PRAY FOR YOUR PASTORS

A good reminder from Robby Gallaty in Exalting Jesus in Malachi (Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary):

“Regarding vocational ministers, without a doubt, there is perversion throughout the history of the clergy; such transgression was not isolated to the priests of the OT. Whether we look at the Roman Catholic sexual scandals, the adulterous, immoral relationships of some pastors, or the greed of many televangelists, no one is outside of the sting of sin. Sadly, many apparently get away with their sinful leadership. But God, who sees it all and certainly does not forget anything, holds church leaders to a higher standard. James 3:1 is a sobering reminder: “Not many should become teachers, my brothers, knowing that we will receive a stricter judgment.”

Church leaders are examined both by the Lord and by other people. Ministers’ families are constantly being scrutinized. Their finances are constantly being examined. Their material possessions are being analyzed and questioned. People from the inside and outside of the church judge their marriages, speech, actions, and attitudes all the time. Additionally, a pastor experiences the constant burden for lost family members, for backslidden church members, and of performing funerals for friends. This may be one reason why hundreds of pastors leave the ministry every single month.

Ministry is both a terrifying and a thrilling endeavor. The thought of standing before a righteous God to give an account for how His gospel was carried out is alarming. But what a privilege to be set apart for ministerial service! However, with great privilege comes great responsibility. Thankfully, One has come who carried out this responsibility perfectly. He was righteous under the law, never being led astray. Jesus stands as the quintessential priest and fulfillment of the Levitical priesthood.

Five key points can be extracted from this text as they relate to the calling of ministers:

1. Pray for their proclamation, that they would be men and women who preach and teach the gospel, the whole counsel of God.

2. Pray for their purity. The greatest gift that a minister can give is not his preaching ability, his ability to visit the sick or to comfort those who have lost loved ones, how consistently he visits hospitals, or how engaging of a counselor he is. The greatest gift a pastor can offer to his church is his personal holiness before the Lord.

3. Pray for your leaders’ marriages. The enemy would love nothing more than to destroy marriages. What God has brought together, Satan would delight in tearing asunder.

4. Pray for their protection. The enemy is likened to a roaring lion seeking to destroy and devour leaders in the church (1 Pet 5:8).

5. Pray for their perseverance. Ask God to empower them to stand firm to the end, looking to Jesus as their source, strength, and example of faithful service (cf. Heb 12:1-4).”

HUNGARY MISSION TRIP (2019)

For several years now, our church family has partnered with Baptists on Mission to work with local missionaries in Hungary. Our commitment to Nagyhalász, Hungary was solidified when we sent out a Fairview member to work among that people group. Because of our consistent work in the area, God has allowed our teams to lead English Bible Camps in a local school, and we have seen many children and adults repent of their sin and place their faith in Jesus Christ.

God willing, I will travel with a team from our church to teach Bible in the local schools in June-July. I am writing to humbly ask that you would be willing to pray for this endeavor, and consider supporting this mission trip financially. I am trying to raise around $2,000 by the end of May to cover the cost of this mission endeavor. If you feel led to give toward this mission, you can make a check out to:

Fairview Baptist Church

5608 Ten Ten Road, Apex, NC 27539

Put Matt Capps/Hungary in the memo line.

Or, you can give online at fairviewchurch.org/give by giving to the Hungary Trip and placing Matt Capps in the comment section.

Thank you so much for your consideration. I appreciate your prayers as we go to minister among the people in Nagyhalász, Hungary, and provide support to our missionaries in the area.

HOW THE TRINITY SHAPES THE LIFE OF THE CHURCH

An excerpt from my latest article at Credo Magazine:

“British theologian Colin Gunton once argued that one shortfall of modern ecclesiology derives from the fact that it has rarely been rooted in the conception of the Triune God. This observation is worth consideration. I would argue that the unity of the Triune God, even as each member is distinct in his function to accomplish the plan of redemption provides a framework by which we can understand the unity and the mission of the church.

One might even argue that we cannot formulate a proper ecclesiology without reference to the doctrine of the Triune God. For the purpose of this article, I will utilize three of the primary New Testament metaphors for the church, namely, the people of God, the body of Jesus Christ, and the temple of the Holy Spirit, to build a framework for a Trinitarian ecclesiology. Perhaps a more comprehensive understanding of how the doctrine of the Trinity informs our ecclesiology might nourish a more holistic understanding in at least two particular areas, namely, the unity and mission of the church.”

Click here to read the whole thing.

GOSPEL UNITY OVER CULTURAL UNIFORMITY (GALATIANS 2:1-10)

This sermon was preached at Fairview Baptist Church on January 20, 2019. To view the entire series on Galatians, click here.

PAUL THE EVANGELIST (GALATIANS 1:10-24)

This is the second sermon in a series on Galatians preached at Fairview Baptist Church. To listen to the entire series, visit this page.

