Keep the Bible at the Center of Your Church

Preserve the Bible on the Middle of Your Church

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Tony Merida: Welcome to “Churches Planting Churches,” a podcast on the theology and apply of church planting. I’m your host, Tony Merida.

The Phrase of God is treasured. It’s sweeter than honey, and extra to be desired than gold, for in it we meet the residing God. That is the almighty God, who not solely spoke the universe into existence, he additionally, in his nice love and mercy, got here to us in Christ to avoid wasting us from the judgment we deserve. And we’re advised in 2 Timothy that every one scripture is breathed out by God and it’s worthwhile for educating, for reproof, for correction, and for coaching and righteousness, that the person of God could also be competent, outfitted for each good work. So, with the Bible, we will actually say that we lack nothing. In God’s phrase, we’ve got all that we’d like. And that is excellent news for church planting pastors, as planting a church has many challenges and complexities. We are able to anticipate to be examined at nearly each flip, however we may also be assured that God, in his phrase, will information us into all fact.


Additional, God’s phrase is sufficient for the people who find themselves referred to as to shepherd. And as under-shepherds, we wish to lead folks to the great Shepherd as he’s discovered within the pages of the Bible. That’s our ambition as church-planting pastors. And but, I additionally know that it’s simple to let worldly pondering seep into our ministries. We will be enticed by the most recent progress technique, latest developments in psychology, the latest management fads, or any variety of issues. Due to these realities, we should combat to maintain the Bible on the heart of our lives and our church buildings. In different phrases, we mustn’t ever let the Bible lose its practical authority in all that we are saying and do. That is simpler mentioned than executed. So, to assist us take into consideration holding the Bible central in church planting, I’m excited to have Reuben Hunter with me on the podcast right this moment. Reuben is pastor of Trinity West Church. He’s married to Louisa, and so they have 4 youngsters. Reuben, welcome to the podcast.


Reuben Hunter: Good to be right here. Thanks for having me.


Merida: So, I’ve simply heard quite a lot of good things about you and your ministry, however we’re going to maintain it easy on this podcast. We’re simply going to speak in regards to the Bible, and I’m assuming you employ the Bible, you assume extremely of the Bible, so we’ll see.


Hunter: That’s proper.


Merida: Are you able to inform us a little bit bit about your self? The place did you develop up? How did you come to religion?


Hunter: Yeah, I grew up in Belfast in Northern Eire. Not removed from the place our brother Lucas Parks is ministering. I grew up in a non-Christian house. Self-consciously non-Christian. My dad and mom had rejected the nominal Christianity of their upbringing. Rising up in Northern Eire, the church was very a lot part of the tradition and other people went to church, whether or not they believed or not. My dad and mom had been youngsters of the ’60s. They got here to school in Belfast and threw off that church attendance. And so, I grew up in a really loving house, very blissful house, nice enjoyable, however little interest in Christianity. No publicity to the gospel or the church in any approach. And so, I used to be transformed in my early 20s.


The method of that began with my father dying very instantly when he was 52. And it wasn’t that I form of thought, “We’ve had this great crisis and I need someone to help me.” You recognize, my father’s gone, I would like a father form of factor. However what it did was, it induced me to ask questions that I most likely ought to have requested as a teen. Questions on life, questions in regards to the universe, and who’re we, and who made us, and the way can we get right here, or no matter it might need been. And what I found was, within the midst of my grief, that my notional atheism didn’t clarify life as I knew it. Intellectually and emotionally, what I used to be actually working off as a way of life life couldn’t bear the load of my human expertise.


And so, I bought considering questions on how we’re right here, and the God query form of got here my approach. And I form of started this journey of exploring. This was a form of mental factor. The opposite factor that was happening was that as a result of my dad had died, I’d inherited some cash, which meant I used to be in a position to purchase a home. I had my very own automobile, I had a job, I had a number of the issues that the world was telling me ought to fulfill me. And but, I used to be very dissatisfied. I used to be stressed, I used to be discontent. And actually, the brief story is over the course of a few years via the type windfall of God, he introduced me into contact with Christians. He introduced me right into a church context the place I heard the Bible being taught. And sooner or later, once I was 23 or 24, I met Christ. I made some professions of religion alongside the best way. It was a type of very form of bumpy journeys from undoubtedly not believing to believing. And I don’t know at what level I most likely crossed the road, however that was my story.


