Saturday Links

Links for your weekend reading:

Why We Don’t Punish Our Kids

The next time an offense is committed in your home, remember how your Father treats you when you sin. Address it head on, but don’t neglect the heart.

How To Pray When Your Soul Is Bone Dry

There are times when your soul feels bone dry, when even opening your mouth to pray seems an impossibility. What do you do?

Daily Slogging in the Power of the Spirit

What impresses me is my dad’s daily slogging, year after year, in the power of the Spirit, with no big-deal-ness as the goal or the payoff.

8 Reasons to Preach Through Books of the Bible

While there’s no need to be dogmatic about this kind of sermon delivery, and while I think taking time for short topical sermon series or strategic “stand-alone” messages can be good and helpful, I do think it is generally wise for a pastor not just to preach expositionally, but to preach expositionally through entire books of the Bible.

A Simple Formula for Effective Preaching

Preaching flows from the heart of a man who has seen great truths in the Bible, has savored what he has seen, and cannot wait to share with others what he saw.

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Darryl Dash

Darryl Dash is a graduate of the University of Waterloo, Heritage Theological Seminary, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He’s married to Charlene, and has two children, Christina and Josiah. Darryl is currently planting Liberty Grace Church in Liberty Village, Toronto. He previously served as pastor of Richview Baptist Church and Park Lawn Baptist Church, both in west Toronto.

The Problem With Authenticity

Authenticity seems to be a good thing. At first glance, it’s a value that Christians share with society. To be authentic means to be genuine and without pretense. Who could argue with that?
We want authentic ministries. We also want people to be authentic within our churches. I’ve sometimes expressed it as a value that we hold in common regardless of our faith.

Not anymore. Authenticity a loaded word, and one we must use with caution. At the very least, we need to define the term before we use it.

Two Definitions of Authenticity

I’ve mentioned one definition of authenticity: the state of being true and genuine, and without pretense. If that’s the definition of authenticity, then I’m all for it. But that’s not always what people mean when they talk about authenticity.

In his book Divine Sex, Jonathan Grant writes:

Modern authenticity encourages us to create our own beliefs and morality, the only rule being that they must resonate with who we feel we really are. The worst thing we can do is to conform to some moral code that is imposed on us from outside— by society, our parents, the church, or whoever else. It is deemed to be self-evident that any such imposition would undermine our unique identity.

Modern authenticity means that we must be true to ourselves. It means that we become arbiters of what’s right and wrong. It means that nobody else has the right to impose their beliefs or values on anyone else.

Under this definition, authenticity is the ultimate trump card. Grant describes the consequences of modern authenticity:

Ultimately, this form of expressive individualism, with each person doing his or her own thing, leads to a form of soft moral relativism: we should not criticize each other’s “values” because each person’s right is to live as they wish. The only sin we cannot tolerate is intolerance … The authentic self believes that personal meaning must be found within ourselves or must at least resonate with our one-of-a-kind personality. We must, as we often hear, “be true to ourselves.”

Under this definition of authority, the individual is the ultimate authority. Our personal feelings and intuitions are the final arbiter of what’s right and wrong. Transcendence is found within. Nobody, including God, can tell us what to do.

“The culture of authenticity has indeed become the moral wallpaper of our lives, deeply shaping our personal identity, sexuality, and relationship,” Grant says. “Sadly, these trends have influenced our church communities as thoroughly as the secular culture.”

The results of this kind of authenticity are tragic. “Allowing emotional authenticity to guide us in our long-term relationships is like trusting ourselves to the schizophrenic Gollum— sometimes loyal and sometimes treacherous but ultimately bent on our destruction.”

This is not the type of authenticity we want to affirm.

Better Than Authenticity

It’s important that we address this, and provide a better alternative. Here are a few ideas.

First, let’s be careful in using the term authentic in our ministries. If we use it, let’s make sure we’re clear about what we mean. Let’s be clear that we’re affirming genuineness and honesty, rather than the idea that our highest allegiance is to be true to ourselves.

