July 2020 Sermon Series — The Faith Journey

Dear Pastors,
I’m exciting to announce that the new Sermon Series for July is “The Faith Journey” based on the life of Abraham. You are going to love preaching this series!

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Also, when you subscribe today, you will also get the June sermons at no cost!!

IHS,
Barry Davis

Don’t Let the Angry Ten Percent Control the Direction of Your Church

By Thom S. Rainer

In any organization of size, there are likely angry people.

They are unhappy with the organization. They don’t like change. They don’t like the leader.

But here’s the catch: In most organizations, they are a distinct minority. I use the quantifier of ten percent more anecdotally than not, but I would conjecture most organizations, including churches, would have a number close to that.

In churches, I see pastors, again and again, yield to the pressures and criticisms of the ten percent. I get it. I’ve been there and done that. May I suggest some perspectives on this issue? Perspectives are not solutions, but they can help us persevere when the ten percent get really loud.

  • Ten percent can seem like a lot of people. Indeed, if your church has 200 active members, 20 loud critics can seem really loud. Brad Waggoner calls it “the power of negativity.” He says the negative person has a tenfold voice in the organization compared to the neutral and positive people.
  • Realize that the ten percent will take advantage of any forum you give them. They love to speak up in business meetings. They love to be the big voice in listening sessions and surveys. In fact, listening sessions can make the rest of the organization demoralized as the more positive members think the negative people are the norm.
  • The ten percent want you to think there are more of them. They will use phrases like, “Everyone says . . .” or “People are saying . . .” They not only can be negative; they can be downright deceitful.
  • While you want to have open communications, the ten percent will often dominate the rest of the voices in the church. Such is the reason you need to be careful about giving them the platforms and opportunities to spread their negativity.
  • The ten percent love social media. They are often the most vicious when they are hiding behind a keyboard. If you wonder why you are getting sick of social media, it’s because the ten percent live there. They love the megaphone that makes their voices seem louder than they really are.
  • The ten percent often are on church rotations. If they can’t get their way, they will move to another church where they can spread their negativity. Be cautious of people who want to transfer to your church if they have nothing but negative things to say about their current church.
  • The ten percent often lead church splits. They will be happy at their new place  . . . until they don’t get their way completely. They will then be ready to spread their negativity at the new congregation. Such is the reason so few church splits do well.

This overview is just one of many perspectives rather than solutions. If you feel like most people are against you in your church, you are likely wrong. It’s probably the ten percent. But they do have the loudest voices in your congregation.

 

This article was originally published at ChurchAnswers.com. Thom S. Rainer serves as founder and CEO of Church Answers. Dr. Rainer publishes a daily blog and podcast at ChurchAnswers.com and can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at facebook.com/Thom.S.Rainer.

Bivocational or Part-Time Ministry?

By Barry L. Davis

If you’ve been involved in ministry for any length of time, and been on the search for a new ministry opportunity, you’ve seen the terms “bivocational” and “part-time” thrown around pretty loosely to describe the role the seeking church expects their future minister to fill.

To the average person, part-time would describe someone who works under 40 hours per week, and most likely 20 or less. Bivocational means that in addition to the ministry, this person also works at another job as well. On its face, most of us would assume both of these are part-time positions, but in the church world, things can get a little muddy.

For instance, while some churches really mean it when they say they are not expecting the minister to work full-time, their actual requirements tell a different story. Here is an example of a church advertisement for a part-time position that was just recently published:

We are looking for a part time minister to take over for our current aging pastor. We are a small country church with a beautiful church building, Sunday School Rooms and fellowship hall. Position would include all the normal duties of a pastor who loves people, wants to help our church grow spiritually as well as attendance.

REQUIREMENTS:

Teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, teach the members to witness and serve the Lord. To preach/teach in 3 services a week, as well as plan revivals and special functions. Be willing to visit the community, hospital and nursing homes. We are seeking a God called man who has a deep seated desire to serve the Lord and to lead his people in all aspects of a ministry.

This ad is fairly typical of what I see from churches looking for part-time/bivocational ministers. It is blatantly obvious that this church is not really looking for someone with minimal hours to devote to the church ministry. No matter how gifted you might be, you cannot preach/teach three services every week, do extensive visitation, and meet all of these other expectations on a part-time basis.

In these instances what the church is really saying is that they can only afford to pay you on the level of someone working part-time, but they are expecting you to put in full-time hours. While it is perfectly understandable that many churches do not have the finances to offer a full-time salary, it would be better, and certainly more honest, to say, “we need someone to fulfill all the duties of a full-time pastor, but we can’t afford to pay you what we’d like to.”

