Monthly Archives: December 2012
I was first introduced to this young Christian poet while watching videos of Rhetoric (a Christian Spoken Word event held in California and hosted by Passion 4 Christ Ministries – http://www.p4cm.com). The first piece I heard from her was entitled, “My Life As A Stud” (Her personal testimony of living a lesbian lifestyle and being set free from it by Jesus). I immediately became a supporter, not only of her, but also of P4CM.
And then I came across another poem that she did called, “A Poem About Weed.” You have to watch to see how she skillfully personifies weed, portraying its deceitfulness and detrimental consequences to our lives and souls.
But wait, there’s more. In this stirring piece, “Jig-a-Boo,” Jackie laments the proliferation of bad doctrine and church practices and seeks to poetically shake the Church awake to them, calling for her to exercise discernment and to long for the faithful preaching of the Gospel and God’s Word.
All of this leads me to share with you her most recent work, “Dangerously in Love.” The title hints to its content. It’s about relationships, particularly women placing their ultimate significance, value, and hope in men rather than in God. Take a listen and share it with all the Christian women (and men) in your life.
Well I sincerely pray and hope you had a wonderful Christmas holiday. We thoroughly enjoyed ours. This year we decided to stay home for Christmas. Although we missed visiting our families, we did get a chance to see and speak to them via FaceTime. Thank God for technology!
As the New Year approaches, many of us will make resolutions to lose weight, get out of debt, take a long anticipated trip, and so on. Some people scoff at the idea of New Year’s resolutions and understandably so. We tend to start with a blast, but begin to taper off a few weeks or months in. But I think making these types of commitments are not all bad, even if a person doesn’t make it all the way through. Moving towards a goal is better than not moving at all, in my opinion.
The truth is, for many people, the New Year tends to incite a renewed zeal to achieve something. Knowing this, we are seeking to leverage it by encouraging members of our church to make it a goal to read the Bible more (beyond Sunday and Wednesday services). In the past we have simply made available one-year Bible reading plans for our members to follow at their own personal pace. However, this year we are launching a church-wide (among the adults) bible reading initiative. We are calling it the RYBT (Read Your Bible Today) Challenge – which came from a topical sermon I preached in our youth church service entitled, “You Have A Text Message”.
We are doing three of them throughout 2013 (Spring, Summer, and Fall). The first one begins on Monday, January 14th. We will read through the book of Romans, tackling a chapter a day for 16 days straight. For the Summer we will take on Amos and for the Fall we will read through the gospel according to Matthew.
Our prayerful hope of issuing such a corporate challenge is that the Holy Spirit will use it to increase our appetite for God’s Word (1 Peter 2:1-3).
Transformation involves consumption. Eat up!
Since the garden , we live in a world filled with suffering, disease, poverty, racism, natural disasters, war, aging, death – and it all stems from the wrath and curse of God on the world. The world is out of joint, and we need to be rescued. But the root of our problem is not these “horizontal” relationships, though they are often the most obvious; it is our “vertical” relationship with God. All human problems are ultimately symptoms, and our separation from God is the cause. The reason for all the misery – all the effects of the curse – is that we are not reconciled to God. (Center Church: Doing Balanced, Gospel-Centered Ministry in Your City, pg. 29)
The topic of “Illegitimate Bishops” was the subject of discussion on Lexi Allen’s talk show program The Lexi Show. Given the proliferation of this title (and others like, apostle, Master prophet, etc.) and the confusion and abuse surrounding it, Lexi decided to bring in three well-known bishops to discuss the issue. After you view the video below, I highly recommend that you click on the link provided at the end of this post to read Thabiti Anyabwile’s thoughts on the matter. He gives a charitable review and some insightful observations on the segment as well as some needed comments on the subject at hand.
Bishop Mania and Confusion About Biblical Church Leadership by Thabiti Anyabwile.
I was tapped on the shoulder to give an overview of the Church School lesson, which was on Ephesians 4:1-16. That was fun. I always love teaching/preaching God’s Word.
