In this episode, Ray Ortlund and Sam Allberry discuss the priorities of a pastor leading a church by gospel doctrine into gospel culture.
– 00:00 Introduction—the most famous person you’ve met
– 2:37 Jesus, Community, Mission—in that order
– 3:24 Community before mission
– 7:00 Your church should be self-aware
– 8:53 Blowing a raspberry to the Devil
– 10:34 Cultivating a relationally-minded approach to church and mission
– 13:06 Sticking your neck out
– 15:59 They’re not your clients
– 17:40 The broken present; the glorious future
– 20:39 Recommended resource: English Standard Version of the Bible
Explore more from TGC on gospel leadership.
To reach out directly to Ray and Sam with questions or prayer-related requests, please email [email protected]
We want to thank Crossway for helping to make this podcast possible. For more gospel-centered resources and Bibles, visit Crossway.org
The following is an uncorrected transcript generated by a transcription service. Before quoting in print, please check the corresponding audio for accuracy.
Ray Ortlund: Welcome back to you’re not crazy gospel sanity for young pastors. I’m Ray ortlund. This is coming to you from the Gospel coalition and I am overjoyed to be with my friend Sam alberi.
Sam Allberry: Hey Ray, good to see you.
Ray Ortlund: And I have a question for Sam. Now. Who is the most famous person you’ve ever run into? by some serendipitous chance?
Sam Allberry: Yeah, that wouldn’t be many but I Burt for a while in an old coffee shop back in the UK. And this this person may not be famous to many of our listeners, but she was famous to me because I was a student of music at the time. curator Canada.
Ray Ortlund: Oh my goodness, no way.
Sam Allberry: I walked into the coffee shop and ordered a cappuccino. So I made carry to kind of a cappuccino and did very discreetly asked for her autograph and told her I was studying music at high school. And, you know, this was in the early 90s. She was very well known because she had done the anthem for some, I think was the Rugby World Cup or something like that. But just an amazing, amazing lady. She was very friendly.
Ray Ortlund: I loved her voice. I remember her saying Charles and Diana’s wedding in 1981. She’s saying something from George Frederick Handel. Wow, it was it just sparkled. It was amazing. I ran into Sam Albury one time. World Class. apologist does not count. preacher. And now my friend. Yeah. Yeah, that does not count. Well, he counts with me. Alright, so we’re now talking about how the young pastor listening to this, we wish we could be together with that guy right now face to face and just talk at length about whatever matters to him. We’re trying to anticipate what’s interesting to him, what’s important to him? What matters, the questions, the concerns, the reservations, and we’re making the case in this podcast. That gospel doctrine creates gospel culture. And we believe that a whole generation of pastors intuitively understand what that means, and how much that matters. And this whole generation of pastors want to be utterly faithful to Christ in their message, that they proclaim the content they proclaim, and also in the quality, the human beauty that they nurture in their churches. So gospel doctrine and gospel culture together. And what we began to say in the last episode, we want to catch up on that, and I want to come back to it, because this is something that for so many years, I simply didn’t didn’t understand is that the basic contours, the basic shape of authentic Christian ministry. There are three basic priorities in this order, Jesus, community mission, Jesus first, obviously, who’s going to argue that he should be second. So Jesus in His grace and glory, the finished work of Christ on the cross the endless power of the Holy Spirit, union with Christ, His all sufficiency and so forth. He is the one to whom we take everything, and we walk away with more than we could have asked or imagined. So Jesus comes first. But secondly, it’s not Jesus mission, serving the world, getting the gospel out, sending missionaries evangelizing, offering apologetics, and so forth, serving the community, making the world a better place for the glory of Jesus, all those things we must do. We’re glad to do those. We feel privileged to do those things. We wouldn’t want to live for anything else. But the task of mission is not our next priority after Jesus. It’s the radiance and the beauty and the quality of our community. That is our next priority. Because it is the community as the community that gives traction to all true mission. So our priorities as pastors, it’s not Jesus. Mission, then we’ll get around to community as rabl but it’s Jesus community and then mission. I did not see this for so many years. For example, I’m looking right now. At the membership directory, the photo directory from a church I pastored. It was a great privilege to serve them many years ago, and I open up to page one. And what I’m looking at right now, the first thing that meets my eyes I opened up page one of this church membership directory is the words our ministry emphases, what was I thinking? And we have the mission of the church stated there and subcategories the worship of God, the Ministry of the word, the discipleship of the world. There is, Well, two things bothered me about that now. It seemed obvious, and there’s nothing actually wrong with this, Sam. But I’m noticing two things that bother me now. One, Jesus comes first excuse me, before ministry emphases. The first page in our church directory should have been our Savior, not our ministry emphases.
