Author Archives: Joel Jupp

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2 Tim 2:14
Keep reminding them of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen.

Pastors and church leaders are called to be spiritual “reminderers.” The goal of ministry is not to invent new ideas or new teachings. Instead, men and women need to be reminded what God had already communicated. And when it comes to quarreling, a reminder is what we need.

The reminder not to quarrel is presented before God Himself. God is the authority here, not man. The reason for not quarreling is not ultimately for ourselves, in other words, but because of God.

Quarreling matters to God because it is against His own character. Within the Trinity, the three persons do not argue but exist in perfect unity. Love and respect are made possible in the world because love and respect first existed within God. Rather than condemning or quarreling with us, God displayed His love to the world. (John 3:16-17)

The warning in 2 Timothy 2:14 is not to quarrel about words. This does not mean we should drop out of school, burn our dictionaries, or stop discussing important matters. The warning concerns trivial arguments that damage others. Because of the sin that so easily entangles us, even healthy debates can go astray and, sometimes within seconds, turn into worthless quarrels. As soon as we depart from loving communication in order to prove a point, we sin against others and against God.

In other words, as men and women, we often engage in arguments that do not help the people around us, but ruin them. We need reminders not to quarrel because if we are honest with ourselves we sometimes prioritize arguments over people. As followers of Christ, however, we are called to re-examine our motives, cease from pointless debates, and pursue peaceful and constructive conversations with one another.

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“Make us worthy, Lord, to serve our brothers and sisters throughout the world, who live and die in poverty and pain. Give them today, through our hands, their daily bread and through our understanding love, give peace and joy. Amen.”

Blessed are the poor.
For theirs is the Kingdom of God.
Blessed are the hungry.
For they shall be filled.

(Common Prayer, Midday Prayers, June 2)

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Useful tips for meeting objectives in any organization, including the local church:

1. Define purpose and mission.
2. Assess strengths and weaknesses.
3. Write specific and measurable objectives.
4. Work towards general agreement.
5. Maintain a reasonable work load.
6. Develop strategies for using resources.
7. Practice accountability.
8. Design long and short range plans.
9. Be willing to change.
10. Measure progress.

(adapted from Kenneth Gangel, Feeding and Leading)

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Ten Commandments for Good Organization:

1. Definite and clean-cut responsibilities should be assigned to each worker.
2. Responsibilities should always be coupled with corresponding authority, so the task can be carried out.
3. No changes to the scope or responsibilities should be made until there is definite understanding on the part of all persons concerned.
4. No one person should be subject to orders from more than one supervisor.
5. Executives should not bypass an immediate supervisor to direct workers.
6. Critiques or criticisms should be made privately whenever possible.
7. No dispute should be considered too trivial to discuss.
8. Promotions, wages changes, and disciplinary action should be approved by an immediate supervisor.
9. No worker should be both an assistant and a critic to someone he/she is assisting.
10. Resources and facilities should be provided, so the worker can inspect and independently check his/her work.

(adapted from M.C. Rorty from the early 1930′s)

levels

When leading congregations, Christian leaders must be aware of both explicit and implicit theologies. What people believe determines how they act, and because of that, church members will continue to act according to the theologies that they hold. Without an awareness of both explicit and implicit theologies, church leaders can waste time, “spinning their wheels” on technical fixes to problems, while ignoring the deeper issues that are involved. Though it can take years, but church leaders need to address the explicit and implicit theologies of their congregants.

To begin with, explicit theology is what a church expressly believes. Explicit theology is usually easier to determine because of its public nature. What a church explicitly believes can be gathered from mission and value statements, doctrinal position papers, sermons, liturgy (including the hymnody), and various other items that express belief. While explicit theology is often accurate, it can sometimes be more of an expression of intent, meaning that not everyone may hold to the same ideal. Even still, explicit theology is usually the starting point for understanding what a congregation believes.

Implicit theology, on the other hand, is underneath the surface per se, and for that reason, it is much more difficult to determine. The term “implicit theology” refers to those beliefs that are held, but may not be fully expressed. Peter Cha, for example, illustrated how difficult it is to interpret implicit theology from merely what is visibly seen (i.e., artifacts), and that church leaders must take time to question what is unseen. In fact, congregants themselves may not even be aware of their underlying beliefs until they are explicitly pointed out. Implicit theology can include anything from “the pastor is the most spiritual man in our congregation” to “real worship means the raising of hands.” In most contexts, neither of the statements would be verbalized, but they can become part of the working assumptions of a congregation.

