hello, my name is doug, and I’m a pragmatist

Theologian, writer, great Bible preacher – phrases that describe the late John Stott. Jeff Loach lamented his recent passing by stating

 “We lack ‘elder statesmen’ in the church … I sometimes wonder if theology has taken a back seat to pragmatism.”

It is true I think. Go to most professional ministry conferences these days and the theme is driven by the questions – what works? how can we do it better? is your church successful? If not openly expressed, it is right there percolating under the surface of our humble and reserved ministry egos. I mean, if our preaching series must be pragmatic so must our ministry training.

Transition to Acts chapters 6 & 7. Stephen could indeed be judged a roaring success – both personally and professionally. Tweet this evidence! Is this not success which should be celebrated?

* he was one of only seven elected to ministry at a time when the church was desperate for some additional leadership

* he was able to showcase God’s power with great signs and wonders

* his eloquence in a public sermon, though it brought about an opposite reaction, rivalled the Apostle Peter – perhaps even more reasoned and logical, like Paul who would take the stage after him

But perhaps we should measure success with a different measuring stick. How about a new paradigm, less pragmatic? Try looking a success through a more mature spiritually sensitive lens and you might note :

* Stephen’s face was like the face of an angel!

* Stephen saw an open heaven, saw the glory of God, saw the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!

* Stephen had the courage and charcter, even while the stoning took place, to mirror the last words of Jesus!

Spiritual substance and excellence is sometimes more difficult  to resgister on the success meter. It certainly seems at first glance less worthy of jumboscreen fireworks. It is less pragmatic, but not necessarily less observable. Yet we get drawn into the pragmatic paradigm so frequently, so easily, so foolishly.

My quest, which I renew publically, is to get pumped up about seeing and reflecting in my countenance and my words, my Lord’s glory; and to catch a glimpse of heaven where Jesus stands to advocate for me, to welcome me. At least that’s my vow until I attend my next ministry conference when I will most assuredly and no doubt enthusiastically join ranks with my colleagues to do this thing we call church even better.  YES!


About dougjohns

Doug Johns retired from ministry in Canada to devote more time to international work. Right now he pastors part time at the International Baptist Church in Bielefeld, Germany. He is a graduate of York Univ. (B.A.) and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (M.Div.). Doug is married to Yvonne and they have four grown children plus eight grandchildren. Doug has had significant experience as a Presbyterian Minister in Ontario, Saskatchewan, British Columbia and New Brunswick. He has served as Associate Pastor at West Congregational in Haverhill, Massachusetts; Doug is committed to international ministry in Romania; and he has taken leadership in Christian Camping as Executive Director of Camp Fireside, NH; Glen Mhor Presbyterian Camp, Ontario; Timberline Ranch, BC. .... avid baseball fan of the Toronto Blue Jays ... Managed American Legion Baseball Team out of Creston BC in North Idaho League. Doug is a serious runner with many international half-marathons completed over the last 6 years.
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