“The Five Smooth Stones” Story


An Essay Summary and Evaluation of

“The Five Smooth Stones” an Essay

William A. Whitcraft

The following essay was done while I was at Crown College for the class Biblical Studies.


This essay will attempt to summarize and evaluate the philosophy and theology of ministry presented by Robertson McQuilkin in The Five Smooth Stones. I will also compare and contrast the strengths and weaknesses of his arguments and describe the various implementations which will be used in the church I will be associated with, as a pastor in The Christian and Missionary Alliance.


Authors Biography:

  1. Robertson McQuilkin (figure 1.)
Figure 1.

President Emeritus of Columbia International University

Education includes B.A., Columbia International University; M.Div., Fuller Theological Seminary; Honorary D.Litt., Wheaton College; Honorary D.D., Columbia International University.

Robertson McQuilkin served as the third president of Columbia International University from 1968 to 1990 distinguishing himself as a spiritual and practical visionary. Prior to becoming president of CIU, McQuilkin served as headmaster of Ben Lippen School, then for 12 years as a missionary in Japan. McQuilkin was honored for his decades of work in Christian missions when he received the 2010 Lifetime of Service Award from Missio Nexus. McQuilkin also authored many books:

  • A Promise Kept cover A Promise Kept
  • An Introduction to Biblical Ethics cover-An Introduction to Biblical Ethics
  • Life in the Spirit cover – Life in the Spirit
  • The Five Smooth Stones cover – The Five Smooth Stones
  • The Great Omission cover – The Great Omission

Understanding and applying the Bible cover – Understanding and Applying the Bible (McQuilkin, JR -Web)


In 1950, Robertson McQuilkin began his pondering the question; if theology wed to ministry, what sort what sort of healthy offspring might we have? (Pg. IX) He discovered five major doctrinal categories that were key to how he would do ministry.(pg. X)

The categories were as follows: Bibliography Christology, Pneumatology, Ecclesiology and Soteriology and within those categories were certain elements that had primary implications for use in ministry.(pg X)

To test his theory, he elicited answers to a questionnaire that were sent to explosive church movements. During the examination, he discovered that the demographic nuances were more varied than had first been assumed. They ranged from different leadership styles to being organizationally diverse or in their methodology.(pg. XI)

Others would also attempt to define what characteristics were necessary for rapid growth and success, ultimately confirming much of what our author had compiled and very similar to the five smooth stones in the pouch of Goliath’s David, which the book references often.(pg. XIII) The five smooth stones are referred to as:

  • The Bible – Bringing every aspect of ministry under  the functional authority of Scripture
  • The Congregation – Must be on board with sincerity
  • The Holy Spirit – Utilizing the power of the Spirit
  • Gods Redemptive Plan – The Great Commission
  • The Lordship Jesus Christ – The model of God himself (Pg. XIV)


I will first look at its strengths, then it’s weaknesses followed by the answer to the question for reflection; Is it God’s intention to see ministry driven by biblical reflection? (P. XIV) In conclusion, I will address how I will apply some key lessons or principles into my future ministry with C&MA.


I found the entire book revealing by bringing to light the necessary form that a church must follow, in order to grow and thrive, to glorify the ultimate one. The Bible, the Congregation, the Holy Spirit, God’s Redemptive Plan and the Lordship of Christ need to be orchestrated together as a whole and not merely as individual expressions.The Church must first have a strong leader such as Paul expresses;

I want you to realize that I continue to work as hard as I know how for you, and also for the Christians over at Laodicea. Not many of you have met me face-to-face, but that doesn’t make any difference. Know that I’m on your side, right alongside you. You’re not in this alone.”(Colossians 2:1 MSG)

We must be diligent in Christ have to be serious about our commitment and efforts to follow the formulas for fulfilling the Great Commission.

It appeals to me as a leader, since I do feel that I give my all, knowing that it will never be good enough. I believe that many of the fundamental teachings of the Bible get glanced over instead of absorbed, these days and a return to fundamental biblical ways are necessary for revival. Getting back to the basics is something postmodernists tend to propose in many areas of business and lifestyle when trying to move forward and expand.

