Monday, October 31, 2016

5 Things Pastors Dread Hearing After Preaching a Sermon

Been doing reading on leadership for my Dissertation proposal and have been reading Eric Geiger, here are some thoughts on not what to share wiht your pastor after his preaching. . . .
 Preaching is simultaneously exhilarating and exhausting. Though I am not sure how it could be proven, some have articulated that preaching one sermon is as emotionally and psychologically taxing as an eight-hour workday. If you are like me, you know you should rest in the promise that His Word does not return void, yet you often wish you had said things differently. Doubt and insecurity can creep in. There is also the spiritual reality that you are susceptible to attacks from the Enemy. Jonah was depressed and wanted to die after the great revival the Lord used him to spark. The apostle Paul said he had to beat his body into submission after he preached.
With that as a backdrop, here are five messages that pastors dread hearing after preaching. Pastors, I am going to hypothetically respond in ways you have been tempted to respond, but have loved people too much to do so. Though my list varies a bit from his, I must give credit to my boss, Thom Rainer, for initially posting.
1. You used that illustration before.
Yes. Yes, I did. I preached my guts out for 35 minutes and used one 2-minute illustration again. I am sorry you were unable to absorb any of the other 33 minutes because I am such an idiot for reusing an illustration. If you want to go complain to the worship leader about singing some of the same songs, he is over there. Oh wait, you actually only complain when he sings a new song. Hold on, let me write this down so I won’t disappoint you: No new songs, but only new illustrations.
2. I am going to send you a sermon/article by (insert famous pastor name).
Oh, please do. I will love spending my afternoon trying to figure out which parts of the article you really wanted me to read and which parts you are saying contradict my message. I can’t wait. Can you send now so I can read it over lunch with my wife?
3. Why did you not announce this?
My bad. I totally forgot to be emcee today. Forgive me; I was trying to be pastor. I know some would prefer I spend more time in the bulletin and less time in the Bible. Are you one of those people?
4. I wish you would preach on …
Hmmm. Thank you so much. Feel free to ask the Lord to lead me in that direction. When I do preach on that, will you listen then?
5. I want to talk to you about (insert some minor issue).
So after hearing the pure, faultless, and perfect Word of God, you want to talk about soap being out in the bathroom? After remembering the great sacrifice of Jesus, you want to talk about the bulletin being off-center?

Friday, October 28, 2016

Leadership Advice From Airline Safety

A good observation on leadership by Ron Edmondson.
If you’ve spent any time flying commercially, you’ve most likely memorized the flight attendants instructions prior to take off.
Perhaps this will sound familiar:
Oxygen and the air pressure are always being monitored. In the event of a decompression, an oxygen mask will automatically appear in front of you. To start the flow of oxygen, pull the mask towards you. Place it firmly over your nose and mouth, secure the elastic band behind your head, and breathe normally. Although the bag does not inflate, oxygen is flowing to the mask. If you are travelling with a child or someone who requires assistance, secure your mask on first, and then assist the other person. Keep your mask on until a uniformed crew member advises you to remove it.
Years ago I was listening (I usually tune these announcements out – sorry) and one line jumped out at me.
If you are travelling with a child or someone who requires assistance, secure your mask on first, and then assist the other person.
I was instantly reminded of an important leadership principle. This is probably something you already know, but it’s always good to be reminded.
Leader, if you aren’t taking care of yourself, you can’t continue to lead at the level needed to help your team be successful. You certainly can’t lead a team to be healthy if you are living an unhealthy lifestyle. The healthier you are – physically, emotionally, spiritually, and relationally – the more health you can bring to the team.
Just like on the airplane, you can’t help your team if you are having trouble breathing on your own.
Be honest.
What is one thing you would need to change in order to live a healthier life?
Grab your mask – get some needed oxygen – get the help you need, whatever it is, so you can lead at your best again.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

The Loss of Religious Freedom

Here is an article by James Emory White with an example of how we are losing our religious freedom.  I have said before there are those in our culture who do not just want a voice but to be the voice.  We must agree and affirm a lifestyle or we are labeled as haters!

