I am becoming more and more convinced that we like to put God in our box and keep Him there. This COVID- 19 pandemic has caused this ritual to surface. How many times have you thought, “We can’t have church without- or - We can’t worship without- or- I’ll be glad when we can get back to church!”
These statements are understandable as the church world has changed drastically. Is it possible God is teaching us how to do church the way He wants and not the way we want?
- I am The Wild Man- Sometimes, I Wonder
So....this has been a crazy time right? Changes in our world have happened so fast, I can't keep up. Have you wondered why we haven't experienced ANY thing like this in our lifetime? The issue doesn't seem to be who is right or who is wrong or whether we are being told the truth or not. Though important- its not the essential point of this writing. Our comfort is being messed with! We aren't able to do things we were used to in the past. We can't congregate with other believers. We can't shop in just any store- now we are being told what is essential and what isn't. Our convenience is being messed with! Who are these people who think they can take these things away? Shouldn't I approve of these societal changes before they go into effect?
The answer- as far as I can see- is a resounding no! It seems the idea of being the ultimate decider of what goes on around me has been understood as the norm. By the way- several people around the world lived like this every day, long before COVID 19.
I am the Wild Man and sometimes I wonder……...
So, I’ve been reading Edward Snowden’s book Permanent Record.
So far it is a good explanation of how rapidly technology has changed us. I love modern technology. I do everything on a device. If google or Apple would ever fold, my life would as well.
As much as I appreciate convenience, I am a bit concerned of one thing- instantaneous communication. Could you imagine your life without a smartphone you could instantly send a message at any time. When mine is charging, I can’t stand it- “What if I need it?, What if there’s an emergency? God forbid, I should miss a text???!”
What I don’t appreciate about instant communication- is just that- it’s INSTANT. As soon as one hits send, post or upload- there is no going back. Not only do the intended recipients receive it, but it also goes on a server somewhere and will stay there even after device deletion.
So, what’s the concern?
This gives us the ability to say things we regret. This encourages the idea to interject an immediate opinion, without processing or analyzing first.
This is what I see- especially on Social Media. Conclusions are drawn based on a two minute video (anything from a police integration to a sermon). Yet, adequate research is rarely done to understand the context. This causes immediate false assumptions that lead to statements based on nothing- NOTHING!
As a pastor, I experience this often. Over the years I have been misquoted SEVERAL times. I also have, believe it or not, made mistakes. I have said much I regret.
Pastors- if a snippet gets posted that was taken out of context, or includes something you regret- remember, you serve God, not them.
Congregation- give your pastor a break. Your pastor will never be perfect. Look for what God is trying to teach you. Stop looking for mistakes. If you are looking for mistakes to pin the pastor on, you are listening for the wrong reasons.
Most of all don’t post or share snippets without context- none of us want (or are capable) to live up to that standard- public or not.
“When He left there, the scribes and the Pharisees began to be very hostile and to question Him closely on many subjects, plotting against Him to catch Him in something He might say."
- Luke 11:53-54
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- Pastor Wildman
Years ago I was on the phone with a parishioner. She was in charge of the prayer chain. In asking about a recent request she said, “I like to pray for specifics.” From knowing her well- interpretation- “I’m nosy.”
You’ve heard it before. The church world has their own definitions:
“Concerns” = Gossip
“What I Think” = Manipulation
“Feedback” = Insults
Our culture has taken evaluation way too far. From reviews on Amazon to comments on blogs to customer service experiences- we live in an evaluation society.
Please church, stop bringing that mentality into the church.
Trust me- your Pastor has already received too much feedback/evaluation than any one person can handle.
The multiple preaching classes in college provided this by a professor and peers.
The first congregation did this with an abundance because this was a “young pastor and he needs are help. “
Any concerns you have- your pastor has already heard- and then some.
Your job is NOT to evaluate your pastor.
Your job is to attend church and listen for the message God may want to teach you.
Your pastor will
lose your attention, confuse you,
make you wonder if you need a better one.
