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Updated: 2 hours 27 min ago

Power and Pastors: Part 3

8 hours 27 min ago

Jesus schooled the world on how to understand and exert power.

This series is an expanded version of my talk from the GC2 Summit, December 13, 2018. Here are Part 1 and Part 2.

Jesus schooled the world on how to understand and exert power.

Rather than wielding it through a sword, a harsh tongue or a prestigious position of authority, Jesus exerted power through two particular images: a lowly servant washing the feet of guests and a suffering sinner hanging on a cross. What’s amazing about these two images depicted by Jesus is that He had no business doing either. He was God incarnate. He created the cosmos. He was the sinless Son of God.

If anything, Jesus should have been walking around demanding people bow down and worship him. But that’s not how Jesus acted. Rather, Jesus exerted power through service and sacrifice. In short, he exerted power not to demand something from people but to do something for people. Therefore, Jesus sets the trajectory for how believers—especially pastors and church leaders—understand and exert power.

In Part 2 of this series, we saw that the power of the Fall calls for extraordinary discernment. But Jesus teaches us at least two more ways to guard against the misuse and abuse of power.

Recognize the Challenge of Power and Our Need for an Extraordinary Shepherd

Power is a challenge.

In every environment, regardless of the situation, power is a significant responsibility. Pastors often don't recognize the extent of their power and the danger of that power going awry. Religious structures often have less accountability for the people in power, and people are often not even aware of the pastor's power in their lives and in the lives of others.

Scripture addresses these concepts. We see descriptions of how pastors are to lead in places ...

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The Most Successful Pastor You’ve Never Heard Of

Mon, 18/03/2019 - 8:23am

No matter what you think success in ministry looks like, this pastor is the real deal.

There are some pastors whose names are known by thousands, even millions of people.

They have the type of ministry in which their successes are obvious.

But that’s not the case with most pastors.

The typical pastor does ministry without much notice or name recognition.

Today I want to tell you about one pastor whose life and ministry may have seemed plain and average, even a failure to some people, but who was actually one of the most successful pastors who ever lived.

Finding A Long-Term Pastorate

This pastor spent an entire ministry in obscurity.

After serving in three short-term pastorates for the first few years of ministry, he settled in to a small church where he spent the rest of his life preaching, teaching, caring for the sick, baptizing people, and performing marriages and funerals.

There were up years and down years. For a few short periods of time it looked like the church might be reaching a point of growth where they would need to expand their facility, but then it would settle back down into predictable numbers again.

Some years there would only be one or two people who came to faith in Christ in that little church.

Not Many Visible Results

Despite working hard, praying harder, and learning as much as possible about church growth and health, very little seemed to change in that little church.

Other churches in town would occasionally spring up and grow big. Sometimes the folks in this pastor’s church would leave for the exciting new church. Yet still this pastor kept going. The church stayed alive, healthy and kept blessing their community.

When the pastor died, there were very few people left in their little church, and not a lot of folks came for the service.

The pastor’s children and grandchildren loved ...

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Should We Rethink the 30-minute Sermon Lecture?

Sat, 16/03/2019 - 5:22pm

Our message should encompass both Scripture and our congregants questions.

Recently, a group of pastors asked me this question: “Should we rethink the 30-minute sermon lecture in light of the many different ways classroom teaching is currently conducted?” They are part of a year-long initiative by the Center for Excellence in Preaching at Calvin Seminary to strengthen the quality of preaching. In an effort to answer this question, the group of pastors asked me to lead a preaching workshop centered on what we know about adult learning.

As I started to prepare, I asked myself, “What is underneath their question about sermon-as-lecture?”

Well, pastors want people to grow. Instead of having our carefully crafted words go in one ear and out the other, we hope for deep transformation. We hope that our communication shapes our listeners’ understanding of God, themselves, and the world so that their way of living would more closely reflect God and His Kingdom.