I believe our efforts will be recognized by those that believe, one day “For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:12) The church will grow and the lost will repent, “and now the word of the Lord is ringing out from you to people everywhere, even beyond Macedonia and Achaia, for wherever we go we find people telling us about your faith in God. We don’t need to tell them about it,” (1 Thessalonians 1:8)


One weakness that stands out is a parachurch or home church is not necessarily being led by pastors and ignorant false teaching can be a result of undertrained minds. Biblical

authenticity must flow in and out of the congregation, or failure will be the end result. (p. XIV) They must be silenced because they are turning whole families away from the truth by their false teaching. And they do it only for money.” (Titus 1:11)

I do not find many weaknesses with the ideas proposed and therefore find it difficult to present a truly negative weakness. I will say that a regular theme of this book is “If these factors of management are not to adhere to exactly, failure can be a predictable result. (pg.192)

In the times we live in these days, our culture wants instant results and these things will take time to perfect in a failing church we will be scrutinized for trying to change the status quo, since it will not be something that happens without tremendous effort and focus along with accountability, on the part of leadership and the congregation. “In strict logic, then, nothing happened to the meat when it was offered up to an idol. It’s just like any other meat. I know that, and you know that. But knowing isn’t everything. If it becomes everything, some people end up as know-it-alls who treat others as know-nothings. Real knowledge isn’t that insensitive. We need to be sensitive to the fact that we’re not all at the same level of understanding in this. Some of you have spent your entire lives eating “idol meat,” and are sure that there’s something bad in the meat that then becomes something bad inside of you. An imagination and conscience shaped under those conditions aren’t going to change overnight.”(1 Corinthians 8:7 MSG)

Another weakness can be appreciated when considering the hermeneutics of a particular denomination. Ethical standards may pose a conflict. For the purposes of this report, I will side with the views of the Christian and Missionary Alliance.


Considering the application of these elements of ministry require strict adherence to each proposition of rule, or the effort put out by the true followers will be for naught.

  • The Bible

“The Bible alone, the whole of it is our ultimate authority for faith and practice.” (pg. 1) If God said it, I had better trust it. (p. 2) We are to scrutinize all areas of the ministry to ensure the functional authority of the Bible. Understanding what God has revealed to us through His word, by identifying issues thoroughly, so not to be questioned or proved false. Explore pros and cons of the passage and recognize if it should be applied in the present-day church by considering all the factors of the scribe’s environment as well as the one being quoted. Determining the true meaning of the verse and how it applies to any ministry, so that if demand, you can then apply it. (pp. 4-12)

In chapter 2 of “The Five Smooth Stones” by Robertson McQuilkin talks about what areas of postmodern society we should adopt, adapt or oppose. We look to adapt those free spirit thinkers while adopting spirituality, reality, hope, our relationship with Jesus and neighbor and speaking to the heart. While the above is what we should apply or adapt for application, the oppositional elements to be avoided are much like a teenagers hormonal rational and should be discussed, in order to be thorough.(pgs. 14-20) “You need to know this and figure out what to do, for there is going to be trouble for our master and his whole family. He’s so ill-tempered that no one can even talk to him!”(1 Samuel 25:17 NLT)

McQuilkin presents us with the theological beliefs. That theology protects and rehabilitates through what we believe. What is it we believe? I believe I am finite, I believe I am fallen, I believe that I am loved, I believe I am of value, I believe in God and I believe in love and in the rehabilitative category we find I believe in Grace and I believe in victory.(pp. 26-34)

  • The Church

Jesus came back, “God bless you, Simon, son of Jonah! You didn’t get that answer out of books or from teachers. My Father in heaven, God himself, let you in on this secret of who I really am. And now I’m going to tell you who you are, really are. You are Peter, a rock. This is the rock on which I will put together my church, a church so expansive with energy that not even the gates of hell will be able to keep it out”. (Matthew 16:17-18)

Worship is looked at as a show with singing and waving hands to many. The melodies move our feet and get us singing, no matter how bad our pitch is off. However, worship is a give and take and we should be giving back to God, with true thanksgiving from the heart. The kind of worship that God is after is of the spirit. (p. 43) The music should be God-oriented and not human-oriented. (p. 48) “Who may worship in your sanctuary, Lord? Who may enter your presence on your holy hill?”(Psalm 15:1)

