Tag Archives: Pulpit

I Was Interviewed – Or Was I?

Good Friday, everyone! I hope today will be the start of a great weekend for you.

Phoned In

I just wanted to share some thoughts with you guys, whoever might be interested, regarding some recent interviews I’ve had.

Let me be clear, I am perfectly happy to stay right where I am as pastor of South Soddy Baptist Church. Now, don’t get me wrong, it would be great if this little church could grow, even by a few people. But I’m happy to stay here and work my tail off as long as this is where God wants me.

That being said, recently several churches have contacted me and asked if I’d be willing to be considered for the position of pastor. Again, I’m NOT looking to leave where I am, but I felt it would be wise to at least have a conversation with these different churches just to make sure I wasn’t missing God’s direction.

Because the churches that have contacted me have been out of town, each one has elected to do conference-style phone interviews, their pulpit search committees on one end of the line, me on the other.

However, what concerns me…which is what this post is going to be about…are the questions these pulpit committees are asking – or NOT asking.

Weak Questions

What I have been experiencing from these pulpit search committees are questions that are rather weak, vague, and easy to manipulate. By “manipulate” I mean that they are questions that by their very nature tell me what the answer should be.

For example, before I participated in any of these interviews I did my research on who these people were. That’s only smart. So, if I were to have been asked questions about worship style, what version of the Bible I use, or even denominational polity, all I would need to know is apparent on their websites and social media accounts. If I had wanted to, I could answer their questions just like they were expecting.

But beyond that, the typically weak and vague questions are ones that inquire about my family, how well I work with committees, how long my average sermon is, and am I willing to visit people in the hospital.

Should you be one of the committee members of one of the churches that have interviewed me, whether on the phone or in person, please understand that I’m not mocking or deriding you – I’m simply concerned.

Tougher Questions, Please!

Whether it’s me being interviewed or someone else, my advice to these churches – maybe even yours – is to ask tougher questions that demand answers grounded in solid theology and backed with Scripture.

In the last several interviews I’ve never – not once – been asked questions like the following:

  • Describe the time surrounding and leading up to, including the actual moment of your conversion.
  • What are your views on the divinity of Jesus Christ and the doctrine of the Trinity?
  • What is your belief regarding the sufficiency of Scripture?
  • How do you think you meet the requirements of a “bishop” as found in Paul’s letters to Timothy and Titus?
  • What do you think the Bible says about marriage?
  • Do you regularly view pornography, and if not, how do you avoid it?
  • Do you have a time you regularly spend with the Lord outside of sermon prep?
  • How is your marriage?
  • What books are you reading right now?
  • Do you believe in a literal Adam and Eve, heaven, and hell?
  • Why do you even want to be a pastor in the first place?

Just to be clear, I pastor Baptist churches, and Baptist churches select their pastors differently than other denominations. Baptist churches are autonomous, therefore (except in rare exceptions), we do not have a standard prerequisite for how pulpit search committees select and vet their candidates.

However, all I’m asking is that at the very least … should I be contacted again … could you make the questions a little more challenging, please? I really do need the workout.

I promise it’ll be fun 😉

Thank You! 

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Filed under baptist, Church, ministry, Preaching

The Pulpit and Freedom: A History of the Black Robe Regiment

Some question the uniqueness of the American “experiment,” but they do so out of ignorance. Should the average American ever learn the real story of the founding of his nation, his sparkling celebrations might lay aside the fireworks and pay tribute to the thunder that once rang from our pulpits.

Christianity is not an American religion. More than that, there should never be anything like an “American Christianity,” for the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the freedom He brings to those who trust in Him are not limited by borders or bound by human law: the Gospel is the same good news to every man, woman, and child, regardless their nationality.

But is was in the days leading up to the American Revolution that the tenets of Christianity and its practical implications for the average citizen were preached by men with iron spines. These were the men of the “black robe regiment,” the clergy who not only talked the talk, but walked the walk on the road to liberty.

Unfortunately, there are those today who are completely oblivious to the effect the pulpit had on our founding, and many want nothing of our founding ever spoken from our pulpits again. However, to be silent in the face of rampant decay and attacks on the very fundamental doctrines of the Faith, especially by those who would like nothing better than to extinguish the flame of liberty, would not only be a dishonor to those men who faithfully preached truth and willingly offered their lives on literal battlefields in the cause of freedom, but it would be an utter failure in the charge to be good stewards of what was bought for us with blood.

“If Christian ministers had not preached and prayed, there might have been no revolution as yet – or had it broken out, it might have been crushed.”  – Bibliotheca Sacra [BRITISH PERIODICAL], 1856

Click HERE ,or on the above picture, to read a little history of what the British called the “black robe regiment.”

 

 

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Glass or Wood? Depends On What You’re Hiding.

It may have never crossed your mind, but for some it is a question more important than whether or not someone chooses to be a Calvinist…

Glass or Wood?

What am I talking about? Pulpits. Sacred desks. Lecturns. The piece of furniture behind which preachers stand and do battle with the devil, not to mention anoint the blessed on the front row with sanctified spittle.

Believe it or not, many have nearly gone to fists over whether the wooden pulpit should be replaced with a more modern, see-through, beautifully-etched glass one. I don’t know why it is such a big deal, except for pastors who might feel totally naked with nothing to hide behind.

On the other hand, glass pulpits have one major disadvantage – you can’t put stuff in them. If you don’t think that is a problem, then you have never looked inside one. Or, maybe you have never been in a service that required the items contained behind those sacred doors.

I’ll never forget the first time I took a pastorate and decided to inventory the items in the pulpit. I opened the doors, sat down on the floor, and quickly realized that this was a place few ever saw. If they had, they may have claimed some of the items in there for themselves, if not for the owners (which had probably been buried in the church cemetery 10 years ago).

There were old bulletins, vials of olive oil, broken pencils and pens with dry ink. There were 20-year-old mother’s day poems, and stale breath mints. In one corner was a single gold earring, a half-stick of hard chewing gum, and a dead ant. To one side was a hymnal with pages missing and a Gideon Bible. To the other side were the minutes from a 1980 business meeting and a cassette tape. There were even old illustrations typed on 3×5 cards, a laminated obituary, three Happy Meal toys, and ten broken crayons.

None of those things would look good in front of a preacher’s knees, so a see-through pulpit would be unacceptable. Even if I had a big, rotating, golden skeleton of the earth behind me when I preached, someone would get distracted. You never see Joel Olsteen standing behind stacks of paper and old candy, do you? NO!

But if we are going to keep the old pulpits in many of our churches, shouldn’t we make better use of them? Why hide away useless memorabilia, tasteless mints, and dead bugs? Why not make it a tool shed? Why not store things that could actually be used in an emergency?

Here are some suggestions:

1. A cooler. Wouldn’t that be more convenient than having a deacon bring you water that sits out and gets warm during the message?

2. An air horn. This would be to wake up the 3rd-shifters that nod off in the service.

3. Altoids.

4. Kittens. You would never have to worry about losing anyone’s attention again. When the message starts to get dull, bring out a kitten and everybody wins.

5. Flame Thrower. Would be good for self-defense and an awesome illustrative tool for evangelistic services.

6. A Fire Extinguisher. For when illustrations go wrong. Safety first, you know.

7. Sermons that Work. For those days when nothing else seems to do the trick, a book of pre-written messages could help keep the preacher from looking like he didn’t study.

Well, whichever you choose for your church, just keep one thing in mind…

2 Timothy 4:2-4 “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”

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Filed under baptist, General Observations, ministry, Preaching, Southern Baptist