Saturday, October 11, 2014

7 Things About Joyous Pastors' Wives

Thom Rainer : 7 Things Learned From Joyous Pastors' Wives...
  1. They focused on their identity in Christ. They are not first pastors’ wives. Nor do they find their primary identity in their local congregations. They are daughters of God, loved by Christ, and led by His Spirit. They know they are loved and accepted unconditionally by Him.
  2. They know they have their husbands’ support and priority. Many of the pastors’ wives who are struggling are intensely lonely. And one of the key reasons for that loneliness is their sense that they are not the priorities of their husbands.
  3. They are honest and transparent with their husbands. Because they know they have their husbands’ support, they are open and transparent communicators with them. They do not typically hold feelings inside of themselves.
  4. They understand and accept that criticisms and unreasonable expectations are a part of church life and leadership. So when they or their husbands are criticized, or when expectations are unreasonable, they know that is an unfortunate price of church leadership. It does not eliminate the pain; but it does help them to deal with it in a more healthy fashion.
  5. They are intentional about making friends outside the church. Most of the pastors’ wives admit they have difficulty making friends of church members. So they intentionally seek other female friends outside the church. This one act was mentioned several times as the key way they have mitigated loneliness.
  6. They don’t let others dictate their roles inside or outside the church.They feel the freedom to “be themselves,” and not to be shaped into unreasonable images by church members.
  7. They pray regularly for their churches and church members. Prayer is pervasively powerful. And our prayers for others shape our attitudes toward them. Such was the reason many of them were so positive about fellow church members.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Three Views of Sermon Length

Are church members and church leaders saying sermons should be longer or shorter? The answer is “yes.”

1. 41%: Sermons should be shorter, in the 20-30 minute range. These respondents see a cultural barrier related to short attention spans. Any sermon over 30 minutes, they say, does not connect with the typical mind of today, especially in Western culture. We, therefore, must keep the message shorter and pack more information into a relatively brief time period.

 2. 37%: Sermons should be longer, in the 35 to 55 minute range. A solid exposition of    Scripture, this perspective argues, cannot be done in just a few minutes. The sermon is the central part of the worship service, and the time allocated should be significant. We do a disservice to the Word of God when we move toward shorter sermons.

3. 9%: There should be no time constraints on the pastor’s sermons. The pastor should have a sermon length that is only subject to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Anything else lacks sensitivity to God’s work and involvement.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

True vs False Grace

Believers over the years have been  faced with a chronic problem called "legalism". In this brief interview, Dr. Michael Brown documents how the pendulum has now swung in the opposite direction as the church is now being assault by men perverting the orthodox view of  biblical grace teaching.

This heretical wind of deception is called "hyper grace" and is leavening the church with flagrant antinomianism. The beauty of grace based sanctification is now mocked with accusations of being works righteousness, legalism, or sin absorption.

Click on the link below and give a listen to Dr. Brown as he articulates the problem and the solution.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Eight of the Most Significant Struggles

Thom Rainer put together this list of  "Eight of the Most Significant Struggles" ministers face. Rainer makes the point that while most enjoy their calling, they would gladly receive help from church members, a word of encouragement from most anyone, and the knowledge that others are praying for them. I agree whole heartily!
  1. Criticism and conflict. I do have a few observations about this number one issue. First, it seems to be growing, and pastors seem to be experiencing greater challenges. Second, most of the issues of conflict are not doctrinal issues. Indeed, most are trivial issues. Finally, very few pastors are equipped and trained to deal with the steady stream of critics and crises.
  2. Family problems. Many pastors struggle with expectations by church members of their spouses or children. Others struggle with finding time for their families. Many pastors’ families struggle with the “glass house” syndrome.
  3. Stress. The pastor’s life is one of emotional highs and lows. It includes critics and adoring fans. Expectations from church members can be unreasonable. The very nature of a pastor’s call into ministry can lend itself to seemingly unending stress.
  4. Depression. Every time I write about this topic, I hear from countless pastors and staff. Depression is pervasive in pastoral ministry. And it is often the “secret” problem.
  5. Burnout. Local church ministry can attract two broad types of persons: the lazy and the workaholic. Accountability is often low, and it can be easy to get away with little work, or to work 70 plus hours a week. I see more of the latter than the former.
  6. Sexual problems. These problems are most often in one of two categories: pornography or marital unfaithfulness.
  7. Financial problems. Most of the world hears about the few pastors who make huge salaries. The reality is that the majority of pastors struggle financially.
  8. Time management. Expectations of pastors can be unrealistic. Pastors are often expected to attend multiple meetings, to visit countless congregants, to prepare sermons with excellence, to provide ongoing strategic leadership, to conduct weddings and funerals, and to be involved in the community. Many pastors don’t know how or when to say “no.” And many are not good at delegating, or they really don’t have anyone who can handle some of their responsibilities.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