Merida: Now, stroll us from that time then to pastoral ministry.


Hunter: Yeah. Properly. So, one of many issues that struck me from the very outset was how good the excellent news sounded. And I believed, how on earth did I get to this stage in my life and never be advised this? Not hear this wonderful life-transforming information about this man referred to as Jesus? And so, from the off, I actually was fairly a zealous evangelist. I used to be clueless, however I used to be very zealous. And so, I attempted to share the gospel with folks as a lot as I probably might. And step by step, the job that I used to be in once I was transformed, I moved out of that so as to have the ability to form of be extra a part of a church neighborhood, and I used to be form of attempting to evangelize folks. I used to be doing Bible examine with different males, and issues like that.


And simply my need for that was rising and rising and rising. And my final job in the true world earlier than I transitioned to ministry was, I used to be an property agent. I bought property. And once I inform people who they assume, you recognize, “Wow, goodness. How is that possible? That’s poacher turned gamekeeper kind of thing.” I actually loved the job, however I used to be more and more simply discovering that my job was being match round me attempting to do ministry quite than the opposite approach round. And so, I pursued some coaching. I didn’t actually know what I needed to do, however I moved to London to go to a Bible coaching course there. And, you recognize, you most likely know what I imply once I say you begin to do some coaching, you understand how little you recognize, and so that you begin, and also you get on this…you’re nonetheless going and you’ve got a Ph.D., proper? Yeah. Nice. So, it’s a type of issues that simply form of went and went, and I bought concerned in church work then, I suppose about 17 years in the past, with some coaching, you recognize, I used to be coaching alongside the best way. I went to seminary and I used to be ordained as a pastor 11 years in the past this yr.


Merida: Wow. So, inform me about a few of your early influences. You’ve an extended line of nice expositors, proper, within the UK. Who had been a number of the shaping influences on you?


Hunter: I knew that I wanted some theological coaching, and I referred to as a good friend of mine who had a good friend who was at a theological school seminary and I mentioned, “Could you ask him what the best seminary in the world is?” You recognize, as a result of I simply, you recognize, I’m a single man. I wish to go and get the very best coaching I can. And he suggested me a couple of specific school and he mentioned, you recognize, “These are the guys you need to talk to.” And I referred to as the director of research of this school and he mentioned to me, “Tell me what books you’re reading.” And I mentioned, “Well, you know, I am… Ooh, ah, books?” And I, you recognize, couldn’t give you any weighty theological titles in any respect. In truth, you recognize, I can’t even bear in mind.


“What’s So Amazing About Grace?” By Philip Yancey might need been essentially the most theologically weighty providing. And this man was shocked, and he mentioned, “You need to read “Knowing God,” by J. I. Packer and you could learn John Calvin, and you could learn…” There was anyone else that he advised me to learn. I can’t bear in mind who, however I went and I purchased Packer and I believed, “Oh, right. This is going to be a steep hill.” And the Lord gave me a need for studying actually at that time, as a result of I hadn’t been educational in any respect. I used to be a waste. I used to be within the sport and simply messing round once I was younger. And so, once I was transformed, I actually… That was when a ardour for studying was birthed.


And so, I began with Parker. I learn heaps… Properly, when all people did that studying plan via Calvin’s institutes on 500 years or no matter, that was once I learn all of it. However I learn giant chunks of Calvin earlier than that. Different massive influences had been, earlier on in that course of, I met Mark Dever, Capitol Hill Baptist Church. He was at a convention in Northern Eire that I’d gone again to in the summertime, and he mentioned, “You should come and do an internship at my church.” And I mentioned, “Okay.” And I went over there and did six months with him, and so they simply get you studying, you recognize, Charles Bridges on “The Christian Ministry.” Simply they break a younger man down, you recognize, I’m not match for this process.


