All you healthy people that don’t use sugar: your homemade Christmas cookies are not as good as you think they are.
There is a segment of Christianity that is obsessed with diet. I’m not saying they are synonymous with the homeschoolers, but there is massive overlap. They are under the impression that we are justified by food alone. Sola Cibus. (I don’t know, I just looked up “What is the Latin word for food?” And cibus came up as the answer.)
Romans 14 and 15 tells us to please our neighbor and do things that edify them. Don’t force your weird scruples on people if it causes problems. I feel that diet evangelists need a refresher course on this passage.
At every casual gathering of Christians there is food. The lady who has to bring her health food along with recipes and detailed reasons why her treats are better than anything else anyone else brought are in violation of brotherly love. They just are.
Furthermore, your food sucks.
No one likes it.
There’s a reason why people like salt and sugar: because food with salt and sugar tastes better. Throw in some butter too, maybe just lard.
Continue reading “Hey Christians: No One Cares About Your Diet”
I preach boring sermons to weed out the pretenders and scare off the entertain-me-now crowd. And also because I’m boring.
I really am a failure at being a pastor. The results are in: I suck at this.
When I examine how I do my job and the pathetic results I’m getting, defensiveness enters the picture. Maybe I’m not that bad. Maybe it’s this church and these people. Maybe it’s the society we live in. Maybe it’s our location and how our church is set up.
I can find spiritual sounding reasons why I get the results I get: My sermons are tough, they are in-depth. I’m probably too spiritual for most people. People can’t handle the sound doctrine I drop on them every week. They can’t bear up. It just means I’m preaching the offense of the cross and confronting sin. People hate the light! I must be throwing lots of light out there, because people sure seem to hate what I’m doing.
I will give some benefit of the doubt that this could be part of the problem. I do think I preach the cross and confront sin. I know a number of people who blatantly told me that’s why they left.
Preaching in-depth, doctrinally sound sermons is a good way to weed out pretenders, people who are there for other reasons. If our churches are massively entertaining, you don’t have any idea why people are there. At least if your church is boring, you know they’re not there for enjoyment!
I know, that’s a sick twisted way to think, but alas, it’s quite true! It’s along the lines of persecution. Persecution is a really good way to find out who is legitimate with their faith and who is playing games. Boring sermons are a safer form of persecution, and creates the same results!
But I know this isn’t the whole story.
It might just be that I suck and my sermons are boring.
Continue reading “Justifying Boring Sermons”
Pastor Potluck Rules: go last in line, take most of what people took least, and sit with people no one else sits with.
My dad was a pastor and I learned these rules from him. He never told me these rules; he just did them. I was routinely amazed at his ability to be last in line. As a kid, I was top ten every single time! How can you not want to get in line for food?
Then, the stuff he took! Man, I stocked up on desserts and jello salad and cheesy casseroles. My dad would take all the gross stuff. He did that because he knew people would be offended if no one took their food. If it was particularly ignored food, he’d make sure to thank them for bringing it and tell them how much he really liked squid. I kid you not. One time we had a missions potluck and someone made squid. He and a junior high boy ate it.
My dad was a friendly guy and people liked talking to him. He had people in church who were his friends and he’d more than likely enjoy sitting with them and yucking it up. Instead he’d sit with that one family who was a little annoying and difficult to talk to. He’d sit with the old people who could hardly hear. He’d never take much food and he’d eat it quickly so he could make the rounds and sit with people who no one else was by.
My dad was a true servant. He always looked out for other people. Part of this was his inherent nature. That’s who he was. Part of it was actually pride on his part. He was a people-pleaser to the extreme. He pleased people so much he did not get much enjoyment out of life.
But he was still right in much of how he did his pastoral ministry. His potluck etiquette was impeccable.
Continue reading “How to be a Pastor at a Potluck”
If Monty Python had never made The Quest for the Holy Grail, all my sermons would be two minutes shorter.
Pastors are supposed to be culturally relevant. We’re supposed to interject cultural things into our sermons to make us appear as though we’re real people and know things about stuff.
The problem is that modern culture is completely stupid. Modern music is no music at all. Modern films are just political propaganda. Television is passé. YouTube and Instagram are just one more waste of time.
It’s hard to pay attention to such inanities, let alone work them into sermons and be relevant.
I prefer reveling in my irrelevance. I have no idea what is going on in modern culture, other than knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that modern culture is completely stupid. I at least know that. I prefer showing my incompetence by quoting things that were cool many years ago.