Sam Allberry: He was the head of the church.
Ray Ortlund: Hello? Anybody at home McFly? So, here’s the other thing that bothers me about that page that I supervised. There is not one single reference to our being a community together, a family together. Brothers and sisters in Christ sharing mutual love, esteem, honesty, honor, support, and so forth. So actually this paradigm, this unself critical unself aware paradigm of Christianity, on page one of the church directory I was responsible for this is actually mission, Jesus may be coming community. At the time, I didn’t see what the problem was.
Sam Allberry: I think one of the interesting things about that is, if we if we try and skip over the community part and go straight into mission, what we don’t realize is that we’re going to have much less effective mission. Because part of the way God has designed his gospel to flourish is is as we were looking at last week, is the relational beauty that that does so much to commend, and to confirm the actual message that we preach. And if we just rush into simply mission as a bear task, thing on its own, we won’t have the same traction.
Ray Ortlund: So what you and I are saying is, let’s let’s be self aware, as to what we’re actually leaning into what we’re prioritizing, and who we all want people to be evangelized converted, and join the church and grow, right. So who in our city would be in his right mind would want to join this church? why should anybody join? Why would any legitimately self interested, self motivated human being, choose cheerfully to come join this church in Christ? Why we owe the community we must respect them enough? To give them a good answer to that question. And if the only answer is Jesus, who will forgive your sins and so forth? That’s not a bad answer. But it’s actually not the total answer Jesus Himself gives. He did not come to save and redeem and gathering isolated individuals into this band of isolated individuals like pennies in a jar. He came to gather in his elect from all the nations to form a body, which is joined together and lives and dies together. So there is a quality of community that preaching alone cannot create. But preaching with pastoral nurturing, can create by the God’s grace for His glory. And that people in the city, looking your city, my city, looking at that community, something will resonate, and they will say, my life would get better if I were in among those people.
Sam Allberry: Well, Paul says in Ephesians, three, that it is, through the church at the manifold wisdom of God is made known to the rulers and authorities in heavenly places. It is that that new society that God has created that new type of reality, God has created that. That that’s how God blows a raspberry to the devil to use that phrase
Ray Ortlund: No, I have no idea what you just said.
Sam Allberry: So blowing raspberries. Oh, maybe we’ll cut that bit out.
Ray Ortlund: No, I like that. That’s really good. Sam Oh, Barry. You’re you’re being just sort of charmingly British. And I love that expression. I’m gonna start using that.
Sam Allberry: Okay, well, there we go. Let’s get start a campaign. Yeah. If the god if God really wants to stick it to the devil, he just has to point to his church, because there’s a reality there that that embodies proves the beauty in the supremacy of Christ and that the triumph of Christ
Ray Ortlund: and when you’re saying that, something inside me, lights up. And awareness lights up that well, one, I am not willing to pray and suffer and labor and give my life simply to maintain An ecclesiastical institution that is not beautiful, but I am willing to labor and suffer and pray and give my life to the creation of a beauty that can astonish this generation. And the next hour, give my life to that. So what you’re talking about, sign me up. And that’s gospel culture.
Sam Allberry: Well, if if part of this then is is not being so task oriented, that we become relationally unaware, how can the pastor himself cultivate that more relationally minded kind of approach to things?
Ray Ortlund: It’s just got to start with, with me as a pastor with you, Sam, every young pastor listening right now, guys, we have got to stick our necks out and put our hearts out there and be vulnerable, and show our hearts and give our hearts away to people. For example, Paul said in First Thessalonians chapter two, verse eight, that these people had become very precious to him. He said, so being very affectionately desirous of you. We were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God, but also our own selves, because you have become very dear to us. And Sam, that extravagant language he uses, they’re affectionately desirous, very dear. That wasn’t flattery. It wasn’t exaggeration. He felt that way. And this man was seriously theological. He was he was the best theologian we’ve had in the last 2000 years. And this richly theological, principled, conscientious, no nonsense, non compromising man of God was brimming with overflowing with human emotion with people that pushed him toward them. And he poured his life out for them, not because it was a professional requirement, but because he couldn’t help himself. The love of Christ had come into his heart through the gospel.
