Pastors & The Church

I ran across the attached infographic today and decided to share it with a couple of my own thoughts.  The one thing that really stands out to me is the statistic that 72% of Pastors admit that they only study the Bible when preparing their sermons.  Seriously?  Well, that is a serious charge to make, but one I think bears up in the rest of the statistics on the chart.  Matter of fact, I had a Pastor at a church I used to attend admit to me that for quite some time in his pastorate, the only time he opened the Bible was when he was preparing a sermon.  He also did his Sunday evening sermon prep on Sunday afternoon.  I would imagine that he is not alone in this, as the infographic states.

Most mornings at 3:30 AM I get out of bed so that I can spend time reading the Bible and studying God’s Word for myself before I head off to work.  Since I have an hour commute to work and a hour return trip, I typically spend that time listening to a sermon (This morning it was Brian Borgman teaching out of Hebrews on Jesus, The Firstborn) or some other teaching podcast like The Reformed Forum Podcast.  Then, in the evenings, after my children go bed I typically read or study something from one of the many theological books that I have purchased.  I am not a pastor and ministry is not currently my calling, but I typically spend 18 – 20 hours a week in personal study of the Word, plus prayer time. 

So, I guess what I’m saying is that it is very frustrating to me to see an infographic like the one I’ve shared.  But then again, when you look at the state of the current evangelical church, is it any wonder that the average church attendance is roughly 18%?  Over the years I’ve found that if a leader is weak, those he leads will be weak.  If a leader is strong, he will inspire strength in those he leads.  This was extremely evident to me when I served as a Religious Program Specialist with several Marine Battalions.  Officers and Enlisted NCO’s in the Marine Corp were typically weeded out if they didn’t cut the mustard and show strong leadership.  And while the Church cannot be run like a military organization, shared leadership between the Pastor and Elders must exist and it must be strong and focused in a church setting and context.  I would submit from what I am sharing today that this not the case in most church’s.  Just sayin’.

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Scripture & Scotch?

My wife came and told me that she saw an event on Facebook that was endorsed by a pastors wife that she is friends with.  Scripture and ScotchI guess the premise of this event is to go to a local nightclub in Springfield, MO, play secular music, drink, and share scripture with those who attend.  Judging from the facebook page it would appear that  at least one person who hasn’t been at church in a year, will be there along with many others.  So, my initial impression is that this is a way for those who attend church to have an excuse to go act like the world, which is exactly what Paul said not to do in Romans 12:2 and the Apostle John talked about in 1 John 2:15-17.  I am constantly amazed at the rationalization those who call on the name of Christ come up with to reach the lost instead of just preaching the Gospel message and calling on people to repent and believe.  What is even more troublesome is that I know that the church (cough, sputter, etc) where a lot of those who are leading this is affiliated with a denomination that used to believe in holiness and separation from the ways of the world.  Isn’t it interesting how times have changed?

 

 

Tipping “Religious” Cows

I ran across this article by Fred Zaspel the other day.  I am very familiar with the practice that Pastor Zaspel writes about as I was part of many church’s that practice this.  But my views have changed considerably as I have considered the absolute sovereignty of God and the fact that salvation is all of God and not of man.  This article was very welcomed by me in defining and defending my new held beliefs in what is known as “The Alter Call.”

The “Altar Call”
Is it helpful or harmful?

by Fred G. Zaspel
Published by Word of Life Baptist Church, Pottsville, PA

copyright © 1998 All rights reserved
Copying and other reproductions are permitted for non-commercial use only.

Introduction

It would be all but impossible to give an accurate description of the modern evangelical church without mention of the invitation system, or the “altar call,” as it is called. The altar call is a custom in virtually all Evangelical, Fundamentalist, Wesleyan, Pentecostal, and Charismatic circles. Immediately following the sermon the congregation will sing a hymn during which the preacher calls men and women to walk to the front of the auditorium (the “altar”) to make a public decision to “accept Christ.” Salvation is offered to all who will but come to the front and take it. Those who come receive the personal attention of a counsellor and are instructed what to pray, and so on. They may be taken to a private “inquiry room,” or they may kneel together at the front of the auditorium and speak together softly while the congregation is singing.

I say this is the custom. Indeed, it is all but universal in the evangelical world, and it is considered to be an essential part of evangelism. In fact, those who do not observe the custom are generally held to be “liberal” or at least “unconcerned” about evangelism. The invitation system is an essential feature of the modern evangelical church.

But in the thirteen years that I have been at Word of Life, there has never been such an altar call. I certainly do not want to leave the impression that those who observe the practice are not our friends, indeed, our brothers in Christ. But our refusal to adopt the prevailing custom makes us stand out as different, and as a result we are sometimes asked to explain “why.” Given that the custom is such a prevailing one today, the question is a fair one. Why do we not observe the altar call at Word of Life Baptist Church?

Where Did It Come From?

What is often shocking to many who use the modern invitation system is that the altar call is just that modern. The practice, although widespread, is a very new phenomenon in the Christian church. For nearly nineteen centuries Continue reading