The Internet's Best Practices for Ministry

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Welcoming Guests and First Impressions

The sermon starts in the parking lot, and the impression you make for your guests on Sunday morning during the first 10 minutes will be indelible.

Technology and The Church

Leveraging technology for ministry can be an incredible blessing. But it can also be fraught with problems and pitfalls. Learn how to use technology well.

Vision and Leadership

Our God longs for leaders to request of Him to do that which they cannot. Faith filled vision, leadership and risk are key ingredients for ministry.

Preaching and Communication

You know and understand how challenging it is to communicate. It is hard to get and capture people's attention. Learn how to communicate effectively.

Creativity and Innovation

Being creative means asking the right questions and making new associations. Discover new and creative ideas for your ministry.

Do Leaders Need To Be Holy?

from Chris Car:

Do leaders need to be holy? Your answer to this question is probably an automatic ‘Yes!” or perhaps ‘Of course!”

And yet of all the resources available on leadership today (there are currently almost 350,000 available at I do find the issue of personal holiness missing from most discussions on leadership, even among those who serve in ministry. There are plenty of books and articles about rules or laws of leadership, keys to leading an effective team, how to be not simply good but great, and how to use your gifts to their maximum potential. But there appears to be few people discussing the vital issue of personal holiness in the life of a leader.

How important is personal holiness in the life of a leader? Before I answer that with my thoughts on the matter, answer it for yourself – how important do you view your own holiness to your success as a leader?

My answer to this question is that personal holiness is the most important issue to leadership success. I realize that this is a fairly bold statement, so let me take a moment to back it up. My belief in the importance of personal holiness comes from the foundational truth that as believers our ultimate goal in life is to bring glory to Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 10:31, Col. 1:18). Flowing from that, our goal as leaders should be to lead in such a way that our followers are influenced to pursue Christ’s glory as well. Our ability to glorify Christ is in direct proportion to how holy we are becoming (2 Cor. 3:18).

Robert Murray M’Cheyne, a Scottish pastor in the mid-19th century once stated, “my people’s greatest need is my personal holiness.” I couldn’t agree more. Without personal holiness, a Christian leader has no foundation with which to lead.

You might not consider personal holiness to be a vital issue if you aren’t a pastor or a ministry leader. I would challenge you to reconsider. If you are a business owner and your employees (or customers) know you are a believer, you will be unable to lead them effectively if you aren’t living out what you claim to believe. If your integrity or morality is in question (which they likely will be if you aren’t pursuing holiness) you cannot be an effective leader.

So, how do we pursue holiness? 

First and foremost, we begin by focusing on Christ. 2 Corinthians 3:18 tells us that as we look at Christ the Holy Spirit transforms us into His image, with ever-increasing glory. Something about simply focusing on Christ makes us more like him (1 John 3:2).

Second, we must be faithful in our study of the Word. In John 17:17, Jesus prays “Sanctify them by truth, thy word is truth.” We become holy as we get into the Word and the Word in turn gets into us.

Finally, we become more holy through prayer. As we pray and seek the Father’s face, He pours out the Spirit and draws us closer to him (Acts 4:31, Jude 20).

As God is holy, let’s continue to strive to be holy in all we do (1 Peter 1:15), setting an example for our people to follow.

When The Devil Accuses

For those of us in vocational ministry, we understand those times when we are confronted by the accusations of the enemy. Yet, even though facing those attacks of the enemy can be difficult, I greatly appreciate Martin Luther's bold and confident words that confirm and affirm who we are in Jesus Christ.

“When the devil throws our sins up to us and declares we deserve death and hell, we ought to speak thus: ‘I admit that I deserve death and hell. What of it? Does this mean that I shall be sentenced to eternal damnation? By no means. For I know One who suffered and made a satisfaction in my behalf. His name is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Where he is, there I shall be also.’” 

— Martin Luther Luther: Letters of Spiritual Counsel

Praying For Your Pastor

from Joe Thorn

There are a number of ways we should be praying for our leaders in the church, here is an encouragement for you to pray for your pastors and their preaching in 4 specific ways.