Sam Allberry: It’s interesting, not only does he feel that way, but he actually wants them to know that he feels that way. He doesn’t just have that affection and know it himself. He, he knows they need to hear that. And it’s a vulnerable thing, isn’t it to say, to say something like that about anyone because you’re, you’re, as you said, you’re putting your heart out there in a way that the other person may not agree with you or may not receive it in that way, or may not feel the same way. There is a risk to that, but it’s a it’s evidently a risk Paul felt was necessary. As part of his being a godly, authentic pastor.
Ray Ortlund: It’s a Christ like risk. Now, our Lord put himself out for us. Now in every socio sociological environment, there is a there are acceptable and authentic ways of communicating this emotion. And there are awkward counterproductive ways. So we’ve got to be we got to know where we are sociologically. And use the words expressions, the looks and the gestures and everything that is us that is suitable. That is acceptable to people that will resonate, that will work okay, fine, but we still have to stick our necks out.
Sam Allberry: Yeah, that the church have not been any doubt as to how you feel about them. Wouldn’t be a mystery.
Ray Ortlund: Oh, why not lean over the pulpit? frequently, look, the people in the eye and tell them, I love you. And here’s why. Here’s another reason why, and tell them for when, when Paul again, coming back the language of Paul in First Thessalonians chapters one and two, it’s great to read those two chapters for us. That’s one and two and circle, the emotional words, all the words he uses to describe how he felt about those people. This was just one of the churches. His his heart was full, his heart was human, his heart connected with people and so forth. So anyway, later on, he says, we will we return away from you and so forth. And then he says, For what is our hope, or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? So, Jesus returns? He lifts us up into His presence. Paul is looking at Jesus, we’re all looking at our returning Lord at the second coming of Christ, right. So Paul sees in his peripheral vision, his lateral vision, all these people rising from Thessalonica to Christ and He looks Christ, he looks over the Thessalonians. And he is just rejoicing at the second coming of Christ, because a pastor’s heart for his people does not end, when he gets a call to some other church, it will last forever, at the second coming of Christ, Sam, all the people, you’ve pastored, they will be there. And they will be ready to meet Christ, because of your service, your love for them. And that moment between Jesus and you and the people, that three way relationship will be glorious. Paul is alerting us pastors that we will these people were serving, they will always be precious to us for ever.
Sam Allberry: The churches is not your client, as a pastor, and it’s so easy to slide into that mentality, or even even worse than that is to think the church is there to serve my ministry. They’re there to give me my platform, they’re there to give me, you know, that the speaking opportunity, you know, I think he’s one of Philippians four, Paul says, you mentioned about setting a church that you love, the move does exactly that to the Philippines, therefore, my brothers whom I love, and long for my again, joy and crown. They they are in no doubt about where they stand with Paul. And he wants him to know he longs for them when he’s not with him that that’s, that’s painful to him.
Ray Ortlund: So, your church is not your job. Your church is not your employer, in the eyes of the state in the eyes of the IRS, it might be but what do they know, we’re talking about more glorious realities. And one of the one of the ways God helps us as pastors, to give our hearts away at this deep and rich and intense and profound level, is he gives us the privilege of suffering. We enter into our own sufferings, we enter into other people’s sufferings, we get past ourselves where we were forced out of selfish cost benefit calculations, and transactional relationships, and our hearts become wonderfully broken. Just living in this world, and pastoring people who are living in this world. And as that happens, plus we see the future we see the brokenness of the present, we see the glory of the future. And as we suffer in the present, and find our hope in the future, and we move all our chips out into the future, and we are longing for all of our friends in that church, all these people we care for, and are responsible for that they too, would join us in moving all their chips on to the future, and the second coming of Christ, the new heavens and the new earth and so forth. All these powerful realities, break our hearts and reform and reshape our hearts. This is suffering is spiritual formation, pastoral suffering is suffering is spiritual formation, to get us out of ourselves.
