What Causes The Loss Of Your Platform

losing your platform.jpg  Losing Your Platform!

  1. A platform gives an audience a desire even to attend.
  2. A platform is your connection; it is why people listen & respond.
  3. A platform amplifies your message.
  4. A platform can be gained or lost.

The “Preaching Ministry” comes with certain stipulations.  One is that the congregation has called you to carry out the pulpit ministry.   Therefore, they believe that your words should carry meaningful weight in their minds and hearts.  In fact, by calling you as their pastor, they are willing to change their lives based on what you have to say to them as a spokesman of Scriptural truths.

Pastoral ministry is a position of influence.  A pastor has no power to force or demand change, but can only “argue” for change by a clear and effective understanding and application of the Scriptures.  A part of that “argument” is who is talking to them.  I would maintain a significant portion of the argument.  That would be easy to support by simply pointing out how people do not listen to and/or read the words of those who have lost all approbation and regard.  Whether it be a news channel or paper, opinion writer or commentator, theologian or pastor — people give their attention to those they respect.

That is why it is possible for a pastor to lose his platform!  It happens when he is no longer trusted as a preacher, or even believed as a reliable representative of Scriptural truth.  He is no longer considered trustworthy.

√ Sometimes this happens suddenly — i.e., Bill Hybels?

√ Sometimes this happens in a domino manner.  One domino falls, and that unearths another and another — i.e., Paige Patterson?

√ Sometimes this happens over a long period of time — The pastor dies from a thousand small cuts over time — i.e., pastors who are finally asked to leave after years of ministry, or have no real influence in the lives of God’s people.

I well imagine that there are various shades in between these three general situations.  Nevertheless, they all amount to this . . .

The pastor no longer has a platform.

The pastor has nothing to say to the people which has any real impact on their thinking and/or, therefore, their lives. There is no serious consideration of his words in regards to their lifestyle or their decisions. That lost influence becomes more and more apparent and prominent, both in God’s people’s lives and in the attendance and attention given to the services and preaching, respectively.

Recently, I was talking to a parent of teenagers who was upset by the personal decisions which the youth pastor had made.  The parent first made sure he understood what had indeed taken place.

The youth pastor had attended a secular rock concert which featured recording artist whose song lyrics were ungodly-to-vile. AND he had posted pictures of his attendance on Facebook (and thereby his enjoyment — since there were no words of unpleasantness or disgust). The parent spoke to the youth pastor and called up some of the lyrics and words of of the various songs and would not even repeat some of the lyrics.

Venture a guess as to the youth pastor’s response!

The youth pastor defended his attendance with that parent.

The youth pastor was defensive and unresponsive.

The parent then spoke to the senior pastor — who, upon hearing about the situation, the lyrics, and the terrible response of the youth pastor — was equally grieved by that youth leader’s actions.

Wisely, the youth pastor did not take that stance when called in by the senior pastor.  The senior pastor indicated that it was wrong for him to attend, no less as the youth pastor, and it was equally “foolish” (I am being kind) to then post it.

The youth pastor never went to that parent to address the issue.  The parent then sternly told the youth pastor. . . . “You have nothing to say to me.”  By defending and excusing his actions, and never facing the fact that he had made terrible decisions, no less defending such decisions, he no longer had any ministry in the life of that parent or family!

When I heard the statement — “You have nothing to say to me!” — I thought about how pastors can and do bring people to that place in the local church ministry!

………

#1) A Lack Of Honest Consideration Of Criticism Or Change:  There is fair and just criticism!  Unfortunately, too often, the youth pastor’s response is reflective of pastors in general.  Pastors are not considered, and for good reason, to be open to much of any criticism, not even honest criticism!  Like those living in the “Washington Bubble,” they too may be living in the “Ministry Bubble” — an “ecclesiastical bubble” called the church office.

 That is the “bubble” where fellow pastors, administrators, and staff assure each other that — “Everything is going good —- right?”

That is the “bubble” where people believe that it is good and godly to support poor-to-terrible decisions and behavior, in the name of being faithful, under authority, and respectful.

Honest and fair criticism is dismissed and marginalized by commingling it with all kinds of sinful communication.  Pastors may actually believe their perspective is correct because others in the bubble support it.  However, the platform damage has been under-calculated.

When you cannot face or handle honest criticism, or even what you may believe to be unfair criticism (and indeed it may be!), you as a pastor may be standing in the pulpit, but the platform is structurally undermined!

………

#2) The Shepherd Lives Differently Than The Sheep Are Directed: 

All understand that when a pastor preaches it, but does not live it, the platform slowly decays.  I say “slowly” because there is always a great deal of grace that God’s people give their pastor, but not endless grace.  It does catch up with pastor-preachers.

 That accounts for one of the reasons why pastors find themselves moving choose to move after 3-5 years of ministry at a local church.

 That is what accounts for the lethargy and inertia which sets into the operation and ministry of local churches, which just seem to “merry-go-round” year after year, accomplishing little-to-nothing.

When the words, actions, decisions, behavior, attitudes, lifestyle, spirit, or drive of the pastor-preacher confounds and/or contradicts what is taught, the platform of influence deteriorates as the carousel spins. [1]

………

#3) Using Political & Discretionary Power: Some pastors use and abuse their power — and a pastor does have power and, more particularly, discretionary power. If you want to see if politics have infiltrated your church, just watch what happens when someone disagrees or bucks the pastor. See if he/she . . . .

  • disregarded
  • marginalized
  • retaliated through discretionary decisions
  • ostracized
  • transferred to a lesser role
  • purposefully unmentioned
  • unused
  • smeared internally
  • disciplined
  • dealt with more harshly than others have been

When the use and abuse of power is noticed, the platform of influence shrinks to only a “loyal band” who learn to circle the wagons.  You will come to notice . . . .

√  That those who support and/or allow the use and abuse of power — for all kinds of mixed reasons: opportunity, relationship, advantage, favor, employment, position, friendship, service & ministry, self-worth, etc. — will form the core of ministry.  However, there will be an ever-rotating congregation of God’s people who actually “get it” and move on! 

√  That there is a rotating checklist of church leaders who repeatedly fill the official positions of church ministries, adding only others who pledge their loyalty and are willing to be another wagoneer if necessary.  Any dissonant voices which have been heard or detected will be considered members of the hostile forces who may be bold enough to attack the wagons.

. . . .

As a pastor-preacher, you can make mistakes and even sinful, self-serving mistakes.  “There are no perfect pastors-preachers!”  The truth may be better stated as . . . “Pastors-preachers are far from perfect at times!”  There is a lot of “grace” that God’s people express towards their pastor, a man they sincerely want to honor and respect!

