"...the only mission strategy which will encourage our congregations, usefully employ our clergy, enable history-changing and kingdom-of-God-anticipating ministry, and enable us to evangelize with any degree of faithfulness and power is the preaching that there is salvation in no other name. To ministers let me say this as strongly as I can. Preach Christ, preach Christ, preach Christ. Get out of your offices and get into you studies. Quit playing office manager and program director, quit staffing committees, and even right now recommit yourselves to what you were ordained to do, namely the ministry of Word and sacraments. Pick up good theology books again: hard books, classical texts, great theologians. Claim the energy and time to study for days and days at a time. Disappear for long hours because you are reading Athanasius on the person of Jesus Christ or Wesley on sanctification or Augustine on the Trinity or Calvin on the Christian life or Andrew Murray on the priesthood of Christ. Then you will have something to say that's worth hearing." Andrew Purves, The Crucifixion of Ministry, pg. 44
The Christian Church and Pastorate ought to take these kinds of challenges seriously. Are many pastors and churches in a place from week to week where what is being communicated is really worth hearing, or is it a warmed-over version of pop-psychology and self-helpism?
My reaction to this section of Purves' book regards the need for the church to present a clear alternative to our culture's move to the social and moral left. Right now our general drift is in the direction of progressive social reimagination, and all it really takes for the Christian message to stick out is for it to be proclaimed clearly. But that simple step has a couple of prerequisites: clarity and courage.
Christian pastors need to be clear on what they believe, and not what the spirit of the age would like them to believe and proclaim from behind pulpits and in the public square. It is the testimony of history, and is the testimony of our current state of affairs that the closer a church gets to the spirit of the age, the worse things go for the church.
Secondly, we need the courage to go ahead and stick out. The Christian faith has always been on the side of truth, and the Church has always outlasted cultures that disliked and even persecuted them. Don't let the secular left fool you - the arguments are on your side. You don't need to emote to gather support for your cause. You can present things like reality and knowledge. And you have the Creator and Sustainer of all things going ahead of you.