And that was a terrific expertise to learn that and to be fully humbled and introduced low by the considered what was gonna be concerned in ministry. And we learn… I believe you learn one thing like 30 books over the course of that point, and simply very useful. Different pastors that had been influential, Liam Gallagher, who’s now at 10th Presbyterian in Philadelphia. He was the pastor of a church in London that I got here to once I went to do that Bible coaching course. And he form of helped me perceive reformed theology. I believe I had the intuition, and a few of these frameworks in place simply via studying the scriptures and a number of the different books I’d learn, however he helped flesh that out for me and helped me to know it. So, he was fairly influential then.


And I suppose, my first job once I was ordained was in a church in St. Albans, simply North of London. The pastor there was a chap referred to as Greg Pressure, and he taught me an enormous quantity about what pastoral ministry appeared like. He’s a really devoted man who, you recognize, hasn’t written any books or something like that, however he’s simply a wonderful pastor and he taught me heaps and plenty of actually good things. So, he’s a giant affect.


Merida: Give us a little bit really feel for what it’s prefer to pastor in West London. What challenges do you guys face there?


Hunter: Yeah, I believe pastoring in West London is like pastoring in any massive, various, world metropolis. It’s multi-everything. Multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-economic, multi-class, multi, you recognize, no matter metric of range you wanna kinda consider, it’s there. And that’s thrilling and energizing, and it brings with it a breadth of alternatives. Nevertheless it additionally brings the challenges that cities carry. Cities within the West on the minute usually are hostile to the gospel, secularism is a giant factor. I believe we’ve got a liberal institution, you recognize. So there’s a state church that has, for essentially the most half, given up the gospel. There’s a very…so, the tradition makers, that’s the media, they’re socially liberal. The people who inform the ideas of the town despise the gospel, I suppose.


After which, in fact, Islam is on the rise, and we’ve got a really massive Islamic inhabitants in our neighborhood. My neighborhood, I believe, is sort of a microcosm of London as a complete. It has all the things on this melting pot and it’s, you recognize, it’s a tricky place. Nevertheless it’s additionally thrilling and there are good alternatives. I believe these are arduous days for the gospel within the West. One different factor really that I believe is definitely one thing of a problem in a metropolis like London is, London is a cool metropolis, and so folks come there. However as a result of it’s cool, there are people who received’t… As a result of there are lots of people, we’ve got a predominance additionally of false gospels. So, there are church buildings that purport to be church buildings, however they educate a false gospel. And really, they acquire a little bit of momentum. And subsequently, that’s a problem whenever you’re attempting to do gospel ministry in a context like that.


So, as I say, these are arduous days, however I suppose, then, it’s only a case of being real looking about that. I believe we will’t be pessimistic. It’s silly to say, let’s go to the town and alter the world, you recognize? However on the similar time, there’s gotta be realism. So, however on the similar time, simply pondering, you recognize, all of the cities are gone. That’s it. Neglect it. You recognize, or folks saying, “Oh, this is the day of small things. There’s not much happening.” I’m satisfied that the majority of something gospel targeted, that’s going to be lasting will probably be considerably small and unimpressive in a metropolis like London from a cosmopolitan perspective, that’s, on the minute, however that’s okay. And I believe we simply need folks to have an extended view.


I suppose, once more, that highlights one other problem. The lengthy view implies that folks want to remain, and other people usually come to the town, keep for a bit, after which go. It’s a tough place to go. And so, giving folks a imaginative and prescient for the gospel for the lengthy haul is one thing that could be a little bit of a problem. And calling folks to embrace the form of sacrifices that you could make in an effort to keep, that’s typically a tough promote. So, realism, however not pessimism. Preserve reminding people who Antioch was a really hostile context for the gospel, and but the gospel flourished there. And we imagine, don’t we? That we’ve got a promise that the earth will in the future be full of the information of the glory of the Lord because the waters cowl the ocean. And we’ve simply bought to do our bit the one approach we will. In the long run, the church will triumph, the gates of hell received’t, and many others., you recognize?