√  You can inappropriately or wrongly respond to fair, and even unfair criticism.
√  You can exhort others, and not exhibit the same.
√  You can inappropriately or wrongly misuse your power and position.

. . . . BUT what you cannot do is be less than fully and genuinely honest in confessing and correcting those mistakes, self-serving actions, inappropriate conduct, and poor-to-terrible decisions.

If you don’t, then “no surprise,” the platform of influence” you have been called to and given by God’s people, will worsen and waste.

One day, another pastor-preacher will follow behind, finding the pulpit-platform dilapidated.  He will have the gloomy and dismal task of rebuilding it — if he can.

Many pastors will not be able to recover the damage which has been done.  The all too typical pattern is — A new pastor who stays but a few years because he finds that he is unable to reestablish the trust of God’s people.  The damage has been too extensive.



1. Examples:

“Be faithful to the services of the church”: But then a pastor, wife, and/or children rarely attends Sunday School, evening service, youth activity, special services, mid-week services, “not their speaking event,” or all-church events-activities are no-shows.

“Love God’s People”: But, who does not even visit some of the most seriously ill people of the church — and then offers lame excuses as to why they have never been to the hospitable or house — which would never wash were he or a family member that seriously sick!

Don’t compromise your beliefs, even if it costs you.”: But when it comes to dealing with church leaders — the out front people, on-stage workers —  little is said or done about their shaky lifestyle choices, immodest dress, sporadic church attendance, lack of participation-service, sloppy work habits, allowing members to exploit other members (prospecting from the pews), immorality, etc.  Because to address such issues comes with a cost — the loss of some members or workers.

AND OTHER ADMONITIONS . . . . Be honest / Be fair-minded / Be considerate / Be gracious-kind / Be forgiving / Be a model to others / Be consistent / Work hard / Be selfless / Love all people / Move on when mistreated / Walk the higher road / Serve / Give generously / Tithe / Give the glory to God / Remember – this is not our home / Don’t love money or regard the rich / Show humility / etc.

Yep!
The standard is high for all church leadership!

Three Ways To Fail In Ministry

fail stamp“Failing At What You Have Been Uniquely Gifted To Do
May Be One Of The Real Failures In Ministry.”1 

On March 28, 2019, Dr. Crawford Loritts spoke at Dallas Theological Seminary.  In speaking  to hundreds of future pastors and preachers, Loritts stated that a preacher will fail . . . if he fails at any one of three tasks. 2

  1. You Need To Proclaim Truth
  2. You Need To Possess Truth
  3. You Need To Do All That Is Written In It
  • Proclaiming
  • Possessing
  • Practicing

All of God’s people have been called upon to proclaim, possess, and practice.  The Scriptures have a word for that —  “disciples.”

Nevertheless, while all believers or disciples are to proclaim, possess, and practice the truths of Scripture, the pastor is decidedly more responsible.  He is rightfully held to a higher standard — “to whom much is given” / “be not many teachers” / “a bishop then must be” / “apt to teach.”  He is the one who is “preaching” to others about proclaiming, possessing, and practicing!

I would suggest that failure as a pastor is uniquely connected to that position and role.  The very nature and purpose for being in the pulpit are preaching and teaching God’s Word to the Lord’s disciples. What makes him different from all other “disciples” is his preaching and teaching ministry.  AND THEREFORE, his unique position and ability to preach will be weakened or debilitated by those three elements . . . .

  • not clearly and effectively proclaiming the truths of Scripture
  • not personally possessing and feeling those biblical truths
  • not practicing and living out those truths in his life and the life of his family

#1) Proclaiming: Preaching involves the ability to effectively communicate the clear and simple truths and principles of Scripture.  When pastors complicate or contort the truths and principles of Scripture, they contribute to their failure.

Complicate: May I suggest that the truth derived from this-or-that passage of Scripture is far more simple than most make it.  The real work in preaching is communicating truths effectively.  The hard work is often more about how to go about getting simple truths across to the mind, heart, and will of the listeners.

God’s people did not sign up for a seminary class in theology.  If you think that those listening want to hear what all took place in “the kitchen before the meal,” you would be mistaken!  Rather, they have come to the “dining room” for a good meal!  God’s people are there — voluntarily — because they just spent a week in this fallen world and need a good spiritual meal that speaks to their minds and hearts, which can help direct their feet.

Contort: At times, Bible preachers-teachers work hard to avoid what a particular Scriptural passage states because of the passage’s personal implications. To preach what the passage states may conflict with their own life-style, or it may oppose what they want to believe, or how they conduct their ministry.

“i.e. Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” — apparently no longer means what it says.  The verse cannot mean that because I can give you an example.  It must be the verse, not the failure of the parents.

God’s people are willing to show a great deal of deference to a pastor’s understanding of a passage of Scripture — “Oh, I never thought of that passage that way.”  However, there is a breaking point.  When the clear and simple sense of a passage is twisted beyond what seems obvious and natural, that deference becomes terminal.  It dies a slow death as the pastor tries to make a passage say what is rather obvious.

I have often said, “If you just picked up the Bible and read this passage — in its context — as a new believer, or even if an unbeliever was reading it, what would you say was being said by the author?”

#2) Possessing:  Another preaching element includes being “without guile” — sincere, genuine, authentic.  The “disciples” who are listening expect that what is being preached and taught is genuinely held, possessed, by the pastor.

That when a pastor speaks about love, compassion, hospitality, patience, prayer, sharing one’s faith, service, honesty, not a sluggard, etc. — that he truly believes in what he is saying!

Again, God’s people show a great deal of grace when it comes to pastoral expectations — “None of us are perfect.”  “We will all fail.”  However, if the one who is preaching to others is not meaningfully identified by that which he challenges and exhorts others to be, it is “influentially-deadly.” Given time, the pastor-preacher has no real impact and life-changing impact on God’s people.

I have heard pastors share that they are embarrassed by God’s people’s behavior or responses — in serving, attendance at a funeral, lack of interest in teaching, immodest-inappropriate dress, poor attendance patterns, in opening up their homes, showing hospitality, repeatedly showing up late, etc. I have often said to myself (a few times to them) — “You taught them!”

Pastors who . . . .

  • don’t go to church services while on vacation
  • do not show up to serve alongside of God’s people
  • allow their children to dress inappropriately
  • don’t attend the teaching of God’s Word when others are teaching
  • show up late and/or exit early
  • don’t attend a funeral / wedding unless officiating
  • do not invite others to their home
  • do not personally care and visit
  • delegate their responsibilities to others on the staff
  • have little time to talk to and get to know others

. . . . will slowly dull the ears of those they are preaching to!