  • The Holy Spirit

We must embrace the power of the Holy Spirit and allow the teaching of Him in a different realm and as adopted by the postmodern world. We must define the gifts from the Spirit and determine if they are natural gifts or gifts or fruit?  Natural gifts do not necessarily need to be driven by the Spirit. They can just be a means of drawing attention to you where the Spirit is already shored. If it is a gift of the Spirit, we must learn how to harness its power and apply it to our lives. Are the gifts meant for us to hold positions of authority or office? 1 Timothy 3:2 states; “Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, (ESV) (pp. 73-89) Furthermore, the Holy Spirit is indispensable in accomplishing all of God’s work. He alone has the knowledge of all factors. (pg. 101) Our responsibility is to connect with the Spirit through prayer. (p. 110)

  • Gods Redemptive Plan

God has a plan! We hear that preached all the time. So how is it applied in my life? Fulfilling the Great Commission is a fundamental command. It is our reason and purpose for being created all for glorifying God. To go out to every corner of the world into dark places, to shine a light and bring the lost back to Christ. God assures us of a successful conclusion to his plan of world evangelization. (p. 116) Gods character of love demands that world evangelism be central in Jesus’ thinking. (p. 118) Many missionaries nowadays, are of middle-aged adults and have left other vocations in order to fulfill their call to ministry.(p. 126) “But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge.”(1 John 2:20 ESV) This particular verse gives us the authority to go out as disciples of Christ, fulfilling His plan. Tithing also plays a key role in this element and promises eternal wealth in the end. (p. 153)

  • Lordship of Jesus

The Lordship of Christ is exemplified by followership, servant leadership and in being a positive role model. We must avoid development of human lordship or face failure within the church. (p. 174)

Again we look at the scripture of Matthew 16:17-18 , This time from a postmodern translation. “Jesus came back, “God bless you, Simon, son of Jonah! You didn’t get that answer out of books or from teachers. My Father in heaven, God himself, let you in on this secret of who I really am. And now I’m going to tell you who you are, really are. You are Peter, a rock. This is the rock on which I will put together my church, a church so expansive with energy that not even the gates of hell will be able to keep it out. (MSG)

We are to exemplify Christ’s life by; Sharing authority, being loving and purposeful. (pp. 177-184) We should tend to the flock responsibly and seek the one who is lost. We should be eager, strong and free of compulsion. Being kind and not of coercion, modeling and humble as well as faith-filled.

In order to succeed we need to be aware of regeneration, prayer, faith in the book and humility. One final requirement is discipline including excommunication in certain instances of being pure and is addressed in Scripture. “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy,[a] drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”(Galatians 5:19-21 ESV)

  • Conclusion

In conclusion, we now have a guideline of proven common denominators of a rapidly growing church. We recognize that we need to allow the Bible to be the final authority, centralize Gods’ plan within the church, enlist the Holy Spirit and His energizing power, and call upon the entire congregation to fully participate in the plan of redemption. (p. 207)

We agree that the Bible Scriptures have ultimate authority over all that we do in our church whether it be a plan for growth or something as simple as supplying a meal for the homeless. We will thoroughly scrutinize the Scriptures to reveal what God will have us do.

The congregation including the home churches or para-churches must agree to fully comply with the mission of the church and its directional elements. The congregation of the church is also responsible to ensure that everyone in the church is utilizing their spiritual gifts, given to us by the Holy Spirit and evoking His power through witnessing and prayer.

We are similarly directed to recognize the redemptive plan of God or Christs’ last command, known as “The Great Commission”, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,”(Matthew 28:19)

Finally, we are to worship no other God as Lord, we will rebuke anyone that humanizes lordship, and require all members to be pure in their ways. Holding those accountable, when necessary, is also an element that must be included. For failure to completely follow these elements as laid out in this book will be the determining factor in the health, success, and fulfillment of the Great Commission.





  1. Robertson McQuilkin | Columbia International University. (n.d.). Retrieved March 23, 2014, from http://www.ciu.edu/robertson-mcquilkin

McQuilken, R., 2007, The five smooth stones – Essential principles for biblical ministry, Nashville,TN B&H Publishing Group

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