Ten Signs a Pastor Is Becoming a Chaplain


By Thom Rainer

In the broadest sense, a chaplain refers to those who are assigned to care and provide ministry for a specific group of people. Military and hospital chaplains, for example, have clearly defined groups who come under their care and ministry.

In local church ministry, we don’t typically use the term “chaplain,” though there are many pastoral roles that are congruent with chaplaincy. In fact, most of the pastoral care and concern for church members are chaplain-like functions.

Without a doubt, pastors should minister to church members. The danger is when pastors do little other than minister to the needs of church members, and the leadership of the church is neither equipping others nor leading the congregation to reach those who do not have a church home. In essence, the pastor is becoming a chaplain. Here are ten warning signs that such a process is likely taking place.

  1. The pastor is not equipping others. Church members expect the pastor to do most of the ministry, and the pastor fulfills those unbiblical expectations.
  2. Pastoral care of members is increasing. As a consequence, the pastor has less time to lead the congregation to reach beyond its walls.
  3. The pastor does not take time to connect with non-members and non-Christians. Simply stated, there is no outwardly focused Great Commission leadership.
  4. The pastor deals with members’ complaints at an increasing rate. Once members get accustomed to the pastor being their on-call chaplain, they are likely to become irritated and frustrated when the pastor is not omnipresent and omniscient for their every need.
  5. The pastor worries more about the next phone call, conversation, or email. Such is the tendency of the pastor-chaplain who knows there will always be complaints about needs not getting met.
  6. The pastor experiences greater family interference time. Many pastor-chaplains are fearful of protecting family time lest they not be highly responsive to church members. Some of these pastors have lost their families as a consequence.
  7. The pastor is reticent to take vacation time or days off. Pastor-chaplains would rather have no time off than worry about what they may miss while they are away from the church.
  8. The pastor is reticent to take new initiatives. There are two reasons for this response. First, the pastor-chaplain does not want to upset the members with change. Second, the pastor-chaplain does not have time for new ideas because of the time demands of members.
  9. The pastor has no vision for the future. The pastor-chaplain is too busy taking care of current member demands. Little time is available for visionary thinking and leadership.
  10. The pastor has lost the joy of ministry. Of course, this unfortunate development should be expected. There is no joy in dealing with unreasonable expectations and constant streams of criticisms, or with a ministry that has no evangelistic fruit.

I pray you pastors will look at these ten items as a checklist for your own ministry. And I pray you church members will look at the list and honestly evaluate your church to see if you have pushed your pastor into full-time chaplaincy.




This article was originally published at ThomRainer.com on September 7, 2015. Thom S. Rainer serves as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam, Art, and Jess; and seven grandchildren. Dr. Rainer can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at facebook.com/Thom.S.Rainer.

Pastor, Start Setting and Achieving Your Goals

Setting and Achieving GoalsBy Barry L. Davis

Note: All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version

Let me begin by asking you a question: When you set out on a trip, do you just load up the car and start driving? Do you go to the airport and buy a ticket on the next available flight, no matter where it’s going? Probably not. There’s no telling where you might end up, and it could be someplace you really don’t want to be.

Your destination is your goal. If you’re feeling hungry for great barbeque, you want to go Kansas City. But if you want to enjoy the view from the top of the Empire State Building, you’d best head for The Big Apple.

Success in life, spiritual and otherwise, is every bit as much a destination as is a physical place. Now if you want to reach that destination, you need to know what that destination is, and then you need to have a plan for how to get there. That is what we mean when we talk about setting and achieving goals.

In this article we want to discover what the book of Proverbs has to say about how to achieve our goals. And while the word “goals” is never used in Proverbs, the concept most definitely is, as we shall see.


I have spoken to people who are opposed to the concept of goals – especially Christian people, who seem to think that it is somehow unspiritual. Yet the book of Proverbs gives us some very good reasons for doing this.

Commit your work to the LORD, and your plans will be established. – Proverbs 16:3

The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty. – Proverbs 21:5

It is quite obvious that God wants us to make plans for the future, and wants us to follow those plans until our goals are reached. But if our plans and goals do not include God and living for Him as our principle purpose, then those plans and goals should not be put into practice.