If you are looking for a ministry position and find one that is listed as part-time or bivocational, you would do well to ask the following questions before moving too far forward in the process:

1) Could you share with me how many times you are expecting me to preach and/or teach on an average week? (are you expecting me to lead a Sunday School Class, mid-week Bible Study, Small Group, etc…?)

2) Do the lay leaders of the church cover hospital and home visitation, or is that something you are wanting me to do exclusively?

3) Who is in charge of planning and implementing special services during the year, such as Holidays, Graduations, Fellowship Meals, etc…?

4) Will I be overseeing Weddings and Funerals?

Those should be enough to give you a good idea of what the expectations of the church really are. You can probably think of some more.

Please understand that none of this is written to discourage you from accepting a ministry role in a church that is not able to pay a full-time wage if that is what you believe God is calling you to. The purpose of this article is simply to help both you and the church walk into this relationship with a very clear idea of what the expectations are.

I’d love to see your Comments below. Have you been in part-time ministry? Share with us your experiences.

 

 

Barry L. Davis, D.Min., Ph.D.
Founder/Owner — The Pastor’s Helper

The Power of Preaching

By Barry L. Davis

Approximately 50 times a year I stand up in front of a congregation and preach. I have been preaching for many years, and in my early ministries preached twice each Sunday. In other words, I’ve preached thousands of sermons, and chances are, you have to. For most of us in pastoral ministry, preaching is considered, both by the preacher and the parishioner, to be the most important thing that we do.

I always spend a great deal of time in preparation for that half hour or so that I am privileged to communicate on Sunday morning. In fact, I find it one of the most significant things that I can spend my time on, and that is why I have dedicated my life to doing it. The reason I do what I do in this regard is because I fully believe in the power of preaching to change people’s lives – and if I didn’t believe that, I’d quit doing it.

For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. – 1 Corinthians 1:21

He isn’t saying here that preaching is foolish, but that it appears foolish to those who seek wisdom through philosophical or other means. It appears foolish to those who are perishing because the main message being preached is one of God being murdered upon a cross. But God makes it very clear that through the preaching of His Word His power is revealed and it is the means by which people will be saved. We see a good example of this in Acts 14:1:

Now at Iconium they entered together into the Jewish synagogue and spoke in such a way that a great number of both Jews and Greeks believed.

Paul and Barnabas were not offering sermonettes, or simply nice sayings to make everyone feel good, but were preaching in the power of God so that people’s lives would be changed. And lives really were changed as a result of the message they gave and the spirit in which they gave it. The exact same can happen when you preach God’s Word in power.

In this article I am using the word “PREACH” as a framework to help us understand how God uses this powerful tool, and hopefully to impress upon you the power that preaching can have over your unchurched friends. What I want us to do is see how God used preaching throughout the history of Acts and elsewhere and how He still uses it today.

PROCLAIMS

When we proclaim something we are making some type of an announcement. In preaching we are proclaiming the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In a nutshell, we are giving the good news of the Gospel of Christ. Let me give you just a few examples from the book of Acts.

And as they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them, greatly annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. – Acts 4:1-2

 
And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus. – Acts 5:42

 

Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. – Acts 13:38

In these three examples alone we see the proclamation that Jesus is the Messiah, that Jesus offers us forgiveness of sins, and that Jesus rose from the dead. We will see these same themes proclaimed by the apostles and others throughout the entire New Testament.

I have studied every sermon preached in the book of Acts and the most common theme by far is Jesus’ resurrection from the dead and the events surrounding it. From this fact we learn that the power of preaching is found in the message that we are proclaiming. And what we are called to proclaim to the multitudes is that God has come in the flesh, lived a sinless life, died on the cross as our substitute, has risen from the dead, and now sits in glory at the right hand of the Father. Please keep this in mind as you prepare your future sermons. While there is certainly a place for messages on family life, being a good boss/employee, and many other topics, central to everything we preach must be the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

RESTORES

[1]Peter Jenkins began a 5-year, 4,500-mile walk across America in Oct. of 1973. First published as two articles in National Geographic, his memoirs then led to two best-selling books. Two years into the journey, he stumbled into an Alabama revival and ended up accepting Christ. Jenkins says: “I grew up in Connecticut in a very quiet, official, East Coast Presbyterian church. My parents believed, and they made their 6 children go to church and Sunday school. I wanted a religion that had emotion in it – I wanted a religion that had life, action, and the kinds of things I found in the kind of music I loved. When the revival began, this guy from Texas named James Robison came out screaming and preaching and throwing his arms around. There was sweat dripping and everything. He was dressed in a three-piece suit and cowboy boots. The two of us could not have more unalike. I was this young man with sun-bleached reddish hair down to his shoulders and an unshaven beard. But I honestly felt like when he was preaching the gospel, a huge sword was slicing me into a whole bunch of pieces. He was saying, “Joining a church won’t make you a Christian any more than joining a Lion’s Club will make you a lion. From the day you were born, you wanted to do your own thing and you were rebellious against God. If you really want to really know God, you’ve got to repent of this rebellion which the Bible calls sin.”

