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Abraham Booth on Pastoral Ministry

Abraham Booth (1734-1806) was a longtime London pastor and leader among the British Particular Baptists in the 18th century. In 1784, Booth preached an ordination sermon for a young pastor named Thomas Hopkins. The title was "Pastoral Cautions" and the text was 1 Timothy 4:16–"Take heed to thyself." The sermon was soon printed and circulated among Baptists all over England. Among the pastors who were positively influenced by the printed sermon were Andrew Fuller, William Carey, John Sutcliff, and John Ryland, Jr.

In the sermon, Booth layed out ten pastoral cautions that are just as applicable to our contemporary context as they were 200 years ago.

  1. "Take heed to yourself, then, with regard to the reality of true godliness, and the state of religion in your own soul"
  2. "Take heed to yourself, lest you mistake an increase of gifts for a growth in grace"
  3. "Take heed that your pastoral office prove not a snare to your soul, lifting you up with pride and self-importance"
  4. "Take heed to yourself, respecting your temper and conduct in general"
  5. "I will now adopt the words of our Lord, and say, Take heed and beware of covetousness"
  6. "Take heed, I will venture to ass, take heed to your Second-Self in the person of your wife"
  7. "Take heed to yourself, with regard to the diligent improvement of your talents and opportunities, in the whole course of your ministry"
  8. "Take heed to yourself, respecting the motives by which you are influenced in all your endeavours to obtain useful knowledge"
  9. "Take heed of yourself, with regard to that success, and those discouragements, which may attend your ministry"
  10. "Once more: Take heed that you pay an habitual regard to divine influence; as that without which you cannot either enjoy a holy liberty in your work, or have any reason to expect success"

Brothers, they simply do not preach ordination sermons like that anymore! I would heartily recommend that every pastor, seminarian, and missionary read the full text of this sermon. It is most recently printed in Michael & Alison Haykin, eds., The Works of Abraham Booth, Volume 1: Confession of Faith & Sermons (Particular Baptist Press, 2006), pp. 57-84.

As a final note, I would be remiss if I did not mention that the only book-length scholarly study of Abraham Booth was a dissertation written by R. A. Coppenger, the grandfather of our own budding pastor-theologian and soon to be "off-the-market" blogmeister, Jedidiah Coppenger.  

Faith of our Father Spotlight: Danny Akin Part 2

fatherDanny Akin is now offering a weekly podcast on his website. The site will release one sermon a week on Mondays. His sermon series through Jude will be released first, and will follow all the way through his series on the Revelation. He preached a 7-part series on Jude during Southeastern’s 2006 Spring semester. He preached the 36-part series entitled “The Great Unveiling” through Revelation when he served as teaching Pastor at Highview Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky. These are all expository sermons, verse-by-verse through the final two books of the Bible. I would greatly encourage you to go to I-Tunes, his website, or Southeastern’s and subscribe to this podcast.

 His website also offers many other resources for pastors, students, and laypeople, and all of them are free. There are audios to all the sermons that he has preached in chapels at Southern and Southeastern Seminaries. He also provides notes and manuscripts for all these sermons. Dr. Akin has also includes articles that he has written and lectures that he has given. He supplies notes, outlines, and audio from workshops and conferences that he has taught. These include a “20/20 Apologetics conference” presented at Southeastern and his notes that he uses to teach at Jay Strack’s Student Leadership University in Orlando. Dr. Akin has a section devoted to theological and practical issues, which includes articles he has put together on topics such as Baptism, Church Discipline, Expository Preaching, Hermeneutics, Leadership, Pastoral Ministry, Spiritual Gifts, Eschatology, Fact Sheets on topics like alcohol abuse, and notes that he provides his students in his Christian Theology class. Also, in this section are audio-series’ delivered at Wake Crossroads Baptist Church on the topics of Bible Doctrine and on How to study, interpret, and teach the Bible. 

 Finally, he has included an extensive section on marriage and family. The section includes three audio-series’ that he has preached on marriage and family: “Song of Solomon: God’s Manual for a Marvelous Marriage,” “Making the Most of Your Marriage,” and “God on Marriage.” He also includes a marriage talk he does at his seminary for married couples at orientation. Dr. Akin has produced a 40+ page manual with materials on the topic and an article that he and Charlotte wrote on the home.

