Andrew Carnegie, one of the wealthiest men of his time, was a philanthropist, endowing libraries and other organizations. One time, he bought literally thousands of organs for churches. He said it was to “lessen the pain of listening only to sermons.” Sometimes, when I’m guest speaking in a church I’ll look around and say, “I noticed that you don’t have an organ here. Too bad for you!”
Speaking of “sermons” – a term I’ve never really liked, and only use it here because it’s the most common term among the church-going crowd for what pastors do on Sundays – I admit that I’ve given way too many of them. Not only have I erred in the number of said sermons, I’m embarrassed to say that I’ve often failed in the matter of their individual length. Solomon said, “Too much talk leads to sin.” I’ve never figured out if that’s the sin of the preacher or the preached-to. During the interminable sermon, the preached-to sin by their exasperation and the preacher by the imprudence of droning on.
I’m certainly not saying that Bible teaching is unimportant. The truths of the Bible and those elucidated by gifted teachers have literally saved my life. I’m an ardent, almost obsessed student of the Scriptures, and an avid patron of good teaching. But, what I’m not such a fan of is the “Filibuster Sermon.” Continue reading →
This post, exposing a controlling model of spiritual leadership and proposing a more Christ-like alternative, borrows from chapter 5 of “Learning Leadership Lessons from 2 Corinthians.” The tendency toward dictatorial leadership is nothing new. Spiritual leaders have always been tempted to try to control and coerce people for one reason or another. The sincere, albeit gravely mistaken, ones either thought that God required it or people needed it. Others, with less than noble motives, eat up the power to steer people where they want. It makes them feel and look important.
In his second letter to the Corinthians Paul was dealing with the rumor that was circulating in the region that he was no longer an apostle at all. Considering all that he’d invested in this high-maintenance church it must have been quite a hard blow. The way he handled these attacks is a great model of leadership to any generation. If we follow his train of thought, his exhortations, and pleas in the letter we can learn a lot of life-saving leadership lessons for ourselves.
Among other things he felt compelled to address was the accusation that he practiced a controlling leadership style. His response is a good reminder to any spiritual leader of any age about the relationship God demands between the leader and the led. Continue reading →
Many of my best friends are pastors. Really. For the most part pastors are fine people. Recently to two such friends of mine I said that they “pray too much.” In my humble opinion, there’s an epidemic proportion of profuse pastoral prayers in public. OK, I exaggerate in order to provoke – I also liked stringing together all those words that begin with “p.” But I do have a point to make. Continue reading →
God can be comical when he wants to be. And some of his people, gathered in churches can do some pretty funny things. I was a pastor for over 30 years in four different churches. Lots of great eternal stuff happened, lots of sad stuff, but lots of weird and funny things too. Some of these weren’t funny at the time, but looking back, I’ve got to laugh.
If you have funny stories of your own, I’d love to hear them. Send me an email. Obviously, the possibilities are endless. Here are a few of mine…
The elderly couple and the aftershock…
In 1989 we had a major earthquake in the area close to our church building – a 50 year old theater that we had bought and turned into a place of worship. As a side note, you might be amused to know that the building had been used for a season many years before as a porn theater! Anyway, we endured many aftershocks over the months following the big quake. Continue reading →
But you should keep a clear mind in every situation. Don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at bringing others to Christ. Complete the ministry God has given you. 2 Timothy 4:5 NLT
Undoubtedly due to my Baby Boomer Generation mindset, I prefer lists; you know the kind that delineate six do’s and four don’t’s for choosing a mate, five steps to avoiding joining a cult, three ways to stay out of trouble with God. I like Romans more than Ecclesiastes – the more linear approach than the poetic. This is probably why, over the years, I’ve been drawn to this verse in Paul’s last letter to his young protégé before his beheading. He boiled it down to four things that he thought a young spiritual leader should remember – Don’t lose your head, don’t be afraid, share Christ with as many as possible, and finish what God has called you to! Continue reading →