On Pragmatism in Ministry

“One of the great evils of the time is that of deliberating about a plain command of Christ, and asking, ‘What will be the result of it?’  What have you to do with results?  ‘But if I follow Christ in all things, I may lose my position.’ What you have to do with that?  When a soldier is bidden to go up to the cannon’s mouth, he is very likely to lose his ‘position,’ and something else; but he is bound to do it.  ‘Oh but I might lose my opportunity for usefulness!’ What do you mean? That you are going to do evil that good may come? That is what it comes to.”

–C.H. Spurgeon

18 thoughts on “On Pragmatism in Ministry

  1. Brent says:

    Just to keep a little check in the system…you can (potentially) go wrong with Spurgeon.
    He didn’t do or teach everything perfect…although he was greatly used by the Lord in his ministry.
    I love the truth alone in the writings and sermons of CH Spurgeon.

  2. Ingrid Schlueter says:

    I don’t follow after any man as though he has it all right. I long ago ceased to have “heroes” in my Christian walk other than Jesus Christ. I do have men and women I admire greatly and respect for their integrity and Scriptural leadership, and I don’t hesitate to quote them to help others.

  3. Brent says:

    I never thought nor indicated you did.
    I was writing back to “M”, as a caution.
    I quote Spurgeon almost weekly.

  4. ann says:

    Hi Ingrid. I don’t what time it really is at the moment, but I’d like to say hello, hope you are well, and thank you for the new updated website.

    I am sorry to be a little off topic, but want to say today I appreciate especially that you have Abigail’s website on your links. I lost track of it when I changed computers..

    A little more off topic…I’m the one who asks for book recommendations sometimes. I have a thirteen year old boy who needs some good history type books to read. Civil war, Amercian revolution type stories. With the true versions. If you come up with some titles, perhaps on a separate subject thread or the next time you do a Crosstalk program for young readers, I hope to hear about it!

    Yours in Christ, Ann

  5. Ingrid Schlueter says:

    Hey Ann,
    I assume your son knows all about G.A. Henty? No boy should grow up without those books. There are so many that it will keep him busy for a long, long time! Just type in the name on google and you can find places that sell these historical fiction books. These books are historically accurate but see history through the eyes of a young fiction character. They were originally published in the late 19th century and early 20th but are timeless. Good to hear from you, Ann! I’m known to go off topic a lot too!

  6. Ingrid Schlueter says:

    One more suggestion have you seen these books for boys at HeritageBooks.org? That’s a fine publishing house. Your son would love the Scout books by Piet Prins. They’re about WW2 and follows a German shepherd police dog. They are not babyish at all and are great for junior high age boys. My son loves them. He’s 11. There are a bunch of biographies for young people as well. Here’s a link:


  7. karen graves says:

    This morning, I awoke with a fear of once more being rejected by more Christians by going foward with what God is calling my husband and me to do. We have experienced so much opposition and rejection by man that this morning the Lord put his finger on the fear that is holding me back and robbing me of my joy. Thank you for this little word from “the Lord through a man Spurgeon.” “When a soldier is bidden to the cannon’s mouth, he is likely to lose his position.” Lord, what do I have so important to lose, if someone else might gain you in the process. Lord, help me to be willing to go through even more and more pain and rejection so that others can know you. Strengthen me, Oh Lord, for you are the pearl of great price that everyone needs. Not just me. Help me to be willing to help others find you regardless of what lies ahead for me.

  8. Melody says:

    Ann, there were a series of books written many years ago called The Sugar Creek Gang series. They are wonderful Christian stories about boys and their scrapes and adventures and there are always Biblical truths interspersed. I think they are out of print but your church library might have them or maybe they could be obtained online. Good luck with your search.

  9. Dave B says:

    ‘But if I follow Christ in all things, I may lose my position.’

    This among other things is why many today do not renounce their nicolaitan practices.

    Type ‘paul appointed elders not a pastor’ into google and read the many articles it pulls up. There are more and more people every day waking up to the fact that 99.9% of todays churchianity is unbiblical.

    This was one of my favorites:

    If anyone ever tells you that they have a “New Testament” church, ask them a simple question: “Who’s the pastor?” If you get a title and a name in response (for example, The Right Reverend Holy Father John Doe), you may respond with sublime confidence: “Oh, no you don’t have a New Testament church!”

  10. Melody says:

    Dave, type into your Bible Ephesians 4:11, “And He gave some as apostles . . . and some as PASTORS and teachers. . .”

    I’d be interested to hear your explanation of this passage of scripture.

  11. Kim T says:

    What a beautiful and timely quote. Thank you.

    How often we reason in our own minds ‘to do evil that good might come’, calling evil something other than it is.

    Heavenly Father, keep us from vain speculations/ foolish thinking / what seems right to us. Keep us in obedience to your plain commands that you be glorified.

  12. Shma says:

    Dave B,

    If you want to find a church that doesn’t have a pastor but elders that rotate preaching check out the ‘Plymouth Brethren’ demonation.

