Davism for the week of August 21st

This week’s Davism comes from several rants over the years.

This week’s Davism is (drumroll)

Waaaambulance:  This is a noun and used in it’s proper context, it’s the vehicle liberals are supposed to summon when they’re whining about several situations such as, the unfairness of life, the inequality of financial structure in our country, how they don’t get what they wantimmediately, how they have to work to get what they want, etc…

If you don’t like what I have to say, call the waaaaaaaambulance because I don’t care.

The top 10 bad Ministry advice I’ve been given.

We’ve all been given bad Ministry advice.  Some of this bad advice comes from ignorance, and some of it comes from unsaved people.  Some of it is well intentioned, and some of it is intended to hurt.  Whatever the situation, there is just some advice that is bad.  Here are my top 10 that I’ve been given in no particular order.

  1. You’ll have plenty of time for missions later:  This was well intentioned but badly stated.  The intent behind the statement was to encourage me not to go on a mission trip while my wife was pregnant, but that’s not how it came out.  
  2. There needs to be a mystique surrounding the pastor:  I still don’t know where this one came from or what was meant.  I don’t think I’ll ever figure it out.
  3. Don’t make close friends in your church:  I was told that pastor’s were taught this back in the day.  We’re already lonely. Why would I want to intentionally make myself any more lonely?
  4. If you don’t show up at the hospital at 3 am, they’ll think you don’t care: I may get some pushback on this one, but there is nothing I can do at three in the morning.  I usually show up at 6 or 7 when I’m more prepared and clear headed.  I’ve never had anyone accuse me of not caring when I’ve done this.
  5. Visiting church members is like putting change in your pocket:  I understand this one to a point, but we don’t visit our church members because we want to be able to call in favors later.  We visit church members because we love them.
  6. You shouldn’t worry about how the church stewardsyour tithe:  I should always tithe, but the church’s stewardship of my tithe is none of my concern?
  7. Welcome to real ministry:  I had been leading worship for seven years, but now I was involved in “real ministry”.  Please don’t say this to anyone.  It’s annoying and insensitive.
  8. Always preach from the KJV:  I got this one recently, but thankfully, it did not come from a church member.  
  9. Keep your struggles to yourself and never let them see you cry:  Thats just really bad advice.
  10. You’re not good with people:  What this person meant was, “You’re not good with people like me,” which is very very true.

Those are my top ten.  Have you ever received bad Ministry advice?  Am I wrong on any of these points?

I said What?  I did What?

I was reminded this week of something I said when I was 25, and that occassioned me to remember some of the goofy things I’ve said through my 17 years of local church ministry.  It’s confession time today on my blog, and here’s my list.  Some of these events are funny, some are sad, and some are just downright foolish.  My only plea is that God has taught me through each of these situations:

  1. I once told a faithful member of my church that I needed to hear his 5 year old grandson practice before he could sing “Jesus Loves Me” for a special.  I wanted to set a precedent for all soloists to practice before singing, but the 5 year old was probably not the best place to start.  He sang without practicing, and I apologized to his grandpa.
  2. I once thought it was a good idea to nap on the church pew while a couple of ladies decorated for VBS.  This was not received well.  I don’t think I’ve napped on another church pew since.
  3. I once proposed raising my ministry budget by 200% at a church that had just lost about 6 families who were faithful givers.  Oh, and I didn’t talk to my pastor before I proposed it at the finance committee meeting.  Hey, it takes money to do ministry right?
  4. I once thought it was OK to tell a very faithful church member, after I didn’t get my way at a business meeting, that  I was going to get my way no matter what.  I wanted to replace choir loft pews with chairs.  That was 12 years and two churches ago.  There are still pews in the choir loft.
  5. I once thought it was OK to use money that had been specifically donated for new choir robes for something else.  What was wrong with that?  The money had been donated by a choir member’s deceased mother.  Yes, that went over well.  
  6. I once thought it was a fine idea to go behind my pastor’s back and propose a missions opportunity to the mission team without talking to him.  He did not care for that approach.
  7. After we told everyone we were pregnant with our third child, one of our church members asked, “don’t you know what causes that?”  I turned around and said, “Yes, and apparently I’m good at it.”  His response was not laughter.
  8. I once told a lady I was trying to recruit for choir that if she didn’t join choir I would choke her.  She joined choir and is still a friend of ours.  Thank God for people who are forgiving.  
  9. I used to think being a pastor was easy.  You know, it’s always easier being a pastor when you aren’t.
  10. I once said I hated Christmas carols. What I was trying to say is that I hated singing Christmas carols in worship just to be able to say that we had sung Christmas carols.  That’s not how that statement came across.  For the next three Christmases I planned nothing but Christmas carols in the four services leading up to Christmas, and in the fourth year, someone still said, “I hope we sing Christmas songs this year even though our worship leader hates them.”
  11. I saved the best for last.  I was at the Southern Baptist Convention in New Orleans, and on Tuesday morning I debated wearing dress clothes or casual clothes.  I decided to wear dress clothes.  Anthony Rhodes and I were walking through the lobby and the editor of the Arkansas Baptist News stopped us to take our picture.  I looked at Anthony and said, “I’m glad I wore clothes this morning.”  I meant to say, “I’m glad I wore dress clothes this morning.”  The editor looked at Anthony and said, “Really?”  Anthony looked back, rolled his eyes and said, “yep, really”.

