Well, as you can see, I am taking a bit of a blog break. I’ve been slightly tired this week, and I need to get feeling better for next week. Tiredness affects my attitude about being at the computer — I get concerned about the possibility of vertigo. And, in addition to that, I have been doing some reading to prepare myself for next week — which will be a busy week, indeed.
One of the many things in which I’ve gotten involved these days is the Vital Church Initiative in the West Michigan Conference of the United Methodist Church. I have a Peer Mentoring session to lead next week on Tuesday, and directly from there I am off to Flint to participate in a Consultation Event at the Asbury United Methodist Church. That event will consume Wednesday and Thursday of next week. In preparation for the Peer Mentoring session (a meeting of clergy) I read the book Managing Transitions by William Bridgers — a very good and quite readable business management book. The session will be about managing transitions in the local church. So, having finished the book, I am now preparing myself to lead that session. And, yet ahead of me, I have some reading to do to prepare for the consultation event after that. (more…)
I originally found this quote in the Appendix to Daniel Steele’s The Gospel of the Comforter. (It is the first part of Note H.) Horace Bushnell was a Congregationalist pastor and theologian, who was quite important — and controversial — in his day. See: Wikipedia, Christian Classics Ethereal Library.
Many a time nothing is wanting but to speak as to a soul already hungry and thirsty, or, if not consciously so, ready to hunger and thirst, as soon as the bread and water of life are presented. If the problem is to get souls under sin inspired again, which it certainly is, then it is required that the preacher shall drop lecturing on religion and preach it, testify it, prophesy it, speak to faith as being in faith, bring inspiration as being inspired, and so become the vehicle, in his own person, of the power he will communicate; that he may truly beget in the gospel such as will be saved by it. No man is a preacher because he has something like or about a gospel in his head. He really preaches only when his person is the living embodiment, the inspired organ of the gospel; in that manner no mere human power, but the demonstration of a Christly and divine power. Such preaching has had, in former times, effects so remarkable. At present we are almost all under the power, more or less, of the age in which we live. Infected with naturalism ourselves and having hearers, that are so, we can hardly find what account to make of our barrenness.
— Horace Bushnell, Nature and the Supernatural: As Together Constituting the One System of God (1858).
The good which one single minister, true to the cause in which he has engaged, can do in the course of his life by a faithful ministry of the word, is not easily to be described. How many of the ignorant he may instruct, how many sleepy consciences arouse, how many daring sinners confound; how many mourners he may bring into the liberty of the children of God, how many believers confirm in grace, yea, lead into the enjoyment of perfect love! Blessed be the Lord, we have had our ministers, who were formed according to the model of Jesus Christ, according to his simplicity, his unction, his sacred zeal. We have had our WESLEYS, our FLETCHERS, our GRIMSHAWS, and our WALSHES. Every thing was borne down by their holy eloquence, and by the power of the Spirit of God, who spoke through them. The villages, the towns, the cities, could not resist the impetuosity of their zeal, and the eminent sanctity of their lives; the tears, the sighs, and the deep compunction of those who heard them, were the commendations which accompanied their ministry. The strictness of their manners left nothing for the world to say against the truths which they delivered. The simplicity of their spirit, and the gentleness of their conversation and conduct toward others but severity toward themselves, belied not the gospel of which they were ministers. Their examples instructed, persuaded, and struck the people almost as much as their sermons: and the Spirit of God, who inflamed their hearts, the divine fire with which they themselves were filled, spread itself through the coldest and most insensible souls; and enabled them almost everywhere to raise chapels, temples to God, where the penitents and believers might assemble to hear them, and each return inflamed like themselves, and filled with the abundance of the Spirit of God. O what good is one apostolic man capable of working upon earth! There were no more than twelve employed to begin the conversion of the world.
— Thomas Coke (1747 – 1814), On the Ministry: Four Discourses on the Duties of a Minister of the Gospel, Discourse 1, Part 1.