Author: tmart2007

Blogger on RhetoricandHomiletics.org

There Is A Word For That: It’s Not Shepherding

crime scene

I understand that anecdotal evidence is just that, an example, a single account that may not represent the whole.  “An independent statistical study” needs to be conducted to arrive at “certainty.”   Some would rather quote “Barna” — as if the “Barana Group’s” polling is any more reliable than anecdotal evidence [1].

Nevertheless, here are two disturbing accounts . . . . 2021 accounts.
(If you want to see it on a corporate level, a third example found below. [2] )

Case #1

Me:  Hi Pastor ______, how is it going at the church.

Pastor:  Doing good . . . . strange and challenging days to be pastor of a church.

Me:  That it is!

Pastor:  I am on zoom calls with about 10 other pastors, and it is surprising what pastors say . . .

We still got the money coming in . . . . we’re good — we’re okay . . . .

When I question it, they say . . . .

“Come on ______, you telling me that you don’t like this –You know you do.

We don’t have to preach as much, or deal with people and issues and we still get paid.”

Me: Wow . . . That’s shameful

Pastor: I have been visiting the members and offering “communion” with them at their homes.
At least we can take the time to pray with them!

(“I’ll leave it there, but it gets worse!)

♦♦♦♦♦♦ ♦♦♦♦♦♦ ♦♦♦♦♦♦

Case #2

Me:  Hi, “Bill, I wanted to touch base with how things are going in your life.  Are you still meeting with Pastor _________?

“Bill”:  Things have kind of trailed off.  He rarely calls me or contacts me anymore.

Me: How can I help?

“Bill”: It’s just good to hear from you.  Nobody has ever checked on me before. 

Me: Listen, I can help, if you need someone to talk to.  I know that over the phone is not the best way to do counseling, but I am here if you need to talk to someone.  In fact, I will even fly there for a day or two if that would help — or you can fly down to Florida — whatever works best. . . . . Did you get the book I sent you?

“Bill”: I pulled out the book again today — Gentle and Lowly — the one that you sent me.  When I read it, it moves in a way that I don’t understand.  I have come to enjoy reading it!

Me: That’s good! . . . . . It talks about a Saviour which is far different from the one found in many a church ministry — one that deeply cares about us …  and deeply loves us . . . . Not a Saviour who is looking to find fault, but to cover our faults and failing with His blood . . . . One who wants to bring us home forever.

“Bill”: I appreciate the book . . . . . . . It seems like the times I get together with him — when and if we do get together —  there is only one subject . . . . ‘Am I saved?’  And I am.  I am trusting Christ as my personal Saviour . . . but I don’t know if he believes me.  But I am making it — reading my Bible — but struggling. . . . .

(Again, I’ll leave it there, but there are many more heart-wrenching comments!)

I know, these are just two stories!  They do not represent the ministry.  No, of course they do not.  But they do represent some ministries — and far more than these two.  We will have to wait for someone to do a “double-blind test.”  Or we can hope that Barna will do a poll where pastors anonymously and honestly confess to such attitudes and responses.

With some pastors, fewer preaching demands, less church activity, and steady or increased income has not lead to more time and concern for the sheep.  It has lead to more time off, less preaching (temporarily and maybe permanently), and a greater failure to exhibit the grace and love required, and indeed expected from those who claim the title of “shepherd.”

I can say with certainty, there is far too much self-serving and shameful pastoral decisions and responses than some might like to admit, and which have been brought to the surface by the Covid and political crisis across America. With some, as long as the books balance, the bills are being paid, and no one on staff is missing a paycheck, all is well.

“Expositing the Scriptures” doesn’t mean that you have provided green pastures for the sheep.  Pastors who congratulate themselves on “exposition” may think they have thereby fulfilled their highest duty and in fact, hide their mediocre-to-weak-to-poor-to-terrible shepherding behind fulfilling that duty.  “Expositing the Scriptures” includes exhibiting the love, care, concern, patience, and compassion which”men of the  Book” preach the Scriptures require of His people — no less its leadership.

Lee Eclov states . . . .

Pastors, like all believers, are agents of grace.  But we dispense the grace of Christ as no other believers do.  We are shepherds.  Search as we might for a word more suited to our contemporary culture, shepherd is the only word that will do.  If we hope to understand what we’ve been called by God to do, we have to step into a foreign world of sheep and pastures, folds, and staffs, night watches and wilderness searches . . . . Patient, long-suffering, committed to the often lonely routines of care.  That’s. how God wants us to see ourselves.  In fact, that is one way God see Himself. [3]

Don’t take my word for it, just ask church members — particularly those who have not felt the freedom to return to the in-house church services, those who have been and are marginalized for being fearful — “How often has your pastor personally talked to, called, and/or prayed with you.”

When you hear their answer, you will be able to add a few more anecdotal stories to my point.

With some pastors, and more than imagined or is right, the ministry really is about them.

The word for such is not “shepherds.”



1. The Barna Group polling of “Christians,” “pastors,” “churches,” and “disciples” is as subject to gross inaccuracy to most all polling is.  “Polling” is DEPENEDENT ON who you poll (Christendom is not Christianity) , where you poll (the Northeast is not the South), when you poll (comparing the 50s-60s to 2021), and how you poll (the questions you ask give you the answers you want).

“Barna” results are used to argue for all kinds of trends, positions, and warnings.  There is one certain truth which all the Barna polls repeat in a variety of different ways.  It may be the only trend that Barna polls are picking up — the world is moving from Christ to a day of His return.

By the way, Barna now reports that most church members really don’t care about their pastors and that pastors lack credibility in the eyes of most members (whoever the  “they are” who have been polled).  That was in 2017 — Imagine today!

2. Dave Ramsey email To Bob Smietana
also — “And if you don’t like that, this is your cue . . . Don’t let the door hit you in the ass.”

3. Lee Eclov:  “Pastoral Graces” — pg. 12

Another beautiful quotation from his book . . . .

“. . . we must also remind them often, in full biblical detail, that Jesus will come back in glory. Pastors grace God’s people with the stories of what is yet to come. We keep their chins up, looking for Christ’s return. In this clinging and cloying world we urge them not to put down their roots.