I am getting geared up for my next teaching series, beginning in January 2013, entitled, “Don’t Play the Fool” based on the book of Proverbs. Can’t wait!
Worship service was on point today! We celebrated both those who publicly expressed their trust in Jesus through baptism and those who completed New Members Orientation.
Dr. Karry D. Wesley preached on “Having an Amen Moment” from Ephesians 3:20-21.
A New Year
We have for the most part completed our planning for another ministry year. Excited about all that God has in store for us next year! For those interested in hearing about what Jesus is doing in and through the Antioch Church, I’ll do my best to keep you updated as it all unfolds. Please remember us in your prayers as we seek to continue to be a faithful and fruitful church to and for The Lord Jesus.
Those of us in America were deeply saddened and disturbed this past week to hear of the tragic and senseless shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. Seeing the pictures of the deceased children was extremely heartbreaking. I cannot even fathom the grief that the parents are having to deal with.
May we continue to pray for the families and friends of those who lost their lives, the surviving children and adults as well as the first responders and officials who will have to deal with the aftermath of this horrific incident, and the churches in that area who will seek to love the grieving, hurting, angry, and confused (May The Lord grant them wisdom).
Come, Lord Jesus! (Revelation 22:20)
Let me say at the outset that I am not implying that being single shortchanges you of lessons or experiences that can help grow your leadership. I am simply reflecting on my personal experience of being married (for 10 years; dated for 8) and the positive influence it has had on my maturity as a leader in the home as a husband (and father) and in the church as a pastor. The following are 20 leadership lessons that marriage has taught me. They are in no particular order of importance.
1. Seek to understand and not just to be understood.
2. Don’t interpret every disagreement as being unsubmissive.
3. Watch your words.
4. As a default, see differences (of personal preferences, opinions, ways of doing things) as complementary instead of incendiary.
5. Cultivate an environment of open, honest, and respectful dialogue.
6. Communicate! Communicate! Communicate!
7. Humbly own up to your weaknesses, failures, and sins.
8. Follow through on your commitments.
9. Don’t assume. Ask questions.
10. Be patient.
12. Receive personal assessments periodically.
13. Be proactive.
14. Play to your strengths.
15. Delegate your weaknesses.
16. Do what God says even if people don’t agree or understand.
17. Lead! And don’t think that you are being prideful or stubborn when you do, particularly when you are responsibly carrying it out in humility and love.
18. Prioritize your personal devotion time with God.
19. Eat right, exercise, and relax. You are not going to be too much good to anyone if you are run down and an emotional wreck. Don’t feel guilty about taking some “Me time.” You need it.
20. Appreciate those whom you lead. People will give you their hearts and hands when they know they are valued and not simply used by you.
More than likely those of us who are currently serving (or have served) as Associate Pastors (APs) have never been labeled as such. But just because something is not verbally expressed doesn’t mean that it isn’t being communicated, advertently or not. Thankfully, for the most part, it is not malicious, and neither is it characteristic of the experiences of APs everywhere.
If we were honest though, some of us would attest that on occasion, in particular churches and contexts with certain members we have indeed felt like second-class pastors (And, yes, it is possible that a person can feel or think something to be a reality when it is not. However, truth be told, there are occasions and contexts in which this is not simply a figment of the imagination). But most of us will probably not openly admit it because we do not want to appear weak, perceived by members – or approvingly viewed and used by detractors – as negatively blasting the church, or that we are placing our identity and significance at the feet of people’s opinions of us instead of at the foot of the cross of Jesus. So we just prayerfully, privately, and internally deal with it, and continue serving God’s people.
But I want to publicly come forward and say to my fellow Assoc. Pastors who are wrestling with this that you are not alone. I understand. I’ve been there. Gratefully, I am not there anymore…at least right now. I wrote this post for you, but not just for you. It is also for the Senior Pastors, Elders, Deacons, Trustees, and members of your churches. What ensues are some practical ways of dealing with and counteracting this reality for three groups of people: Associate Pastors, Senior Pastors, and Members.
