Church & Ministry

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Posted 10/31/14 at 4:42 PM | Alliance Defending Freedom

Pastors, Don’t Believe the Hype, It’s a Sequel

AUTHOR: Alliance Defending Freedom Social Content Editor Emily Conley

They lack exact the cold facts, but that doesn’t keep the Americans United for Separation of Church and State from trying, does it?

Recently, the AU sent pastors a friendly reminder that if they get too involved in this election season, the IRS has a newly formed hit squad standing by, but “As long as you follow the rules, however, your house of worship is not in danger of being added to that list.”

Comforting.

There are many issues with the AU’s letter. Here’s our complete response, but a couple highlights:

First, the AU letter states that churches “may not directly or indirectly intervene in partisan campaigns between candidates in any way.” What does “directly or indirectly intervene” even mean? The AU, and the IRS code they quote, are intentionally vague on this. Since pastors can’t be sure where this line is drawn, they tend to play it safe and not speak out at all. FULL POST

Posted 10/31/14 at 2:58 PM | Christian Post Guest Voices

God, Grace, and Good Works

Once there was a man who thought of establishing a public “lock box” in every town and city in his country. The idea was that a community would collect money in a central place, and the funds would be used to care for poor people, among other things. This “community chest” would make caring for poor people an organized activity and a civic obligation in his country.

If this sounds something like a modern-day government program, the idea is actually 500 years old and came from Martin Luther.

On this day in 1517, Luther, then an Augustinian monk, Catholic priest, and professor, nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenburg, Germany. This action of posting his long list of grievances (protests) against the Catholic Church sparked the Protestant Reformation. And because it happened today, on Halloween (a word that is short for All Hallows Eve, the day before All Saints Day, Nov. 1), many Protestant denominations mark today as Reformation Day. FULL POST

Posted 10/31/14 at 9:55 AM | Tim Challies

The Great Throbbing Verbs

Photo: Flickr/Damian Gadal - Creative Commons

The Christian faith is comprised of both nouns and verbs. Maybe it would be more accurate to say that the content of the Christian faith is comprised of both nouns and verbs. Michael Horton says it well:

All of our faith and practice arise out of the drama of Scripture, the ‘big story’ that traces the plot of history from creation to consummation, with Christ as its Alpha and Omega, beginning and end. And out of the throbbing verbs of this unfolding drama God reveals stable nouns—doctrines. From what God does in history we are taught certain things about who he is and what it means to be created in his image, [what it means to be] fallen, and redeemed, renewed, and glorified in union with Christ.

So drama describes the actions, the verbs, or what God is doing. Doctrine describes the facts, the nouns, of who God is and what it means that he made us in his image. If you put the two together, you have the content of the Christian faith. I was thinking recently about the great “throbbing verbs of this unfolding drama,” and about this universe as the stage in which God is displaying himself and his glory. I was convicted that I think of the world this way too seldom, and was convicted that there is a lot of value in making this shift in thinking. After all, if this world is a stage, there are many implications. Here are 4 of them: FULL POST

Posted 10/30/14 at 3:48 PM | Brittney Moses

The Decline of a Generation: 3 Reasons Why Being an Example Is Important Now More than Ever

When I look at my generation and not only the decline of the most foundational morals but the increase of spiritual orphans wandering aimlessly through the world it literally breaks my heart. When I read the statistics of millennials (age 18-33) and how irrelevant salvation and the Bible is to them we see that there’s just no clear or full understanding of what this life in Christ is really all about. They’re more liable to draw off of what they hear in media or read online rather than coming to know the God of the Bible in a personal way. This has given Christianity a badly skewed brand in their eyes- a dogma religion used to control people. So, I want to share with you 3 reasons why being an example is important NOW more than ever based on some recent statistics: FULL POST

Posted 10/30/14 at 2:26 PM | Brian Stiller

Finding the Road to Take: Christianity in Ukraine

Map: The World Factbook
Ukraine

As I pressed the buzzer to open the door to the apartment bloc, I noticed an announcement with information on where the nearest bomb shelter was. But how could this be? It was Kiev in 2014 in the western Ukraine. People were moving about, living their lives, and yet here was a warning to protect them from what government saw as a possible attack. Ukraine, a land bordering Russia, still plays out its historic intermingling of Slavic peoples in Eastern Europe.

Now twenty-five years after the fall of the Soviet Union, those who believed the collapsed Wall of 1989 meant they were set free to become their own land and people, once again hear drumbeats reviving memories of empire.

The day the Ukrainian parliament passed a historic bill voicing determination to work with Europe, I sat with leaders of the Evangelical church, hearing their concerns and hopes. One pointed to a map and noted a large eastern region above the Crimea. “This,” he said, “is what Russia wants to take.” His lament was rooted in fear that the world would ignore this incursion because in world politics, what is denoted as “regional influence,” means that in this area Russia can do as she pleases because it is within her “region.” FULL POST

Posted 10/30/14 at 2:07 PM | Christian Post Guest Voices

Three Simple Ways To Bless The Socks Off Your Pastor

Contrary to the popular conception of the pastor who only works one day a week (see Reverend Lovejoy from The Simpsons), real pastoral ministry is tough, draining, and emotionally taxing. It’s not for the faint of heart. It requires a unique combination of battle toughness and fatherly tenderness. A pastor is closely connected to the lives of the people he serves, and vicariously experiences both the joy and heartbreak that his people experience. When a young man gets married, the pastor rejoices. When the same young man gets cancer, the pastor is heartbroken. When a couple has a child, the pastor is elated. When the same couple gets divorced five years later, the pastor is heartbroken.