I imagine a pastor being like an elderly uncle of refugee children. He often gathers them to himself and tells them stories of the homeland they have never seen. He tells them that on the day they go home they will be a beautiful bride coming down the aisle of the skies to meet her Bridegroom. The homeless children listen wide-eyed as he tells them that their homeland is a kingdom bright and righteous, where Life runs in the rivers and grows on trees. “Our King is the king of all kings,” says the uncle. “He rides a mighty charger and the armies of heaven follow Him. He knows your name and he himself is waiting to be with you.” The uncle tells these stories again and again because if he doesn’t the children will forget who they are and put down their stakes in Babylon. The challenge isn’t how to get them home. The King will take care of that. The uncle’s challenge is that he cannot let the King’s children forget their home.”

An Argument For Christian Education

kids snow skiing dadHow often I have heard it said and argued, in regards to Christian education and /or in discussions concerning raising children . . . . 

“You are sheltering your children from the real world
which one day, down the road, they will have to face.”

Parents contemplating enrolling their children into our Christian school expressed how they had heard that argument made by parents who chose a state education. Parents who sought a moral atmosphere, wholesome activities, and desired a circle of Christian friends for their children, were faced with the charge of “over protecting your children” — “You can’t raise your children in a Christian hot-house.”[1]

Even potential (and employed) youth pastors argued for greater “Christian liberty” regarding exposure to this world’s culture. Some oscillated as to what they should encourage-discourage in regards to music, reading materials, television, friendships, dating, school activities-proms, schools, et al. — I imagine today we could add “social media.”

However, when it comes to passing down a love to our children — be it secular or sacred — that we want to prevent the possibility of them never finding the joy in it.  Let me illustrate that by using what many fathers enjoy and want their children to enjoy.  I could easily do the same with mothers. [2]. If you as a father love and enjoy a sport (i.e. baseball), a hobby (i.e. woodworking), or an activity (i.e. water or snow skiing/or snowboarding), if you don’t make the first experiences pleasant, your love may never become their love.

If their first experiences are filled with difficulties, criticism, impatience, and/or failure, such will become a road-block to further engagement.  If you look forward to the day that your children will step onto the beautifully powered ski slope, excited about their first experience of making their way down the “kid-friendly trail” (The Magic Carpet – Chipmunk Corner) you may find yourself alongside them, doing all you can to make it a pleasant experience.  Why?  Because you want them to love and enjoy what you have come to love and enjoy.

The various snow-ladened-trials can be a punishing place for first-time and/or young “attemptees.” Newcomers can easily become discouraged by skis that won’t cooperate, stopping maneuvers that seem ineffective, and speeds contribute to a pounding. Their first attempts can give them the feeling that they never will get the hang of this and never enjoy this. The cold snow can even give them such a beating that they never really want to go for another weekend winter trip.

Be it snow skiing, snowboarding, water skiing, or surfing — their experiences matter and those who want their children to love and enjoy what they love and enjoy will take the necessary steps to make sure that the “first trip down the kiddy trail” is smooth — at least as smooth as it can be — especially for those who are less adept or “athletic.”

One day our children will have to learn how to maneuver in this world as a believer. They will have to get on top of that trail on their own, without us alongside, and on far more challenging trails than “Chipmunk Corner.” The world — the society and culture — will be far different from the days we first went down the kid’s trail. The temperature will be far colder, and the snow will not be powered. This world can be a demanding, tough, and dangerous “hill” to navigate.

  •  There will be children who struggle because they are not at all naturally athletic.
  • A number of children will find it a very unpleasant experience — as have many adults. [3]
  • Some children will be expected to pick it up like dad has/had, but can’t — as quickly — or won’t.
  • Still. others will rank themselves as dabblers, realizing that they are far from competent.
  • Many will go with those who suggest a day on the slopes, but primarily as observers who take on the appearance of fellow lovers and enjoyers.

If their attempts are repeatedly difficult and clumsy — or even distasteful —  they may never come to love and enjoy what dad has come to love and enjoy.

  • Yes, some will master it quickly and come to love and enjoy it as much as dad.
    and yes . . . 
  • Many may join those who suggest a day on the slopes, but they travel primarily as observers who take on the appearance of fellow lovers and enjoyers.

Some parents are oblivious to the unpleasant experiences that young children face in state education. While the trails might not be “Black Diamond” (although some might quickly debate that these days), they are far from “Chipmunk Corner.” The youngest of children may face an educational pounding during those 30 or more hours a week.

A Christian education in the elementary years of life may provide the time, growth, and experiences needed before those demanding teenage years of parenting. As a parent, not to speak of being a parent today, I might want to buffer my children from some of the terrible educational trails that the world is offering to the newest and youngest of skiers to attempt.

When it comes to your most precious possession,
Your Children,
There is an alternative to state education!

 

skiing rescue



1. Not sure why.  It works well with young and tender plants!

2. My wife has always enjoyed sewing. One of our daughters-in-law has a real passion for cooking. I think I can safely say that both would hope that their love of sewing or cooking would be had by their children and grandchildren. However, if a child’s first attempts at either, prove to be difficult, embarrassing, or filled with disappointment, or if their early attempts are discouraged by others’ words and responses, those hope will be smothered.

3. To expect that our young children will do better than we did (or do) when it comes to standing for the faith,  defending our beliefs-practices, or sharing our faith, in the state schools (no less today’s public schools), is thoughtless.  Some parents are expecting their children to face what they themselves struggled at to this day.

 

America’s Churches: ?? “A Coming Storm”??

shelf-cloud-storm

. . . . . . 

Recently, I was listening to “Charlie Renfroe,” a Christian businessman [1] who wrote the book — “What Are You Working On Big?” He shared the story of being in business during a looming recession.

. . . . . . 

. . . . . . 

“We saw a storm coming, and it was going to be a big storm!”
— audio clip —
(other links below)

As I listened, I thought about the storm, which may well be ahead for some local church ministries.   Don’t know when it will hit —  sometime in the next three to six months — but I think a storm is coming, and I think it will be a big storm!

