Four Pitfalls for “Relevant” Pastors to Avoid

There are many pastors that seem to have lost their way a bit by following hard after some kind of “seeker” or “emergent” model. They have such a desire for growth and relevance that they have lost their relevance, which makes their growth questionable. With them in mind, here are four common pitfalls which must be avoided by pastors who desire real growth and relevance. In other words, these are things they should not do.

1. Think that church is about reaching the lost at the expense of feeding the sheep, because you have failed to realize that a church of mature Christians can accomplish more for Christ than one shepherd with malnourished sheep.

2. If you do decide to go deeper into the scriptures for those in your church who hunger for it, give them a class on a weeknight night, because you mistakenly believe that the Lord’s Day is not for the Lord’s people, and instead think it is for giving the unregenerate things that will keep them entertained.

3. In order to emphasize relationship and de-emphasize the commands of God, argue that sin is not breaking rule, it is betraying a relationship, because you failed to understand that you cannot betray a relationship unless there are rules to relationships. Then proceed to make up new principles on how relationships are betrayed that have nothing to do with the word of God.

4. Believe that the church needs to be more experiential and less doctrinal, and think that experience is found by manipulating the lighting, music, and dramatic pauses, because you have forgotten that the word of God can cut to the heart with surgical precision and can comfort its wounds like a soothing balm.

I am sure there are plenty more, but these four seem to plague many churches. My prayer is that all pastors and their churches will experience growth and be relevant, but we must remember that a packed house does not necessarily indicate spiritual health. All we have to do is look at many sporting events or concerts to realize the using natural things to appeal to the natural man can fill a house. The Gospel and the word of God are what are relevant to a sinful world, and to sheep who desire to grow. May we all “preach the word.”

God Bless,

Doug

Is The Love of the World Driving You or Your Church?

From Calvin’s Institutes…

“Whatever be the kind of tribulation with which we are afflicted, we should always consider the end of it to be, that we may be trained to despise the present, and thereby stimulated to aspire to the future life. For since God well knows how strongly we are inclined by nature to a slavish love of this world, in order to prevent us from clinging too strongly to it, he employs the fittest reason for calling us back, and shaking off our lethargy. Every one of us, indeed, would be thought to aspire and aim at heavenly immortality during the whole course of his life. For we would be ashamed in no respect to excel the lower animals; whose condition would not be at all inferior to ours, had we not a hope of immortality beyond the grave. But when you attend to the plans, wishes, and actions of each, you see nothing in them but the earth. Hence our stupidity; our minds being dazzled with the glare of wealth, power, and honours, that they can see no farther. The heart also, engrossed with avarice, ambition, and lust, is weighed down and cannot rise above them. In short, the whole soul, ensnared by the allurements of the flesh, seeks its happiness on the earth. To meet this disease, the Lord makes his people sensible of the vanity of the present life, by a constant proof of its miseries.”

Read the entire section here:  Of Meditating on the Future Life.

Shocking Message to Pastors and Churches

This gentleman recently found out that he has a brain tumor.  Pondering this, he wants to remind many Christians and churches how they may sound to someone who is looking for real answers, and not just wanting their ears tickled with prosperity preaching and superficial hype. 

Let’s keep him in prayer,

Doug

On Church Growth and Personal Holiness

This is not going to be another rant against the church growth movement. Though there are major problems in the seeker movement as we all know, we should all be for church growth. In fact it seems almost impossible for a church to be fulfilling the great commission without some kind of growth taking place. We are to go out and make disciples, when they come in, they too are to grow to the place where they go out and make more disciples.

Many times though, it seems to come down to, “if we get this program going, more people will show up.” And sometimes this is true, but it really is amazing what we can accomplish without God’s Spirit moving. It is true that nothing happens outside the providence of God, and even kings have their authority because of His establishing them, but this is not the same as God’s Spirit moving on the congregation in a sanctifying way.

The idea of common grace and saving grace applies not only to individuals but to churches also. A church can grow in number and wealth if it has the right marketing plan, along with a number of other good strategies, but this does not necessarily mean anything spiritual is happening there.

A church where all of the congregants live worldly lives for the entire week is not really growing, even if it is getting more numbers in on a regular basis. We cannot really call it church growth when the majority of a local church is involved in much of the same sinful lifestyle as the rest of the world. When they spend their week chasing after self-glory, personal peace and affluence, and lets the Word of God sit unread the entire week with no real prayer life, it doesn’t matter how big the church is.

In fact, this seems to be a problem in many small non-growing churches also. The people come on Sunday and see a low attendance and wonder why the pastor isn’t bringing in more people with his sermons.  Yet there is no real desire for personal holiness in their lives. After spending the entire week with no real thoughts on Godliness they come to church and expect something to happen, but when we spend a good portion of our time doing things God hates, and not doing the things He loves, we shouldn’t expect much to happen at our church.

It seems that real church growth will not happen when there is no desire for personal holiness in the lives of its people. And when there is a desire, and progress is being made in personal holiness, church growth has already begun. We don’t need more programs that will bring more people in to be just like everybody else in the world. We need people in the church to grow in Godliness and as this happens we will not need programs to bring in the people. The church will grow because the people will be bringing them in, and more programs will be developed to accompany the need for the people who are coming in desiring to know Christ and be more like Him.

So maybe this was a bit of a rant, but it wasn’t really against the church growth movement. It was against the idea that personal holiness can be neglected, while church growth is to be expected, and this happens in some churches with big marketing plans, and some without them.

As we grow to be more like Christ
And by the world we are less enticed,
In our hearts God’s Spirit’s moving,
Then of our growth He is approving.

Doug Eaton