However, we know that just telling people what they should do is not enough. The old model of education believed that the teacher’s job was to deposit the information into the vessel of the student’s mind for future retrieval. Paulo Freire, who first used the term “banking” to describe this approach to learning, noted that teaching this way results in the facts becoming “lifeless and petrified…detached from reality, disconnected from the totality that engendered them and could give them significance. Words are emptied of their concreteness and become a hollow, alienated, and alienating verbosity.” (Pedagogy of the Oppressed 2000, 71)

In other words, teaching that is not embodied by the teacher and experienced within the relational community is at risk of being nothing but empty ...

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Churches That Play Together Stay Together

Thu, 14/03/2019 - 5:20pm

Pastors report the congregational gains of letting loose as a body.

In its new Households of Faith report, Barna researchers claim that one of the many reasons “vibrant households” stand out from others is because they engage in “meaningful, fun, quality time with both their housemates and extended household members.” That includes playing games together (32%), sharing meals (63% eat breakfast as a family and 75% eat dinner as a family), and enjoying other leisure activities. “These are practicing Christians who know the meaning of play—and indeed, half call their home life ‘playful,’” according to the report.

In other words, the old adage still rings true: Families that play together stay together, and more than that, exhibit signs of strong spiritual health.

The same can be said of the church family.

From softball leagues to book clubs, jazz ensembles to craft nights, churches that play together seem to stay together and grow together, too, adapting more easily to upheaval and building up the camaraderie, compassion, and collective resilience that are essential to a robust church body.

“Our congregation is experiencing some growing edges as younger families begin to assume leadership roles,” said Katie Nix, lead pastor at Trinity United Methodist Church in Moberly, Missouri. “Usually the generations become divided between gatekeepers and new people, but kickball helped to break down some of the walls of fear and create relationships. I believe we avoided several potential turf wars because the two groups experienced an opportunity to play together.”

Other pastors, too, report the unique gains of “letting loose” as the body of Christ.

Jackson Clelland, head of staff at Presbyterian Church of the Master in ...

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Power and Pastors: Part 2

Thu, 14/03/2019 - 2:20pm

Too many Christians fail to consider the propensity leaders have to abuse power.

James, the half-brother of Jesus, writes, “Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins” (James 4:17). Applying Andy Crouch’s definition of power—the ability to make something of the world—to this verse would suggest that those who know what they should do (or refrain from doing) in order to make something better of the world for the glory of God and the good of others but fail to do it, would succumb to sin.

In other words, failing to do the right thing in the context of using power—making something better of the world—would be a good description of the “abuse of power.”

In short, abusing power is sin.

Pastoral power abuse

When pastors abuse power it can be disastrous. Pastoral power abuse can to different kinds of sin, depending on where that abusive power is exercised. Pastoral power abuse can lead to the misuse of authority over church leaders or a congregation, the sexual harassment of adults, the abuse of children, and a myriad of other sins.

All are about the abuse of power; how the abuse is manifested is different depending on the person abusing the power and the local situation.

But Jesus and the gospel show us the better, more godly way to keep from being consumed by power, to wield power through the ministry of the towel—serving others.

Jesus, after washing the disciples feet, turns and tells them, “Now that I, your Lord and teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet” (John 13:14).

The Apostle Paul captured such a humble posture of sacrificial service when he penned,

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who being in very nature God did not consider equality with ...

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Power and Pastors: Part 1

Wed, 13/03/2019 - 5:19pm

Recovering A Biblical Understanding of Power

The Billy Graham Center recently hosted a conversation at the GC2 Summit about sexual assault and abuse, harassment, legal issues, consent, responses to abuse, the important role of governmental authorities, the rule of law, and additional topics vital and urgent to discuss in today's culture. Church leaders—women in particular—are gaining a prophetic platform to call out injustices and abuses, both inside and outside the church, that have long been ignored, covered up, and even accepted.

During the conversation, I had the opportunity to address the summit about the proper use and the abuse of power in the church. Now, I want to take a deeper dive into the concept of power. In this first article, I want to help church leaders recover a biblical understanding of power by discussing the subtlety, scope, and stewardship of power.

The subtlety of power

Power is all around us, and in fact, it is within us. Yet, when it comes to the general public, both inside and outside the church, people don’t typically think of power as something they possess. People tend to think of power as holding a particular position (politically or organizationally), standing on a certain platform, having prosperity, or being popular.