THE GOSPEL OF GRACE AND PEACE (GALATIANS 1:1-9)

The first sermon in a series on Galatians at Fairview Baptist Church in Apex, NC.

MY SERMON PREPARATION PROCESS

Preparing a sermon week after week is a lot of work. Preaching a sermon week after week is also a pure joy. This past week I posted pictures of my sermon preparation process on Twitter, and several pastors and church leaders commented that it was helpful for them. I figured I would publish this blog post with a little explanation for each step.

Step 1: Examine The Text Itself

Initial

I typically plan my sermon text weeks or months ahead of time. This not only helps me plan and prepare adequately, it also allows our pastor for worship plan the entire service in light of the text.

Very early in the week I will prayerfully and attentively read the text several times, and ask questions of the text. I look for repeated words. I look for phrases or statements that need clarification or seemed to be emphasized by the writer. During this step, I typically use resources in the original languages in a very specific way, namely, to dig deeper on certain words or illuminate my understanding of certain phrases in the passage. My main goal is to understand what the text says as best I can.

Step 2: Divide The Text Into Units And Dig Deeper 

Divide

Usually, the English translations of the Bible have helpful paragraph divisions that allow us to understand units of thoughts or movement in the narrative. Are there specific scenes or rational arguments that move the reader from point A to point B? If so, that is an indication of how one might break the sermon up into points? Commentaries are helpful at this step. The biblical scholars who write commentaries typically show how the text unit is divided in a literary sense.

At this step, I also read certain portions or commentaries in order to shape the language I use to explain the text. As for the use of commentaries, I try and read several scholarly hermeneutical commentaries, application-focused homiletical commentaries, and books related to the text or topic.

Step 3: Articulate The Main Point And The Subpoints Of The Sermon

Outline

I like to have the sermon outlined by Wednesday if possible. Not only does this lock me into a sermon structure, it also allows me to send the outline to the AV Team in order to produce the sermon points for Sunday as well as the Kids Director to produce the Kids Listening Guides.

The main point of the sermon is a sentence that I repeat several times throughout the sermon. In other words, when someone leaves after hearing the sermon – my goal is to have this point seared into their minds and hearts. The subpoints either serve as support of the main point or simply indicate movement in the narrative or argument of the text.

Step 4: Develop The Applications and Illustrations Of Each Subpoint

Application

This past week, I used the application grid that has been produced by Mark Dever of 9 Marks Ministries. What I like about this application grid is that it forces me, as the preacher, to apply the text to the different groups of people that may be in the room.

For many pastors, application and illustration are the most difficult parts of sermon preparation. This portion of sermon preparation requires that you try and anticipate, as best you can, the thoughts, questions, struggles, and needs of your listeners. At this point, my goal is to press in and pray that God would provide conviction, comfort, or confidence in the listener.

I have also found it helpful to read or listen to living trusted preachers throughout the week while walking, driving or working in the yard. Often times, God uses other brothers to help clarify the explanation of the text or shape my own applications or illustrations.

Step 5: Write The Sermon In Its Entirety

I preach from a manuscript. This allows me to remain extremely focused as I preach. Therefore, I begin with my outline, and then work to clarify my explanation of the text. After these sections of the sermon are filled in, I then go back in and add the applications and illustrations. I do all of this, making sure that I restate the main point of the sermon in each section.

The last stage of preparation before printing and delivering the sermon is adding the introduction and conclusion. It is only after the completion of the body of the sermon that I am prepared to frame the sermon with initial and concluding thoughts. As an expository and theological preacher, my goal is to walk people through the biblical text in order that God’s word can be clearly understood. Where the Word of God is properly taught; when the Spirit of God opens the heart; the voice of God is properly heard.

I always ask, how many times will people hear the good news of the gospel during the service in its entirety? How many times will I proclaim the gospel and call for a response during my sermon? Could my sermon be preached as is, if Jesus did not rise from the grave? If not, my sermon is not distinctively Christian.

Step 6: Print And Preach

Sermon

Once again, I write all of my sermons in manuscript/bullet point form. I typically shoot for 8-10 pages in size 12 font. When I print the sermon, I print it horizontally with two columns. This allows me to fold each page in half and punch holes for a 5-1/2 x 8-1/2 binder. I own one of these genuine leather sermon notebooks, and I love it.

Finally, before I preach, I humbly realize that all of my efforts are feeble unless God opens the hearts of the hearers under my voice. While I pray for clarity of thought and sensitivity to the Spirit throughout the preparation process, before the moment of preaching I pray that everyone within the sound of my voice will understand the text clearly, and be sensitive to the Spirit as He calls them to respond.

I am certainly no expert in preaching or sermon preparation. However, I have found this process helpful in the weekly ministry of preaching. Hopefully, you have found something here helpful. We all have our patterns and practices. If you are a pastor, how do you prepare? I would love to learn from you as well.

Here is the video of this particular sermon at Fairview Baptist Church in Apex, NC.