Second, address the modern view of authenticity and its consequences. Many who hold the modern view have never taken the time to examine it. We’ll do our churches a favor if we help them see the problem with this modern view of authenticity.

Finally, let’s always lean into biblical values that are out of vogue. If biblical values like suffering, submission, and servanthood rub us the wrong way, it’s a good sign that we need to give them more attention. The more that culture tells us that we’re our own highest authority, the more we need to emphasize the truth of Scripture: “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death” (Proverbs 14:12).

Virtues like honesty, confession, submission, and obedience look a lot less compelling than modern authenticity, but they describe a much better way to live.

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Darryl Dash

Darryl Dash is a graduate of the University of Waterloo, Heritage Theological Seminary, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He’s married to Charlene, and has two children, Christina and Josiah. Darryl is currently planting Liberty Grace Church in Liberty Village, Toronto. He previously served as pastor of Richview Baptist Church and Park Lawn Baptist Church, both in west Toronto.

No Big Pastors. No Little Churches.

The first church I pastored was, on a good Sunday, fifty people. I remember seeing a cartoon about a pastor who wanted to start small groups. “But pastor, our church is a small group!” I’m not sure I laughed.

I spent seven years at that church. I loved them, and for the most part, they loved me. But I occasionally grew frustrated that the church wasn’t bigger. I think I thought that I deserved more.

What a horrible, twisted thought.

I wish I’d read Francis Schaeffer’s book No Little People back then.

No Big Pastors

I would have discovered that there are no big people. Schaeffer writes, "The Scripture emphasizes that much can come from little if the little is truly consecrated to God. There are no little people and no big people in the true spiritual sense, but only consecrated and unconsecrated people."

Schaeffer understood the temptation to want a bigger ministry:

All of us—pastors, teachers, professional religious workers and nonprofessional included—are tempted to say, “I will take the larger place because it will give me more influence for Jesus Christ.” Both individual Christians and Christian organizations fall prey to the temptation of rationalizing this way as we build bigger and bigger empires. But according to the Scripture this is back-wards: we should consciously take the lowest place unless the Lord Himself extrudes us into a greater one.

Schaeffer advises us to take the lower places. In the smaller places, it’s easier to maintain quietness before God. It’s also a place to deal with our ego. If we aren’t content to lay aside our proud ambition, we’re not qualified for Christian ministry.

To paraphrase Schaeffer, there’s no such thing as big or small pastors, but only consecrated and unconsecrated pastors. It’s good for us to lay aside our desire to be big, and instead ask God to make us holy.

No Little Churches

There are no big pastors, and there no little churches. Schaeffer writes, "As there are no little people in God’s sight, so there are no little places. To be wholly committed to God in the place where God wants him—this is the creature glorified."

Schaeffer challenges one of our blind spots. We think that size will show success. If we are consecrated, there will be large numbers of people and money. "This is not so. Not only does God not say that size and spiritual power go together, but He even reverses this (especially in the teaching of Jesus) and tells us to be deliberately careful not to choose a place too big for us."

Is this a small matter? Schaeffer doesn’t think so. An emphasis on big works and big places is a return to our old, unconverted, egotistic selves. It’s “more dangerous to the Christian than fleshly amusement or practice. It is the flesh.”

The most egregious sin in the room may be the sin of the pastor who thinks that he’s too big for his church.

One Thing Is Important

I’ve never seen a small church, and I’ve never met a big pastor. Every church matters. It’s a privilege to be a pastor, and no church is beneath us.

Years later, I’m planting a church and having the time of my life. It’s small, but I think I’m learning my lesson. “Only one thing is important: to be consecrated persons in God’s place for us, at each moment,” said Schaeffer. That’s what I want for myself, and for every good pastor I know.

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Darryl Dash

Darryl Dash is a graduate of the University of Waterloo, Heritage Theological Seminary, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He’s married to Charlene, and has two children, Christina and Josiah. Darryl is currently planting Liberty Grace Church in Liberty Village, Toronto. He previously served as pastor of Richview Baptist Church and Park Lawn Baptist Church, both in west Toronto.