#3) Practicing: Preaching biblical truth, and failing to understand, that by your actions, you are also nonverbally communicating . . . .

√  what you believe “in deed”
√  whether you really believe what you verbally said you believed
√  whether you yourself grasp that what you say you believe is so not you

. . . . will sink you given time.

Over time, God’s people soon come to realize that ministry is much like the world of politics — do as I say, not as I do / “me, but not thee.”

It will sink you.  It typically shows up one of two ways . . . .

  • Your ministry will be short-lived — one of the reasons pastors keep moving after 3-4 years.
    OR
  • You will have little-to-no real influence in the lives of God’s people.  There will be little real change in the way God’s people live life.

Many a preacher has a “tin ear.”  They do not grasp that all that they are saying from the pulpit is being correlated with how they live life.  That is why there are biblical requirements for pastoral and preaching!

. . .. . . 

There is a lot of grace and kindness which a pastor-preacher is given by God’s people, and it can be stored in the bank of good-will.  That grace and kindness will forgive many a weakness and failure.

Nevertheless . . . .
There are ways to fail at the very calling you have been given
as a pastor-preacher!  

♦♦♦♦♦♦

post it note pastor preacher V2



1. Ted Martens

2. LINK:  https://briandoddonleadership.com/2019/09/15/you-will-fail-as-a-preacher-if-you-do-not-do-these-3-things/

1. You Need To Proclaim Truth –  “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth”. Crawford states, “These people don’t need to hear your opinions and ideas.  They need a word from God.”  He goes on to add, “These people don’t need to hear your stories.  They don’t need to see your movie clips… They don’t need to hear that.  They need to hear a word from God.”

2. You Need To Possess Truth –  “you shall meditate on it day and night”  He says, “You have to absorb the truth.  This truth needs to become who you are… Absorb it.  Know it.  It is who you are…  It is not something you use.  It is not a ministry tool.  It is your identity.  It is living and powerful.  And the Spirit of God shows up when you honor the Word of God.  It is literally the voice of God.”

3. To Do All That Is Written In It – “so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it.  For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”  Crawford makes an interesting observation.  He says, “Notice the pronoun. Then YOU will make YOUR way prosperous.”   He concludes this portion of the message by saying, “Ministry is incarnational.  You have to become a picture of the desired destination at which others should wish to arrive.”

1 2 3 4 5 6 

Five Ways Pastors – Preachers Showcase A “Tin Ear”

tin earAt the end of this post, I realize that there will be some speakers and preachers who may legitimately discount what is said because of the common plight which accompanies a “serial speaker.” [1].

Yes, I understand that there are people who unfairly knit-pick the words and message of preachers-teachers.  That does not abrogate the legitimate!

And — Yes — at times, not only do we as pastors fail to communicate effectively, but we fail to communicate properly. We say it the wrong way, or we say the wrong thing. Or we don’t say what we should have said. Or we did not say it clear enough. We misspeak. We choose the wrong word(s).

However, none of that precludes the fact that as a speaker-teacher-preacher, we may have a “tin ear.”  We may not hear what we are saying.  We may not hear what it sounds like to those who are listening. That can be the fault of the “radio receiver.”  But it can also be caused by the “transmitter.” 

We may be talking in a way that seems appropriate to us, but is in fact offensive.  However, we do not hear it that way — but it is to those listening!

……………

In Public Speaking:

Have you hear a speaker, politician, or political commentator make a comment, after which you thought or said . . . .

You are kidding!
Do you know how that sounds!
YOU . . . . are saying . . . . .WHAT?
That’s the pot calling the kettle black!

Some speakers have a “Tin-Ear.”

Tin Ear:

insensitivity to the appropriateness or subtlety of language.”

√ A speaker does not understand how that sounds to the audience who is and/or may be hearing it!

√ To be “Tone Deaf”:  Tone-deaf is also used to describe a person who either ignores, or worse yet, seems to be oblivious to how offensive or upsetting something they have said is to an audience.

. . . . . . . . 

From The “Pulpit”:

However, some pastors also may have a “tin ear” when it comes to . . .

  • the use of certain illustrative material.  I have heard some illustrations and said . . .
    “Ugh . . . what was he thinking of to use that as an illustration.  It comes across terrible!  Far too graphic!”
    “The sexual imagery in that illustration is really quite offensive.”
    “T-M-I”
    → “I am getting uncomfortable with some of the depth or details of the story.  I think I need to bring my children out.”
  • personal marital or family details (which most believe ought to be kept private)
    “I hope his wife cleared him before he shared that information.”
    “If I were his child, I would be embarrassed for that to be shared.”
    “I know the pastor is trying to be transparent, but that will stick and linger in the minds of the audience.”
  • exhortations, admonitions, and reproofs, which they themselves are known to violate.
    “How can you be admonishing us about “family” when your children do not even attend church on any regular basis.  Don’t you hear yourself?!”“Pastor, please don’t exhort us about marriage, when you show such disrespect to your wife.  I hope you are listening to yourself.”

    “Really, you are being critical of church ministries who excuse sexual sins, and you yourself have refused to address it appropriately in your own church ministry! Don’t you hear how that sounds to God’s people?”

    “Pastor, you are you talking about sinful behavior and forgiveness! Don’t you hear how that sounds to those you have sinned against and never personally addressed or confessed your wrong-doing?”[3]

  • repeatedly bringing the focus back to yourself.
    “It really is all about you, isn’t it.  Even when praising someone else, you have to take some credit.”“Yes, yes — I know — there are 100’s of people who tune in and watch every week from around the world.  Don’t you hear how prideful that sounds?”

    “Yes, you are the pastor.  Remind us of your position again and again.  Do you hear how un-servant-like that sounds to your congregation?”

    → “Rather a self-serving message about criticism.  It sounds like there are people you are going after — from the pulpit.”

  • disingenuous explanations.
    “Really, that is the reason you are giving for canceling that service this year.  Do you hear how disingenuous that sounds!→ “Repeatedly explaining why attendance is down (or giving is down, or few attended this-or that event) sounds so hollow.  Maybe the reason is found in what we are doing?”

    “Why not just accept responsibility, and stop giving reasons for what you did which were unwise-to-wrong!  It sounds so insincere and repulsive!”

    “No, that is not a biblical principle.  It is what you have to believe and teach so that ‘wrong’ looks ‘right,’  ‘poor’ looks ‘good,’ ‘misguided” looks “wise.’  You don’t grasp how foolish it sounds when you do that with Scripture.

