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”
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”
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”
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”
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”
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”
THEM: I’m not growing any fruit, what should I do?
ME: Pray. Stop sinning, Pursue holiness.
THEM: What else ya got?
This was a real conversation I had with a guy. Through our entire relationship he was adamant that good works were not necessary, and that sin wasn’t that bad because Jesus had forgiven him. Yet I’ve never met anyone so burdened with guilt. He was constantly beating himself up and depressed.
“How come I don’t have any spiritual fruit? Why doesn’t sin just stop?” he asked.
“Because you don’t think sin is that bad and you don’t think good works are that good.”
“Yeah, my good works are just filthy rags and all my sin has been dealt with in Christ. But I just don’t understand why I’m not growing.”
“You should do good things. Paul says in Titus to do good works so you are not unfruitful.”
“Yeah, well, there you go slipping into legalism again.”
We got nowhere. He later left the church.
People are suckers for get rich quick schemes. We all want the shortcut to success. This is just as true spiritually as it is monetarily.
I think most Christians admire Jesus Christ and would be cool with being more like Him. I really think most Christians have a desire to be better people. In fact, most people desire that.
Continue reading “The Frustrating Work of Helping Sinners Not Sin”