Why pastors need pastors

pastors2

Much of what we pastors do is to minister, care, support, and uplift the people in our congregations and community. We go through college and graduate school (seminary) and learn the basics of sociology, psychology, and therapy.  We pastors walk with people through depression, grief, and death.

Through all those hours, days, weeks, and years of care-giving, what happens when we pastors need a pastor? Who will be the care-giver to the care-giver? Who will be the pastor to a pastor?

I recently posted an Baptist News Global article, written by Jeff Brumbly, on Facebook with some startling statistics for pastors:

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Do you have church money anxiety?

moneyministry

In congregational life, there are always those who give more /worry more/spend more time on the money than others. In systems theory this is called overfunctioning. Members who are overfunctioning with financial aspects of the church always think if others gave more or were more responsible, the church wouldn’t have this problem.

Yet there’s a balance between those who overfunction and those who underfunction in terms of financial responsibility. It takes both to keep this dynamic going. Often key church  leaders carry the anxiety for church  finances.

Who is staying awake at night? Typically, it’s the pastor, although sometimes lay leaders are more worried than the clergy. I talked recently with a church treasurer who was losing sleep night after night over whether there would be enough church money in the account to pay the bills. In this situation, the potential shortfall did not belong to the treasurer but to the church. It wasn’t his responsibility—or not his alone. Yet he was the one who was holding all the anxiety for it.

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Are your church greeters and ushers trained?

greeting

First impressions are huge for church visitors. The average church visitor has made up their mind within 3-4 minutes of coming into a church whether they will return. That is why your church needs well trained church greeters and ushers.

Charles Arn of BuildingChurchLeaders.com writes,

The communication that occurs in the first four minutes of human contact is so crucial that it almost always determines whether strangers will remain strangers or become acquaintances and perhaps friends. If this is true, and it applies to all who walk through our church doors, what an opportunity and challenge it provides to greeters! Those church members who welcome the people God has brought to church have the chance to positively influence these important vistors in those first crucial minutes. In the process, it is the greeters who often hold the key to whether guests return.

Greeters provide a valuable ministry to churches. Here are some basics on church greeters and ushers:

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3 Leadership lessons from Mark Driscoll

Mark Driscoll

Seattle megachurch pastor Mark Driscoll announced he resigned as the senior pastor of 13,000 person Mars Hill Church. This announcement comes after months of a leave of absence and years of controversy. Driscoll’s rise to fame in the Christian world has now been be marked by poor leadership, bad behavior, and manipulation of book sales to get on the New York Times best sellers list.

Mark Driscoll was a media attraction because of sermon and book topics. The NYT even called him, “The cussing pastor” who spoke about biblical oral sex. After years of his controversial ministry, it was not his critics who sank Mark Driscoll. Mark Driscoll sank Mark Driscoll.

The leadership of a pastor needs to be marked by humility, passion, Christ-like service, and spiritual focus. Driscoll had trouble with all those things. Pastors from his church started to leave and the church suffered. The church did not suffer because of other pastors leaving, but because of the inability of Driscoll to lead his congregation in a healthy way. A chief concern of those who departed Mars Hill was that Driscoll was domineering, deceitful, and would push anyone out of the church who did agree with the pastor.

It is difficult to speak or write critically about any pastor and a church. A church is suffering. However, there are lessons here that need to be learned because of the weight of poor leadership evidence: 
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Evangelicals must learn from Vatican gathering

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The media is abuzz with a published report from the Vatican regarding the inclusion of divorced Catholics, homosexuals, and those who use birth control. Traditionally, those groups of people inside and outside the Catholic Church are persona non grata of church law. Now, the Vatican is attempting to change the tone of the conversation and Evangelicals need to take some notes.

In very pastoral ways, the new language has open the door to start a conversation. Though no actual church law has changed, the ability of the Vatican to begin a dialogue should be seen as an attempt to bridge religious and cultural divides. The report sought to soften the tone on the issues of annulment, divorce, cohabitation, and communion. On the issue of homosexuality, the report states:   
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More proof of false Christian persecution

As I outlined in my last blog post concerned Robert Griffin III and Christian persecution, it is a false narrative.  The myth of Christian persecution was again proved as Kansas City Chiefs safety Husain Abdullah caught and intercepted Tom Brady‘s pass on Monday Night Football.

In celebration of Abdullah’s play, he went down to pray. Abdullah, a Muslim, was penalized and his team incurred a 15-yard penalty on the next kick off.

In response, this tweet was posted on Twitter:

If anything pro-Christian favoritism could be argued here. Fortunately, the NFL responded that Abdullah should have not been penalized. The decision for the penalty during the game was:

The prayer drew a 15-yard penalty flag for unsportsmanlike conduct, for “going to the ground” while celebrating after a score. There are exceptions made for religious prayer in the rule…

At the least we have learned two things:

  1. The media look for any angle to make a story run
  2. It’s easy to selectively prove (falsely) that Christian persecution exists.

Beware of the danger of the single story.

RG3, false persecution, and Christianity

rg3

There’s a big uproar over Robert Griffin III reversing his shirt inside out at a press conference. RG3’s shirt read, “Know Jesus Know Peace” or “No Jesus No Peace”. (Cool play on words there.)