In To Change the World, James Hunter notes that the concept of power is closely associated with the roles of elites in society. Power, therefore, is more associated with who a person is or what he or she has acquired—especially in relation to others.

However, according to Andy Crouch, power—in its simplest definition—is, “The ability to make something of the world.”

Couple this definition with the theology of the imago Dei and the creation mandate, and you arrive at the conclusion ...

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Put People First: Why Many Small Church Pastors Can Spend Less Time On Sermon Prep

Fri, 08/03/2019 - 8:12pm

The smaller the church, the more discipleship is caught through relationships than it's taught through preaching.

As pastors, we typically spend our time in three overlapping areas of ministry: communication, administration and relationships.

But our time is always limited, so on those weeks when time gets tighter, which of the three should we spend extra time on, and which of the three is it okay to spend a little less time on?

Everyone has a different a schedule, skill-set and needs, of course, but as a general rule, I’ve found the following to be true.

The bigger the church, the more important it is to spend time honing our communication skills, the smaller the church the more time we need to spend fostering relationships.

A church’s administrative needs obviously grow as the church gets bigger, but those can (and should) be delegated to others, so let’s look at the two aspects of leadership that most pastors will always have to do ourselves – the balance between communication and relationship-building.

The Big/Small Difference

In a big church, the pastor will have name-recognition relationships with a very small percentage of the people they’re communicating to on a weekly basis. When you add writing, podcasting and other forms of communication, it’s typical for the pastor of a large church to have a personal relationships with fewer than one percent of the people they’re communicating with.

But in a small church, the pastor will know most, if not all of the congregation members personally. Our lives are intertwined. So how does that affect our time management on the weeks when our schedule is especially tight (as in every week for a bivocational pastor)?

When a small church pastor has to choose between spending time on sermon prep, or interacting with congregation members, we should default towards ...

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Small Churches Are Stuck (But Not The Way You Think)

Wed, 06/03/2019 - 8:10pm

Churches on either end of the size spectrum are usually seen as fulfilling their calling. But those in the middle? Not so much.

If you are leading a healthy and effective house church, you may face some criticism for not getting bigger. But most people will start with the assumption that your size is appropriate for your calling.

If you are leading a healthy and effective big church, you may face some criticism for being too big. But most people will start with the assumption that your size is appropriate for your calling.

But if you are leading a healthy and effective small to midsize church, you are most likely facing a constant barrage of criticism for not getting bigger.

  • External criticism and internal criticism.
  • Intentional criticism and unintentional criticism.
  • Criticism disguised as an attempt to help you get bigger and criticism that’s not disguised at all.

What you will receive very little of is the assumption that your size is appropriate for your calling.

Why are the micro-mini church and the megachurch generally considered to be at an appropriate size for their mission (as they should be), but the in-between sizes are considered inadequate at best, and a failure at worst?

Our Size Is Not A Problem

No wonder small churches and their leaders often feel stuck. We are.

But we’re not necessarily stuck as far as health and effectiveness are concerned. Small and mid-size churches are stuck in an in-between zone that makes people assume we’re unhealthy and broken even when we’re not.

Certainly, most small church pastors want their church to grow. And that’s perfectly understandable. In fact, it concerns me when they don’t want to grow.

So I’m grateful for help to get stuck churches unstuck, unhealthy churches healthy, and dying churches growing again.

But helping to fix a small church’s problems is not the same ...

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One-on-One with Kadi Cole on ‘Developing Female Leaders’

Tue, 05/03/2019 - 5:09pm

“This book will educate and inspire you to better maximize the leadership potential of the women in your church.”

Ed: Why did you write this book?

Kadi: Over the course of my career as a leadership and organizational consultant, I have worked with churches and leadership teams in a variety of denominational settings. Recently, I’ve noticed a significant shift in the conversation around women in leadership roles.

Previously, when I would present at an event, the few women present would seek me out to get advice about being a female church leader. Surprisingly, last year, male pastors started to approach me, asking how they could best develop the female leaders on their teams.