Pray fervently…


Before he preaches the word to others your pastor needs to experience the word himself. Pray that he would search the Scripture to know God and his truth personally, and then bring that to the people. Ask God to impress on him the practical implications of the doctrines revealed in the text, to convict him of his own sin, and work grace in his heart. Ask God to make his message the offspring of Bible and belief, bearing the distinguishing marks of truth and passion.


The goal of his preaching should be to make much of Jesus, bringing him before the people with clarity and conviction. So, pray that whether he is in the Old or New Testaments, hitting a passage heavy on law or gospel, that he would be led to point his hearers to the gospel hope of pardon and peace in Jesus Christ.


As gifted as your pastor may be, he remains a weak and sinful man in himself. The only hope he has for his preaching to carry power is the Holy Spirit's ministry of conviction, conversion, and counsel. Pray for The Holy Spirit to do what only he can do--empower the preaching of a mere man who holds out the words of life with trembling hands.


Preachers often struggle with feelings of failure after they step away from the pulpit. Mondays can be times of doubt and frustration for many ministers. Pray that your pastor would be so satisfied with what he has in Christ that even if he lost his way while preaching he would remain confident that Christ has neither lost him nor his word. Ask God to give your pastor such confidence in the Spirit's power and the Scripture's sufficiency that should his last sermon fail to live up to his standards, his hope remains steadfast for God can use any man's preaching, no matter how deficient, as long as he gives the people the word. Pray that your pastor would have the mindset that "success" is simply faithfulness to God, and fruitfulness determined by God.

(ht: Joe Thorn)

5 Keys To Sermon Prep That Will Bring Power To The Pulpit

from Alistair Begg:

I remain fascinated by the variety of approaches that preachers take in preparing their sermons. In our preparation, as well as in our delivery we must ‘to our own selves be true.’ When I am asked to summarize my method of preparation, I mention the following points, which I learned from the late Leith Samuel….

1. Think yourself empty. As strange as it may sound, we must be careful to ensure that we do not avoid sound thinking. The temptation to respond emotionally to a passage (this is how this makes me feel) is not unique to our listeners. If we are to have ‘thinking’ congregations it is incumbent upon us to be ‘thinking’ pastors’! We do not want to be uncertain by the time our study ends, but it is surely right and proper to begin with the perspective, ‘I must know what this says, and I must learn what this means.’

2. Read yourself full.

3. Write yourself clear. Aside from the essential empowering of the Holy Spirit, if there is one single aspect of sermon preparation that I would want to emphasize, it is this. Freedom of delivery in the pulpit depends upon careful organization in the study. We may believe that we have a grasp of the text, only to stand up and discover that somewhere between our thinking and our speaking things have gone badly awry. The missing link can usually be traced back to the absence of putting our thoughts down clearly.

4. Pray yourself hot. There is no chance of fire in the pews if there is an iceberg in the pulpit! Without prayer and communion with God during the preparation stages, the pulpit will be cold. In 1752 John Shaw reminded the incumbent pastor beginning his charge in Cambridge, Massachusetts: ‘All will be in vain, to no saving purpose, until God is pleased to give the increase. And in order to do this, God looks for prayers to come up to His ears. A praying minister is always the way to have a successful ministry.”

5. Be yourself, but don’t preach yourself. A good teacher, like John the Baptist, clears the way, declares the way, and then gets out of the way.

4 Surefire Ways To Make A Bad Decision

As a leader you have to make tons of decisions, and granted not all of them are going to be winners. But suffice it to say, there are several things, that if you do will almost guarantee a bad decision.

Please others - you will never make everyone happy. With every decision you will please some and anger others - there are only few times that axiom may not hold true -  but don't bet on it. So don't even try to please others in your decision making. It will only make you crazy and neurotic.

Take the path of least resistance - often times the best decisions aren't always easy. They will require sacrifice and hard work. A decision may require a lot of risk and may ask you and your organization to venture into uncertainty. Yet it is usually the the decisions that ask from us the greatest cost that will have the biggest and best pay off and results.

Make it too quick - certainly there are many decisions that don't require a lot of deliberation. Should I get a scoop of vanilla or chocolate? Should I get that extra helping at dinner? Those are the kind of decisions that you don't have to think too hard about. But there are many decisions in leadership that will require you pause, evaluate, deliberate, seek council, pray and even wait. How will you know you shouldn't move too quick? A couple of hints will be - if your leadership isn't aligned. Or if there are unknown and missing information prohibiting you from being able to make an informed decision. Or perhaps you even have a check in your spirit. If you sense you need more time to pull the trigger on a decision, then it is worth putting the pause button on making that decision.