I love being a minister, and I love God’s people.  Maybe one day I’ll be a mature minister.  Is there anything my fellow ministers would be willing to admit?  Have you ever done anything silly?

The Daveism for the week of August 14

Last Monday, I started a new segment to my blog. It’s a quick little post each Monday of Daveisms. daveisms are defined as words which Dave Ramsey makes up on his show to describe various people, places, and things related to personal finance, business, and life.

This week’s Daveism is: (drum roll)

twitster:Twitster, as Mr. Ramsey defines it, is a cross between a hipster and a twit, thus creating someone who thinks they’re cool, but in reality has no idea what they’re doing. They often advocate for socialism or communism, and, not knowing any history, think that those forms of goverment will succeed even though they have never succeeded before. they also often have no idea about handling money, no idea about how to win at life, and are most aften observed whining and blaming others in their mothers’ basements, but to the outside world they look really cool.

Today’s Davism is twitster.

Here is last wek’s Daveism: Daveism for week of August 7th

Here’s what was on the blog last month: The Month of July

Here’s what I wrote over the weekend: Weekend Blog Post

Thoughts on North Korea from a “Younger Christian” and pastor

Yes, pastor Robert Jeffress sounded off this week about North Korea.  Dave Miller has written an excellent and thoughtful response to Mr. Jefress’ comments here:  Robert Jefress and Romans 13

Dave has responded adequately to this, as he calls it, “kerfuffle”.  I’d like to tackle one of the more insulting statements from Mr. Jefress’ comments.  He said, “Some Christians, perhaps younger Christians, need to think this through.  It’s antithetical to some of the mushy rhetoric you hear from some circles today.  Frankly, it is because they are not well taught in the scriptures.”

There are several problems with Dr. Jefress’ comment.  

  1. It’s insulting:  I know Mr. Jefress will probably never read this post, so this may be just me blowing off steam, but as a younger Christian and a young pastor, I’m insulted.  I’m guessing he’s not interested in encouraging future generations.  Why pin mushy rhetoric on younger Christians?  Why accuse us of not thinking?  Why state that we probably haven’t been well taught?  
  2. We have been well taught:  Many of us have been to seminary (and in my case, a seminary in Mr. Jefress’ backyard).  We have been well taught, but we don’t agree with him.  We believe the admonitions of Paul when he says that we should strive to live at peace with all men.  
  3. We have thought:  I think the most insulting part of his statement is the insinuation that we have not thought. We have thought, and have thought very deeply on this issue.  We have seen the videos and still shots of Hiroshima’s  aftermath.  We do not want that.  We actually have reservations about dropping a couple thousand tons of TNT on a country full of innocent and brainwashed people.  We would rather find a way to share the gospel with them rather than incinerate them.  Does Mr. Jefress understand how many people will instantly be condemned to an eternity separated from God?  That fact alone gives me pause.  It should give all of us a lot of opportunity to think.  I have thought:  I do not wish to see a country wiped off the map.  I do not wish to see us use nuclear weapons again.

I’m not interested in a policy debate here.  There are people smarter than me who can find answers to political questions.  I wish to call attention to the insulting nature of Dr. Jefress’ comments, his complete lack of compassion for the lost population of North Korea, and his irresponsible interpretation of Romans 13.  He does not speak for our convention nor for my generation of leaders.  I’m sure we will be treated to more grandstanding and more bad interpretations of scripture in the coming years, but if Mr. Jefress thinks he is gaining influence, he is sadly mistaken.  Here is my advice to him:  first, quit acting like you’re speaking for anyone other than yourself and your congregation.  Second, go have a gospel conversation with someone.  (If you need some help with that, you can go here:  Gospel Conversations Website.) And third, when the news outlets call – secular or otherwise – hang up.  