As Kevin Ford points out in Transforming Church, churches function best when their explicit theology matches their implicit theology and vice versa. If there is any discontinuity between the two, there will be underlying conflict. Such conflict should not be overlooked, but used as an opportunity to change either explicit or implicit theology, so that it better aligns with Scripture. To help encourage spiritual transformation, therefore, church leaders should be aware of both explicit theology and implicit theology, so that churches can be healthier and more apt to grow.

As church leaders help to develop local churches, they must look beyond mere technical fixes and focus on deeper adaptive change. In this effort, however, church leaders must take time to delve into the basic assumptions of a congregation, compare those assumptions with Scripture, and invest time in changing unbiblical assumptions. Simply changing the explicit theology (such as a doctrinal statement) will not change people’s hearts. Ministry needs to go deeper than what is espoused, so that heart issues, including what is assumed, can be sanctified for God’s glory.

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An important, yet often neglected, reason to update hymn arrangements relates to chord structures and patterns. Updating a song, or becoming more relevant, is not merely a matter of instrumentation. Simply adding guitar and drums does not make a hymn contemporary. In fact, many of the hymns were composed for piano or organ, so we can do them a disservice by simply swapping instrumentation.

Arrangements need to be flexible. In the music world, arrangements are part of the “language,” just as authors vary their sentence structures. We need to be cognizant of this as musicians — not berating people for being born in a different time period, but being sensitive to how culture has changed. We cannot expect someone born in 1998 to speak the musical language of the 1730′s, and if we do, we are being elitist.

Certain chords (e.g., diminished chords) just aren’t as common in popular music these days, and it can sometimes create an extra barrier that prevents people from focusing on the lyrics of our worship songs. For that reason, it’s beneficial to rearrange hymns, so that more people can appreciate them — even if they are slightly updated.

Of course, we should not limit ourselves to I, IV, V chords. While we should slowly experiment and try to teach congregations different styles, we cannot force it upon them. As with any language, it is necessary to start with what people already speak and gradually teach the new language.

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As a gift from the Gospel Coalition, here are 7 free D.A. Carson books that have been read and loved by many. I am looking forward to reading these, and I wanted to pass them along. The books are in PDF format that can be downloaded, printed, or transfered to an e-reader.

7 Free Books
http://tiny.cc/freecarsonbooks

Many thanks to Andy Naselli for offering these links on his blog. In addition to these books, there are hundreds of additional resources available at Carson’s bibliography.

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The family was designed by God to be a unique place, the most basic form of community, where much of our spiritual growth can occur.

Because God designed families, churches should support families and minister to them. In this effort, churches need to encourage families to live out their faith outside of Sunday morning. It is during the week, within the natural context of our home, where we make our daily decision to follow Christ.

At a formal level, midweek gatherings help parents, children, and youth to refocus on Christ. At the same time, there needs to be balance. Especially for young families, rather than “over programming” and having families over-commit (which can be counter-productive to spiritual growth), churches should support spiritual growth that can take place within the home. Extra help should be provided for young families who are just starting their journey.

We should never forget that churches need to be a “second family” for dozens, if not hundreds of people. Many do not have families, and others do not have healthy families. Because of this, it is important for the church to be sensitive to these needs and provide a safe place for orphans, singles, divorced, and widows. As the church loves as a family and ministers to those in need, the gospel is supported and enabled to spread (Acts 6).

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“God has made you a rational animal, set you over the cattle, formed you in his own image. Ought you to use your eyes as the cattle do, only to see what to add to your belly, not to your soul?

Stir up the eye of reason, use your eyes as a human being should, consider the heaven and earth, the fruitfulness of the earth, the flight of the birds, the swimming of the fish, the goodness of the seeds; consider the works, and seek for the author. Believe in him you do not see because of these things that you see.

If you think that it is with my own words that I have exhorted you, hear the Apostle: ‘For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities… have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made’ (Rom. 1:20).”

- Augustine of Hippo