I could relate to that – I thought I was a pretty good person – I thought I was in search of the truth. The more I heard this stuff, [the more I realized that] religion is not the answer; salvation is. You just have something inside of you that knows when you hear the truth. All of the things we think about ourselves, how we define ourselves—all that is insignificant when it comes to what’s going on in our soul. James gave me one of the greatest gifts anybody could have ever given me – He led me to the Lord.

Preaching is not just proclaiming the truths of the Gospel; it is applying those truths of the Gospel to individual’s lives so that those lives are restored. Peter was quoting the prophet Joel in his first sermon and this is what he said:

“Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”Acts 2:21b

What was he saying? He was saying “I’m not proclaiming Jesus to you as a theory, but as a reality – not as a God who wants to condemn you, but as a God who wants to save you.” Preaching should bring restoration to those who have never known God as well as to those who once knew Him but have checked out for some reason or other.

EQUIPS

I’ve attended some churches where we never received any teaching beyond the most elementary doctrines of the Christian faith. The members didn’t know how to apply their faith to their everyday life because no one ever showed them how. One of the things that makes preaching powerful is that it can and should be used to equip those who are already believers in how to live their faith, share their faith, and know their faith intimately.

Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God. – Hebrews 6:1

This maturity of understanding spoken of here comes only when the servant of God preaches and teaches the deeper things of God to the Christian community. It is our job as Christian leaders to make sure that our flock is learning, step-by-step, the deeper things of God.

(Paul saying farewell to the elders in Ephesus): …I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house.Acts 20:20

And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ. – Ephesians 4:11-12

While we talk a lot about evangelism, we must realize that our job isn’t over until we have fully equipped those who have been won to Christ. If you are staying true to your calling as a minister then your members should walk out of church every week better equipped than they were the week before. If that’s not happening, something is wrong. I certainly wouldn’t limit this equipping to the weekend sermon, as there should be plenty of other opportunities available, but it definitely begins for most churches in the corporate worship time.

ASSURES

There is nothing more comforting than knowing that you are a child of God, that your sins have been forgiven, that you are bound for heaven, and that God loves you. Preaching is powerful, because it takes the comfort of God from the Word of God and brings assurance to His people.

And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”Acts 2:38-39

The promise of forgiveness and salvation is given as an assurance to all who turn to the Lord. I’ve been in churches where the minister actually said, “I hope that we’ll be saved…we’ll just have to wait to find out.” That is utter hogwash and goes completely against the mandate that God has given to His preachers. We are given the power to proclaim that God not only makes promises, but that He keeps His promises, and that we can live for Him because we do so with the assurance that we are His children now, and we will always be His children.

CONVICTS

Stephen Kingsley owns a carpet cleaning business and he offers a special service for removing pet urine odors. To show potential customers their need for the service, he darkens the room and then turns on a powerful black light. The black light causes urine crystals to glow brightly. To the horror of the homeowner every drop and dribble can be seen, not only on the carpet, but usually on walls, drapes, furniture, and even on lamp shades. One homeowner begged me to shut off the light: “I can’t bear to see anymore. I don’t care what it costs. Please clean it up!” Another woman said, “I’ll never be comfortable in my home again.” The offense was there all the time, but it was invisible until the right light exposed it. It would have been cruel to show customers the extent of their problem and then say, “Too bad for you” and walk away.  He brought the light so that they might desperately want his cleaning services.

In the same way, God shines the light of his commandments through preaching, not just to make us feel guilty and leave us that way.  He has a cleaning service to offer—salvation through Jesus Christ.

Peter preached: Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out.”Acts 3:19

The power to preach is found in its ability to convict us of sin, lead us to repent, and to experience the refreshing waters of salvation. I will never forget week after week, coming under the preaching of a powerful spokesman for God and having my sinfulness come to the surface. Did that anger me? No! It helped me to realize that my life was headed down the wrong path and that only Jesus could make me whole again. We must not be afraid to preach to convict those who are away from the Lord, as well as to those who have professed faith in the Lord but, to use an old and almost forgotten term – backslidden – so that they will turn back to Him.

HONORS

[2]Recently, a Kansas City pharmacist was charged with diluting cancer treatment drugs, Gemzar and Taxol, in order to make a larger profit. So far there are 20 felony counts against the pharmacist, Robert Courtney. He admitted to diluting the drugs during a period of time spanning from November 2000 to March 2001. This man held life-saving power in his hands and for the sake of personal gain diluted it to the point where it could not help people.