. . . . . . . . 

The Causes:

  • Impromptu: Sometimes, the material is impromptu.  It came to the speaker-preacher’s mind at the moment and was not filtered out by the process of preparation, time, and/or re-think.  Making comments off-the-cuff and not hearing how it sounds at the moment is potentially dangerous.
  • Experience: At other times, a speaker-preacher lacks experience.  Over time a preacher learns that such illustrations, examples, rabbit-trail comments, references, or wording do not go over well.  Experience provides feedback from a spouse or family member, comments from members who graciously “reference” what was said after the message, and/or the ability to read facial grimaces and uneasy audience movement.
  • Self-awareness: The cause may also be due to a significant lack of self-awareness.  The pastor doesn’t grasp at all how contradictory or prideful his words sound because he is so personally aloof.  While the listeners are surprised that he is making such comments, he sees nothing worthy of such a reaction.  He may even defend his words, double-down, and argue with those who suggest otherwise.
  • Hypocrisy: The worst cause would be hypocrisy.  That is what we see in the political world of public speaking.  Individuals, who either don’t see how hypocritical they are, or forge on even when they know and understand their hypocrisy.

. . . . . . . . 

Suggestions:

√  Be very cautious about using any material which comes to mind on the spot!

√  Don’t specifically refer to previous members of the church in a negative way, no less by name — Audience’s Thinking: “One day you may use me as an illustration.”

√  Consider using a general reference rather than being too specific — “There are Christians who can be so divisive and critical in a local church setting.”

√  Consider moving from — “Some of you here today are doing a terrible job of raising your children to love Jesus. . . .” — to —  “There will be those who in most every church who are doing a terrible job at raising their children. . . . “

√  Be careful who you commend or vouch for.*  Audience Thinking: “They surely don’t know that person very well!  Got pastor fooled.”

√  Be careful when speaking about salary, pastoral compensation, or critics and criticism.  If a pastor is not careful, it may come across, and may even be true, that a pastor is using the “bully pulpit” for self-serving purposes and even as a one-sided opportunity to make his case.

√  Be careful what you commend or reference.  It might have been “good” at a point in time, but it might be far different later. Audience Thinking: “He watches/watched ‘Boston Legal’!”

√  Stay away from saying anything which is sexually inappropriate! — “My wife is hot.” / “When I was kid we went skinny dipping at a pond with . . . ” / “I read the story of . . . .”

Some speakers-preachers may not realize that they are asking the audience to call up mental images that are so out of place in church on a Sunday morning — and/or out of place, period!

√  Be careful when listing this-or-that and then indicating that you wrestle with one or more of those listed items. — i.e. “Some of God’s people wrestle with anger, or impatience, pornography, worry-anxiety, sexual immorality, alcohol or drugs.  I understand the battle with some of these sins.”  Audience Thinking: I hope it is “impatience.”

Yes, there are pitfalls when it comes to speaking.
It comes with the position and responsibility!

Yes, there are those who will knit-pick your comments.
Sometimes, it is the “radio receiver.”

And yes, sometimes, it is the “transmitter.” 
And it is your responsibility to “hear how it sounds!”

Ethos” is always in play when it comes to preaching.  People listen (and even decided to attend) because of their regard for the speaker. People give their attention to, or turn-off/tune out, when the speaker’s integrity or credibility comes into play! [2].

That is why there are qualifications for being a pastor-preacher-teacher!

When it comes to some of these listed pitfalls, let me also say . . .
“Been there and done it!”



1. “Serial Speaker”:  There are those who spend their lives “speaking.”  Politicians, “Ted Talk” speakers, those who travel on the Speaker Bureau, or attorneys don’t even come close to the volume of speeches and words that preachers do.  Preachers-teachers are “serial speakers” who speak to a “serial audience.”  “Serial” because it is the same speaker and the same audience, two to four times a week, and often for years!  Add to that counseling, small talk, funerals, weddings, committee meetings, discipleship, etc.

2. I find it much more difficult to listen to Ravi Z. (who passed away this year) after the scandalous stories were rightly reported before he died, and after he died.

3. I am always set back when I hear a pastor say that he knows of no one to whom or nothing for which he needs to apologize.  Such a lack of self-awareness is telling and odious.  It might be better (and more humbly) said . . . .

“I repeatedly ask the Lord to help me be sensitive to what I need to make right and follow through on, based on Matthew 5:23.  I know that I too easily believe my own evaluations — as Proverbs 21:2 reminds me — and I need help in understanding how I have wronged others by my decisions, actions. and attitudes.  If there are those who I have wronged, I need the Spirit of God to help me see it, acknowledge it, and seek his/her forgiveness for such actions.”

As Paul states, I know nothing against myself, but that does not mean that there is nothing about which I need to address and confront, as I am aware that they have “ought against me.”
. . . . . . . 
. . . . . . . 

* I know about ending with a preposition — I just refuse to agree or conform!

Reminded Again That There Are Men Whose Actions Give Great Hope: Yaovi Kpogno – Togo, West Africa

cropped-flame-match-1.jpg

One Real Servant Who Is
ON FIRE
It Isn’t About Resources,
It’s About Drive!
Drive Finds
The Resource
&
The Resources!
A Togo Missionary: I came to know Yaovi at Hilldale Baptist Church – Tampa, Florida.  He is one of the finest missionaries in my opinion. He attended Bible college in America, did an internship at HBC, and then just over a year and a half ago, he left for returned to Togo, West Africa.
Yaovi is a
sacrificial and tireless
worker, preacher, and pastor!
What you see in the pictures, and more clearly by the video, is what he accomplished in that year and a half.  He accomplished it with the grace of our Lord, along with his monthly support, personal funds, the gift$ of others, AND a tireless drive to make a difference in the small part of the “kingdom front!”
Yaovi was a young man who was who he was before he came to HBC, and continues to be who he was when he returned — in love with his people and with the Gospel ministry!
Sad to say, he puts many others in ministry to shame with his work ethic, drive to reach into his community, love of his people, and commitment to preaching God’s Word.
That statement will upset some, but only those who know no such personal commitment and drive, which marks Yaovi, a man who chooses to seize every opportunity to reach and preach.
With all the resources, in a country like America, churches across America will be doing little-to-nothing these final few weeks of 2020.  Not because they can’t, but because they won’t.
I can assure you, the world will fill the void! 
They will figure it out!
Get Your Picture Taken With Santa — 2020
Behind plexiglass / With a face shield.
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Many local churches will not figure anything out!
There are some interesting ideas out there, but few are even interested.
It’s just another symptom of pastoral listlessness and lethargy
brought into greater focus and exposed by “2020!
♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦
Nevertheless, there is cause for great hope
with men in the Gospel ministry like Yaovi. 
Africa is the new and growing soil in which the Gospel ministry will flourish, as America moves into the shadows, as did England.  Not because we lack the resources, but American Christianity lacks the will.