When the storm comes, only those who are . . . .

  • seriously concerned about it,
  • alert to its potential gathering on the horizon, and
  • willing to address it by making the changes and adjustments needed today

. . . . will be ready for its full impact.

I do not claim to be the only one announcing this  “weather alert.” Many others are warning ministries and churches about the same potential storm.  My vantage may only be distinct in that I see it from the vantage of one who is now watching from the other side of the pulpit and the other side of a professor’s desk.

Charlie Renfroe’s words might excite some to open up the cage of the 500 lb. Gorilla and face it straight on, rather than thinking that somehow they will be able to ride out the storm until it returns back to normal.

. . . . . . . 

Screen Shot 2021-01-10 at 9.27.31 AMOne Pivotal Indicator:

. . . . . . . 

In recent weeks, I have had several regular church-goers say this to me  . . . .

“I’ve been listening to “Pastor _________” on Sunday, and we have really enjoyed his preaching/teaching.”


“I don’t listen to my home church’s Sunday streaming.  We listen to ___________.”

“Haven’t been attending, though services are open — primarily because we enjoy hearing the online Sunday service from Pastor ___________.”

There will be a good number of regular church-goers who will come to the realization that listening to “mediocre-to-poor-to-terrible” preaching was not one of the spiritual disciplines or part of God’s plan for developing patience. [2].

As Tim Challies states,  There is . . . . .

no excuse for preparing bad sermons

But here’s the problem with that: An over-reliance on the built-in tools can keep us from learning the fundamentals of photography and without those fundamentals it’s tough to be better than decent. The photography field is now stuffed full of amateurs who can get some pretty good results with their automated cameras and their processing software, but it seems there are fewer professionals who really study the art and science of photography and whose work displays true excellence. (And, to be clear, I put myself firmly in the ranks of the amateurs…)

It occurs to me that what is true of photographers is, to some degree, true of preachers. Just as the modern era has given us such good tools that we have no excuse for taking bad photos, it’s given us tools that leave us no excuse for preparing bad sermons. Today’s tools are just too inexpensive and too good and too widely available for that.

https://www.challies.com/articles/no-excuses-for-preaching-bad-sermons/

Many a member and attendee of local churches across America will come to realize that he/she needs a real spiritual meal on Sunday!  They have or will come to realize that a meaningful biblical message is available, but not at the church they have been attending.  While their church may provide good fellowship, the other “wing” is broken and unable to land them into “Monday Morning’s” broken world.

I think that storm is coming!

Because . . . .
There is no excuse for poor preaching!



1.  “What are you working on Big? “– by Charles H. Renfroe

“Hometown Tuscaloosa Alabama, attended University, worked my way through with “Charles’s” Lawn Service”…joined billboard company of Lewis Mandersons Creative Displays started “Outdoor West”..wrote book “What are you working on Big?”

That my children and grandchildren and those special close friends would know me as more than a successful businessman entrepreneur; but rather a good father, grandfather, husband and friend!…and that I would quicken the step of all that I encounter by my encouragement to them… and have them know that this world is not our home but that we are predestined to be at one with our Father who sent His Son to be a sacrifice for all that we had boogered up on! Praise the Lord!”

https://www.facebook.com/Charlie.Renfroe

— link to 500 lb. Gorilla audio clip

— link to full audio interview.

2. Multiple articles on the state of preaching today . . . .

No Excuses for Preaching Bad Sermons


https://network.crcna.org/elders/our-biggest-problem-poor-preaching

Three Types of Bad Preaching (And Their Remedies)


https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/the-benefit-of-bad-sermons

Why is So Much Preaching So Poor?

Bottom Line: It Has Complications, Some Self-Inflicted

the bottom lineI know that we as pastors would like to believe that it is “expository preaching” / “preaching-teaching what the Bible teaches,” which should be is reason enough for God’s people to walk in its truths.

While God’s people are committed to what the Scriptures teach and it is their guide to faith and practice, they are not convinced that what you (or me) are preaching-teaching is taught in the Bible. . . .

  “Well, they should . . . . It says that right there in the Bible!”

√  Part of the complication is that God’s people have been unwittingly taught that what is stated “in black and white” may not be what the Bible actually teaches.  The words may not be, may not mean, may not be saying what they seem to say and teach.

I saw “unwittingly” because preachers and teachers state and/or imply that what is written is not what it actually says. The simplicity of what most Bible passages state has become complicated and indistinct because preachers and teachers of Scripture complicate and cloud that simplicity. [1]

While the Scriptures simply state . . . .

“And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint.”

. . . . The understanding and preaching of that parable can become so serpentine (in more ways than one) that the simple truth for which the parable was given is lost, or worse, questioned.

√  Add to that, the repeated announcement by a pastor/teacher that there are different interpretations of what a passage is teaching — not different applications, but diverse and even radically different meanings. [2]

Let me make a few points before the push-back . . . .

      • There are different interpretations or understandings of some passages.
      • Applications are not interpretations.
      • Pastors-teachers ought to repeatedly point out that the words are clear, simple, in black and white, and we know what they state.
      • Pastors-teachers ought to frequently make the point that some do not want to hear what this passage teaches because it cuts across their thinking and position.
      • There ought not be as many supposed interpretations as there are, involving far too many Scripture passages, which are clear and simple! [3]

Pastors-teachers create distrust by repeatedly interjecting their own contextual thinking about a passage, [4] and/or variant, and even bizarre, interpretations of simple and clear passages.  “Make the argument” for what the passage teaches by laying out the flow of the passage, not by turning the sermon into an announced argument for your position. [5]

When pastors call up the possibility of being wrong (or one-among-many) regarding what the passage teaches, more biblical uncertainty is the by-product.

After 2000 years and endless books and articles on this-or-that book of the Bible (or passage), it seems like some pastors and Bible teachers are still uncertain as to what most Scripture teaches.

√ A third complication is that people, no lest sinners, no less stubborn sinners who do not want to (or know how to) change, are not readily committed to believing that what is being said is true. If it is, that has some down-to-real-life and psychological (guilt, regret, shame, embarrassment) implications.

