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By In Podcast

Biblical Interpretation with Dr. Gregg Strawbridge

Originally recorded in 2015, this interview is focused on the nature of Biblical interpretation espoused by the Biblical Horizons and the Theopolis groups led by James B. Jordan and Peter Leithart.

The lectures offered at the 24th Biblical Horizons Conference, 2015, can be found and purchased at The 2015 Conference featured talks from Peter J. Leithart on Revelation, James B. Jordan (4 talks) on Joshua, Jeff Meyers (3 talks) on Wealth in Luke and Acts, Rich Bledsoe (2 talks) on Psychotherapy and Drugs, and Uri Brito (1 talk) on Christian Counseling from Jay Adams to David Powlison, and some psalmody/services and interviews.

Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as a Ph.D. in education and philosophy (USM, 1994)

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By In Podcast

Episode 12: Clergy Self-Care

In this episode of the Kuyperian Commentary Podcast, Pastor Uri Brito and the Rev. Canon Dr. Tony Baron discuss the idea of clergy self-care and pastoral life satisfaction.

“We ought to love the church,” says Uri Brito. “But never at the expense of our families.”

Uri Brito is the Senior Pastor of Providence Church in Pensacola, Fl. He is married to Melinda and is the father of four children. He is the editor of The Church-Friendly Family, author of The Trinitarian Father, and a certified counselor through the Association of Biblical Counselors (ABC). Uri is also the founder and a contributor to Kuyperian Commentary and a board member of the Theopolis Institute. Rev. Brito received his M.Div from Reformed Theological Seminary and is currently a doctoral student at RTS.

The Rev. Canon Dr. Tony Baron shares on what constitutes a healthy and satisfying life and how to approach each of them. You can watch his entire video series on pastoral life satisfaction here.

Tony Baron is a psychologist, theologian, professor and author— he has successfully planted two churches, developed a Christian Healing Center, and started two consulting firms based on the concept of servant leadership. Dr. Tony Baron serves as the Director of Azusa Pacific Seminary in San Diego and Associate Professor of Christian Leadership and Spiritual Formation at Azusa Pacific University. Baron is also founding president of Servant Leadership Institute, a resource think tank on leadership development and transformation, and has shared his expertise with churches and denominations worldwide. Ordained as an Anglican priest and serving as Canon for Clergy and Congregational Care for the Anglican Church in North America under Bishop Todd Hunter, Baron has a great love for current and future pastors who seek to live, learn, and love the Christ-life within the Church.

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By In Family and Children, Worship

10 Ways to Keep Easter this Easter Season!

Is Easter over?

Theologically, we know that the earthquake of Easter will reverberate until the Second Coming of Messiah. And liturgically, Easter is in no way over. In fact, Easter has just begun. The joy of Easter carries on until June 3rd, which means we still have 49 days of Eastertide. Easter is far from over and there is much more rejoicing to do in the next seven weeks.

The difficulty for many of us is keeping this Easter enthusiasm for such a lengthy period. The reason many evangelicals are ready to get to the next thing is because they lack a sense of liturgical rhythm. Lent took us through a 40-day journey, but the Easter joy takes us through a 50-day journey. Easter is superior to Lent not only in length of days but also in the quality of its mood. Lent prepares us to a journey towards Calvary, while Easter takes us through a victory march. Through Easter, we are reminded to put away our sadness and embrace the heavenly trumpet sound to all the corners of the earth. “He is risen!, He is risen!, He is risen!” The devil trembles, the enemies fear, the forces of evil shake, the sound of sin is silenced when death was defeated.

What does this mean? It means we must be busy in the business of celebrating. For dads and moms, young and old, we have much to do to preserve and pervade this season with jubilance. I want to offer ten ways we can do that in the remaining 49 days of Easter. a (more…)

  1. I unashamedly used some of the options from this great resource  (back)

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By In Theology, Worship

10 Questions Preachers Should Ask Before Sunday Morning

I have been a pastor for almost a decade. I spend between 12-15 hours each week thinking, researching, and writing before I deliver the first words in my Sunday sermon.a The process of writing my sermon goes through a lengthy journey each week. I contemplate several questions from Monday to Friday which force me to edit and re-edit my manuscript. There is no perfect sermon, but a sermon that goes through revisions and asks import questions has a much better chance of communicating with clarity than the self-assured preacher who engages the sermonic task with nothing more than academic lenses.