Brief 3 minute Yaovi Video: Click Here For Video 

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Longest Grounding In Recent History

boeing-737-maxThe Boeing 737 MAX commenced service for commercial flights in May 2017.  Approximately 450 of these planes were built, at the cost of approximately $130 million each.

Approximately a year and a half later, the 737 MAX experienced its first fatal crash (October 2018), and then another one months later (March 2019). [1]

The 737 MAX was quickly grounded in March of 2019, over two and a half years ago!

  • For the air travel industry, that was the longest grounding of a jet airliner in United States History.
  • For the Boeing Corporation, it was the worst financial, public relations, and manufacturing, and grounding-storage crisis in their corporate history.
  • For marketing and sales, it was the worst bottom line disaster for the bestselling product line of all time.
  • AND for 346 people, it was the end of their lives.

“The Longest Grounding Of All Time” — might be a fitting headline to describe the local church midst the COVID-19 crisis.  There will be a lot remembered, written, and sorely appraised about the 2020 grounding of “Ministry & The Local Church In 2020”  when all the dust clears.  While the combination of effective treatments, a vaccine, and further successful research into the handling pathogens, in general, will help re-balance “living life,” I am not sure that the local church will rebound very well.

The local church has not fared very well throughout this crisis.  It has revealed many of its cracks, which were not so visible heretofore.  Two major cracks have come to light . . .

a disingenuous love and concern for God’s people, no less those outside of the church

a lack of perceptive and astute thinking as to how to navigate the storm. [2]

They are probably connected!

I have already addressed the first fracture, which is all too prevalent! — How unconnected “shepherds” have been over these months of congregational fragmentation. [3] I say “fragmentation” because some have felt comfortable returning to services, and others have not.  Even with those who have returned, some are cautious, and others are far less so — mask versus no mask, conversing versus leaving as soon as services are over, one service but not two, etc.

Nevertheless, “pastors” seem to have the idea that if their doors are open, then it is no longer their responsibility to reach out to those who have not returned because they can now return!  AND THEY SHOULD!

  • Get back to “assembling yourselves together!”
  • You should be in church!  (But let me remind you that everyone needs to be real careful.)
  • There is no longer any reason not to attend!
  • It probably wasn’t as real as they say anyway [4]
  • If you go out shopping, you can be here!

Regardless of legitimate and serious concerns — the church doors are now open!
So get back to your pew!  You hear me!
This is your “pastor” speaking!
Get back to “assembling yourselves together”.
NOW!

………………….

The second fracture is — a lack of perceptive and astute thinking as to how to navigate the storm — has also come to the surface.  The paltry and feeble response of many ministries and local churches is deafening!  The single best answer seems to be “live streaming” and/or “masked-social-distancing-brick-and-mortar-services.”

Understandably, “live-streaming” was the best answer when it seemed that “two-weeks to flatten the curve” was the plan. However, after months of realizing that the crisis was far deeper, there is still little critical, perspicuous, and creative thinking by the pastors and leadership of local churches!

“Resignation-thinking” seems to be response.
— “Oh well — not much we can do — I guess.” —

I saw “Andrew (and Winston) again this week. [5]  As I stated, Andrew is a pastor of a local church of a far different stripe.

“I did a funeral this week.  It was just me, a casket, and a 90 year old mother.”

One of your members?

“No, just a funeral home which was looking for a minister to do the funeral.”

What do Thanksgiving and Christmas look like this year for your church?

I meet today with the church committee on that, and I have several ideas as to  what we can do, which I want to share with them — brainstorm a little as to their thinking.

As we talked further — he was excited about some of the possibilities and options.  There was no “resignation-thinking, ” but it was “determination-thinking.”

It was . . . .

What can we do!

I was not — What can we excuse ourselves out of
because we really don’t want to do.

That is what is so shocking.  As we talk about ministry, he is focused on what can be done midst COVID during Thanksgiving and Christmas.

This year — will be the longest grounding in the recent history of local church ministry and outreach.  Not because nothing can be done, but because of resigned pastors and leaders who lack the drive, energy, and commitment to figure it out!

While Boeing’s agency’s administrator, Steve Dickson, said that he’d be “100 percent comfortable with my family flying on it,” not sure many local church members are going to be getting on board when the dust clears in the coming months.

Committed to the Great Commision?  In word — or in deed? [5]

For far too many this year — Matthew 16:18 is just a “ministry-quoted-bumper-sticker.”

They are still grounded.

The impact of the grounding will far exceed 2020.

Some just don’t know it yet!



1. The first crash was in October 2017, killing 157 people in Kenya, and then another one in March 2019, killing 189 people in Indonesia.

2. In many ways, Andy Stanley made have made the best decision.  To park the “737 MAX” and concentrate his energies on doing what can and needs to be done, rather than take-off down the runway week after week, not knowing how the flight will end.

post it note pastor preacher V2

3.  I have asked people over and over as to whether they received even one call from their pastor since around June.  I am no longer surprise with the answer.  Sad!

“We then that are strong
ought to bear the infirmities of the weak,
and not to please ourselves.”

……….

……

……

…….

4. Some find comfort in their admonitions by hinting that it was somewhat of a hoax or overblown conspiracy — I mean, only 250,000 people have died in America!

5.  I am the President of the “Ballantrae Morning Walk Evangelism Team.” I say that in jest. I am the only member, so I am the President. Actually, there is no such official organization.  It just defines one of my goals during my regular early morning walks.

I walk almost every morning, 2 – 4 miles. Outside of daily exercise, my goal is to get to know other individuals who cross my path week after week, and now for years.  – Rick / Mike / Nardell / David / Dennis / et al.

winstonOne of the friendships I have developed over several years has been with a protestant minister. I met him during my morning walks a good while ago. In fact, my wife and I have taken him out to dinner. His name is Andrew, he is British, and he speaks with a distinctly British accent. His dog’s name is “Winston.” (It has a “Churchill” connection)

6. I John 3:18

Potentially Perilous “Polity”

trouble ahead

Warren Cole Smith was the publisher of WORLD Magazine.  Presently, Warren Cole Smith is President of Ministry Watch, an organization that examines the conduct of a breadth of different ministries, and primarily local churches.  He just published “Faith Based Fraud.”

