Hey Christians: No One Cares About Your Diet

All you healthy people that don’t use sugar: your homemade Christmas cookies are not as good as you think they are.
@FailingPastor

 

 

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”

The Ideal Church Board Member

Board members were alarmed at how low attendance was today. Or they would have been, if they had been there.
@FailingPastor

 

 

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.

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The Frustrating Work of Helping Sinners Not Sin

THEM: I’m not growing any fruit, what should I do?

ME: Pray. Stop sinning, Pursue holiness.

THEM: What else ya got?
@FailingPastor

 

 

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.

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My Thoughts When Someone Tells Me They Watched a Televangelist Instead of Coming to Church

Telling your pastor what TV preachers you watch while you skip church is not helping your cause.
@FailingPastor

 

 

One thing I hate about being a pastor is listening to people’s excuses for skipping church. I’m not interested. If there is a reason you weren’t there, that’s fine, but excuses drive me nuts.

One of the justifications for not coming to church is telling the pastor what other means of edification you partook in while skipping church. This frequently involves telling your pastor what televangelist you watched Sunday morning instead.

Here’s the thing: The majority of pastors on TV are heretical nut-jobs. Yeah, I said it.

If watching a televangelist makes up for not coming to hear me preach, then good Lord, I should have quit years ago.

Watching heretics is about the worst possible thing you could do while skipping church. You’d be better served getting another hour of sleep. Or wake up and drink coffee and stare out the window Talk to your kids. Even going to their baseball tournament is better than watching televised heresy.

Telling me that you watched a televangelist is not winning any points with me. It makes me worry that you think my messages are similar to what you saw on TV. That imbibing in that drivel equals drinking, what I thought, were rivers of living water proclaimed from God’s Word in my sermon.

I’m now more worried for you. I now feel that you need at least four more church services just to make up for the heretical information that is now swimming loose in the slosh of your brain. Instead of justifying your absence of one church service, you now indebt yourself to four more of my church services.

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Why Do We Rely on Church Tradition?

Do something stupid in church long enough and it becomes infallible, authoritative Church Tradition.
@FailingPastor

 

 

“A lie told often enough becomes the truth.” Those are the alleged words of Vladimir Lenin, one of the greatest propagandists of all time. Lenin used his propaganda skills to gain power and wield it authoritatively over a helpless people.

One would hope only blatantly evil people would use such tactics to gain power. Unfortunately, hoping this would require you to be unfamiliar with human nature.

I’m stunned by people who believe things based on “church tradition.”

I mean, seriously, have you ever been to church? Have you ever hung around one for years, knowing its intimate details and goings-on? For the love of all things beautiful and good, why would you base your beliefs on what comes out of there?!

This is especially glaring for those who emphasize Sola Scriptura, the notion that Scripture is our sole authority for life and doctrine. Sole authority. “Sole” there means something. “Sole” means the only one!

“Well yes, but Scripture is hard to understand, so we need to get help. Relying on those who came before us is a safeguard for knowing what Scripture is saying.”

So, I need 2,000 years of insane people doing insane things in the name of Christ to properly understand the Scriptures? How about the Holy Spirit? Is He enough, or do I need all kinds of dead guys?

“Well, we test what the Spirit says by seeing if He said the same thing to others in the past.”

So, the only test of whether the Spirit is teaching me is if the teaching lines up with people I have no guarantee had the Spirit?

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The Case for Long Sermons

“And sixty-fifthly. . .”

–Me about to wrap up a sermon
@FailingPastor

 

 

I preach long sermons. I really do. I feel bad for people.

Here’s the thing: I’m actively trying to make them shorter. I’m amazed how my sermons can consistently be 35 minutes in practice, and yet stretch to over 45 when preached in church. I feel bad.

But not really.

When it comes to sermon length, you kind of have to fit into what the church allows. If people are used to going to church for an hour, or an hour and a half, that’s what they expect to have happen. There are allowable minutes for prayer, scripture reading, singing, special music, offering, all sorts of things. The sermon gets shoved in between that stuff.

That stuff may have a place (although I think offering should go the way of the dodo bird), but the preaching of the word really is the point of a church gathering. I’m shocked how many people don’t understand this. Then again, no one comes to my church, so . . .

The best advice I ever heard about preaching was:

If you don’t have anything else to say: don’t!

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Why Church Hopping Exists

Our new Church Motto:
If you didn’t like your old church, you won’t like this one either. Go away.
@FailingPastor

 

 

An older man told me he’s left every church he’s been involved with because of conflict with leadership. Imagine my surprise when he left my church over a problem with me.

Another guy who left my church in the rudest way anyone has, later got kicked out of, yes “kicked out of,” the next church he went to.

A family left my church because they disagreed with pretty much everything we did. The wife decided to go to school to be a pastor. Now she can run a church right.

I was told that one family who left my church has also left every church in town. All the pastors know them, as they all were their pastor at one point.

One couple, who attends my church about six-months at a time, constantly bounces in and out of churches six-months at a time, trying all the new pastors as they come in. They never settle anywhere.

The majority of people who have left my church haven’t joined another church. I believe this will work out well for the church, but be a complete disaster for them personally.

When you’ve been a pastor long enough you get used to people coming and going. Sometimes you know why; sometimes you don’t. But news travels. I end up hearing what they are up to after they leave. Based on the later stories and interactions, I understand more why they left and most of the time, it wasn’t our church; it was just troubled people having troubles with everything.

When people leave my church, I try not to take it personally. I feel bad for them, most of them go on to prove they have deep spiritual issues that need dealing with. Some do hurt the church. Some hurt me deeply. Some are misunderstandings and personality conflicts that make me wonder if I should still be a pastor. Others just make sense.

“There are no perfect churches because there are no perfect people,” is the cute cliché that’s supposed to make us feel better about our ineptitude. There is a point to be made there, but I still think churches can be better.

Hopping around until you find one that already meets all your requirements, will not only frustrate you, it won’t help any church.

There is much irony in pastors complaining about church-hoppers when pastors stay at a church for four years on average. Perhaps people are just following our lead? Dedicate yourself to a church.

Churches are not commodities to be weighed and compared and priced. The church is a family. You’re not supposed to ditch your family for a better one. Of course, this illustration doesn’t make much sense in our culture where ditching your family for another one is no longer taboo.

The church is a body. When one member hurts, all members hurt. We do our part collectively to keep the whole body strong. Of course, this illustration doesn’t make much sense in our culture where most of us are overweight and lazy. We don’t take care of problems, we just get them medically treated or covered up. Easier to buy a drug than maintain disciplined diet and exercise.

The church is like a building. It’s made to last, to weather the storm, and provide shelter and comfort for years. Of course, this illustration doesn’t make much sense in our culture where people move and we ditch old parts of town for new houses on the outskirts.

So, yeah, none of the illustrations for church make much sense anymore. It should not shock you that people are not loyal to your church. Grass tends to be greener in other fields. Other pastors are always better than the one you have.

I don’t let people leave without checking in on them. It saddens me to see the state of the church today, but more so to see the state of people who leave churches all the time. These are hurting people and the church is hurting right along with them.

 

 

But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.
–Ephesians 4:15-16