Saturday, June 02, 2012
Friday, June 01, 2012
Pastors and Reality
According to just about every stat I hear, pastors hate the ministry, are miserable, would get out what if they could-- and that it is hurting their family. You've probably heard these statistics at a pastors conference. So, we decided to do a crazy thing-- we actually asked them.The two key take-aways from that: 1) pastors isolate themselves, and 2) the same thing is true for pretty much any job.
We find a different picture when we actually ask the pastors. There is discouragement and loneliness, but when 98 percent agree it is a privilege to be a pastor, we also know there is a great honor to being a pastor.
Pastors feel privileged, but clearly the reality of constant service can take its toll. There is discouragement and loneliness in ministry. It appears that the larger the church the more present the loneliness.
Relationships matter and it appears that pastors value those friendship -- particularly as they get older. Older pastors (and I would add, younger pastors with wisdom) have developed more close friendships within their church and are less likely to be discouraged or lonely. This combination mirrors workplace studies that have shown that more friendships at work correspond with higher satisfaction with a person's job and life.
Once statistical factor that Stetzer seems to have left out is that those who get into ministry so they can have some feeling of import or acceptance, or some such are the most likely to feel isolated, because they felt that way before they got into it, and secondly they are most likely to quit, which would explain the improvements in older pastors.
What really concerns me is that this cycle takes a heavy toll on both the "failed" minister and the church. We used to have better gatekeepers so that this did not happen so much, but not anymore.
What is to be done?
Thursday, May 31, 2012
- Evil is real.
- All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
- God is good.
- God ordains all things that come to pass, including evil.
- Man is responsible for his actions.
- God did not spare his own Son.
- Heaven works backwards.
Where do we start? - EVIL IS REAL! That is a fundamental truth I am not at all sure we grasp anymore. There's "confused," there's "upset," there's myriad reasons why people do bad things, but evil?! Evil died with Hitler, or maybe Stalin.
Guess again people, evil is still here. It is here on a large scale in the African genocides and it is here on the small scale when you wish ill for someone that has vexed you. Think about it - it is the same impulse.
Which is the point. Have you ever thought about the fact that not naming and considering evil lessens grace? And if God's grace to us is lessened, how about the grace we show to others?
The consequences of understating our situation are indeed grave.
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
At the risk of oversimplifying things, let me say that worship is offering to God all that God is due. For us individually, this means offering our whole selves to God. The Old Testament vocabulary for worship includes words that reflect the submission of a subject before a king and the service offered by a servant to a master. At the core, worship is giving to God his due as King of kings and Lord of lords, not to mention our gracious Savior. This includes praise, thanks, love, confession, attention, honor, obedience, and service. In corporate worship, we emphasize offerings of words, songs, and actions, which enable us to praise, thank, love, and honor God together. Such corporate worship leads to a life of worship, in which we serve God, not just in the corporate gatherings (the worship services), but also in every part of life (the service of daily life). We worship God by presenting our bodies as living sacrifices to God, thus glorifying him every waking minute of our existence.AMEN AND AMEN
Notice what successful worship leadership is not? It’s not creating an experience. It’s not getting people excited. It’s not helping people to feel God’s presence. It’s not leading a moving performance by the band or choir. It’s not preaching a fine sermon. It’s not getting people to like you. It’s not being popular. It’s not growing your church. It’s not musical perfection. It’s not doing great art. It’s not a chance for you to express your creativity or individuality. Of course all of these things might be connected with successful worship leadership. But they are not the point. The point is leading people to offer to God his due, which ultimately includes all that they are.
“But,” you may be thinking, “that’s a whole lot harder than getting people excited or helping them to feel inspired in the worship service.” Indeed. It’s much, much harder. You might also be thinking, “But, wait, what you’ve described isn’t something I can pull off on my own. I can’t ensure that people will actually worship authentically.” That’s true. I believe that the success of a worship leader (or pastor, or mission trip leader, or . . .) does in fact depend on the response of those being led.
This means you cannot produce your own success. Not only do you depend on those whom you lead, but also and mainly upon God. You will never succeed as a worship leader apart from the help of God’s Spirit. Thus, we who lead worship join the Psalmist in praying: “O LORD, save us; O LORD, grant us success” (Psalm 118:25).
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
I love the fact that liturgical worship isn’t every worshiper doing whatever he or she wants to do. I’m not one to criticize the particular behaviors of any group of worshipers, but I would like to suggest that there is something really wrong with a service where people are given permission to try and outdo one another in participation and enthusiasm. Now many of my friends call this being “free” in worship, but this sort of freedom seems to have certain predictable consequences.I think this runs much deeper than intra-worshiper competition.
Worship is putting God on His throne. Making Him king of our lives. How can we do that when we are doing what WE want to do? Yes, I'll be the first one to admit that any prescribed liturgy may not match the will of God with precision, but it certainly does represent the best efforts man has made over centuries and even millennia to do so. Further, it is more about subjecting ourselves to it, than the actual it, provide it is not simply wrong.
Liturgy removes the personal from the equation, which in the end is the point.
BTW, be sure and read the whole thing.