Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Putting Pastors in a Box:

I have been accused on many occasions of placing pastors on a pedestal. Your right I have great respect for them. Let me put it this way. If you wake up tomorrow morning and find all the pastors are gone and find yourself still here on earth. I would not want to be you. The day pastors are gone is the day we find ourselves knowing we missed the boat.

Begin to check our history. Let's look at the 18th, 19th and recent 20th centuries. We find pastors and preachers outspoken and in the fight for human rights, our welfare our very right to live free. The moral watchdog of the country came from the pulpit and not from TV, the news desk or Washington D.C. Certainly not from some day time talk show host or even Hollywood. The moral standard came from the church. Did not Jonah preach repentance and the city did. Giving a time of reprieve for the city. This too has been repeated by the likes of Dwight Lyman Moody, Jonathan Edwards, John Wesley, George Whitefield, Charles Haddon Spurgeon and Billy Graham.

Yet today do our pastors and preachers have the opportunity to fight for God as they once did? I say NO. We put them and their families under a microscope each day. When they slip up or make a mistake they quickly come up against fierce opposition. If anyone should be under this type of scrutiny it should be the leaders of our country. Yet another drunk congressman found with a prostitute barely makes headlines anymore. It is unfair to our pastors and preachers to be held to such a high standard when we ourselves could never live up to it.

Example. Could a preacher or pastor be allowed to write a Blog such as this one without offending someone in their congregation and not have their job or livelihood threatened? The answer is no. There is the problem. We do not allow the very ones chosen by God to stand in the gap. The world falling apart around them and we will not allow them to kick us where we need to be kicked to get moving for God? They are allowed to preach to us. They are allowed to teach us. They are allowed to live as an example for us to follow, but few of us ever do.

I know of some pastors who will not even go to a movie theater because they risk being looked at in the wrong way because someone might not approved of the film they are going to watch. Some will not go to popular restaurants because their beverage may be mistaken as the wrong drink of choice. If we demand such perfection of our pastors and preachers should they not expect the same from us? They do, but would never demand it because they love us.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever!
1 Cor 13:4-8 (NLT)

I am thankful for my pastor. He loves me even though I have consistently let him down time and time again. God forgive me and bless my Pastor. -Amen

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Corporate Church:

It is a little obvious to my readers that I am not a supporter of the modern corporate church model. I am not alone. Authors Thomas White and John M Teats of the book “Franchising McChurch.” Tony and Felicity Dale of the book “the Rabbit and the Elephant, Why small is the new big for today's church.” First we need to clarify what is the modern corporate church model. Just a few short decades ago in fact the corporate buffet of the 90's was a time when corporate America was at its peak. Mega corporations buying out other mega corporations became the primary news feature each night. With that also came to view the birth of the mega-church. The bigger is better attitude for a new generation of Christians. These churches existed long before the media took notice. The push for more came with the media wave of influence. Suddenly the non-profit corporation of the new face of Christianity was looking much like corporate America. That is exactly what happen. We quickly went from seeking redemption to seeking ratings. From worship to entertainment. Growing even bigger today.

So D. C. what is wrong with that? More are coming to Christ right? With numbers in the thousands you would think so. It is agreeable that a mega-church begins with a congregation of 2,000 or more. Many support congregations of 5,000 to 50,000. On the surface that is something to celebrate. With that comes the sucking sound of small local community churches forced to close their doors for lack of funds to keep the lights on. We see a similar effect on the down town districts of towns and cities when Wal-mart opens its doors. The local mom and pop stores which have been family owned and operated for generations fall like dominoes. Call it an ending of an era. Might want to call it the ending of our neighborhoods as we once knew them.

So what is your problem D.C.? This is a world of progress. The church needs to grow just like the world right? There is the problem. The church conforming to the world when the world needs to conform to the church. Is bigger better? Did not the church grow in the Book of Acts with the same numbers of converts that we are talking about within the mega-church? Yes, I would have to agree, but that is where the similarities begin to separate. How so?

A business owner, an accountant, or even a CEO would look at today's modern church and see little difference between the American Corporate Business model and today's corporate church model. To conform to IRS regulations the hierarchy is the same. Committee members are formed from people within the congregation who's only real experience is with dealing with corporate America. Therefore the result is a church run like an American corporation. Expecting profit and loss. Wait a minute! We are Christians. We are not producing some type of widget or product. We are in a battle that is in fact life or death. How can that be put down on a balance sheet? Does the church have expenses? Absolutely, the bigger the church the more the costs are to operate. Not much head scratching on that. So what is our goal? What is our purpose?

That is where we have taken a wrong turn some where. I agree with Pastor Ray Comfort. (Way of the Master, Living Waters Ministries) Today's modern gospel has become about life enhancement and not about repentance.

Let's talk turkey. Let's get down to brass tax here. Should we dismantle our mega-churches and return to small community churches? No. Let me put it this way. Noah built the boat, but it was God who gave it to him. By doing so saving all of us. We built these mega-churches, but it is God who gave them to us. Is our purpose to save the world? It should be. Seek and save the lost. Sounds simple and with these mega resources we should be more capable of doing just that for God. Are we?

One of the problems with mega-churches is the disconnect problem. Being so big one can easily hide if not be lost in the crowd. Crying out for help among the roar of others. One can easily be left behind. That is the difference between the church in the Book of Acts and today's modern corporate church model. The focus was on the needs of the people and not of one's self. This is extremely hard for us now since we live in a materialism based culture and society. We have become backwards and upside down.

Let us talk about solution then. OK, let's say a mega-church of 2,000 sets a goal of each member witnessing to others for at least 3 new converts each. By the end of the year the church would have a congregation of 6,000. Do it again for the following year and you would have 18,000 members. Sounds great on paper. Witnessing and revival are not the mainstream we are seeing. Keyword here: “Witnessing.” Being a witness for Christ. Simple, straight forward and obeying the Great Commission.

Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.
Matt 28:19-20 (NLT)

Therefore our focus should be on witnessing for Christ. We need to teach it. We need to practice it. We need lead in doing it.

The goal should not be “Bigger is Better.” The goal should be to witness better and for His Kingdom to become bigger here on earth.

Team up, Set-up and get into the fight. <><

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

In His Image

In His Image Devotional Bible is first of all a complete Bible. One I can bring to worship, Sunday School, and Bible study. The New Living Translation is my translation. God's Word jumps off the pages for me. Easy to understand and share with others.

The devotional features give you the ability to go step-by-step like traditional devotions if you wish. Let me first point out. This devotional Bible focuses solely on your personal relationship with God. For life application there is a Bible for that. For serious study there is a Bible for that. What good is having all this knowledge without having a personal relationship with God? This devotional helps me focus on what is important. My personal relationship with God growing and getting stronger each day.

Each devotional keeps you on track. Prayer, subject verses, focus on what God is telling you. Closing with prayer and taking time to thank God. In today's hurry up and step on the gas world this course of study works.

There are hundreds of combinations you can put together to learn all the attributes of God. It is learning these attributes of God that help me build and grow stronger in faith.

If there are any drawbacks to this devotional Bible they are minor. I am old school and like to have the words of Jesus in red. I would also like a concordance. With that said the In His Image Devotional Bible is my Bible of choice and will be for years to come.

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