How do you help people in your church experience Grace?

FROM Kyle Idleman

We are learning to be more intentional with vulnerability. For a long time,
the church leadership world emphasized authenticity, which is good, but
vulnerability takes that a little bit further. The power of God's grace can
be unlocked through our vulnerable moments, when we're willing to talk about
our struggles, doubts, challenges, and fears. That's part of what Paul is
talking about in 2 Corinthians: when he is weak, God's grace is shown to be
powerful. So vulnerability is a core value that we intentionally celebrate.
How does vulnerability differ from authenticity?
Two years ago, I had an opportunity to preach about a struggle I'd been
having. At the time, I was emotionally spent. I was on edge. During an
argument with my wife, I lost my temper and punched a hole in the door of
her closet. We covered it with a mirror, and I forgot about it. Sometime
later, the mirror fell and shattered, uncovering this hole I'd tried to
cover up. When I got up to preach that weekend, I told that story. After the
sermon, I had a line of people ready to tell me stories of the holes in
their doors and walls.
Vulnerability is being honest about our struggles. It's more specific than
authenticity. You can be authentic without being vulnerable. Authenticity is
no longer pretending, but vulnerability is revealing.

Pray for Rain

Knysna residents are acutely aware of the present drought and the devastation and despair it can bring. This past weekend we had the privilege of praying for rain with other Christians from the community, that the Lord of Creation and Grace would spare us. 

Theri and Jacques of Red Barn are one family of many who have seen dams and reservoirs run dry. On Sunday they requested Christians to come and pray with them at their farm in Rheenendal. It was a simple and honest time before the Lord, knowing that only by the sacrifice of Jesus have we got access to the throne of God- and we pleaded with Him on their behalf. Jesus Christ is Sovereign and He is Good, and for this reason we prayed with confidence.
Knysna Baptist also managed to donate 5kl of water, delivered to their farm by the municipality. We are grateful that when one part of the body lacks, another part can supply its need.
Please continue to pray not only for rain, but the people who are so affected by the drought.

Fifteen Things Pastors Need to Stop Right Now

Claude refers to on an article by Brandon Hilgeman (Outreach magazine): the points vary in relevance to any one pastor, but make up a good check list.


1.  Stop pretending you are perfect.

Jesus is perfect. You aren’t. Let us see your humanity. Share your mistakes with us. It gives us hope to know that even the pastor doesn’t always get it right. It also gives us the courage to be honest about our faults, too.


2. Stop emotionally and spiritually abusing your staff.

Although some elements of the church are like a business, church staff should not be treated just like employees. They are family. They aren’t perfect, but you need to love them anyway.

When you hurt them, you hurt God’s family. I know far too many pastors who need therapy after the wounds of working for a bad boss.


3. Stop hiding your secret addiction. 

When we find out (not if, but when), it will ruin your ministry, devastate your family and place another black mark on the church. 

Don’t be another example that people point to when they call Christians a bunch of hypocrites. Get help now.


4. Stop skipping your time with God. 

Lack of time with God is the quickest way for you to dry up spiritually. Your responsibility as a pastor is first and foremost to have a strong personal relationship with God. 

Prayer and Bible reading are not a waste of time. It’s the most productive thing you will do all day.


5. Stop talking about your “smoking hot wife.”

It’s great that you love your wife. But talk about how beautiful she is on the inside, too. Praise her godly character. 

I don’t want my daughter growing up hearing you imply that attractiveness is all that matters in a woman. She gets too much of that from the rest of the world already.


6. Stop thinking you are the reason for your church’s success.

Check your ego. Good pastors rightfully give God the glory for the fruit of ministry. It’s all because of him. You are just a tool in God’s mighty hand.


7. Stop comparing yourself to other pastors. 

Comparison is a loser’s game. You’ll either sin by taking pride in how much greater you are, or you’ll sin by coveting what they have. You can’t win. You can’t win with comparison.


8. Stop sacrificing your family in the name of doing “ministry.” 

Your first job is to pastor your family well. Your degree of busyness is not a badge of honor, especially when it keeps you from being present for your family. 

Working too much is a sign that you may be a workaholic and are likely doing a poor job of equipping the church for helping the work of ministry (Ephesians 4:11-12).


9. Stop reading business books more than your Bible. 

Yes, there are a lot of parallels to leading a church and leading a business. I love a good leadership book as much as anyone else. But if you are spending far more time with secular books than the Bible, you have a problem. The Scriptures hold all the leadership principles you need.


10. Stop wasting the church’s tithe money on wasteful expenses. 

Did you need to go to that expensive restaurant on the church’s dime? Was that shiny new gadget the best way to invest God’s money? Mishandling the church’s money doesn’t just apply to pastors with mansions and private jets. Be a good steward of every penny that God has entrusted to you.


11. Stop pointless mission trips. 

Why do we keep spending thousands of dollars to send a few people on a mission trip for a week? Is that really the wisest way to invest in God’s kingdom? 

What if you used that money instead to fund the local pastors and missionaries to reach their community year-round?


12. Stop saying your church is going to “reach the world.” 

The “big C” church will reach the world, but not just your church. God’s redemptive plan is far greater than any lone congregation. Teach people to think bigger about the church than just your gathering.


