Skip to comments.Pastor John Piper Leaves Megachurch with Hope for Revival (to focus on "ongoing character flaws")
Posted on 05/04/2010 1:06:05 PM PDT by SeekAndFind
Pastor John Piper began his eight-month leave this past weekend.
Now filling the empty pulpit at Bethlehem Baptist Church is Kenny Stokes, who had been on a sabbatical these past several months.
Stokes, who previously served as the church's Downtown Campus pastor, was approved unanimously by the elders at the Minneapolis church last week to serve as Interim Pastor for Preaching while Piper is away.
The elders determined that continuity, consistency and stability were most important and thus decided to have one primary preacher rather than a rotation of varied speakers to serve as the temporary shepherd.
"Few things are more important in the life of a church than the faithful preaching of the word of God," said Piper in his final written commentary to his church of some 9,000 attendees. "I trust Kenny."
"Under Christ, the Great Shepherd of the sheep, I am happy to leave you under his preaching," he added.
Piper, 64, announced late March that he would be taking his first-ever leave of absence from ministry this year to focus on his marriage, his family and his soul. His break was not prompted by a particular sin but by "ongoing character flaws" including pride and the stresses they have caused to others.
He told his congregation that he felt his marriage, soul and ministry pattern needed a reality check from the Holy Spirit.
The renowned preacher and author stopped tweeting just after making the announcement and has also let go of other forms of online communication, including Facebook and blogging. During his leave, Piper will also disengage from book writing, preaching and speaking at events (with a few exceptions).
In his last sermon on April 25 to Bethlehem, Piper cited Robert Murray MCheyne, a 19th century minister in the Church of Scotland who also took eight months away from his parish in 1839.
M'Cheyne asked William Burns to take over the pulpit and wrote to him: "I hope you may be a thousand times more blessed among them than I ever was. Perhaps there are many souls that would never have been saved under my ministry, who may be touched under yours; and God has taken this method of bringing you into my place. His name is Wonderful."
Revival did come to St. Peter's Church while he was away.
With that, Piper left the Bethlehem pulpit with the same hope and prayer:
"O Lord ... show your great power in my absence. Send a remarkable awakening that results in hundreds of people coming to Christ, ... wayward children coming home, long-standing slavery to sin being conquered, spiritual dullness being replaced by vibrant joy, weak faith being replaced by bold witness, disinterest in prayer being replaced by fervent intercession, boring Bible reading being replaced by passion for the Word, disinterest in global missions being replaced by energy for Christs name among the nations, and lukewarm worship being replaced by zeal for the greatness of Gods glory.
"[B]less this church beyond anything we have ever dreamed."
Just as M'Cheyne returned to his flock and served nearly four more years before he died at the age of 29, Piper hopes to return to the Minneapolis church to preach for at least five more years.
I wish him well, but the self-comparison to M’Cheyne is something we could have done without. Prayers for John Piper and his church.
I don’t think Piper was comparing himself to M’Cheyne... just the situation and his hope that God will bless his congregation. But that’s just my opinion.
Anybody but me see a problem with this locution?
Please explain... you are so good at grammar, and I’m so poor. That’s what I get for not paying attention in English class.
If someone is “now filling” the pulpit, it cannot simultaneously be called “empty.” “Now filling the pulpit” would have been adequate.
Back on topic, I wish Rev. Piper and his family the best during his time off. “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
Thank you. I too wish Rev. Piper and his family the best...
It would be more accurate to say that the Office of Pastor at Bethlehem is vacant for a season rather than “the pulpit is empty.”
Yes, and I shouldn’t form an opinion without having the all of the facts, but I had a little cringe reaction there. Let’s assume that the M’Cheyne comparison was more prominent in the writeup than it was in fact. I do sincerely wish him well with his efforts to come to grips with his challenges, with God’s help.
Ping to read later
Interesting. I certainly wish the pastor well and hope that whatever demons are eating at him, he will overcome them. However, isn’t Piper a very strong Calvinist? I thought that not only his actions, but also his eternal salvation were predetermined. I’m a little puzzled by certain statements of ‘ongoing character flaws’, and ‘guidance by the Holy Spirit’ in terms of a leave or sabbatical. It is curious, especially when he chose to use terms like this instead of simply ‘rest’ or ‘leave’.
Given the Reformed Confessions such as Westminster and Belgic, and the works that Piper himself has written, I find this a little incongruous. If somebody could enlighten me on this, I’d appreciate it.
I’m not one myself, but I think that only the most extreme hyper-Calvinist would say that a man’s actions and attitudes are predetermined by God to the extent that he himself would have no responsibility for them or ability to modify or amend them. (And I think that would be quite hard to support scripturally.) The Calvinist keeps God’s decrees and man’s ability in a sort of balance. And a Calvinist would seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit as would any other kind of Christian.
More information seems to be coming out, but not much. He seems to be saying that his marriage needs tending.
See here :
John Piper Signs Out with Prayer Requests for Soul, Marriage
Before signing out and “disappearing” from the public, Pastor John Piper left supporters with a final video message that was posted Friday.
While expressing deep gratitude to those who have supported his ministry, Desiring God, the popular preacher appealed for specific prayers as to what he hopes to achieve during his eight-month break, which began on May 1.
“I’m trying to disengage from this kind of video stuff for eight months, from preaching, from writing books, from writing blogs, from tweeting; I’m trying to just go down to relationships that are precious to me and see what happens in my heart,” Piper, 64, said in the video.
He called the leave of absence a period of “stocktaking” and a “reality check” for his soul and his relationships.
“Pray for my soul,” he requested to supporters.
After 30 years of ministry, Piper began seeing “several species of pride” within himself and “ongoing character flaws” that he grieved over.
“I want to do a reality check on my own heart and my walk with God, my love to God, my relationship to the Word, not as an instrument by which to create sermons or blogs or tweets but rather as food for my soul,” he said.
The bestselling author also appealed for prayer support for his marriage.
Though there isn’t a “whiff” of unfaithfulness on either side, Piper said his marriage needs tending.
“I pray that God will make us deeper in our love for each other, better in the way we communicate to each other, more tender, more up building, more kind, more affirming, more admiring ... all the stuff marriage should be that we long to be better at and richer in,” he said in the video.
With five children and 12 grandchildren, Piper plans to use his leave to also tend to his wider family.
“That’s a big little church, right?” he said of his family’s size. “I’m charged as kind of a patriarch to be healing in that wide milieu and to be life giving rather than life taking.”
“So ask the Lord to just make me a blessing everywhere I touch in that set of relationships because I love those family members very much.”
At the end of his leave, Piper hopes to arrive at a clear vision of what life will look like when he returns to ministry.
It will have a public dimension, he noted, adding that he hopes and plans to preach again for several more years at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis. But he will likely do less “outside work,” he said.
Ultimately, he hopes to develop a life and ministry that is life giving and in which his marriage and his church could flourish.
Piper made the announcement late March to Bethlehem Baptist Church that he would be withdrawing from all church and ministry-related duties for eight months. Kenny Stokes, who was previously the church’s Downtown Campus pastor, is serving as Interim Pastor for Preaching while Piper is away.
I have no information or even innuendo on the man, but normally when somebody gives up a top leadership position and says that his marriage needs tending, there is usually one or more overriding circumstances that would drastically impede the position or else there is a criminal investigation into something. As I said, there is nothing that I see on the man, but the circumstances are rather odd.