Tag Archives: Ministry

A Question of Dignity

Much is said about how people should dress, like “dressing down” and dressing for success.” But how should a minister, a pastor, a “reverend” dress? For that matter, how should a pastor behave in public? How should his position affect his demeanor? Ever thought about that?

It’s a question regarding the appropriate level of dignity exhibited by those in ministry.

Differences

Some of you may disagree with me on this, but I do believe that there is something to be said about the differences between pastors and the congregation. If you are Catholic or main-line Protestant this is probably a non-issue, but it is an issue in other circles, specifically in evangelical churches.

Many of us are well aware that Scripture teaches that there is no essential difference between one believer and another: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). Furthermore, many of us treasure the biblical doctrine of the “priesthood of the believer” that confirms all Christians have equal access to God, not needing the intercession or mediation of an earthly priest (Ephesians 2:18, 3:12; Hebrews 4:14-16, 10:19; and 1 Peter 2:5). Some folk, especially many of my Baptist brethren, even refrain from using terms such as “clergy” and “laity” because, in essence, we are all the same.

anthony political

The “official” me.

However, if we are all the same, if there is no difference at all, no difference in expectation or qualification, why then do we have such passages as 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:6-9? Why would Paul have instructed Timothy and Titus to ordain godly men to the work of “bishop” in the first place if there were no need for men of distinction?

The truth is that there is a biblical mandate of conduct for the role and specific offices of pastor, bishop, elder, teacher, and deacon. Those persons should be known as set apart, qualified, mature, devoted, and serious about the work (Titus 2:7).

I Struggle

I will admit, I struggle with this issue from time to time. You may not think it’s a big deal, but I think it is. The thing I don’t want is to be legalistic, prideful, arrogant, or aloof and never fun, accessible, down-to-earth, and humble.

But where does one draw the line? At what point can one say, “That [activity] is not appropriate for a person in that position” without coming across as elitist?

vbs ice cream head

The “ice cream” me.

Let’s face it, when it’s time for a fall festival or children’s activity, every one wants a pastor who is not afraid or too proud to look like a fool for the sake of a smile. It was Jesus who had little children running up to him, sitting on his knee, and enjoying being in his presence. The pastor who never laughs, never takes a shaving cream-pie in the face, or dresses up like a farmer for Vacation Bible School will never win the heart of a child.

On the other hand, the one dying in a hospital (or on the side of the road) wants more than a clown or a hip public speaker to kneel by his side or take her hand.

I struggle with where to draw the line, where being like everybody else must give way to the demeanor of one elected to lead. Sure, context is always going to make a difference, but is there no place for  gravitas in the modern church?

Grace and context. …Grace and context. That’s the only way I know to approach this.

I’d love to read what you think! Where do you see the line between dignity and doofus? 

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Filed under Christian Maturity, clothing, General Observations, legalism, ministry

“Why in the Church?”

As I Promised

This past Sunday afternoon (March 5, 2017) I promised those watching me on Facebook Live (“Sunday Morning Recap”) that I would post the outline/handout I used and shared Sunday morning in the church service at South Soddy Baptist.

Because I am new at South Soddy Baptist Church, and because we are essentially starting from the ground level, I thought it beneficial to do a Vince Lombardi-like sermon, something like “Gentleman, this is a football.”

The idea was to assume no one knew, or at least they had not recently thought about, some very basic features of the local church. Sort of like asking “What in the world?” I called this message “Why in the Church?”

I might take the points of this little handout and develop them further as individual posts here on the blog. Would that be beneficial or interesting to any of you?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

The Outline

“Why in the Church?”

Church

  • Body of Christ (Ephesians 1:22-23 and 4:15-16; Rom. 8:9) See also Jesus’ conversation with Paul (Acts 9:4)
  • Ecclesia: defined as “an assembly” or “called-out ones.”
  • The Universal Church (1 Corinthians 12:13)
  • The Local Church (Galatians 1:1-2)

Building

  • We should not neglect gathering together (Hebrew 10:25).
  • Why not just a house, or “home church”?
    • See: Acts 2:46 and 20:20.
    • Accountable leadership (Titus 1:5-9; 1 Timothy 3).
  • What is to take place, wherever one meets: Acts 2:42; 1 Corinthians 16:2; 1 Timothy 4:13; 2 Timothy 4:2.

