56:9)
God Does Special Things
For His People
1.He protects them (Psalm 3:3;
31:3; 61:3–4; 71:3b, 7; 142:5)
to get God (or the gods) to do what
they want. Implicit in this approach
is the assumption that God is either
impersonal or unconcerned. God’s
people, however, should approach
Him as David does, in absolute confi-
2.He answers their prayers (Psalm
3.He sets them apart (Psalm 4:2–5)
4.He helps them (Psalm 27:9b–10;
40:17; 54:4–5; 70:5b)
5.He strengthens them (Psalm 31:4)
6.He delivers them (Psalm 40:17;
70:5b; 140:12–13; 141:7–8)
7. He comforts them (Psalm 42:8)
8. He defends them (Psalm 59:9)
The Work of God
God’s Work In Your Life
1.He has answered your prayers
(Psalm 3:4; 55:16–19)
2.He has protected you (Psalm 3:5)
3.He has cared for you (Psalm
22:9–10; 71:5–6)
4.He has delivered you (Psalm 55:18)
God’s Work In History
1.He has created all things
(Psalm 102:5)
2.He has acted in history
(Psalm 143:5)
3.He has performed miracles
(Psalm 77:11-.20)
4.He has answered others̓ prayers
(Psalm 22:5)
5.He has delivered others (Psalm
22:4–5; 77–15)
6.He has guided others (Psalm 77:20)
God’s Work In Prophecy
1.He will establish His kingdom
on earth (Psalm 102:13–22)
2.He will preserve His people
(Psalm 102:28)
dence that we are speaking to a Person
who understands us and cares about
us. After all, we come to God in the
authority (“name”) of Him who “has
borne our griefs and carried our sorrows” (Isaiah 55:4).
Truth 2
God Can Change Things
Of course prayer goes beyond the
venting of negative emotions. David does
more than ask God to hear him (13:4a,
22:11, 19; 27:7; 102:1-2). David also asks
Him to solve the problem. Once we tell
God how we feel, we need to ask Him
for what we want. Here again, Psalm 13
and other psalms point us back to theology. While prayer has psychological
benefits, it is much more than a coping
mechanism. A teddy bear may bring a
measure of peace, but it doesn’t have
the power to change things. God does.
David is convinced that he is communicating with a real person who can make
a real difference. But David doesn’t ask
the way most of us ask.
Our prayers are characterized by a
long list of specific petitions. We tell
God precisely what we want in great
detail. Sometimes, we even include
specific due dates. In Psalm 13, David
does not do this. In fact, none of the
62 prayers in the psalms has such a
list. Instead of specific changes in his
circumstances, the psalmist merely
asks to be delivered from his suffering:
“Enlighten my eyes, lest I sleep the
sleep of death” (13:3). This is pretty
vague. It’s just one sentence in which
David specifies no plans, procedures,
or time limits. He acknowledges that
deliverance will keep his enemies from
winning (13:3-4), but he doesn’t ask
God to give him victory.
Other Scripture shows that there is
nothing wrong with praying for specific
things. Abraham asked for the deliverance of Sodom (Genesis 18:23-32).
Isaac prayed that Rebekah would conceive (Genesis 25:21). Jacob prayed for
deliverance from Esau (Genesis 32:912). Still, the lack of specific petitions
in the psalms suggests that the psalmist has a different concept of answered
prayer than we do. For us, the issue
is what God does. Until our health is
restored and our armies victorious,
we see the prayer as unanswered. For
David, the issue is not what God does,
but that God does it. God does not just
change things; He changes them for
the better. Therefore, David leaves the
specifics to Him. Whether we live or
die, win or lose, all that is required is
that God become involved.
This attitude is not unique to the
psalms. During his earthly sojourn,
Jesus both taught it and modeled it.
The third petition in the Lord’s prayer
is that God’s will may be done on
earth, not that our will may be done in
heaven. Our desire should be to glorify the Lord, to hallow God’s name
(Matthew 6:9). The only way to do
that is to let God work out His plan in
His way. Similarly, when Jesus prayed
in the garden, He specifically asked
to avoid the cross, but immediately
added, “not as I will, but as You will”
(Matthew 26:39). We could do much
worse than to follow the example of
David and his greater son.
While prayer
has psychological
benefits, it is much
more than a coping
Truth 3
God Is Worthy of Faith
It is not enough to pray; we must
pray in faith. Therefore, every prayer
in the psalms involves more just a
problem and a petition. In every case,
the psalmist turns from the problem
to the divine Problem Solver. In what
scholars call a “confession of trust,”
David reminds himself (and simultaneously shows us) that God is worthy of
our faith. The situation may seem dire,
but it is always right to trust in the
Lord. As the accompanying table in
the side-bar demonstrates, the basis for
our trust varies from situation to situation. Whatever the situation, however,
the psalmist bases his confidence on
truth about God: His nature, His work,
or His relationship with the psalmist.
In Psalm 13, the confession focuses on one significant Hebrew word,
hesed. It has no set translation in
English. (The various modern versions
translate it “mercy,” “lovingkindness,”
or “unfailing love.”) But, those who
understand biblical marriage understand its meaning. It refers to the
faithful expression of love to one with
whom you have a relationship. The
Lord, as a faithful husband, cares for
His people (Ephesians 5:25-29), even
when they are unfaithful (Hosea 1:2;
3:1). The situation is grave, but the
psalmist finds security in the nature of
his God. We can do the same.
When we go wrong in our assessment of theology and prayer, it is
because we expect the wrong things.
We expect theology to tell us what we
want to know, to fill in all the details.
We expect prayer to get us specifically what we want, when and how we
want it. Neither of these expectations
come from Scripture. Theology is supposed to tell us what God wants us to
know. Specifically it shows the kind
of God we have, a God who genuinely
cares about us and is able to meet our
every need. If we have a relationship
with Him, it prods us to rest secure in
that relationship. Prayer is our opportunity to communicate with this God,
to express our desires and trust in who
He is and what He does. If we follow
the psalmist’s example, we will apply
our theology to our prayers, not seeking to get more from God, but to get
closer to Him. When we say our amen,
we won’t know what He’s going to do,
but, of course, we won’t need to. We
know God, and that’s enough.
Joel T. Williamson, Jr. is Professor at
Calvary Bible College and Theological
Seminary in Kansas City, MO where he
begins his twenty-sixth year. He is a graduate of University of Texas – El Paso and
Dallas Theological Seminary.
september/october 2008 15
Using Jesus’ Commands in
Matthew to Make Disciples
c Neil D. Nelson, Jr. C
esus’ closing commission to his disciples in Matthew 28:19–20 is well
deserving of the name “great,”
being the perfect conclusion to the
first Gospel. The mission of the disciples is now to make disciples throughout
the world. The mission formerly restricted to Israel is expanded to include all
nations. The command “make disciples” (mathēteusate) in Matthew 28:19
is the only verb in the commission of
28:19–20a and the stress in the commission lies here. The participles “by
baptizing” and “by teaching” express
the means by which disciples are to
be made. The force of the participle
“going” before the verb is debated as to
whether it means “as you go”, “go and”,
or “by going.” In any case “going” is an
essential component of making disciples. To disciple “all nations” one must
surely go to them. Yet one must still
subordinate “going” to the command
“make disciples.” The stress of the commission is on the latter.
In Matthew’s Gospel disciples are
those who “do the will of the Father
16 Voice
in heaven” (12:50).1 The task of every
disciple is to call others to follow Christ,
to learn his commands and will, and to
do them. A disciple in Matthew is a true
believer who enters the life of discipleship at conversion and is discipled by
being taught to obey all Christ has previously commanded his followers.
The task of every
disciple is to call others
to follow Christ, to learn
his commands and will,
and to do them.
Matthew: A Manual
for Discipleship
In the context of Matthew, keeping “all that I have commanded
you” refers specifically to the commands Jesus gave to his disciples
in this Gospel. It is almost common
place among scholars in our day to
call Matthew’s Gospel a “Manual of
Discipleship” due to the connection between “teaching them to obey
all things I have commanded you”
and the commands in Matthew.2 Yet
while this is evident and discipleship
and the Great Commission itself is
stressed in many churches and ministries, seldom has this primary means
of making disciples, the commands in
Matthew, been explored in any depth.
Churches and saints should make better and more frequent use of Jesus’
commands from a Gospel particularly
designed to be used to make disciples.
The remainder of this article will focus
on identifying these commands and
exploring the central directives Jesus
wants disciples to teach other disciples
to obey.