√  Another complicating factor is poor preaching, which so clouds and confuses the truth that the listener is not even sure what was said and/or if it has any value or application to life and living.

√  Add To That — Presently — at least in our age — the task of preaching is crisscrossed by many other voices.  Some are preaching and teaching what the Bible does not say, or what the Bible says but is applicational twisted, or what the Bible might say but sounds more self-serving than credible.

√  Finally — Bottom Line — all speaking and preaching is relational!  It is the personal relationship a pastor has with those listening which correlates with one’s influence in individuals and families [7]. Preaching is hard on the listeners’ ears when they believe that the ministry is about the pastor, not about them.

Caring pastorally” is what gives strength sermonically!

Surmount all the previous complicating factors — and most can and do — every week — and for years! There is a relational factor that outweighs all the above complicating factors and makes it all work at the end!

There critically is a human element, a relational factor, which is also operating in all preaching and teaching! The mere fact that one “turns on this channel and not that channel” proves that principle. Individuals and families voluntarily come and listen for hours a week primarily because of their confidence in and relationship with the pastor or teacher.

People do not follow what we are preaching-teaching if they do not regard the source of the communication as credible, authentic, honest, and/or genuine.  By “follow,” I mean change their thinking and their lives. The purpose of preaching is to instruct and exhort, correct, reprove, and rebuke.

It requires, as Scripture indicates, “long-suffering” because change takes time, experience, and exposure.  It does not happen because one is “exposed” to what the Scriptures say! — “It says it right there in the Bible!”  Change happens over time through the words of one who is credible, genuine, and who sincerely exhorts, corrects, reproves, and rebukes — week after week, year after year — with all long-suffering.

Your credibility, [6] as a speaker and as a pastor, matters!  If that were not true, there would be no purpose behind some of the qualifications of the office of pastor.  Some of the qualifications are included because “who you are as a person” impacts what you say and whether you are heard.  They affect and reflect your influence in the lives of those who are there, voluntarily listening!

COVID-19 will prove that far more true and accurate than words.  When the dust clear, the pews will reveal who really cared about God’s people, or who were those who were just mouthing the words, and/or unloaded that very personal responsibility of pastoral caring and concern onto the shoulders of others —  or not at all!

I am not a prophet, but I am an observer — Pastors, Brace Yourself For Impact!

There is going to be a significant “sea-change” when this is all past.
COVID-19 has been a reagent, revealing the pastors who are genuine and authentic.

Don’t complain when the results come out.  It isn’t their fault that they no longer care to listen.  The qualifications for shepherding were given to you, not to the sheep!

¤¤¤¤¤ ¤¤¤¤¤ ¤¤¤¤¤ ¤¤¤¤¤ ¤¤¤¤¤

Screen Shot 2021-01-08 at 12.32.23 PM

Screen Shot 2021-01-08 at 12.32.37 PM

— Lee Eclov, “Feels Like Home: How Rediscovering the Church as Family Changes Everything” — 

pgs. 23-24



1. Some of God’s people have been taught to believe that a pastor has “secret insights” into what the Scriptures teach because of their education and biblical experience — kind of like the Roman Catholic faith taught/teaches.  They cannot just read the Bible and know what it is teaching without a Bible teacher who actually knows what it is teaching.  Apparently, the layman is still in need of help when it comes to most of Scripture.  They have to know the Greek & Hebrew language to know what it actually says.

Obviously, there are some difficult passages of Scripture AND some Greek & Hebrew words which clear up some of the difficulties for this-or-that passage.  However, is that reflective of most of Scripture?

2. “Some commentators suggest . . . . ., other believe that the passage teaches . . . . . , I believe, and my position on this passage is, that it is saying actually that . . . . . ”

Again and obviously, there are some difficult passages of Scripture AND some Greek & Hebrew words which clear up some of the difficulties for this-or-that passage.

Also,  I would suggest that one of the most challenging tasks of preaching-teaching is not understanding what the passage teaches, but how to best communicate what it teaches in a clear and impacting manner.

3.  We say “one interpretation, and many applications.”

Some argue for a clearer and stronger original understanding of the United States Constitution and Bill of Rights, than for the clear understanding and wording of Scripture.  At times, what a book or article ways is subjected to less interpretation and/or debate.  At times, “letters” we receive from family, friends, or critics are deemed to be marked by more clarity than those of Paul, Peter, and John.

4. “I think Joseph never imagined that things would and could get even worse, that he might end up in prison when he began serving in Potiphar’s house as a slave in Egypt.”

5. I can be “making the argument” for what the passage teaches, without calling up the fact that there are different (and some crazy) Bible teachers and preachers who miss or twist what this passage is teaching.

For instance, some preachers have misread what “Mrs. Potipher” said to Joseph —  “Lie with me.”  It does not mean “lodge with me,” or “be buried with me,” or “to take a nap,” or “hugging for warmth,” or “to lay next to with no sexual intent,” or . . . or . . . .   — though the word is used those ways in Scripture.  It does not mean “to tell a lie.”  I do not need to bring any of those understandings into my sermon, but merely point out that it was a euphemistic statement of immoral behavior.

Just state what it teaches, without conflicting fanfare.  “Expose the truth” and obvious understanding of the passage.

6. In classical rhetorical theory, it is labelled “ethos.”  That is why, “caring pastorally” gives strength sermonically!

When Is It Time To Leave?

Passion

Being involved in some ethical, moral, or sexual [1] impropriety is not the only basis for “temporarily stepping away from,” [2] resigning, or being removed from ministry.  A pastor, or even a lay ministry leader, may need to consider resignation or need to be removed from ministry for other often disregarded considerations!

A distinction should be made between resigning from, or being removed from, the pulpit ministry, and removed from any and all local church ministry, or even from all para-church ministries.

We could also draw a distinction between “full-time-paid” and “volunteer-lay ministry.”  Some lay leaders might need to “step-down” or even be removed from local church ministry.

Nevertheless, at least two other considerations for resignation or removal are often unacknowledged.  I am sure that there may be other typically unaddressed causes beyond these two. [3]

. . . . . . . 

. . . . . . . 

