Mar 21

Session 8 Recap: Panel Discussion with D.A. Carson and David Helm

2015 | by Nathan Sherman | Category: Clarus 15

Editor’s Note: Scott Pilgreen is a lay leader and biblical counselor at Desert Springs Church in Albuquerque, NM. This post is a summary of a panel discussion from Saturday afternoon at Clarus, March 21, with Alistair Begg, D.A. Carson, and David Helm.


Question: Another get-to-know you question. You both have ministries outside the local church. Tell us how those began.

David Helm: Simeon Trust started as a “one-trick pony” on the back of a napkin. Simeon Trust exists to increase pastor’s confidence in preaching God’s Word.

D.A. Carson: The Gospel Coalition started in 2002, when Tim Keller and I began to wonder what it would take to constitute an organization that lay at the centered of Reformed, evangelical Christianity.

Question: How did you come to believe that the Lord was leading you to preach and teach?

David Helm: When I was 17 years old, I was met with the classic fork in the road. I was pegged to be in some form of student ministry leadership, but called my friend and told him that I was out, and I didn’t want to do the faith thing anymore. My friend then began to tell me about the road that I was heading down and that it only ended in death and destruction. Instantaneously, my conversion to Christ was united in a call to lead the church.

D.A. Carson: My dad was a pastor so I don’t remember a time when we didn’t read and memorize Scripture. My attention was on mathematics and science at the university and not much thought on ministry. Then I heard a missionary amongst the poor in Haiti preach on Ezekiel 22 stating that there was no one to stand in the gap. That was my call.

Question: Is evangelism preaching? Or is preaching limited to only Sunday morning pulpit ministry?

D.A. Carson: If you are declaring the gospel, it is preaching even though it may not be expositional. Preaching is not tied to Sunday morning, but one of the main reasons for the church is to sit under God’s Word. However, this also happens in the best family devotions, as well.

David Helm: As preaching pastors, I think that it would be good for us over the next 15 years to find multiple venues for preaching the gospel. We need to find ourselves in more strategic and interpersonal dialogues.

Question: It seems like the sermons in Acts are pretty short. Why do modern preachers preach so long?

David Helm: For one thing, those sermons in Acts are summaries. We don’t have all that was said and preached, we just have the bones and main points.

D.A. Carson: Growing up in French Canada, I can remember preaching for an hour and a half and people still wanting more. There are different cultural expectations and variations in gifting that can contribute to the length of time in preaching.

Question: What in the broader evangelical culture is concerning?

David Helm: I’m not concerned about anything. God knows how to grow and take care of His church and He will be faithful to do so. There is an army of men who are being mobilized in the preaching of the Word, and most of the things that feel concerning end up dying away anyway.

D.A. Carson: In the New Testament, Paul often points out things that were concerning, so it is good to point these things out today as well. Among other things there is a lot of health and wealth prosperity teachings, a whooping up of joy instead of true joy in the Lord, and a rising level of Biblical illiteracy.

Question: What in the broader evangelical culture is encouraging?

David Helm: There is a hunger for the Word of God everywhere. Young people are rising up who are handling the Word incredibly.

D.A. Carson: There is more church planting going on all over the world and not just in white, suburb America. Things are happening in France and Japan that are very encouraging. I am far more encouraged by the spread of the gospel than I was 15 years ago.

Question: Is there possible tension on the one hand for a desire for one’s pastor to preach with more power and clarity and passion but remaining content with whom God has given as your pastor?

D.A. Carson: There is danger is thinking that we should pray for our pastors who are not preaching well. The New Testament model is to pray for things that are working.

David Helm: Appreciate your pastor for the temperament he has, pray that he would be confined and shaken by the text, and pray that he would have a greater command of the text.