Regardless, you still will
get a message from Gods word,
be prayed for,
all of this by someone doing their best to obey a difficult call in a hostile world.
What if your Pastor provided the same feedback to you- evaluating you as a church member?
Pastors, I know, eventually feedback gets old. My advice- ignore it. You serve God, not them.
Congregant- offer your pastor encouragement and support, they’ve had enough “feedback.”
“Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.”
- Hebrews 13:17
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So, Why Do You Stay?
This week, two pastors asked me this on two separate occasions. This wasn't the first time. I have asked this of others as well. This usually follows an explanation of a difficult situation- and we know there are many of those!
Corruption surrounded Samuel at every turn. Yet, he was able to minister before the Lord, regardless.
Today, I would like to ask you, pastor, why do you stay?
Of course, there is always the possibility that God could be saying your time is up where you are, and it is time to move on. We never rule that out. Many of have moved several times under certain circumstances.
But, the challenge today is to answer this. Make a list today of everything you appreciate and enjoy about your ministry. Be as specific as possible. Be sure to include the minor things (IE: I do get paid, or my office does have air conditioning…..)
It is so easy to fall into the trap of discussing how bad things are- and they do get bad! Your list may surprise you, even in a bad situation.
Please respond in the comments with the list you come up with. This will be encouraging to other pastors (including myself) reading this. I look forward to seeing your list!
All Pastors please click here to see how we can help you.
“Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.”
– 1 Timothy 1:17
Paul closes out his testimony with a word of praise. This tells us there is a connection between praise and salvation. He tells us Jesus came to the earth to save sinners. He tells us that he was the worst. Even though He was the worst, God was able to save Him. He is speaking of the change Christ brought into His life. We see a Saul who became Paul whose behaviors changed. His entire purpose changed. His life now is controlled by God. His life was different. Which explains why he breaks into praise. He looked at what his life was, looked at what his life is- and broke into praise.
This applies to our lives in two ways. Some have experienced this change and know exactly what Paul is talking about. They can resonate with a break out in praise.
Others have not experienced this change and are not sure what direction their life is taking.
Here’s how to apply this-
Regardless of which category you fall into, you are being called now to break forth in praise. If you have experienced His salvation, you have a reason to praise. If you haven’t experienced this, you ALSO have a reason to praise. Praise Him for the change He is going to bring about in your life. While you are praising Him, you will start to experience this same change.
The solution to fix our lives can be easily overlooked, if we want to complicate it.
So what’s a pastor to do?
I was reminded this week of an incident that took place in my first ministry assignment. I was a young pastor and within the first six months I fired a daycare teacher, hired and fired an associate (previous pastors son), was lied to many times, and constantly threatened of members departure if they didn’t get their way.
Something also happened that took me years to process and understand. Within the first six months many had left the church causing financial problems. I had been in contact with my District Superintendent about each issue as it came up.
He decided to come and speak to the congregation specifically about stewardship. I was prepping my wife as to what this visit entailed. I had grown up in the church so I had an idea of how things worked. I explained to my wife not to plan anything for lunch as the District Superintendent ALWAYS takes the pastor and family out afterwards. I remember looking out the window of the church and watching the District Superintendent, his assistant, the wealthiest man in the church and his wife all getting in the same car and going to lunch together. They left my wife and I behind. What did they talk about over lunch? Well, he was a big complainer of what I was doing.
What can you do in this situation? Chase after them? Tell him he’s wrong? There really isn’t anything you can do when something like this happens. I attempted to spend all afternoon talking myself out of the obvious. Maybe they weren’t talking about me? Maybe they are just good friends? Perhaps they are planning my surprise party? (Still waiting for that one….)
This hurt. It hurts when you realize there is a meeting or a luncheon where the entire purpose is to complain about you, and you can’t be a part of it. You are left guessing what is being said.
The truth is you can’t do anything about this. All you can do is continue to minister in the way God has called you and let the naysayers do what they will. The good news is, God is bigger than ANY deceit out there. Trust in Him, not in people. If you trust in people, you will be let down every single time.
