Archive for August 30, 2010

How Connected Are You With Your Pastors and Elders?

Are larger congregations causing our pastors to buffer themselves?

I struggle with church size. I was not raised in a large church but I currently attend one. I love my church and my pastors all of whom I know on a first name basis. I can and do, however, see the dangers of large congregations and insulated ministry. Even in a blessed and faithful church, such as mine, the danger of becoming out of touch, and impersonal is ever with us.

Carl Trueman writes of this problem in a blog post entitled, Life Together-or-Maybe Not,

The more successful a pastor, the more his time is spent doing little more than honing his writing and speaking skills. Ironically, in the past this was not the model of pastoral success; and neither did the increasing wider importance of a pastor necessarily take him away from daily pastoral duties and distance him from his people. For example, Luther not only ran the Reformation, he also had time, at the height of his international influence, to write a treatise on prayer for his hairdresser, a man called Peter, when the latter told him he was struggling in his devotional life. Richard Baxter, second only in importance to John Owen in seventeenth century Puritanism, spent much of his time visiting his people and getting to know them, so that he could pastor them more effectively.

It is sort of a modern invention for truly successful pastors to buffer themselves from their congregations. These buffers, some may contend, are in themselves a part of the church structure ordained in the bible (e.g. Elder’s, Deacons, etc.). While it is certainly true that a pastor must give himself to the ministry of the word and of prayer and going to pray for Aunt Suzie’s bunions is something that can be delegated, there is a higher point at stake here. Carl Trueman further explains,

I was reminded of a passage in Bonhoeffer’s Life Together. OK, I’m aware that these days quoting Bonhoeffer is like quoting Bono: you have to do it if you want the soul-patched thirty-somethings to take you seriously. But, unlike quotations from the sayings of the insufferably pretentious and self-promoting Bono, the words of Bonhoeffer do not just sound as if they mean something; they often really do mean something. This is the passage: `The first service that one owes to others in the fellowship consists in listening to them. Just as love to God begins with listening to His Word, so the beginning of love for the brethren is learning to listen to them. It is God’s love for us that He not only gives us His Word but also lends His ear. So it is His work that we do for our brother when we learn to listen to him. Christians, especially ministers, so often think they must always contribute when they are in the company of others, that this is the one service they have to render. They forget that listening can be a greater service than speaking.’

There is a great temptation these days to listen — to what the culture is saying, to what the postmoderns are saying, to what the world is saying — to put it bluntly, to what people who don’t give a tinker’s cuss for Christ or his church are saying. It would be tragic and a travesty of New Testament church life if, in spending so much time listening to everybody else out there, pastors ended up with no time on their schedule to listen to the voices of their own people.

This is the heart of the matter. Does your pastor have enough concern for you to give of his time to listen? I don’t mean you showing up at church spur of the moment and expecting an hour and a half appointment. I mean if you have a real concern and you call ahead and make an appointment, a courtesy shown to most cable tv installers, can you enjoy the uninterrupted and undivided ear of your pastor? I hope the answer to that question is yes. If it is not then maybe, just maybe you need to be the one that prays for your pastor and endeavors to help him become that man. If you are a pastor and you struggle with being that kind of man, then maybe you need to see how to rearrange your schedule so that you don’t miss this worthy investment of the time you have been given.

HT: Tim Challies

Going Viral

I need your help to spread the word!

I have no clue how many people read this blog. I am realistic enough to admit that the number is relatively small. I am also idealistic enough to believe in the power of a few. It is of that same power that I write today asking your help.

If you have any facebook friends who are students from 6th to 12th grade, or you have any facebook friends who are parents of students from 6th to 12th grade who live anywhere near Raleigh, NC I need you to do me a favor. This Wednesday evening at 7:00pm at the Delta Lake Center at Providence Baptist Church we kick-off our discipleship ministry to middle and high-school students in the Raleigh, NC area. This student discipleship ministry we call Refinery.

I need you to like our facebook page found here

I also need you to invite them to our event found here

Please help us reach students in the Raleigh, NC area with the gospel and disciple them in God’s word. It wont take you but a minute, but the impact will echo for eternity.


Do we really make outsiders feel welcome?

I had a unique opportunity yesterday to experience what an outsider to my church must feel. I was in an area of my church where I normally don’t go. The people in the room were much younger than I. They were busy greeting friends that they had not seen since school let out some weeks earlier. As I stood there waiting for a friend, I suddenly felt very awkward. I began to be embarrassed and I wondered if any of those darting by me could detect my uneasiness. I felt like it was clinging to me like a virus and could be seen by everybody in the room. It was obvious that I was somewhat out of place. Then it hit me like a ton of bricks. This is what it must feel like to be new, to be on the outside looking in.

I don’t know about most people but I am territorial. I usually only go places in my church where I am actively involved in serving. I know the people who will be there. I know the routine that will be followed. I know what to expect and I know that I’ll be greeted by at least a few people before I get to the end of the hall. Here I am in my element and enjoy what I do. This was all gone when I stepped into that other area of my church. I cant remember the last time I felt so disconnected and out of place.

Please don’t mistake my meaning. This is no critique or condemnation of the ministry into which I ventured today. What was exposed was not a lack of hospitality but an overabundance of my pride. I am used to being the one greeted and fawned over and I like it; way too much. This humbling and awkward experience helped remind me of what it must feel like when those who are on the outside, by the work of the Holy Spirit, find the courage to cross the threshold and enter the church doors.

Maybe this is not an issue for you. Maybe you don’t feel awkward in such situations. Maybe you are the type of person that bends over backward to truly make people feel welcome. I hope you are. I hope you don’t succumb to pride like I do and gravitate to those areas where people are waiting to boost your ego. I hope that I become more like you and we both become more like Jesus so that one day we will hear Him say…

“…‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”
– Matthew 25:35-40 (Emphasis mine)

A Little Weekend Motivation

Everybody needs motivation. Here is my motivational gift to you. Enjoy!

If you would like to see more of these or purchase any go here.