All I Have
Commanded You
The verb “I have commanded” (eneteilamēn) in Matthew 28:20
means “to give definite orders, implying authority or official sanction—‘to
command’.”3 In Matthew it is used,
for example, of God commanding his
angels (4:6) and of Jesus commanding
his disciples to tell no one about his
transfiguration until after his resurrection (17:9). The noun form derived
from the verb refers to “that which
is authoritatively commanded.” 4 In
Matthew it is used usually in regard
to the treatment of people and the
command to love others (e.g., 15:3;
19:17–19; 22:36, 38, 40). The verb “to
observe” (tērein) in 28:20 means “to
persist in obedience, keep, observe”5
and the verb “I have commanded”
that follows, together refer back to
the commands of Jesus in the book,
particularly to disciples. By this writer’s count there are approximately
150 commands in Matthew which
are either universal (normative for all
believers throughout Christian history
such as the Great Commission’s “make
disciples”) or which address a particular First Century situation but contain
directives or principles necessary for
subsequent disciples. One such case is
in Matthew 14:27 when Jesus walks on
the water and says: “Take heart; it is I.
Do not be afraid.”
The commands
of Jesus in
Matthew to his
disciples fit into
ten categories.
Jesus Gives Disciples
Reasons For Keeping
His Commands
Jesus does not just command men
and women to simply “do this or do
not do that” without giving the rationale for keeping the command. The
majority of Jesus’ commands to his
disciples are immediately followed
by a reason, purpose, motivation,
or empowerment given by Jesus
for obeying the command. These
supporting rationale statements
throughout the Gospel challenge
disciples to obedient action. When
disciples make other disciples, the
reasons for obeying Jesus’ commands
must also be effectively taught, since
followers are not merely to learn but
also to obey the directives of Jesus.
Understanding the reason to keep
these commands and the empowerment given by the Lord to obey his
imperatives is essential for disciples.
The commands of Jesus in Matthew
to his disciples fit into ten categories.
Following are examples of each type of
command and the reason or rationale
Jesus gives for keeping that command:
1. Love God, your enemies, and
your fellow disciples
Command: “You shall love th e Lord your
God with all your heart and with all your
soul and with all your mind…You shall
love your neighbor as yourself.” (22:37, 39)
Rationale: “On these two commandments depend all the Law and the
Prophets.” (22:40 cf. 7:12)
2. Forgive and reconcile
Command: “I do not say to you (forgive) seven times, but seventy times
seven.” (18:22)
Rationale: “So also my heavenly Father
will do to every one of you (i.e., will
not show mercy to you, see 18:33–34),
if you do not forgive your brother from
your heart.” (18:35)
3. A
ttitudes (Do not worry, do not
fear, rejoice and be glad)
Command: “Rejoice and be glad” (5:12)
Rationale: “…for your reward is great
in heaven, for so they persecuted the
prophets who were before you.” (5:12)
4. Pray and trust God
Command: “Ask…seek…knock” (7:7)
Rationale: “For everyone who asks receives,
and the one who seeks finds, and to the one
who knocks it will be opened.” (7:8)
5. Be single-hearted toward God
and man (not hypocritical)
Command: “Beware of practicing your
righteousness before other people in
order to be seen by them…” (6:1)
Rationale: “…for then you will have
no reward from your Father who is in
heaven.” (6:1)
6. Be a humble servant
Command: “Neither be called instructors…” (23:10)
Rationale: “…for you have one instructor,
the Christ. The greatest among you shall
be your servant. Whoever exalts himself
will be humbled, and whoever humbles
himself will be exalted.” (23:11, 12)
7. Watch out for false prophets and teachings that will lead disciples astray
Command: “See that no one leads you
astray.” (24:4)
Rationale: “For many will come in my
name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and
they will lead many astray.” (24:5)
8. Be ready for Jesus’ return
Command: “Therefore you must also
be ready…” (24:44)
Rationale(s): “But know this, that if
the master of the house had known in
what part of the night the thief was
coming, he would have stayed awake
and would not have let his house be
broken into.” (24:43) “…for the Son
of Man is coming at an hour you do
not expect.” (24:44)
9. Put Jesus and the Kingdom first;
Follow him; Obey his will
Command: “If anyone would come
after me, let him deny himself and take
up his cross and follow me.” (16:24)
Rationale: “For whoever would save his
life will lose it, but whoever loses his life
for my sake will find it. For what will it
profit a man, if he gains the whole world
and forfeits his life?” (16:25–26a)
10. Make disciples
Command: “Go therefore and make
disciples of all nations…” (28:19)
Rationale: “All authority in heaven
and on earth has been given to me.”
(28:18). “And behold, I am with you
always, to the end of the age.” (28:20).
Jesus in Matthew repeats these
commands to his disciples at various junctures and teaches the same
principles several times as the master
teacher with disciples who often lack
faith and understanding. When a disciple of Christ today is making other
disciples he or she should emulate
the pattern and patience of Jesus.
Obeying the Commands
of Jesus Motivates
It is important to observe that
obeying these various commands
of Jesus helps motivate and enable
each believer to carry out the
Great Commission. For example,
september/october 2008 17
if a Christian loves and forgives his
enemy he will more naturally share
the gospel and the teachings of Jesus
with them. A believer who does not
fear men will have boldness to communicate the message of the Lord. A
humble Christian will see the value of
a soul and be concerned to be a soul
winner. One is ready for the Lord’s
return and the end of the age when he
is involved in carrying out the Great
Commission and aiding his Christian
brothers and sisters in their mission (cf.
28:20; 24:14, 45–46). A specific prayer
command of Jesus is to “pray that the
Lord of the harvest send out laborers
into his harvest.” (9:38) When people
follow Jesus, he will make them “fishers of men” (4:19).
The Ultimate
Motivation to Make
The ultimate motivation and enablement for disciples to obey the command
of Jesus to make disciples is found in
the expressions that surround the Great
Commission. God has given to Jesus
all authority in heaven and on earth. In
view of this authority the mission will
and must be carried out. Jesus exercises his full authority in giving the Great
Commission. He also has the power to
enable his disciples to carry out their
orders. He who commands even the
angels (24:31) now issues the most
authoritative command to his followers: “Make Disciples.” Yet the Great
Commission and the Gospel do not end
on the note of demand, but of presence.
They end with a promise and a focus on
the character and attributes of Christ.
Jesus will be with his disciples each and
every day of their mission forever. The
Gospel ends with the triumphal presence of Christ. Jesus is “God with us.”
Churches, disciples, and discipleship ministries should teach
disciples to know and obey the
commands in Matthew’s Gospel as
a vital core of their curriculum and
approach. Matthew’s Gospel is especially valuable in this regard since
it was designed to be used as a discipleship manual. It was the church’s
favorite Gospel for centuries because
of its utility in making disciples.
Discipleship must have as its goal
to train believers to keep all of
Jesus’ commands including that of
reproducing themselves by making
other disciples. Jesus’ teaching also
provides the needed rationale and
motivation for keeping his commands.
Jesus’ promise of his presence and
authority provides the empowerment
for fulfilling the Great Commission.
“In Jesus, God remains with us for
now and eternity! What more do we
need to persevere in Christian living?
We must go and obey his commission. But the final word of the Gospel
remains Christ-centered. Even when
we fail, he remains faithful.” 6
This article summarizes selected
information from a paper presented
Emmaus Bible College
Pick up from J/A 2008
18 Voice
by the author, © November 19, 2003,
at the annual Evangelical Theological
Society meeting in Atlanta, GA.
1Scriptural quotes in this article are from the English
Standard Version © 2001 by Crossway Bibles.
2E.g., “Matthew,” Michael J. Wilkins in Zondervan
Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary, ed. Clinton
E. Arnold, Zondervan, 2002, p.7.; “Matthew,” David
K. Lowery in The Bible Knowledge Key Word Study: The
Gospels, ed. Darrell L. Bock, Victor, 2002, p.112.
3 G
reek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on
Semantic Domains, Johannes P. Louw and Eugene A.
Nida, United Bible Societies, 1988, Section 33. 329.
4 Ibid., Section 33. 330.
5A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other
Early Christian Literature, 3rd ed. [BDAG], University
of Chicago Press, 2000, p.1002.
6Matthew, Craig L. Blomberg, Broadman Press, 1992,
p. 431.
Neil Nelson is Professor of Biblical
Languages at Calvary Bible College and
Theological Seminary in Kansas City. He
received his Bachelor of Science from the
University of Wisconsin – Madison and his
Ph.D. from Dallas Theological Seminary.
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september/october 2008 19
Training Care-Mentors
A Must for Pastoral Survival
c James L. Clark C
he Apostle Paul wrote in
Ephesians 4:11-13, “It was he
who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be
evangelists, and some to be pastors
and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the
body of Christ may be built up until
we all reach unity in the faith and in
the knowledge of the Son of God and
become mature, attaining to the whole
measure of the fullness of Christ.”
Pastors certainly resonate with Paul’s
statement. But pastors should also ask,
“How can I make this happen in a practical way in my church?”
The purpose of the church is not to
do what other groups can do, but to do
what no other group of human beings
can do. The uniqueness of the church
is that it is comprised of every member
gifted by the Spirit of God (1 Cor. 12:11)
with the God-given responsibility to use
effectively and passionately the spiritual
gifts for ministering one to another that
lead to maturity (Christ-like character,
Romans 8:29) and works of service.