13. Stop preaching anything but the Bible. 

Opinions are like feet; everyone has them, and sometimes they stink. We don’t need your opinions. We need God’s. Tell us what he says. In the end, what He thinks is all that matters.


14. Stop preaching other pastors’ sermons without giving them credit.

That’s called plagiarism. It’s illegal. Don’t do it.


15. Stop doing selfish service.



What Christianity in China Is Really Like

Claude reports on an article by Colin Clark.

The issue in China is the lack of trust between government and believers who know how quickly rules can change, leaving you high and dry. The core concern of the authorities is foreign and subversive elements forming disruptive, dangerous movements – so they insist on whatever religion is practised, is done transparently and with no foreign influence. This results in a very mixed outcome for churches.

The following quote says it well:

First, a disclaimer. I can’t tell you what anything in China is really like—that is, unless we’re comfortable with saying it’s like a bunch of contradictory things all at the same time. A faithful and honest description of Chinese Christianity will be nuanced and somewhat paradoxical, not definitive and one-sided. Joann Pittman wrote an extremely helpful article that should be required reading for anyone visiting or discussing China. In some places and at some times China is one thing, while at other places and times it’s the opposite.

When asked if China is like this or that, the answer is almost always “Yes.” In fact, it’s easy to spot a China rookie: They’re the ones who confidently begin, “The church across China looks like ______,” “All Chinese Christians believe ______,” “Ministry in China is always ______,” or “The government’s attitude toward Chinese Christians is ______.”


So the goal of understanding what China is really like must be tempered. Or at least approached in a way that allows for ambiguity and recognizes the enigma of the subject. Toward that goal and in that spirit, here are five things helpful to understand about the church landscape in China.


Bible donation received!

We are so thankful to the Bible Society of SA who generously arranged these ESV Global study bibles for some of our international members who have been struggling to follow my sermons in their Bibles.

I have adopted the ESV as my default preaching translation as I feel it has the best balance of accuracy to and contemporary language. But for 2nd language listeners, following in another English version is very difficult!
The Bible Society very graciously provided these particular members with the ESV World Study Bible. This is the same as the freely available online and mobile app ESV version.
May the Lord bless the society and these members as they grow deeper in their knowledge of the Saviour, Jesus Christ. 

“Hate Crimes and Hate Speech” bill – Response

Knysna Baptist have submitted the following appeal to the Justice Department of SA. Submissions were invited by the department in response to their proposed bill. The original bill as proposed can be found here:

Our response is attached below. Essentially, the central content is:

We would like to thank the Department of Justice for taking steps to reign in hate crimes and hate speech in our beloved country.

Please consider the following QUALIFIER which certainly applies to such legislation, and which we earnestly request is included under section 4.1. (or at least with other wording to the same effect).

“It shall not be construed as Hate Speech if objective public and private discussion is held about the factual issues concerning any of the above matters, and the extent to which private or public practice by persons engaged in religious, social, sexual or remedial measures is healthy, advisable, desirable or commendable. The fact that persons so engaged may feel offended by such discussion shall not be a valid reason for classifying it as Hate Speech.”

We think this paragraph speaks for itself. Our concern is that people who hold different views on issue like sexual practices and religious convictions could be accused of hate speech or hate crimes unjustly without this proviso.

On behalf of the Executive of Knysna Baptist Church, a member of the Baptist Union of South Africa.

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A C T 2016 Day 3

The 3rd and final day of our Alumni Come-Together began with an early breakfast, so that the delgates could check-out from the lodge and arrive at Christ Baptist Church, Polokwane, for corporate worship and the final sermon from Anthony Kidd.

Before we checked out, we had a great opportunity to connect around our breakfast table with the Beakleys, Buchan-Smiths (served as missionaries for 15 years before studying at CS, now serving at Midrand Chapel) and Stephan (personal friend and student, serving at Mondeor). We grappled with the issue of NT ‘prophecy’, versus NT ‘impression’ (this relates to the question of authoritative divine revelation and whether it is legitimate today for someone to say, “Thus says the LORD” apart from scripture). We also reflected on questions of the Trinity, and some new academia concerning the ‘human soul of Christ’. A very enriching time indeed.

Back in Polokwane, we enjoyed yet another time of worship, and Anthony shared from Hebrew 12 a very compelling message to persevere and complete our Christian ‘race’. Notes here: Why Keep Running

2 cows had been slaughtered and the entire church and all the delegates were urged to stay after the service to enjoy the braai. Jacqui and I met up with some old friends again, and caught up on the last 8 years.

The weekend has been well worth the journey. The driving was not easy. But we’re very glad we came and very grateful to Christ Seminary for the entire program. They are showing no sign of slowing down or losing traction – they continue to be an amazing ministry.


Photo’s can be found here

A C T 2016 Day 2

The day began with a powerful prayer meeting from 7 to 8 – the key word of what to pray for being transformation (2Cor3-4): focusing on the preaching we were to receive this day, ourselves, and our ministries back home. After a devotional challenge read from Colossians 4 (‘the village of pastors’), we moved into groups of 5 and spent time agreeing with each others’ prayers to the Lord for His help.