But Jesus, on His part, was not entrusting Himself to them, for He knew all men, and because He did not need anyone to testify concerning man, for He Himself knew what was in man. – John 2:24-25
- Pastor Wildman
All Pastors please click here to see how we can help you.
“I have moved on; I have a much healthier congregation now. But I can’t seem to get past the hurt.”
So....What about the sermon?
I recently read an article listing several things the church should reconsider. Among many suggestions there was the elimination of the sermon. It suggested people today need to process, discuss and learn through a Q and A session instead of through a lecture. This brought up concerns within me. The concerns aren’t that our culture learns this way, they do. These times do need to take place in the church. Should they replace the sermon?
The problem is we live in a talk back culture. Think about it. Everywhere we look people are talking back. Children talk back to parents. Students talk back to teachers. Civilians talk back to police officers. Just the other day I saw a lion cub talking back to its........
Ok, that didn’t happen.
Do you remember statements like, “Don’t talk back!” or “Don’t sass me!” (I heard these VERY often, I even deserved them a time or two, when I took a break from being perfect). Not every person from this era who made these statements were correct, nor good disciplinarians. But there is something to be said for someone being able to listen and not thinking only of how to demand their rights. Yes, there are times when one must stand up. But it seems lately we have taken this to the extreme.
The next time you attend church, try this. Make the message the most important part of your time. This means that during the sermon you are on the edge of your seat, taking notes with Bible open (or Bible app). Listen for how God may want to change you. It might surprise you, and your pastor might be a little better preacher then what you have come to remember.
Perhaps God’s truth is waiting for you, maybe He is just waiting for you to be quiet and listen.
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. - James 1:19
I remember when I started pastoring my second church. I had the experience of my first church. I also had the experience of traveling as an evangelist for a few years, so now I understood people better. I was more prepared for ministry. Sure, I took some lumps in my first church, but who doesn’t? Going into my second church all I could see was how much better this congregation was. Finally, I had grown with experience and now I was in a good spot where we could really see some great growth! Right?? Wrong! During my first six months I realized the treasurer who had been the treasurer for forty years, wasn’t the nice old sweet man he appeared to be. He basically informed me multiple times in many ways he was in charge of this church. This as well as other troubling situations brought back sad memories of my first assignment. I was left wondering if I may be the problem. I didn’t understand why the same conflicts were happening- AGAIN! I called a close pastor friend of mine who advised me to talk with a mutual friend. He was also a pastor and was known for speaking hard truths when necessary. I gave him a call, and I will never forget this conversation. He asked me some questions about the church. (how old it was etc.) I explained to him about the power struggle with the treasurer and others. He then said something I will never forget. I wasn’t hurt by his statement, I was shocked. The irony is I knew down deep he was correct. “You’re in for a flogging, brother!” The reason this statement surprised me was because other than one other time (This is explained in part one) this was the only time someone was this honest with me about the reality before me. This was an experienced pastor explaining to me that at least for a while, things are not going to get any better.
I find it interesting how we are in such a result-oriented culture. Everything we do is based on results. As pastors we are measured by attendance. As bloggers we are measured by subscribers. As tweeters we are measured by followers. Do I believe in results? Absolutely. As followers of Jesus we are here to bring others to the faith. At the same time, we tend to forget that serving Christ can be pretty ugly. It involves denying ourselves and taking up our cross (Luke 9:23). The cross isn’t lovely. The results of the cross include hatred, scoffing, and abandonment. These three things are what I naturally do everything within my power to avoid. However, these three things have ALWAYS been present in my ministry. It’s like trying to run away from my own oxygen-impossible! As followers of Jesus life is not going to be easy. He never promised it would be. The only thing He promised was that He would not leave us (Matthew 28:20). Whether it’s in ministry, your job, your family or other relationships, one thing is for sure- Life is a struggle and the struggle is worth it because we have the greatest gift of all which is knowing Jesus.
- Wild Man
They Call Me Pastor, Sometimes I Like It- Series
Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4
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