I have compiled a list of ten questions I ask myself each week at some point or another.

Question #1: Is this language clear? When you write a manuscript ( as I do) you have an opportunity to carefully consider the language you use. I make a habit of reading my sermon out loud which leads me to realize that certain phrases do not convey the idea clearly. A well-written sermon does not necessarily mean a well-delivered sermon. Reading my sermons out loud causes me to re-write and look for other ways to explain a concept or application more clearly.

Question #2: Is there a need to use high theological language in this sermon? Seminary graduates are often tempted to use the best of their training in the wrong environment. People are not listening to you to hear your theological acumen. I am well aware that some in the congregation would be entirely comfortable with words like perichoresis and Arianism. I am not opposed to using high theological discourse. Words like atonement, justification, sanctification are biblical and need to be defined. But extra-biblical terms and ideologies should be employed sparingly. Much of this can be dealt in a Sunday School class or other environments. High theological language needs to be used with great care, and I think it needs to be avoided as much as possible in the Sunday sermon.

Question #3: Can I make this sermon even shorter? As I read my sermons each week, I find that I can cut a paragraph or two easily, or depending on how long you preach, perhaps an entire page. This is an important lesson for new preachers: not everything needs to be said. Shorter sermons–which I strongly advocateb–force you to say what’s important and keep some of your research in the footnotes where it belongs. Preachers need to learn what to prioritize in a sermon so as not to unload unnecessary information on their parishioners. (more…)

  1. Thankful for great interactions before this article was published. It helped sharpen my points  (back)
  2. By this I mean sermons no longer than 30 minutes  (back)

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By In Theology

The House and the Ascension

Long ago, our Father in Heaven had a plan. His plan was to create the world as a theater to display his glory. The world was to be a house that reflected his name. The Shekinah glory was to remain there forever. And through many dangers, toils, and snares, the house was little by little losing the purpose the builder had for it.

It would appear that God’s building project had become an abysmal failure. But God’s construction plans are not like our building projects. His ways are not our ways. He had a plan. He had a restoration project. He was going to restore, rebuild, and reclaim his own house. This time, the house was not going to be built on spiritual adultery or religious idolatry. It would be on the Rock, which is Christ. The builders rejected him, but the new humanity composed of men and women, and children united to the Rock, will no longer deny him.

In the life of Jesus, the foundation was poured on the earth. In his death, the wall and roof were placed to cover the world and give it shade. In his resurrection, fresh, clean water is available. Come and drink of the river that never runs dry. But there is one part of this earthly construction that is missing. There is a foundation, a roof to protect you from the storms, running water to shower and be replenished, but now we need to turn it on. We need electricity! We need the power to turn the refrigerator, stove, microwave, air conditioner, heater, fan, laptops, cell phones, etc. We need to activate the house so that everyone can live with a purpose. I propose that the Ascension of Jesus is that singular event in history that gives life to everything; that sets everything into motion. It is the electricity that the Church needs to disciple the nations.

Without the Ascension, we are living in an almost finished property. The Ascension means that the house/world is ready to be inhabited once and for all. The power is on. We can now move in together as a Church and take care of it. The workers can all go home. Our only task is now maintaining the house. Now, this house is the world. And the world is a big place. It needs to be energized by the Ascension. The Ascension is God’s way of saying: “My Son’s work is done! Now it’s your turn!” (more…)

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By In Politics, Theology

Andy Stanley’s Big Frustration with Little Churches

Post by Uri Brito and Dustin Messer

In a recent sermon, Andy Stanley made the staggering observation:

When I hear adults say, ‘Well I don’t like a big church, I like about 200, I want to be able to know everybody,’ I say, ‘You are so stinking selfish. You care nothing about the next generation. All you care about is you and your five friends. You don’t care about your kids…anybody else’s kids.’ You’re like, ‘What’s up?’ I’m saying if you don’t go to a church large enough where you can have enough Middle Schoolers and High Schoolers to separate them so they can have small groups and grow up the local church, you are a selfish adult. Get over it. Find yourself a big old church where your kids can connect with a bunch of people and grow up and love the local church.