Given the unique challenges of pastoral ministry, pastors desperately need encouragement. Encouragement is what keeps the pastor going. Encouragement is fuel for the pastoral engine. It’s like a spiritual adrenaline shot.

Because I’m not currently a pastor, I can write this post, which, in the past, would have seemed self-serving. So how can you encourage your pastor? Here are some simple ways. FULL POST

Posted 10/30/14 at 11:58 AM | Christian Post Guest Voices

What Audience Feedback Means—Especially to Preachers

Photo: Pixabay - Creative Commons


By Joe McKeever

Billy Joel gets it.

This veteran entertainer does something I find fascinating.

According to The New Yorker (October 27, 2014), Joel “grew tired of having to look out at the fat cats in the two front rows, the guys who’d bought the best seats, and then sat there projecting a look of boredom that (says)…’Entertain me, Piano Man.'”

It was dampening his own enthusiasm, and that of his band, to have the non-responsive on the front rows. He wanted the fans nearest him to be enthusiastic participants in the evening’s activities.

That’s why “Joel’s people stopped selling the two front rows and instead send the crew into the cheap seats before the show to hand out tickets to people of their choosing.”

“Joel believes it helps buck up the band.” FULL POST

Posted 10/30/14 at 11:37 AM | Christian Post Guest Voices

Staggering Stats On Burnout

This morning I addressed 250 ministry leaders, including pastors, youth ministers and volunteers. I shared some very unsettling news with them about their calling and vocation. As I've researched what causes pastoral burnout, my findings have caused me to re-consider many aspects of what I do and how I do it. Here's a short list of some of the most frightening things I've found.

13% of active pastors are divorced.
23% have been fired or pressured to resign at least once in their careers.
25% don't know where to turn when they have a family or personal conflict or issue.
25% of pastors' wives see their husband's work schedule as a source of conflict.
33% felt burned out within their first five years of ministry.
33% say that being in ministry is an outright hazard to their family.
40% of pastors and 47% of spouses are suffering from burnout, frantic schedules, and/or unrealistic expectations.
45% of pastors' wives say the greatest danger to them and their family is physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual burnout.
45% of pastors say that they've experienced depression or burnout to the extent that they needed to take a leave of absence from ministry.
50% feel unable to meet the needs of the job.
52% of pastors say they and their spouses believe that being in pastoral ministry is hazardous to their family's well-being and health.
56% of pastors' wives say that they have no close friends.
57% would leave the pastorate if they had somewhere else to go or some other vocation they could do.
70% don't have any close friends.
75% report severe stress causing anguish, worry, bewilderment, anger, depression, fear, and alienation.
80% of pastors say they have insufficient time with their spouse.
80% believe that pastoral ministry affects their families negatively.
90% feel unqualified or poorly prepared for ministry.
90% work more than 50 hours a week.
94% feel under pressure to have a perfect family.
1,500 pastors leave their ministries each month due to burnout, conflict, or moral failure.
Doctors, lawyers and clergy have the most problems with drug abuse, alcoholism and suicide. FULL POST

Posted 10/30/14 at 10:49 AM | Tim Challies

7 Marks of a Deeply Deadly Sin

Not all sin is the same. While every sin places you under the wrath of God, and while any sin is sufficient to create an eternal chasm between God and man, not every sin is identical. In chapter 9 of his work Overcoming Sin and Temptation, John Owen wants you to think about that besetting sin in your life to consider if it is an “ordinary” sin, or if it is one that is particularly deadly and that, therefore, requires something more than the usual pattern of putting sin to death. The deadliness of a sin is not related so much to the category of that sin, but to how deeply-rooted it is in your life, and to how you have responded to God as he has revealed it to you.

Here are seven marks of a deeply deadly sin.

1. Your sin is deep-rooted and habitual. There may be some sins that have been in your life so long and with such prevalence that you no longer find them shocking or particularly bothersome. Your mind and conscience have grown hard to the sin and it is now deeply ingrained in your thoughts and habits. You, my friend, are in a dangerous place when you have grown ambivalent to that sin. “Unless some extraordinary course be taken, such a person has no ground in the world to expect that his latter end shall be peace.” FULL POST

Posted 10/29/14 at 6:01 PM | Alliance Defending Freedom

Your Voices Were Heard: Houston Mayor Withdraws Subpoena of Pastors’ Sermons

AUTHOR: Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Web Writer Marissa Poulson

This is what happens when Christians stand together.

Houston Mayor Annise Parker decided today to withdraw the subpoena of sermons and other communications belonging to five area pastors in a lawsuit in which the pastors are not even involved.

The plight of the Houston 5 garnered nationwide attention and outrage from Americans who saw this as a clear infringement of these pastors’ First Amendment rights.

“The mayor really had no choice but to withdraw these subpoenas, which should never have been served in the first place,” explained Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Legal Counsel Erik Stanley. “The entire nation—voices from every point of the spectrum left to right—recognize the city’s action as a gross abuse of power. We are gratified that the First Amendment rights of the pastors have triumphed over government overreach and intimidation. The First Amendment protects the right of pastors to be free from government intimidation and coercion of this sort.” FULL POST

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