Make it too slow - Now it sounds like I am speaking out of both sides of my mouth. Yet for some leaders their issue isn't that they are quick and impetuous, rather they are afraid and fearful leaders and are too slow to settle on a decision. Therefore deliberating too long can cause an organization or person to miss strategic and timely opportunities. If you take to long to make a decision you run the risk of paralysis of too much analysis.

What would you add to this list?

The Day In The Life Of A Mobile Teen

Here are some interesting stats from the infographic below.

  • 75% of teens have phones. (this stat probably is higher)
  • A typical teen sends 49 texts a day
  • 54% of teens text their friends every day
The point of this infographic and it's stats is that teens are inseparable from their phones and their preferred mode of communication is still texting. So let me ask, why are so many youth groups still relying on email (or even Facebook - which is becoming more passé among teens) as their primary mode of communication?

There are all kinds of helpful and easy to use programs and services, such as ProTexting and EZTexting  (many with a cost attached- but definitely worth it). How are you using and leveraging technology and their phones to communicate and connect better with your youth?

(ht: YouthMinistryMedia)

5 Ways Churches Fail At Social Media & How To Do It Well

Doing social media isn't necessarily hard, per se, but it can be difficult to do it correctly. Too often as I've worked with churches, ministries, organizations and even businesses on their social media, I have seen 5 consistent issues that short-circuit and undermine their effort and good intentions.

1. They try to be something they are not. Social media isn't about slick marketing - rather it needs to be about authenticity, showing people an authentic, real and genuine vantage point about who you and your organization really are.

2. They start well, yet don't persevere. I have seen too many social media ghost towns - social media sites without any posts or engagement for months or even years. Ministries have good intentions and know that they need to be on social media, therefore they want to try to do everything and be everywhere - yet after a couple of months, they end up doing nothing at all. It actually hurts you and your organization to have social media platforms, like Twitter and Facebook, that are absent of any content or conversation. It is better to focus on succeeding on one or two platforms that are best for organization - than trying to do everything.

3. No one in their organization has responsibility for it. Who is going to post on your Facebook page? Is it your pastor? Ministry team leaders? Church secretary? What are the expectations? What are the social media guidelines for those tasked with the responsibility? These are all questions that need to be addressed and ironed out as you and your organization begins engaging with social media. Using social media must be an intentional endeavor - it isn't just going to "happen"!

4. They use their social media as just a bullhorn. Social media isn't about shouting at people stuff and announcements. It isn't simply an online newsletter. Certainly social media will inform. It will inform those in your organization about your activities and opportunities. But it must go well beyond that. It must connect. You connect through conversation. You must have a conversation with those who engage you within social media. Are you asking people questions? Are you listening? Are you responding to people's comments or concerns?

5. Their social media is not connected to their greater whole. Your social media platforms should be a part of your entire online presence. They shouldn't just exist out there on their own. For instance, your Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest pages should be pointing people to your organization's main website. It should compliment and be an extension of your main site. Yet in return, your main website should be linking and pointing people to your social media platforms. There needs to be synergy and integration among all the parts. Social media needs to part of your organization's entire online eco-system.

Also, if you want some additional social media tips, check out the New Media Project's video of Nadia Bolz-Weber, Eugene Cho, and Tony Lee discussing their social media tips.

Don't forget to follow me and Ministry Best Practices on Twitter! @BillReichart - @BestMinistry

More Than We Ever Dared Hope

“The gospel of justifying faith means that while Christians are, in themselves still sinful and sinning, yet in Christ, in God’s sight, they are accepted and righteous. So we can say that we are more wicked than we ever dared believe, but more loved and accepted in Christ than we ever dared hope — at the very same time.

This creates a radical new dynamic for personal growth. It means that the more you see your own flaws and sins, the more precious, electrifying, and amazing God’s grace appears to you. But on the other hand, the more aware you are of God’s grace and acceptance in Christ, the more able you are to drop your denials and self-defenses and admit the true dimensions and character of your sin.”

