The Pastor as a GP

“A pastor is by definition something akin to a GP (a “general practitioner”). He is not a specialist in, say, divorce and remarriage, missions history, cultural commentary, or particular periods of church history. Yet most pastors will have to develop competent introductory knowledge in all these areas as part of his application of the Word of God to the people around him. And that means he is obligated to devote some time each year to reading in broad areas.” – D.A. Carson

Book Overviews

Similar to sermon starters, book overviews are helpful in preaching/teaching:

  • Help Me Teach the Bible with Nancy Guthrie – “Nancy Guthrie talks to some of the best Bible teachers and preachers of our day in hopes of equipping … anyone who seeks to open up the Bible and teach—to rightly, effectively, and creatively teach through specific books of the Bible.
  • The Bible Project – Short video summaries of many books of the Bible plus theme videos.
  • The Overview Bible Project – Short summaries of each book of the Bible.
  • Talk Through the Bible – “an easy-to-use handbook that summarizes each book of the Bible with at-a-glance charts, illustrations, and outlines”
  • How to Read the Bible through the Jesus Lens: A Guide to Christ-Focused Reading of Scripture – “connects each of the sixty-six books of the Bible to the person and work of Jesus Christ. By explaining each book’s theme and raising pertinent questions about the contemporary importance of that message, author Michael Williams sets readers on a path toward purposeful, independent reading and application of the entire Bible.”
  • Clarifying the Bible – I’ve heard good things about this video overview of the Bible.

Sermon Starters

In addition to prayerful working with a text and reading helpful commentaries, sometimes short expositions of a text – with an aim toward preaching or teaching it – are helpful just to get an angle or idea for communicating a text.

Thus, here are a few “sermon starters”:

  • The Text This Week – “This site features a wide variety of resources for study and liturgy based on the 3-year Revised Common Lectionary cycle.”
  • Sermon Starters – Short commentary on the lectionary reading
  • 5 Minutes of Bible Exposition – Audio podcast
  • Working Preacher – “[H]ere to inspire better preaching by offering timely, compelling, and trustworthy content for working preachers”
  • Look at the Book with John Piper – “Look at the Book is an online method of teaching the Bible. It’s an ongoing series of 8–12 minute videos in which the camera is on the text, not the teacher. You will hear John Piper’s voice and watch his pen underline, circle, make connections, and scribble notes — all to help you learn to read God’s word for yourself. His goal is to help you not only see what he sees, but where he sees it and how he found it.”

Keller on Church Planting

From Tim Keller’s Why Plant Churches [PDF]:

The vigorous, continual planting of new congregations is the single most crucial strategy for 1) the numerical growth of the Body of Christ in any city, and 2) the continual corporate renewal and revival of the existing churches in a city. Nothing else–not crusades, outreach programs, para-church ministries, growing mega-churches, congregational consulting, nor church renewal processes–will have the consistent impact of dynamic, extensive church planting. This is an eyebrow raising statement. But to those who have done any study at all, it is not even controversial.

(bold mine)

Helpful article which responds to church planting objections and has some eye-opening stats such as:

Dozens of denominational studies have confirmed that the average new church gains most of its new members (60-80%) from the ranks of people who are not attending any worshipping body, while churches over 10-15 years of age gain 80-90% of new members by transfer from other congregations. This means that the average new congregation will bring 6-8 times more new people into the life of the Body of Christ than an older congregation of the same size.

The stats and story in Appendix A are noteworthy as well.

Sabbatical Summary (so far)


We are guests, but not tourists.

Every other time I’ve been to Asia, I was a tourist. Meals were provided, language was translated, and the best was shown.

This time, we procure meals, struggle with language, and see more.