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John Frame & Steve Childers record “3-D Discussions” for Applied Theology series books and courses.

The Applied Theology Series: A Systematic Theologian and a Practical Theologian Apply Theology to Life

John Frame and Steve Childers draw from their more than 70 combined years as seminary professors to help you learn how to apply God’s Word to all areas of life. The excerpt below is from Pathway Learning’s upcoming books and courses. Sign up below to receive the latest updates.


How do I apply God’s Word to my life?


One of professor John Frame’s most famous quotes is, “Theology is application.” The big idea is that if you don’t know how to apply a passage of God’s word to your life, you don’t really know what that passage means. The practical question then becomes, “How do I apply God’s Word to my life?”

Dr. Frame’s answer to that question today is the same it was decades ago. He likes to respond to that question with, what he calls, his “old, reliable triangle,” by encouraging you always to ask and answer three questions when you’re studying a passage from God’s word.

1. What does this passage require of me? How does it want me to change my beliefs and behaviors? (Normative Perspective)

2. What does this passage tell me about myself and my environment? What does it teach me about God’s grace for me in Jesus Christ? (Situational Perspective)

3. How do I feel, and how should I feel, about this passage? Does it comfort, challenge, convict, or encourage me? (Existential Perspective)

Theology is not merely the accumulation and memorization of doctrinal ideas. It’s also the practical application of those ideas to our hearts and lives. In spite of what many think, Jesus doesn’t command us in the Great Commission to teach people all that he commanded us. Instead, he commands us to teach people to obey all that he commanded us (Matt 28:20). And there’s a big difference!

In spite of what many think, Jesus doesn’t command us in the Great Commission to teach people all that he commanded us. Instead, he commands us to teach people to obey all that he commanded us (Matt 28:20). And there’s a big difference! –Steve Childers, Applied Theology I

With this difference in mind, the Applied Theology Series presents you with an approach to understanding and teaching the bible that has the goal of not merely the transmission of truth from the teacher’s mind to the student’s mind, but also the application of that truth to the student’s heart motivation and real-life situation. These accessible, affordable, seminary-level courses are designed to help underserved church leaders develop churches that transform lives and communities–wherever they live.

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The following 3 minute video includes a lightly edited transcript below it.

For church leaders today who wonder whether they should plant a church, there can be a feeling of desperation as the leader prays in isolation to discern their call. Usually this process can take years, and can sometimes be based on temporary circumstances.

Typically, most people who have the gifts, calling, and abilities to pastor a church do not have the abilities to plant a church.

In this three-minute video below, Steve Childers gives church leaders advice on how to discern whether they should plant a church. He reminds us that you can have all of the gifts, talents, and abilities, but if you don’t have character, you’ve missed the mark of what 1 Timothy describes as primary for an elder.


The common paradigm is used to help leaders, discern whether or not they are called to church planting is usually diagnosing three particular dimensions of that call and see whether or not they converge. One is, do you have the abilities?

Most people who have the gifts and calling and abilities to pastor a church, do not have the abilities to plant a church. It’s a different gift mixed. Okay? And normally, and it doesn’t mean, I don’t mean by superior or super extraordinary. But a church planter almost always needs to be someone that they say, he’s a good teacher. He’s a good preacher. When he teaches or preaches, I learn. That kind of a thing.

Teaching, preaching is one. The other one is leading. When he leads, people follow. And you always look for the best judge of the future is the past, and you always look, have people followed him? So there’s preaching, there’s leading, I’m kind of working from the bottom up, to what we say, we call the primacy of character in church planting, you can look at preaching, and teaching, and leading, and all of these other areas, but yet, it’s fascinating how God is condescended to inscripturate a job description for a church planter, in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1.

I mean, there’s the description of an elder. An elder, most of that job description, has very little to do with skills, it has to do with character. So, one of the greatest dangers, this church plant, you know, a lot of people don’t realize, when we do assessment centers, we’re reviewing church planters.

The number one reason why most church planters fail assessment that I’m associated with, is because of arrogance.

Or because, of a marriage that needs a lot of work. Or a family that’s hurting.

And so, your character is primary, but after that ability, we call it, the other one, we call affinity, and that’s a concept of you better want to. It’s almost like, I know there’s some ministry where guys will come up to girls that are single, I believe God’s called me to marry you. And I don’t really like you, and I’m not really attracted to you, I know you’re not me but this is something we’re supposed to do. I’m just saying, that’s just weird. In other word, this has gotta be something, I’ve gotta do this! It’s a kinda of I’ll go crazy!

It takes at least 36 months to even earn the right to lead in an established church. So, do you have the ability? Do you have the affinity? Have you made the most significant cut, the character cut? And in the last one, character primary, ability, in terms of, those dynamics. And then the last one, it’s what we call, opportunity. Do you have the ability? Do you have the desire? Does anybody want to plant a church with you?

You can have all the ability in the world, all the interest in the world, and all the character in the world, and not have an opportunity. And, God’s probably not calling you to plant a church.

Letters to Laura

June 30, 2013 — Leave a comment

by Sungyak Kim (RTS Seminary Student & Social Media Director)

I’ve had the privilege of taking a few of Steve Childers’ classes at Reformed Theological Seminary (Orlando). The best part about his classes is often the Q&A time, where Steve engages each question with his winsome personality and keen intellect. I’ve always wanted to read over and share these Q&A’s with others for their edification.

So when I heard recently that he has been corresponding with Laura (his youngest daughter, Covenant College alum, living and working in Chattanooga) regarding her questions about the Bible and the Christian life, I jumped at the opportunity and requested that he allow me to share his written responses on this blog, to which he and Laura generously agreed. So here’s Part 1 of what I hope to be an enduring, and undoubtedly edifying, series of Q&A’s with Steve Childers.


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