Lest some think that this whole issue is bogus and has no biblical underpinning, let me remind us of a segment of Paul’s final instructions to the church at Thessalonica, “We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work.” (1 Thess. 5:12-13a) To not do so, my friends, results in sentiments such as this one in the hearts of pastoral leadership.
Note: Please know that my perspective and points related to this subject come from a particular context. Adapt whatever you read to your reality. What you can take from it I pray is beneficial. The rest you can feel free to leave on the blog floor.
- Fundamentally, root your identity and value in Jesus and not in how others treat you.
- Understand the fact that you being appointed or hired as an AP says that the leadership values you and what you bring to the table by God’s grace and gifting. I understand value and appreciation should be communicated on a regular. But if it is not, at least you have this to fall back on.
- Don’t take it personal if a member (or members) continues to call you Rev. _____________ or [Insert Your Full Name Here] and not Pastor ______________. It could be that they are not used to referring to you by that title and simply forget, or are only used to calling the Senior/Lead Pastor (or whatever designation) “Pastor.” Even if a member refuses to call you “Pastor,” still try not to take it personal. Your life and ministry doesn’t revolve around him or her. You’ve been called by God to serve as a pastor at that church. Enough said.
- Don’t compare yourself to your Senior/Lead Pastor as it relates to public adulation. Realize that your Senior/Lead Pastor will attract more attention (and more criticism, by the way) than you due to him being the primary preacher and vision-caster.
- “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” (Colossians 3:23-24 – Although the context of this text is dealing with slaves in relationship to their masters, I believe there is a principle that is applicable to our situation.)
- Live out your pastoral calling without expecting the applause of people. If you don’t go looking for it, you won’t be disappointed if you don’t find it (at all or in some measure).
- Focus more on those who do express appreciation to you than those who don’t.
- Don’t be so quick to interpret all criticisms or disagreements as disrespect.
Some of the points below come from observing how my Senior Pastor, Dr. Karry D. Wesley, models before the congregation respect for us as APs.
- Whether you are publicly addressing or privately conversing with members, refer to your AP as Pastor _________.
- Give them credit for their ideas and work.
- Direct or re-direct members to speak with the APs regarding ministries, projects, or programs that fall under their oversight.
- When you are able, be present when your APs are preaching. This helps to set a tone for the membership to not skip out when you are not occupying the pulpit, and it teaches them to be eager to hear the Word of God preached regardless of who is doing the preaching.
- During Pastor Appreciation Month in October, encourage the congregation to show appreciation to all the pastors and not just yourself. If your congregation is not in the habit of doing this, then you can publicly honor them to set the precedence.
- As appropriate, ask your APs to conduct or be a part of a presentation at your State of the Church address or Vision Casting Night. This aids in establishing their leadership and responsibilities in the minds of the membership.
- Do a Ministry Spotlight (newsletter, video) featuring your APs.
- In your preaching or public praying, include them when you reference pastoring the church. For example, “Father, I pray that You will lead myself and all the other pastors of this church as we seek to shepherd Your people.”
- If you are a part of a church culture that customarily uses titles when addressing those in leadership and you personally do so as well, please give the same respect you have for the Senior Pastor to the Associate Pastors as well.
- Pray for the APs (and their families) of your church. Many times prayers of the members are only rendered for the Senior Pastor and his family (which I wholeheartedly agree with, support, and do). But we need your prayers as well.
- Respect and submit to the order that has been established in your church as it relates to your APs. For example: Don’t try to go around your AP’s leadership and oversight, in a manipulative fashion, in an attempt to get your proposal seen or approved by the Senior Pastor.
- Periodically express your appreciation to the APs of your church for their lives, love, labor, and leadership. Trust me, it goes a long way.
- “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.” (Hebrews 13:17) Submission is a form of appreciation…so please do so willingly and delightfully.