Month: January 2014

One-Minute Worship and the Teenager

Sometimes teenagers can be really stupid. I think you may know this. And yet, sometimes, God grants those teenagers some wisdom.

Today, for teen Bible study, I told the teens we were going to watch an entire church service. I asked them to look for:

1. Something that was right.
2. Something that was wrong.
3. Something they wanted to try.
4. Something they never wanted to see at our congregation.

And with that introduction, we watched this video:

Now, before anyone freaks out, the pastor did that as a joke. If you want more commentary on the video itself, check out the commentary from this excellent Bread for Beggars post.

So, what do you think the teens said? (more…)

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Loving the Church but Hating Jesus

I probably got a lot of people angry at me today.

My congregation has suffered greatly over the last few years. In fact, my first year here had a good probability of being this congregation’s last, as it had shrunk due to a few congregational crises. There simply weren’t enough people to keep going. Frankly, we’re still tip-toeing close to the edge, though not as close to the abyss as we had been.

However, I’ve seen a lot of “church worship” here.

“Pastor, nothing will ever make me leave this church.”

“Pastor, close your Bible. That’s not why we’re here.”

“Pastor, stop preaching that part of God’s Word. It scares people away.”

“Pastor, we need more people in the seats.”

Some of those are pretty obviously despising God’s Word – but how are they worshipping the church? Well, each one of those things is motivated by a desire to fill the church, and not necessarily with a desire to introduce those people to Jesus. Getting them into church is the important part.

See, we’ve been in survival mode for so long, and we’ve seen the possibility of closing for so long, that so many in the congregation are hanging on to the congregation with white knuckles.

Is that really so bad? Isn’t the church a gift from God? (more…)

When do you give up?

How many times do you invite someone back to Jesus before you give up?

That’s right. You never give up.

How much time do you spend on that person when there are so many others that need that invitation, who have never known Jesus? How much time do you spend on the stubborn people that refuse to admit sin, who believe that church is for “free time,” who don’t think that Jesus is worth waking up for?

Yes, yes, I know. Every soul is precious. I don’t disagree! But, practically speaking, there is only so much time in a day, so much energy in a person, and so many people you can touch at a time.

Why am I asking this? (more…)

Complaining about Grace

Sometimes God taps you softly  the shoulder, and sometimes he slams into your head with a two by four.

“Do you ever complain to God for his grace?” The pastor looks out over the congregation, but then he focuses on the pastors sitting in the front row of pews. “Do you ever complain that God gave you the gift of your ministry?”

Ouch.

I had gathered with a bunch of other pastors to install a pastor at his new ministry. Pastors had gathered from all over the nation; old friends and family came for this experienced pastor in a new location. I was in the area – only about thirty miles away. But this is the man that God used to encourage me into the ministry, so I felt a certain excitement about seeing him again and getting to give him a blessing as a part of the installation ceremony.

And the preacher for the special service grabbed my attention. I really don’t remember a LOT of the sermon, other than this point: Our reaction to God’s grace so often is complaining.

Guilty.

God gives us an opportunity to spend an hour a week hearing how much he loves us. And we complain about “having” to spend an hour in church as if it’s such a terrible thing, and not the gift of grace it is.

God gives us the opportunity to celebrate his forgiveness with other people who are just as bad as we are. And we complain about “those people” and how much they annoy us.

God gives me a ministry, a chance to tell others what awesome things God has done for them. And how do I react?

Man. How boneheaded can a guy get?

Now, this preacher was good. He didn’t leave me in the agony of guilt. He pointed to the grace we so often complain about. He pointed to the level that Jesus loved: “Father, forgive them! Father, receive my spirit!”

I spurn the grace of God, but he pours it on my anyway. I have forgiveness. I have life.

AND I still get to keep my ministry! How awesome is that?

God’s grace is funny. I was looking forward to seeing an old, familiar face and getting reacquainted. I looked forward to celebrating with him. But as I walk away, the highlight of the day was hearing God speak to me through the voice of another pastor.

But why should that surprise me? Shouldn’t God and what he says always be the highlight? Again, a little poke. A reminder that my life is not as lined up as it should be.

But then again, God forgives and delights in loving me.

That’s just cool.