Saturday Links

Links for your weekend reading:

Why Christians Should End Their Search for 'Relevance'

In a culture hell-bent on undermining traditional institutions, including the church, Christian witness will look neither conservative nor liberal but resilient.

3 Types of Leaders

The three common leaders are: launch-the-business leader, run-the-business leader, and change-the-business leader.

5 Principles for Studying the Trinity

Here are 5 basic principles that I have reflected on in my own study of the Trinity that may be helpful for others.

4 Reasons Why Every Bible Reader Should Do Word Studies

In this post I want to make a case for learning the basics of doing word studies, whether we are pulling out the shovel of deeper Bible study or the trowel of basic Bible reading.

10 Reasons Why a Family Mealtime Is Vital

In my opinion, there are several obvious reasons why a family mealtime should be a high priority for our families.

The Scientific Argument for Mastering One Thing at a Time

The way to master more things in the long-run is to simply focus on one thing right now.

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Darryl Dash

Darryl Dash is a graduate of the University of Waterloo, Heritage Theological Seminary, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He’s married to Charlene, and has two children, Christina and Josiah. Darryl is currently planting Liberty Grace Church in Liberty Village, Toronto. He previously served as pastor of Richview Baptist Church and Park Lawn Baptist Church, both in west Toronto.

Ten Key Questions for Sermon Preparation

There are many ways to prepare a sermon. When preparing a sermon on a passage of Scripture, though, I’ve found that there are ten questions that every preacher must answer. Not every answer will show up in the sermon, but every answer is important to the shape that the sermon takes.

The first four questions center on the text. The next six questions center on how to communicate the text to our audience.

Four Questions for the Text

  1. What did this text mean for the original audience? One of the biggest mistakes that we make is to ask what the text means for us before we know what it meant for the original audience. Forget about your audience for now. Until you answer this question, you’re not ready to proceed.
     
  2. What is the central idea of this text in relation to the original audience? There are many ideas in the passage, but there is a central idea. Until we understand the central idea of the text, we’re not prepared to move forward.
     
  3. What does the passage reveal about God? Is there an attribute revealed? What implications does the author draw from what’s revealed about God?
     
  4. What does the passage reveal about humanity? In particular, what does it reveal about human need? How does this passage reveal our failures (i.e. sin) and finitude (i.e. that we are limited)?

Because I'm usually in such a rush to get to my listeners, I have to force myself to spend the time in these questions before I'm ready to move on to the next set.

Six Questions for Preaching the Text

  1. What does all of this mean for my audience? How does the central idea, as well as what’s revealed about God and about us, intersect with our condition today?
     
  2. How can I express the central idea practically and memorably? How can I express the central idea of the sermon so that people remember it, and so that it applies to people today? How can I structure the sermon so that it has one main point, with (when necessary) supporting points, rather than many different points?
     
  3. How can I raise the need? The sermon will address a need. If the listener is already aware of that need, how can I hook them? If they aren’t aware of the need, how can I make them aware? It’s good to show sympathy in how we raise the need. It’s not their need; it’s our need.
     
  4. How does the gospel answer this need? What is there in Jesus that answers this need? How does he become more beautiful and desirable in this passage?
     
  5. What does this look like today? What are the implications for how we love (desires), think (mind), and live (actions)? Important: don’t overemphasize actions at the expense of desires and thoughts.
     
  6. What objections will my hearers raise? How can I express these objections well, and answer them?

These questions take quite a bit of thought. At this point, you haven't even begun to write a manuscript (if you do that). If we answer them, though, we'll be ready to prepare a sermon that’s biblical and that connects.

1 Comment

Darryl Dash

Darryl Dash is a graduate of the University of Waterloo, Heritage Theological Seminary, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He’s married to Charlene, and has two children, Christina and Josiah. Darryl is currently planting Liberty Grace Church in Liberty Village, Toronto. He previously served as pastor of Richview Baptist Church and Park Lawn Baptist Church, both in west Toronto.