Tag Archives: Religion and Spirituality

Learning from the Past

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

Why I Have a Patriotic Worship Service

I posted this article last winter but wanted to re-post it for this season. Hope you have a great 4th of July holiday!

 

I love the patriotic worship service our church has each 4th of July Sunday. I would not have thought that to be a controversial statement a few years ago but some theologs suggest this to be a bad thing. I hear them out, but disagree. In fact, some seem to have a wrong idea about what goes on at these events. So, right in the dead of winter, when picnics seem distant, let me suggest some food for thought (that picnic thing got me food focused).

What we don’t do.

We don’t worship our country. We have only Continue reading

Transformational Preaching

Preaching is, for me, like swimming in the ocean. It is an awesome experience if you don’t die!

Nothing is more exciting and nothing is more intimidating. Preaching both charges me up and wears me down. It invigorates and it frustrates. It brings me the agony of labor and the joy of birth. It keeps me up at night and gets me up in the morning. Preaching is big and I know it.

If you are involved in preaching you know something of the dilemma we face. We are tasked with bringing God’s word to man. We are to speak sacred things to sinful listeners. This great responsibility can be a bit overwhelming. But here is what makes it even bigger. We need to preach for transformation.

Nothing is worse than boring people with the greatest news known to mankind. How terrible to think that I can make the gospel sound like average news rather than good news. How Continue reading

Bring Your Wounds to Jesus

We are all wounded to some extent. We are wounded by living in this sinful and fallen world. We are wounded by the sins of others. We even carry wounds as a result of our own sins. All of carry scars, all of us know pain and all of us need healing. All of us. Your pastor, your parents, your spouse, your neighbors? All of them are wounded too.
The question is not really Continue reading

Why Pastors Burn Out (and what to do about it).

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

Evangelism Lessons

I recently gave our church ministry staff an assignment. Share the gospel with at least one person during the next week and report back. Here are some lessons we learned together.
1. We can easily be around only other believers. We work with other believers (at least we think the rest of our ministry team is saved!), serve in ministry with other believers and Continue reading

The Value of State Conventions

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