A friend in-real-life was listening to one of my sermons recently and had a question. He wanted to make it clear that I was not going over his head but wondered if everyone in my congregation was always able to follow. I told him that some of points in the case I was making were repeated from things we had either studied or I had preached before. I kind of figured they would remember some of it. The other thing I pointed out was that my particular audience had a lifetime of experience; some of those church members had been at that church since before I was born. I would tailor my presentation for a youth group or a congregation with many new believers. You gotta know your audience.
That conversation got me thinking. A speaker should know their audience but at the same time a church congregation, men’s meeting, conference organizers or Sunday School class should know what to expect from a speaker. Here is what to expect from me personally. Continue reading →
In my own denomination 75 churches each week close for good. The attrition rate among pastors is staggering. According to LifeWay research (link) it may not be 1,500 a month walking away from the ministry but on average 250 each month do. The culture we live in has changed. Just a generation or two ago a local politician, think city council or school board member, was expected to be active in a local church in order to be considered a member of the community. Church attendance is no longer looked to as a metric and being outspoken about one’s faith may be a strike against a candidate. The rights to religious expression are challenged with increasing frequency, not just in the public arena but in homes and other private property.
A couple of years ago I turned 40 and wrote a post, on the other blog, about things I had done over the past four decades and a few still on my “bucket list.” I even asked for suggestions; maybe I’m not aware of all that I have not experienced yet. Today is a different sort of birthday. It was on June 19th, 1988, that I became a born again Christian believer. Continue reading →
I don’t know how many tributes have been written, published, posted or tweeted this week about Billy Graham. I am not writing because I think there needs to be another one; sometimes the writing process is how we work through things. But in the process of thinking about it, maybe I can share with you some things to think about as well. Continue reading →
Since I posted this on Tuesday morning I’ve been thinking about a sermon or blog post about being very intentional when choosing our words. We are warned by James that the tongue is like a wild beast no man can tame, a small member that kindles a great fire. Jesus instructs all that minister to be wise as serpents but innocent as doves and Paul has some strict words of warning for those that would teach or preach the Gospel. Continue reading →
Praying for a politician running for re-election. Celebrating with a brother whose son finally came to Christ. Receiving a praise report from a member who had surgery. Hearing how the Lord used a particular sermon I preached to change a life. Meeting a little girl who begged her parents to talk to the pastor. Receiving an update on a sick member. Ministering to a new resident of the city who is looking for a church. Thanking a faithful volunteer for his faithful but often unnoticed service.
These encounters were not part of my office schedule from last week. They were opportunities I had by shaking hands after church this past Sunday.
I have read a couple of articles at churchleaders.com and browsed seveal others and decided to add that site to the list of Useful Links in the right-hand sidebar. The site is for any person in a church leadership role. Under the Find Your Ministry tab you can choose from senior pastor, worship leader, youth leader, small group leader and outreach.
Research indicates that as many as four in ten pastors will be forced to leave a ministry at least once during their career. Hershael York and Jeff Iorg outline how to prevent terminations that are often unnecessary and offer advice on how to deal with conflicts when they do arise in this article via Baptist Press.
On the list of top 15 reasons pastors are fired/ forced to resign, only two are related to sin on the part of the pastor. Ethical conduct comes in at #8 and sexual misconduct #10. Many times issues relate to personal communication skills or a few disgruntled members that spiral out of control. Sometimes it is simply time for one’s ministry to come to an end in one place and move on to something else. But the old saying is that figures don’t lie; nearly half of all church pastors will deal with these issues sooner or later. The advice in the BP article is sound and it wouldn’t be a bad idea for church members not in the pastorate to give it some consideration.
-Hershael York is a preaching professor at Southern Seminary as well as a currently active church pastor. Jeff Iorg is president of Golden Gate Theological Seminary. The image above and original text of the article are copyright 2014 Baptist Press.
In the circles of Christianity that I run in, we believe that some are called to preach, some are gifted to teach, but all are called to be evangelists. Any born again Christian should be able to communicate to another person what Christ has done, even if the exchange is one on one. You do not have to be a preacher, Sunday School teacher or any sort of public speaker to share the Gospel. Apologetics is about presenting a defense of our faith and any Christian if asked ought to at least be able to explain why he or she is a believer. There are some, however, that still preach from the pulpit that only the ordained minister can evangelize from the pulpit. Consider this summary of one reformed pastor when responding to this issue on the Puritan Board website: Continue reading →
In Mark 1 (also Matthew 4) Jesus began his public ministry. Before healing the sick or calling disciples, Jesus preached his first sermon:
Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:14-15, ESV)
Jesus preached the gospel. Gospel is one of those words we borrowed from Greek when translating the scriptures. It means good news. You can easily recognize Christians that share the gospel by one simple test: is what they are sharing good news? At the first opportunity, Jesus preached the Gospel. He did not preach a four part message series on having a happy marriage or managing a successful business. The Bible has a lot to say about marriage, business, raising children and so forth. But those things are not of the most importance. Where Jesus spent the balance of his time and energy was on spreading the gospel. Continue reading →