This post is not concerned with things outside the pastor’s control: people having coughing fits that go on for several minutes, children (or adults) making repeated restroom visits, Sister Sue clipping her fingernails, or someone snoring. We are considering only things the pastor/preacher might do to ruin a perfectly good sermon.
Christians, how can we be vigilant to guard against selfish ambition in our lives and ministries? How can we be sure that the priority of our platform is to champion the gospel, not ourselves? A comprehensive solution to the issue of self-promotion within the church is beyond the scope of this article. That being said, our answer to a single question goes a long way to illumine the true motivation which drives our platforms.
“Is this platform worth my life?”
An excellent way to lock down solid youth pastors for at least four to five years is to encourage them to enroll in a part-time distance program while working full-time at the church. Allow them some time during work hours to study and travel to the seminary campus for intensives. Contribute to their tuition. Some schools match church contributions with scholarships.
Next week sees the release of a new book by Brian Dembowczyk on how the gospel shapes our kids, churches, communities and beyond. Make sure to get a copy for everyone on your team.
Every Sunday, a deacon unlocks the door, an usher picks up a stack of bulletins, a pastor kneels in the study, and they wait. Soon, the parking lot fills, and people from all walks of life stream into the building for weekly worship.
They are not paid to be here. They are not forced to be here. Yet they come and serve in beautiful ways.
God’s people have been committing this trifecta of sins for quite a long time. It’s these sins that the prophets of the Old Testament preached against before the exile and again after it. And it is these sins for which Jesus in the New Testament castigated the Pharisees. They misunderstood what it meant to have a right relationship with God. As a result, they trusted in their adherence to religious acts to secure a relationship with God, all the while despising him by ignoring the “the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy, and faith” (Matthew 23:23).
A favorite from the archives:
When writing on how we can be more thoughtful literary evangelists, I made the comment that fiery rhetoric and angry polemics don’t win people, but genuine love and compassion just might. This is something I’ve increasingly been convicted about in recent years: my use of unnecessarily inflammatory, harsh or hostile language, particularly as I think back on ways I’ve spoken in the past that have been utterly foolish.
But this doesn’t mean there aren’t times to use harsh language. In fact, there are times when the only proper response is to be extremely harsh. (Granted these are rare, but they still exist.) So… how do we know when we should and when we shouldn’t? Here are four principles that I believe help us determine whether or not it is appropriate to use harsh language.