20 Voice
The Church recognizes that the
ultimate solution for human needs is
the good news of Jesus Christ and the
change He makes in peoples’ hearts
and lives. God’s method is to use people equipped with the knowledge of
the Word of God and empowered by
the Spirit of God to bring about healing and restoration, based upon biblical
solutions, to those in need. As the “body
of Christ” begins to function as God
intended her to function, the outcome
is revealed through a healthy, mature,
caring community worshipping God and
giving Him the glory due to His name!
Past studies and research have indicated that when Christians are in trouble,
they first turn to their community of
faith to seek help. Results of research
studies done by Hiltner and Colston
and published in 1961 in their book,
The Context of Pastoral Counseling,
concluded, “Other things being equal,
counseling proceeded faster in a church
context. Why? Parishioners knew where
the pastoral counselor stood on important theological issues and values as well
as the support base of the community of
faith.” 1 Although the research is dated,
I believe their premise is still true.
It is obvious today that the pastor
is inundated with people in his church
and community who are hurting. Such
hurt could be due to their own sin, poor
decision-making, immaturity, or physical
and emotional pain, as well as suffering inflicted upon them as the result of
someone else’s sin against them.
My Experience as a
Pastor and Chaplain
During the years that I served as a
pastor and chaplain in several chaplaincy
positions (Community College, Prison,
and Fire Department), I ministered to
all kinds of people experiencing pain
and grief. I have to admit that it gave me
a sense of personal satisfaction to counsel and shepherd such people and assist
them as they went through the recovery
process. After all, I believe that is the
calling of the pastor.
I faithfully studied the Word of God
as it related to human need. I read books
on counseling, even to the point of getting a doctorate in biblical counseling. I
attended workshops, seminars, and conferences on the subject. In a way, I wanted to
be the “expert,” the one who could help
them with whatever problem they faced.
I realized that it can be a prideful temptation when church members seek out the
pastor, when they refer people to him,
because he is the one equipped to minister to the needs of the members.
However, after time with the weight
and burden of all the duties of the pastorate, I became weary and tired of the
treadmill I had created for myself. One
statistic I read indicated that the average
pastor spends an average of six to nine
hours a week counseling. I was exceeding that, and it was not getting better. It
was obvious I had not even contemplated
the concept of equipping the saints for
service. My response was, “We need to
get bigger as a church before we can hire
another ‘expert’ to do what needs to be
done.” I’m not opposed to increasing the
staff- I had an associate pastor myself- but
I am opposed to circumventing the equipping of church members to do ministry by
replacing them with another staff member.
The Church
recognizes that
the ultimate solution
for human needs
is the good news
of Jesus Christ and
the change He makes
in peoples’ hearts
and lives.
The Apostle Paul took great pains to
present a different approach. He wrote,
“Now you are the body of Christ and
each one of you is a part of it.” Peter
underscored the significance of this principle in 1 Peter 2:9, 10: “But you are a
chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy
nation, a people belonging to God, that
you may declare the praises of him who
called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people,
but now you are the people of God.”
I finally took this Scriptural principle
to heart, and during the latter part of
my pastoral ministry, I began redirecting
my energy and time to equipping the
saints. The question became obvious to
me, “Why should church members refer
people to me as their pastor, no matter the size of the problem, when they
could participate themselves in ministering to the needs of their fellow man?”
It became clear to me that they weren’t
equipped to do such a thing. I heard
people say to me, “Pastor, I wish I could
help someone with their problems when
they speak to me other than saying, ‘I’ll
pray for you; in the meantime why don’t
you call our pastor for help?’ ”
The Example of Moses
The counsel and wisdom of Jethro
to Moses is very apropos here. Jethro
observed the unduly heavy load that
Moses was carrying in meeting with and
dealing with the needs of all the people.
Jethro spoke to Moses and said, “What
you are doing is not good. You and these
people who come to you will only wear
yourselves out. The work is too heavy
for you; you cannot handle it alone”
(Exodus 18:17-18).
Jethro’s solution was for Moses to
select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy
men who hate dishonest gain—and
appoint them as officers (Exodus 18:21).
Following in verses 22 and 23, Jethro
states the solution: “Have them bring
every difficult case to you; the simple
cases they can decide themselves. That
will make your load lighter because they
will share it with you. If you do this and
God so commands, you will be able to
stand the strain, and all these people
will go home satisfied.” Now notice how
Moses responds, as recorded in verse 24:
“Moses listened to his father-in-law and
did everything he said.”
With this in mind, I began training
the leadership (elders and deacons) in a
counseling, discipleship, and mentoring
ministry. From there I did the same with
other church positions such as Sunday
school teachers, youth workers, children’s
ministry workers, etc. This was followed
by training a group of care-mentors who
could do biblical counseling and discipleship to assist me with the needs of the
people. The church became a shared
ministry, a collaborative effort to fulfill
the words of Paul in Ephesians 4:11-13.
A Plan for Training
In considering a plan to train a group
of care-mentors who could do biblical
counseling and discipleship, I would like
to suggest a few guidelines.
Pick up from J/A 2008
september/october 2008 21
1.You need to train leaders in the
church and know the specific
areas in which they can effectively
counsel and mentor. Assign them
appropriately to people who have
needs in those areas.
2.Prior to arranging a mentor for an
individual in need, the pastor must
seek the approval from that individual before the plan is set in motion.
3.The pastor not only delegates his
trained people to assist him but he
also monitors their progress. This
provides accountability between the
pastor and the mentor. Do not turn
people over to someone without
supervision. Remember, the church
members must always know the pastor’s first concern is his flock.
4.Assess the mentor’s gifts, strengths,
and personality. Matching the mentor appropriately with a member in
need is crucial. The pastor will take
into consideration the personalities
of both the mentor and the member.
5.The pastor will never mix gender, matching male mentors with
female mentorees or vice versa.
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6.A timeline must be enacted and held
to by the mentor. The involvement
between the mentor and member should last no more than eight
weeks. If it is a good experience
between them, there is a temptation
to just keep meeting, even though
the problem or issue has passed.
If the pastor spends the time to organize and monitor such a training program,
his ministry will be extremely enhanced,
and the members of his church will be
excited about being part of such a caring,
mentoring ministry.
Will all the people follow through after
being trained to be care-mentors? No, but
more counseling is done by way of informal counseling than formal. Therefore,
they will always use in some form or fashion whatever training they receive.
I, of course, did not have the corner
on the market when it comes to equipping the sain ts. Churches are catching the
vision and incorporating similar programs,
using effectively the body of Christ in their
local settings. I’ve been privileged to continue equipping students at Calvary Bible
College and Theological Seminary. I’ve
been blessed to see the graduates of our
biblical counseling program impact the
local church by establishing training programs for counseling.
One such example is the
“Counselor’s Edge,” a group serving as
church counselors and mentors throughout Kansas City, serving over 10,000
people collectively. I’m aware of many
Bible-believing churches throughout the
country and around the world that are
doing similar ministries, effectively using
the Word of God to bring about change
in the lives of people.
To the pastor, I advise you to
evaluate your ministry and consider
multiplying such ministry through your
people. To the church member reading
this article, I encourage you to go to your
pastor and volunteer your services to be
trained as a care-mentor. Once the pastor
gets up from the floor after hearing your
announcement, may the Lord develop
through you a great ministry of meeting the needs of God’s people in your
church and community. By so doing,
your church will be taking a step in the
right direction in applying Ephesians
4:11-13, and perhaps it will establish the
longevity of your pastor’s ministry by
helping him actually survive the rigors of
the pastorate.
1 Hiltner, S. and Colston, L. G. The Context of Pastoral
Counseling. Nashville; Abingdon, 1961.
James Clark is Professor and Vice
President and Academic Dean of Calvary
Bible College in Kansas City, MO. He is
a graduate of Calvary Bible College and
Trinity College and Seminary.
Southwest Bible Church Mission
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on 8/4/08
A Simple SermonTemplate
c Michel L. Dodds C
n introduction should command attention. When you step
behind the pulpit, you dare
not assume that your congregation sits
expectantly on the edge of the pews
waiting for your sermon. In reality they
are probably a bit bored and harbor a
suspicion that you will make matters
worse. A Russian proverb offers a bit
of wise counsel to the preacher: ‘It is
the same with men as with donkeys:
whoever would hold them fast must
get a very good grip on their ears’”
(Robinson, 120).
Every preacher, every Bible study
leader, every Sunday school teacher
wants to catch and hold their listeners’
attention—from the beginning to the
end. God’s eternal, inerrant, authoritative Word deserves no less.
Over the years of ministry I’ve
learned the importance of beginning
and ending a sermon or lesson well. I’ve
known occasions when the people were
silent and their eyes were focused on
me as I spoke. And I’ve experienced
the times when the nodding heads and
“watch-watching” indicated their minds
were engaged elsewhere.
