Tag Archives: Ministry

I Can’t Change the Subtitle. It Stays.

Recently I shared with some close friends and others for which I have great respect the first example of a potential cover for my next book. I wanted input, but mainly on the layout, graphics, etc. However, a few of them took a slight issue with the subtitle: “Reinventing Door-to-Door Ministry for a Calloused Culture and a Cowardly Church.”

What did they say about it? Well, maybe what you are thinking, too. They advised I tone it down, if only a little, because a lot of church folk have “thin skin.” That’s a no brainer.

However, not to be obstinate, but if I change the title of a book that is designed to specifically address the actual cowardice running rampant in a large part of the Church, would I not be guilty of the same?

I just can’t change it. It has to stay.

But if it helps, let me share with you the short introduction to “You’re Our Street of the Week: Reinventing Door-to-Door Ministry for a Calloused Culture and a Cowardly Church.”


The Introduction

Thank you so much for either picking up a copy or downloading the digital version of this manual for developing a “Street of the Week” outreach ministry. It is a tremendous blessing to me that you have the desire to reach your community with the love and message of Jesus Christ!

            When you read the subtitle, did it shock you? You know, the part where I called the Church cowardly? I can sympathize. Honestly, it stung my spirit a little when I typed it for the first time. After all, we are the Church Triumphant marching toward Zion, and not even the gates of hell can stand against us! Yet, no scientific survey is needed to conclude that most professing Christians – even active church members – are terrified of knocking on a stranger’s door, even in their own community!

            But it’s not just the fearful saint; it’s the cynical and suspicious public that’s grown calloused to door-to-door visits. And it’s not just Christians they distrust; it’s every stranger who shows up uninvited and unannounced to their front door. There used to be a day in America when a person could make a living going door-to-door selling vacuum cleaners, brushes, encyclopedias, life insurance, and even Bibles! People were more trusting, more hospitable, and even naïve. Not today. No way!

            People have caught on and don’t want to be “sold” anything, especially from somebody who rudely interrupted their evening meal. On top of that, the average Christian is either too nice to bother anyone or too intimidated by the “don’t judge me” culture to openly share their faith.

            So, how are the instructions in this little book supposed to change anything? What in this book is going to re-vitalize an obsolete, antiquated, and polarizing church ministry which strikes fear into nearly every believer? Will the instructions within calm nerves, stop knees from quaking, and miraculously inject the courage of a lion into the participant’s heart?

            YES! I am bold enough to promise that YES, it will do just that! But there’s only one…and it’s a biggie…just one BIG requirement. Are you ready for it?


The draft is still with the editors, but it won’t be too long till it’s finished and available.

Stay tuned 🙂

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Filed under ministry, writing

Preaching for the EARLY Service in Pakistan

I hope every one is doing well on this sunny Wednesday afternoon in Georgia! I know some of you have snow and rain, but for now it’s in the high 40’s and bright and sunny where I am at.

I just wanted to take a moment to share some photos of what I did this past Sunday morning – I preached in Pakistan!

For those of you who don’t know, I do my best to help support a worthy ministry in Pakistan and my pastor friend, Victor Sammuel. I will tell you more in a future post.

Anyway, this past Sunday morning I was able to speak to Victor’s congregation during their morning worship service – at 1 a.m.! Talk about an “early service”!

And what is awesome is that I was asked to preach each Sunday morning the rest of this month!

But this is more than simply live-streaming our regular services at church. This is me speaking live to a group of Christians in a Muslim nation where persecution is common (even expected) and the average wage of a teacher in a Christian school is $60 a month (more about that later, too).

I would just encourage you to pray for me and for this congregation as I preach and teach God’s Word to a congregation who genuinely want to hear whatever I have to say.

And the topic they want to hear me speak on the most? The Rapture.

At 1 o’clock in the morning?

Praying for the congregation at the end of the sermon. The microphone is close to the phone.
Pastor Victor Sammuel interpreting.

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Filed under Christianity, Church, Countries, Preaching

Good News, Bad News


I Love to Write

Greetings, my friends. Maybe you’ve noticed, but my writing here on the blog has been becoming more and more infrequent. I hate it, but it was bound to happen.