If you are a pastor or in some other area of church leadership, I think it is even more important to set and achieve goals than if you were not. Let me give you some reasons:

It’s a Matter of Stewardship

We are given one lifetime, and we need to make the most of it while we can. If I am going to be a good steward of the time that God has given me on earth I am going to use that time to accomplish as much as I can. When I set a goal, and then take the steps toward reaching it, I am making wise use of my time and accomplishing much more than I could have otherwise.

I’m not talking about just in the area of work, I’m talking about using time in the best possible way – this includes time for your family, relaxation, and other needs.

When we set goals that are financial, spiritual, and recreational, we will find that we will be able to enjoy more of those things than we ever have before.

Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise.  Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest. – Proverbs 6:6-8

If the ants know how to be good stewards of their time, surely we can too. I once had a staff member at church that was getting very little accomplished and his area of ministry was suffering greatly. When I spoke to him about planning, setting goals and the wise use of time he looked at me as if I were from another planet. Even after continued encouragement and instruction he refused to change anything and we eventually had to let him go. As leaders in the church, we are responsible for how we spend our time. Not only are we being paid for our work, but we are doing it as a ministry for our God and Savior.

It’s a Matter of Measurement

I don’t know about you, but I like to be able to measure my progress. Let’s say that I set a goal to read through the New Testament portion of the Bible in the next year. I count up the chapters and discover that there are 260 of them. So I divide 260 by 52 weeks in a year and find out I only need to read five chapters per week to finish the New Testament in one year. So I could read just one chapter a day, Monday – Friday and I would accomplish my goal. But each day as I read, I’m going to check off that chapter and be able to see that I am making progress toward my ultimate goal. It is very motivating.

This same principle is true if I’m investing money, or wanting to spend quality time with my family, or working toward a college degree. Because I have a set plan, and ultimate destination, I am able to measure my progress and discover that my goal is definitely reachable.

If you are planning a building program, a new ministry emphasis, or stewardship drive, make sure and do it in measurable increments. That way you can see your progress as you move toward your goal. Not only is this helpful for you, but you can show the progress that is being made to the lay leaders and members of your church so they can share in the encouragement and motivation such planning brings.

It’s a Matter of Prosperity

This is true in all areas, but it is especially true if I’m setting financial or work-related goals.

Honor the LORD with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine. – Proverbs 3:9-10

If you want to get ahead in life, you are going to have to set goals, and then work hard to reach them. Notice that the Proverbs writer stipulates that we must “honor the Lord” with our wealth if we expect Him to bless us financially. If you want to have a better income than you have now, you have to plan and work for it – there is nothing wrong with that, as long as we keep it all in perspective and keep God at the heart of it all.


As I said, you can set goals for work, for investing, for your family, for education, for weight loss, and just about any area of life that you need to plan for. And while I don’t think there is any limit as to what kind of goals you should set, I think that as a Christian leader, they should at least follow these three guidelines.

Goals that Honor God

Any goal that is unethical in any way, or keeps you from following God with integrity is a goal that you need to get rid of. Integrity is the one thing no one can take away from us, but we can give it away through dishonorable behavior.

Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out. – Proverbs 10:9

Our plans and goals should be made in the context of our commitment to God. So no matter what my goal is, it needs to pass the God Test before I begin implementing it into my life. I need to be able to ask and answer the following questions in the affirmative:

   1) Can I honestly ask God’s help in striving to reach this goal?

Is there anything I’m planning that I would not be able to pray for God’s assistance with? Is there anything about it that would embarrass me before God?

   2) Will I be a better person for accomplishing this goal?

In the process of reaching this goal, and in the accomplishment of it, will I be a better father or mother, a better student, a better businessman, a better son or daughter, a better minister of the Gospel? Is there something inherently good about what I am doing that will help me develop character, integrity, honesty, and those types of things?

1“Our greatest fear should not be of failure, but of succeeding at something that doesn’t really matter.”


