I’m talking church marque signs. And bumper stickers. And matching mission team t-shirts. I once saw a team in a Florida airport heading to Haiti with shirts boldly declaring, “WE HELP THE POOR.” The shirts were complete with a Haitian map so all the Haitians would know they were talking about them.
Can you imagine Jesus writing, “I Help the Poor” in the sand? Or “Choose the Bread of Life or You Are Toast,” or “Prevent Truth Decay, Brush Up On Your Bible,” or “Why Pay for GPS, Jesus Gives Directions for Free.” It’s embarrassing.
And to think – we could be posting Scripture.
Or posting nothing.
And wearing normal t-shirts.
Or wearing – skip that.
#4 Blindsided Before Church
I made the jump from Youth Pastor to Interim Pastor when our Senior Pastor left. It was one of my first Sundays in that role, and I was preaching. I was walking up to the front of the church during the prelude, as someone pulled me aside. Then they unloaded.
“I hate to bother you with this, but Buddy just said they are leaving, and you know they are related to half this church. I’m not sure we will make it through this interim, certainly not with your leadership. We’re down to just 2 weeks operating expenses in the bank, and it’s draining fast. And Elmer – you know, the chairman of our elders – he just came out as a past member of the KKK, and will be on TV tonight explaining the burnings. Oh – the music is starting. God bless your message today, Pastor.”
OK, I don’t remember what they said, I just remember trying to wrap my head back around a sermon after being blindsided on the way to my seat. Now I’m ready with evasive action.
I’ve founds these answers helpful. “Sorry to interrupt, but we will need to talk later. I’m getting ready to speak.” Or, “I’ve made it a policy not to talk church business on Sunday Mornings. Can you call me tonight?” Or, “Does Satan use you often?”
Lighten up – I’d never say that. Outloud.
I wonder if the evil powers haven’t used all of us in a wicked role like that a time or two.
# 3 Spiritual Gifts Tests
I’ve had my share of birthdays. And, even at my current state of senility, I can usually recognize the gift once I tear the wrapping off. Ah, a new shirt, a new laptop, a new set of teeth.
If God gave us something, why do we need a test to figure out what it is? Did He disguise it in some cosmic game of hide and seek? It seems to me we are simply confusing talents with gifts. Here is a novel idea – what if God’s “new birth” gifts aren’t the same as our birth talents? What if He really does make us strong where we are weak, rather than stronger where we are already strong?
Nah, couldn’t be. If that were the case. . .
• We’d see some Jewish trained PhD become the great evangelist to the . . . gentiles. I’d have advised Paul to join Jews for Jesus.
• We’d see a selfish scared missionary who wanted people to go to hell leading the greatest revival in history. Would Jonah have been supported by your missions committee?
• We’d see some spindly teenager become the Hulk, but no one would know where his strength came from. If Sampson really looked like our Sunday-School drawings, why did they keep asking what made him so strong?
• We’d see an old stuttering, fugitive free a nation. I might have let Moses lead our nursing home ministry – but only if he first had a life insurance policy with our church named as a beneficiary, a “Help I Can’t Get Up” medical alert necklace, and a “The Church Can’t be Sued for Past Actions” release signed.
If God gave spiritual gifs, we’d see a shepherd fight giants. Fishermen start a church. Old people have babies. Shadows heal. Maybe if we trashed the test and got out of our talent / comfort zone we’d discover Something greater.
# 2 Pv 29:18 Vision Statements
It seems like every book on leadership uses Proverbs 29:18 “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” KJV.
The insinuation seems to be that if we have no vision statement, we will all perish. Is that like Jn 3:16 Hell perish, or just die perish? If it’s Hell perish, could we say a vision statement is damn important?
An entire book will use a modern translation (NIV, NLT or whatever), until they get to this verse. Then it is KJV every time – and only they only quote this portion of the verse. Come on, those of us reading know better. The authors know better.
This verse isn’t talking about vision.
The complete verse in the New King James reads, “Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; But happy is he who keeps the law.” It’s similar in the NASB, NIV, NLT, etc. English has changed meaning since the 1611 KJV. When the entire sentence is read, it’s clear this passage is about divine revelation, not vision. It’s a great passage to illustrate why the USA is headed where it is – we’ve rejected divine revelation so are casting off restraint – but it doesn’t have much to do with my church vision statement.
That doesn’t mean I’m peeved when people teach vision-casting and planning from other passages of Scripture, or even from other passages of Proverbs. It’s not the teaching, but knowingly messing with scripture that bugs me.
# 1 Wanting to be Fed
I LOVE people that want to grow – but often wanting to be fed is different.
I see a red flag when someone new comes in the door and tells me, “We just weren’t being fed at that other church.” We all know some months or years from now they will be at some other church saying the same thing, talking about us.
The odd thing is, I hear it from people who have been believers for years. I so want to ask, “22 years you’ve been a believer, and you still want to be fed? That’s a LONG time to be in a high-chair crying for smashed peas. What do you think is wrong with you?”
So, when I become church dictator of the world, five of my commandments will be.
1. If you feel compelled to advertise your Christianity in neon – post Scripture not slogans.
2. Honor the worship service as a time for worship – no exceptions.
3. Find your gifts by doing outlandish ministry in the body of Christ – not by a test.
4. Don’t manipulate Scripture to fit your proposals – we’re servants, not prophets.
5. Grow up, reproduce, and feed others – getting spoon-fed is for babies.