Stanley has since apologized in the way modern preachers apologize: via twitter. 

While we take him at his word (or tweet, as the case may be), this was not simply a slip of the tongue. While he may be sorry for the way in which he communicated the message—even sorry for a specific sentiment in the message—one can’t fake the sort of passion exhibited by Stanley as he described his antipathy for small churches. Again, we believe he’s genuinely sorry we’re offended, but Stanley clearly has heartfelt feelings about non-megachurches (microchurches?) that didn’t begin or end with the sermon in question. Below are three reasons we feel such a sentiment is harmful: (more…)

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By In Theology, Worship

How to Become a Church Planting Church

autumn moments

I recently attended a Church conference sponsored by the Acts 29 Network and Origin Church of Roseville called, “Simple Effective Church.”

Origin Church RosevilleOrigin Church hosted the conference at their Roseville campus and described the event as, “uncomplicated systems for thriving disciple making.” A majority of the church leaders in attendance fell into the reformed or evangelical brand of independent churches, although I met a few from baptist and presbyterian denominations. Our collared priest outed our group as from a more liturgical background.

Brian Howard Acts 29 NetworkThe event had three sessions led by Pastor Brian Howard. Pastor Brian co-founded Sojourn Network, a national church planting network, currently leads Church Multiplication for Pacific Church Network, and serves as Network Director of Acts 29 US West.

His three sessions were entitled, “How to Become a Church Planting Church,” “No One Even Knows Your Church Exists: What you can do about it,” and  “Avoiding Elder Blowup: How to do leadership development from day one.”

Become a Church planting Church

Howard emphasized that we need to view missions as a three-pronged category that includes “local, domestic, and international” missionary efforts. Noting that while many churches focus on setting aside a percentage for international missions, perhaps we ought to consider adding a local church planting line to our  budgets and plans for giving. It is also worth considering his suggestion to “adopt and support an existing church planter” and to, “partner with other churches in supporting a church planter.”

No One Even Knows Your Church Exists

If your church closed today, would anyone in your community notice? For those of us in liturgical churches, it is much easier to focus inwardly on the beauty of our own services. So where do we start? Howard suggests that the basic goal of church outreach is to develop a long term presence in your community. “Church is more than a crowd,” he said. “We all know that numerical growth is not the same thing as spiritual success.”

According to Howard, that long term presence begins with identifying your target area and researching the ways you can serve the community around your church. “We mapped out the neighborhood around my church and my home, and then we pulled up the census data for this region.” This “research” plan is to help church leaders navigate their own culture and what they hope to create. Age, ethnicity, language, religious preference, and income were all considered as relevant data points to help church planters understand what kinds of outreach they might explore. For example, a historically Roman Catholic demographic like latinos might be more primed for a liturgically grounded service, while outreach to an economically challenged community might take the form of a church-based medical clinic or food closet.

“Whatever you do, be seen as a community of love,” said Howard. He then challenged the group of pastors and leaders to each brainstorm twenty new ideas for outreach.

Avoiding an Elder Blow-Up

His third talk was important in a post-denomination church planting context. Many are familiar with the rise and fall of Mark Driscoll and a number of other “non-denominational” network-style planters. As I listened to the talk, I considered how much of Howard’s advice was embedded in the historical polity of both the presbyterian and episcopal models. I couldn’t imagine attempting to plant a church on my own and perhaps this is why Acts 29 Network has become so popular.

Brian Howard suggests plants create an “outside advisory team,” where pastors can, “communicate their plans from day one.” While encouraging churches to develop leaders as a priority, he also advised against installing men, “who were formerly elders in other churches.” While I disagree with this sentiment, I can understand where Howard is coming from with elders who move from church to church to gain control.

He concluding remarks suggested plants implement a more involved leadership development structure in the elder process. I’ve been working through Dr. Tony Baron’s work called, “The Cross and the Towel: Leading to a Higher Calling” (amazon) and would highly recommended anything by Dr. Baron on the subject.

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