“The reason most people never reach their goals is that they don’t define them, or ever seriously consider them as believable or achievable. Winners can tell you where they are going, what they plan to do along the way, and who will be sharing the adventure with them.” – Denis Waitly

I think Denis Waitly is exactly right – and if our goals fit into the S.M.A.R.T. acrostic, they are ones that we will certainly be able to accomplish with God’s help.

Specific – a general goal would be, “I’m going to grow this church” – a specific goal would be, “I’m going to begin an outreach program that involves training our congregation how to be more welcoming to visitors.”

To set a specific goal you must answer the six “W” questions:

*Who:      Who is involved?
*What:     What do I want to accomplish?
*Where:    Identify a location.
*When:     Establish a time frame.
*Which:    Identify requirements and constraints.
*Why:      Specific reasons, purpose or benefits of accomplishing the goal.

Measurable – We’ve talked about this already, but we need to make sure that we have goals that allow us to determine whether we are making progress. You should be able to ask questions of your goal like, “How much” “How many” and “How will I know when it is going to be accomplished?” and the answers should be readily available. A good thing to remember is, “If I can’t measure it, I can’t manage it.”

Attainable – When you identify goals that are most important to you, you begin to figure out ways you can make them come true. You develop the attitudes, abilities, skills, and when necessary, the financial capacity to reach them. You begin seeing previously overlooked opportunities to bring yourself closer to the achievement of your goals. You can attain most any goal you set when you plan your steps wisely and establish a time frame that allows you to carry out those steps. Goals that may have seemed far away and out of reach eventually move closer and become attainable, not because your goals shrink, but because you grow and expand to match them. When you list your goals you begin to develop the traits and personality that allows you to possess them.

Realistic – To be realistic, a goal must represent an objective toward which you are both willing and able to work. A goal can be both high and realistic; you are the only one who can decide just how high your goal should be. But be sure that every goal represents substantial progress. A high goal is frequently easier to reach than a low one because a low goal exerts low motivational force. Some of the hardest jobs you ever accomplished actually seem easy simply because they were a labor of love. Your goal is probably realistic if you truly believe that it can be accomplished. But if you say that your goal is to read through the Bible every single day of your life, you are not being realistic at all. And when you set unrealistic goals, you’re just setting yourself up for a letdown.

Timely – Set a timeframe for the goal: for next week, in three months, by fifth grade – whatever your goal is, it needs to have a beginning and an ending point. Putting an end point on your goal gives you a clear target to work towards. If you don’t set a time, the commitment is too vague. It tends not to happen because you feel you can start at any time. Without a time limit, there’s no urgency to start taking action now.


When your goals fit into the criteria we’ve mentioned so far, you will be blessed, God will be blessed, and the people around you will be blessed. But we need to understand that there is a price to be paid for these goals. If the goal is a good one, the price paid will be well worth it. If I’m going to climb up the corporate ladder, I am going to have to work very hard, improve myself in any number of areas, and consistently gain new skills and abilities. If my goal is further education, I am going to have to study hard, pay for my tuition, and be willing to devote a large portion of my life to school.

Those are good goals that cost a lot, but the benefits are usually worth it if we keep God as the director of all that we say and do. But then there are those all-important spiritual goals that we should be setting. The Apostle Paul set some goals for his life that were of a spiritual nature:

That I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. – Philippians 3:10-11

Now the first part of Paul’s goal is something many people could align themselves with – to “know him (Christ) and the power of his resurrection.” But another part of his goal was to “share his (Jesus’) sufferings, becoming like him in his death.” Paul felt that to fully identify with Christ, he needed not only to share in His power and glory, but also share in His suffering. And that is exactly what he did throughout his ministry – share in the sufferings of Christ. That was the price he was willing to pay.

Some of life’s goals lead us to share in that same type of price, and for others, it is a cost not quite so great – but there is always a cost. If we are going to be achievers in any area of life, we must be willing to do, say, and experience whatever is necessary to reach our goals. Sometimes the experience of paying the price shapes us more than the reaching of the goal.