The Qualifications:  Obvious, a pastor ought to leave or be removed from the local church ministry if he fails to meet the qualifications outlined in I Timothy 3 and Titus 1. [4].

However, some of the qualifications are not “long-term indicators.”  The qualification may no longer be very helpful in the long-term span of pastoral ministry.

√  “Not a novice” is no longer an issue after years of ministry.   It is not a “long-term indicator.”

√  Ruling one’s children well may no longer be applicable (while that factor may be more visible in many different ways after the children leave home and establish their own families.). Nevertheless, it is not a “long-term indicator” if you mean by that, the ability to observe the wisdom and godly competence of parenting.

However, some of the qualifications are
“long-term” indicators.

Some of the qualifications are “long-term indicators,” in that they can change over ministry years. Long-term indicators span the years of pastoral ministry, unlike “novice” or “wise and godly parenting.”  Long-term indicators should be present from the beginning to the end of ministry, but may change and/or be seen as changing.

These two may indicate
a need to step-down or be removed!

. . . . . . . 

√  Given to hospitality: In both Timothy and Titus, “given to hospitality is mentioned. Pastors can slowly and subtly move away from this qualification. After years of ministry, pastors can begin to hide out. A “withdrawal from people” can mark the pastoral ministry. The ministry is about people! Over time, pastors can retreat to a small group of supportive friends, or they can grow weary of people (and their problems, attitudes, and viewpoints) in general.

When a pastor no longer enjoys being with people, it is time to pack it up; it is time to retire (no matter what your age).  Or, if that is your pastor, it is time for the membership and the leadership to ask their pastor to resign or step-away from the pulpit ministry! [5]

It Can Be Seen!  It is all too obvious to anyone observant — when pastors no longer mix with God’s people before and after a service, are last to arrive and first to leave events, no longer value visiting, infrequently have people over to their homes or invite people out,  more often than not decline invitations, seclude themselves in their office study theological ivory tower, make it difficult for people to stop by and talk, only know what is happening in the lives of a small group of people, don’t know names, forget what they ought to remember about the family or its members, do little counseling, pass-off calls and visitation to other pastors, repeatedly mix with a select few, do not know what they ought to know about the needs and health of the sheep, etc.  etc.  etc.

. . . . . . . 

√  Apt to teach: “Apt to teach” includes and requires a continued love of preaching and teaching God’s Word.  When there is a loss of passion for communicating the truths of Scripture, it affects preaching and teaching ministry.   While few or any pastor would ever state that he does not value and enjoy the preaching and teaching of God’s Word, the reality is that the continued demand can easily take its toll.

At times, a pastor can feel like a “sermon mill” and lose the joy of sermon preparation and presentation.  It can become a demand and no longer a desired ministry opportunity to meaningfully speak into the lives of God’s people!

When a pastor no longer enjoys preaching and teaching, it is time to pack it up; it is time to retire (no matter your age).  Or, if that is your pastor, it is time for the membership and the leadership to ask their pastor to resign!  Their pulpit ministry will be affected and slowly become ineffective,

Again . . . .

It Can Be Seen!  It is obvious when pastors pass-off opportunities to preach and teach, pass-up worthwhile request to speak (i.e. by a funeral home looking for a minister), frequently replace a preaching service with an “event,” only prepare a brief devotional for a time when much more would be worthwhile, ask another to speak when the nature of the service calls for hearing from “the pastor,” obviously haven’t prepared adequately, frequently and/or opportunistically cancel services, regard speaking elsewhere higher than “therewhere,” preach-teach less, etc. etc. etc.

. . . . . . . 

Some pastors may need to come
to the stark realization that they no longer have
the passion that ought to mark the calling!

Yes, it is difficult to face the unpleasant realization that you have lost your heart for God’s people and/or for preaching God’s Word, and then purposefully choosing to leave the local church ministry. [6]

Yes, the removal of a pastor from the pulpit ministry has long-term effects on a church and the pastor and his family. That is why these issues need to be addressed early on, before they become so obvious and entrenched. They ought to be addressed well before little meaningful and/or generous action can be taken to remediate the situation. When it happens, a caring and responsible parting of the ways should be discussed and arranged to the church’s benefit and to the pastor. [7]

Yes, it is hard on all involved!  Nevertheless, two of the most important responsibilities of a pastor is to genuinely care for the fellowship of believers, and to passionately preach and teach the Scriptures.

When the passion is obviously missing and lost
it is time to make a change!



1. Shockingly At times, even sexual impropriety is covered up by fellow pastors, associates, local churches, ministries, and church leaders. The Ravi Z situation is irrefutable proof that even leaders in ministry will cover for one another until they are forced to take action.  Such ministry leaders ought to resign as well!

2. Stepping Away From:  Sometimes, these are announced as “an extended time away”, “a much needed vacation,” “a change of ministry responsibilities,” “some needed family time and evaluation,” or a “sabbatical leave.”  Such individuals are still on the payroll while an attempt is made to see if the situation is recoverable or “coverable.”

3. When The Spell Is Broken: The Roy’s article reveals another cause for resignation or removal, which is all to typically unaddressed. In Roy’s interview, accountability only arrives after leadership comes to the realization {i.e. as the article states, the spell is broken] that there are others who have experienced or witnessed the truth of the situation. . . . .

. . . . the whole purpose of gaslighting is to make the person who says there’s a problem feel like, Oh, you’re the only one. What’s wrong with you? Why do you have a problem with this? Nobody else does.  . . . . [Until it becomes clear that] Oh! My goodness! I’m not the only one. Because you’re often made to feel like you’re the only one who feels that way. . . . [Wade Mullen] he’s found there’s a pattern that Evangelical organizations follow almost every time they get caught in a crisi. And very rarely is it to own all of their mistakes and say what a leader did and what’s wrong. Instead, it’s usually to kind of obfuscate it and not really give much credence to what the victims are saying.

. . . they were firing Steve Timmis at the same time that this article comes out with a lot of your accounts. Very specific accounts of abuse by Steve Timmis. And again, to appeal to Wade Mullen, he’s found there’s a pattern that Evangelical organizations follow almost every time they get caught in a crisi. And very rarely is it to own all of their mistakes and say what a leader did and what’s wrong. Instead, it’s usually to kind of obfuscate it and not really give much credence to what the victims are saying..

