After writing yesterday’s book review, I remembered a seminar entitled “The Pastor and His Community: How the Gospel Informs Our Mission beyond the Church” that Mark Dever did at a pastor’s conference earlier this year.  Both the audio and his notes are available.

While he may not have been as definitive about how these principles might be applied and lived out in the context of the church, it is the most balanced approach I have seen to date.

One final thought about this topic (for now):  one problem that invariably arises with this topic is that writers are not clear about the distinction between the responsibilities of individual believers in the context of community and the responsibility of the church as an organism within the context of community.

What individual believers can do and are responsible to do is much different than what a church as a unit is responsible to do.  For instance, because my children are in a public school, I might have an interest in serving on a PTO or even the local school board in addition to my regular interaction with teachers and principals.  That is both a Biblical liberty, and even at some level, perhaps a responsibility.  However, those roles (or similar ones) are not a responsibility or a liberty for a church as a church body.

The more I read literature on this topic, it seems that well-meaning writers are confusing liberties and functions of individuals and exchanging those for fundamental functions of the church.  The church should equip and encourage believers to function in those arenas, but the church should not attempt to assume those responsibilities itself.