I hope that you’ve decided to set some goals today. Perhaps you’ve decided to learn how to be a better preacher, and you’re going to take the steps necessary to reach that goal. Or maybe you’re going to make a decision to go back to school and finish your degree, or start on another one. Or perhaps you’ve decided that your prayer life isn’t what it should be, and you’re going to begin spending at least 15 minutes in prayer every day beginning today. Whatever your goal, make sure to allow God to be the main motivation for whatever you decide to do, and you can’t go wrong.

1New Tribes Missionary (author unknown), Eternal Perspectives Newsletter (Fall 2003), p. 15

2Adapted From Paul J. Meyer, Paul. J. “Attitude Is Everything” and other sources.

Barry L. Davis


Barry L. Davis spent two decades as a Senior Pastor and started the ministry of The Pastor’s Helper in 1996. The Pastor’s Helper strives to provide tools and resources to help pastors succeed in their ministry calling. His latest book is God-Driven Leadership: A Call to Seeing, Believing, and Living in Accordance with Scriptural Principles, from which this article is derived.

13 Truths about Spiritual Warfare for Leaders


By Chuck Lawless

Over the past twenty years, I have studied, written, and taught about spiritual warfare. Based on that work, here are some warfare reminders for church leaders:

  1. The Bible is not a book about the devil. The Bible is about God. This truth matters, as many people interested in spiritual warfare give the devil more attention than the Bible does. That approach simply distorts the biblical picture of warfare.
  2. The enemy is real. Paul was clear that we wrestle against principalities and powers (Eph. 6:12). Peter knew an enemy seeks to devour us like a roaring lion (1 Pet. 5:8). No hermeneutical gymnastics can legitimately erase this spiritual reality.
  3. The battle is not ours. David recognized that when he fought Goliath (1 Sam. 17:47). Jehaziel reminded Jehoshaphat of that truth (2 Chron. 20:15). God is our warrior (Exo. 15:3). He always has been and always will be.
  4. People are not the enemy. Paul was equally clear that we do not wrestle against flesh and blood. Even when people frustrate and anger us, they are not the enemy. When we remember this truth, we will love, shepherd, and pray for people differently.
  5. Leaders are a primary target for the enemy. That truth shouldn’t surprise us. The enemy knows that when leaders fall, followers are wounded in the process. I doubt I need to spend time listing the prominent Christian leaders who have fallen in the last few years.
  6. The enemy strikes at marriages. Satan sought to divide Adam and Eve (Adam turned on Eve and blamed her after their sin in Gen. 3), and he has attacked marriages since then. When marriages are destroyed, their witness to the gospel (Eph. 5:25) gets distorted – and, future generations are harmed in the process.
  7. Self-dependence is evidence of the enemy’s work. Satan is not alarmed by church leaders who operate in their own ability. All of our training and experience is no match for the subtle schemes of the enemy.
  8. Hiddenness is a warning signal. The enemy often operates in the darkness. He delights when we sin and choose to keep our sin in the secret places of our lives. In no way does he want us to confess our sin.
  9. Leaders often fight their battles alone. Sometimes leaders must stand alone, but too often they have no close team around them to help them win spiritual battles. Loners are by nature vulnerable to attack and defeat.
  10. Sometimes leaders take on the enemy with too little prayer. Self-confident leaders are like Jesus’ disciples who tried to cast out a demon without praying (Mark 9:14-29). They do not pray, pray only superficially, or pray only after the battle has been lost.
  11. Even the best leaders may find themselves in non-stop warfare by God’s design. The Apostle Paul was God’s uniquely called apostle, but still he dealt with an ongoing thorn in the flesh (2 Cor. 12:7-10). God left Paul in the battle so he would always recognize God as his strength.
  12. Spiritual defeat need not be final. Simon Peter failed miserably when he denied knowing Jesus (Luke 22:54-61), but the story was not over. Jesus welcomed him back into His band of disciples and then used him to preach the gospel to Jerusalem (Acts 2).
  13. The enemy will not ultimately win. He will spend eternity in the lake of fire (Rev. 20:10). Whether planting churches or revitalizing established congregations, church leaders can know they are ultimately on the winning side. Hell will not defeat the church.