And so over the years I’ve sought,
tried, and personalized the wisdom of others for effective ways to help my listeners
“to end up wanting to hear the rest of the
message, either because of some need
that was created or some curiosity that was
stirred” (Sunukjian, 193).
There are many ways to introduce
and conclude a sermon- there is no
“right” way to preach or teach other
than to be true to the Word. But a
few years ago, in a volume by Andy
Stanley and Lane Jones (Stanley and
Jones, 119-130), I discovered an organizational pattern- a simple sermon
“template”- that, more often than
not, enables me to engage and keep
the attention of my listeners from the
beginning to the end of the sermon.
Every preacher,
every Bible study
leader, every Sunday
school teacher wants
to catch and hold their
listeners’ attention—
from the beginning
to the end.
Like a template that guides the
organization of a document, this method suggests the content categories
and organizational flow of the major
elements of the sermon. But more
importantly, the template’s categories
compel the communicator to consider
the sermon’s relational dynamics.
Simply stated, this template suggests that every sermon or lesson
address the following, in the following
order: Me – We – God – You – We.
These words are not necessarily
used in the sermon outline nor said by
the speaker. Rather, they are the categories of the content to be included in
the sermon. Stanley and Jones explain:
“With this approach the communicator introduces a dilemma he
has faced or is currently facing (Me).
From there you find common ground
with your audience around the same
or a similar dilemma (We). Then you
transition to the text to discover what
God says about the tension or question
you have introduced (God). Then you
challenge your audience to act on what
they have just heard (You). And finally, you close with several statements
about what could happen in your community, your church, or the world, if
everybody embraced that particular
truth (We)”(Stanley and Jones, 120).
Notice the parallels between the
parts of this “template” and common sermon categories. The opening
Me and We sections constitute what
most communicators classify as the
Introduction. The God section is the
Body of the sermon or lesson. And the
You and We sections at the end constitute the typical Conclusion.
But why should a preacher or teacher
use this method for organizing his sermon or lesson? The primary purpose is
to engage the listener on a personal, relational level: first, with the speaker (Me),
then with each other (We), next with
God (God), then with themselves in
september/october 2008 27
light of what God says (You), and finally,
again together—speaker and listeners
(We). Let’s think about each category of
this sermon template.
the first category: ME
It is essential today- in a postmodern, skeptical world- for the
communicator to identify the common
ground shared with the listener. “An
audience has to buy into the messenger before they buy into the message”
(Stanley and Jones, 121). As the speaker reveals personal struggles that his
audience can relate to, he communicates genuineness and builds trust- and
trust building is especially important
when speaking to a new audience or to
people new to the church or class.
While the tension with which the
speaker struggles may be very practical
(e.g., how to raise his children, make
an ethical decision at work, love a very
unlovable person), it can also be very
theological (e.g., the sovereignty of God
when his loved ones hurt; the atonement
of Christ for all people- especially for
someone he knows never believes; the
nature of the sanctification of the believer, in light of his persistent struggles with
sin). The struggle the speaker mentions
will be that which comes from his personal encounter with the truth of the
biblical passage—a struggle everyone
has with the truth in the text.
Using this template to guide the
development of the sermon, the speaker
is challenged to reveal that he too needs
the solution the sermon presents.
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28 Voice
the second category: We
Having made clear that the speaker struggles with a particular tension,
he then broadens the felt tension to
include every listener. Stanley and
Jones (p. 124) present the following
examples to illustrate this aspect of the
From a sermon on prayer:
“Sometimes I wonder why I even
bother praying (Me). You’ve probably
wondered about that as well (We).”
From a lesson on temptation:
“Sometimes I wonder why I am overcome
by the same temptations over and over.”
(Me). “But that’s probably something that
only I wrestle with. Right? (We).”
From a sermon from Matthew
5:43–48 “ There are just some people
I don’t get along with (Me),” “can anybody here relate to that (We)?”
In the We aspect of the Introduction,
the speaker helps the listeners identify
that they too struggle with the tension felt
by the speaker. The speaker wants to create in the listener an unspoken anticipation
of the rest of the sermon- the presentation
of the “answer” to the tension felt by both
the speaker and the listener. And in so
doing, the listener’s heart has been prepared for the application- they too want the
“answer” the communicator will present in
the lesson- God’s answer.
the third category: God
Next comes the heart of the sermon- what most call the Body. In this
section the communicator explains
God’s will as presented in the biblical
text, in applicable points of theology,
or in the practical application of God’s
truth. While there are many ways to
state the main points of a sermon,
having begun with a question which
demands a practical solution, why not
use outline wording that clearly states
the actions the listener should take to
effect the solution- rather than using
outline wording that merely states the
facts of the text?
Sunukjian’s “Truth form” statement of 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 is an
excellent example of the kind of wording that would help the reader stay
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engaged while the speaker explains
the content of the text.
Passage form: “Paul ceased his earnest prayer for the thorn’s removal and
began, instead, to value it.”
Truth form: “Instead of persistently asking God to remove our
limitations, we should, instead, value
them” (Sunukjian, 137).
However this section of the sermon
is structured, the speaker’s intent is
to communicate God’s solution to the
tension felt by both the speaker and
listeners. The Main Idea, as explained
in the body of the sermon, is God’s
answer to everyone’s question.
the fourth category: you
Having presented God’s “answer,”
the communicator must clarify the listener’s response. “This is where we
tell people what to do with what they
have heard. This is where we answer
the questions ‘So what?’ and ‘Now
what?’” (Stanley and Jones, 127)
Unfortunately, this is often where
the listener disengages. This disengagement can be caused by the
speaker failing to communicate the
seriousness of obedience to God
when He speaks (Matthew 7:21–23),
or by suggesting life changes which
are too general- and, therefore, too
easily dismissed by the listener, or by
suggesting that obedience is merely a
matter of doing “steps 1-2-3” without
the necessity of the on-going relationships with Christ and His people
(Isaiah 29:13). This disengagement
also occurs when the listener fails to
commit to decisive, personal action
(James 1:22–25).
Using this sermon template, however, forces the speaker to include
suggestions for ways to respond to
God’s solution- suggestions which
are appropriate to the You the speaker anticipates present that day. Sure,
these practical suggestions can be
made earlier during the God section of
the sermon (there is no “right” way to
preach, right?) but using this template
compels the speaker to include this
element if he has not.
the fifth category: we
While most speakers long to conclude with “an emotionally charged
story” that emphasizes the main
point in a powerful and memorable
way, Stanley and Jones quip that “…
every once in a while God graces us
with those closing illustrations. But
for the other fifty-one weeks of the
year we need something else. That’s
where We comes in” (Stanley and
Jones, 129).
In the conclusion, the communicator should rejoin the listeners (hence,
a We kind of statement); but he should
also cast a vision of “what could and
should be” if the speaker, listeners,
families, community, church, and
world were to act upon God’s “answer”
presented in the sermon (Stanley and
Jones, 129). For example: “We should
do this! Now!” “Can you imagine the
difference We could make in our rela-
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tionships?” “God promises that when
We pray, He will listen and act beyond
what we could ask or even imagine!”
Me–We–God–You–We. Let’s
see how you are using these categories already. Take last week’s lesson
or sermon and write these five words
in the margin next to the applicable
sections. When you are finished, try
rearranging the material around
Me–We–God–You–We, being sure to
add the parts which are missing, if any.
Finally, consider how this method of
arranging your material may enable you
to engage your listeners more quickly
and hold their interest.
This simple “template” for organizing sermons or Bible lessons does
not work for every sermon, and it is
definitely not for every communicator.
But it suggests categories which every
sermon and lesson should touch upon
if the speaker wants to communicate
for life change. Can you imagine what
might happen if you and I connect with
our people and engage them with the
truth of the Biblical text the next time
we preach or teach?!
Dr. Michel L. Dodds is the Chairman of
the Pastoral Studies Department, Calvary
Bible College & Theological Seminary
in Kansas City, MO. Prior to coming to
Calvary, Mike received the Th.M and
D.Min. degrees from Dallas Theological
Seminary, pastored churches in Illinois,
Wisconsin, and Kansas, and served as
an IFCA-endorsed reserve and active
duty Air Force chaplain. He is an IFCA
International member.
Robinson, Haddon W. Biblical Preaching: The Development and
Delivery of Expository Messages. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1980.
Stanley, Andy and Lane Jones. Communicating for a
Change. Sisters, OR: Multnomah Publishers, 2006.
Sunukjian, Donald R. Invitation to Biblical Preaching:
Proclaiming Truth with Clarity and Relevance. Grand
Rapids: Kregel, 2007.
september/october 2008 29
How to Start a Church
c Henry Vosburgh C
Editor’s note: With ifca international’s heavy emphasis on Vision America,
it begs the question: “how do you plant a
church?” Here is one answer.
here are vast numbers of
“How To …” books in the
marketplace addressing nearly
every subject known to man. An article
titled as this one might become lost
in the shuffle. What’s more, for anyone who understands the complexities
involved in starting churches, to claim
that this subject can be addressed in
such limited space could be perceived
as presumptuous.