Attitudes Concerning Evangelism

The Southern Baptist Convention leadership is encouraging its churches to have more gospel conversations.  They have set a goal of one million gospel conversations this year. There are, as of 2016, 47,272 Southern Baptist Churches in the United States. If every church participated in the one millions gospel conversations goal, they would have to average 22 gospel conversations for the year. If we take the parable of the sower in Matthew 13 as an example of effectiveness, that would mean 1 out of every four gospel conversations should land on fertile soil. That would mean an average of 5 conversions per church. Can you imagine what would happen if all our churches had 5 conversions this year. That would give the Southern Baptist Convention 236,360 conversions this year, and that would just be the base number because we know there would be churches who would not stop at 5 conversions or 22 gospel conversations. I believe some church is going to explode in growth because their members started having more gospel conversations.
Our church, being a member of the Southern Baptist Convention, has set a goal of 100 gospel conversations this year. I’m going to discuss various elements of gospel conversations in the next couple of posts, and throughout the year write about our church’s experience with gospel conversations.
I want to focus on attitudes towards evangelism in this post.
We come to all our experiences with preconceptions. We are trained in seminary to not read our preconceptions into our interpretation of scripture, but that’s easier said than done. We also come to the task of evangelism with pre-existing attitudes. I’ve seen four such attitudes.
1) I don’t care:This attitude needs very little explanation. If you don’t care that there are people lost, dying, and going to spend an eternity separated from God, then you are not saved. We do not get to decide who’s lost and who’s saved, but I cannot fathom a Christian who does not care that his friends are facing spiritual death. If we have members of our churches who have this attitude, we can only pray for them.
2)Nothing can be done:This is a fatalistic attitude. Some of our church members look at the statistics and the state of the country, and surmise that nothing can be done. They are like doubting Thomas in John chapter 11. Jesus tells His disciples that they must go to Bethany to wake up Lazarus. Thomas responds, “let’s go die with him”. The people who have this attitude cared at one time, but life and circumstances have beaten them down to the point that they are just hanging on till the end. They do not understand, or have not been taught that we serve a great big God who wants to do great big things with a bunch of sinners. We should pray for these church members as well, and pray that God will change their attitude and allow them to see conversions.
3)They know where to get it:There are those in our churches who will say, “They know what we have, and if they want Jesus, they can come here and get Him.” This approach used to work in the 50’s and 60’s, although I question how many true disciples were actually made through this approach. This approach worked when everyone had at least a passing knowledge of Christ. That just is not the case anymore. There are more people in our communities who know next to nothing about Christ and the Bible. There are people in some of our mainline denominations who know nothing about the true gospel. This is a different world than the one we all grew up in. We cannot have the attitude that says, “come and get it if you want it”. Paul writes in Romans 10, “But how can they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how can they believe without hearing about Him? And how can they hear without a preacher? And how can they preach unless they are sent?” We have to adjust our attitudes and accept the reality that there are many people in our communities who have never heard the gospel. I’d rather be talking to someone who has never heard the gospel than to someone who has heard false gospels.
4) I want to be taughtThis is the best attitude. This attitude is willing to have gospel conversations. This attitude recognizes the problem and wants to do something about it. We have these people in our churches. WE should focus our efforts on training and encouraging them. My wife and I realized a few months ago that our conversations about church centered on those with the other three attitudes. We were not talking about training those with this last attitude. If we spent more time training the willing, the unwilling and the unsaved in our churches would feel less and less comfortable, and maybe God would surprise us by changing hearts and attitudes.
I hope to keep an update going on my blog about our church’s experiences with gospel conversations. Please pray for us as we try to penetrate the darkness in Rich Hill.

Non-Verbal Elements of Worship

I wrote about verbal elements of worship last Tuesday.  Verbal Elements of Worship.  There are elements of worship we may not think about, or attach much importance to. This post is about those non-verbal elements of a worship service.  They may seem small and insignificant, but they carry a tremendous potential impact.

The bulletin–This was probabbly the first no-verbal element most of you thought about.  The bulletin is the most obvious.  The bulletin does not have to be flashy.  It needs to be well done.  The right song numbers for the congregational singing, the right, the order you intend to follow, the correct spelling of every word, and correct design basics all come together to make a professional presentation communicate an attitude of care to anyone who visits.  Visitors may not specifically reference a well prepared bulletin, but if the bulletin looks like a monkey put it together, it will be a distraction.  I worked with a church secretary who left the “r” out of the word “pantry” in a bulletin.  Can you guess what the congregation remembered from that worship service for the next three weeks?  We want others to remember our worship and our interpretation of God’s word.  We don’t want them to remember a sloppy bulletin.

The seating:  What do I mean by seating?  I mean watching where visitors sit and subtly directing other church members to go sit with them.  I try not to let anyone sit alone during our services.  My church members are always willing to sit next to or behinds a visitor.  

The condition of the worship space:  There are some churches who cannot renovation to deteriorating facilities, but everyone can afford a decluttered and organized space. Again, this shows that we care about about our church and are not lazy.  

The pace of the service:  There are some worship services that are just awkward.  That’s because the leaders take their sweet time with all the elements of the service.  The silent space is very awkward.  Very few visitors will return to a church with an awkward service.

Facial Expressions:  This one does not need much explanation.  What does your facial expression and body language communicate about your church?  What do they communicate about your God?  How many visitors have been turned away from your church because of poor facial expressions?  Poor facial expressions communicate poor faith.  This is not superficial problem however, it is a soul problem.   

Room Temperature:  Thermostat settings are the bane of pastor’s everywhere.  The temperature should be kept at a consistently comfortable setting.  You might say, but Bro. Tony, I can’t control the thermostat.  The pastor who does not have authority over the thermostat settings is a pastor who does not have authority over anything else.  

That’s my list of non-verbal worship elements.  Some of them may seem petty and unimportant, but we may only get one chance to make an impression on a visitor.  Careful attention to these seemingly insignificant gives others more information about your church than you think, and you don’t have a certain number in attendance to Pusey excellence in your worship service.