Take time now to thank the Lord for victory in the battle.

This article was originally published at ThomRainer.com on July 2, 2015.

Chuck Lawless currently serves as Professor of Evangelism and Missions and Dean of Graduate Studies at Southeastern Seminary. You can connect with Dr. Lawless on both Twitter and Facebook.

The Church of Unbridled Orthodoxy

unbridledBy Barry L. Davis

[Excerpted from Barry’s book God-Driven Leadership: A Call to Seeing, Believing, and Living in Accordance with Scriptural Principles] All Scripture quoted from the English Standard Version.


Let’s begin by examining what Jesus said to the church at Ephesus:

“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands. “‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’ – Revelation 2:1-7

From this text we learn several things about truth in the church:


Like her television show, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” actress Sarah Michelle Gellar’s personal spirituality borrows from a hodgepodge of religions. She said, “I consider myself a spiritual person. I believe in an idea of God, although it’s my own personal ideal. I find most religions interesting, and I’ve been to every kind of denomination: Catholic, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist. I’ve taken bits from everything and customized it.”

The fact that Sarah doesn’t know the difference between Buddhism and Christianity gives us some idea of her knowledge in this area, but the sad fact is that what she states is common in this day and age. There is a disregard for any one truth — any absolute — anything that says, “this is the way that it is and there are no other options.” But absolute truth is a necessity, especially when it comes to our faith in God.

Jesus said: “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” – John 8:32

There is a power to truth itself, finding its foundation in the God who is always true, that liberates us to be the people we were created to be. And there are certain truths that we must believe as a church and as individuals if we are going to function in such a way that is pleasing to God.

Truth Drives Us

“I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance…” – Revelation 2:2a

Like the church in Ephesus, we have many people across Christendom who work long and hard on behalf of the church. Many people give up personal time, time when they could be doing other things, to come to worship rehearsal, to come to classes, to prepare to teach, to serve on ministry teams, and to witness to others about Christ.

Why do so many people do that? They do it because they believe in the truth of Jesus Christ and this drives them to sacrifice of themselves to fulfill His mission. This is something Jesus commends them for.

As church leaders we are driven by this same truth. It is what makes us move forward, even when we don’t feel like it. It is what causes us to continue in ministry when sometimes a secular field seems more appealing.

Truth Inspires Us

The truth of Christ not only drives us to work for the kingdom, but gives us the inspiration necessary to endure and triumph in a world that opposes us. We are not just working for a sterile, generic type of truth, but one that we believe will change the lives of those who surrender to it. We’re not here wasting our breath, or spinning in circles — we have a mandate from Christ Himself to share the most significant truths that have ever existed in the history of the world.

Truth Alerts Us

This is a function of the truth of Christ that I think has been lax in the churches for several decades. It is using the standard of truth, not just to lead people to Christ, but also to filter out those who distort the truth, yet who still claim to be a part of Christ’s kingdom. While most of us don’t want to be accused of being on a witch hunt, and we all know of some in the “discernment ministry” that find wrongdoing under every bush, we also cannot ignore that there are those, perhaps even within our own church, who are teaching things and living in such a way that distorts the truth, rather than promoting it.

“I know…you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary.” – Revelation 2:2-3

The church has the responsibility to discern between truth and error. The Ephesian church was faced with people claiming to be apostles but they really weren’t. Amazingly, we now have a current crop of people claiming to be Apostles in our own day who come nowhere close to meeting the biblical qualifications . How could the Ephesians (and how can we) know who lives up to the biblical standard if they aren’t champions of truth? In our day and age when we have charlatans claiming the authority of Christ who deny the basic truths of Christianity – what do we do with them? We must decide that we will not tolerate them at all.

Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. – Revelation 2:6

We see this group, the Nicolaitans, come up several times as we look at the seven churches of Revelation. We will meet them again when we look at Pergamum where we read about those who follow Balaam, and then again in Thyatira with those following Jezebel. I am confident that all of these accounts are talking about the same people. What we really need to notice is that this is a threat against the truth of Christ from within the church, not outside of it. These people are trying to infiltrate the church, and Jesus commends the Ephesians for opposing them. In this day and age, when so many are calling for unity, even when we disagree on fundamental issues of the faith, this should be a wake-up call.

The standard of truth is the Word of God, and if anyone opposes the Word of God by trying to distort it or by denying it is in reality working in opposition to the church of Jesus Christ. And Jesus says, we are commended if we do not allow that to happen.


After what I just said, this point might sound a little off in left field, but let me explain. Sometimes we can take the truth Christ has given us and actually begin worshiping the truth rather than the one who has given us the truth. In other words, we become so zealous in our understanding that Jesus gets lost somewhere in the process. This is what I mean by the title of this article, “Unbridled Orthodoxy” — it is taking truth — Orthodoxy — and using it in a way it was not intended.

But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. – Revelation 2:4-5

There are two potential dangers here:


Legalism is when we take God’s truth and use it as a club to beat other people over the head with it. It is when we begin to come up with a system of dos and don’ts that are never found in the Scripture and use that system to decide who is and who isn’t a real Christian. For instance, Jesus commends us for using discernment when someone denies He is God in the flesh, or when they speak against a foundational truth of Christianity. But legalism is setting up rules of fellowship and acceptance based on other criteria.

For example, a legalist might decide that you couldn’t possibly be a Christian because you have a worship style they don’t like, or use a translation of the Bible different from theirs, or because your women wear pants and make-up, or some other criteria the Bible never uses. In reality, this is not following the truth of Christ at all, but instead following a counterfeit truth disguised as conservative Christianity.

Loss of Love

Jesus said this type of church has lost both their love for Him and for each other. And that is exactly what happens to every church that misuses truth. They become so focused on what everyone looks like, and whether they agree with them on every little issue to the nth degree that they forget all about their purpose for being a Christian. And in the quest for doctrinal purity, they forget about the need to love, even those who disagree and who do things differently than they do. Worst of all, they lose their capacity to love Christ as they once did.

Jesus told them if they didn’t get their act together He would “come to you and remove your lampstand from its place unless you repent.” He is saying that He will remove their light-giving capability, their testimony, and their ability to reach out to a lost world. And if you know any churches like this you also know that is exactly what happens to them over time when they misuse the truth of Christ.


Obviously there has to be some balance here — we want to live by the truth, we want to have truth as our standard, and we do not want to compromise where the truth is concerned. So what do we do?


There is a truth that supersedes all other truth — it is the commandment to love.

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. – Matthew 22:37-39

Truth, in its purest form, is a balance between the facts Christ has given to us and the expression of those truths through love for God and our fellow man. In fact, I would go so far as to say that if I am not loving God and those around me, I don’t really understand what truth is — the two go hand in hand.

In our text Jesus is speaking to a church that had allowed this balance to get all out of whack — and so He tells them how to pull it back together. Now I honestly don’t know if this is an area where your church has a problem. It is important for you to sit down before God in prayer and examine the situation you find yourself in. If you are in the same or a similar situation as the church at Ephesus, Jesus gives three basic instructions that must be followed to turn this thing around.


“Remember therefore from where you have fallen…” – Revelation 2:5a

He’s saying, “Look back to how it used to be. Remember how it was when you were first called to ministry. Regain that feeling of love that you once had.” Unless you are the founding minister of the church you serve, you probably don’t know a lot about its history. Look back into the records, or talk to members who were there at the start, and find out what the drive of the church was at its founding. Get out all of the Board Meeting Minutes that are available and read them from the oldest to the most recent entry. Most likely you will find that, at least at the beginning, there was a heart-felt need and desire to evangelize, grow, and disciple.

Do you remember that time when you first came into a relationship with Christ? Do you remember the excitement, the joy, and the expressions of love you felt for Christ and all those around you. We need to remember and focus on that time to turn things around. The excitement and other feelings you felt at conversion are the same types of feelings that should be emanating from your church.


