Being Intentional About Not Using the Word Intentional

THEM: Evangelism should be intentional.

ME: Yes, the curse of accidental evangelism must be stopped immediately!
@FailingPastor

 

 

I am not a hip or cool pastor. I doubt “hip” and “cool” are even words “hip and cool” pastors use anymore. I don’t even try. Cool is subjective. Too many cool people look stupid to me. I don’t trust “cool.” It shifts with the tides of human esteem.

One of the ways people know I’m not cool is by looking at me. If that doesn’t do it, then listen to me.

I avoid cool words like the plague. Cool words like “intentional.” Just the sound of it makes me want to barf. I’m amazed I was able to type that without puking on my keyboard. Massive levels of restraint here; I have my body under subjection.

Intentional means “to do something deliberately, on purpose.” The antonym is “accidental.” I looked this up in a dictionary, because of that whole “I’m not cool” thing I was talking about earlier.

So, here’s my question: who are these people who are doing accidental evangelism? Furthermore, please explain, with as many small words as possible, why these people must be suppressed?

I’m totally cool with people doing accidental evangelism. There’s a chance it’s way more effective than your pre-planned, cookie-cutter, intentional approach.

I know, I’m just being an old curmudgeon, an old curmudgeon, by the way, who is not cool. But still, I will raise my point and scold all you young, hip guys that words mean things and we should be careful.

I was once told that pastors need to be “thought leaders.” As opposed to Feeling Followers I suppose. Am I leading other people’s thoughts? Isn’t that typically referred to as “brainwashing?” I don’t want to be in charge of people’s thoughts. I want people to have the mind of Christ.

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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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The Case for Seeker-Insensitive Churches

The best way to keep people from leaving your church is to not let them in to begin with.
@FailingPastor

 

 

I understand why Seeker Sensitive churches exist. I get why churches market and use gimmicks to get people to attend. I also know that most people attracted by gimmicks and marketing leave the church, often after causing problems.

There is a small-business owner in my church who told me that he is picky about who his customers are. If a customer is too demanding or has a bad attitude, he doesn’t do what they say. They don’t come back. Everyone is saved a hassle.

“The customer is always right” is a statement based on a business model of making money no matter what. Keeping customers happy retains customers so you can make more money off of them. Jerks pay cash too!

The church, in my opinion, is not a money-making venture. Mine particularly. Although the church ignores them, there are several verses about church discipline. Not all people in your church should be in your church. The customer is not always right.

This is a tough pill to swallow for many. Some have a view of grace that says anything goes, everyone must be tolerated, and no judging should ever be done. I think the Bible disagrees with that.

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Some Thoughts About Having Church Buildings

“Church is not a building.”

–Christians who attend churches where a majority of the budget is spent on buildings.
@FailingPastor

 

The amount of money spent on church buildings is ridiculous. I do believe this is going to come up on Judgment Day.

There is nothing in the Bible about churches having buildings. At the same time, there are plenty of verses talking about not putting our treasure on earth, not seeking material wealth, not getting tied down to earthly things, and the classic passage where the disciples bragged to Jesus about the impressive temple buildings, only to be shot down by Christ.

I won’t say having a church building is a sin, nor that a church should not have a building, but I do hear an awful lot of pride expressed in buildings, the very same buildings that will, like the old temple, be toppled.

I did a wedding at a different church once where they just added a new addition. It was a separate building with a gym and classrooms. They proudly showed me every single room, even though they all looked the same.

When the Grand Tour was over, my tour guide asked me, “I probably shouldn’t have shown you all that! Now you are envious of our building!” This was said with zero hint that they were sorry. It was pride through and through. I said, “No, not really. I think I’ll be ok.”

“You still meeting in the same place?” is a question I get frequently. Without blowing my cover, we don’t have a building. What we do is pathetic in light of what all the cool churches are doing. It has cost us some people.

One family left because the new Vineyard church put in an arcade for the kids. “How come our church doesn’t do anything like that?”

“Because I think that’s stupid” was apparently not the answer they were looking for. They left. Hope their kids had a nice time at the arcade.

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Why I Don’t Like Pastors’ Conferences

I am not at a pastor’s conference. I am at home saving money and serving the Lord.