Merida: Amen. Amen. Why hold the Bible central in church planting? Speak to the church planters on the market. Why is it essential to have a superb understanding of ecclesiology, the church? If you wish to be a church planter, I imply, isn’t it actually about simply form of being a leading edge, you recognize, extroverted persona that may collect folks? What’s the massive deal in regards to the Bible in church planting?


Hunter: Oh, nicely, at one stage, it’s just because it’s God’s revealed phrase for all of life and for ministry. The massive level about that well-known verse in 2 Timothy 3, “All scripture is breathed out by God.” We expect, “Oh, that’s a text about the inspiration of the scriptures.” However he says, “And is profitable.” That’s proper. He’s speaking about its sufficiency. And subsequently, we have to have the enough phrase of God on the heart of issues. It’s how God makes himself recognized. It’s how his energy for salvation is revealed. Religion comes by listening to and listening to the phrase. That a lot is clear. The important thing query, I believe, is what does it really appear like to have the Bible on the heart of church life? We speak about being gospel-centered. We speak about being Bible-centered, however what do we actually imply by that?


And I believe we’ve bought to get better a excessive view of the Bible for each facet of how the church is ordered. The Westminster Divines, that they had talked in regards to the regulative precept of worship. The concept that the Bible was the common, the rule for a way the church ordered her worship providers. However I believe additionally it applies to how we order our church, you recognize? And there are issues that the Bible speaks about and the Bible locations nice significance on, however they aren’t issues that it’s a must to imagine for salvation. And so, usually, we are saying, “Well, it’s not a primary issue. Therefore, it doesn’t matter.” However in precise truth, secondary points, and if you wish to say even tertiary points, which can be very clear within the Bible, want to control the best way we do what we do in church life. So, all of that.


Merida: That’s good. That’s good. Let’s speak preaching for a second. Week in week out exposition. What’s that appear like in your ministry? What are you preaching proper now via a guide of the Bible?


Hunter: We usually undergo books of the Bible. A few times a yr, I’ll preach thematic sequence, however these thematic sermons will increase a passage on that theme. And this yr we simply completed a brief sequence in 2 Timothy, and an extended sequence within the guide of Hebrews. And though the church don’t know this but, Lord prepared, once I return from my sabbatical, we’ll embark on an extended sequence in Leviticus.


Merida: Wow. Wow.


Hunter: So, I didn’t know what Hebrews was about. So, I made a decision the best way to try this is to evangelise it. I don’t know what Leviticus is about, and so I’m going to begin with that.


Merida: That’s very attention-grabbing. I’m doing the identical factor proper now. I’ve determined my weakest genres are prophetic, that is no shock, apocalyptic, proper? And knowledge. So, proper now, I’m preaching via the 12 minor prophets. A sermon every week on the 12. And my plan, very, very tentatively, is to do knowledge subsequent yr, Ecclesiastes, Tune of Songs. After which, after my sabbatical, subsequent summer time, to do Revelation.


Hunter: Oh, good for you.


Merida: So, we’ll see. We’ll see.


Hunter: I don’t assume I’ll get to Revelation earlier than I retire.


Merida: In a transient metropolis like London, how does that issue into your planning of preaching? Do you worry…when you get people for a yr or two, will they’ve Leviticus for 2 straight years? Do you attempt to transfer via your sequence quite shortly? Does your context affect how lengthy you go?


Hunter: That’s a terrific query, and I really haven’t thought in regards to the form of two to three-year factor as a lot as I ought to have executed. Curiously, I’ve considered that in different elements of church life, membership programs and issues like that, and the way we take into consideration integrating folks within the church life. However by way of my preaching sequence, I mainly assume, if we do form of eight to 12 weeks in a row, that’s so much. And so, I’ll usually take a look at the best way the guide breaks up, and let’s say, there’s eight sermons in that, or there’s 6 in that, or there’s 10 in that, or no matter. However, like, I did, 70-something sermons in Luke once we began the church, however that took 4 years or one thing like that as a result of… Simply tried to interrupt it up a bit.


