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The Christian Ministry: With An Inquiry Into The Causes Of Its…

by Charles Bridges

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One of the best and most comprehensive books ever written on the work of the ministry.

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The first couple chapters of Bridges work are extremely good. I covered some early highlights here: https://medium.com/@joshcrouse3/revisiting-christian-ministry-with-charles-bridg...
  joshcrouse3 | Sep 17, 2021 |
Ill not lay hands on any man to enter the ministry without also giving him a copy of this book, and then making sure that he reads it slowly, prayerfully and even annually. Every page and sentence is filled with significance and meaning. Scripture drips from almost every sentence. Its one of those books that if you were to underline the good parts, youd need to underline it all. Without the godly wisdom contained in Charles Bridges work, I quite possibly would have left the ministry by now. His book is a wonderful counter to all of the unbiblical success models on the shelves of so many Christian bookstores. If love the Church and the pastoral work and desires to see it conformed more closely to the Word of God then this is a necessary addition to your library! ( )
  cmsheffield | Oct 31, 2010 |
talk about robbing you of your joy of ministry by overloading you with the crushing legalism of the minutae. Not for the immature christian or lay person. ( )
  rchase | Jun 28, 2010 |
A great primer for all Bible college men preparing for the ministry. Required reading for 1st year ministerial students at North Love Baptist Bible College.
  DrRayBorah | Apr 28, 2010 |
Charles Bridges' work entitled “The Christian Ministry with An Inquiry into the Causes of its Insufficiency” is exactly what it claims to be. From exalted description of the majesty of the church in its divine origin, to detailed exposition of various different types of people that make up our churches with corresponding instructions on how to practically minister to each one, this is a complete work indeed. Yet do not think that in being so broad in topics it is shallow in its treatment of each—nay, Bridges' work is dug just as deep as it is wide. One cannot help but feel as though Bridges is speaking directly to him, jumping out of the pages, having himself first spent much time meditating upon these things and feeling them excruciatingly necessary in his own life. He has read much on the subject, evidenced by a majority of the pages having at least one-fourth of it consisting in footnotes, quotations, and further explanation.

This book originated in a letter written by Bridges “to a beloved friend upon the interesting subject of Ministerial inefficiency.” This is the main burden which motivated the writing of this work, and it is evidenced throughout. The work has two main concerns: 1) negatively, to point out error / malpractice causing inefficiency, both in our practice and in our person; 2) positively, to present the proper view of and proper method of carrying out the ministry so as to have a proper effect. These two concerns are separated into five main parts: “General view of the Christian Ministry”, “General causes in the want of success in the Christian Ministry”, “Causes of Ministerial inefficiency connected with our personal character”, “The public work of the Christian Ministry”, “The Pastoral Work of the Christian Ministry.”

One often feels that inquiring as to the causes of inefficiency in one's ministry is something that should never be done. There is often a sense of piety that seems to be connected to entrusting the results of one's ministry completely to the Lord, with no view whatsoever to fruit borne. This is partially true. Yet, this book argues, it is a legitimate pursuit to make such an inquiry, and one ought not be charged with blasphemy or unbelief for so doing. There is indeed a balance that is to be kept here and Bridges does so masterfully. Quoting another man, he writes, “If you have preached a considerable time in a place, and done little or no good, there must in all probability be some fault, not only in your hearers, but in you, or your sermons. . . . Inquire then where the fault may be.” (245-6) His words sting with accuracy, yet are soft and gracious.

Such poignancy is consistent throughout, drawing the reader to see his responsibility and helplessness, yet not ever failing to mention simultaneously the sufficiency that we have in God. He writes earlier on, “Conscious helplessness sinks under the depressing weight of responsibility. Faith links our weakness in immediate connexion with the promises of Almighty aid.” (17)

In this fashion, he first demonstrates the final guarantee we have of success, reminding us that “wherever the Gospel was sent, and so long as it was continued, the work of success invariably proceeded.” (72) The sovereignty of God ensures the minister that all whom the Father has chosen shall come. (John 6:37) The church being the program of God upon the earth has the guarantee of final success. However, one must not presume upon such success. It is to be won through means. “God is pleased to make himself known by the use of means. And when the means are used in subordination to his grace, he will honour the means.” (34) And so it is not a vain exercise to inquire as to the sources of inefficiency in a given ministry.

“The Christian Ministry” is likely to be more appreciated by someone in the work of the ministry, as he will thus be familiar “experimentally” with the pain of ineffective ministry, and will be greatly enriched by the wise counsel, godly insight, and refreshing balance offered here.

[http://matthauck.typepad.com/blog/2008/12/bridges-the-christian-ministry.html] ( )
  matthauck | Apr 13, 2010 |
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