Reformed Baptist Fellowship

Ordinary Pastors

In Reformed Baptist Fellowship on June 17, 2011 at 6:30 am

“Most pastors will not regularly preach to thousands, let alone tens of thousands. They will not write influential books, they will not supervise large staffs, and they will never see more than modest growth. They will plug away at their care for the aged, at their visitation, at their counseling, at their Bible studies, and preaching…Most of us—let us be frank—are ordinary pastors.” –D.A. Carson, Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor

  1. One identifiable characteristic of true ministers of God’s Word is that they are not “celebrated” by the carnal masses of the modern Babylonian-type cultures of contemporary Western societies and their wayward churches-nor do they wish to be. These men of God view any adoration of themselves that diverts from the glory of Christ alone, and sufficiency in Christ alone, as a form of idolatry.

    John Ulics
    Reformed Baptist Church of Edgewater, FL
    (A New Church Plant)

  2. What would we do with these ordinary pastors. One of the reasons I loove a small church. You get to know your pastor, you get to know the people. You recognize visitors. There is real fellowship. I appreciate pastors who write books, etc. They have a work in God’s kingdom but so do the ordinary pastors. I don’t think mine is so ordinary. He is special.

  3. While agreeing with the sentiment, I would caution John, and the rest of us, from turning something that should lead to humility into an occasion for pride and combativeness.

  4. To John Ulics:

    We are to rejoice in everything that is good and, therefore, we are to celebrate those popular pastors who are faithful.

    There seems to be many popular preachers today that are very solid and I am glad for their popularity.


  5. Trevor I am puzzled by your post to John. The one does not seem to follow the other. Do you really believe there are many preachers who are popular with “the carnal masses of the modern Babylonian-type cultures of contemporary Western” that we should embrace?

  6. At first reading I would have to reject John’s assesment of ‘the carnal masses…” as seeming to refer to any group of believers that was larger than the group he sees himself identified with. We are too quick to make such sweeping statements. Are the 7,000 attendees of the T4G conferences part of “the carnal masses?” They certainl number more than any assembly of Reformed Baptist in our lifetime. Trevor has seem to sould a well placed note; just because a pastor is popular with a wider range of evangelical hearers does not mean that he is playing to the “carnal masses.”

  7. Really, is John’s statement so hard to understand? Yes, you can get a group of genuine Christians together to hear some “Rock star” preachers (who are also genuine in their faith). Fine. But are you going to ignore that the largest church in America is led by a man that does not preach the gospel? Will you excuse the “cussing preacher” just because his church is large? Is it easy for you to accept that both Liberal protestant and Roman Catholic churches read and embrace a life that is “Purpose Driven”?
    Here is a suggestion, let’s all reread DA Carson’s post again.

  8. David, I’ve read Dr Carson’s book carefully, In fact, I’ve discussed it with him personally. If Dr Carson was adamant about not appearing on the platform with ‘Rock Star preachers’ then he would absent himself from future Gospel Coalition conferences, something that I doubt he will do. In 40 plus years of being a Christian, first as part of Fundamental christianity (MA from the Worlds’s Most Unusual University), and since 1970 being immersed in all phases of Reformed Baptist life, I’m weary of men who can quickly find fault with brethren (yes I consider MD and RW brethren, don’t you?) Thier fault finding often appears to be an effort to bolster their own spirits and self esteem because ‘they are faithful in SMALL things’ rather than praise God for the preaching of the gospel that WILL convert souls. If you’re called to pastor 5 families, God bless you as you do so faithfully. But don’t take cheap shots at other brethren who may be given a wider ministry. Question, was my pastor more faithful when he ministered to 7 family’s meeting in a cinder block building located down a rural road than he is mistering to 100+ families in a beautiful building strategically located in town?

  9. David is your argument with what I have written or with what DAC wrote? As to your pastor’s faithfulness, how could anyone possibly answer that? This is the point of the blog. Size can NOT be the measure (small or large). It is the particular temptation of American Evangelicalism to equate LARGE with SUCCESS. That is the American way – right?

    Are you (and others) simply wanting to say that there large churches that are faithful? Well of course there are. There is an RB church here in the Buckeye state that is now forced to go to two services, and I know that the pastor and the church have remained faithful to Christ and the gospel. I know of large Arminian churches that have refused to compromise the gospel (their Arminianism notwithstanding).

    Yet, DAC post remains helpful, insightful and true.

  10. David, forgive me if I have missed an obvious point. Did Dr Carson post the comment or was it merely copied from his excellent book? I heard him describe his dad and his ministry with tears in his eyes; I was thankful for the opportunity to thank him for sharing the story. I agree that the overwhelming majority of pastors will labor in the same relative obscurity. That being said, it seems that some in the RB circles want to make the smallness of their field of labor a badge of honor, often casting snide dispersions at men who labor in larger fields. There is no need to do this. I heard the same type of argument being used by men in Fundamentalist circles in the 60’s; ‘we’re small because we alone are faithful.’ A certain Fox news commentator would say to that ‘gimma a break!’

    Thank you for pointing out that there are Arminian churches who have remained faithful in gospel preaching.