  13. Bert Kroeze says:

    In the quote Spurgeon unmasked in his own well-known way of speaking the unbelief and the disobedience towards God. He who doesn’t want to deny himself, is not worth to be Christ’s.
    The people Spurgeon refers to, are not regenerated Christians. A regenerated Christian knows God as his Father, Jesus Christ as his Saviour and the Holy Spirit as his Comforter and Helper.
    The people in this quote are people, who haven’t committed their whole life to God. They don’t see how much the salvation cost Jesus Christ and the Father. He, who sees God’s holiness in the lives of e.g. Moses, David, Elijah, Jesaja and many others and also in the first Christian community has no desire anymore to sin in God’s presence, also not by disobedience and unbelief. We become very humble and real glad, when we see God’s holiness in His love. A holy righteous God gives His Son to save us, sinners, because He really has compassion on us and loves us very much. This love is so infinitely great. Indescribable. Spurgeon loved this holy righteous God enormously. He suffered a lot from people with questions and sayings, mentioned in the quote. By his heavenly walk with God he could endure this and God blessed him.
    Isn’t it wonderful, that in this wicked age we can hear Spurgeon’s name from all over the world? It’s not because of the man Spurgeon – he would have been terrified about such a thing – , but because of God’s Spirit, Who spoke through him. A fortnight ago we talked with our Russian-German friend. Within the persecuted Baptist church he was trained as a preacher. Among other books he had to study a Russian translation of Spurgeon’s “Lectures to my students”. This brother suffered a lot in the Communist concentration camps, but he experienced God’s presence. People, who suffered because of their faith and confession of Jesus Christ, are the best “theologians” that a church can have. Spurgeon suffered enormously because of the slander campaigns and the apostasy of many so-called Christian leaders. He was the best “theologian” that the Christians in London could wish for.

  14. Melville says:

    In accord with Dave B and in response to Melody, this is a very pertinent point. It’s especially relevant to Ingrid’s quotation from Charles Spurgeon, because that may especially apply to pastors.

    But then we need to get a grasp of the biblical role of pastor and compare that to the pastors we know in churches to get at this.

    Looking at Ephesians 4, it would be good to read the whole section, because Paul makes an overall context for his statements. He says that pastors are gifts from Jesus Christ to men, among several other ministries, and he says what these are for. I think we’ll get something from this if we read the whole paragraph from 4:1-16. Here, at least, pastor aren’t people who come out of seminaries; they are spiritually equipped.

    Unlike elders and deacons, there is no fixed office for pastors, even though Peter enjoins elders (of which he was one) to shepherd (the meaning of pastor) the flock of God. There was no single pastor over a congregation in the New Testament.

    Today we are used to thinking of a church as a place where there is a pastor, but this is not biblical (if we want to be biblical). There is no biblically defined office of pastor. That would end up like having a separate church for those who liked Apollos’s preaching versus somebody else’s in Corinth, in today’s terms.

    In a practical sense, what would a divinely appointed pastor do? A pastor is a shepherd (the meaning of the word) and may be also a teacher. It is highly important, isn’t it, to distinguish a pastor from a hireling? It’s those self-interested hireling shepherds who will oppose anything and anyone who has something more to offer than they are providing. They are the ones who talk about sheep stealing- stealing from them, who consider the flock of God to be their personal domains . . .

    What do the men we know and love as pastors do? They teach and they shepherd people, sometimes more or less than the other task: ministry of the word and counseling individuals. Buy they also hold an office. They have a job, where they are expected to feed the flock week by week, or even day by day, when people call with needs. This is often their only career. Their livelihood depends on the tithes and offerings of the people.

    Here’s where the stress may start. ‘If I say this or that, which I am getting from the word, this may alienate some significant supporters of this whole operation. I might lose my position . . .’ This is where brother Spurgeon’s word has special relevance to me in my limited understanding.

    But let’s go back, please, to the Bible. The role of pastor is to equip God’s people, not to keep going back to him for everything but to grow into maturity. In my opinion his task is to lead God’s people to the experienced life and Spirit of Christ and not to himself, but this is a long subject . . .

  15. Melville says:

    Dear Ingrid,

    Thank you for posting my comment. Two more brief notes come to mind. This matter of pragmatism and holding on to one’s position versus the truth immediately reminded me of two things. One is the sermon by Paris Riedhead called Ten Shekels and a Shirt (which I may have referenced before), which is all about this very thing. He begins by giving a sterling exegesis of the story of Micah in the book of Judges-the man who made the graven and molten image and hired the wandering Levite to be his priest. His clarity, command of language, and diction are a delight in themselves. He also gives a solid definition of pragmatism and how it relates to ministry issues, and ends up with possibly the very roots of the false stuff we see all over today. It is available online as an audio and as a transcript. Or maybe you’ve heard it . . . ?

    The second was something I’d read in T. Austin-Sparks, though I don’t recall which book. It was a well know preacher in London, as I recall, with whom Brother Sparks had spoken and this man told him (Sparks) that, yes, he knew what he was saying was right but if he went down that path he’d lose his successful ministry. In the end the ministry faded out anyway. (I’m guessing you may not be familiar with Austin-Sparks.)

    God bless you dear sister,


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