Summary: Pastors’ Talk is a weekly conversation between Jonathan Leeman and Mark Dever about practical aspects of the Christian life and pastoral ministry.
We just released a Journal on church planting and church mergers. Because neither Mark nor Jonathan wrote an article for it, we devoted this episode of Pastors’ Talk to the topic. Also: this will be our last Pastors’ Talk until September, though we’ll be recording them all summer, so send us your ideas if you have them! SHOW NOTES: — Have you (Mark) ever been a church planter? (2:30) — Why are the topics of planting and mergers worth thinking through? (4:10) — Is there a different skill set for the church planter and someone leading a church merger? (8:00) — What’s some bad advice you often hear for church planters? (9:20) — Do some of the problems stem from a dependence on agencies as opposed to churches? What are agencies useful for? What should they not do that they tend to do? (11:00) — What common wisdom do you have to offer those involved in church mergers? (13:10) — When does the “church plant” become a church? (19:00) — Who should leave a church to go with a plant? (20:00) — Do you have elders first, and then members? Or the other way around? (22:20)
In a few weeks, we’re releasing a new book, Conversion: How God Creates a People, in which Michael Lawrence makes the case that one’s doctrine of conversion has massive effects on one’s philosophy of ministry. In this episode of Pastors’ Talk, Mark and Jonathan talk about this connection. SHOW NOTES: – What’s this new book Conversion about? Why is conversion one of the nine marks? (1:55) – How does conversion affect one’s philosophy of ministry and even preaching style? (5:30) – Do liberal Christians have a doctrine of conversion? Same-sex affirming churches? (7:10) – How does Genesis 3 inform our doctrine of conversion? (9:00) – Is the doctrine of conversion going to become more and more offensive? (14:40) – Biblically speaking, what is conversion? (15:40) – Does “belonging before believing” undermine a biblical doctrine of conversion? Open communion? Spontaneous baptisms? (17:20) – How does a biblical doctrine of conversion affect a pastor’s preaching? (20:00) – How is church discipline an implication of the doctrine of conversion? (23:00)
One of the most important and time-consuming tasks for a church and its pastors involves receiving and releasing members, bringing them in and seeing them out. And yet, it's almost never talked about in books on the church or in seminary. To fill in this gap, Mark and Jonathan devoted this episode of Pastors' Talk to the one topic: receiving and releasing members.
In many evangelical churches, the public prayers are casual, short, and few. Is that a problem? How does this contemporary situation compare to the history of Protestant churches? How should pastors seek to reinvigorate their churches’ prayer practices? Jonathan sat down with Mark to discuss all these questions and more. SHOW NOTES: – In your experience, what does the public prayer look like in the average evangelical church? How does this compare historically? (:50) – Without impugning motives, why do churches play so little? (2:50) – Is there a pattern of corporate prayer in the Bible? (4:00) – Is a church being disobedient if they’re not giving ample time to corporate prayer? (5:25) – What does should the public prayer look like? What is a prayer of praise of confession? Should only men pray publicly? (6:30) – How should a pastor think through his “pastoral prayer” (14:00)? – This amount of prayer can be tough to get through for those not used to it. It slows people down and causes us to actively participate in a service. (21:00) – Why pray “we” not “I”? (24:45) – What about a Sunday evening prayer service? (25:15)
It’s tempting for a new pastor to show up with a laundry list of problems that need to be fixed. But that approach almost never works, and many have left churches worse off due to their hastiness in implementing change. To help pastors with this, Jonathan sat down with Mark to chat about how quickly a pastor should try to make changes in a church. SHOW NOTES: – You’ve said before that young pastors have great acuity, but poor depth perception. Can you explain that? (1:00) – What kinds of mistakes do young pastors take? (2:40) – How did you moderate the pace of change at the beginning of your time at CHBC? (5:50) – Is “change nothing in your first year” good advice? (9:45) – What should a pastor give himself to in the first year? Why is preaching so crucial? (13:00) – Should a pastor deliberately set out to build relationships with those who are disagreeable? How much does that help? (15:55) – Why should some pastors not practice church discipline right away? (18:00) – How much does handing out books help? (19:50) – Three areas of things that might change. (23:00)
