Pastors, People, Passions, and Prayers

The following post is by Chuck Lawless, Dean of the Graduate School and Professor of Evangelism and Missions at Southeastern. 

Southeastern Seminary is committed to being a Great Commission institution. In fact, our motto is “Every classroom a Great Commission classroom.” Our focus, though, is not only on preparing international missionaries. We are just as committed to equipping leaders for the North American church. Via our academic degrees, our EQUIP training program, and our Southeastern Center for Pastoral Leadership and Preaching, we want to prepare the finest local church pastors – and it is to those current and future pastors I write this post.

Pastors, you are critical to the work of the Great Commission. Having been a church consultant for almost twenty years, I have never seen a strong Great Commission church without a pastor burdened for his neighbors and the nations. Simply stated, a DNA of brokenness over lost people usually trickles down from the top. Churches seldom weep over non-believers unless a pastor leads them there.

If your longing to get the gospel to the lost has waned, here are some simple suggestions to re-ignite your passion.

  1. Admit to God and to someone else where you are. Confession to God is the first step toward change, and accountability with others is a daily reminder of your renewed commitment.
  2. Ask someone to pray these texts for you: Ephesians 6:19-20 (that you will share the gospel boldly) and Colossians 4:3-4 (that God will open a door and help you speak the gospel clearly). If the apostle Paul needed folks to pray this way for him, surely pastors need this same support today.
  3. Study and preach on “grace.” Frankly, we often lose our passion for the Great Commission because we take grace for granted. Go back to the beginning of your spiritual journey, and let the Word magnify the grace of God again.
  4. At least once a week, take a couple of hours to see your community with God’s eyes. Drive around, praying as you go. If you see worship sites for other world faiths, grieve for those who worship false gods. Pray for the children and teens who attend schools you pass. Go to a local shopping center; sit and watch the shoppers. See them as sheep without a shepherd. Pray for them, knowing you may be the only person praying for those folks that day.
  5. At least once a week, take time to pray for an unreached people group around the world. Go to imb.org or www.joshuaproject.net, and learn about a people group. Open a map, and learn where they live. Read their story. Hear about the spiritual blindness that keeps them in darkness. Consider their final state if no one ever gets the gospel to them. To be consistent with this task, calendar it each week.
  6. Every day, make it a point to tell somebody something good about Jesus. Maybe that person is your spouse, a co-worker, or a friend. Or, perhaps it’s the convenience store employee or the bank teller. What you say may be as simple as, “I’m having a good day because Jesus loves me,” “I’m really glad to be a follower of Jesus today,” or “May I tell you how God answered my prayer?” The point is this: if you speak a good word about Jesus every day (even to believers as a starting point), telling the gospel story will become more of your DNA.

Pastor, implore God to renew your passion for Jesus. Pray fervently and work faithfully so others know Him. Your church will not catch the fire of the Great Commission unless the flame first burns in you.

In Case You Missed It

1) Baptist Press reported on the “reset” of the IMB’s structure and strategy, unveiled by IMB president, David Platt. We note this as a reminder for all of us to pray for this work.

2) At TGC, Mark Mellinger points to the story of Matt Trexler as a powerful testimony to the grace of God in the life of a believer who openly struggles with same sex-attraction.

3) Preaching can be scary. Chuck Lawless, Dean of Graduate Studies at Southeastern, discusses ten reasons why.

4) From Ed Stetzer’s blog, SEBTS PhD Jakson Wu discusses the four keys to evangelism in honor-shame cultures. Worth reading a post that begins, “I’ll never forget when an atheist, Chinese taxi driver shared the gospel with me.”

 

Suggested Reading Before You Begin Seminary

Seminary is (or should be) a time of intense study, filled with lots of interesting reading. Yet, in order for seminary students to make the most of their time, they ought to have a good grasp of the academic and, especially, spiritual skills and disciplines required to succeed in seminary. To that end, Southeastern’s Office of the Dean of Graduate Studies (Dr. Chuck Lawless) provided the following list. Are there any key books that you think we are missing?

Adler, Mortimer J., and Charles Van Doren. How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading. rev. ed. New York, N.Y.: Touchstone, 1972. (426 pp.)

Bartholomew, Craig G., and Michael W. Goheen. The Drama of Scripture: Finding Our Place in the Biblical Story. 2nd ed. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2014. (272 pp.)

Blue, Ron. Faith-Based Family Finances: Let Go of Worry and Grow in Confidence. Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House Publishers, 2008. (592 pp.)

Bunyan, John. The Pilgrim’s Progress. repr. Minneapolis, Minn.: Desiring God, 2014. (254 pp.)

Coleman, Robert E. The Master Plan of Evangelism. repr. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Publishing Group, 2006. (192 pp.)

Erickson, Millard J. Introducing Christian Doctrine. Edited by L. Arnold Hustad. 3rd ed. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2015. (496 pp.)

Fee, Gordon D. How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth. 4th ed. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2014. (298 pp.)

Grudem, Wayne. Bible Doctrine: Essential Teachings of the Christian Faith. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 1999. (528 pp.)

Keller, Timothy. The Reason for God. New York, N.Y.: Penguin Group USA, 2008. (310 pp.)

Lewis, C. S. Mere Christianity. New York, N.Y.: MacMillan, 1952. (260 pp.)

Miller, Paul E. A Praying Life: Connecting With God In A Distracting World. Colorado Springs, Colo.: NavPress, 2009. (288 pp.)

Packer, J. I. Knowing God. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1973. (286 pp.)

Piper, John. Let the Nations Be Glad!: The Supremacy of God in Missions. 3rd ed. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2010. (289 pp.)

Schaeffer, Francis A. How Should We Then Live? 50th Anniv. Ed. Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, 2005. (292 pp.)

Sire, James W. The Universe Next Door: A Basic Worldview Catalog. 5th ed. Downers Grove, Ill.: IVP Academic, 2009. (293 pp.)

The Holy Bible.

Thielicke, Helmut. A Little Exercise for Young Theologians. Grand Rapids, Mich: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1962; repr. Eastford, Conn.: Martino Fine Books, 2014. (58 pp.)

Tripp, Paul David. Dangerous Calling: Confronting the Unique Challenges of Pastoral Ministry. Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, 2012. (240 pp.)

Whitney, Donald S. Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life. rev. ed. Colorado Springs, Colo.: NavPress, 2014. (352 pp.)

Williams, Joseph M., and Gregory G. Colomb. Style: Lessons in Clarity and Grace. 10th ed. New York, N.Y.: Longman, 2010. (288 pp.)

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