— Tim Keller

Paul's Letter to the Galatians: Living in Line with the Truth of the Gospel - (Redeemer Presbyterian Church, 2003)

The Importance Of An Abundance Mentality For Leaders

“The opposite of a scarcity mentality is an abundance mentality. With an abundancy mentality we say: “There is enough for everyone, more than enough: food, knowledge, love … everything.” With this mind-set we give away whatever we have, to whomever we meet. When we see hungry people we give them food. When we meet ignorant people we share our knowledge; when we encounter people in need of love, we offer them friendship and affection and hospitality and introduce them to our family and friends. 
When we live with this mind-set, we will see the miracle that what we give away multiplies: food, knowledge, love … everything. There will even be many leftovers.”
 – Henri Nouwen

I love this quote by Henri Nouwen. It communicates so well the Law Of Abundance and why it is important to live with an abundance mentality. When we release and give ourselves away - our resources multiply. Having that abundance mentality is also key for leaders. Too often in our churches and ministries we think that our resources are static, limited and scarce. Either we believe...

  • We don't have enough money to do that
  • People are just way too busy to get involved or serve
  • People are maxed out in their giving
  • We can't encourage programs or opportunities outside the church because if people serve or give outside our church, it will take away from our church's resources and programs
Those are all scarcity mindsets. That mindset believes we're all competing for the same money, people and resources. But that simply isn't true. A scarcity mindset puts limits on our thinking. We cap off the capacity of resources available to us. We believe that all we have is all there is and all that we can see and we think that no additional resources will be available to us.

Rather an abundance mindset believes the opposite. It says that when a person gives...whether it be of their time, talents, resources or money - it only increases their heart and capacity to give - and they will likely only give more in the future and therefore more resources will become available. An abundance mindset allows us to see beyond our current situation and reality to what God may do just around the corner. An abundance mindset is KINGDOM oriented. An abundance mindset says.....

  • Let's partner with like-minded organizations that share our mission and vision
  • Let's release our people to serve outside our own church or organization
  • Let's not be concerned with who get's the credit or recognition
  • Let's celebrate and pray for other churches and organizations
Do you and those in your leadership exercise an Abundance Mindset?

Why We Need To Attend Church

When I first became a Christian, about fourteen years ago, I thought that I could do it on my own, by retiring to my rooms and reading theology, and wouldn’t go to the churches and Gospel Halls; I disliked very much their hymns which I considered to be fifth-rate poems set to sixth-rate music. But as I went on I saw the merit of it. I came up against different people of quite different outlooks and different education, and then gradually my conceit just began peeling off. I realized that the hymns (which were just sixth-rate music) were, nevertheless, being sung with devotion and benefit by an old saint in elastic-side boots in the opposite pew, and then you realize that you aren’t fit to clean those boots. It gets you out of your solitary conceit.
-C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock

More often than I like, I hear of individuals and families who tell me that they do "church online". Usually that involves gathering in their living room, turning on and sitting in front of the computer to "do" church. It is unfortunate though to talk about "doing" church because church isn't something to "do", rather it is something to "be". We are called to be the church to one another and to a world in need of hope. The church isn't a task to be done, rather it is a living organism, a family, a people.

I think Lewis' remarks above certainly challenge the notion of doing church online. Connecting with your church online while you are sick or traveling may be an OK "Plan B". Yet making online church your regular mode of church attendance, I believe is a dangerous thing.

To be a part of Christ's church is to be with God's people, even with all of our messiness. When we are in relationship with one another's messiness and brokenness we learn how to forgive, to repent, be patient, to love and to receive love and grace from others.

As part of a church community we allow God's people to speak grace, truth and love into our life- being Christ to us, sharpening us (Prov. 27:17) and helping us to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus.

Can online church be a substitute and surrogate for being with God's people? I believe not. What do you think? 