“…repent, and do the works you did at first…” – Revelation 2:5b

It’s interesting that Jesus ties this behavior together with a turning away from Him. Misusing truth and our love for Christ isn’t just some small problem we can ignore. It is in reality turning away from Jesus Himself and setting out on our own path. Whenever we turn away from Christ there is a need to turn back to Him — the Bible calls this “repentance” — it is doing a U-Turn with your life and following God’s ways instead of your own. But repentance is not just for the individual; the Church is called to repent when it finds itself drifting away from its first love.

For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? – 1 Peter 4:17


“…repent, and do the works you did at first…” – Revelation 2:5c

Here is the same verse with a different point of emphasis. When we remember and repent, it is with the purpose in mind of returning to a place in our spiritual lives and in our church where Christ is placed first. “Go back to work” Jesus says. “Go back to loving and being loved. Go back to following truth.” “Go back to being the kind of Christ Follower and Church Fellowship you were created to be.”

At the end of His message to each of the seven churches Jesus gives a promise —it’s a promise that can be applied to all of us. Here is His promise to the Church at Ephesus as well as to your church today:

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God. – Revelation 2:7

Have you been listening to what the Spirit has been saying to you in this article? If so, the time is coming when you have been promised victory in paradise. May you and your church strive to be the Church Jesus is calling you to be!

Barry L. Davis


Having been a pastor for two decades, Barry knows what it is like to be on the front lines of ministry, in the pulpit, out in the community, in board meetings, doing evangelism, and all the rest that comes with an active church ministry. Bringing that experience to the Pastor’s Helper, he is in a unique position to lead other pastors to be successful in God’s calling upon their lives.

Nine Stupid Things I Did as a Pastor

3981364314_d4b30cb739_bBy Thom Rainer

If you want to read the tale of a pastor who really did some dumb things, keep reading.

I served as pastor of four churches. It was only by the grace of God and the graciousness of the congregations that I was called and allowed to stay at those churches. I absolutely love the members of those four congregations, and I will forever be grateful to them and for them.

Frankly, I’m not sure I would give myself a passing grade as a pastor. I messed up quite a bit. I would do several things differently today. And as a point of full disclosure, my list of nine is not close to being exhaustive.

1. I neglected my prayer life and time in the Word too often. It sounds absolutely insane as I write it, but I got too busy for God. As a consequence, I operated out of my own insufficient power too many times.
2. I neglected my family too often. Paul wrote these words to Pastor Timothy: “If anyone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of God’s church?” (1 Timothy 3:5, HCSB). Ouch. So many times I communicated through my actions to my family that they were not as important as other church members.
3. I let the crisis of the moment overwhelm me. In doing so I did not trust in God to see me through the situation. And I did not have a longer-term perspective to understand that difficulties are only for a season.
4. I perceived most of my critics as my adversaries. Some of my critics actually had constructive input. Others were going through their own struggles, and I was a convenient target. I took criticisms personally instead of responding pastorally.
5. I competed with other churches. Shame on me. Too often I wanted my church to have a greater attendance than other churches in the area. I should have been praying for and working with those other church leaders more.
6. I neglected praying with my staff. My prayer time with my church staff was haphazard at best. The one thing we needed to do the most, we were doing the least. I was a terrible leader on that front.
7. I often worried about what others thought about me. My sole concern should have been how Christ-like I was. Too often I sought the approval of others rather than the blessings of God.
8. I often yielded to unreasonable requests and demands. Instead of spending my time doing those things that really mattered, I gave in too often to the “squeaky wheel.” I sacrificed the great in order to do the good.
9. I gave up too often. Due to frustration, exhaustion or, more often, lack of faith, I gave up on challenges too quickly. I am convinced I missed out on many victories when they were just around the corner.

Those are but a few of the stupid things I did as a pastor. Most of you can breathe a sigh of relief that I never served as your pastor.

So why I am writing these self-critical comments at this stage of my life? I pray that some of you may see something in your own lives and leadership that you can correct before it’s too late. God is able. God is willing.