How Much Time Do You Invest In Sermon Prep?

Tim Challies says there are minimalists and maximalists, and everything in between.

Tim Keller – 14-16 hours.

John Piper – All day Friday, half day Saturday.
Matt Chandler – All day Tuesday, all day Thursday.

Kent Hughes – 20 hours.

John MacArthur – 32 hours.

Mark Dever – 30 to 35 hours.

Mark Driscoll – 1 to 2 hours.

Driscoll explains:

By God’s grace my memory is very unusual. I can still remember a section of a book I read 20 years ago while preaching and roll with it. I’ve also never sat down to memorize a Bible verse. Yet, many just stick, and I can pull them up from memory as I go. Lastly, I’m a verbal processor. I think out loud, which is what preaching is for me. A degree in speech and over 10,000 hours of preaching experience also helps. And most importantly and thankfully, the Holy Spirit always helps.
When I get up to preach, the jokes, illustrations, cross-references, and closing happen extemporaneously.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Survey Says? Nine things That Have Replaced Tradtional Outreach In Churches

  1. Nothing. The church leaders who gave me this response knew that it was not a good answer. They simply have not found an effective means to reach their community.
  2. Social and caring ministries. Usually these ministries are effective in helping people, but I have heard few success stories of getting those same people assimilated in the church. Often the socioeconomic barriers are too large, despite the church’s best efforts.
  3. Big event. The church puts many of its resources toward a major production at Easter, Christmas, or Fourth of July, to name a few. Usually a good number of community residents do attend these events. Usually most of them do not return to the church.
  4. New venues or campuses. The multi-campus and the multi-venue models are becoming increasingly popular. Because they are able to attract new segments of the community, this approach does seem to be more effective than most.
  5. Community events. This approach is similar to the big event, except it is held in the community instead of the church facilities. I recently saw, for example, a church put significant resources into an event called “Carnival in the Park.” Like the big event in the church, I am not hearing of significant outreach success with this approach.
  6. Natural relationship building. A number of leaders indicated problems with structural outreach approaches. They believed that the members should be naturally developing relationship with non-believers. I believe that too; I’m just not seeing it too often.
  7. Intentional invitations. Our research shows that many unchurched persons will have a high level of receptivity to an invitation to church. Many churches encourage this approach to outreach, but I would like to see how some type of accountability could be created so that the approach can be sustained.
  8. New groups. I am perplexed. Churches that are intentionally and aggressively starting new groups are having significant outreach success. They are seeing more unchurched people accept invitations to join the new groups. But relatively few churches are intentional and aggressive about starting new groups. Why?
  9. Sticking with the traditional outreach. A few churches report that their traditional approach to visits in the homes works well in their communities. Great! If God’s using it, stay with it.

Friday, June 21, 2013

More Than 4 in 10 LGBT Adults Identify As Christians

 How can we square these stats with the biblical truth of scripture that declares, "Sinner's shall not stand in the congregation of the righteous?" [Psalm 1:5]

Here's what else a substantial survey by the Pew Research Center discovered about LGBT adults and religion:

*Most LGBT adults with a religious affiliation are Christians (53% Protestant, 26% Catholic).

*Of LGBT adults with religious affiliations, 1 in 3 believe there is a conflict between their  religious beliefs and their sexual orientation (vs. only 18 percent of the unaffiliated).

*A majority of lesbians (56%) consider religion either very important or somewhat important in their life. This compares with 40 percent of bisexual adults and 39 percent of gay men."