Recently, I was standing outside of a restaurant waiting for my bride. (Sometimes we husbands must do that.) I was alone except for an employee of the establishment. He said “Hi” and I responded with the same. Then it dawned on me. Perhaps the Lord would have me talk with this man about His love.
I spoke to the man and he responded in a way that suggested he was eager to talk. I told him I was a Baptist pastor and he seemed surprised. The older, fatter and balder I get, the less surprised he will be. 🙂
Then I asked him a question. “Do you know what Baptists believe?” “No,” he said. “What do they believe?” I used that opportunity to tell him Continue reading →
Tom Elliff is retiring after a short, but effective stint as the head of the IMB, the international mission agency of the Southern Baptist Convention. Here is some free (like someone is going to pay for this?) advice to the trustees who will choose his successor.
I care deeply about this decision for at least three reasons. 1, I love missions. God grabbed my heart for missions on my first mission trip and I am all in. 2, The church where I am pastor (FBC O’Fallon, IL) is in the SBC, goes on many IMB connected mission trips each year and has a few families from the church serving with the IMB. 3, My son-in-law, daughter and granddaughter serve with the IMB as new career missionaries to Madagascar.
1. Don’t worry much about who recommends them. We don’t need any kingmakers because we don’t have any kings. (Further free advice extends to my recommendation that you read that last sentence again.) Continue reading →
Posted in baptist, Christianity, International Mission Board, missions, southern baptist convention, Uncategorized
Tagged Baptist, Christian, Christianity, Church planting, discipleship, Evangelism, International Mission Board, Jesus, missions, Religion and Spirituality, SBC, southern baptist convention
There are so many ways to divide the church. Our past has often included division by race. I am glad to see that changing. I love that my church has people of different backgrounds and races. Heaven will certainly include people of every tribe and tongue.
Segregation by race has been accepted and justified by the homogenous growth principle. That is the principle that people tend to come to Christ through churches that are much like they are. But isn’t the ideal something better than churches that are segregated by race?
Today’s churches have a new way to divide. They are often segregated by age. Continue reading →
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Tagged Baptist, Christian, Christianity, church, Church planting, faith, God, Jesus, Religion and Spirituality, southern baptist convention
There is some bad preaching out there. There are sermons that are theological swamp lands and others too boring for the strongest caffeinated drinks. Some sermons chase rabbits like a hound; others skirt the text like a ballerina. Preacher, please don’t mislead me or confuse me or, heaven forbid, bore me with this great message.
I’ve been preaching most of my life- 25 years off, 28 years on. At the risk of opening myself to clever comments from amateur comedians who hear my sermons, let me tell you what a good sermon ought to do.
1. A good sermon informs. A good sermon tells us the truth. It teach us God’s word. That should go unsaid, but because it too often goes undone, it needs saying. Preacher, tell us what God says, not just what you think. Tell us what we need, not just what we like or want. Teach us the bible. Tell us what God wants us to know. This is an irreplaceable part of good preaching, but it isn’t enough.
2. A good sermon inspires. A good sermon tells us the truth in a way that moves our emotion as well as informs our logic. It touches our spirit as well as our mind. Preacher, use a story once in a while. The bible is full of them. Use some illustrations. They grab our attention and they help us to see the truth in a different way. Preach with some passion and stir us to greater things.
3. A good sermon implements. A good sermon applies the text to our lives. It doesn’t leave us in theory, but connects God’s word to our practical world. Preacher, answer the question “So what?” Tell us why we need to know God is the creator. Tell us why it matters that we understand what grace is. Move us to action. Move us to change. We need to see that God’s word is relevant to our lives.
4. A good sermon invites. A good sermon invites us to trust Christ as Savior and to follow Him as Lord. It invites us on this great journey of faith. It calls us to decision as it confronts us with the truth. There is an invitation to something greater and deeper and more real. Preacher, don’t be satisfied for us to know the truth. Call us with everything you have to follow the Truth with everything we have.
Excuse me now. I’ve got to work on my sermon for this weekend. This needs to be a good one. Hey, even a pig can grub up a diamond every once in a while!