I could tell they were genuine in their desire to learn. Unfortunately, many of the things they were trying weren’t actually helping. In fact, as I talked with the women on their teams, they often felt the opposite – that their perspective was not welcome and there was no further way for them to grow or contribute in a more significant way.

But I knew this wasn’t how their senior leaders saw them. There was a disconnect of some kind. That distance between what these high-level male leaders were doing to help women grow and what those women were actually experiencing was problematic and fascinating to me. I set out to research why this was happening and what we, as church leaders, could do about it.

After conducting in-depth interviews with 30 high-level female church leaders, surveying over 1,200 women in various church leadership roles, and collecting research from academic, marketplace, and ministry settings, ‘The Eight Best Practices’ for churches surfaced.

Ed: In the church today, we tend to divide our views of female leadership into cookie cutter categories based on denomination and theology. How do you address this in the book? ...

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The History of the Fundamentalists Facing a Massive Abuse Scandal

Mon, 04/03/2019 - 11:09pm

Meet the conservative Baptists who don’t like Billy Graham.

On Sunday, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram published a four-part series on more than 400 allegations of sexual misconduct affiliated with the independent fundamental Baptist movement. The scope of their reporting spanned nearly 1,000 churches and organizations across 40 states and Canada. The report noted:

One hundred and sixty-eight church leaders were accused or convicted of committing sexual crimes against children, the investigation found. At least 45 of the alleged abusers continued in ministry after accusations came to the attention of church authorities or law enforcement.

But what is the independent fundamental Baptist movement?

Historically it has meant a firm belief in the “fundamental doctrines, that is to say, the essential doctrines of the Christian faith” and “an insistence that you should only extend Christian fellowship to people who profess to believe the gospel.” said Kevin Bauder, a research professor of systematic theology at Central Baptist Theological Seminary and the author of a two-part volume on Baptist fundamentalism.

But that’s not necessarily what people hear, Bauder acknowledges.

“The term ‘fundamentalist’ has sort of been co-opted by Martin Marty’s Fundamentalism project, where he made it a sociological designation for any extreme group,” said Bauder. “None of us are really happy with that label these days, because of the connotations it carries now.”

(Perhaps one way to see it could be as the inverse of historian George Marsden’s remark: “An evangelical is someone who likes Billy Graham.”)

Bauder joined digital media producer Morgan Lee and editor in chief Mark Galli to discuss the history of fundamentalism, why ...

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Mon, 04/03/2019 - 11:09pm

Southern Baptists Torn Between Bold Abuse Reforms and Caution

Mon, 04/03/2019 - 11:09pm

President J. D. Greear wants 10 churches investigated; Executive Committee subgroup wants only 3. But both agree on Sovereign Grace.

Update (March 4): The head of the Southern Baptist subcommittee tasked with reviewing 10 churches for possible violations of denominational standards regarding abuse resigned on Friday, according to a Houston Chronicle report. Ken Alford cited “controversy and angst” over the bylaws workgroup’s response, but defended their position, saying their small group was not equipped to investigate the churches further.

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Conflicting statements from Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) leaders on the denomination’s approach to addressing sexual abuse have left victims, advocates, and pastors themselves with a sense of whiplash—and called into question the fate of proposed reforms to improve accountability among SBC churches.

Those concerned about abuse within America’s largest Protestant body—including the hundreds of cases reported by the Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News—cheered repentant statements and bold plans for policy changes from SBC president J. D. Greear last week, only to see his recommendations largely turned down by part of the SBC’s Executive Committee days later.

Greear called on the Executive Committee (EC), the decision-making body tasked with addressing convention business between annual meetings, to take a harder line against churches that mishandle abuse allegations. Specifically, he wanted the SBC to look into 10 particular churches implicated in the recent investigation to see if the churches still meet denominational standards.

Though Southern Baptists have generally resisted top-down oversight, several prominent SBC leaders, including Greear and Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission president Russell Moore, had begun to say that a commitment ...