Yet, there is validity in boiling
down complicated discussions to some
sort of bare essence. And I believe
that the steps for starting a church are
really quite simple. However, actually taking these steps will be far more
involved than what this article might
imply, for each church starts in its own
context, circumstance, and situation.
When the discussion expands to incorporate these concepts, no exact pattern
exists because each church starts differently than the next.
What this article proposes is that no
matter the context, circumstance, and
situation, starting a church properly will
take three main steps.
Step 1: Establish
a United Core of
This step takes into account the
basic doctrine concerning the local
church, that it is an organic assembly of
believers, a corporate entity of calledout ones placed in a given locality as
a testimony of God. For example, the
result of the Gospel witness at Pentecost
was the formation of the local church at
Jerusalem. And as it became established,
the unity of the church was a vital mark
of its existence (Acts 2:44-47).
No matter the
context, circumstance,
and situation, starting a
church properly will take
three main steps.
It is important for us to note the
key areas around which a new group of
believers is to unify. The reality is that
bonds and ties of all sorts – right ones
or wrong ones – can unify a group of
people. So what are the right unifying
connectors with which to start a church?
Unity in Doctrine
Any church must be comprised of people possessing common beliefs regarding
the faith. Since Vision America is all about
the planting of IFCA churches upholding
our expression of biblical Christianity, the
IFCA doctrinal statement is presumed to
be the foundation upon which our church
plant projects will build.
Unity in Purpose
This is a point that tends to vary, for it
addresses why a church is being started. Not
everyone chooses to become part of a new
church for the same reason. Not everyone is
in need of the same things. This variability,
however, cannot supplant the purpose of the
church as a whole. There is a clear biblical
purpose for the local church. And it is around
this purpose that each believer is to unify,
regardless of what motivates their arrival to
that new church.
Unity in Goal
This point addresses a target for
the church, answering the question
of where it is going. For example,
is it the church’s goal to become a
viable Bible-believing witness for
the proclamation of the Gospel and
the edification of the saints in that
community? Or is the church’s goal
designed to meet the needs of but a
few (the proverbial “us four and no
more”)? If a group does not agree on
what the new church is to become, it is
destined for a disappointing and divided future, short as it will likely be.
Unity in Direction
This point addresses the strategy of how to fulfill the purpose and
move toward the goal. Ten believers
in agreement about a church’s purpose and goal can still be divided if
each one tries to achieve these by different courses. As communicated in
september/october 2008 31
Amos 3:3, a group of believers must be
“agreed” in order to “walk” together;
this is unity in direction.
Unity in Commitment
I have met many believers who
are very earnest in seeing the need
for an IFCA church, and as soon
as someone comes to plant it, they
promise to be a part! They see the
need, but do not possess the commitment. Planting a new church involves
sacrifice of all kinds – time, labor,
resources, etc. A unified commitment
is the glue that holds the other elements together. Without it, the new
effort will fall apart.
It is a proper exercise for any group
of believers seeking to start a church
to identify, record, perform, promote,
and enforce each of these areas that
demand unity. Possessing a common
faith and collectively understanding
the biblical purpose of a local church, a
group of believers will commit to move
together in the shared direction toward
their mutual goal.
Step 2: Recognize
Spiritual Leadership
I recall a few occasions where I have
met believers who have communicated, with a measure of sanctified pride,
how their church started without anyone
taking the helm, without anyone asserting themselves into a position. They
seem to indicate that anyone doing so
would have been deemed aggressive and
unlike a servant. Yet compare this to the
Scriptures. In Acts 14, Paul and Barnabas
were working their way back through
parts of Asia Minor, retracing their ministry steps just prior to the close of the
first missionary journey. At the very earliest stages in starting these churches at
Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch of Pisidia,
they installed elders to lead these new
groups of believers (Acts 14:21-23).
Clearly, Paul and Barnabas recognized
that spiritual leadership is an important
dynamic to starting a new church.
Churches can be started as daughter
ministries. Churches can be parented by
a consortium of churches banding together. Churches can be started by an agency
of some sort. And churches can be started in pioneer fashion without a network
of support. Regardless of the profile,
without leadership the work of the new
church will have no lasting sustainability.
Sole Leadership
It is often that a new church will unite
behind a church planting pastor. It recognizes and submits to his direction, for the
church in its infancy realizes that it is to
learn and be guided by the man God is
using to father the work into existence.
Plural Leadership
There is a great benefit when a new
church has available to it a number of men
who provide leadership. The responsibility
for establishing the church becomes a shared
one, allowing for the collective wisdom and
gift-mixes of a team of leaders to be exercised
in the new church’s development.
Imported Leadership
In those cases where a group of believers starting a church lacks a man or group of
men who are Scripturally qualified to lead,
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32 Voice
it is recommended that this group seek the
participation of other leaders who can help
to direct the plant until such time as local
leadership can be established. Creating a
steering committee of concerned pastors
or otherwise qualified spiritual men can
be a very effective way to bring leadership
to a new church plant. Partnering with an
organization that can provide a representative is another way to import leadership to
a group seeking to start a church.
Each group should evaluate its needs
by looking at its own capacities and incapacities. Doing so will reveal how much
leadership can be provided from within
the group, as well as reveal if they need
to seek leadership from a source other
than themselves.
– is ready to start its work. Soul by soul,
household by household, the new church
advances yet one more step by initiating
ministry with each life it touches.
We are never
to cease initiating
Step 3: Initiate the
Once a united core of believers is
established and the necessary element of
leadership is recognized, it is now time
to begin the work of the ministry. The
local church’s witness is now to become
activated. It is to begin engaging its mission field. As it does, it will encounter lost
people who need to hear the Gospel. It
will also encounter Christians who need
to be discipled. In either case, that church
– established as a unified core of believers and possessing spiritual leadership
This step is the final one of the process. And this raises a question. When
does “Step 3: Initiate the Ministry”
cease or find its attainment? This
step never ceases or finds attainment
as long as that church remains on the
earth with souls to reach and believers to disciple. This is the tragedy of
the “maintenance ministry” church –
being a church that simply plateaus in
its work.
We are never to cease initiating ministry. Even in the most hypothetical of
circumstances, if we have brought every
living soul of our immediate community
to Christ, there is always another soul,
household, or community nearby that
should be reached.
It has been statistically verified that
the bulk of evangelistic enterprise done
Source of
Bible Mission
Light Mission
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by the American church today largely occurs within the first ten years of a
church’s existence.1 On the one hand,
this indicates to us the necessity of Vision
America within our fellowship: if this is
the means for successful evangelism, we
should endeavor to maximize our effort
in starting new churches. On the other
hand, this indicates to us that our existing
churches should never truly stop planting
themselves as a witness in their communities. It’s so easy to become sidetracked
from that which we start out to do. May
IFCA International be a leader on both
counts – new churches being started, and
existing churches always initiating new
1 F or confirmation that younger, newer churches
grow more than older ones, see Aubrey Malphurs,
Planting Growing Churches for the 21st Century (Grand
Rapids: Baker), 44; and Christian Schwarz, Natural
Church Development: A Guide to Eight Essential Qualities
of Healthy Churches (Carol Stream: ChurchSmart
Resources, 1996), 46-48.
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september/october 2008 33
Wom en’s Voice
A Jerusalem Sabbatical
c Jo Anne Anderson C
laundry and house keeping all took
more time and effort than they did in
Minnesota. We entertained people
in our home. One day the Internet
service at school was down so our
apartment became an Internet café
with free popcorn!
hen my husband Brian
resigned from twenty years
of ministry in our rural
Minnesota church plant, we fully
intended to take a sabbatical year at
home because of ongoing responsibilities there. Never would we have
imagined that God would open a door
to study abroad… in Jerusalem!
So many unknowns lay before
us. One by one the questions were
answered. And before we knew it we
were settled into our own cozy apartment in downtown Jerusalem. We
quickly learned our way around, mostly
on foot, but also became comfortable
using the Israeli and Arab bus systems.
We would sometimes be walking and
marvel together how amazing it was to
be living in Jerusalem. On several occasions we took trips around the country…
camping at the Sea of Galilee, hiking in
the Negev, driving to the peaks of Mts.
Hermon, Carmel, Moreh, Gilboa, and
Tabor, driving the coast to the Lebanese
border, and seeing Syria from the peaks
of the Golan Heights.
Brian took a full load of classes at
Jerusalem University College, and I
audited two classes each semester, giving me adequate time to care for our
home. Shopping and meal preparation,
34 Voice
Never would we
have imagined that
God would open a
door to study abroad…
in Jerusalem!