The greatest movie ever made was Monty Python’s Quest for the Holy Grail. There are so many lines in there that fit like hand in glove into sermons. I cannot talk about the resurrection without mentioning “I got better. I feel fine.” Any discussion of government or kings in the Bible so easily slides into “watery tarts distributing swords is no basis for a form of government.” The witch of Endor floats on water like small rocks and churches. I could go on. I can quote the whole movie. Walls of Jericho with the Frenchmen who will taunt you a second time.
The thing is that very few people know Monty Python references anymore. What sad times are these when passing ruffians can’t quote Monty Python. So when I include Monty Python quotes in my sermons, people just think I’m quoting the King James. Either that or people think I’m stupid for saying that Jesus got better after He was crucified.
People have no idea how many lines of Monty Python they know now simply because I’ve repeated them in my sermons.
Continue reading “Monty Python, Preaching, and Culturally Relevant Sermons”
I love fellowship, if by “fellowship” you mean reading books alone in my office with the door closed.
Churches are all about fellowship. Fellowship is all about talking to each other and eating food. I’m cool with eating food.
I’ve never been a fan of talking. I never feel like I have anything relevant to add to any conversation. All my stories are lame and easily topped. My facts are usually wrong. My political insights are easily destroyed strawman opinions. Anything remotely good I share comes across as bragging.
I’d prefer silence at meals. As the great theologian, George Thorogood said, “When I drink alone, I prefer to be by myself.”
The best times of Christian fellowship I’ve ever had are one-on-one conversation. Group gatherings drain me and lead to very little in the way of edification. Generally it’s just people talking over one another. Fellowship leads to headaches for me.
I prefer going home, sitting in my chair and fellowshipping with dead authors. Why does fellowship always have to be with living, talking people?
A. W. Tozer, Oswald Chambers, C. S. Lewis, and so many others have such great insights that provoke so much thought and growth in me. It’s hard to convince me that going and talking about the weather and the football game would be better.
I’ve learned too much from dead people to ever be swayed into spending lots of time with living people.
Continue reading “Church Fellowship is Overrated”
Board members were alarmed at how low attendance was today. Or they would have been, if they had been there.
Pastors making fun of their board is as old as pastors and boards. Some of the epic battles I’ve heard about, the total warfare that breaks out in board meetings, are things of legend.
I’ve never had such things. There was one meeting where I and a board member had a disagreement about a person, similar to Paul and Barnabas arguing over Mark. It was almost the exact situation. Voices were raised, but nothing untoward was said. We parted friends.
Other than that, our meetings have been quite civil. The reason for this, in my opinion, is that my board doesn’t really care that much about what goes on in our church. I’m not saying that as a terrible character flaw, they are just busy people and I don’t think church concerns rank that high on their radar of concerns.
I know this because for the majority of my time in my church board members are rarely all at a Sunday service. It’s slightly better now, but still only happens maybe half the Sundays.
You can tell how much your board members care about their church by how often they are around it. Not coming to church is a classic sign that people don’t care about your church or anything you are preaching, doing, or leading.
Continue reading “The Ideal Church Board Member”
Whenever I’m tempted to spout theological wisdom, I just remember: Nobody cares.
Social Media has taught us that success depends upon branding yourself. You have to produce content, get followers, retweets, and likes. Get your message out there. Effectiveness is measured by how many people you can prove bumped into your content.
This mentality has come into the Christian world as well. Pastors feel this pressure constantly.
We are told to follow the Big Name pastors out there and we’re basically taught to envy their numbers. John Piper can put some cheesy good morning poem on his Twitter feed and by noon it has 2.5k likes. I put out one finely crafted Tweet succinctly summing up justification and it gets zero response.
I then feel pathetic and dumb. John Piper, bolstered by the 2.5k people who liked his poem, continues to write weird poems as though people need such things for sanctification to continue. He Tweets away, then occasionally lectures people for spending too much time on social media.
I did a theologically minded blog for over 15 years. There were about five people who regularly read it. There used to be nine, but I banned four of them from commenting anymore, so they eventually left.
I put out all kinds of stuff for my church people to use. I speak three times a week, yet hardly anyone shows up. I put out, what I think, is good theological content. Really helpful and inspiring stuff.
No one cares.
Continue reading “No One Cares About Your Theological Opinions”