The Top 20 Books On Theology

Want to take a deep dive into the study of Christian theology? These books are a good start. These are Ministry Best Practices' top 20 books on theology - which encompass both systematic and biblical theology.  Here is the list below:

  1. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine by Wayne Grudem
  2. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Christian Belief by John Frame
  3. Christian Theology by Millard Erickson
  4. Historical Theology: An Introduction to Christian Doctrine by Gregg Allison
  5. The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible by B.B. Warfield
  6. Ethics for a Brave New World by John and Paul Feinberg
  7. Christianity and Liberalism by J. Gresham Machen
  8. The Church by Edmund Clowney
  9. Pilgrim Theology  by Michael Horton
  10. Systematic Theology by Louis Berkhof
  11. The Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin
  12. According to Plan: The Unfolding Revelation of God in the Bible by Graeme Goldsworthy
  13. God’s Big Picture: Tracing the Storyline of the Bible by Vaughn Roberts
  14. An Old Testament Theology: An Exegetical, Canonical, and Thematic Approach by Bruce Waltke and Charles Yu
  15. New Testament Theology by George Eldon Ladd
  16. New Dictionary of Biblical Theology: Exploring the Unity & Diversity of Scripture by Rosner, Alexander, Goldsworthy, Carson
  17. The Goldsworthy Trilogy: Gospel & Kingdom, Wisdom & Revelation by Graeme Goldsworthy
  18. A New Testament Biblical Theology: The Unfolding of the Old Testament in the New by Dr. Gregory Beale
  19. A Commentary of the New Testament Use of the Old Testament edited by D.A. Carson and Dr. Gregory Beale
  20. Biblical Theology: Old and New Testaments by Geerhardus Vos
Would you add any additional books to this list?

How To Handle Criticism Without Destroying Your Heart

As pastors and ministry leaders we practically face some degree of criticism on a daily basis. The question then becomes for us, how do we handle and deal with criticism in a manner that doesn't destroy our heart, allowing us to become cynical, disillusioned and negative? Tim Keller has some helpful thoughts on how to avoid that pitfall:
The biggest danger of receiving criticism is not to your reputation, but to your heart. You feel the injustice of it and feel sorry for yourself, and it tempts you to despise not only the critic, but the entire group of people from which they come. ‘Those people…’ you mutter under your breath. All this can make you prouder over time. Newton writes: ‘Whatever…makes us trust in ourselves that we are comparatively wise or good, so as to treat those with contempt who do not subscribe to our doctrines, or follow our party, is a proof and fruit of a self-righteous spirit.’ He argues that whenever contempt and superiority accompany our thoughts, it is a sign that ‘the doctrines of grace’ are operating in our life ‘as mere notions and speculations’ with ‘no salutary influence upon [our] conduct.’ 
So how can you avoid this temptation?  
First, you should look to see if there is a kernel of truth in even the most exaggerated and unfair broadsides. There is usually such a kernel when the criticism comes from friends, and there is often such truth when the disapproval comes from people who actually know you. So even if the censure is partly or even largely mistaken, look for what you may indeed have done wrong. Perhaps you simply acted or spoke in a way that was not circumspect. Maybe the critic is partly right for the wrong reasons. Nevertheless, identify your own short-comings, repent in your own heart before the Lord for what you can, and let that humble you. It will then be possible to learn from the criticism and stay gracious to the critic even if you have to disagree with what he or she has said.
-Tim Keller

Win FREE Books - Enter Today!

Ministry Best Practices is thankful for our friends at Logos Bible Software who offer our readers a 15% discount on base packages of their incredible Bible software.

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One lucky reader in 2 weeks will receive, for FREE, a copy of the complete set (all 11 volumes) of the 9 Marks series for the Logos Bible Software.

These books are a great addition to any library and a must-read for Christians of all levels. Those who are young in the faith will be propelled forward in their spiritual growth with these accessible guides to important topics and significant doctrines. One the other hand, mature Christians, students, and pastors will reach new depths in their understanding of Scripture and the Christian life with these succinct, yet profound volumes. To get more information about this series, which is valued at just under $110, visit HERE.

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About the Giveaway
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The Prize
9Marks Series (11 vols.). The winner will be chosen at random on January August 1st and the collection will be sent to the winner’s Logos account. Don’t have an account? No problem! You can sign up for free here and download free apps to read your books on any device here.

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Don't Waste Your Life

In light of eternity, the years we live on this earth are relatively small. Therefore we should want our life to count.

As John Piper says in his book, Don't Waste Your Life - "God created us to live with a single passion to joyfully display his supreme excellence in all the spheres of life. The wasted life is the life without this passion. God calls us to pray and think and dream and plan and work not to be made much of, but to make much of him in every part of our lives."

