Happy Birthday to the United States Army Chaplain Corps which was started on this day in 1775! To God be the glory!!!
Monday, July 29, 2013
Sunday, July 14, 2013
Wednesday, July 10, 2013
My seminary shared an excellent article from a pastor with us alumni in which he shared what he was looking for on resumes for perspective staff. One of the hints he gave was to list our Facebook, Linkedin and other social media sites. He put the issue in perspective; a church search committee is going to check you out so why not just help them out. I want to carry this thought a bit further and point out what I as a pastoral candidate am going to do in my search for a place of ministry. First let me say that small churches and struggling churches do not bother me. What does bother me is a church that is disengaged from its community and culture. A churches social media presence is one of the best measures I have found to use when determining how engaged a church is with its community.
When I see a notice that a church is looking for a pastor I want to try and find out a little about the church. The first thing I do is Google that church. Just performing a simple search can be quite interesting. The search on one church revealed Google couldn’t even find its address on the map! Needless to say the church had no web page, no Facebook page, not even a photo of the building that a member had posted somewhere. I quickly decided not to send that church an inquiry or resume.
The lack of social media also reveals something about the churches personality. It reveals a personality that is mired in the past, which has no desire to even try to stay relevant. I’ve heard the arguments before; that Facebook and the like are just play toys, that they have no time for foolishness, that computers are just too filled with evil, and on and on. I find it interesting however that although churches thrived for years without electricity, a telephone, air conditioning, or even indoor plumbing, there are few if any churches that don’t have all of the above. A church’s refusal to have any kind of internet or social media presence reveals that the church fails to realize that the mimeographed (if the reader knows what a mimeograph machine is then you are like me and older than dirt) newsletter of yesterday is simply today’s blog. Yesterdays yellow page ad is today’s website.
When a church forgoes a social media presence it is actually telling the community and world that it doesn’t want anyone to know who they are, where they are, what they are doing, or what their message is. Whether we like it or not people look to social media to find out these things. When a man considers whether to become a churches pastor he is entitled to know something about that church. Especially when that man is considering moving several hundred miles, and often at his own expense, he deserves to know what he is getting into.
Churches do you want to attract men of God who can lead you into the future? Do you want to have a future? James put it this way, “show me you faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works”. Churches show me your works so I see your faith! I have shown you my works and faith on-line! There is certainly no works and no faith shown when Google can’t even find you on the map.
Monday, July 08, 2013
Friday, July 05, 2013
Every young minister has his dream of becoming the hard working and anointed preacher that turns a small struggling church into a huge mega church. Reality soon sets in however as the elderly members and quarreling deacons in that small struggling church became a nightmare instead of a dream. To help these young men every seminary should have a class called real ministry 101. The teachers should be working pastors in small churches that teach from experience. Until that happens here are some doses of reality.
One, most churches are small, 80% of churches run under 100 in attendance. This means 80% of ministers will pastor a small church. While this reality may destroy a few dreams, it should also be an encouragement. It means that most Christians are also part of small churches. While there may not be as much Glory attached to pastoring a small church, this is where the real work is and where the real impact for God is.
Two, God’s measurement of success is not the same as the worlds. God measures His servants by faithfulness and obedience, not by numbers and size. Keeping God’s standard in mind brings new joy to the small things of ministry. Ministers must get settled in their hearts and minds that they deal with sinful fallen people and that they themselves are fallen creatures. Understanding these realities will enable a minister to cope when the inevitable conflict arises.
Tradition in churches is also a reality. Every church has traditions. Some traditions are long standing denominational and cultural traditions. Some traditions are unique to the congregation. One of the greatest mistakes new ministers make is to throw out these traditions. While it is true that some traditions need to go away for revival to occur, it is often the traditions which are the threads that cement people from generation to generation.
When a minister is willing to accept that faithfulness to God is more important that the accolades of a Christian community centered on worldly success the idea of pastoring a small church offers different rewards. Rewards like entering into a long tradition of faith and service. Recently I filled the pulpit in a country church, actually at the corner of two dirt roads and across from a field of corn. This church was established in 1887, 126 years ago. The 16 people in attendance spanned three generations and were related to some of the founders. Some could say this church should be closed, that it isn’t reaching a community, that it is tradition riddled and hopeless. But it could also be seen as a faithful Christian community that has transcended time and generations and is struggling to survive and thrive in a shrinking rural area. The minister of such a church may find the reward of actually entering into the life of struggling people who are searching for significance in changing times. The joy of sharing in the births and deaths, the marriages and lives of people, the challenge of leading these people before the throne of the God and savior who is the only one who can give the significance they are seeking.
Ministers, are you up to it? Are you up to something that is far greater than prestige and position? Are you up to finding joy in the small things and ordinary people that God makes himself known through? This is reality. This is real ministry 101