Though not necessary I resolved
to do all the work for the courses I
audited, in part to prove to myself
that I could still do it after 28 years
out of college. I enjoyed it immensely. The course I enjoyed most was
Physical Settings of the Bible. A class
which took us on field studies to the
Galilee, Negev, Dead Sea, in and
around Jerusalem, to the coast and to
Jordan. These times around the country as well as an eight day study tour
to Egypt and four days to Jordan (to
experience life with a Bedouin family) complemented the classroom. The
goal was to sharpen our understanding
of the biblical text to be better prepared to teach it to others.
Though academics brought us to
Israel, we look back at the year and
see our studies as part of a bigger
picture, one filled with people. We
were blessed to be part of the fellowship at Jerusalem Assembly, a body
of Jewish and international believers.
In JUC we had a unique role as older
students in a predominantly young
class. In Bethlehem I taught English
to Palestinian men and women.
We came away with many friends
in our hearts: believers, unbelievers,
Jewish, Arab, Israeli and Palestinian.
We had many opportunities to share
truth with people in Israel because we
lived in their neighborhoods.
Living and studying in the Holy
Land was more than a great experience. It was everyday life… living for
Jesus by His grace where He chose to
plant us. Now we are planted back in
northern Minnesota waiting on God
for our next step.
Where has God planted you? May
each of us seek to be living for Him,
by His grace, in that place.
Jo Anderson has been a pastor’s wife in
a rural church ministry in northern
Minnesota for most of the past 27
years. She and Brian have four children
and two grandchildren. Ch aplain’s Diary
Discipling in Prison
c Steve Francis C
Chaplain Steve Francis, your chaplain at
Centinela State Prison, California recounts
the blessing of a changed life in one inmate.
Soon after yard release the inmates
were all sent back to their cells. Usually it
is hard for someone to get a truly private
interview with me. However, today one
of the leaders from the Protestant Chapel
caught me when no one else could interrupt us. He has been in leadership longer
than any of the men in the chapels. When
he arrived here he was in his very early
20s and facing a lifetime in prison with no
hope of parole. He came to me with the
Lord in his life but very little knowledge
of the Word. That was over ten years ago.
This brother now gives the exhortation on
his yard weekly.
Over the years he has become a
great man of God and a master in his
understanding of the Word. During
my seven month absence in 2005, six
of the leaders would meet together to
deal with issues in the chapel. The
other leaders are all older with better church backgrounds who’ve spent
a lot of time in study and teaching
the Word. However, when they came
to an issue where they had difficulty reaching a conclusion they would
turn to him and the question was most
often, “What do you think Chaplain
Francis would do?” Now that is humbling. But my young leader would,
almost one hundred percent of the
time, hit it on the head.
On Monday his concern was regarding his position of trust, especially when
another brother was in error in his walk
with the Lord. After listening to him,
I realized my young leader has been
a tool of the Lord to lift my heart in
true thanksgiving and joy with all that is
going on around me in opposition to the
calling I am trying to fulfill. I believe
that I can understand Paul’s attitude
and feelings for Timothy.
When he arrived
here he was in his
very early 20s and
facing a lifetime in
prison with no hope
of parole.
teen minute exhortation given by one
of the chapel leaders. It is such a joy to
see the expressions on the face of the
new volunteers as they listen to the men
speak. So many say that they came to be
a blessing and left with a greater blessing
than they could believe.
I have been privileged to disciple
men and to see their ministries flourish
at Centinela and then in the churches
where they attend and get involved
in after parole. Pray for these men as
they face challenges from the spiritual forces that Paul taught about in
Ephesians 6.
I am very proud of the men that
attend the services at Centinela. Chaplain Steve Francis
Psalm 142:7
Most weeks I have volunteers from
the outside who assist us in the chapel services. So many come in with
thoughts of how they will be a blessing to the inmates in chapel. During
the service there is almost always a fif-
Opportunities Inc.
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IFCA BulletinCathedral
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september/october 2008 35
Community Care Today
A Flood of Opportunity
erhaps only once in a lifetime
will there be an unprecedented natural event offering you
a most unusual ministry opportunity. The following is an account of a
“disaster,” and how God used Heritage
Bible Church of Remington, Indiana
to advance the gospel.
Heritage Bible Church’s Pastor
Dan Nave presented to the church
an outreach plan for 2008 on Sunday
morning, January 7. One of elements
of that plan was the goal of placing
a printed summary of the Gospel in
every home in Remington by the end
of the year. Thirty-six hours later God
put into motion dramatic events that
would greatly accelerate that plan.
Prior to that weekend, Remington
had received 6-8 inches of snow followed by a warming trend which melted
the snow and saturated the ground. On
Monday evening, it began to rain and
before Tuesday morning, Remington
received 5 inches of rain. This town
of 1500 people is surrounded on three
sides by a creek which overnight was
transformed into a lake. It continued
expanding on Tuesday until nearly 50%
of the town was under water. In some
residential areas, it was as deep as 5 feet.
The devastation from this 100 year flash
flood was massive.
The property damage was staggering
in this small town. Thankfully, the loss
of life to the flood waters was limited
to only one man. Amazingly, the flood
waters stopped 150 feet from Pastor
Nave’s home and none of the church
family suffered any losses. This Divine
intervention enabled the church family
to mobilize in practical ministry to the
community without having the distraction of dealing with their own losses!
By the end of the week, Pastor
Dan and Cheryl Nave were walking
the streets of Remington, visiting each
36 Voice
home to let people know of their concern and to ask how the church might
assist. The church provided blankets
and pillows to the displaced families
at the local shelters and Pastor Dan
volunteered his vehicle for shuttling
people from place to place. The church
purchased and distributed $1500 worth
of underwear, socks and sweat suits.
Wal-Mart gave a 33% discount bringing
the bill to $1000. The Nave home was
opened for folks to shower and clean up
as needed. Ministry to folks continued
at the local disaster shelters throughout
the week, and it became increasingly
clear that there would be significant
long-term needs.
To meet those needs, Pastor Dan
established a disaster relief fund for the
community at the local bank. Posters were
printed. Television and radio outlets were
notified. Within 48 hours over $17,000 had
been contributed to the fund. Now over
$50,000 has been given. These funds are
being controlled by two bank officials (both
of whom attend Heritage Bible Church) and
Pastor Nave. Those in need fill out a simple
application form and vouchers are provided
for necessities such as gasoline, groceries,
clothing and building and repair supplies.
Gift cards to Wal-Mart were also distributed
in $100-300 amounts.
As things moved into the second week
it was clear that many families had more
significant needs to be met. Funds were
made available for temporary housing in
motel rooms, furnace repairs, kerosene
space heaters and water heaters. More
than 60 families benefited from disaster
relief grants. The church issued an appeal
for food supplies. Soon truckloads of food
began flowing in from neighboring communities to the food distribution center
housed in the church building. More than
25 people from the church were involved
in manning that center as scores of needy
families loaded their cars with food.
The Pastor’s efforts in making contact with the families, offering prayer
and taking the lead in seeking to minister to them made a tremendous impact
in the Name of Christ. “You have no
idea what that did for your church in our
community,” said one local leader.
They’ve initiated a follow up contact ministry to remind the folks of
their continued concern and prayer,
and they are considering a picnic for
the families later in the year.
This is the kind of thing for which
we can never be totally prepared. We
must simply be ready… and flexible.
In God’s sovereign timing, the ministry
comes to us - perhaps once in a lifetime
Henry Vosburgh and Dan Nave
Midwest Church Extension
We Welcome
these Men &
Churches to our
New Members
Mr. Leonard Gonzales III
PO Box 1852
Wrightwood, CA 92397
Grace College
& Seminary
Rev. Justin N. Gort
54 N. Fisher St.
Blackfoot, ID 83221
Rev. Donald M. Harrelson IV
216 Seymour St.
Cumberland, MD 21502
pick-up J/A 2008 ad
Mr. Richard W. Malone
3995 J. 5 Road
Bark River, MI 49807
Mr. Richard H. Nix
21313 Ficus Dr. #103
Newhall, CA 91321
Mr. Justin D. Roberts
1 Lake Trail Dr.
Argyle, TX 76226
Mr. John W. Tarr
392 East North Ave.
Noble, IL 62868
Dr. Gene A. Wood
580 E. Sierra Madre
Glendora, CA 91741
New churches
Antioch Bible Church
20805 SW Farmington Rd
Aloha, OR 97007
(was previously listed as Astoria, OR)
september/october 2008 37
Highlights From
The General Sessions were
tremendously challenging
as we heard about the
IFCA Vision America church
planting initiative.
There were also fourteen break-out seminars with a
wide-ranging variety of topics. Pictured here is Dr.Tom
Baurain of Calvary Theological Seminary, Kansas City
who presented the seminar “Hermeneutics, Genesis,
and Early Earth History.”
The Youth Committee is standing at their convention in Newberg, OR with IFCA Board
President Jerry Smith and ED Les Lofquist.