And judging pastors at pastor’s conferences.
@FailingPastor

 

 

I don’t like pastors’ conferences. This is not because I am opposed to them, I just don’t like them. Here are the main reasons why:

1) I make very little money. If I were to pay for a trip to a pastor’s conference, that would eliminate lots of money for my family’s use. If I’m going to pay for a trip, it will be for the family. “Wouldn’t your church pay for you to go?” See, here’s the thing: the reason I have little money is because my church has little money. They are paying me as much as they can. Me taking time off, which means dumping my kids on my wife while I’m off by myself, would be selfish at this point (and that is not a complaint, it’s a fact).

2) Free resources abound. Pretty much everything ever written or said about pastoring can be found for free or little cost. I take advantage of these resources, to the extent I already know what they’re going to say anyway.

3) I’m an introvert. The main reason pastors like attending these conferences is for the camaraderie and fellowship, two things I’d rather not do! I’m just one of those people who do not get energy from being with people. It drains me. Small group hugging time gives me shivers.

4) Professional Christianity nauseates me. Hobnobbing with cool pastors who all wear the same glasses just doesn’t gear me up. Networking and comparing notes just makes me not like the church more. Sorry. I know. I have a bad attitude. Guilty. I serve in a poor church with non-suburban people. I do not feel like I fit in cool conference atmospheres. Nor will most of the jargon shared be something that would work in my church anyway.

5) Oh, the singing we’ll do. The singing in Christianity is way too much. I like music. I like singing. I think good group singing is fantastic. But give it a rest already. I just can’t do it with the singing and the worship bands and the hand lifting and the mood manipulation stuff. Been doing this a long time. It’s not my preferred form of worship. It, in fact, tends to get in the way of a worshipful feeling for me. It makes me feel like smacking people. Yes, I know, I have a bad attitude. Guilty.

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Ignoring the Bible Is the Easiest Way to Get Unity

THEM: What is a denomination?

ME: A group of Christians who agree on what passages of Scripture to ignore.
@FailingPastor

 

 

The Bible is a large book. It’s hard to develop a comprehensive understanding of any biblical subject because there’s so much information. I’m not saying it’s impossible; I’m saying that it’s hard.

The Bible is also loaded with contradictions.

I know that’s a terrible thing to say. Many people have maintained there are no contradictions in the Bible. I sincerely wonder if these people have ever read the book.

One classic example is Proverbs 26:4-5, where we are told not to answer a fool according to his folly, followed by saying to answer a fool according to his folly.

So, which is it? It’s both. To everything there is a season and an appointed time.

Kind of sounds like situational ethics, no?

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This Church Is Not Your Old Church

If you want my church to be like the one you just left: go back there.
@FailingPastor

 

 

“Our last church did bake sales to raise money, you should try that.”

“The last church we went to had live animals in the Christmas play, we should do that.”

“Last church we attended had an arcade for the kids, why don’t we have an arcade?”

I’ve never understood people telling their new church to be like the one they left. Look, if your last church was so great, if they had the winning recipe, then please go back. Please, I beg you. Just go.

In all the suggestions I’ve heard about what my church should do that their old church did, I’ve yet to hear, “We should have longer sermons” or “there should be more Scripture reading.” Nope, it’s always some froufrou gimmick guaranteed to “bring them in.”

Our church never did regular Communion. When I came it never crossed my mind with all the stuff that was wrong with the place, it wasn’t at the top of my list. I’m not defending that either, I’m just stating the facts.

“How come we don’t do Communion more?” I was asked one Sunday. Hm, I never thought about it, but yup, that had slipped through the cracks, and what a terrible thing to have slipped. We immediately began doing Communion on a regular basis.

There are times when people are right and they make good suggestions, but that is about the only one I’ve heard that was biblical in nature.

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The Church Is A Giant Mission Field

1ST YEAR PASTOR: I will win this city for Jesus!

10TH YEAR PASTOR: I’m pretty concerned about the people in my church at this point.
@FailingPastor

 

 

In one of my first board meetings I led as a pastor, I laid out my plan to build our church. I was going to start satellite churches in small towns near us. I’d have a school and I’d be the principal. I was going to take over the city for Jesus.