Watershed Moment

My home state of North Carolina and home city of Charlotte have been in the news of late for a number of social and cultural matters.
In relation to one of those, the Charlotte Observer ran a front page story related to HB2 (House Bill 2), often referred to as the “bathroom bill.” It is called that because the bill came about as a reaction to a Charlotte city ordinance that protected transgender people who wanted to use the bathroom of their gender “identity.”
Popular translation: A man dressed as a woman can use a woman’s bathroom if he feels he identifies with being a woman.
A firestorm ensued when HB2 was passed in reaction to overturn the city ordinance, namely because some felt it went beyond a narrow limitation of the city’s reach, and restricted LGBTQ rights even further than they had been before.
Much of the ensuing conversation has been whether the LGBTQ community needs expanded protection as outlined in the Charlotte city bill, or whether the state was right in saying that things were already adequately cared for.
Weighing in on the matter, the Charlotte Observer produced a front-page story on the ways the LGBTQ community has faced discrimination; a not-so-veiled attempt for the paper to cast its vote on the matter of whether additional protections are needed.
The title?

“Permission to Hate.”

Yes, that was the not-so-subtle title.
It then detailed numerous stories of LGBTQ discrimination. And to be sure, some of the stories were repugnant. True discrimination, much less violence, against the LGBTQ community must be deplored. 
Which made it all the more disturbing that one of the primary examples of such discrimination was a story titled, “Her Former Church Told Her to Repent.”
A lesbian woman had chosen to marry another woman. After doing so, she was contacted by her church and told that her relationship was outside of the church’s beliefs. The church asked her to “display repentance and abandonment of this area of open immorality.”  
Not for being homosexual in orientation, mind you, but for openly embracing the homosexual lifestyle in violation of the church’s stated beliefs, which she had agreed to when she joined as a member.
That was it.
But it was offered as an example of a story of “hate” and discrimination against the LGBTQ community.
Be afraid. Be very afraid.
Yes, the line has finally been brazenly crossed in the most public and mainstream way:  A faith community that holds to its beliefs about things as foundational as sexual morality, marriage and family – not to mention upholding the integrity of its membership – can now be charged with perpetuating a hate crime against another person when they take a convictional stand for those beliefs. Even if all they do is say: “We have clearly parted ways in our understanding of faith. So let’s part ways.”
They didn’t try and prevent the marriage. They just wanted to continue to be the faith community they were. They didn’t change; the former member changed.
This is precisely what those advocating for gay rights, early on in the debate, said would never happen. They said they simply wanted the right to marry. They wouldn’t force their views on anyone else. Of course religious freedom would be protected.
Short-lived promise. And one we know, now, was disingenuous from the start. It is now clear the goal was never simply having “rights” but enforcing cultural affirmation. There is a difference. A deeply disturbing difference.
The stance of the Observer is not an isolated incident.
Consider Watermark Church, a Dallas megachurch, now embroiled in equal media controversy after it “lovingly” ousted a member for being in a gay relationship with another man.
Again, not for being homosexual in orientation, but for openly and unrepentantly embracing the homosexual lifestyle in direct violation of the church’s deepest religious convictions. Further, he publicly stated that he no longer embraced the church’s beliefs on the matter.
“We are left with no other option but to remove you from our body,” their letter states. “We lovingly but firmly call you back to repentance.”
Many have observed that this was simply a church being a church. The man did not have to join the church, much less originally agree to embrace its beliefs. But in choosing to depart from them, and also refusing to willingly resign his membership on the front end, he left the church little choice but to maintain the integrity of its faith and practice (and membership) by removing him from that affiliation.
What else would anyone expect?
As the pastor of the church explained in a commentary for the Dallas Morning News, because the man didn’t think same-sex activity was “inappropriate for a follower of Jesus Christ, it became appropriate to formally acknowledge his desire to not pursue faithfulness to Christ with us.”
“Loving correction (church discipline) can be a difficult idea to understand,” the pastor wrote, “but discipline is an act of love, something any parent knows.”
Yet it’s become the talk of the town, as if Watermark has, in some way, committed an act of legal discrimination, if not a hate crime.
So it’s not just about Watermark Church.
It’s about a watershed moment.
And one that doesn’t bode well for the church, and carries ominous signs of not only the looming loss of religious freedom,
… but even the early signs of future persecution.
James Emery White