Unfortunately, I love to write, and because I have not been writing much lately, my soul feels like a wet sponge that hasn’t been wrung in a long time – a little sour. Honestly, that’s the whole reason I am writing at this moment. I need to wring some stuff out. 

That just sounded gross. 

I Love to Paint

But there is something else in my life, not to mention watches, that has taken up my free time: it’s painting. Not only do I love to write, but I also love to create things on paper with paint. And when people find joy in what I paint, like when they comment on how something I’ve written helped them, I feel a sense of accomplishment that few other things offer.

I say all that because one of the reasons I’ve not been writing much is my painting. When I get focused on my art (and writing is similar), I forget about other things and time tends to get away from me. 

May be art of nature and tree

The Time Has Come

But speaking of time getting away, I’ve been putting off something for a long, long time, and it’s way past time to finish what I started.

For several years I have been chipping away at a doctoral degree. As a matter of fact, for the last 3 years, I have been so close to finishing it’s not even funny. But everything from surgery, moving a couple of times, deaths in the family, the daily work of ministry, two pastorates in four years, an empty nest, a mother with cancer, and not to mention all that had to be done to pastor a church through COVID-19… all of these things took precedent and my degree was placed on the back burner.

But now the time has come – I must finish my D.Min. requirements in order to graduate in July.

One reason the time has come is that the “time is up” for my mother. Hospice is now in charge of her health care and she has been given, at the most, 6 months to live. If the truth be known, she wasn’t expected to live this long with stage-4 pancreatic cancer. 

I want to get my doctorate while my mother is still alive to see it. I told her, “OK, Mom, you’ve got to live until July.” She said, “OK.” 

Because of this, I cannot guarantee that I’ll be around very much. Just think about me now and then when you haven’t heard from me and I’ll keep you updated on the progress – and my mother.

God bless, 
Anthony

P.S. I would always love it if you’d buy a painting or a print 🙂 Look me up at @AnthonyCBakerArt on Facebook!

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Filed under art, blogging, hobbies, writing

Speak With Authority, or Sit Down

It’s early on a Sunday morning, 15 minutes before 7 a.m., to be exact. I’m sitting here at the dining room table with my Bible and my laptop (graciously provided to me by our church), contemplating the Scripture I am going to be sharing a few hours from now.

What I am about to say is not for everyone, for not everyone has been given the responsibility to lead. Nevertheless, though not all of us will have the opportunity and calling to shepherd a congregation of believers, each and every one of us will at some point be responsible for communicating truth to those for whom we are one day going to give an account.

The verse from this morning’s text that has captured my attention is Titus 2:15.

“These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.”

That was the King James Version rendering. Now, let’s read the text as translated in another version.

You must teach these things and encourage the believers to do them. You have the authority to correct them when necessary, so don’t let anyone disregard what you say.

Titus 2:15 NLT

What I think we as pastors need to remember is that what we have to say needs to be taken seriously. If, however, we stand before our flocks as shepherds with no staff, not only are we “despised,” but so is the Word we are called to teach.

Those who know me the best know that I am a nice guy. Seriously, I hate confrontation so much that I will go to great lengths to avoid it. I want to be liked, even to a fault.

But when it comes to preaching and pastoring, we must take very seriously Paul’s admonition to Titus. As Paul left Titus in Crete to “set in order the things that are wanting,” so has God ordained us to set and keep things in order(1:5), speak those things which become sound doctrine (2:1), and remind believers of their obligations and responsibilities as representatives of God’s grace (3:1).

The problem we in leadership face is how to demand attention, to “let no one despise” us, without coming across as authoritarians or tyrants. Is a pastor to be a bully in the pulpit? Is he supposed to lord his authority over the sheep and force them to lie down in green pasture? Some think so.

However, it is Jesus who exemplified for us the model of servant leadership which draws attention. It is this same kind of example the apostles left us when we read of their boldness after Pentecost.

Our authority comes from the Word of God. Our boldness comes from the Holy Spirit. We are equally accountable as both heralds and subjects.

