Perhaps you have noticed that your local church isn’t perfect. If you haven’t, many people will be happy to point that out to you. The lost world, disgruntled former members and even much of contemporary Christian culture delights in pointing out the many flaws and warts of the church. And, let’s face it, the church has earned portions of her criticism.
Some local churches have accepted or condoned aberrant theology, ungodly behavior and unbiblical practices. I would never ask you to connect with churches that willingly disobey God and his word. But what about the church that is trying but failing? What about that local church that wants to follow God fully but never fully succeeds?
Why in the world should Christians join local churches that are messed up and lacking? Why give, serve and worship in places that are so obviously flawed? Here are some reasons for you to connect with imperfect local churches. Continue reading
Our church just recognized our sesquicentennial. That is a dandy of a word that means we were formed 150 years ago. By the standards of Europe it isn’t so much, but Illinois isn’t Europe. So, a sesquicentennial (that really is a dandy of a word!) is not as common here.
150 years ago, First Baptist Church of O’Fallon, IL was formed at what was then just a small railroad stop. Over the years we have had some ups and downs. The church nearly closed in 1973. But for the last 40 plus years the church has grown steadily and has become a rather large congregation.
We aren’t perfect as we are made up of people. We have had imperfect leaders as they, too, have been people. But God has had his hand on this congregation and has blessed the church in ways that are difficult to explain apart from God.
Since I’ve been more immersed in our history than usual, I want to reflect on some lessons we have learned Continue reading
I’ve noticed several cases of minister burnout recently. Maybe these cases are more common, or perhaps the nature of social media has caused me to see these cases more readily. But either way, it is cause for concern.
I’m concerned for a couple of reasons. One is because I am a pastor and I know something of that danger in my own life. I’d like to avoid this problem and be able to remain effective in God’s work. Another reason for concern is because I love the church and those who lead the church. They matter to God’s work in our world and they matter to God. I grieve to see my fellow ministry leaders sidelined no matter the reason.
Let me suggest some reasons for minister burnout and what can be done to help alleviate this problem.
1. Ministers are wearied by conflict and complaint. Ministers love people and want to help them. But their very love for people makes them vulnerable Continue reading
The Southern Baptist Convention is organized through state conventions. (Though some of the “state” conventions combine multiple states.) I suggest to you that these state conventions play a helpful, but underappreciated role in the work of our faith and denomination.
I’ve heard people predict or even advocate the demise of state conventions for years now. Are they necessary? Do they add a level of redundancy? That sort of thing. While I always appreciate efforts to make our work more effective and efficient, there are some benefits to the work of our state conventions that ought to be considered. Here are just a few.
1. They keep us locally focused. I appreciate a big picture approach to SBC life. But that big picture is made up of many smaller portraits. State conventions have the pulse of churches in their region that national entities can’t. No one knows more about the needs of my state better than my own state convention staff. The very fact that they live and worship here allows them to understand our needs in church planting and revitalization and discipleship in a way that is difficult for others. Continue reading
Posted in sbc, southern baptist convention, Uncategorized
Tagged Baptist, Christianity, IMB, International Mission Board, LifeWay, local church, North American Mission Board, Religion and Spirituality, SBC, seminary, southern baptist convention, state convention
Our churches are never fully defined by our biggest Sundays or our smallest.
As a pastor, I love Easter Sunday. I love the large number of guests, those who haven’t been in a long time and the spiritually curious. We had our biggest attendance ever this past Sunday with 2,551 people. It is exciting to preach the message of the gospel to lots of people. There is an energy that comes with the large crowd.
I do know, of course, that not every Sunday has Continue reading
Posted in Church, Easter, Easter Sunday, pastor, Uncategorized
Tagged Christian, Christianity, church, God, Jesus, local church, Religion and Spirituality, worship attendance
I love the opportunities that come with Easter Sunday. Hundreds of guests will come to our church on Easter Sunday- some who have never been to church and some who haven’t been in a long time. I won’t bash them for not being there every week. Believe me, as a pastor I would love for them to come to our church every Sunday. But I won’t bash them. Here are some reasons why.
– It is uncharitable. I love these people and care about them. I’ll love them enough to tell them the whole truth of the gospel and God’s word. I will tell them the whole truth. But I will do that out of my love for them.
-It is ineffective. Bashing people on the one Sunday they are Continue reading
Posted in Easter, Easter Sunday, evangelism, Uncategorized, worship
Tagged Christian, Christianity, church, Easter, Easter Sunday, Evangelism, local church, Religion and Spirituality, worship
Encouragement is one of the most beautiful gifts we can receive. A kind word, a helping hand, a warm smile, an appreciative hug– these things are the currency of encouragement. And this currency is never devalued.
I officiated the funeral of a great encourager recently. In more than twenty years of being his pastor he encouraged me countless times without a single hint of discouragement. Amazing.
I cannot tell you how grateful I am for that wonderful gift. In a day when snark Continue reading
Posted in blessings, encouragement, faith, joy, Uncategorized
Tagged Christian, Christianity, encouragement, faith, God, Jesus, local church, relationship with god, Religion and Spirituality
Like so many, my family will watch some Christmas movies this year. It’s a fun tradition.
-We’ll watch “A Christmas Story” and say “adios, Bart” with a hard “a” on the adios while giving warnings about the danger of shorting one’s eye out.
-We will watch “Elf” and note that Francesco is indeed a fun name to say.
-We will probably watch “Christmas Vacation” and remember that the jelly of the month club is the gift that keeps on giving.
-“Home Alone” might slip in there as we ask Continue reading
Posted in Christianity, Christmas, Uncategorized
Tagged Christianity, Christmas, Christmas movie, church, God, Jesus, local church, relationship with god, worship
Whither? At least I didn’t say “ye olde Cooperative Program”. But sometimes it feels as though the Cooperative Program, the primary means by which Southern Baptists have funded their missionary and educational responsibilities for decades, has been relegated to an unnecessary relic of the past. Is that a good thing?
The percentage given by the average SBC church to the Cooperative Program (CP) has dropped over the years to just over 5%. Is that a good thing?
Some churches have, instead, adopted a more societal approach to missions. They tend to do direct mission work (or support those who do) instead of the more cooperative work of the CP.
There are several reasons given for this. “There Continue reading
Posted in baptist, cooperative program, missions, southern baptist convention, southern baptist convention, Uncategorized
Tagged Baptist, Christianity, church, cooperative program, International Mission Board, local church, missions, Religion and Spirituality, SBC, seminary, southern baptist convention
The world of pastors and other vocational ministers is a different world. It can be wonderful, fulfilling, frustrating and discouraging all in the same day. It is fantastic because we get to work with people and it can be challenging because… well, because we get to work with people.
The majority of ministers do it because they believe God has called them to this important task. They want to make a difference in this world and in eternity. They care about people and love the message of the gospel. Their motivation, if they are what they need to be, is to honor the Lord, teach His word and help others to join them in following Jesus.
But, like all people, they have needs. Let me mention four things pastors need from their churches.
1. They need Continue reading
Posted in encouragement, minister, pastor, Uncategorized
Tagged Baptist, Blessing, Christian, Christianity, church, God, Jesus, local church, minister, minister appreciation, pastor, pastor appreciation, Religion and Spirituality, SBC, southern baptist convention