Reflections on "Spurgeon the Pastor"

What should faithful ministry look like? In Geoffrey Chang's recent book Spurgeon the Pastor, we are given a front row seat in the Metropolitan Tabernacle, the thriving church Spurgeon pastored in the mid 19th century. We gain a glimpse of the ministry practices that guided Spurgeon's pastorate. 

While many know Spurgeon the Preacher, fewer are familiar with Spurgeon the Pastor. In painting a portrait of Spurgeon's pastoral ministry, Chang includes chapters on preaching, church gatherings, the ordinances, membership, leadership, congregationalism, congregational ministry, and leadership training. If you're paying attention, these items map quite neatly onto Dever's Nine Marks of a Healthy Church, which is no surprise, given the theological commonalities between Sprugeon and Dever and given that Chang served on staff with Dever. 

There is much for 21st century pastors to glean: the centrality of preaching, the importance of church discipline, and the necessity of raising up faithful elders and deacons. The glimpses of the church's numerous gatherings, the detailed descriptions of Spurgeon's process for bringing in members, the steps taken to identify elders and send out church plants--all were insightful and fascinating. 

While some of what Spurgeon did in his pastoral ministry shouldn't be attempted today (communion tickets anyone?), the broad principles are rooted in the biblical priorities of regenerate church membership and the centrality of God's Word in the life of the church. While it is easy to conclude that any thriving megachurch must be the result of pragmatic methodologies or transfers from other churches, we learn that 70% of the members the Metropolitan Tabernacle took in during Spurgeon's pastorate were new converts. The church combined theological rigor with evangelistic zeal. Spurgeon's commitment to Calvinism never diminished his passion to see sinners converted to Christ. This evangelistic zeal was not limited to Spurgeon's ministry alone; it was a church-wide endeavor.  

Aside from being insightful, this book was encouraging. It is encouraging to learn of God's blessings on the ministry of Spurgeon, and trust God to continue to bless His Word in our own day. I highly recommend this work to any pastor or aspiring pastor.


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