I’ll be upfront: as an independent Baptist pastor, I am concerned.
Statistics bear that various groups are sliding, and every indication is that established independent Baptist churches are seeing fewer people added to the church by baptism.
This means that even as our nation is growing, our evangelism and discipleship efforts are not. Or at least that they are not growing in effectiveness.
I believe it is time for independent Baptist pastors to seek the Lord about our spirit and our vision. Do we believe it is possible to reach our nation? Is our spirit hindering the spread of the gospel?
And more importantly, what can we do about it? (more…)
Each year at Lancaster Baptist Church, we introduce a new theme for the year to our church family on Vision Sunday. Primarily we do this through the Sunday messages in which the theme is shared from a biblical text and then, in Sunday evening’s message, developed into ministry goals for the coming year.
But one of the most memorable ways we introduce the theme is through teaching our church family a new chorus (typically written by our music team) based on the theme.
Our theme for 2017 is “By Grace,” and below is a video from our 2017 Vision Sunday as the ensemble sings the new chorus “Where Grace Abounds.” (Click here for the sheet music.) I’d like to invite you to learn this song and come sing it with us at Spiritual Leadership Conference this year—June 11–14, 2017.
(If you you cannot see this video in your RSS reader or email, you can watch it here.)
In the previous post, we discussed the need to intentionally evaluate our balance and to make adjustments for sustainability along the way. (If you have not yet read that post, I’d encourage you to read it before reading this post.)
Who do I fear?
How is my tempo?
How is my courage?
How is my spiritual discipline?
In this post, we continue with six more assessment questions.
5. Am I coming apart?
We need to adjust the rhythm of our lives. We can’t constantly march to “Onward Christian Soldiers”; occasionally we need to adjust to reflect on “Amazing Grace.”
Jesus told His disciples as much: “And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.” (Mark 6:31).
This is something I’ve had to learn and still have to work to practice. Part of what makes coming apart difficult is that, even as in Mark 6 when Jesus called His disciples apart, sometimes planned rest gets cancelled for ministry needs. That is simply the nature of ministry. It’s never as easy as it looks on paper, and time apart requires sensitivity to the Holy Spirit as well as a willingness to be flexible.
That said, it’s not impossible to come apart, and these three questions will help you evaluate how well you’re doing it: (more…)
The challenges to Christian ministry continue to mount. Between a cultural shift toward intolerance of truth, the decision fatigue of pastors, the opinion overload of society, and a host of other challenges, it’s no wonder that so many pastors and spiritual leaders are falling out of the ministry.
Although I’m aware of and experience these types of challenges, I want to finish my race still serving the Lord. And I don’t want to stagger across the finish line—depleted and embittered toward the people God has called me to serve—either. I want to finish my race in love with Christ and fully engaged in His work.
In a previous blog, I shared the Spiritual Leadership Conference session 5 Commitments of Continuing Churches. Our goal, however, is not just to build a ministry that continues, but to personally stay in the race.
In other words, we cannot help others to continue if we give up.
One of the characteristics of effective leaders is a practice of personal assessment. In the Wednesday morning session of Spiritual Leadership Conference ’16, we looked at 5 principles of continuing leaders with a challenge to personally assess how we’re doing in each area.
We have the absolute promise that the church will continue. Jesus plainly declared, “I will build my church” (Matthew 16:18). Thus, we have the advantage of operating from the knowledge that we are on the winning side.
Even so, you and I both know of churches that have not continued for Christ—churches who have left off aggressively reaching the world with the gospel and dwindled to nothing or have tried to “reinvent” the church and lost their distinction and effectiveness.
So what is the difference between a local church that continues and a church that doesn’t? What helps a church remain true to its founding doctrine and biblical in its methods?
In a morning session of Spiritual Leadership Conference ’16, we looked at five commitments of continuing churches.