How much seminary training does a missionary need?

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An old pastors’ adage says, “Those who can’t, go; those who can’t go, teach”—the shortened aphorism for “Those who can’t preach, go to the mission field; those who can’t go to the mission field, teach.” Whoever created this useless and unbiblical proverb deserves appointment as minister of sanitation over church restrooms. This adage contradicts the following truths:

  1. Every man going to the mission field must be able to preach the Word.
  2. No one should go to the mission field as their second or third option for ministry.
  3. Every man who / must be able to preach the Word.
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Why is Bible translation an important missions ministry?

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The Word of God must be at the core of all missions strategy. Without the Word of God, no ministry can be satisfactorily performed—

  • the Word provides the authority for ministry,
  • the instruction for ministry,
  • the power of ministry, and
  • the message of ministry.

To all of this nearly all agree. But what we too often neglect is how Bible translation fits into missions strategy.

Bible Translation and Evangelism

First of all, James 1:18 and 1 Peter 1:23 declare that the new birth itself is by means of the Word of God. That means that a missionary must speak from the Bible in the language of the people in order to evangelize.… Continue reading

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Self-Examination and the Lord’s Supper

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In just a couple of days at our Good Friday service, our church will be remembering the death of Christ once again by eating and drinking together in the Lord’s Supper.  The Lord’s Supper is a time for Christians to remember the death of our Lord in a unique way as one family purchased by his blood.  It’s a time for local Christian churches to re-calibrate themselves around the reality that through Jesus’ substitutionary death, he secured the forgiveness of sins and right standing with God for us.

In preparing to observe this ordinance, I often reflect upon the words of the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 11, where he warns a young, sin-tolerant, and immature church against eating and drinking the Lord’s Supper in an “unworthy manner.”  There he writes:

For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you.

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Bonhoeffer on Disappointment with Church

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This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.  Greater love has no one than this, that someone lays down his life for his friends. (John 15:12-13 ESV)

Every church has its flaws.  Significant ones, in fact, since even the best of churches are made up of and led by exclusively by sinners.  As a result, if you are a member of a local church, you are bound to be regularly disappointed by something going on within it.

In the local church it doesn’t take long before you encounter people who don’t share your excitement for the particulars of your theology, or who don’t seem to be very zealous in evangelism or very excited about living in “community,” or who are just remarkably ordinary (unlike you, of course).… Continue reading

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Hi-def Leadership in a Hi-def World: Attributes of Godly Leaders

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IMG_0003High-definition (or, Hi-def, or HD) refers to increased visual resolution as compared to the commonly used standard of resolution. This involves twice as many scan lines per frame, a proportionally sharper image, and a wide-screen format. In other words, this technology produces a sharper, clearer image. Therefore, a Hi-def view of Christian leadership should present a clearer understanding of what leadership involves. As an aid to examining the characteristics of Christian leadership, I have outlined my thoughts by means of “HI-DEF” as an acronym:

  • Humility
  • Integrity
  • Discipline
  • Excellence
  • Faith

Humility

As Andrew Murray pointed out in Humility and Absolute Surrender,[1] neither failures nor sin can produce humility.… Continue reading

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