We can do the same with God’s life-saving truth if we do not respect and honor Him in the message we proclaim. The words said from the podium must always be said in such a way as to bring honor to the God we claim to worship. I don’t have a single verse to give you to illustrate this – to get a sense of the honor and esteem with which these early preachers spoke of God you would need to read through the entire book of Acts, and actually the entire New Testament. We obviously don’t have space for that, but we need to recognize that the real power of preaching is derived from the one whom we are preaching about. If we are going to see results God must be honored by every single word that comes from the stage – and we need to be committed to doing that every week.

 

 

Barry L. Davis, D.Min., Ph.D.
Founder/Owner — The Pastor’s Helper

 

 

[1] “Peter Jenkins Finds Jesus While Walking America,” accessed January 12, 2015, http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2003/januaryweb-only/1-6-22.0.html.

[2] USA Today (8-28-01)

“Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. May not copy or download more than 500 consecutive verses of the ESV Bible or more than one half of any book of the ESV Bible.”

Five Early Findings from Churches That Are Regathering

By Thom Rainer

The regathering of churches for in-person services is garnering a lot of attention in both the religious and secular media. I totally get that. There are very few organizations other than churches that meet as a large group every week. The implications are significant.

We are following closely as more churches open for in-person gatherings. While we are not yet seeing even half of the churches open, more are added each week. It thus behooves us to get these early reports. Those that are open will be making adjustments. Those that are not yet opened can plan accordingly.

For now, we see several early trends. The list is not exhaustive, but these five findings are the most common we are observing.

  1. Most churches are cooperative with local and state officials and desire to comply with their guidelines. While the media will highlight adversarial relationships between churches and governments, such tension is simply not the norm. To the contrary, the vast majority of church leaders desire to work with governmental entities. The real story is not a battle between church and state, but a cooperative spirit between the two.
  1. Early attendance is significantly lower than the pre-quarantine era.At this point, one-half of the churches we have surveyed have an attendance of 60 percent or less than the pre-quarantine numbers. We rarely hear of a church that has an attendance of 80 percent or higher. For now, those churches are the outliers. 
  1. Returning senior adults present a unique challenge for many church leaders. We have numerous reports that senior adults are among the most eager to return to in-person services. Frankly, this trend is going contrary to our initial expectations. We thought most senior adults would be the last returning group because of potential health concerns. But as many of these older adults return, leaders are concerned how to minister to them spiritually and protect them physically. 
  1. The negative church members and naysayers are back. When the pandemic began, many churches had to hit the pause button on a number of fronts and issues. One of the unintended positive consequences was the pause taken by the negative church members. It has been a blissful silence for churches. Now that churches are planning to regather, the pause is lifted and the acrimonious few are back. 
  1. Most churches are utilizing some type of extra service at least for the short-term.The regathering churches are adding space to allow for social distancing. Some are adding services. Others are adding overflow rooms. Some are doing both or providing other creative solutions. The need for extra space has been exacerbated by children coming to the worship services who were previously segregated in their own age-graded area. 

For certain, the way churches are returning is changing regularly. These five findings will undoubtedly change as church leaders make necessary adjustments. Stay posted to ChurchAnswers.com as we continue to provide the latest updates on the regathered church.

This article was originally published at ChurchAnswers.com. Thom S. Rainer serves as founder and CEO of Church Answers. Dr. Rainer publishes a daily blog and podcast at ChurchAnswers.com and can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at facebook.com/Thom.S.Rainer.

Praying for those in Government


It is easy to criticize those in government, especially those whose policies differ from our own. I’m aware that many of those policies concern life and death issues, so there is no attempt here to pretend they are unimportant. But perhaps there is something more we can do than just disparage them.

I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. As you make your requests, plead for God’s mercy upon them, and give thanks. Pray this way for kings and all others who are in authority, so that we can live in peace and quietness, in godliness and dignity. – 1 Timothy 2:1-2 (NLT)

A number of years ago a chaplain of the United States Senate was asked by a visitor, “Do you pray for the senators?” He replied, “No, I look at the senators, and then I pray for the country!” Most of us understand his point all too well. Yet, if some in government are corrupt, all the more reason to pray for them. Our prayers for those in authority can included requests that they govern well, that they seek God’s guidance in their decision making, and that they do not give into the temptations that come with such important and powerful offices. The result of our prayers, when answered, will be that those who are governed will be able to “live in peace and quietness, in godliness and dignity.”

So here’s the big question – are you praying for those who govern over you? Do you take time to plead on behalf of those elected or appointed officials whose decisions have an effect on your life and the lives of your fellow citizens? How about those whose political views disagree with your own? Are you teaching church members to do the same? If not, why not start right now?

PRAYER THOUGHT: Father, show me how to pray for those who govern over me. I want them to lead well, to seek Your face, and to show grace to those whom they serve.

 

By Barry L. Davis

www.pastorshelper.com

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