Does the senior pastor—or the teaching pastor, or the lead pastor, or whatever title your church gives to the man who preaches most often—have more authority than other pastors, either in the pay of the church or not? Does he have a kind of different authority? If you’ve served in a church with a plurality of elders, then you’ve felt tension over these questions. In order to help, Mark sat down with Jonathan to discuss the biblical warrant for a “senior” pastor, what his involvement looks in the church when he’s not preaching, and more. SHOW NOTES: – First things first: Is “senior pastor” a biblical designation? (1:00) – What about the “co-pastor” model? (3:30) – Why is it that the man who preaches most often will almost inevitably accrue the most authority within the congregation? (4:30) – What is Mark’s involvement in the church, even when he isn’t preaching on Sunday morning? (5:15) – Does Mark as senior pastor have “more authority” than other pastors, staff or non-staff? (6:15) – How does a “senior pastor” set the direction for a church, either good or bad? (9:15) – How does a pastor submit to other pastors? (11:15) – What counsel do you have for associate pastors who disagree with their senior pastor? (13:25) – How should he respond to a pastor who’s been heavy-handed? (17:25) – Any advice for a new pastor with an established elder board? (20:00) – How do you cultivate unity among elders? (24:00)
It’s a question countless pastors ask every single day: How can I grow my church? In his new book WORD-CENTERED CHURCH, Jonathan Leeman offers a biblical answer to that question. In summary, God intends to grow his church through the proclamation of his Word—and once proclaimed, God intends for that Word to reverberate out from the pulpit and into the whole church’s life and ministry. WORD-CENTERED CHURCH encourages pastors and church leaders to resist the temptation of pragmatism and to instead build their churches on a more trustworthy foundation. For this episode of Pastors’ Talk, Mark chatted with Jonathan about all this and more. SHOW NOTES: – What’s necessary for a church? Does it require a dependence on the Bible? (:30) – If a church is built on the Word, what room does that leave for good deeds? (4:30) – What’s the role of preaching? Why “Word-centered church” and not “Christ-centered church”? (6:20) – When people think about worship, should they associate it strictly with music? (9:30) – How does the Word reverberate throughout the church and its church’s life? (11:30) – What do you say to the pastor who doesn’t spend time to study the Word? (13:15) – In a church with a lot of nominal Christians, how should preaching being prioritized? (16:30) – What’s Word-Centered Church all about, and how does it differ from Reverberation? (18:00)
These days, small groups are quite common. But are they enough for community and accountability? What’s the best way to do small groups such that they don’t interfere with the regular Sunday gathering? Mark and Jonathan discuss these questions and more in the latest episode of Pastors’ Talk. SHOW NOTES: – Does Acts 2 describe small groups? (0:45) – Is there a biblical precedent for small groups? (1:25) – Is it new that churches build in their pastoring through small groups? (3:40) – How much guidance should you give small groups? (6:40) – What should small groups do? (10:40) – Who should lead a small group? (12:00) – Should non-members be in small groups? (13:30) – Should small groups take the Lord’s Supper? (14:45) – What do you say to the member who doesn’t really come to the Sunday gathering, but is very committed to their small group? (15:45)
Being “called” to ministry isn’t entirely personal, internal, and subjective. It involves both the individual and a church, an internal desire and external confirmation. In this Pastors’ Talk episode, Jonathan asked Mark about common misconceptions of pastoral calling, how pastors can cultivate an environment where callings get tested, and the role of the church throughout. SHOW NOTES: – What does it mean that calling is both internal and external? (:30) – Why would you slow a guy down who says, “I know I’m called to ministry”? (2:20) – What do you say to someone who responds to your hesitation with, “But pastor, the Lord is leading me?” (5:00) – What are some common errors churches make in discerning one’s sense of calling? (8:50) – What’s a proper biblical understanding of calling in Scripture? How does it relate to vocation? (10:50) – Who confirms a pastor? When you leave your church, are you still a pastor? (15:20) – How does a man’s wife play into his calling as a pastor/elder? (16:40) – How can a pastor cultivate a healthy environment to test young men and their calling to ministry? (19:05) – Any general advice for those experiencing the call to ministry? (20:10) – Is there a special calling for overseas missions? (23:50)