This infographic below illustrates just how our time is spent and the ways we can reclaim time and the opportunities wasted.

by Andi.M.. Browse more data visualization.

What The Church Needs Today

These a thought provoking words from E. M. Bounds....
What the church needs today is not more machinery or better, not new organizations or more and novel methods, but men whom the Holy Ghost can use—men of prayer, men mighty in prayer. The Holy Ghost does not flow through methods, but through men. He does not anoint plans, but men—men of prayer.
- Preacher and Prayer

And in regards to the church and their pastor....
A prepared heart is much better than a prepared sermon. A prepared heart will make a prepared sermon.
- Power Through Prayer 

Therefore the measure of our church's success isn't assessed on the size of buildings and budgets, but rather on it's ability to develop and form men and women whose lives are consumed by the love of Christ and who manifest a deep, abiding dependance upon Him.

The Future Hope For A Christian Culture

Is it possible for society to have redemption and renewal? Is the Christian faith still relevant in the very global world of today? Os Guinness declares in his latest book, Renaissance - The Power of the Gospel However Dark the Times, a hopeful YES!

If you are familiar with Os Guinness and his writings, you know the thoughtful cultural analysis that he brings to the church through his writings. And in his latest book, Os Guinness asserts that we are in a time of renewal, of change and of continuous reformation. Os Guinness punctuates that point in chapter one stating that we can believe God for "a movement that is led by the Spirit of God, which involves the people of God returning to the ways of God and so demonstrating in our time the kingdom of God, and not in word only but in power with the plausibility of community expressions."

Throughout the book, Os Guinness answers such questions as:
  • What does it mean to have a Christian renaissance today?
  • What historical examples can we rely upon?
  • Why must we rethink megachurches, statistics, etc..?
  • What effect does modernity have on the church?
  • What is it problematic to be reactionary to issues in the church and society?
  • How can we possibly have hope amidst all that is plaguing the church?
The book comes out on August 11th and you can preorder the book HERE

How Our Idols Impact Each Other

Our idols aren't merely personal and private - they impact others. In other words, even though it is necessary to address those areas in our life that serve as counterfeit gods, their impact isn't merely personal and private - it affects the people around us. It affects those in our family. It affects those within our churches. It affects those who we lead or work with.

Mentioned in one of my previous sermons on this issue were two quotes about the impact of our idolatry upon others:

N. T. Wright in Surprised By Hope (HarperOne, 2008):
One of the primary laws of human life is that you become like what you worship; what’s more, you reflect what you worship not only back to the object itself but also outward to the world around. Those who worship money increasingly define themselves in terms of it and increasingly treat other people as creditors, debtors, partners, or customers rather than as human beings. Those who worship sex define themselves in terms of it (their preferences, their practices, their past histories) and increasingly treat other people as actual or potential sexual objects. Those who worship power define themselves in terms of it and treat other people as either collaborators, competitors, or pawns. These and many other forms of idolatry combine in a thousand ways, all of them damaging to the image-bearing quality of the people concerned and of those whose lives they touch. (p. 182)
In other words, idolatry—while at root a heart issue—not only affects the sinner but also the community. Idols dehumanize the heart and cause us to act inhumanely towards others.

This idol-projecting point is also made Mark Driscoll’s book Doctrine (Crossway, 2010):
If we idolize our gender, we must demonize the other gender. If we idolize our nation, we must demonize other nations. If we idolize our political party, we must demonize other political parties. If we idolize our socioeconomic class, we must demonize other classes. If we idolize our family, we must demonize other families. If we idolize our theological system, we must demonize other theological systems. If we idolize our church, we must demonize other churches. This explains the great polarities and acrimonies that plague every society. If something other than God’s loving grace is the source of our identity and value, we must invariably defend our idol by treating everyone and everything who may call our idol into question as an enemy to be demonized so that we can feel superior to other people and safe with our idol. (350-351)
The call for all Christians, but especially pastors and ministry leaders is to quickly identify and apply the gospel to our idolatry. Because failure to do will have a grave impact on the churches we pastor and the people we shepherd. Our idolatry isn't merely personal, it affects and impacts others.