 The website has a ton of resources that Dr. Akin wants to be freely disseminated; I encourage everyone to use this tool to help their ministry.

 Nathan Akin


Local Church Spotlight: First Baptist Church of Naples, FL

One of the things we want to do at SBC Witness is highlight local churches that, in our opinion, are representative of the very best of who we are as Southern Baptists. While it would be easy for us to highlight our own local churches–all five of which are great churches–I wanted to highlight a congregation that I have never been a member of, but have some familiarity with; my wife's uncle is a lay leader in the church.

The First Baptist Church of Naples, Florida is one of the largest churches in their state. At the moment, the church is probably most well known because her senior pastor, Hayes Wicker, is the president of the SBC Pastor's Conference. There are many things I like about FBC Naples.

First, the church is evangelistic. FBC is a church that is growing, and to the glory of God most of that growth is conversion growth. In terms of its membership and attendance, FBC has 5000 members and about 4000 active members, which is a far better percentage than most SBC churches enjoy (and is a remarkably percentage for a megachurch). In the last fifteen years the church has baptized over 2500 new converts.

Second, the church takes the teaching of Scripture seriously. Dr. Wicker, whose sermons are available online, is a genuine expositor in a denomination too-often filled with expositional posers. He is committed to preaching through books of the Bible while making the old, old story understandable to contemporary Americans. The church's large youth ministry also emphasizes serious Bible teaching and discipleship, as opposed to the trite morality studies that is so often characterisic of American youth groups.

Third, the church does baptism the "right" way. Let me explain what I mean. Since the late 1800's, most Baptist church buildings have come equipped with a built-in baptistry, which is of course quite convenient. But I think baptistries–as good as they are–have stolen away some of the significance of baptism. Baptisms used to be a public affair; after all, it is a public profession of one's faith. Part of taking a baptismal candidate down to the creekside was so that non-Christians could witness the ordinance and hear the gospel preached. Indoor baptistries, while allowing for baptisms during the cold months when the creek is froze over, has "insulated" baptism from the outside world, taking away some of the ordinance's ability to play a crucial role in evangelism (though admittedly non-Christians may witness a baptism in a church building). FBC Naples conducts some of their baptisms on the beach, in the Gulf of Mexico. I think that is very, very cool, and I have no doubt that a number of passerbys have come to faith in Christ by being able to witness outdoor, public baptisms.

Fourth, the church takes membership seriously. It is so very rare to find a large church that is both evangelistic and makes membership meaningful. FBC does so by making use of a church covenant (which most churches have, but ignore) and by practicing corrective church discipline. Just in case you missed that, I will say it again: FBC is a megachurch that practices church discipline. It is not easy, especially in a church of several thousand members. But FBC is committed to not only being a growing congregation, but being a healthy congregation. And that means caring enough about people to confront them when they are in open rebellion against the commands of Christ.

I praise God for FBC Naples; I personally believe they are one of the finest churches among us. And in the coming months, we hope to highlight many others churches–of all shapes and sizes–that represent some of the very best of Southern Baptists. 

Faith of our Father Spotlight: 4 Sons Say Happy Birthday to Danny Akin

Akin MenToday is Danny Akin's 50th Birthday. Many people around the SBC know Danny Akin and his ministry. They know him as President of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. They know him as a teacher and theologian. They know him as a faithful expositor of God's Word. They know him as someone with a warm heart for the nations and evangelism. But there are only 4 men who have the privilege of knowing Danny Akin as father, and those are his sons: Nathan, Jonathan, Paul, and Timothy. On his 50th birthday, his sons would like to honor him by telling how he has impacted their lives. The "Faith of our Father" spotlight for January will be on the life and ministry of Danny Akin, beginning with the reflections of his 4 sons.