Recently, he has made some noteworthy, but not surprising comments concerning pastoral irresponsibility and accountability.  He stated that when it comes to local churches, he repeatedly observed that  . . . .”the bottom line is that there is very little accountability.”  That caused him to look for a common characteristic.  He states that his search . . .

“. . . opened my eyes to looking for that form of church government and church governance. So what the fancy word for that is church polity in other churches, and I found it, unfortunately, to be common in the evangelical world.”

Warren repeatedly realized that the factor was pastors and church leaders, “men who have very little accountability.”  The ministry or the church lacked the knowledgeable and necessary people within the ministry to address self-serving decisions.

In essence, the ministry was “staff run,” and what was happening was self-contained and managed by the pastor and/or his staff.

On the other side, the church members, and even lay officials, did not know what most of the staff knew.

There was no one “in the know” who would speak up, and the church members who would speak up, were not “in the know.”

Folks who are not really in a position to say, “Hey, dude, you need to do things differently here.”  Because the folks who are in a position to do that are usually people that are on the payroll of the church, and can be fired by that senior pastor. And of course, it makes them very reluctant to speak up.

The poisonous brew is the concentration of power.  A threatening staff environment ensues.  Those who should and could speak to the issues, don’t — and for good reason!  The church polity has sanctioned the inherent dangers which silence dissent.

When God’s people have little-to-no control over the election-nomination process, the hiring and firing decisions, or the operationally significant decision-making proceedings, things can go terribly wrong.

Number One — “Folks who are in a position to say — “Hey, dude, what are you doing.” — remain quiet.

Number Two — “The church,” which has the authority, has no awareness as to what has or is actually happening.

Warren is correct when he looks at church polity for where the most serious of problems are coming from in the local church setting.  Tell me how your church is organized, and you will find one of the first clues as to where the potential or actual problems are arising.

√ Elder-Rule
√ Deacon-Rule
√ Pastor-Rule
√ Long-time Member(s) Rule
√ CRINO – Congregational Rule In Name Only
√ Congregational-Rule

It IS Your Responsibility

last to arrive first to leave care

Approximately 25 years ago, my father-in-law was on track to only live another 12 months due to congestive heart failure. Mom and dad were Berean Baptist Church members in Grand Rapids, Michigan — a strong and good-sized church. I remember mom saying to me — “Pastor Margenson came by every week throughout the year to visit dad.”

That pastoral attitude and action are far too often “old-school.” I have seen, experienced, and continue to witness examples of “Pastoral-Care-Less-ness.”  There are those who never even take make the time to visit needy people on any regular basis, no less weekly.  Seen it!  — “Care less” attitudes by pastors, who are the ones given the great opportunity of ministering and strengthening their ministry, who are given the full-time advantage and the biblical responsibility.  COVID has created and demanded an even greater need for the Shepherd to “care deeply.”  Instead, it has too often confirmed the reputation of  “care-less.”

That “care less” danger was potentially present among pastors from the earliest days of the church.  That is why Paul challenges Timothy about the characteristics which must mark a man called to the local church ministry.  The various admonitions reflect the real possibility that there might be those who “care less” about the flock but see ministry as primarily about themselves.

  • not in it for the money — not greedy of filthy lucre
  • personally enjoys social opportunities — given to hospitality
  • a giver, not a taker, not covetous
  • not a self-important person — not a lover of preeminence
  • does not abuse his position or power — not lording his position over others
  • focused on service — minded to serve, not to be served

Paul lays out standards and qualities which mark a pastor.  They mark shepherds!  They are not a list of optional characteristics! Nor are the various pastoral qualifications open to  “pick and choose” — “I’m good at “apt to teach, and just not so much “given to hospitality.”  No, enjoying, loving, and caring about people characterizes a shepherd! AND appreciating, entertaining, and visiting people is connected to an effective pulpit ministry.

I have repeatedly tried to attend the funerals of others, whether I knew them extensively-personally or not.  If any people who should be present during these difficult days of others, of families we know personally or passingly, it is God’s people!  It is part of loving, bearing the burdens of others, and our godly influence in the lives of others.  If you as a local church pastor, find yourself embarrassed as to how so few church members attend a funeral, you might want to remember  — “You are the one who is there to teach them or has taught them about caring!”  It is the first and foremost responsibility of the pastor and the church leadership to testify to and teach about caring!

I know how it goes, how the cover stories are crafted. I’ve been in the ministry far too long to be flummoxed by the pastoral excuses and pretense!

  • I have asked the deacons to make sure that they are calling – visiting – attending.
  • The assistant/associate pastor has been visiting him/her.
  • I made repeated phone calls, but couldn’t get a hold of them.
  • There are too many people for me to personally address all the situations of need. [1]
  • I called, and they told me they are doing okay  and that a visit was not necessary. [2]
  • I prayed with and been in contact with them. [3]

Certain responsibilities cannot be passed off to other members of the church or the pastoral-administrative staff!  Pastors are pastors for a reason.  One of the expectations of a church pastor is that they be there.  Others — visiting, calling, attending, helping, assisting — might be appreciated, but the bottom line is — “the pastor!  You may want to lie to yourself by excusing yourself out of your personal responsibility as the shepherd of God’s flock. However, you are the one who is “prominently-desired.”   One of the first question which will be asked by family members, friends, and fellow believers will be — “Has the pastor been by!”  [4] Why?  Because you are the one who should have the heart which personally cares about people, and you are the first in line to personally minister to them.

While others may be doing what you are also doing, you are the one doing it “first and foremost!”  You as the pastor of the church, the shepherd of the flock.  You ought to be the one who is known to be the one who personally cares!  The pastor ought to stand out as the one who engages, talks with, entertains, is aware of, is attentive to, knows, [5] calls, “cards”, visits, shows up, and contacts God’s people. 

The word “pastor” and “preacher” are two different words which describe ministry activity!  What people hear, and whether preaching is heard, is attached to the pastoral ministry! 

There is no replacement for “the pastor!” 
There is a special and unique relationship
that inherently exists and is desired by God’s people.

There ought be no one else who cares more — and cares more sincerely — and in fact, is known to be the one who deeply cares the most!

“Show up, engage, and
care deeply about those in the” church.



1. Watch out for the duplicitous use of “all.” No one is saying “all” or “every.” There will always be situations and scenarios which make it difficult, or nigh to impossible, to address properly. That must be an allowable cover for doing what one should have done!

2. Every pastor knows that often God’s people will graciously excuse the pastor out of visiting. We also know that we need to visit and not allow ourselves to be excused out.

“No, Harry, I want to come over!  I want to share and pray with you! What would be a good time for me to show up at your house?”