 

4. Timothy and Titus:

A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;

Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;
 
One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;
(For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)
 
Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.
 
Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.
 
♦♦♦♦♦
 
 
If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly.
 
For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not self-willed, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre;
 
But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate;
 
Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.
 
 

5. “Relationships” are connected to the effectiveness of a pulpit ministry.  One of the reasons God’s people listen to a pastor is because they believe that he cares about them, that he is concerned and interested in their life and lives.  While it may be argued that effectiveness in any area of ministry is connected to one’s love of people (and I would agree with that assessment), the pulpit ministry demands a personal love of God’s people in order to be effective in the pulpit!

6. I should state — I imagine that some will push back on this if I leave this unsaid — that leaving a local church ministry, moving on to another ministry, or retiring from ministry is not reflective of such a loss of passion for people and for preaching.  It may be God’s plan for the local church, or a pastor-family.  Health, age, situations of life all play into the decisions for a needed change.

7. Interestingly, it is only when a pastor is asked to step away from the pulpit ministry or step down from any and all ministry that he understands how others were affected by their same or similar decision involving others’ lives. What they feel, they have done to others with little to no self-awareness — as again highlighted in the Roy’s report regarding Steve Timmis . . . . .

Julie Roys: He [Steve Timmis] writes, “As you well know, the impetus for the review, (speaking of that investigation that was done), emerged from a deeply unhelpful place. It was a response to a Christianity Today article that was unkind and profoundly unbiblical in its approach. I cannot begin to explain to you the distress the article, and the fallout from it is brought to me and my family. I have been labeled a spiritual abuser. And unlike a court of law, I have been accused, tried and judged guilty by social media with no opportunity for either engagement or defense. I believe that the elders in The Crowded House responded to that article in fear and without regard or do care for my family or me the necessary time in the immediate aftermath to think through a response from a biblical standpoint just wasn’t given”. . . .

Steve McAlpine: But it’s also the experience of every person who had to leave. Everything that’s they’ve said about himself and his family happened to them. That that would be what I’d say is I, your concern for your well being was not matched by your concern for the well being of people that suddenly just disappeared off The Crowded House page with their families, and their livelihoods and their jobs that they’d moved from the UK to the US for. . . . . .

 

An Example Of The Pastoral Abuse Of Power

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You may not have been following the situation in Naples, Florida, involving First Baptist Church. In that case, you are probably unaware of yet another example of the alleged abuse of power and position by the pastoral and leadership elite of this local church ministry. 

It is a shocking account, from the vantage of a number of the 700 members who left First Baptist Church over the previous year!

Their account highlights an all too repeated pattern within ministries and local churches across America — the use and abuse of the constitutionally stated procedures of church policy AND the twisted application of Matthew 18 to seemingly accomplish the self-serving goals of its leadership. 

Dissenting members were disciplined out of the church for standing against the calling of a new senior pastor, Marcus Hayes.

“church members who have been removed from membership over their opposition to the appointment of Marcus Hayes . . . . . To make matters worse, FBC Naples is implementing church discipline procedures which are in direct violation to those set forth by Jesus in Matthew 18. Rather than bringing members who are accused of sin before the church body for examination, members are being removed from the church rolls through actions taken directly by deacons and pastoral staff without a vote of the church body. In addition to this ungodly action . . . .”

Apparently, some of the 19 members who were excommunicated produced an “Open Letter Video Account” relating their experience!

 

 



Yes, there is a pattern which marks leadership in ministries and local churches that abuse and use position and power to accomplish their self-serving ends.

Another Link.   

Another Link

Christianity Today Link 

That week, First Baptist’s deacons voted to remove from membership at least 18 people as an act of church discipline. One of those disciplined members, Bob Caudill, a former deacon and member of the pastor search committee, was told his expulsion came as consequence of breaking the church covenant, failing to protect the church’s unity, not acting in love, gossiping, and failing to follow church leaders.

But Caudill told Christianity Today a different story. He said he and 17 others who also received church discipline from the deacons raised questions about Hayes that had nothing to do with racism but that stemmed from at least seven months of church conflict.

Julie Roys Link

See Julie Roys for other examples of the use and abuse of power and position by local church pastors and leaders.

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10 Reasons Members & Friends May Be Considering Another Ministry During C-19

fish jumping to another bowlLike many others, I have been listening to a number of other Bible preachers-teachers during this COVID-19.  Even though your church has made streaming available for the members and friends of this-or-that local church ministry, do not take the stance that other ministries are not optioned.

It would be naive to think that other Bible-believing ministries have not been selected from the Sunday morning menu of streaming, television, on-demand, or archived message options. For various reasons, the congregation members and friends are now listening — maybe regularly — to other Bible preachers and teachers.

Some of those reasons may be . . . .

1 – The C-19 absence of one of the previous customary Sunday services

2. – The C-19 absence of the previous customary mid-week service

3. – The inability of their preacher-teacher to be effective without a live audience [1]

4. – The realization of how inept the audio-video team is in providing smooth streaming of the services

5. – The decision to not have a special service which would have typically been held pre-C-19 [2]

6. – The desire to fill in the void one feels on Sunday or Wednesday evening

7. – The suggestion of another fellow believer as to what they have been watching

8. – A revelatory church decision by the pastor and/or leadership during C-19 crisis which was wrong-headed, self-serving, insensitive, political, factional, etc. [3]

9. – The realization that the pastor, leadership, and/or fellowship really does not show, or maybe does not have, the love, care, and concern that they preached and taught pre-C-19

10. – The realization of how helpful biblical good and effective preaching and teaching can be after listening to / watching effective Bible preachers-teachers

Church Differences

What role do the “church differences” play in congregational menu selections?  Pre-C-19, many local church members and friends (at least members) would not have considered some of the preaching-teaching menu options —  “I am a “baptist” and do not believe in those sign gifts, that prophetic position, in such a liturgical service, in using that kind of music, the showiness of presentation, etc.