38 Voice
Noel and Lorraine
Olsen receive the
2008 Faithful
Servant Award
from IFCA Board
President Jerry
Conventions are great places for meeting all kinds of people. Pictured here
is former IFCA President Don Fredericks with two of the Korean young men
who were in attendance from Valley Korean Bible Church of Northridge, CA.
Annual Convention
IFCA International Convention
Advertisers List
Eugene, Oregon – June 20-24, 2008
We appreciate the help of our advertisers
for the 2008 Annual IFCA International
Convention and encourage our membership
to utilize their services and products.
Baptist Bible College
BMH Books
Cedarville University
Emmaus Bible College
Fellowship International Missions
Harvest House Publishers
The Master’s College
The Master’s Seminary
Regular Baptist Press
Chris Bauer, Senior Pastor of Santa
Rosa (CA) Bible Church was the
featured speaker at the 2008 IFCA
International Youth Convention.
Alex Montoya, Senior Pastor of First Fundamental
Bible Church, Monterey Park (CA) and Professor at The
Master’s Seminary was the featured speaker at the
2008 Convention. Under Pastor Montoya’s ministry they
planted 15 churches in Los Angeles after having trained
the church planters.
New IFCA Board members installed were (L to R): Jeff Anderson (Rocky Mtn. Regional), Paul Seger
(Dixie Regional), and Bob Provost (Northern IL Regional).
september/october 2008 39
e D eath of
Rev. John
Rev. John Hornok,
age 86, of Draper,
Utah went peacefully to be with the
Lord on Sunday,
August 3, 2008 surrounded by his family. He was director of the Utah Bible
Mission and former pastor of both
Midvalley Bible Church (Bluffdale,
UT) and Grace Community Bible
Church (Sandy, UT).
John Hornok was born November
29, 1921 in Premier, West Virginia
to Andrew and Helen Hornok, emigrants from Hungary. He was the
eighth of their eleven children and
was the last surviving sibling of his
family. He joined the Navy when
he was 19 years old, served six years
in the Pacific during World War II,
and was stationed at Pearl Harbor
on the USS St. Louis when it was
bombed. For many years he served as
a chaplain for the Utah Pearl Harbor
Survivors Association.
John Hornok was a graduate of
Moody Bible Institute and served as
an intern under IFCA Co-founder
Billy McCarrell at Cicero Bible
Church. He pastored the Cicero
Bible Church plant Lake Region
Bible Church in Round Lake, Illinois
before moving to Salt Lake City
in 1953. In Salt Lake he founded
the Utah Bible Mission and was
the founding pastor of the Murray
Bible Church that later became the
Midvalley Bible Church of Bluffdale.
He was also the founding pastor of
Grace Community Bible Church in
Sandy, Utah. One of his tracts 10
Reasons Why I Cannot Be a Mormon
was translated into a number of foreign languages and used around
the world. He joined IFCA in
1950. In 2003 he was awarded the
Moody Bible Institute Distinguished
Service Award. He loved camping
and worked with several other local
40 Voice
H is S aints f
churches to found the Timpanogos
Bible Camp which provided
Christian camping opportunities for
twenty-three years.
He married Frieda Jones of
Bremerton, Washington in 1944 and is
now survived by his wife and six children – Ken of Salt Lake City, Utah,
David of Chicago, Illinois, Suzan
of Olathe, Kansas, Dan of Sandy,
Utah, Doug of Tulsa, Oklahoma,
and Richard of Texarkana, Texas,
twenty-seven grandchildren, thirteen
great-grandchildren, and numerous
nieces and nephews. All of John’s
sons followed in his footsteps to
become pastors, and his daughter
married a pastor. John Hornok was
one of the most loyal IFCA members
and he preached about Mormonism
in hundreds of our churches.
Robert William
Robert William
Achilles departed
this life on May 12,
2008 in Napa, CA
at the age of 70,
after a brief but difficult struggle with
cancer. He was born in Evansville,
Indiana to Joseph and Dorothy
Achilles. He completed a two-year
tour of duty with the Marine Corps
in 1958, married Judith Harwood
in 1959, and graduated from the
University of Illinois in 1960.
His skill with the saxophone
earned him a seat on the Harry James
Orchestra from 1963-1967. He was
the band’s featured clarinet soloist
and appeared on the Ed Sullivan
Show, the Tonight Show, and on
stage at Carnegie Hall. Following his
employment with the James band, he
worked in Hollywood as an arranger,
copyist and studio musician, ghostwriting for various television shows
and recording artists.
Dissatisfaction with the entertainment industry led Achilles to stop
performing. He began investigating the
Christian faith and in 1971, he committed his life to Jesus Christ, a decision that
dramatically changed his life. He joined
the music ministry of Campus Crusade
for Christ in 1976, then went to Talbot
Theological seminary in 1979 and graduated from The Master’s Seminary in
1992. He pastored in Northridge, San
Bernardino, Morgan Hill and La Habra.
In 1988 he moved to Gilroy and became
the founding pastor of Trinity Bible
Church, where he served for 15 years.
He also made 15 trips to the lands of
Russia where he trained pastors and missionaries for the Russian Baptist Church.
In his retirement he ministered at Grace
Church of Napa Valley and taught as an
adjunct professor at The Cornerstone
Seminary in Vallejo. He joined IFCA
International in 2003.
Achilles is survived by Judy, his wife
of 48 years; two sons, one daughter, his
brother, his sister and 15 grandchildren.
Emmett F. Pope
On Saturday, July 12, 2008 at the
age 91, Rev. Emmett Pope went to
meet his Lord whom he loved and
Emmett was born in Flint on
November 7, 1916, the son of the late
Frank and Louise Pope. Emmett was
a resident of Flint for most of his life.
Emmett graduated from the Detroit
Bible Institute and was the founding Pastor of Mayfair Bible Church
where he ministered for 35 years and
was currently a member. He joined
the IFCA in 1956 After retirement,
Emmett was a representative for Trans
World Radio and was actively preaching at Carriage Town Ministries until
his death. Emmett loved serving the
Lord, spending time with his family
and was an avid fisherman.
Surviving are wife, Helen,
children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and his brother. He was
preceded in death by his wife of 56
years, Ruby; 3 sisters and 2 brothers.
Book Review
The Shack
ne of the most popular and
controversial Christian books
of recent years is the fictional work by first time author William
Young, The Shack (Los Angeles: Wind
Blown Media, 2007). Evangelical
recording artist Michael W. Smith
states on the back cover, “The Shack
will leave you craving for the presence
of God.” Author Eugene Peterson
states on the front cover, “this book
has the potential to do for our generation what John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s
Progress did for his. It’s that good!” On
the other hand, seminary president
Al Mohler says the book “includes
undiluted heresy” and many concur.
Given its popularity (over one million
copies in print, number one on the
New York Times bestseller list for
paperback fiction) and its influence
and mixed reviews, we need to take a
careful look.
Good Christian fiction has the ability
to get across a message in an indirect,
non-threatening yet powerful, way.
Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress is the most
successful in the genre and has been
mightily used of the Lord to teach spiritual truth. What determines the value
of fiction is how closely it adheres to
Scripture. It is by these criteria that we
must measure The Shack.
The Plot
As a novel, while well written, its
storyline is not one that would attract
many people. The plot is developed
around the abduction and murder of
six year old Missy, beloved daughter of nominal Christian Mackenzie
Philips (Mack). This great tragedy has,
of course, shaped the lives of Mack
and his family in horrific ways. Mack’s
life is simply described as living under
“The Great Sadness.” Then one day
four years later God drops Mack a
note in his mail box and invites him
to the isolated shack where Missy was
murdered. Obviously skeptical, Mack
takes a chance that God might really
show up and heads alone to the shack.
There God, in the form of all three
members of the Trinity, meets with
him for the weekend. God gives Mack
new insight about Himself, about life
and about pain and tragedy and Mack
goes home a new man.
Given its popularity
(over one million copies
in print, number one
on the New York Times
bestseller list for
paperback fiction)
and its influence
and mixed reviews,
we need to take a
careful look.
It should be mentioned that the
Trinity takes human form in the novel:
the Father (called Papa throughout)
appears as a large African-American
woman who loves to cook; the Holy
Spirit is called Sarayu (Sanskrit for air or
wind) and is a small Asian woman who
is translucent; and Jesus is a middleage man, presumably of Jewish descent,
who is a carpenter. Much interesting
dialog takes place as members of the
Trinity take turns explaining to Mack
what they want him to know.
The Shack, like many books today,
decries theology on the one hand
while offering its own brand on the
other. A story has the advantage of
putting forth doctrine in a livelier
manner than a systematic work can
do—which is why we find most of
Scripture in narrative form. The question is, does Young’s theology agree
with God’s as revealed in Scripture?
The short answer is “sometimes” but
often Young totally misses the mark.
