Pros and cons of loving people:
One of the bits of advice I heard when I was considering pastoral ministry was, “Love the people.”
That sounds common sensical and is very true. It is also very difficult.
It’s easy to love the idea of people. It’s easy to love people when you assume they will be so grateful for your life-changing sermons and advice that saved their marriage and helped them raise great kids.
But when people call you during supper to warn you they will leave your church “unless” you bow to their demands, love gets tougher. When people yell out disagreements at you during your sermon and invite people to their house afterward to inform them of how dumb the pastor is, love is hard. When old timers from the church invite you over for dinner, only to find out it’s an ambush so they can stand over you and lecture you about how you are ruining “their church,” love gets hard. When you are accused of being legalistic the same week someone leaves your church because you don’t enforce enough rules on the people, love gets confusing along with hard.
Continue reading “Serving People Who Despise You and Other Perks of Being a Pastor”
George Muller’s prayer raised 100’s of orphans. My prayer once got my daughter out of the bathroom before I peed my pants.
The way George Muller tells it, he prayed and hundreds of orphans were fed. He wrote a book about it. I read it. I don’t know. I’m one of those guys. It’s possible this is simply my guilt and inadequacy on display, but I think George Muller was full of crap.
I think the same thing when I read about Francis of Assisi. They just make me want to puke.
I’m not belittling anything they did that was legitimately of faith. Just the way they convey what they do to others, I don’t know, it creeps me out.
There are all kinds of stories about these “great men of God” who did these “great acts of faith.” If we just could be more like them, then we would be awesome too.
There’s a solid chance these guys are better than me and anyone else I’ve ever known. There’s a chance. Not saying that’s impossible. I am saying it’s highly unlikely. People are people. I know some are better than others, but at the base, we’re all people.
The thing I don’t like about books about or by these guys is that God comes across as a genie in a bottle. If you pray right with the right amount of weepy and the right amount of feels, then God will do all this stuff for you. It looks more like superstition than anything explained in the Bible.
Continue reading “Alleged Christian Testimonies of Ministerial Triumph”
Our VBS theme this year: “Giving Us your Kid For 10 Hours 1 Week Won’t Overpower Your Family’s Neglect of all things Spiritual.”
Most are not shocked when kids who grew up in church leave the faith when they leave mom and dad’s house. I’ve heard statistics that like 80% of church kids leave the faith in their early 20’s.
We’re used to this news and yeah, some people are concerned about it, but most of the solutions to the problem demonstrate a lack of true concern. Usually we just double-down on what we’re already doing.
People are taught Christianity as kids; therefore Christianity is often linked in with “what kids believe.” To be an adult, someone who is sophisticated and a free-thinker, you have to depart from what you learned as a kid.
In today’s climate where atheism and materialism are considered cool and enlightened, kids flee the church. What’s rarely reported on is how many of these kids come back, especially when they have kids. I doubt the number is gigantic, but I know some who left the church for many years in their 20’s who later came back. The world holds out answers; young people try those answers. The world’s answers aren’t good; they tire of them and return to what is solid and helpful.
In all honesty, I doubt any kid is saved. I’m not saying none are, I’m merely saying I doubt they are. Kids don’t know enough. They don’t know the alternatives. All they know is what mom and dad say. They go with that and if mom and dad are playing games with faith, the kids will call them on that, blame the church, and leave what they think “the faith” is.
It is stupid to think that dropping your kids off at church will do the work for you. Kids follow the parents. Kids who leave the church generally have parents who aren’t in church much.
Continue reading “Failing Youth Ministry”
When pastors sin,
they don’t just have guilt over the sin
they also have guilt about whether they should be a pastor.
Pastors are people. Most pastors know this, but others tend to forget.
People are sinners.
Pastors are people.
Thus, pastors are sinners.
Pastors make mistakes. We have bad days. We lose our temper. We covet and lust after things we ought not. We lie here and there. We sin.
