A Plethora of Some Relevant Questions for a Pastor by a Visitor Interested in Bilateral Committed Church Membership

Questions…if I might, & if you please?

 

  1. How did you come to know Christ?
  2. What have you discovered to be essential to maintain your walk with God? Contrarily what trips you up most readily?
  3. What is your besetting sin and do you find grace sufficient to overcome?
  4. Do you distinguish between personal devotion and sermon preparation? What is the difference? How do you practically guard your personal time alone with God so as to not to allow sermon prep or ministry challenges to intrude into your heart preparation of your walk before God?
  5. What role does personal holiness play in your public ministry? What makes a man holy?
  6. When you preach do you preach from your head or your heart? What is the difference?
  7. Do you consider yourself a man of prayer? What role does prayer play in your ministry, and what practical evidence do you point to that demonstrates its essential centrality to your ministry?
  8. How do you show the love of Christ to your wife and your kids? Does she generally validate your calling and affirm your witness? Would you eagerly call her as your first witness to testify of your secret life before God or cringe to think of what she might say?
  9. Do you delight to pray with your wife? How do you overcome hindered prayers?
  10. Who are your favorite authors? What books are you reading now? How many and what types of books do you read every month? What authors have most influenced your life, your marriage, your ministry and your personal walk with God? These are likely different authors.
  11. If you were marooned on an island with your Bible and one other book, which book would it be?
  12. If you picked one book besides the Bible to give to your children which book would it be?
  13. What do you think of the 9 Marks Ministry and their accountable approach to Body life and ministry?
  14. Do you believe church discipline to be a relevant Biblical doctrine for the church today? Have you ever excommunicated or participated in the excommunication of an unrepentant believer? What is at stake when the church tolerates known, public, willful, blatant, unrepentant sin?
  15. What steps would you take today to implement the recovery of a wayward saint? Do you believe Biblical discipline correctly implemented is an act of love and hopeful restoration? 
  16. What do you think of Pink and the Sovereignty of God? Of Martyn Lloyd-Jones? Of John Piper, Of Alistair Begg? Of RC Sproul? Of Walt Chantry? Of Albert N. Martin? Of John MacArthur? Calvin? Edwards? Of Spurgeon? Of Wesley and Whitfield?
  17. Do you read CSLewis, and what is your favorite book of his and why?
  18. Who is your favorite contemporary pastor and why?
  19. Who is your favorite pastor of the past and why?
  20. What are essential components of a successful sermon? What are the essential components of a successful pastor?
  21. What is your view of Confessional Christianity? Do you hold to any particular confession? Why or why not?
  22. Do you see the need or have the desire to move toward Confessional Christianity for both historical and theological stability, and for accuracy and the general safety of the body of truth?
  23. Do you catechize your children and your converts? Do you see this as helpful?
  24. Many believe in the profit of the systematic reading of the Psalms as a fundamental part of the call to worship. Do you have thoughts?
  25. If you see and believe in and value a historical Christianity why do you rarely reference the old writers such as the Puritans, and very rarely have the great hymns of the faith been sung? I speak of Wesley, Cowper, Watts, and others. (I refer primarily but not exclusively to hymns of the 1600’s through the 1800’s, not the modern “hymns” of the 1900s which generally lack depth of theology as they generally became more man-centered and needs-oriented.)
  26. Do you actively and normally participate in the weekly selection of appropriate hymnology material with thematic elements to validate and coincide with your sermon topic? Should you participate for sake of order and decency?
  27. What system do you enact to ensure that you fulfill the divine mandate to “keep watch over the souls of those entrusted to you as one who will give an account”?
  28. Do you envision ever having a loving type of shepherding oversight of members at large so that you and other staff may actually ensure how it goes with the souls of the brethren entrusted to your care? Do you see yourself as being accountable for implementation of this principle of watchful accountability?
  29. How do you define a successful ministry and how is that to be measured practically and biblically?
  30. Are you responsible to establish and maintain relationships with the membership at large or is it permissible to stay aloof from more intimate relationships with the general population? When and how do you intend to implement a closer, more aggressive relational pursuit of others?
  31. Why are you in the ministry and can you satisfy your calling by occupation of the pulpit alone or must you pour out your life into others to fulfill your calling?
  32. Have you ever preached a good sermon that gave you total satisfaction? When have you fully discharged your gospel duty? If the glory of God is the end of preaching, what part does man’s response have in the successful preaching of Christ?
  33. What role does prayer have in your life? In your ministry? In the church? When does this church pray corporately? Are we meeting a minimum or acceptable Biblical standard of prayer today?
  34. What are the central components of corporate worship?
  35. What are the ordinances of the church?
  36. When was the last Communion service at SGBC? Why are they so infrequent and is something lost in their absence? What has taken the place of Communion?
  37. How would you distinguish your calling to the ministry from another’s job? What are the inherent dangers of seeing yourself as an employee on the clock? Why is it important for you and staff to be visible at most services? With the new schedule do you intend to exercise a sort of liberty of absence?
  38. Who do you work for and how do you answer to them? Why should your intended absence be previously announced to the church at large beforehand and not to a select few?
  39. What happens when you don’t get your way or when things don’t go your way? Do you see yourself as a man under authority?
  40. When was the last time you were told “NO!” (I am not referencing a NO by your wife.) Perhaps by staff? How did you respond? What was the last occasion that you publicly confessed sin to your fellow staff members in the ministry? 
  41. What is the process whereby decisions are made in the church and how is the church body involved? Are we elder ruled, deacon ruled, elder/pastor ruled by congregational consent, or does the preaching pastor generally get what he wishes? I really don’t know and I would like to know how the practical functioning of government and decisions are fleshed out.( I have witnessed abuse by an authoritarian style of ministry in the past.)
  42. How can three separate worship services promote unity of one Body with one mind, in one voice and in one accord? Is that wise or even possible and will it not possibly result in the essential formation of three separate churches rather than one Body?
  43. What in your opinion is the greatest need of the church today? What is the greatest threat to the church? What is the greatest danger to your ministry personally? (Please don’t say these questions or one who asks them.)
  44. What steps are you taking to avoid a simplistic event-oriented Christianity that emphasizes an aesthetic or entertainment value over an encounter-participatory worship experience that actually encourages communion with and transformation by the living God? One is spectator-oriented and the other is participatory that sees God.
  45. Which of the calling requirements (Timothy/Titus) to ministry as elder/pastor causes you the most angst and why? How do you, and who honestly assists you in your ongoing evaluation of continued personal fitness for the ministry? How often do you open yourself up to scrutiny by others? The real question here is, who pastors you and your family? Do you believe a pastor needs a pastor?
  46. Statistics indicate many pastors struggle with pornography and we know it is ubiquitous. (They have solitude, access and opportunity.) How do you guard your heart/eyes, and who holds you accountable?
  47. Do you take criticism well? Would you like some constructive criticism? Do these questions anger you? That is not my intent.
  48. What part of man was affected by the Fall and to what extent? What are the implications of this corruption and curse?
  49. What role do we have in salvation by grace? How do you communicate man’s responsibility but hold to God’s sovereignty?
  50. How does a dead man of Ephesians 2 come to Christ? What are the conditions of salvation? Does the new birth precede repentance and faith, or do repentance and faith move God to grant the new birth? (This is really not the proverbial chicken/egg question and is actually very crucial in your practical methodology applied to men in the Gospel call.)
  51. How do you explain Philippians 2:12-13 to a new convert? To yourself? To me?
  52. Why do you believe and why do you preach? What will you do if all you hold dear is taken from you? Would you be content with God alone? “ He who has God and everything has no more than he who has God and nothing.” (GKC) Is this true?
  53. Do you struggle with options or with the temptation to implement an apparent viable Plan B in a secular world to find more temporal happiness or security?
  54. Describe worship in spirit and truth, and what are its signs that we have arrived or are at least that we have begun the journey off the mount or out of Jerusalem back to the Father?
  55. What is the multifaceted goal or ultimate end of your ministry at SGBC in particular?
  56. Finally: Have you read, and if not, would you and your staff purpose to read and interact over…
    Preaching and Preachers by Lloyd Jones
    Dangerous Calling by Paul David Tripp
    Lectures to My Students by Spurgeon
    Preaching by Keller
    Brothers, We are Not Professionals by Piper
    The Reformed Pastor by Baxter
    Power Through Prayer by EM Bounds