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The Biggest Difference Between Churches That Are Raising Young Leaders And Those That Aren't

Fri, 01/03/2019 - 5:07pm

We cannot simultaneously mourn the absence of young church leaders while belittling the way they lead.

There seems to be an absence of young people stepping up to take leadership roles in the church.

I say “seems to be…” because that’s what I keep hearing from so many of my contemporaries in ministry.

“It’s hard to find younger leaders!”

“Why won’t youth step up and take their place in the church like we did when we were younger?”

“What’s wrong with (…here it comes…) Kids. These. Days!?”

Some of this leadership vacuum is due to factors beyond our control. Many small towns, for instance, are losing their youth to big cities at a record pace.

But aside from those situations, we can make the necessary adjustments to keep raising up new generations of young church leaders.

And there’s one factor that has a greater impact than all the others, if we have the will to practice it.

Humility.

The Place Of Humility

In most denominations, the clergy are graying. And in most churches, so is the support staff, whether paid or volunteer. But not in all of them. There are many churches in which young leaders are stepping up big time, including the one I’m blessed to serve.

I’ve been in a lot of churches of all types and styles in the last few years, including those that are dying for youth (literally) and those that are driven by youth.

The dominant factor in churches where young people are stepping up and taking responsibility is that the current leadership is learning to let go, change their role and realize they don’t have all the answers.

In other words, practice some humility.

If you are an aging minister like me (late 50s and older), this message is for us.

We can’t just disciple potential young leaders, we have to release them. ...

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Southern Baptists Torn Between Bold Abuse Reforms and Caution

Fri, 01/03/2019 - 5:07pm

President J. D. Greear wants 10 churches investigated; Executive Committee subgroup wants only 3. But both agree on Sovereign Grace.

Conflicting statements from Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) leaders on the denomination’s approach to addressing sexual abuse have left victims, advocates, and pastors themselves with a sense of whiplash—and called into question the fate of proposed reforms to improve accountability among SBC churches.

Those concerned about abuse within America’s largest Protestant body—including the hundreds of cases reported by the Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News—cheered repentant statements and bold plans for policy changes from SBC president J. D. Greear last week, only to see his recommendations largely turned down by part of the SBC’s Executive Committee days later.

Greear called on the Executive Committee (EC), the decision-making body tasked with addressing convention business between annual meetings, to take a harder line against churches that mishandle abuse allegations. Specifically, he wanted the SBC to look into 10 particular churches implicated in the recent investigation to see if the churches still meet denominational standards.

Though Southern Baptists have generally resisted top-down oversight, several prominent SBC leaders, including Greear and Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission president Russell Moore, had begun to say that a commitment to church autonomy could not supersede their responsibility to prevent and address abuse.

But when it came to the 10 churches in question, the executive committee’s bylaws workgroup declared that 7 did not have credible claims of wrongdoing to investigate in the first place, reasoning that the churches didn’t merit further review and admonishing SBC leaders against calling for inquiries without criminal convictions and evidence ...

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The SBC, Abuse, and the Need for a Better Response: It's Never Too Late to Do the Right Thing

Wed, 27/02/2019 - 2:06am

The SBC Executive Committee response to J.D. Greear needs to be walked back to show survivors they are worth more than a quick dismissal.

The Southern Baptist Convention often does the wrong thing before doing the right thing.

Or, in the case of last week, in responding to a wrong thing, they started to do the right thing, then went back to the wrong thing.

Now, I want them to do the right thing.

The Houston Chronicle’s Abuse of Faith series pointed out what many already knew—the SBC has an abuse problem. SBC President J.D. Greear sought to at least take some steps to address it. And, the bylaws workgroup of the Executive Committee of the SBC heard his call and decided to address it—at lightning speed.

And, according to a growing chorus of Southern Baptists, without due diligence.

Actually, they declared (without actually doing much inquiry) that “no further inquiry is warranted” in most of the cases.

So, Southern Baptists have been accused of not taking sexual abuse seriously and members of the Executive Committee responded by seemingly not taking such allegations seriously.

I should add that in three cases, they did say the situations required more diligence. One of those was Sovereign Grace Church in Louisville. Of course Sovereign Grace needs to do such an investigation and that has been obvious for years.