Singing

  • Enter into His presence with thanksgiving and praise (Psalm 100:4).
  • Songs should teach, admonish, and ultimately be directed to the Lord (Colossians 3:16-17)

Prayer

  • House of Prayer (See: Luke 19:46 and Isaiah 56:7. Also, Acts 2:42)

Pulpit

  • Bema – possible influence
  • “Pulpit of Ezra” (Nehemiah 8:4-5)
    • מִגְדָּל migdal (Strong’s H4026): a tower, or castle
      • Migdal-eder (mig·dal’·ā’·der) = “tower of the flock”
        • a shepherd’s watchtower near Bethlehem (Micah 4:8)

Altar

  • “Mourner’s bench,” 19th-20th century crusades
  • Place of Sacrifice – pride
  • Place of Commitment; when people ask (Joshua 4:6,21)

Invitation

  • Urgency – Today is the day (2 Corinthians 6:2 and Isaiah 49:8)
  • If you will confess me before men, I will confess you before my Father (Matthew 10:32)

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How Do You Treat a Gift from God?

Remember, dear believer, if your pastor is a “gift” to your congregation (Ephesians 4:11), how you treat him says a lot about your relationship to the Giver.  – A. Baker

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Filed under Church, ministry

When Tomorrow Is Sunday

Never forget that the arguments, the hurt feelings, the illnesses, the stresses, and the pains that hit seemingly out of the blue are not coincidence when tomorrow is Sunday.  – A. Baker

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Filed under Christian Living, Christianity, Church, Life Lessons, ministry, Preaching, Relationships and Family

New “Donate” Button

How to Help

I have created a PayPal “Donate Now” button specifically for this transition time in our life.

If you would like to donate in any amount, please take advantage of the “Donate Now” button in the column to your right.

Now, if you cannot give financially, I understand. Your prayers would be greatly appreciated, also.

But if you can’t give money, empty boxes wouldn’t hurt!

God bless you all, and thanks for your support.

 

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Filed under ministry, Southern Baptist

It’s Time for Backbone (An Open Letter to Preachers)

Dear Fellow Preachers,

I know this might not open many doors for me, but now’s the time – it’s actually past time – for some honest-to-goodness, strong-as-steel, George S. Patton and John Wayne-like BACKBONE!

Stand in the gap! Don’t be a politically motivated, crowd-pleasing, purse string-fearing wimp and PREACH THE WORD!

Gentlemen, more than ever what we need now are some Elijahs, some John the Baptists, another John Knox or two, and even some old-school Billy Grahams. We need more men of God who know the difference between the Word of God and a motivational speech! We need men who aren’t afraid to point a finger at sin and call it what it is.

Don’t try to be popular. Don’t try to be “cool” and “hip” with the younger generations. Quit fighting over the styles of worship if your congregation doesn’t even know HOW to worship! Forget trying to become more “seeker-friendly,” and just SEEK THE LOST! The world is going to Hell and we are greasing the skids.

Be real. Be humble. Be yourself. Love your enemies. But for the love of God, pastors and preachers, “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong” (1 Corinthians 16:13). In other words… take off the liberal mom jeans and put on some prophet-worthy overalls and get to work!

You’ve got the pulpit, so use it! PREACH!

bible

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Filed under ministry, Preaching

Having Fun While Filling In

One thing about not regularly pastoring a congregation is that I get a chance to visit other churches. Last night I got to visit New Salem Baptist Church and fill in for the regular pastor, Alan Rogers.

If you’ve never done it before, filling in for another pastor can be rather fun. In other words, it’s always refreshing to preach from someone else’s pulpit when there’s no risk of you being fired. HA!

So, just in case I have many more opportunities to cover for other pastors while on vacation or at a conference, or whatever, here are some sermon ideas I’m considering. Just let me know when you want me to come preach one….(cue the maniacal BWWAAAHAHAHA!)

  1. “Put On that New Robe: Why Congregations Should Buy Their Pastor a New Suit
  2. “Beautiful Are the Feet that Carry the Gospel: Keeping Your Pastor’s Feet Healthy and Happy In New Shoes
  3. “Smite a Scorner: Ways to Deal with Gossiping In the Congregation
  4.  “The Hem of His Garment: Why Jesus Is Concerned With How We Dress
  5.  “The Holy Spirit: What Scares Baptist More than a Clinton
  6. “Deacons: Who, What, When, Where, and How to Deal With Them
  7. “The Pastor’s Family: Living In a Glass House with Those Who’d Love to Throw a Rock Back

Below is a picture of me preaching at New Salem Baptist in Soddy-Daisy, TN. They had a big screen behind me, but it was not put to use when I was talking. Therefore, I did a little editing. What do you think?

img_3073

Would you like to know why I HATE the devil? If so, that’ll be my next post.

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Filed under baptist, Church, Humor, Preaching