Reformed Baptist Fellowship

My New Orange Tie

In Reformed Baptist Fellowship on June 24, 2009 at 9:57 pm

There is a new ministry in town that is really taking off.  I had heard that the pastor held to many truths which I myself hold dear.  They had a Saturday service so I decided to go and check it out for myself.  I found that fundamentally the church was no different from mine.  The pastor even sort of looked like me and preached a sermon very similar to the kinds of messages I preach.  The big difference was that there were many more people, maybe four or five times the size of the congregation which I pastor.

What could be the difference I wondered?  Why are he and his church attracting so many more people than my ministry?

Then I noticed it.  He was wearing an orange tie! In all my years I have never worn one.  I later found out that he wears it quite often.  It’s the only possible explanation for the difference.  I have gone online and ordered my own orange tie.  I can’t wait to see the difference that it will make!

Are you still with me?   Have I left you scratching your head again?  Have you ever been tempted to find, isolate, package, and imitate the one thing or other that you deem makes a man’s ministry prosper?  Surely there has to be some secret?  There has to be something he is doing that I am not?  It’s the music, it’s his clothes, it’s his striking good looks, it’s the building, the programs, etc.  If only I do what he does then I will have the same impact!  Sounds logical, doesn’t it?  It is interesting to note that when Spurgeon trained men for the ministry, they went and planted churches or pastored churches very much modeled on the Tabernacle.  Do you know what happened?  Not one of these men had the same impact.   Do you know what has happened to the hundreds of men who have passed through the seminary associated with John MacArthur’s church?   You guessed it, not one has had the same success.  The same is true of men like John Piper and dozens of Acts 29 churches.   If men are doing good work, then they are worthy of imitation regardless of their external results.  If they are godly, be like them.  If they challenge you with their lives of holiness or prayer, by all means follow!  If they are preaching the word—imitate them. If they cause you to be passionate about the gospel, imitate them.   But there is no orange tie that we can wear that will do the trick!  Now if you’ll excuse me, I’d better get online and cancel that order!

Jim Savastio
Reformed Baptist Church of Louisville
  1. Brother Savastio, my wife and I have been in pastoral and mission ministry on and off for over forty years. Even here in our rather unsophisticated Canadian church environment we have pretty well seen it all of one kind or another in terms of what men feel is or is not the ministry of the Word in a what many refer to as “New Testament church”. In the Fellowship of Evangelical Baptists that I was ordained in, all the latest “tricks of the trade” have been tried to achieve success in ministry. To be sure the numbers have often gone as they say “through the roof”, and sometimes not. The tragic thing is, and this is more often true than not, though the crowds come in the Biblical knowledge of the people dips badly. It usually ends up as David Wells as so sagely put it in one of his new books, they “church the unchurched, but unchurch the churched”. The spiritual malignity that follows is one of the low water marks of modern day ecclesiology. Each time I see this occur, and it occurs often, I am reminded of a simple little clause that the Lord Jesus spoke to the big, bold and often too brash Peter, “… I will build MY church…”. Isn’t it glorious that it’s His church for He never fails. When we take ownership that isn’t ours, it fails every time.

  2. Dear Jim,
    I appreciated your piece on the “orange tie.” You approach the same subject as Steve did on this same blog. However, you are approaching it from a different though not contradictory direction. I commented on Steve’s piece and will attempt to not repeat myself here.

    I would add one perspective to your mentioning that preachers have seldom achieved the similar results as their mentors. I am reminded of a certain London preacher who used to pray for Spurgeon’s ministry as he saw droves of folks passing his church every Sunday morning on the way to Mr. Spurgeon’s. the measure of our success is obedience, and as the old hymn puts it, we must be content to fill a little space if God be glorified.

    There is a certain degree of flattery in imitation. However, God forbid that a particular church become the model of what a Reformed Baptist church should of necessity look like. Of course, there are basics which must remain the same. But God help us from turning one man’s vision into anotehr man’s program. Let us pray that the Spirit would do a fresh work in each of our churches.

    Trusting Him,

    George Seevers

  3. Jim,

    Another great word. God’s given you a good blend of practical wisdom and wit. You’ve got to put all your post together in a nicely edited book.

    Gratefully yours,
    Bob Gonzales

  4. Jim

    Love it brother, great stuff. My years in N.Ireland and now in California have driven it home to me.

    Paul reminds us does he not that it is the Lord who takes the increase…..

    Whether N.Ireland, KY, CA, China or Africa the Lord omnipotent reigns and He does what He wills. We must continue to be faithful and desire to be fruitful knowing that what is accomplished is ultimately all by His grace.

  5. Interesting that your article and Pastor Marquedant’s have similar truth to bring home that the work is of the Lord, not men. However, that being said, did not the Apostle himself even say something like ” *follow me*, as I follow Christ”? Did he not say we should be imitators of him?

    From the other side, sure there is no “gimmick” like an orange tie.. I don’t want to put words in your mouth — add to your article, but since you mentioned specific ministries, were you implying that say Acts29 churches have a tendency to think they will be successful because they do the “gimmicks” of Driscoll and that group do?

    Sure, all the churches patterned after Spurgeon would not see the great move of the Holy Spirit that CHS did… that’s up to God. However, wouldn’t it be great if they did all the good and Biblical things he did, even knowing it would never reach the same outward numbers? Same way with Acts29 or those churches by men who pattern their ministry after John MacArthur’s success.

    You do know that men that went to the Ministerial Academy, guess who they preach like? Exactly like Al Martin. Yet those men will never have the same impact that he has had. But praise the Lord that there are works like JM, or Acts29 or Al Martin, correct?

    Don’t you think the ones following in the footsteps of some really great examples.. that they are not really looking for an orange tie, but honestly believe that the John MacArthurs, RC Sprouls, Al Martins and Driscolls are doing what the Bible says should be done, and therefore are just following the Biblical admonition to follow them as they have faithfully followed Christ?

    God Bless, Pat

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