Reformed Baptist Fellowship

A Practical, Practical Work

In Reformed Baptist Fellowship on September 22, 2009 at 5:57 pm

One of the greatest tests for one’s theology is how well it survives the simple application to the everyday Christian life, and how it works in the ministry of the elders in the congregation. Most books today that are “practical” are theologically abhorrent; and not many that are theologically accurate bridge the gap to the practical application in every day life. Since we Reformed folks are often accused of being imbalanced, preferring our books on theology to the real-life work of pastoral ministry, allow me to recommend a work from the past, put back into print by our friends at Solid Ground Christian Books.

Ichabod Spencer would have to use a pen name today, I do believe. I really doubt many publishers would want him using “Ichabod.” But he likewise would find it hard to get published at all, since his theology is not “politically correct” today. But if you wish to read practical, pastoral application of passionate theology, Spencer’s A Pastor’s Sketches is what you want to get. If you have ever wondered, “How do I apply this wonderful theology in directing men and women to Christ?” this resource will aid you greatly. I highly recommend it.

James White
Phoenix Reformed Baptist Church
  1. Oh, that God would give us such pastors who are true shepherds to their flocks! In our day and time shepherding is done more from the pulpit and not among the pews and in the homes. As the Puritans used to stress, the shepherd needs to get out there and “feel the fleece.” Mr. Spencer did this; Richard Baxter did this. Most of the Puritans were given to such shepherding. Very few do this in our day. I would have to say that in 33 years of walking with Christ (and membership among three churches), I have had only one pastor (of a total of 8) who I would describe as this kind of shepherd.

    The electronic age we live in has only exacerbated the lack of hands-on shepherding. How easy it is to take a shot-gun approach to shepherding through mass emails and blog entries.

    Thank you, Mr. White, for this recommendation. I would go beyond simply recommending it for pastoral reading. I would recommend that this type of shepherding be implemented in all of its practical application. To merely read this only would give validity to the accusation Mr. White mentioned above: “…we Reformed folks are…preferring our books on theology to the real-life work of pastoral ministry…”

    For the sake of the gospel you preach; for the sake of the ministry to which you were called and gifted; for the sake of the sheep under your care; for the sake of the blood Jesus shed for those sheep; for the sake of the shortness of our remaining time on this earth, “shepherd the church of God.”

    I pray that God will grant all of you men a burden and desire for this hard work and the grace and strength needed to actually do it.

  2. After reading both volumes of Spencer’s superlative work, I gave in to the temptation on numerous occasions to direct Christians to them as “necessary” or “required” reading. Of course, aside from Scripture, there is technically no such thing, but if ever there were, these books would be among the highest qualified for the list. I find it difficult to believe that a study of Spencer’s methods and approach to evangelism and discipleship would not instruct pastors of all levels in principles that transcend the differences between his context and our own. There is so much rare and subtle wisdom which he gleaned from his experiences (which included times of historic revival), his approach is so humble and tender, his mind so keen and penetrating, that I have not as yet discovered a work to rival his instructive illustrations of a most beautiful and, as Mr. White put it, a doubly practical ministry. Spencer is a pure joy and worthy of many readings.

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