I am very pleased to announce the publication of a new book by David de Bruyn: The Conservative Church.
The following is Kevin Bauder’s foreword to the book:
In 1 Corinthians 3, the apostle Paul compares the local church to a building—in fact, a temple. He claims to be the chief architect who has laid the foundation, namely, Jesus Christ. Paul indicates that someone else (in context, Apollos) has erected part of the superstructure upon the foundation. Still others will construct more of the temple—and Paul warns them to build carefully. Their work has to withstand a coming fire. Gold, silver, and gemstones will endure such a fire, but wood, hay, and stubble will be consumed. Those who build out of combustible materials will lose whatever reward they might have enjoyed had they built well.
We now live in an era when many local assemblies are little more than piles of thatch. How could anything they are doing endure into eternity, when so little of what they do endures even into the next decade? They are constantly having to replace their own ministries with something more current (they would, of course, prefer the expression more relevant, but they cannot seem to decide what relevance is, other than whatever trend happens to be most current).
We survey the ecclesiastical landscape in the West, and where we expect to see magnificent temples reaching toward the sky, we see brush piles and heaps of stubble cluttering the earth. We might be tempted to spend our days clearing away the chaff. The problem is that rakes and brooms cannot do the work of trowels. No amount of sweeping will erect a building.
And pastors are called to build. Whether they become shepherds of existing churches or whether they plant and water new congregations, their mission is to erect these edifices upon the foundation of Jesus Christ, crafting precious metals and jewels into temples of God. They must build so that their congregations will stand undamaged by the coming fire and will persevere into eternity.
Everlasting temples cannot be erected out of ephemeral materials. Permanent buildings require permanent materials, and a pastor who wishes to build well must attend to permanent things. In other words, the kind of congregations that will bring rewards to their pastors in eternity can only be built from a conservative ministry that reflects a conservative Christianity. What does a conservative Christianity look like? Just as importantly, how should a conservative pastor introduce gold, silver, and precious stones when his congregation has been led to expect wood, hay, and stubble? Recent history has provided few models of this sort of ministry, and recent authors have produced few books to describe it.
That is a deficiency that David de Bruyn aims to correct. He is a conservative Christian. He is also a pastor. He has had to address the problems of conservative ministry in both a theoretical and a practical way. He has written this book to share some of the insights that he has gained in the process of building a conservative church—a church erected with attention to permanent things, a church built with eternity in view.
Pastor de Bruyn spends no time at all tearing down other ministries, not even those that are built of weeds. He loves conservative churches and he wants to see more of them built. Along the way, he does touch on some difficult theoretical problems, but he explains them in clear language so that they can be understood by ordinary church members. His main concern, however, is not with solving theoretical problems, but with doing ministry. He offers a wealth of pastoral insight and practical counsel for building conservative churches.
If you are a church member, this is a book you should want your pastor to read. If you are a pastor, this is a book you should want your church members to read. It is certainly a book that I’ll want my students to read.
The local church is not a human institution. It is not subject to human definition or direction. Churches exist by ordinance of Jesus Christ. God loves His churches. Through the presence of His Spirit, He dwells within His churches. Whether we are church leaders or church members, we must do our best to build churches that will endure the coming fire and will lead to reward for eternity. This book will help us in that task.