But, they are not the only one needing more investigation.

And that does not happen at lightning speed.

The hasty response issued by the bylaws workgroup of the Executive Committee to a group of churches named by the Houston Chronicle has been roundly criticized by pastors, abuse survivors, and survivor advocates. Executive committee members are now tweeting their own statements.

The statement has been picked apart for a multitude of reasons, but two are most problematic.

First, the response was issued just one day after requested ...

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Give Us This Day Our Daily Plan

Fri, 22/02/2019 - 5:03pm

How I’m learning to lead God’s people one basket of manna at a time.

I’ve given up trying to manage my church. I’d love to be able to manage things—we all love to feel stable and certain. But I’m choosing something harder and better.

I’ve tried the management approach. It required a lot of future prediction. I would begin a season of the church with a period of discernment and decision-making. Then I would set everything in stone so I could just cruise. Maybe a little trouble-shooting was required along the way, but I didn’t feel much need to check in with God each day. Why bother? I already had my plan.

This approach was handy for crafting sermon series, shaping church vision, and leading staff. The moment when I finally came up with a polished, tidy plan for something important felt great. And so did the measurable success achieved by the plan—and more importantly, the planner. Of course, that was only if my plan succeeded.

Few things make me more anxious than church finances. And as the pastor of a university congregation whose finances are rarely stable or predictable, I have many opportunities to feel financial anxiety. Because of this, budget reports often make me feel like a failure. Surely by now I should have figured out a way to stabilize weekly offerings, even with a transient congregation. Every year when it comes time to shape the next year’s budget, the current budget is rarely where I would like it to be. And every year I’m tempted to confront our problems by first making plans: calling megachurches to ask if they’ll partner with us, finding new ways to communicate our urgent need to every congregant, and many other action-oriented ideas.

This approach seemed to work at times, but it always fell flat when I had to deal ...

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Southern Baptists Want to Expel Churches Over Abuse

Wed, 20/02/2019 - 5:03pm

President J. D. Greear announces a batch of new proposals, reiterating that congregations that cover up incidents have “no place” in the SBC.

After a Houston Chronicle investigation uncovered hundreds of instances of criminal sexual abuse within its churches, Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) president J. D. Greear said the denomination needs to “repent of a culture that has made abuse, cover-ups, and evading accountability far too easy.”

Already, Southern Baptists are taking action to change their church culture, debuting this week new policies and plans to improve organizational awareness of abuse cases and train leaders to address them.

The news report drew particular attention to at least 35 pastors and volunteers who continued to work in Southern Baptist churches after being convicted or credibly accused of sexual misconduct.

At a meeting of the SBC executive committee on Monday, Greear called on the denomination to examine 10 churches who were “alleged to have displayed a wanton disregard for the seriousness of abuse” to see if they indeed meet the standards for SBC churches set forth in the Baptist Faith and Message.

Notably, the list includes Houston’s Second Baptist Church (in recent years, the third-biggest church in the SBC) and Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville, where C. J. Mahaney is senior pastor.

While the SBC can remove churches that harbor predators under its existing policy, the committee wants to now explicitly name mishandling of abuse as grounds for expulsion. If approved by the delegation at the SBC Annual Meeting this year and next year (amendments require two consecutive votes), this requirement will be added to the SBC Constitution as one of the qualifications for churches:

Has not been determined by the Executive Committee to have evidenced indifference in addressing sexual abuse that targets minors and other ...

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The Danger of “Christian” Infamy

Mon, 18/02/2019 - 5:02pm

Fallen flesh doesn’t like simply being sent. We’d rather build our own tower for our own glory.

Last week, the Send Institute ran a poignant piece by John Davidson that argued for the decoupling of church planting and entrepreneurship. Davidson writes, “Rather than framing planting as ecclesial entrepreneurship, the church would be better served if we framed it biblically. The way to do that is by calling it what it is, apostolic ecclesiology.”

He argues that the business nomenclature that characterizes entrepreneurship stands in stark contrast to the simple sentness of the biblical apostles and those who follow in their patterns. I’m a big fan of John Davidson.