However, a new openness to other ministries may well mark these days.  Over the past several weeks / months, as I was listening to various Bible preachers-teachers, I had these “heretical thoughts.”

John Hagee and/or his son: He is a good preacher and teacher.  In fact, he is more faithful to the exposition of what the text actually teaches than many other Bible teachers who claim to be committed to biblical exposition!

Andy Stanley:  Far too many preacher-teachers never sermonically realize the applications and practicality of Scriptural truth to life and living! He is such an effective because he speaks about how the Bible affects “Monday – Friday morning.”

David Jeremiah and/or Alistair Begg: I don’t know if I really like his Christmas special. [4] But, I’m going to watch it through because at least he is committed to reaching the world, which is more — maybe far more — than anything that many churches are doing this year.

Steven Smith:  I’m not excited about the “Southern Baptist” organization, but Steven Smith gets it.  He understands what it means to be an expositional Bible preacher and teacher, like many, many others do not grasp!  If I lived in Little Rock, I’d be going to his church — excitedly attending! [5]

Robert Jeffries:  I wish he was not as involved in politics as he has been. But his weekly messages do not seem to include those political elements as I thought would have been prevalent.  He is really a good preaher-teacher!

I know . . . . . Such Heresy!  

That “heresy” may be coming your way and/or reflected in your local church ministry in the coming months!

A good number of God’s people may come to realize how shallow, impractical, lacking in fervor for the lost world, un-expository, stodgy, fragmented and disjointed, unhelpful, hypocritical, passionless, politically partisan, or . . . . or . . . . . or . . . . . the preaching or teaching of God’s Word has been (and/or is) at their local church.

  • Maybe, just maybe, music isn’t the only consideration for selecting a church.
  • Maybe, just maybe, I can live with attending a non-independent baptist church.
  • Maybe, just maybe, I need to be more concerned with the “main meal” than the other elements.
  • Maybe, just maybe, a lack of zeal for those who need Christ is far too absent.
  • Maybe, just maybe, shallowness is taking its spiritual toll on my family and me.
  • Maybe, just maybe, I need to allow for a different vantage on (prophecy, non-essentials, etc.) for a “good meal.”
  • Maybe, just maybe, there is a church that practices loving its members, not using-abusing them.
  • Maybe, just maybe . . . . . .

That maybe, just maybe, that is what the members and friends of the local church are now thinking!

Get prepared for a “sea-change” when C-19 is over!



1. It has become obvious that some even some national preachers-teacher are inept at speaking to an empty auditorium.  That has resulted in some ministries returning to replaying previous messages, which come across far better than the sterile-no-audience option.

2. One such example was the Andy Stanley special on Christmas Day — Wowww. We were visiting with our son in Destin, Florida, and he streamed the “on-demand” program for the whole family after breakfast and before opening gifts.  He, along with 1000’s of others and maybe some families in congregations all over the United States.

3. Issues of politics, masks, political parties, the closing-opening church services, C-19 a hoax, elections are all deeply emotional issues that have the potential for division in 2020.

4. Dr. Jeremiah broadcasted his 2019 Christmas special for 2020 — “Make the Season Bright 2019- Christmas on Broadway with David Jeremiah”  / Alistair Begg’s Christmas at Parkside.

5. Dr. Smith understands that “Expository-Preaching-Teaching” is not a running commentary on the obvious.  Too many, who make the claim to be expository preacher, are not.  Dr. Steven Smith is the real deal when it comes to being an expository preacher — along with a number of others who are just as noteworthy!

Attendance: Maybe It’s Not Cold Hearts.

Tell me what you are thinking at the end of this scenario . . . . .

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I ask you out to lunch —  It’s on me!

I pick you up, and we are off to a very nice restaurant.

After some small talk, we arrive!

You notice the restaurant’s name — “Guadalajara Mexican Restaurant.”

Various individuals will respond differently to this restaurant signage.  There will be those who love hot and spicy food.  Others are hoping that there are some dishes on the menu which are not at all spicy.  And then there are those in between those two ends of the spectrum.

While you are not an individual who enjoys spicy-hot food, you found a dish that worked for you.  In the end, we enjoyed a great time together.

    • The atmosphere was great.
    • The service was spot on.
    • The other people in the restaurant were courteous
    • The food seemed authentic, and the quality seemed to be terrific — if you like this kind of culinary option genre. It was a “little more” spicy than you prefer.

As we go our ways, I say . . . .

“Thanks for your time and thinking.  It was a real help to me and helped me in my personal and professional growth!  How about we do this again in several weeks — If I can have some more of your time!”

“Sure, just let me know when. – – Glad I could help and thanks for lunch!”

A month or so later, I ask if I can have more of your time over lunch sometime this week.

You enjoyed the previous time — at least socially.
The food wasn’t your “cup of tea,” but it worked.
You imagine that we will go to a different restaurant this time.

You respond . . . . .
“Sounds good!”

That day arrives.  I again pick you up.
After some small talk, we arrive!
Just one hitch — It’s the “Guadalajara Mexican Restaurant” — again!

Your thoughts ? ? ? — “I think that I need to do the inviting and therefore the restaurant selection!”

Nevertheless, you order the same semi-spicy dish on the menu and again enjoy the social interaction.

Zoom forward another month — and I again ask if you have time to talk over lunch —   “I could really use your thinking, input, and insights!”

You respond . . . .”How about I take you out this time.  You have picked up the tab twice now.  It’s my turn!”

I respond . . . . “No — I am really appreciative of the time you have and are willing to give me over and over.  Please, I need to at least say thanks you for your willingness to just be there for me!” [1]

. . . . . . 

Without extending this scenario . . . . might I suggest that this situation plays out week after week in many churches that provide few options for spiritual nourishment.  In some churches, there is only one option available for seniors, or for families, or for singles, or even for teens (13-19).  The people are presented with the same restaurant and/or “restaurateur” week after week, with few or no real options.