And so, let’s say we’re in Luke and I’ve executed this chunk, no matter, you recognize, in no matter approach I’ve form of thought that the guide hangs collectively, I’ll have considered this at a macro stage. You recognize what it’s like. So, I’ll say, “Okay, there’s a block of potentially 15 sermons.” I am going, “Well, I don’t want to do 15 in a row, so I’m going to drop that back. Can we get that? Okay. Okay.” After which perhaps I can’t assume that I’ve executed greater than 12 in a go. So, it could solely be for a couple of months after which I might take one thing else. So, we did Ecclesiastes, we did a sermon within the Psalms, we did Ruth. Yeah, totally different books.


Merida: It’s good to listen to you probably did Ecclesiastes. I’ll be discovering that one.


Hunter: These sermons will probably be of no use to you. I imply, within the kindness of God, they had been, you recognize, devoted and other people most likely had been helped again within the day. However when you’re really fascinated about getting the grips of the guide, it’s most likely a bit skinny.


Merida: Yeah, yeah, yeah. So, the Bible is clearly central in church planting as we take into consideration main our church buildings forming a wholesome ecclesiology, it’s central in our preaching as we shepherd the flock of God. One of many issues about church planting, I believe, that will get misplaced generally with the missional focus and the complexity and innovation required in quite a lot of methods in church planting is simply understanding what a church is. Proper? And, I imply, it appears very apparent. When you’re going to plant a church, it’s best to know what it’s. However typically, it looks as if ecclesiology is separated from the discussions about church planting, though that window of time of the church that’s very, very distinctive within the historical past of the church.


I’m talking of the primary yr, or no matter, the place you’re attempting to assemble folks, type a church, and many others. You recognize, that may look plenty of other ways, I believe. However sooner or later, you recognize, you’re main an precise congregation and also you’ve bought to assume via membership, you’ve bought to assume via polity. And so, you wish to do all these things on the entrance finish, proper? To have a working understanding of how a church operates. And I believe one of many specific temptations in church planting and ministry generally, is to simply gravitate to that which works. It’s very pragmatic. Even guys who begin off very convictionally pushed, get out into the true world of ministry and so they discover that generally they’re not prepared for the lengthy haul that you simply described. And so, they’re in search of prompt success and so they’re open to compromising sure positions in an effort to see their church develop. Proper? So, I ponder when you might simply encourage church planters in that. You recognize, you’ve been at it now, you mentioned, for 11 years at Trinity, is that proper?


Hunter: I used to be ordained 11 years in the past. We moved to this neighborhood to plant the church eight years in the past, final month. And the church is six and a half years outdated. It took us 18 months to…


Merida:18 months?


Hunter: …in that first part.


Merida: Good. So, speak about simply your personal journey and what it takes to simply maintain these convictions about your theology. As a result of in London, there’s a lot cultural opposition like all over the place on the earth. However in a significant metropolis you’ve bought agendas, political agendas, social agendas, and right here you are attempting to be the Bible man, and it’s also possible to see church buildings rising who are usually not being biblically devoted. So, what’s it been like in your personal life?


Hunter: Yeah. It’s price saying that there’s plenty of good issues taking place in London by way of church buildings being planted and good folks doing good work. However yeah, I believe, you recognize what route, it’s attention-grabbing whenever you speak about pragmatism, you’re describing that as doing what works, that you simply wish to be successful. And I believe we have to recalibrate what success is, and subsequently, reassess what it’s we wish to work, you recognize. So, we’re doing what works in an effort to collect a crowd, and that’s not essentially what we have to do. We have to ally, we have to outline success as faithfulness to the scriptures, faithfulness to what God has referred to as us to be as a pastor and a church, and to form of belief him with the expansion word.