Simple sentness.

Is there anything our world needs more of?

Our present missiological matrix necessitates a wholesale change in the normative ambition of kingdom disciples. This begins, at least in part, by the posture of both those leading existing churches and those starting new ones.

The public perception regarding this work might be at an all-time low. There was once a day when the mention of the word “pastor” conjured images of maturity, wisdom, and tender care. These days the term is more often conflated with abuse of power, predatory behavior, or chauvinism.

Much of this we’ve brought on ourselves. The siren’s call of the grandiose platform, international audiences, and the adoring fans, has lulled far too many of us from the simple course to which we were called.

For many, there may have been a time when “simple sentness” was the passion of our hearts. God captured our very souls with the good news of Jesus and we longed for others to experience his grace.

But something happened. Simple sentness wasn’t enough, so we continually grappled for more. In reality, Jesus wasn’t enough. As with most ...

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Pastoral Transition: 7 Signs It May Be The Right Time To Let Go

Fri, 15/02/2019 - 5:00pm

Watching someone else build on the foundation you’ve helped establish may be the most fulfilling part of life and ministry.

One year ago this month, I stopped being the lead pastor of our church.

Not because I was done, but because it was the right time.

Truth be told, I still want to be the lead pastor. At the age of 59, (58 when we made the transition) I’m not too old. I still have the passion, the heart and more than a few important things to say.

But I stepped down anyway.

Earlier than I thought I would. By maybe a decade. But it happened just when it was supposed to happen.

This weekend our church will celebrate the one year anniversary of that transition. So, as I think about all that’s happened over the last 12 months, here are 7 reasons we knew it was the right time for a pastoral transition.

1. The Church Is Strong

The reason most pastoral transitions are so dangerous is that we don’t even consider doing it until there’s a problem – usually an avalanche of problems.

It’s hard for a church to change its leadership. It’s even harder when the church is already in crisis.

Over the 26 years I’ve been at Cornerstone, we’ve learned to look around when things are good and ask, “how can we use this time of strength and health to make the necessary changes?”

2. There’s Someone Else Capable Of Leading

Too many churches lose their best people because they’re unwilling to let them operate in their greatest area of strength.

Weak leaders are intimidated by strong leaders. Strong leaders make way for other strong leaders.

If you look around your church and you see someone else who’s capable of doing your job, don’t be afraid, be happy. You haven’t failed, you’ve succeeded.

That doesn’t mean they’ll take your position (or, as in our case, you’ll ...

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After Major Investigation, Southern Baptists Confront the Abuse Crisis They Knew Was Coming

Tue, 12/02/2019 - 1:58am

The Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News collect 380 allegations spanning 20 states in an unprecedented look at sexual misconduct across the denomination.

A landmark investigation into hundreds of cases of sexual abuse in Southern Baptist churches opened with a collage of pictures of the offenders, row after row of headshots and mugshots of men who had been accused of abusing a total of 700 victims over the past 20 years.

In Sunday’s report, the Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News were able to do what victims say the nation’s largest Protestant denomination has failed to for years: provide a picture of the extent of the abuse within the Southern Baptist Convention and a database of those found guilty of their crimes.

With allegations against 380 church leaders in 20 states (a majority of whom were convicted or took plea deals), it’s believed to be the biggest report on sexual abuse among Southern Baptists in the movement’s history. The report confronts the longstanding defense that the organization can only do so much to monitor abuse since affiliated congregations operate autonomously.

Another set of pictures captures a sense of the impact of abusers in Southern Baptist congregations. In response to the investigation, Southern Baptist women and fellow Christians shared childhood photos on Twitter from the age when they first suffered abuse.

Dozens joined a thread started by Living Proof Ministries founder and popular Bible teacher Beth Moore, including advocate and abuse survivor Jules Woodson and other ministry leaders.

Over the past couple years, the #MeToo campaign has raised awareness about abuse within the SBC and galvanized official efforts to improve the denomination’s response. Last December, as the Fort Worth Star-Telegram rounded up more than 400 allegations among independent Baptists, the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission ...

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