Sam Allberry: Yeah. But and if you know, the sufferings of Christ were not incidental to his mission. We should not expect to have genuine fruitfulness in our ministry if, if we don’t suffer at some point along the way, that that’s got to be part of how God works in us, and then how he works through us.
Ray Ortlund: And the crazy thing, as we all know, it’s true, though, is that the anguish of pastoral ministry, the hardship, the sheer effort, of it, sharing and people’s sufferings and so forth, bearing the burden of their sins with the repercussions of their sin, all of this. This is how we get into the green pastures, and the still waters that without that suffering we wouldn’t have even believed is real. But God presses us into blessing we’ve never known before richness, fullness, life, community, and radiant credibility that then can go on mission. As through Jesus, we experienced community, he leads us into suffering, we start caring is never before our hearts are wonderfully broken, then we have something to share with the world.
Sam Allberry: Second, john, verse 12, john says I’ve much more to write to you. I’d rather not use paper and ink instead, I hope to come to you and talk face to face so that our joy may be complete. I’m struck there that he’s got so much to say to these friends of his he doesn’t want to use paper and not because he’s, he’s, you know, tight and doesn’t want to spend money on pens and things. He says, I hope to come to you and talk face to face, not because that’s more efficient. And we can get more done. That way we can make quicker progress through my list of things I need to kind of share with us as I hope to come to you and talk face to face, so that our joy may be complete. It’s really striking, isn’t it?
Ray Ortlund; And then mission is not a to do list. It’s the overflow of reality. That’s very beautiful. Well, okay, Sam, thank you. I felt the Lord has helped us in this episode to say some things we’ve really been longing to say. Again, we want to thank every young pastor for joining us, it’s such a privilege to serve you. And we want to thank crossway books, our friends there for sponsoring this podcast and making it happen. And I want to commend to everyone the English Standard Version of the Bible, translated by her provided by published by crossway books. Here’s the thing about the ESV. That the text of the ESV is the original text of Scripture, it is the Hebrew text, it is the Greek text, brilliantly disguised as English. We’d all love to be really expert in Hebrew and Greek and the original languages and Aramaic and so forth. And and wouldn’t that be wonderful someday, maybe we will be. But until then the ESV. If you are reading attentively, these the text of the ESV, you are in touch with the original text of Scripture, you don’t have to somehow get around the translation to really encounter the Bible as it is. And that’s, that’s one reason why I have so much respect for the ESV published by crossway. So much confidence in it. And I am profoundly grateful for it, I commend it to to everyone listening
Sam Allberry: and re-mentioned reading attentively. I’m so thankful to the ESV as well because they’ve they’ve been so creative in helping people read attentively interesting. The scripture journals that you can get free individual books of the Bible and you can scribble over the text write notes alongside it, or I think of the the readers Bible with all the kind of clutter taken out of subheadings and chapter numbers and all those sorts of things. You just pick it up and read it. They have really helped us to find fresh ways of engaging with God’s word. It’s amazing. so impressive. Okay,
Ray Ortlund: last thing. You and I, Sam want to say to every young pastor listening, you’re not crazy. Okay, you’re out there, laying it on the line for the Lord. You are sticking your neck out. You are prayerful, you are conscientious, you are sincere. And salmon I just want to say to you, the Lord is with you. You are so not God forsaken. The ministry isn’t easy. But it’s worth it. And what you’re doing matters now and it will matter forever. You just keep going you’ve gospel monster. That’s, that’s manual talk for you doing really well.
Sam Allberry: We need some gospel monster t shirts or something.
Ray Ortlund: Great idea. Thanks, guys. God bless.
Sam Allberry: We’re so grateful for you listening to this podcast. We don’t take that for granted. Do visit tgc.org slash podcasts for more episodes and information. And we’d love it if you could subscribe to our show on Apple podcasts or Spotify. Wherever you go for your podcasts. Thank you.
You’re Not Crazy podcast was made possible by multiple team members at TGC. That team includes the hosts of the show, Ray Ortlund and Sam Albury, as well as Steven Morales and Andrew Laparra. as executive producer and producer, Heather Ferrell, our podcast lead. Gabriel Reyes is our graphic designer. And Josh Diaz is our audio engineer. You’re not crazy is a part of the gospel coalition Podcast Network. You can find more [email protected]/podcasts.