What Counsel Do You Give When You are Asked the Wrong Question?

Monday is for Discussion

Book of Acts (Sent)A pastor asks:  “How can I help my church increase their membership? It’s a small country Presbyterian church with mostly older members. Looking for ideas…”

First thing about this question: It’s the wrong question. Here’s a better one, “How can we make more disciples of Jesus?”

That said, once you have given some serious thought and prayer to that question, these might be some of the things you could begin to consider.

  1. Don’t worry about marketing and advertising.
  2. Be the church; don’t try to “portray the church.”
  3. Train everyone to proclaim the gospel clearly. Train them to talk to friends, neighbors and family.
  4. Get your people working life on life in applying the Scripture.
  5. Ask of your service: Are we doing anything that has nothing to do with the gospel and makes unbelievers and seekers of truth uncomfortable? Stop doing those things.
  6. Are we doing anything that makes unbelievers and seekers of truth feel comfortable and does not involve a compromise of the gospel? Keep doing that.
  7. Get more ‘knees on the ground” for the spiritual battle of reaching your community. A praying church is usually a growing church.
  8. Missionally, get the church on task in loving and serving their community.
  9. Consider partnering with another church in the community to reach the community. God blesses unity in the Church.
  10. Remove any spiritual impediments to growth starting with the sins of pride, disunity and unbelief in leadership.
  11. Remove structural impediments to growth (google Ed Stetzer on the topic.)

More could be said, but that’s all I have time for now.

The Verse Every Christian Should be Haunted By

Monday is for Discussion

“Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?”

—Jesus (Luke 6:46, NASB)

This week I have developed a new respect for Wayne Watson’s music and theology. He captures the struggle and the reliance on grace well.

Album Cover for Field of Souls (1995)

Album Cover for Field of Souls (1995)

Every Waking Moment

The first thought every morning
I have without fail is a thought of You
And through the rush of the day
My ideal is to ask, “What would Jesus do?”
When to speak, when to hear
When to look and when to close my eyes
But sometimes the strength of my will
Pulls me down to the weakness I despise.

Not every once in a while
Not just from time to time
Driven by emotion
It is a dream I have
It is a prayer I pray
To sleep in peace at the end of the day
Having done my best to obey
Every waking moment

Still the noble efforts I make aren’t enough
To reserve a heavenly place
My attempts at perfection are weak
I am lost but for Your grace
The only strength that have
Is when I fall on my knees
And for mercy cry
And offer You my heart, and soul
My breath, my very life

Not every once in a while
Not just from time to time
Driven by emotion
It is a dream I have
It is a prayer I pray
To sleep in peace at the end of the day
Having done my best to obey
Every waking moment

Wayne Watson, 1995

How are you helping His followers to struggle toward holiness in an atmosphere of grace?

Why Blog When You Can Vomit on Facebook?

Monday is for Discussion

Pumpkin Puke

Pumpkin Puke

Some time back someone asked me why I blog when I could reach a larger audience simply by building up my Facebook™ presence?

My answer was to question two things:

  1. The assumption that a large audience in Facebook is necessarily better.
  2. The assumption that significant discussion on complicated issues is best done (or can be done) in the medium of Facebook™.

To overstate my own perspective, my experience on Facebook™ is that it is filled with:

  • videos of cats and dogs doing cute and or stupid things.
  • videos of humans doing stupid and or dangerous things.
  • conversations that are often opinionated rants by people who have not done their homework or whose “homework” was a quick google search of the most popular trending sites on the latest controversy about which they want to opine.
  • political and environmental rants declaring this or that persons current bumper-sticker enthusiasms or life-long anger, passion, or prejudice.
  • despite these drawbacks, it is a useful tool for certain issues.

I want to use Facebook™ as a tool:

  • to stimulate further discussion on the blog.
  • to share links to important articles for the development of a Christian World and Life view
  • to keep in touch with old and new friends.
  • to encourage any who know me to consider or re-consider Christ and the gospel.

I just think that substantive issues cannot be discussed well in the medium of Facebook™. They are better in a more thoughtful, less immediate, and less public atmosphere. Therefore, I BLOG because I think there are things that I have learned or that I am in the process of learning that might be of value to others and Facebook™ is the wrong medium and the Blog is better. And I Blog because there are people who are drawn to the Blog who will help me think through certain issues in ways that will help me grow as a Christian and leader.

Got an opinion? Share it in the comments. I’d love to hear from you.

Denying Reality in the Church is Stupid

Monday is for Discussion

If I am driving down the road and my wife and I look at the gas gauge and see that the needle is approaching empty, my wife will say “Honey, don’t you think we should stop and get gas?” (A question with an implied exhortation.)

When she does this, it does me no good to say, “That’s your reality. My reality is that we have enough gas to go another hundred miles. I’m going to ignore your question and deny your reality because I don’t like your implied exhortation that I need to do something at this time that I don’t want to do.”

My experience with declining churches across the country is that they consistently have a problem recognizing their own (dumb) behavior.

Make sure as a leader that you are willing to look at the reality of your situation and make adjustments according to the real facts not the facts as you wish they were. Remember the counsel of Solomon.

If the clouds are full,
.      they pour out rain upon the earth,
and whether a tree falls toward the south or toward the north,
.      wherever the tree falls, there it lies.
 (Eccl. 11:3, NASB)

We have to deal with life the way it is not how we wish it was.

Willing to be Forgotten

Monday is for Reflection

Forgotten RuinsO LORD my God, If I have done this
.       if there is injustice in my hands

Let the enemy pursue my soul and overtake it.
.       And let him trample my life down to the ground
.       And lay my glory in the dust.    Selah.