I am shocked that my Father has lived a half-century. There is no man I admire more than my father. It has been a wonderful privilege to grow up under the instruction and leadership of Danny Akin. Having known so many people who came out of broken homes, I count my many blessings for the guidance and love shown by my father. My father has also provided spiritual direction. He has throughout our lives stressed the importance of being totally devoted to our Lord and Savior. I am immensely grateful for my father introducing me to my Lord. I remember one time riding with my dad in the car and asking him what sort of job would please Jesus Christ, and my dad told me there were many, but that the key was to be willing to do anything that the Lord requests of us. My Dad made the statement "I'd sweep the streets for Jesus." This statement has stuck with me for many years, and I think that it correctly encapsulates in a phrase what I have learned above all else from my father. I love him as a preacher, I love him as a teacher, I love him as a father, but above all I am proud to say that My Dad is a man of God, a man committed and submitted to our Lord Jesus Christ. As I move past a quarter-century of living I pray that I will emulate my father as he emulates Christ. I hope that if I am ever blessed with a son that I will be able to raise him to be a man like his grandfather. Happy Birthday dad. I love you. Nathan Akin

My father is my hero. He is the single greatest man I have ever known. No one has impacted who I am as a follower of Christ, a man, a husband, a father, and a minister more than he. Like Dads are supposed to do he taught me. He taught me to oil a baseball glove. He taught me to throw a baseball. He taught me how to drive a car. He taught me to love my wife Ashley and our daughter Maddy. He taught me how to pray, read the Bible, preach, witness, and how to follow King Jesus. I am so grateful for his leadership in our lives. 1 Samuel paints a striking picture of men set aside for ministry, Eli and Samuel, whose sons were unrestrained from doing evil. Sadly, there are too many illustrations of these stories today. I am grateful for a father who disciplined and trained. I am grateful for a father who loved and spent time with his sons. I treasure the countless Saturdays spent watching football together and talking. I treasure the counsel and encouragement.

Psalm 127:4-5 says, "Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the sons of one's youth. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them; they shall not be ashamed, but shall speak with their enemies in the gate." The beautiful picture of Psalm 127 is of a man who has sons when he is young, so that when he becomes mature his sons are coming of age and can stand with him against his enemies. Our dad has shown us what it means to be a warrior of the gospel. He has taught us to wield the sword of Christ. We now are coming of age, and we stand ready to go to the gate with him. Dad, we have our swords in hand. Love you. Jonathan Akin

Danny Akin is a man who is characterized by his love for the Lord Jesus Christ. All throughout my life, I have seen him yield to whatever it is that the Lord is guiding him to do. His life is evidence that he does not live to please men, but rather to please his Lord. While he is a tremendous preacher, faithful husband, and wonderful father, the thing that stands out the most is his obedience to Christ. Repeatedly I have witnessed him put aside his own agenda and desires to line his passions with that of the Bible and ultimately our Lord Jesus.

No man has had a greater impact on my life than my Dad. His love for Mom has been an example to me as to how I am to love and respect Kari. His discipline and care as a father are characteristics that I hope to one day emulate when the Lord blesses me with a family. His love for God's Word is apparent as he preaches the Bible with as much passion as anyone I know. Most of all, he is a man that walks with God and has surrendered his life to making Jesus' name known to all people. He has shown me how to love the nations. It is with great honor and privilege that I can say Happy 50th Birthday Dad, I love you and appreciate you very much. Paul Akin

My father is a man of the utmost integrity. He has never sought a promotion. He has always taught my brothers and me to be content with where the Lord has placed us. Furthermore, he is a loving, sacrificial, and dedicated father. He rarely missed a football or basketball game of mine or of my brothers. In fact, he would organize his busy speaking schedule around our athletic games. He has always taught us to keep our priorities in the correct order, and he displayed this through his actions.

My father is a faithful husband and minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. My mother admires, loves, and adores my father more than any other person. They are best friends, and they illustrate for their four boys what a godly marriage is to be like. He has always put his wife and four boys before himself. Although my dad has taught me so many things, the greatest thing he has taught me is, all that matters is that you please Jesus Christ. My father is my favorite preacher and has taught me how to study, love, and preach the Word of God faithfully. Furthermore, he is my hero and I pray that I will be the same kind husband, father, and man that he has become. I love my father. He is the greatest man I have ever known. Tim Akin

Join us in saying Happy 50th Birthday to Danny Akin. If your life has been impacted in some way by Danny Akin, please share the story or comment with us.

Nathan, Jonathan, Paul, and Timothy Akin