Pastors know that we have a God-given responsibility to just be there and bear each other’s burdens! God’s people’s graciousness is no reason to not personally care for others during the most difficult times of life.

I have seen the “Care-less-ness of “Shepherds,” who almost never never visited people who were dealing with cancer and facing death, only visiting at the hospital during the final days of life!  

A pastor may falsely believe that he impacts and influences lives, while his words fall on deaf ears because of his own reputation of “care-less-ness.” 

3. Sadly, it often takes “20 questions” to find out the truth of what is being represented.  The contacts were “primarily business-oriented,” speaking to the spouse, making a phone call to him or her, the sending of a card, a text message, or an email.

4. Or — “Has your pastor been by”  — will be the question of those around that individual or family, because they know that this family is committed to a local church ministry.

5. “You’re good at names.”  No . . . . I merely understand how important AND BASIC it is to people, to know their name.  Therefore — I work at knowing names!

As stated . . . .

The “echo chamber” resounds among pastors. Too many repeat the same plaintive excuses, all which exonerate shepherds from a genuine awareness of the sheep. The Lord has already defined the word “pastor”, and it speaks of and demands awareness. If you leave out “awareness,” you will have to come up with your own word — suggestions include: church employee, hired hand, mercenary, day worker, hired gun . . . .

If you call yourself a “shepherd,”
then you have to sincerely, and deeply care about the flock.

Is Keith Getty Right?: Who’s Deciding On The Music You Use In Worship?

 

Keith-Kristyn-Getty-1Keith Getty resides in Ireland, but from September to June, he works in America. America was the most obvious strategic place to come, since he believed that so much of the church’s leadership around the world is still orchestrated in America. 

 

The Gettys started their unique American ministry in 2000. They indicate that they came to America to “write the hymns and be stewards of the hymns.”  

They believe that today’s worship music is decidedly directed by “Wall Street.” The deciding force in what music makes it into the local churches’ worship services across America, and beyond, are the companies listed on Wall Street, not main street.

Keith Getty is a clear and persuasive voice in the fog of the CCM debate, a debate that continues to take place among and in today’s church. If you would like to listen to him, make the argument, here is the link.

However, other substantial factors may play into the decision as to what worship looks like in the local church. I would suggest that at least two other factors have a prominent impact . . . .

√ ministry compartmentalization, and
√ theological education.

Ministry Compartmentalization:  There is a tendency for pastors to see themselves as the “one leg of the stool.”  Their job is to step up at the appropriate time to fulfill the preach-teaching role.  The “commercials”[1] & musical components are the task of others. 

The music leader (paid staff or lay song service conductor ) selects the congregational music, who and when others sing or perform, and the “genre” mix — or not. That is his or her lane. The pastor stays in his lane, indicating to the song leader what the thematic road is, and now and again, swerving a little into the other lane. The “informed or uninformed taste or opinion” of the music leader guides the selection. What that music leader values and enjoys is what shows up on Sunday morning with marginal pastoral input. Whether the music has serious pastoral endorsement, or ministers to the people, is not as important as what he/she values and enjoys.

The pastor is “happy to accommodate” with such an arrangement. There are far fewer decisions that have to be made by him and less mental distractions before he takes the stage.  However, without meaningful and genuine “like-mindedness,” the road can become fairly bumpy for both pastors and people.  The separate lanes can lead to a crash when members or pastors see the church moving in a different and unwanted direction.  It is usually the “music man’s car” which is most crumbled in a crash.

Theological Education:  The theological education of a good number of pastors is lacking or meaningfully absent. [2]  Whether it be mis-educated, inadequately educated, and even uneducated pastors, they become complicit.  Some — maybe far too many — pastors lack the theological background and/or have musically educated themselves by reading and/or listening to men like Keith Getty — and yes — those of other persuasions.

In 2020 ! — a seminary education is seemingly less valued as necessary than it was in the past. [2] There was a time when such an education was unavailable, or financially non-pursuable, and it was understandably acceptable. Today, when it is available and financially feasible, a weak or absent theological education is not rightfully deemed as unacceptable.  

What we see today is . . . . 

  • full online degrees
  • fewer classes / “semester hours”
  • shortened programs
  • credit for life-ministry experience
  • little personal exposure to some of the best and finest seminary professors
  • a loss of interaction with others going into ministry
  • the discipline of semester deadlines
  • fewer seminaries and decreasing enrollment
  • stranger seminaries
  • a business degree seen as qualifying for pastoral ministry
  • fast and easy ordination or ministerial licensing — or neither
  • churches with short and/or shallow statements of faith
  • less emphasis on holiness and sanctification
  • etc.

Why would we expect otherwise? 

Why would we or should we expect a discerning, discriminating, and/or judicious understanding of church music to be part and parcel of many ministries.  I say that not to argue for a position, though I have one.  But to make the point that leaders of local church ministries may disagree, but they should be able to learnedly and thoroughly “argue” their position — theologically and musically.  “It is a matter of taste or personal opinion” — does not qualify as that, nor is it persuasive!

Is Keith Getty Right?
Is it Wall Street, Not Main Street Who Is Making The Decisions?


Yes! . . . But! 
Not without the permission of many others in local church ministries!

 



1. The varied elements which keep God’s people informed as to what is happening in this-or-that ministry.  It includes the verbal announcements, the video clips, reports on what is happening in this-or-that ministry, birth/death/sickness items for prayer, etc. 

2. https://getreal.typepad.com/get_real_with_david_tarki/2017/11/you-are-called-to-pastor-do-you-really-need-seminary.html

Is Seminary Really Necessary?

https://www.christianpost.com/news/pastors-still-value-use-seminary-education.html

Pastors Who Walk The Factory Floor

Paterson silk city

My biological father died in his early 40’s from “Rheumatic Fever.”  He was the father of three children — a two-year-old son, and about three weeks prior to his death, the birth of twin boys.  I was one of those twins.  It was 1946 and what would have been much more medically addressable today was not then.

Much of what I know about him came from my mother.  She tells me that he was the “floor foreman” at one of the looming mills in Paterson, NJ.  At that period of time, Paterson was known as “silk city,”  a major fabric producing mill town in the northeast.  The job of the floor foreman was to make sure that everybody and everything was working properly.

“Walking the factory floor” may be a dated or scant term in our culture.  There are fewer factories in America today.   Nevertheless, “Walking The Factory Floor” is a good term because it speaks of activity, production, presence, and awareness.

In leading a ministry or the local church, all of these elements are consequential.