Michael Gordon, Mark S. Price and Katie Peralta, “Understanding HB2: North Carolina’s newest law solidifies state’s role in defining discrimination,” The Charlotte Observer, March 26, 2016, read online.
Elizabeth Leland, “Permission to Hate,” The Charlotte Observer, read online.
Todd Wagner, “Watermark Church’s ‘loving correction’ helps members deal with sin,” Dallas News, October 16, 2016, read online.
Kimberly Winston, “Dallas church to gay member: ‘We lovingly … call you to repentance’,” Religion News Service, October 19, 2016, read online.

About the Author

James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also served as their fourth president. His latest book, The Rise of the Nones: Understanding and Reaching the Religiously Unaffiliated, is available on Amazon. To enjoy a free subscription to the Church and Culture blog, visit, where you can view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world. Follow Dr. White on twitter @JamesEmeryWhite.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

7 Reasons Why Faithful Church Attendance Matters

Going to church every week, week after week matters. If we know Jesus, we should desire to be with his bride. For all those who believe, have a church home, but don’t attend consistently, I’m writing for you. If you’re one of those spotty non-attenders, I’m writing to you in love but also in truth. Come home! Regular church attendance is not just good for the ministry; it’s good for your soul, and for mine.1
So why is regular church attendance so important? Here’re seven reasons:


A call for regular church attendance begins in what are likely the first written words of the Bible, the Ten Commandments. Exodus 20:3 says, “You shall have no other gods before me.”2 How we spend our time is the truest measure of God’s place in our lives. If we are quick to fill the time set aside for worshipping God with visiting family, going to the beach, attending concerts, or just relaxing, we are unintentionally saying those things matter more than God (Matt. 12:48-50Lk. 14:26).
Just like we set aside time to listen to our loved ones, we need to set aside time to listen to God. Throughout church history God has used one constant to communicate to his people, the public reading and preaching of the Bible. In 2 Timothy 3:16-17, Paul tells us,
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
If we want to prioritize God and what he wants to say to us, we need to prioritize church in addition to our own quiet times with him.


“I love Jesus but not the church” is like saying to a new groom, “I love you but not your bride.” The Bible describes the local church as the bride of Christ (2 Cor. 11:2 Eph. 5:24-27Rev. 19:7-921:1-2). It is impossible to maintain a thriving relationship with Christ while at the same time avoiding fellowship with a gospel-believing local church. When we commit to loving the church, we commit to loving Christ.
Parents should be especially driven to attend church regularly. The children of parents who do not attend church consistently are more likely to walk away from Christianity when they are old enough to decide for themselves. Why? Their parents demonstrated week after week that Christ is an add-on, an addition, and if life is too busy, it is okay to ignore him. Parents, please model for your children that Jesus is not only the Savior of your soul but the King of your life.


There is nothing more important than the gospel, than hearing anew that Jesus is a righteous substitute for sinful, broken, people—for you and me (Rom. 3:21-262 Cor. 5:21). In Romans 10:17, Paul says, “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.” Even though we need to hear and believe the gospel every day, it is easy to go a whole week without giving this life-changing message a passing thought. One of the church’s roles is to boldly and lovingly tell us how bad we are and how great Jesus loves us week after week. When we love the church, we love the gospel.
One of the temptations in encouraging each other to go to church weekly is to do so from guilt, to say God won’t be pleased with you unless you go to church every week. That’s legalism, and it is death. So what does the gospel say? It says that in Jesus we already have a perfect record, and now we’re called to live it out week by week. God created us for good works (Eph. 2:10), one of which is worshipping with his body. Apart from Christ, I am nothing. In him, I am everything.