If we find ourselves timid, skiddish, reluctant, or intimidated behind the pulpit, we must ask ourselves some very point-blank questions. Who are we trying to please, God or man? Why are we called to be heralds? Just to be heard, or to proclaim the Message of the King?

Should we actually “speak the things that become sound doctrine,” then we are accountable to God for what we say, for we are to speak what He is saying. If we are tasked with heralding the Word, then God will hold us accountable for getting the message out to those who need to hear.

If we cower or hesitate in our duty, then we either doubt the authority of the Word, or we proclaim it in the power of our own strength. There is no excuse for the pastor, the shepherd, the man of God to stand behind the pulpit or on the neon-lit stage and waste time offering suggestions and scratching itching ears when we are plainly told, “These things speak…”

“Let no man despise thee” tells us there is a responsibility incumbent upon the preacher.

Therefore, unless you are going to mount the pulpit this morning with authority as one tasked with an urgent message from the King of the universe. . . unless you are going to “be strong in the Lord, and the power of His might” (Ephesian 6:10). . .

Sit down.

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Filed under Bethlehem Baptist Church, Preaching

An Open Letter to Pastors (and ministers) Delivering Regular Content During the Pandemic

Dear Pastors (and fellow Ministers)

As I write this, it is late Saturday night and I am thinking about my sermon for tomorrow. I’ve been looking at my notes, the Scripture, and thinking about the overall theme, paying particular attention to how I might be able to draw the sermon to a close. For some reason, I don’t know why, invitations have become more difficult for me in the last year or so.

But it’s not the Sunday morning sermon that concerns me – at least that’s not the reason for me writing this letter to you. It’s the content that you and I are expected to deliver to those watching on Facebook, YouTube, or whatever other streaming service you prefer.

I don’t want you to get tired of doing it. I don’t want you to get discouraged and give up too soon!

I don’t know about you guys, but I have been producing more Bible teaching since the pandemic began than any other time in my life! I literally post online content 6 days a week, twice on Sunday and Wednesday! That’s EIGHT original content presentations a week! Granted, what I produce during the week is not as deep as what I might deliver on a Sunday or Wednesday night, but sometimes it is deeper. Sometimes it could qualify for a full-fledged sermon. But is 8 times a week a little much?

Especially if you feel nobody is watching? Anybody with me?

Without a doubt we pastors are working harder than ever before. One reason I can say that with complete confidence is that we are, at the very least, using spiritual, mental, and emotional muscles we’ve never used before. We are in uncharted territory most days. That can drain a person.

Yet, what does your congregation expect out of you? How else are you able to stay in touch or connected throughout the week? I know this might sound self-serving or vain, but is what you are doing online partly due to the fact that you don’t want to appear as idle or taking advantage of the social distancing?

How many of you are beginning to question the efficacy of all the online content we are producing? How many of you are beginning to feel like you’re having little to no impact? I’m not going to lie; I’ve been feeling that way more often each day.

Nevertheless, what I don’t know is what God knows. What I am doing is the best I can with what I’ve been given. I am using every means possible to keep church (and all that’s involved with that word) in the lives of my flock. I’m doing all I can to make holy lemonade out of COVID-19 lemons. And only God knows what really happens on the other side of the computer or smartphone screen.

Though not exactly the same context, I am reminded of the following verse:

“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” (Galatians 6:9)

No farmer expects to make pie out of the fruit of his labor the day after he plants the first seed. Likewise, we don’t have any idea what this surge of biblical content is going to affect in the future: no one has ever had the opportunity to calculate the germination times.

We are planting and watering in fields where the Word of God has never been sown. We are flooding the airwaves and the internet with more of the Gospel message than at any other single time in history! And all that we are doing, all that we are sowing, and in all the areas and hearts where our ministry is reaching… Have we forgotten it is guaranteed to produce fruit of some kind? His Word does not return void!.

Maybe you didn’t need the reminder. Maybe it’s just me. But I just want you to know that we were put here for this time. What we do in this time will affect not only today, but tomorrow, too. We may never live to see the results of our plowing and cultivating and planting, but future generations may be feeding on the fruit decades after we have left the plow.

Don’t grow weary, gentlemen. Be encouraged! Stay strong! Keep up the good work!

