New Items Posted

As I continue to post previously published materials to this website, I have added the following.

1.  I have added an Evangelical Theological Society (1995) presentation that was subsequently published in The Journal of the American Society for Church Growth in the Spring of 1997.  It is entitled Numerical Growth in the Theology of Acts: Pragmatism, Reason and Rhetoric.  The first half of the article demonstrates–at least to my satisfaction–that Luke’s emphasis on numbers and growth in the early part of Acts is a fulfillment motif.  Just as God multiplied the creation through Adam and Eve, and multiplied Israel as his redeemed people, so he mulitplied the church. The second half of the article looks at Paul’s sermon for the philosophers in Acts 17 on Mars Hill. Paul’s sermon illustrates how he used contemporary tools and methods (including rhetoric) to present the gospel. The church, in its missionary outreach, must effectively use the tools and gifts God gives it to communicate the gospel, and especially those gifts and tools that participate and connect with culture.

2.  I have added a presentation given at the 1995 Harding University Graduate School of Religion Preacher’s Forum that was subsequently published in Building a Healthy Minister’s Family (Nashville: Gospel Advocate, 1996), pp. 51-74.  My article is entitled Sexual Ethics in Ministry. The article is divided into three sections:  (1) Conviction: A Theology of Sex; (2) Commitment: A Sexually Healthy Marriage; and (3) Circumspection: Sexual Sensitivity. 

In particular, William Arnold (Pastoral Responses to Sexual Issues [Louisville:John Knox Press, 1993], 48-52) suggests five boundaries for ministers which must never be crossed. If we cross any one of them, we ought to step back from that relationship and reflect on God’s story again. If we cross them, we need to renew our covenant with our spouses and redouble our commitment to those boundaries. First, there is the boundary of “space.” We must be careful where we meet with a congregant. The place will signal certain messages. There is a vast difference, for example, between meeting in the minister’s office and meeting at a hotel or at a congregant’s home. Second, there is the boundary of “time.” When we begin to spend excessive time with a congregant, then we ought to pull back. When we begin to spend four or five hours a week with a person, and we only see our spouses an hour each evening, then danger signals have appeared. We would need to restructure our time with family and significantly decrease our time with the congregant. Third, there is the boundary of “language.” When language becomes too intimate, or when language is interpreted intimately, then we need to clarify the relationship between ourselves and the congregant. Intimate language breeds physical intimacy. Fourth, there is the boundary of “touch.” While hugs and pats on the back are common in closely-knit congregations, hugs, pats and kisses are inappropriate in counseling or private contexts. The nature, timing and place of a touch communicates volumes and dangerously opens up the possibility of sexual temptation. Fifth, there is the boundary of our own “feelings.” If we sense a sexual attraction toward another person, then we continue to meet with them to our own peril. We must be careful what we think or feel because they are the beginnings of our actions. We need to be honest with our feelings, and remember our commitment to God’s story and our own marriages. Sometimes “feelings” cannot be controlled, but behavior and covenantal commitment can put those “feelings” into proper perspective. Once one begins to develop these “feelings,” the relationship with the congregant must be ended or it will develop to our own destruction.

The problem, of course, is that we sometimes cross the boundaries without even realizing it.  Consequently, it is important to have confidants with whom we can talk–a group of same-sex friends with whom we are open, transparent and vulnerable.  They will see these boundaries crossed before we will, and we must have the humility and the courage to listen and submit to their input.

3.  I have added my 1994 presentation at the Freed-Hardeman University Lectures that was published in the 1994 lectureship book.  The article is entitled Worship in the Second Century Church. The article discusses the value of studying second century liturgy as “foreground” (Ferguson’s term), the liturgical description of Justin Martyr in his Apology and the liturgical description of Tertullian in his Apology. Justin and Tertullian are the most extensive descriptions we have in the second century. Both were explaining the content and procedures of Christian assemblies in order to demystify them for outsiders (and potential persecutors).

4.  I have linked my website with two podcasts of recent sermons. One at Woodmont at the end of 2008 (a blog summary is available at “I will Change Your Name“) and another at Harpeth Community Church on 02/08/2009 (a blog summary is available at “Reading the Gospel of Mark“).

These are my offerings for today.  :-)



4 Responses to “New Items Posted”

  1.   rich Says:

    john mark

    i am going to read some articals of this,even though,
    i read your offering of the day…and thank you … and thought… well daa…
    :-)

    but then thats me….
    john mark

  2.   Jonathan Says:

    Thanks for your heart in putting these out for us all. I am studying at Laidlaw Bible college here in New Zealand and we are hungry for resources in our church. I really appreciate the attention given to the ‘Numerical Growth…Pragmatism..’ paper – this is a hot topic here in our ICOC background- and is central to much discussion in the South Pacific. One very good book that helped me get a better perspective was “Upside Down: The Paradox of Servant Leadership” – Stacey Rhinehart. He broke down the issues of pragmatism, centralized leadership, Success theology, (how can you argue with success?!).

  3.   preacherman Says:

    Thank you brother.
    I am always encouraged, strengthened and enjoy your posts daily. You do a fantastic job with your blog. I know it has helped my spiritual walk, relationship with Christ and life as I start the mornings or end the day. Thank you for all you do with this blog. Your writtings are inspiring.

  4.   John King Says:

    John Mark,

    The same tension you write about in the first article arises in the realm of spiritual discipline. Can we force ourselves to grow spiritually or is spiritual growth produced by the work of the Holy Spirit? This either/or is more correctly a both/and. Paul couples these in Eph. 2:8-10:

    “8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith?and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God? 9not by works, so that no one can boast. 10For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

    God’s grace is the ground of our salvation. Through faith we receive this gift. We surrender ourselves to the works God has prepared for us.

    John King

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