Whether the individuals, couples, or teens enjoy what is on the menu, they are forced to pull up to the same spiritual restaurant week after week.   If the truth were told, they would really like to attend the class taught by “Mr. Jones” this year or for this coming quarter.  The subject may be more pertinent to their lives, the teacher may connect better, the class structure seems to allow more engagement, the teacher shows more interest and personal concern, the study involves something of great interest, etc. . . . . .

Nevertheless, that isn’t their assigned class.  They are supposed to be in the class for new and growing families, or young singles, or senior saints.   Enjoy what’s on the menu or not, that’s your class, and who you are to listen to week after week — month after month — year after year!

A lack of classroom, subject, fellow participants, and teacher options may be what is holding back a good number of individuals from attending Sunday morning Bible study.  Some have attended this-or-that class and find that they do not benefit from the class, but there are no options available.  This is your class!  This is your teacher.  We decided that for you!

Were the Bible study time to offer the availability of several classes, various teachers, and/or different topics of study, many others might be open to attending. A number of people might be willing to at least giving it a new try. Others might be spiritually challenged by hearing a new or different voice, or a by a class that frames biblical truths differently.

Variety has the potential of reaching more people.

  • The day-to-day experiences of individuals and families can be vastly different.
  • There are differences in regards to classroom style — lecture, discussion, size, location, etc.
  • The spiritual age of individuals differs and requires different content.
  • The interestingness of subject material greatly varies.
  • Different Bible studies accomplish different goals.

While some Bible teachers would like to avoid any potential competition, in the end they don’t avoid it.  Those who do not want to attend their class, and have only one option, just stay away.  The competition is ever-present.  It is between staying home or attending that class.

Yes, the core group of church members will be present no matter what the “menu options.”  But even they would like some other menu options because that is how we were created — to elude repetition and monotony.

Bible study attendance may well languish because it is back to the same restaurant, week after week, whether or not you like the options on the menu! Weak Bible study attendance may not be indicative of the hearts of God’s people growing cold. It may not be them. It may be a lack of meaningful options!  It may indicate a desire for a time of Bible study that is seen as more beneficial and/or relevant to their lives — at this time of life and experience.

Sunday morning adult Bible study options can be a valuable help in getting people to connect and attend (and re-attend) Bible study in a way that is meaningful and satisfying for them personally.

◊◊◊◊◊ ◊◊◊◊◊ ◊◊◊◊◊ 

“Hey, can I take you out to lunch sometime this week?” 

“How about I take you out this Sunday — to the adult Bible class at my church!”



1. Worse yet, he orders for you!

. . . . . . 

. . . . . .

P.S. No I am not making any reference to something which has happened to me.  I enjoy all kinds of foods and there is no subtle reference to such a situation.  Thanks to a wide variety of people who have been kind enough to socially engage over all and any meals throughout the years!

Pastors, “Is There No Shame!”

no-shameJust got a phone call from a church member who was sent a personal, handwritten note from a local church ministry.  They were surprised —  because their pastor had not even made one phone call to their home, or to any of their family members since “March” — the BEGINNING of the COVID-19 crisis in America.

Now, a handwritten envelope, with a handwritten note inside, arrives in their mailbox. It states that they would have liked to stop by and even visit were it not for the situation that church ministries face. If they are interested in having them personally visit, the church would be willing to come by and visit safely and cautiously.

The sad and distressing reality is that far too many pastors across America have failed to pass the test they were faced with this year.  Ask people yourself!  See if you do not hear the same response — “Nope, my pastor has never “called” [1] me to see how we are doing or to pray with me/us.” [2]

“F” Is For Failure ! [3]

√  Failed The Test — not because they lacked the time to adjust — most all would dismiss any charge of neglect during the first “14 Days To Flatten The Curve.”  It has been almost 10 months!

√  Failed The Test – not because someone from the church had not called [1] — though some have not heard from anyone on the church staff.  Praise the Lord; someone cares because it is about genuinely caring!

√  Failed The Test — because the lead or senior pastor has not shown any personal interest in “calling” [1] each and every member and friend of the local church ministry!

√  Failed The Test — because the lead or senior pastor passed off that responsibility to other pastors.

√  Failed The Test — because the lead or senior pastor passed off that responsibility to the “deacons” and excused themselves out by such a move.

√  Failed The Test — because the lead or senior pastor is “tone deaf” as to the message he is sending by thinking that the deacons and/or other church leaders can do what he should be doing, and alone can be accomplishing, as the shepherd of the flock.

√  Failed The Test — because the lead or senior pastor has the disrespect to argue that an email or text message is personal and meaningful. [4]

√  Failed The Test — because what is said about family, love, care, compassion, and genuine concern stand in deep contrast to the reality of pastoral failure in 2020!

Oh, by the way — the personal, handwritten letter which showed up in the mailbox of that member of a Bible-believing church — it was sent by the Jehovah Witnesses — They will figure it out even though pastors can’t won’t. [5]



1. Let’s even include in “calling” the sending a personal, handwritten note.  Let’s include  loading a few lawn chairs into the trunk of the car and visiting on the front lawn. Let’s include in the word “calling” sending over a door-dash meal with a personal note.  Let’s include dropping off / handing them a dinner, dish, or a dessert.  Let’s include sending a spiritually directed book to read during these days of seclusion.  Let’s include a “zoom visitation meeting” for those who want to and can participate.  Let’s include . . . .  Let’s include . . . . . Let’s include. . . . Oh, there are ways! —  Many ways — if there is a will!

2. But be reminded that attending “prayer meeting,” “men’s prayer breakfast,” the Sunday morning prayers, and prayer as a personal and spiritual discipline is important!

3. Perhaps I am being too harsh in my grading — for some, I should raise it to a “D?”

4. “Better than nothing” is all it can be claimed as being.

5. “Won’t” not “Can’t” because there are ways, but it takes genuine concern and care, along with some thinking and denial of self-serving activities.  Watching and reading about the political issues of the day at night, rather than making some meaningful and personal calls from the comforts of home in the evening is a choice!

Is There No Shame!:  There is a loss of “shame” in our culture and society.  That is not only witnessed by what is happening in the political world, but in the life of the church.  Is there no shame!

Oh, did I tell you my pharmacist called us again THIS WEEK! — December 18, 2020