Does your congregation look like the people who live around it? If not, does it matter? How important is it that a church reflects its surrounding community? For the latest Pastors’ Talk, Jonathan Leeman sat down with Mark Dever to chat about these questions and more. SHOW NOTES: – How hard should a pastor and a church work to reach different kinds of people? Changing music? Changing the way we preach or what we wear? (1:30) – What about who’s up front? Who gets hired? For example, should white churches seek to hire non-white pastors in order to reach non-whites? (6:00) – What counsel do you have for the pastor who leads a church that doesn’t look like its surrounding community? (10:15) – In being deliberate about these things, isn’t there a risk of “inauthenticity”? (12:15) – What’s the importance of a culture of discipling and evangelism, where members are consistently learning to love people across differences? (14:10) – How should pastors be careful about the ways they speak publicly on these matters? (17:25)
Authority is God’s good and dangerous gift. Therefore, it’s of the utmost importance for pastors and church leaders to exercise their authority well, and in doing so image God. SHOW NOTES: – Why is authority such an under-talked about topic? (:45) – Has authority been especially villainized in our current culture? (2:10) – Are evangelicals any different in their views of the authority? (6:10) – What is authority? (9:05) – Why do you think a passage like 2 Samuel 23:3–4 is so important as we think about authority? What can they teach pastors today? (11:00) – How does a pastor wield his authority well? (14:30) – What’s the difference between authority and authoritarianism? (15:00) – How can a pastor be pro-authority while also being anti-authoritarian? (17:05) – Why is the abuse of authority so heinous? What does it look like for someone to abuse their authority, or to use it too aggressively? (19:45) – How do you pastor those Christians who have only know the abuse of authority? (23:30)
How do we know what makes a good pastor? Do we learn this exclusively from the Bible? From the latest business books? Jonathan chats with Mark about what a pastor is, and what it means to take a pastoral approach to Christian ministry.
Jonathan chats with Mark about good and bad reasons to leave a church, and offers principles for leaving well once the decision has been made.
We just released a Journal with close to 20 articles on Pastoring Singles. Because the Journal was Mark’s idea, Jonathan sat down with him to ask questions on the topic. SHOW NOTES: – Why a Journal on singles? (0:40) – What are the biggest challenges and benefits of pastoring singles (1:30) – How do you simultaneously affirm marriage while not undermining God’s distinct purposes for singles? (3:20) – When do you encourage someone to remain single? How do you encourage them to make the most of their singleness? (8:10) – How can singles be integrated into a congregation? (12:15) – What about single elders/pastors? (14:00) – For the single who feels left out, what should a church do? (15:55) – What do you do when you inherit a church with a robust singles program? (18:10) – Why “your sex life is your identity” is a satanic lie. (20:45)
We live in politically contentious times. Jonathan Leeman sat down with Mark Dever to chat about how to pastor people faithfully amidst political disagreement. SHOW NOTES: – March us through how you pastored through the most contentious election in recent memory. (0:40) – How preaching builds unity amidst political disagreement. (6:00) – On the importance of upholding Christian liberty amidst personal, political disagreement (7:45) – How can we discern “straight-line” issues from “jagged-line” issues? How do we know when to stay silent in order not to improperly bind consciences? (13:00) – Can we sin by not addressing injustice when we should? (17:30) – Do you address politically contentious members directly? (22:00) – Lightning round of questions on the topic. (22:45)