I look forward to your comments.



This article was originally published at ThomRainer.com on May 4, 2015. Thom S. Rainer serves as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam, Art, and Jess; and seven grandchildren. Dr. Rainer can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at facebook.com/Thom.S.Rainer.

God-Driven Leadership

Brand New Book!

God-Driven Leadership is a call to follow God’s direction, given to us clearly in His Word, in every aspect of life and ministry. The Christian leader is challenged to view the current state of church affairs, his faith in God’s ability to act, and his own personal life in view of what God has unmistakably directed in the Bible.

The reader who accepts this challenge and applies the truths herein to his life will see great benefit both in this life and the life to come. God asks for nothing less than our whole selves devoted entirely to Him and His cause if we are to lead His Church through the 21st Century and beyond.

God Driven LeadershipTo Order the Kindle version just CLICK HERE

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“During my 50 years of ministry, I have read countless books and articles on leadership and have been associated with many successful leaders in a variety of professions. I don’t think I have learned anything from these men and women that isn’t contained in Barry Davis’ book. Drawing extensively from Scripture and punctuating his narrative with engaging illustrations, Barry provides practical suggestions on how you can be a more effective leader at work, home and church. Whether you are a seasoned leader or someone who aspires to be a better leader or if you just want to gain new Biblical insights on life and ministry, this is a book for you.”

Bob Russell
Senior Minister (Retired)
Southeast Christian Church, Louisville, KY

“The world knows more than it would ever need to know about human-driven leadership. On every side we see evidences of the tragedies resulting from strong-willed men and women rising to take over the reins of governments, dead certain the hand of God is on them because of personalities or popularity or brute force. Then, Barry Davis calls us back to reality. “God-Driven Leadership” is the standard. In a day when many who claim to be God’s anointed for this church or that movement rely on the same traits as the carnal – force of personality, popularity, eloquence, etc… – we need to hear again the plan from heaven. Thank you, Barry Davis. We need your book.”

Joe McKeever, D.Min.
Pastor, Author, former Director of Missions for the Southern Baptist Churches of New Orleans

“In this noteworthy volume, Dr. Barry Davis presents in contemporary terms the admonition of Paul to Timothy: Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers (1 Timothy 4:16, NIV). Dr. Davis argues that successful leadership is the result of an orthodoxy that is biblical in nature and an orthopraxy derived from intimacy with God. You will be challenged by this book to reexamine your approach to leadership in order to enhance your contribution to the Kingdom of God.”

Russell A. Morris, D.Min., Ph.D.
Lead Pastor, Harvest Hills Church of God
Post-graduate Supervisor, South African Theological Seminary

10 Things You Shouldn’t Say to a Pastor Right After the Sermon















By Thom Rainer

I’ve actually assembled more than ten things church members have told pastors immediately after they preached. But these are ten responses where pastors have had the most visceral reactions.

  1. “I am going to be late for lunch because you preached so long.”
  2. “You must not have had much time to prepare that sermon.”
  3. “My former pastor preached a much better sermon from that text.”
  4. “I wish {fill in the blank} would have heard that sermon.”
  5. “You act like you weren’t feeling well while you preached.”
  6. “I’m sorry I fell asleep while you were preaching. Your voice just puts me to sleep.”
  7. “Your subject/verb agreement was incorrect three times in your sermon.”
  8. “I wish you wouldn’t preach from the Old Testament.”
  9. “Let me tell you what you missed in your sermon.”
  10. “Are we ever going to be done with this sermon series?”

Pastors often take 10 to 20 hours to prepare a sermon. They pray for God to speak through them. They preach with conviction and fervency. And then they hear one of these sentences.

These ten responses are close approximations of what pastors have actually told me. I am sure there are many more. Let us hear what they are.




This article was originally published at ThomRainer.com on March 2, 2015. Thom S. Rainer serves as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam, Art, and Jess; and seven grandchildren. Dr. Rainer can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at facebook.com/Thom.S.Rainer.

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