Psalm 7:3, 5 (NASB)

Willing to be Forgotten

I am willing to be forgotten,
A ruin surrounded by forest
Dismembered from humanity,

Unrecognized, unheeded, unacclaimed,
Unappreciated and dismissed
Forgotten, buried and unremarked.

If only you would rescue each of my children
each of my grandchildren
each of my accomplished brothers and 
both of my extraordinary sisters.

Rescue their children, their spouses
Rescue them and never let them go.
Draw them to Yourself.
Show them Your beauty.
Make idols cease.
Let truth reign.
Rescue them O God for Your name

You hold all the cards.
Yet this is my “bargain.”
I am willing, eager, to make this trade.
Give me obscurity and You, (I must have You), 
And rescue them to You,
That together we might enjoy and cherish You, forever.

Go to Psalm 8

Be Careful People, of Your Heroes

Monday is for Discussion

Gone too soon.

Gone too soon.

Be careful people, of your heroes.
For only One is perfect.
Role models and teachers, 
We may elect
Those who inspire 
and those we admire.
But there is One, only One
Who will never leave
Never reveal a single defect
Be careful people, for all your heroes.

On the occasion of Robin Williams death and loss of a comedic genius.

Good bye Robin. We can only hope that you found peace.

What We Can Learn for Our Souls from this Year’s Soy Bean Crop

Soy beans 1Monday is for Challenge

Here’s a great post from memory delight that all my farmer friends in Iroquois County will appreciate. My comments and challenge follow.

Neil Orchard was talking with a farmer about his soy bean and corn crops.

Rain had been abundant, and the results were evident.

So his comment surprised him: “My crops are especially vulnerable. Even a short drought could have a devastating effect.”

“Why?” Orchard asked.

He explained that while we see the frequent rains as a benefit, during that time the plants are not required to push roots deeper in search of water.

The roots remain near the surface. A drought would find the plants unprepared and quickly kill them.

Some Christians receive abundant “rains” of worship, fellowship, and teaching.

Yet when stress enters their lives, many suddenly abandon God or think him unfaithful.

Their roots have never pushed much below the surface.

Remember this, only roots grown deep into Jesus Christ help us endure times of drought in our lives.

So don’t neglect the power of memorizing and meditating Scriptures every single day.

Scripture memorization is a discipline that will help your roots to push below the surface.

Click here on a “smarter” way to begin.

Click here to begin memorizing His words today!

Trinity Church, let’s grow deep in the word of Christ. Let’s emerse ourselves in the word of God so that the Spirit of of God transforms us and makes us a people who “proclaims the excellenecies of our God.” (1 Peter 2:9-10)

For All My Friends Who Struggle With Depression

DepressionHere is an outstanding article and perspective on depression from the ministry, wisdom and experience of Charles Haddon Spurgeon. Thirty years of pastoral ministry have given me an education that this issue is not going away easily. Here is real help for the heart that struggles.  Thank you to Christian Communicators Worldwide and Susan Verstraete for the link below.

Mingling Groans of Pain and Songs of Hope : Charles Haddon Spurgeon on Depression

Begging-Ambassadors: The Christian Identity

Monday Discussion

“Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ,
as though God were entreating through us;
we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf,  
that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
(2 Cor. 5:20-21, NASB)

Worship on Pentecost 2014Six baptisms today. Five twenty-somethings, one thirty-something. Four young men between 20 and 29. All professing new faith in Christ and a desire to follow Christ for the whole of their lives. And then, glory upon glory, a young woman, who attended worship for the first time last week, trusted Christ this week in the picnic that followed the baptism. What a great celebration of Pentecost!

What a privilege we have to be ambassadors for the king of Kings. This story captures both the privilege and power of an ambassadors position but also the source of our boldness. He is the King. We are his ambassadors. Begging-ambassadors with boldness.

The ambassador is clothed with all the authority of the king who sends him. On one occasion the king of Syria, Antiochus Epiphanes, invaded Egypt. Rome desired to stop him and sent an envoy called Popillius to tell him to abandon his projected invasion. Popillius caught up with Antiochus on the borders of Egypt and they talked of this and that for they had known each other in Rome. Popillius had not the vestige of an army with him, not even a guard. Finally Antiochus asked him why he had come. Quietly Popillius told him that he had come to tell him that The Lone Female among Those Baptized (2014)Rome wished him to abandon the invasion and go home. “I will consider it,” said Antiochus. Popillius smiled a little grimly; he took his staff and drew a circle in the earth round Antiochus. “Consider it,” he said, “and come to your decision before you leave that circle.” Antiochus thought for a few seconds and then said: “Very well. I will go home.” Popillius himself had not the slightest force available—but behind him was all the power of Rome.[1]

Jesus is our King. He has all authority in heaven and earth (Mt. 28:18). He commands us. We tell the world his message. We are his ambassadors. Let’s go with boldness and tell the greatest news ever announced. Let’s beg people, to be reconciled to God.

[1]The Letter to the Hebrews. 2000, c1975 (W. Barclay, lecturer in the University of Glasgow, Ed.). The Daily Study Bible series, Rev. ed. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press.

Two Year Anniversary of My Last Book (But hopefully not my last)

Marty at Outside Preaching EventTwo years ago Picking a President: Or Any other Elected Official was released. Still thankful for the work of Phil Gioja in putting together the book trailer. If you are looking for a . . .

  • a devotional commentary on the book of Proverbs
  • a study on leadership from Proverbs
  • a help in thinking about the Christian response to the state of the nation
  • a new book for your small group discussion group

this book might be just the thing you are looking for.  Enjoy.