I get that there’s a strain. That 18 months for me was depressing as a result of, I imply, I practically gave all the things up, together with my marriage and all the things else. Like, I simply, the Lord introduced us so clearly into that setting and it was like he simply disappeared. And, you recognize, the people who mentioned they had been going to return and be part of us didn’t. And, you recognize, we had been on a really totally different observe from the beginning. However I look again on that now and see that that was the Lord making ready me and dealing in me, and all of that, in wholesome methods.


However, I believe it’s essential that whenever you got down to plant a church, that you simply acknowledge that the Bible tells us what a church is. The Bible tells us how a church ought to be led. The Bible tells us what a church ought to do, you recognize, what our mission ought to be. So, what a church is, Matthew 16, Matthew 18. How a church ought to be led, 1 Timothy 3, the pastorals generally. What a church ought to do, Matthew 28, very clear mission there. What tasks the church has. You recognize, have a transparent concept that church self-discipline is a factor. You recognize, I imply the thought in that first part the place you’re simply attempting to get folks to return and be a part of issues, that you simply’ve bought form of a transparent thought instead of what a physique of the Lord’s individuals are referred to as to be. And subsequently, you don’t simply take anyone, you recognize, you may’t.


So, you could be clear that this individual understands the gospel earlier than they’re drawn into the membership of this new church. Earlier than you launch publicly, you could know who the church is, you recognize. And the Bible tells us what’s concerned in that. And I believe in an effort to keep away from pragmatism, you could understand that the Bible tells you what these items are, or it speaks clearly to those issues. After which, you compromise in your personal thoughts what the Bible’s reply to these is. You recognize, there are totally different denominations, folks have totally different views on a few of these points. However you compromise in your personal thoughts what these are, after which implement these convictions. And, you recognize, I believe one of many issues that I struggled with, and one of many issues that I believe others battle with is that we form of assume that it’s an A plus B plus C equals success. And really, as we name our folks to reside the Christian life by religion, we have to additionally lead our church buildings by religion and belief the Lord. And really actually belief Him, you recognize?


Merida: That’s good. That’s good. You’ve already touched on this a little bit bit, however final query. A whole lot of younger guys, aspiring pastors, planters, take heed to the podcast. How would you encourage them? You gotta encourage your outdated self earlier than you…What would you wish to inform that man?


Hunter: Properly, I believe I’d say that, get on and pursue planting a church, however do it in the proper wholesome context. So, do it in relationship with one other church, in partnership with a extremely good church planting group. Like, for instance, say, hold on, there’s Acts 29. Yeah, they’re a superb group. And, you recognize, a younger man simply to take our time and be accountable and be form of examined and skilled and mentored and outfitted. However with regards to these items to do with their convictions in regards to the Bible, settle to know of their coronary heart and of their thoughts that no matter occurs within the tradition, no matter approach the tradition goes, no matter strain is on or not, that what our neighborhoods and our communities want above all else, and what we’ll make deep disciples, is God’s phrase on the heart of church life, on the heart of their ministry. If folks will meet the residing God, in the event that they’ll develop within the residing God, our ministry have to be shackled to the reality of the gospel, shackled to the scriptures. And younger guys have to settle that conviction as early as doable and simply don’t budge…


Merida: And go. Yeah, that’s proper. That’s proper. Thanks on your time, brother. Speaking in regards to the phrase of fact, what a privilege it’s to have the ability to preach the bottomless phrase of God.


Hunter: That’s true. That’s for certain.


Merida: Unsearchable riches of Christ. So, thanks for being on the podcast. If listeners do wish to take heed to your sermons, though they’re not any good, the place would they discover these sermons?


Hunter: @imagodei.org, I believe, that’s the place I’d go. Trinity-west.org, one thing on there I’m certain.


Merida: Cool. I’ll go to in the future.


Hunter: That’ll be nice to have you ever come and preach.


Merida: Thanks, Reuben.


Hunter: Thanks, Tony.


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