Dr. Michael Haykin is one of the premier Baptist historians and historical theologians of our day. His work in Patristics and the reformation is surpassed only by his research in Baptist life and thought. He is the founder and director of the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies, an accomplished author and lecturer and Christ-honoring preacher. If you are not familiar with him and his work, you should do yourself a favor and get acquainted.
Michael has been blogging from the early days of the
discipline art activity and so much of what he has written and made available online remains imminently relevant today. Following is a post he published June 4, 2007. It deals with the important issue of friendship, mentoring and community. Pastors who are committed to the priority of preaching in the church should especially take note. Preaching is absolutely essential. But preaching alone is insufficient for the growth and development of a healthy church.
Michael originally entitled this post, Reformed Preachers Whistling Dixie?
I am constantly amazed that far too many good preachers who love the doctrines of grace and who are assiduous in their reading of the Scriptures fail to notice one critical aspect about ministry in the New Covenant: it is intimately linked to bulding community and relationships. There is, I suspect, among some of these brothers, a mistaken view of what constituted faithful ministry in the past—among the Reformers, for example, or the Puritans.
Those brothers in the faith from those bygone eras are seen as great expositors and nothing more. Now, there is no doubt that they were preeminentely preachers. And there is no doubt that the Word was central in their ministries. But, without friendships (is not Calvin the great model of friendship here with his passionate friendships with Farel and Viret? Or the spiritual brotherhood among the Puritans, a logical result of which was Baptist ecclesiology) and mentoring relationships (look at the remarkable Baxter in Kidderminister) the Word does not have a context in which to bear fruit.
When I first read the life of that quintessential Reformed loner, A.W. Pink, I thanked God for his great insights into the Word in a day when Reformed truth was not in high demand. But I was horrified (and I do not say that word lightly) by his isolationism and lack of concern for friendship and fellowship. Surely, the love of the truth should lead to a walking in the light with fellow lovers!
Or to put all of this more colloquially: if we think we are being faithful to the New Testament and are not passionately concerned about building Christian community, we are whistling Dixie!