Breakfast was a full buffet and we caught up over the meal with Andrew and Dorcas from Christ Baptist, and made new acquaintances with folk from Jhb and Pretoria. We discussed the state of the universities in SA, the role of the BU and other affiliations, children, property, ministry in Knysna and probably a dozen other topics.

The morning session was excellent. Anthony clearly demonstrated the need for every minister to with fear and trembling, preach the Christ-centred gospel always, and not be tempted to convince people through clever philosophy or other methods – so that the power of God may be seen and people’s faith will rest on Him alone. The notes can be found here: Power in Weakness

The bonus giveaway this morning was a counselling handbook, written by Joel James of Grace Fellowship in Pretoria: a topical handbook for dealing with various counselling scenarios.

The organisers also got us to wear our new jackets and herded us together for a group photo, and then with our spouses.

The afternoon session split the men from the women, who studied the qualifications of elders as a means to see how they could support their husbands to be the best elders they could be. E.g. How could they help him to be a hospitable elder? (By helping make the home welcoming to strangers) Or how can they help him to be a gentle elder? (By not adding fuel to the fire when he feels upset about something in the ministry). The men on the other hand were taught by Anthony from 1 Peter 5 – The duty of Shepherding. Again, another great message, the notes of which can be found here. Pastoring – Shepherding

Afterwards, over tea and coffee I met up with some pastors I had done village ministry for when we lived in Polokwane. Both of them have lived through very stressful and disappointing circumstances, on financial and family fronts.

The rest of the time before supper was spent with Dave Beakley, Johann Odendaal and 2 other graduates talking about the relation of white to black churches, and the problems and principles to guide us. This was a very informative time, and we came away agreeing that

  • these partnerships can only be successful if they begin in genuine Christian friendship, apart from any hope or promise of benefit to one or the other.
  • we cannot only invest in churches across the cultural line who worship like we do, or have the same philosophy of ministry. Otherwise we’d probably find no church to invest in.
  • The negotiables and non-negotiables of the ministry we partner with should be grappled within the leadership – theological lines, philosophical lines, cultural lines. Essentially, it will only be through friendship that we really become convinced of the true Christian  identity of the other church. Theological ‘positions’ are important, but a position is very different from a true conviction. If we engage over deep Christian convictions on the Person and Work of Christ and the Gospel we will more easily discern what is behind their desire to partner.
  • It can be patronising to black churches to say, ‘we’ll only partner if you agree to get theological training’ or some other help. It indicates to them that they are inferior and need to be raised to our level, which of course is a very destructive notion, and void of humility. Rather through genuine interest in their ministry accompanied by regular personal or corporate connection will reveal the  truth about what’s really behind the relationship.

Over a buffet supper, we had a sad discussion about a graduate who has left the Way and is following a self-proclaimed prophet. He hardly refers to Jesus, and as his close friend relayed to us, if he does, it’s a different Jesus and a different gospel. It appears the driving motivation behind this change is the frustration with struggling financially. This prosperity prophet has offered him his heart’s desire. And when challenged or corrected by his friends from Seminary, he only laughs it off. It is amazing how someone so seemingly genuine has become an exact illustration of 1 Tim 6, that the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. And that those who seek to be rich, plunge themselves into many harmful desires and destruction. A sobering conversation.

The final session with Anthony was opened with worship in song, as usual, but the roof really lifted off when an African song was sung – the words of which were translated for us to read on the overhead. The song looks to Jesus for the answers and help in impossible situations, and rejoices that He has made the way, and that ultimately one day we will be taken up into Heaven where no more trouble is. A very true and appropriate song for many of these struggling African pastors.

Anthony preached from 2 Tim 3-4, “Stay in the Word”, the notes of which can be found here: Stay in the Word Again, an excellent message. These messages will be made available to us in audio format.


Click Here

A C T 2016 Day 1

Today saw the opening of the Annual Get-Together for the Christ Seminary Alumni. What makes this year special is that we celebrate 20 years of their existence. For this reason, the Seminary staff went out of their way to treat the pastors and their wives as a way of encouraging them; letting them know that they are not alone – graduating from seminary doesn’t leave them disconnected and lost.

They outdid themselves, and the Lord graciously provided beyond expectation. The venue is Protea Hotel The Ranch in Polokwane. 2 weeks ago the planned accommodation become unavailable, but what was thought to be a disaster resulted in the organisers finding this gem, which normally would’ve been at double the cost.

The program is simple (messages, meals, and respite) as is the goal: to bless the pastors. And truly it has been.

Long lost class mates reunited and caught up. Lecturers received us with gladness.

The guest speaker is Anthony Kidd, senior pastor at Community of Faith Bible Church in LA, USA. He is a humble and passionate man, and preaches the Word accurately but simply. The 2 messages from the Day 1 were, “The Man God Uses” from Isaiah 6 and “The Word God Uses” from Psalm 19. Both messages were great encouragement to be Christ centered and Word based. Some notes from the sessions can be found here: Session 1, Session 2

As a generous surprise, every attending graduate received a Christ Seminary polar fleece jacket.

Photo’s Here