I came with the assumption that people in my church were saved, intelligent, well-informed, and ready to serve the Lord, all they needed was visionary leadership.

After several years I began worrying about the salvation of some of the people in my church. A couple years after that, I was worried if anyone was saved. A couple years later, I wasn’t even sure I was saved.

I wonder if I’m the only pastor who thinks he got saved years after starting his pastor job?

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The Grace, Love, and Joy of KJV Only People

I must admit I was a little shocked when I saw all the ABCDEFGHILMNOPQRSTUWXYZ’s in my KJV Only Study Bible.
@FailingPastor

 

 

The phone rang as I sat down for dinner with my family. An anonymous person warned me, “There are people in your church who will leave if you keep using the NIV. You have a small church; you can’t afford to lose more people. I’m telling you: go back to the King James immediately.”

One of the weirdest things I’ve run into while being a pastor are people’s rabid defenses of Bible translations. I like the King James. I use the King James. I also have some problems with it. But I like it, I’m familiar with it, and I use it.

The fact that I preach out of the KJV has led many to believe I am a KJV fanatic. They do the wink-wink, nod-nod KJV Club stuff with me, until the Sunday comes where I say, “The King James kind of botches this translation.” Redness overtakes their face.

I have had four people leave my church because I “used the NIV” on Sunday morning.

Here’s the thing: I have never once used the NIV on a Sunday morning.

Here’s the other thing: I constantly make fun of the NIV. Anyone who listens to me for any time knows I don’t care for the NIV (no, I do not want explanations about the NIV’s strong-points). I don’t care if other people use it, I just don’t like it.

The people were actually upset when I read something out of the New American Standard Version, which they took as the NIV, and left the church.

Nope, it didn’t matter when I told them it wasn’t the NIV. It didn’t matter when I said I never have, nor will, use the NIV with any level of seriousness. Nope, didn’t matter. They were gone. I used the NIV while reading the NASV and that was enough.

One lady actually yelled at me during the service to “use a real Bible” when I read from not the KJV.

Who knew that Bible translations could be so divisive? It’s God’s Word, originally written in not-English. Translations into English are just people’s best efforts to help us understand the Greek and Hebrew. I encourage people to use all kinds of translations (even the NIV can be occasionally helpful. Sometimes.). When the KJV uses a weird word, I pause in my sermon and define what the word means, and that definition is usually the way other translations translate it!

But the KJV Only crowd aint playin’. They take this stuff to an unreal level, claiming the KJV is inspired. They will fight you. They will lay you out.

Apparently salvation doesn’t come by the Gospel; it comes by what English translation you prefer. And if you bring your newfangled ESV up in here, they will condemn you to hell and that right quick.

Oh well. I continue to use my KJV. Although I’ve considered using the NAS or ESV simply to remove all visitors’ hopes or fears that I’m a KJV Only man.

But I don’t cave to stupidity. Plus over the years I’ve adapted a liking for poking people who take themselves too seriously. So I keep using my KJV and critiquing it when necessary. I’ll keep a running tab of how many people leave. It keeps me entertained.

 

 

Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers.
–2 Timothy 2:14

Relevance is Over Rated

I’m pretty sure what Paul meant by “Come out from among them and be separate” was “join them and be relevant.”
@FailingPastor

 

“You must make the Gospel relevant to where people are at. You have to speak to the culture.”

I understand the intentions and I’m sure advice-givers are good people. I just feel like puking when I hear such advice.

Saying the church must become like the world in order to attract the world is silly. Scripture says nothing about the church being attractive to the world.

Yes, Paul said he became all things to all people so that by all means he might win some.

Paul is not the church. Paul was a person. I can lighten up some of my personal scruples for the sake of evangelism. I can refuse to die on a couple hills out there for the sake of the Gospel. This is a far cry from saying the church needs to put on rock concerts every Sunday with fog machines, followed by a stand-up comedy routine for a sermon.

The church exists for the edification of believers. Ephesians 4 seems pretty clear on this issue. Individual believers go out of the church edified in order to do the work of the ministry—being all things to all that some might be saved.

But if the church sells out to attract the world, then edification of the believers won’t happen and the work of the ministry will not be done.

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