Sin is not good. Christians are at war with sin and the life of every Christian is a battle against sin. Too many Christians resign themselves to sin. “Well, Bible says we can’t help sinning, so whadaya gonna do?”
Pastors should really be taking this battle seriously. And, I believe, should have a track record of successfully battling sin. There should be a higher standard and that standard should be met regularly.
And yet, pastors are people. People are sinners. There’s a reason why grace and forgiveness are a thing.
One of the frustrations with being a pastor is that I’m not allowed to talk about my sin, and watch out if one of my sins is ever on display.
“You know, pastors shouldn’t do that. Maybe you should get out of the ministry.”
Continue reading “Your Sin and the Doubts About Whether You Should Even be a Pastor”
If you’re not doing anything else in a church, I fail to see why you should be getting married in a church.
“Would you do our wedding?”
Pastors rarely hear more terrifying words than these.
I used to do every wedding I was asked to do. But after 20 years of doing weddings and seeing the disastrous results of most of them, couples are now placed in a position of having to convince me to do their stupid weddings.
I have many bad feelings about weddings. Doing weddings is never mentioned in the Bible as a thing pastors do, nor is the church ever mentioned in relationship to a wedding.
I know some hold up marriage as a sacrament and there is good mojo from having your wedding in a church by a “man of the cloth.” But, trust me, the mojo is about as effective as going to the court house and getting a license signed.
I’ve had several couples where neither person attended church, or only one did. Again, at the beginning of my ministry I held out hopes for evangelism and getting people into church. I thought by doing the wedding the Gospel would be advanced and my church would grow.
I told many of them that they didn’t have to pay me; just come to church. They faithfully came to church all the way up to the wedding. Once the wedding was performed, poof! They done disappeared.
But I did all those weddings. They are all divorced now. Evangelistic results did not occur nor has my church grown, in fact, my church has a terrible reputation for marriage now.
Continue reading “This Pastor is Done With Doing Weddings”
The worst part about being a pastor is that I have no idea what I’m doing.
Regular people with regular jobs get performance reviews. They have a boss who tells them what to do and are given raises, promotions, or demotions based on how they perform. Even business owners can track the bottom line; the money will let them know how well they are doing.
But pastors have no bosses, at least not most. Some of you weird church hierarchy denomination people have such a thing, but alas, you’re weird. I have no performance reviews. Pastors are constantly told not to measure effectiveness by money or attendance.
So, what do I base my performance on? How do I know if I’m doing a good job?
“The spiritual growth of the people.” Oh great. And how, pray tell, does a guy judge that? And, furthermore, when a guy does judge that, boy howdy, how does he come out of that feeling like he has a clue that he’s doing anything right?
I have no idea what I’m doing.
As far as I can tell, the best way to know what a pastor should be doing is to not be a pastor. All non-pastors know exactly what I’m supposed to be doing.
Continue reading “Pastors: If You Always Know What You’re Doing; You’re Probably Not Doing it Right”
I would be more ecumenical if other churches weren’t all filled with heretic scum.
If every person in every church were led by the Spirit then yeah, I’d be all for ecumenical fellowship. But that’s not who goes to church. Lots of people go to church and lots of them don’t have the Spirit, even fewer are led by Him.
Thus we need to test the spirits. We need to watch out for wolves in sheep’s clothing. We need to exercise church discipline. There are all sorts of ramifications for being in a fallen world with fallen people in it.
Happy thoughts about unity and fellowship do not override the reality of jerks and heretics in the church. Letting happy thoughts smooth over the differences in faith-practice and doctrinal substance doesn’t cut it for me.
I know, I’m the jerk and it’s guys like me that keep the church divided. Could be, then again, maybe your heresy has something to do with that division too. Hard to say, aint it?
I’ve been asked multiple times by other churches and “Christian organizations” if our church would get together for some ecumenical event. In all honesty, at the bottom of these requests there are two things these people want:
1) They want my church to hand out free advertising for them, and
2) They want our money.
Continue reading “Church Unity is Overrated”