Over at Fox News, they are creating a controversy. On the Fox and Friends Facebook page, they posted the above picture with the text:

Out of Bounds! At a post-game press conference, Washington Redskins’ quarterback Robert Griffin III was told to turn his shirt inside out before speaking to reporters! Do you think he should have been allowed to wear his shirt as-is?

Of course, the implication here is that RG3 was not allowed to wear his Jesus t-shirt because it was religious in nature. Fox News has a history of creating the idea that Christianity is being persecuted in America.

If Fox News wanted to do some reporting, they would have found the following:

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The 12 Disciples… and Bartholomew

As my two kids (7 and 5 years old) are learning the 12 Disciples song for Cherubs choir, my wife and I had to find the tune online. We were not really familiar with it. We quickly went to YouTube and discovered. I like the kids should sing this version in church:

First off, I rather like the Weezer-like children’s music. It brings me back to my high school days. Second, I don’t know how I feel about Judas being a Ginger. It just reinforces a certain stereotype. Third, Bartholomew looks like Where’s Waldo with a beard and Thomas better wipe that smile off his face… doubter. Fourth, Simon looks a little wacked out and Jesus could pass for a South Park Jesus. Lastly, the high production value makes viewers enthralled with excitement.

Any other observations for the public good humor?

There were twelve disciples Jesus called to help him:
Simon Peter, Andrew, James, his brother John,
Philip, Thomas, Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus,
Thaddeus, Simon, Judas, and Bartholomew.
He has called us, too. He has called us, too.
We are His disciples, I am one and you!
He has called us, too. He has called us, too.
We are His disciples, I am one and you!

Christian news site scrubs Islamophobic opinion

I opened Facebook this morning to read this headline, “Why I Am Absolutely Islamaphobic”. I clicked the link and read the opinion piece by Rev. Gary Cass and was disgusted by what I read.

I posted the Charisma News article on my Facebook page only to find that the original post was pulled: there is a 404 error. Brian McLaren has a lively comment section on his Facebook page.

I think it is obvious what happened here. After such blow back from Christians, Charisma had to delete the article. David Hayward (NakedPastor.com) has a good response. I mean come on, the title explains that this pastor and CEO of a “Christian defamation” organization is clearly anti-Isalm. Gary even has his own page over at Right Wing Watch – so you know he’s legit.

Here’s a few nuggets of Cass’ craziness from the original opinion article:

My fear is not an irrational fear based on uniformed prejudice; rather it’s an historic, clear eyed, informed, rational fear. ISSA is doing to America journalists what every true follower of Mohammed wants to do to you and yours; subjugate or murder you. They believe they have been given a mandate by Allah (Satan) to dominate the world.

And then Cass paints all Muslims with one brush stroke:    [Read more…]

Pastors minister in Ferguson unrest

The continued unrest in Ferguson, MO which have featured protests, violence, and racial tensions, have the country waiting for new news of peace. The conflict revolves around Michael Brown’s murder by the hands of a police officer. Conflicting information from police sparked riots, protests, and demonstration. Local police responded with riot gear only for other departments to be dispatched to try to keep peace.

In the midst of this unrest, pastors and clergy have responded. Ministers in the middle of the Ferguson crisis have sought to provide comfort, direction, and peace. Perhaps under reported are the stories of pastors ministering to protesters, police, and local officials:

Here are some notable stories:

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Robin Williams and the church

robin williams As most everyone has heard, Robin Williams died on Tuesday from an apparent suicide. The reaction on Facebook and Twitter was one of shock. How could someone who brought so much joy and humor to the world be so troubled? Robin Williams brought us a diversity of characters in his movies and television shows.

I remember as a child watching reruns of “Mork and Mindy” and wondering, “Who is this guy? He’s so funny!” His films such as “Good Morning, Vietnam”, “Good Will Hunting”, “Mrs. Doubtfire”, and “Hook” are now classics running regularly on TV. His long filmography on IMDb yields several scrolls from the mouse. As reports surfaced of his drug and alcohol abuse, we began to learn of a troubled man. Robin Williams apparent depression most likely led him down the path of suicide.

Unfortunately, some have made hurtful comments. Fox News anchor, Shepherd Smith gave his own unhelpful perspective of the nature of suicide:

“One of the children he so loved, one of the children grieving tonight. Because their father killed himself in a fit of depression… You could love three little things so much, watch them grow, they’re in their mid-20s, and they’re inspiring you… And yet, something inside you is so horrible or you’re such a coward or whatever the reason that you decide that you have to end it. Robin Williams, at 63, did that today.

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Church sign responds to border crisis

As thousands of people stream into the United States from Mexico, people have spoken out against the government’s handling of the border crisis. Children are coming into the United States from Mexico and looking for a better life. Some have criticized the Christian response, or lack there of.

What are Christians supposed to say about this problem?

Some are holding public prayer events. Like this one in Texas:

The collective prayer marked the beginning of “For His Children,” a charity initiative that seeks to provide undocumented migrants with both physical and spiritual support. The event, according to ABP news, was organized by the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference and three other charitable organizations.

More than 50 Hispanic pastors prayed at the facility where the undocumented children are processed upon arrival, at the Border Patrol station, and at Sacred Heart — a Catholic church where volunteers have set up a temporary shelter where families can rest before setting out to meet relatives across the United States.

One church took a rather pointed position on the crisis with their church sign. Thinking about would Jesus would not say, College Avenue Presbyterian Church in Oakland, CA posted this sign:

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