    While I believe that the walls surrounding our local church membership must be kept Biblically high, the walls that separate us from other Christians must be so low that no believer ever stumbles over it.

    I do trust your Lord’s Day will be blessed.

  11. I don’t think there’s anything wrong in honoring one’s father, as Dr. Carson did in this book. There’s a difference between honoring and worshiping. I think we should discern the two.

  12. Hey, nothing wrong with a large or small church.

    As long as the small church folks dont think they are more spiritual just being small. And hopefully they are growing spiritually and numerically – that will mean they will have to expand, church plant etc. 🙂

    Posted here just prior to this Sunday’s Membership day. WooHoo, new members, returning members and some baptisms into membership!

    / Pat

  13. The primary reason smaller churches are commonly “more spiritual” is simply the logistical advantage that a Shepherd has when dealing with a small flock versus one which is so large members exist in a “strange” relationship with their Shepherd. Likewise, but besides sheep, there is a specific analog that men have to locusts which is demonstrated in “mob” behavior. When pressed together and friction applied, a certain animal-instinct exerts itself over the normally passive/gentle man/sheep.

    There is a good reason as to why Israel was established as Tribes (families) and run by Judges (fathers). It is both honoring of the form which God bound us to since our fall/awakening, and also honoring of our Greater Hope of True Freedom. High-order mammals similar to us conduct themselves in troops, flocks, packs, and herds, while our spiritual hope is outlined in the Good Judge (Christ) ministering to His Brethren so that they may also become Good Judges (within Christ and Christ within – that is to say, by the Provision of the Great Provider). This is the progress of the Word and the Spirit of the Word from above downward, and also from below upward.

    I have no shame in suggesting that human conduct, on all levels, should ensure that Shepherds actually be able to facilitate the shepherding of the herd. This is the obvious sin of “Empire” and we all know that that tower always falls. It is the course of godly men for meek conduct to be understood and expressed. Otherwise, the population and control of False Shepherds increases and the Wolves will have their way until the field is ripe and the Good Shepherd concludes the harvest.

    – My 2 wild and crazy cents.

  14. David C.,

    The question I had which prompted me to make my brief comment is why did John feel the need to make the comment he did? (perhaps John would care to answer that for us?)

    Does he really believe that there is anyone that frequents this site that would find themselves being celebrated by the “carnal masses of the modern Babylonian-type cultures of contemporary Western societies and their wayward churches” appealing?

    Does he really think that, if there were such a creature, his comment would open their eyes to embrace the truth?

    These questions surely demand a response of “no.”

    So what then?

    Why make a comment such as his in response to, what was intended to be, a kind encouragement to pastors of small churches such as myself?

    I think David S. is getting to the heart of the matter quite well.

  15. Doug,
    It seems that John was touching on the same tenets that I was in my late post.
    I understand why there are many who would defend imperial success. However, such success is similar to finding success in eating contests. While you win, you are still heading in the direction of excess. I used cancer as one example in my reply. Growth without communion is simply cancer. Why glory or even justify such a direction? The distended body that call themselves believers, in our time, is very similar to a sheep growing fat. As it does so, it beckons the master of ceremonies to cut it down and burn the fat as an offering. While I am certainly interested in hastening the ceremony which calls the earth it’s altar, I am more interested in preserving the body for the glory of our Father.

    This topic is difficult and is the reason I find myself often not attending churches in our modern times. Almost every Shepherd that I have sat under is blind to the contrast that the True Children of God are relative to Babylon. How is it that we are sanctified if we conduct ourselves by the same ideologies as animal-men who build towers? Simply because we might agree with them on certain aspects of doctrine? Does logical success equal sanctification? It is certainly related, and the empire is certainly a form of preservation upon the earth, but it is the Children of God who are referred to when it was asked what would happen to the meat if the salt losses it’s saltiness.

    I am not suggesting or arguing, I am stating as a judge that the apparent body of believers is lost in the fat folds of the beast. We must turn ourselves to internal health. The sacrifice is being made ready. What is your part in the ceremony? To stroke and caress the already soft and complacent muscles of the fattened lamb or to fight against the cancer which spoils it? Obviously, Provision is largely about preservation. And as “little” Christs, we should continue such preservation.

    Without condemning any particular group whether by size or doctrine; Consider what the Children of God should “look” like if there were no unbelievers in the world. That same Order and Charity which should drive your imagination should be expressed now in our ideologies and conduct.

    Judges 6:24
    1 John 4:8

    Order without Charity is Pride, and this is the law that pulls down the body of Men known as Empires by auto-immune diseases.
    Charity without Order is Chaos, and this is the law that pulls down the body of Men known as Empires by cancer.

    If we are not set apart, we are overtaken by these sicknesses.
    Obviously this is a sanctification of Spirit and, to a lesser degree, but as importantly, of Body.

    God is OrderCharity beyond compare in this realm. Let us act out from within and not wear the garments and seals of Babylon.


    John, if I lived in your area, I’d visit.
    You have encouraged me. Thank you.

  16. Ah, stupid me. I referred to cancer and arthritis in my reply to another post.
    Sorry about that.

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