Posted in baptist, bible, Christianity, Church, discipleship, evangelism, preaching, southern baptist convention, Uncategorized
Tagged Baptist, bible, bible study, Christ, Christian, Christianity, church, evangelical, Jesus, preaching, Religion and Spirituality, sermons, worship
I’m thankful for politicians. Or maybe I should better say, I’m thankful there are people who actively participate in our free country as politicians. Just wish more of them had common sense, biblical morality, a Christian world view and did their own plumbing. But, I digress.
I want to note that there are some limits to what politicians and governments can do. So, before getting too willing to ask our government to take over every aspect of our lives, let me note some things they can’t do.
1. They can’t change hearts. Politicians can change Continue reading →
Posted in baptist, Christianity, Church, faith, politics, Uncategorized
Tagged Baptist, bible, Christian, Christianity, faith, God, politicians, politics, Religion and Spirituality, voting
I’m finishing a biography of John D. Rockefeller. It is 650 pages long- which is about 450 pages beyond sufficient. I realized that the author- an otherwise excellent writer- doesn’t seem to understand Baptists much. (Rockefeller joined a Baptist church when young and stayed a Baptist all of his life- though in the more theologically liberal branch.) Earlier, I read a biography of Harry Truman. (Truman joined a Baptist church when young- though he didn’t stay very connected or influenced.) The author told me what he had for breakfast on multiple occasions, but hardly spared a word for what Baptists believed. I doubted that he knew.
I thought to myself, “If those fellows don’t know what Baptists believe, I’ll bet some others don’t either.” So, here is a brief synopsis.
A couple of quick disclaimers. Baptist belief in argumentation seems to be overly developed, so note that there are some differences of opinions about some issues. Note that this is my belief about Baptists beliefs (as a Baptist believer) and may not necessarily be matched by everyone using that title. And, these things are believed by many in the broader conservative, Evangelical world. Also, I can’t cover everything here, so I’ll just focus on a couple of basics.
1. Baptists believe that the Bible is God’s word Continue reading →
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Tagged Baptist, bible, bible study, Christ, Christian, Christianity, faith, God, Jesus, Religion and Spirituality, SBC, southern baptist convention, Sunday School
Some changes that we will make when we Baptists take over Chick-Fil-A.
1. We will replace “my pleasure” with “you’re in my seat”.
2. No more cash registers. We will use offering plates held tightly by grim faced men looking disappointed if you don’t dig deep.
3. We will change the recipe for the chicken sandwiches. If it tastes that good, doesn’t it have to be immoral in some way?
4. Our personnel committee will recommend cutting the salaries of the cows, citing poor spelling as one reason.
5. We will ban the use of mustard in the store, citing “the incident” from the most recent youth lock-in.
6. New motto- “Free sermon with any purchase!”
7. We will definitely open on Sundays!
10 changes that would happen if McDonald’s was run like a Baptist church-
1. Customers would have to get prior, written approval from the Committee on Committees to super-size.
2. One side of the arches would be golden, the other teal to satisfy differing opinions on the Colors Committee.
3. The new McDonald’s opening two blocks away would take half the employees and customers and be called “Unity McDonald’s”. Continue reading →
Posted in baptist, Christianity, Church, southern baptist convention, Uncategorized
Tagged Baptist, Baptist Groups, Christianity, church, Church planting, local church, McDonalds, Religion and Spirituality, southern baptist convention
I am not the dictator of the Southern Baptist Convention… yet. But, in preparation for that eventuality, I have additional mandates which will be observed during my dictatorship of the SBC.
First, Continue reading →
Posted in Christianity, Church, southern baptist convention, Uncategorized
Tagged Baptist, Christian, Christianity, church, IMB, missions, preaching, SBC, seminary, southern baptist convention
Don’t worry, there is no imminent coup- and I would hope we would all aspire to something better. But, should I become the dictator of our beloved SBC, there are a few changes I will immediately install.
First, Continue reading →
Posted in Christianity, Church, discipleship, evangelism, southern baptist convention, Uncategorized
Tagged Baptist, Christian, Christianity, Church planting, discipleship, Evangelism, local church, SBC, southern baptist convention