Sometimes the only one in the field is the farmer. Keep farming while the weather permits.

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Filed under Bethlehem Baptist Church, blogging, Christianity, Church, coronavirus, ministry, Preaching, the future

Observations from a Middle-Georgia Pastorate: “Visitation”

This is the view from my windshield as I was leaving the home of a church member.

Honestly, I miss the internet speeds of Gig City (Chattanooga), but you can have the traffic and the hustle.

This is where I belong, now.

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Filed under America, Bethlehem Baptist Church, Church, community, ministry, nature, places

In My Father’s Honor On Father’s Day

Remembering the Day

I woke up this morning and saw the sun, which is something my dad never got the chance to experience on June 11, 1991. Upon closing his eyes in death while working the night shift as a security guard, he woke to eternal day where the Son is the Light. What an awesome moment that must have must have been for him!

However, for me, it was a very difficult day 29 years ago. For that matter, it was a difficult day for many. He was only 46 at the time of his homegoing, but the impact he made on the lives of others will reverberate for many decades to come, and all of us were heartbroken when he left.

Tough, Yet Humble

My dad.

My dad.

Those who knew my dad before he became a Christian would testify to the fact that he was no wimp. He was a man’s man.

My dad could build an engine and race a car – including the kind in which he used to haul moonshine. He knew how to fight, fish, and fire a weapon; between him and my uncle Don (his brother), there weren’t too many men willing to be their enemies.

Yet, once he accepted Christ, he became the perfect example of gentleness, kindness, grace, and compassion. I know of no one any more humble than he was. (Oh, and when his brother finally became a believer in Jesus, the same transformation took place)

Preachers

My dad was also a preacher. He might not have been the most eloquent, but he loved the Word and he loved telling people about Jesus. Had he been alive today, he would have wept at the state of our nation, but he would have cared more about sharing the gospel with the homeless drunk under the bridge, the prisoner in the jail, or the disabled and orphaned teen in need of hope.

More than a man who’d kindly give you the shirt off his back, he’d find a way to tell you about a Saviour who bore a cross on His. If my dad was still alive, he’d still be preaching.

Still Fighting the Good Fight

Still Fighting the Good Fight

I am proud to say that I am carrying on my father’s legacy. I am proud to say that should the Lord allow me to live another 52 years, I will continue to preach the Gospel, stand for Truth, and love people the best I can. As a matter of fact, here is something I recently posted on Facebook.

Backbone, preachers…now’s the time for some honest-to-goodness, strong-as-steel, George S. Patton and John Wayne-like BACKBONE!

I don’t care if you’re Baptist, Presbyterian, Pentecostal, Nazarene, Methodist, or whatever…MAN UP!! Stand in the gap! Quit being a politically motivated, crowd-pleasing, purse string-tying wimp and PREACH THE WORD!

Check out what’s going on in the world and what’s coming to America. Do you think things are all going to turn out like a big Hillsong praise service if you keep preaching like Joel Osteen?! Folks, what we need now more than ever are some Elijahs, some John the Baptists, some old-school Billy Grahams, some D. L. Moodys, etc. We need more men of God who know the difference between the Word of God and a motivational speech!

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. 

His Voice

I wish all of you could have met my dad, Terry L. Baker. Like my wife noted when she heard a recording, “He sounds about as country as they come.” Fortunately for all of us, I still have a few recordings of his preaching.

Below is an edited version of a message my dad preached back in 1981. At that time he was doing a radio program on WMOC for a local children’s ministry.

Fittingly, the sermon from my late father, based on Deuteronomy 6:4-7, concerns how to raise a godly family. Tell me if you think he sounds a little like me 😉

All honor and glory be to my Father in Heaven, the One who graciously gifted me with an earthly father who loved Jesus and taught me how to do the same.

 

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Filed under Christian Living, Christian Maturity, Life Lessons, ministry, Parenting, Preaching, Relationships and Family

Yes, I’m Still Preaching

“You Still Preaching?”

I don’t hear it too much anymore, but I used to hear it rather frequently. Family members, old friends, former acquaintances, and the average person I never wanted to see again would come up to me and ask, “Hey, you still preaching?”