In the early church, the Holy Spirit used regular and passionate participation in the church in Jerusalem, a local church, to bring new people to faith in Jesus.
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. – Acts 2:42-47 (emphasis added)
It is a miracle when the unchurched and non-Christians begin attending church. There are already a lot of new words, lingo, and patterns to learn. By not attending faithfully, we confuse the newly churched about what it means to follow Jesus. Not only is this a challenging time for a non-Christian attender, but there is also a spiritual battle taking place (Eph. 6:12). When we attend together, we fight the battle together.


Church attendance is good for the soul. If you’re someone who struggles with sadness or depression, find a church that has God-given joy and commit. It is easier to catch the joy when you are around others who truly have it.
Speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. –Ephesians 5:19-20
One of the benefits of coming to church regularly is the opportunity to give (1 Cor. 16:2). Giving to God has the side-effect of producing a heart-attitude of gratefulness.
Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. – 2 Corinthians 9:7
Worshipping regularly with fellow believers and giving to the local church can up-lift the soul and refresh us for our everyday life.


The benefits of attending faithfully are enormous. In 1 Thessalonians 5:11, Paul says, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” Regular church participation gives us the opportunity to use our spiritual gifts to build up the local church and bring God fame (Rom. 12:6-8,1 Cor. 12:4-1112:28). The book of Hebrews says over and over how important it is for Christians to encourage each other and not fall away.
See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end. – Hebrews 3:12-14
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. – Hebrews 10:24-25
The potential consequences of neglecting church are serious—cultivating a hard heart, not sharing in Christ, turning away, and subjecting Christ to public disgrace (Heb 6:4-6).
Christ warned the Church in Laodicea they were lukewarm. In Revelation 3:16, the Apostle John says, “So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” If you are a lukewarm attender, chances are you are a lukewarm believer. God desires that His followers repent from a lukewarm relationship with him and truly seek him. The Holy Spirit wants to set us on fire for God and His glory. Strong attendance helps us heat up our ministry temperature.


Elders, pastors, deacons, and other church leaders face many unsung battles. One of them is shepherding the flock; guiding people spiritually. One way the sheep can make it just a little easier on their shepherds is to come into the sheep pen regularly. Hebrews 13:17 says,
Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.
You give your leaders great joy when you tell them church matters, and you are willing to submit to their authority (1 Pt. 5:1-11). Scripture tells us that Christ is the “Chief Shepherd” (1 Pet. 5:4). When we submit to the under-shepherds God has put in place, we submit to the Chief Shepherd, Jesus. When the sheep show up, the shepherds rejoice, and I believe the Chief Shepherd does too.


If you’re someone who doesn’t attend regularly, I hope you’ll be challenged to commit truly. It’s time to step up! If you go faithfully but have a family member or church friend who comes and goes with the wind, feel free to share, but do so with love and kindness.
If you’re a church leader, consider writing regular church attendance into your covenant or requirements for membership, then encourage your members to keep covenant.
Ultimately, this is not done for the sake of an institution or organization, but for the sake of our souls. We want to know and love Jesus, and he gave us his bride, the church, out of his deep love for us. Let’s go to church!
1. Check out Matt Schmucker ’s “Those Toxic Non-Attenders” and Garrett Kell’s “7 Reasons Why Faithfully Showing Up Matters”—these two articles inspired this article which was originally written for my church.
2. All Scripture references are from the NIV
Jonathan Romig (M.Div., Gordon-Conwell, 2013) is the Pastor of Cornerstone Congregational Church, a new church plant in Westford MA. He is also the author of the e-book, How To Give A Christian Wedding Toast.