The Divine Designer’s Treasure Trove Entrusted to Flawed, Dusty Earthen-Ware Vessels

2 Corinthians 4:7

“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing greatness of the power may be of God and not from ourselves…”

I am ever so aware of my earthiness. Ten thousands of witnesses who know me can testify the same. Earthiness is merely a sophisticated human way to say “we are but dust and to dust we return.” And if this is so I see an argument for eternal God: That He is. Dust lacks creative capacity apart from a visitation, an intervention of the Outside into the inside. Otherwise dust doesn’t do much but cause sneezes and sniffles, and dry irritated eyes. It hangs out in inconvenient places and gets stirred up at the least breeze. Apart from divine glory acting it remains innately of no estimable value.

Though we know we are dust and it is to dust we return, natural man glories in his dustiness. Most are therein content. In contrast the shameful reality of our earthiness is to be embraced via repentance as cause to glorify God, and not man who drifts lower… the dust that he is. God made us and crowned us with life and glory as image-bearers of God. Our distinctive earthiness argues this in honest comparison to other creatures of dust created but none suitable as replicas of the Almighty. It is rumored that He has made us but just lower than God.

God is the One who delights in bestowal of transforming power upon and through the ordinary microbes of assimilated dust. Common dust becomes extraordinary stuff by calling and association with greater purpose. Our union with God is extraordinary. This redemptive union is remarkable. The gospel is His particular word and power unto the remolding of the common into treasure vessels to hold the catch of the ages, the Glory itself.

Earthy wares are always flawed. They are common. They lack luster and are rather dull when viewed in their natural habitat. They must be raised up. Brought near Light. Imperfections appear. Restoration requisitioned. Repairs must begin. Purpose bestowed. All those who meticulously peruse their surface still see cracks and fault lines, and those who look more intently may notice rough imperfect areas even within the inward regions that touch the treasure catch itself.

God is never hindered with preexisting flawed earth-wares. He embraces ordinary as the skilled Potter renown to refashion a story. He reveals glory. He bestows glory. Dust and flesh never share intrinsic glory, nor can they steal Creator’s glory; but they by design receive and reflect what is rightfully His alone.

If God gives no pause and declares He shall never cease His labor upon the earthy, why should the earthy cease their labor on behalf of the Heavenly irrespective to faults? Even so this offers no comforting excuse to remain a cracked cistern leaking refuse from revealed imperfections. The revelation of the reality of the earthy is grace-calculated to produce gospel drive to be cleansed as a vessel, fit for honor in the Master’s hand for glory… containers refashioned into the Master’s Treasure store.

Our greatness is correlated only to His power demonstrated upon our earthiness… our inherent, persistent weaknesses that bring Him glory as in His rescue as He entrusts the extraordinary Treasure for safekeeping and distribution by living dust who finally begin to see and touch glory and know life eternal.