Activity – Walking: The Lord connects wickedness and laziness — “Thou wicked and slothful servant.”  Those in ministry are not accorded a life-style that God’s own people do not have.  The “floor foreman” is walking, not sitting!  “Sitting in an office” is not the logo that brands our calling.  Ministering to people in word and deed is our trademark. [1]

Production – Factory: There is something terribly wrong with a factory which has product, people, and money going in the front door, and nothing is happening at the back door.  There is something terribly wrong with a ministry that has been given the glorious Gospel, people, giftedness, a location, a building, an ample talented staff, freedom, opportunities, and money coming in the front door, while nothing — or little-to-nothing — is coming out on the other side!

Presence – Floor: The “pastoral study” is not a place where those in the ministry are able to hide out.  It is a place of sermonic preparation, not isolation.   “Floor foreman” meant that you were on the mill’s floor, out and about, among the workers and the machinery of the factory.

Preachers who . . . .

  • are “the last to arrive and the first to leave” – “care deeply
  • don’t know the names, nor the names of people or their children
  • avoid “getting their hands dirty”
  • don’t thoroughly enjoy people and therefore miserably fail at hospitality
  • think that they don’t have to give their time in the same ways as others do
  • exit as soon as it is socially acceptable to slip out / excuse not attending
  • only have time for a small circle of “important” church friends
  • don’t take the time value the time to physically work shoulder-to-shoulder

. . . . are “Ivory Tower Speakers,” who should not be given the responsibility and privilege of preaching to God’s people.

last to arrive first to leave care

Awareness – Foreman: I detect a tendency in ministry today to compartmentalize ministry — “I preach-teach.”   In “silk-city,” it was unthinkable and unacceptable that the “foreman” did not know what was happening on the “floor.”  His job was “to know!”  And he knew that it was his job “to know” the people and the operations taking place on the floor.

The “echo chamber” resounds among pastors. Too many repeat the same plaintive excuses, all which exonerate shepherds from a genuine awareness of the sheep. The Lord has already defined the word “pastor”, and it speaks of and demands awareness. If you leave out “awareness,” you will have to come up with your own word — suggestions include: church employee, hired hand, mercenary, day worker, hired gun . . . .

I would repeatedly say to the fellow pastors of Faith Baptist Church . . . .

If you are not at church early — to roam around, shake hands, and talk to God’s people before a service, you will lose a significant opportunity. During the week, God’s people are in the world, making a living! Don’t minimize or neglect this opportunity of contact with them. In fact, there will be those who arrive early because they know you will be there and want to interact and connect with you as a pastor!

Ministry leaders or pastors who are generally unaware of what is happening in the lives of God’s people and/or in the various ministries of the church should not be entrusted with a flock.

I knew that some may struggle with these words, so I brought a witness with me . . .

Acts 20:32-35And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.

I have coveted no man’s silver, or gold, or apparel.

Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me.

I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.

1 Peter 5:2 – Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight [thereof], not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;

Ezekiel 34:2-10 – Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD unto the shepherds; Woe [be] to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks?

The word “pastor” has already been defined by the Lord,
and it speaks of and demands awareness.
If you leave out “awareness,”
you will have to come up with your own word.

John 10:2-15 – But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.
To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.
And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.
Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep.
All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them.
I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.
But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep.
The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep.
I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.
As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.


1. Those who teach adult and children’s Bible classes have the same demands of preparation, and work a “40-hour” week in the secular world.  Pastors have been given the freedom from secular work.  That means that you have 40 more hours than they have to prepare — just a perspective on the privilege you have been given by “the church.”

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”

“And he said unto them, What things? And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people:”

“For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ hath not wrought by me, to make the Gentiles obedient, by word and deed”

“And whatsoever ye do in word or deeddo all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.”

“My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.”

What Causes People To Go “Humm”

hummm 

Let me begin with an observation which I think most of us have experienced . . . .

When a salesman, business, or company offers me a better price after I refuse their offer, they are admitting that they were willing to have me pay more if they could have gotten me to accept it.

Has that happened when . . . .

  • You called to cancel a credit card because you no longer want to pay their annual charge, and they cancel the annual fee if you keep it.
  • You communicate in word or body movement that you are about to walk away from purchasing their car.
  • You call to cancel a magazine subscription, and they are willing to lower the annual subscription charge.  Or worse yet, you cancel it and they continue to send it to you (I imagine they want to bolster their subscription numbers?).

At times, you get the feeling that a business has been overcharging you, and its actions contribute to that suspicion.  It is only as you say in word or behavior that you are about to refuse the offer, that they begin to include more (include a free widget which wasn’t offered or even mentioned till now – humm), come up with a discount coupon (which was never mentioned before — humm), and/or lower the price (humm).

“Suddenly” — the business is willing to do more!  — and maybe even considerably more. 

Shoppers notice such shenanigans and often resent them.

The same can happen in a ministry! Whether it be a para-church ministry or the local church. When church or school attendance, finances, or general interest are in decline, “suddenly” the ministry or local church offers or does “more.” I understand the dynamics which operate and have found it easy to succumb to those currents if I was not careful and candid.

Our K-8 Christian school was maxed out! Multiple pre-school classes, double classes in K-5th, and a full 6, 7, 8th program — 414 students — with every room space taken! In fact, we had to move out the office personnel from their “classroom space” in order to accomodate. We set them up in the overflow space surrounding the auditorium! When that happens, when “customers” are knocking down our doors, the tendency is not to accommodate, to be less than we ought to be, to be less than we should be and would be — were we struggling.

A parent is . . . .

  • Not satisfied?
  • Unhappy?
  • Has a complaint?
  • Wants more?
  • Finds it too expensive?

Do you sense the potential hazards which accompany such a situation?

Now flip it!  When things are going “south” in a ministry, a Christian school, or a local church, there is the tendency to do more!  That “more” may well have been what should have been the case before things started going sideways.

And yes — the “shoppers” notice it!

That happens with para-church ministries, Christian schools, and local churches.  Suddenly, ministries show a level of interest not present before.  Now, free books, messages, Bible study helps, prayer lines, and/or lower priced items are suddenly available!

Strangely (and maybe suddenly) those in ministry are making calls, visiting people in the hospital, implementing ways for reaching out to those in the world who need Christ, offering more help and care, changing or softening the tone in the pulpit, spending more time with people before and after the service, making more phone calls, shaking more hands, or showing more pastoral concern.

“Suddenly” — the church is doing more!  — and maybe even considerably more. 

And yes — the “shoppers” may well notice the change!
(Humm???)

Did I just hear the phone ring?
It’s who? — (Humm???)

Covid-19
has been a “REAGENT!”