Scripture and the
Young’s message centers on the
Trinity and salvation, but before we
tackle Young’s main objective it is significant that he has a couple of axes
to grind concerning the Bible and the
church. Young passionately rejects the
cessationist view of Scripture which his
character Mack was taught in seminary:
“In seminary he had been taught that
God had completely stopped any overt
communication with moderns, preferring to have them only listen to and
follow sacred Scripture, properly interpreted, of course. God’s voice had been
reduced to paper, and even that paper
had to be moderated and deciphered by
the proper authorities and intellects…
Nobody wanted God in a box, just in a
book” (pp. 65-66). Young would prefer
a God who communicates with us in our
thoughts rather than on paper (i.e. the
Bible) (p. 195). Realizing the subjectivity
of such revelation he assures us that we
will “begin to better recognize [the Holy
Spirit’s] voice as we continue to grow our
relationship” (p. 196). Scripture comes in
second to inner voices in Young’s theol
september/october 2008 41
ogy: Scripture puts God in a box while
inner voices make God alive and fresh.
This is what Young wants to convey.
Young also has little good to say
about the church or other related institutions. While Mack had attended
seminary, “none of his training was
helping in the least” (p. 91) when it
came to understanding God. He consistently depicts the activity of the
church in a negative light: Mack is
pretty sure he hasn’t met the church
Jesus loves (p. 177), which is all about
relationships, “not a bunch of exhausting work and long list of demands, and
not sitting in endless meetings staring
at the backs of people’s heads, people
he really didn’t even know” (p. 178).
Sunday school (p. 98) and family devotions (p. 107) both take hits as well.
Systematic theology itself takes a postmodern broadside as the Holy Spirit
says, “I have a great fondness for uncertainty” (p. 203). While Scripture does
not place such words in the mouth of the
Holy Spirit, Young’s love for uncertainty
becomes frustratingly clear as he outlines
his concept of salvation.
When Mack asks how he can be part
of the church, Jesus replies, “It’s simple
Mack, it’s all about relationships and
simply sharing life” (p. 178). On an earlier occasion Jesus tells Mack that he can
get out of his mess “by re-turning. By
turning back to me. By giving up your
ways of power and manipulation and just
come back to me” (p. 147). Yet nowhere
in The Shack is the reader given a clear
understanding of the gospel. When Mack
asks what Jesus accomplished by dying
he is told, “Through his death and resurrection, I am now fully reconciled to the
world.” When pressed to explain, God
says that He is reconciled to “the whole
world,” not just the believer (p. 192).
Does this mean that all will be saved?
Young never goes that far, however he
certainly gives that impression when
Mack’s father (who was an awful man
and showed no signs of being saved) is
found in heaven (pp. 214-215), when
God says repeatedly He is particularly
fond of all people, when God claims that
He has forgiven all sins against Him (e.g.
118-119), that He does not “do humiliation, or guilt, or condemnation” (p. 223)
42 Voice
and, contrary to large hunks of Scripture,
God is not a God of judgment. “I don’t
need to punish people for sin, sin is its
own punishment, devouring you from
the inside. It’s not my purpose to punish
it; it’s my job to cure it” (p. 120). While
Young’s comment has some validity it
does not faithfully reflect the teaching of
Scripture which portray God as actively
involved in the punishment of sin.
The main thrust
of the novel concerns
itself with an
understanding of
God and how we are
to be in relationship
to Him.
Young further muddies the waters as
he has Jesus reply to Mack’s question,
“Is that what it means to be a Christian?”
Jesus says, “Who said anything about
being a Christian? I’m not a Christian…
Those who love me come from every system that exists. They were Buddhists or
Mormons, Baptists or Muslims, Democrat,
Republicans and many who don’t vote
or are not part of any Sunday morning or
religious institutions…I have no desire
to make them Christians, but I do want
to join them in their transformation into
sons and daughters of my Papa, into my
brothers and sisters, into my beloved.”
With Mack we are confused. “Does that
mean,” asks Mack, “that all roads will
lead to you?” Jesus denies this but then
says, “What it does mean is that I will
travel any road to find you” (p. 182).
Jesus apparently means that He will
travel any road to “join them in their
transformation.” The implication is that
people are on many roads that lead to
their self-transformation. Jesus will join
people where they are on that road and
apparently aid in that transformation.
This is certainly not the teaching of
Scripture, which tells us that we must
come to the one road, the narrow way
that leads to God through Jesus Christ.
The Godhead
The main thrust of the novel concerns itself with an understanding of
God and how we are to be in relationship
to Him. As already noted, the method
by which mankind comes into the right
relationship with God is cloudy at best
in The Shack. Young’s Trinity is equally
confusing. The author does not develop
his understanding of God exclusively
from Scripture and, in fact, often contradicts biblical teaching. The first issue is
that of imagining and presenting human
forms for the members of the Trinity.
While some slack might be given for
Young’s portrait of Jesus, who came in
human form (although we don’t know
what He looks like), the first two of the
Ten Commandments would forbid us
depicting the Father or the Holy Spirit
in physical form. When we create an
image of God in our imagination we then
attempt to relate to that image—which is
inevitably a false one. This is the essence
of idolatry and is forbidden in the Word.
Further, the portrayal of God
throughout the novel is one which
humanizes Him rather than exalts Him.
Young quotes Jacques Ellul, “No matter what God’s power may be, the first
aspect of God is never that of absolute
Master, the Almighty. It is that of the
God who puts Himself on our human
level and limits Himself” (p. 88).
Really? This quote is in contradiction
to the entirety of biblical revelation
which first and often declares God to
be absolute Master, yet in no way mitigates the incarnation, as Young and
Ellul are trying to claim.
Young further humanizes God and contradicts Scripture by teaching that all the
members of the Trinity took human form
at the incarnation: “When we three spoke
ourself into human existence as the Son
of God, we became fully human” (p. 99).
Is Young advocating modalism (an ancient
heresy which teaches that the Trinity is
not composed of three distinct members
but three distinct modes in which God
appears throughout human history)? If not,
it is abundantly clear that Young believes
that the Father died on the cross with the
Son and bears the marks of the cross to this
day (pp. 95-95, 164). He does not believe
that the Father abandoned Jesus on the
cross as Scripture declares (p. 96). And any
concept of authority and submission in the
Godhead is denied (pp. 122, 145), although
1 Cor. 11:1-3 is clear that such authority/
submission exists. More than that, God
submits to us as well (p. 145). By the end
of the book God is reduced to being our
servant as we are His (it’s all about relationships, not authority) (pp. 236-237).
The very essence of God is challenged when Young, quoting from
Unitarian-Universalist Buckminster
Fuller, declares God to be a verb not a
noun (pp. 194, 204). In a related statement, Young has Jesus say of the Holy
Spirit, “She is Creativity; she is Action;
she is Breathing of Life” (p. 110). Yet
the Bible presents God as a person
(noun) not an action (verb). When this
truth is denied we are moving from the
biblical understanding of a personal
God to an Eastern understanding of
God in everything. 1 Thus, we are not
surprised when Mack asks the Holy
Spirit if he will see her again he is
told, “Of course, you might see me in
a piece of art, or music, or silence, or
through people, or in creation, or in
your joy and sorrow” (p. 198). This is
not biblical teaching. This idea seems
repeated in a line from a song Missy
creates, “Come kiss me wind and take
my breath till you and I are one” (p.
233). At what point do we become one
with creation? Again, this is an Eastern
concept, not a biblical one. Young
reinforces his Eastern leanings with a
statement right out of New Age (New
Spirituality) teachings: Papa tells Mack,
“Just say it out loud. There is power in
what my children declare” (p. 227).
Ronda Byrne would echo this idea in
her book, The Secret, but you will not
find it in the Bible. Further, we are
told Jesus “as a human being, had no
power within himself to heal anyone”
(p. 100). So how did he do so? By trusting in the Holy Spirit. Jesus, the Spirit
says, “is just the first to do it to the
uttermost—the first to absolutely trust
my life within him…” (p. 100). There
is enough truth here to be confusing
but not accurate. Jesus, never ceasing
to be fully God, had all Divine power
dwelling within Him. That He chose
to limit His use of that power and rely
on the Holy Spirit while on earth in
no way diminishes His essence. While
Jesus is our example He is not a guru
blazing a trail in which in this life we
too can be like God. This idea smacks
of New Age teaching, not Scripture.
Jesus even tells Mack that “God, who
is the ground of all being, dwells in,
around, and through all things—ultimately emerging as the real” (p. 112).
This is pure New Age spirituality.
The Shack, while occasionally getting
things right is, in the end, a dangerous
piece of fiction. It undermines Scripture
and the church, presents at best a mutilated gospel, misrepresents the biblical
teachings concerning the Godhead and
offers a New Age understanding of God
and the universe. This is not a great
novel to explain tragedy and pain. It is
a misleading work which will confuse
many and lead others astray.
1 God IN everything is known as panentheism—an
Eastern belief akin to pantheism which teaches that
God IS everything. In reality there is very little difference between the two.
Review by Gary Gilley Pastor of Southern
View Chapel, Springfield, IL
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september/october 2008 43