Maybe it’s the thing to do. Maybe it is customary to ask a person if they are still doing what they were doing the last time you saw them. It makes sense. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought of asking:

  • “Are you still unemployed?”
  • “You still sick with that sickness thing?”
  • “You still married?”
  • “You still running off at the mouth about things you know nothing about?”
  • “You still planning to party with Hitler for eternity?”
  • Are you still as stupid as you used to be?

I just don’t get why people ask if I am still preaching. It’s like they think I’ll change my mind or walk away from the ministry, or something.

Some Statistics

In reality, it’s not that unreasonable to ask someone who once accepted the call to ministry if he is still preaching. Even though it sorta feels like an insult, I shouldn’t be surprised by other people’s shock. I mean, it has been 36 years since I made my calling public. I’ve known more than one who has walked away the first year.

If more people knew the statistics, few would ever enter the ministry. Stop and think about it, would you enter a career with the highest rate of heart attacks? Would you take out student loans for a degree that demands you work multiple jobs? Consider these sad facts…

  • 70% felt God called them to pastoral ministry before their ministry began, but after three years of ministry, only fifty percent still felt called.
  • 80% of pastors’ spouses wish their spouse would choose another profession.
  • 70% of pastors constantly fight depression.
  • 80% of adult children of pastors surveyed have had to seek professional help for depression.
  • 70% of pastors do not have a close friend, confidant, or mentor.
  • 80% of seminary and Bible school graduates who enter the ministry will leave the ministry within the first five years.

Still Preaching

Yet, I’m still preaching. It may surprise people who haven’t seen me in a while, but I’m still doing the Lord’s work and still following the call I first heard when I was 16. It may sound strange, but I can’t help it.

“But if I say I’ll never mention the LORD or speak in his name, his word burns in my heart like a fire. It’s like a fire in my bones! I am worn out trying to hold it in! I can’t do it!” – Jeremiah 20:9 NLT

“For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!” – 1 Corinthians 9:16 KJV

photo (16)Today, June 11, is the anniversary of the death of a mighty man of God, my father. He died the week before Father’s day.

Not long ago I went to his grave and placed my Bible on his tombstone. There, glistening in the sun, were the gilded words “Rev. Anthony C. Baker.”

“Daddy,” I said, “I’m still at it.”

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Filed under Christian Maturity, Church, Life/Death, ministry, Preaching, Relationships and Family

It’s Just Been Busy and Writing Is Draining

Dear friends,

I just wanted to send out a quick update, just in case you were out there wondering why in the world I hadn’t been writing much as of late.

Well, honestly, it all boils down to two simple reasons: I have been more busy than ever because of the virus, and writing, especially about anything going on these days, is simply too tiring.

I can’t do everything. At least not as much as I want to.

So, when things slow down a little and I can afford the luxury to write more, my posts might go back to more in-depth, thoughtful commentary on life, reality, marriage, crime, politics, pets, legalism, watercolor painting, theology, people-watching, watches, zoology, substance abuse, and irrational fears.

Until then, follow Jesus.

Oh, and I’ll include a few videos to show you what I’ve been up to 😉

– Anthony

Image may contain: Anthony C. Baker, text and outdoor

Click on the Facebook link to watch Pastor Kenneth Ware and I talk racism and Jesus 🙂 The discussion will be on Facebook Live at 2pm eastern.

https://www.facebook.com/events/556523215236606/

Image may contain: 2 people, people standing and text

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Filed under America, art, blogging

Palm Sunday Sermons (April 5, 2020)

What a wonderful opportunity to be living during this historical time! 

Oh, most certainly it is a trying and sad time in so many ways. But in other ways it’s amazing.

On Sunday morning I preached from 2 Timothy 1:7 and the “spirit of fear” God has not given us. That evening I covered the meaning of Palm Sunday by looking at the event as described in the Gospels.

As a bonus, I’m including the video from this morning.

If you have any comments, thoughts, or suggestions you’d like to share, I’d love to read them. Please leave them in the comment section below, or email me at PastorACBaker@yahoo.com.

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Filed under Bible Study, Christianity, Church, community, coronavirus, Easter, ministry, music, Preaching, Revival