Tuesday, January 26, 2010

State Conference on Evangelism & Church Growth

Sonny Tucker is the leader of the Evangelism and Church Growth Team at the Arkansas Baptist State Convention. He and his team provided a first class conference for Arkansas pastors and church leaders this week at First Baptist Church in Sherwood. The preaching, teaching, and music were all very good. I always come home feeling a mixture of excitement, encouragement, conviction, and disappointment. Let me explain what I mean.

Some of the best speakers across the Southern Baptist Convention descend upon central Arkansas for these two days. As I listen to the talk about sharing the gospel and growing a church, I can’t help but get excited! Any pastor would want to do that; we all want to see our churches effectively reaching out and winning people to Christ.

One message after another brought encouraging words intended to inspire and equip us to get going. Some messages focus on the theological reasons for sharing our faith. Others provide practical ways to put the ideas into practice. I walked away from the conference knowing that I can lead my church to fulfill the Great Commission.

Other messages are directed at me and my sin and my lack of commitment or involvement. Those sermons are hard to hear but someone who wants to please the Lord, win others to Christ, and lead a church to do the same must get serious about his own commitment. My prayer, my study, and my practice can all stand a lift. I know that God’s love can transform me into the vessel that is useful to him.

Disappointment always seems to be part of the emotional package I take home from these conferences. I am disappointed that I have not done a better job leading my church to reach out and grow. I’m disappointed that I stand back from opportunities to share Christ. I’m disappointed because my church doesn’t compare favorably with some others in our state.

The first three emotions are fine and appropriate. The last one has no place in effective living and ministry. Disappointment will drag me down, distract my attention, and defeat my purposes before I ever get started. So I’m letting that one go. Rather than being disappointed by what I heard, I will be motivated by the messages and statistics that indicate a shortcoming in my life and my church. With motivation now at the helm, God can use the excitement, encouragement, and conviction to help me mature as a pastor, preacher, leader, and Christian.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sunday nights

I need some help. Our Sunday night crowd is very small. We have a few regulars and a few that are hit and miss. Since I’ve been at this church we’ve tried a few things to boost attendance but nothing has worked so far.


Here’s a short rundown of what’s going on.


Children: attendance is anywhere from 1 to 9. Mostly 1 to 4. Using a music/bible study combo format.

Youth: attendance was 6 at best but now is 0 or 1. Contemporary music & bible study.

Adults: choir rehearsal and adult bible study options. Total attendance average is 12.

Another 2-4 some in for the worship service at 6:00.


I’m open to any and all suggestions. I’ve been thinking about having no Sunday evening activities, having home groups, having worship service only, or just leaving it alone. But it seems to be broken so I don’t like the last idea. I am pretty traditional so I really can’t imagine not doing something in the church building. I’m getting over that, though.


Question: If we do home groups, do I, as the pastor, settle into one group or float through all of them?


So, I need help. Comment with your suggestions or at least pray for me. This is the most frustrating challenge I’ve faced in ministry.

Monday, January 18, 2010


Have you ever had one of those moments when reality sank in? For a young couple the reality of becoming parents hits them perhaps when the ultrasound shows signs of life within the mother. For the football team the dream fades when the clock is winding down in the fourth quarter and the opponent has the ball. Each of us has moments in our lives when something happens – an event that marks the moment – and we realize its significance.


I received an email today from the registrar’s office at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. It is a notice regarding upcoming registration dates for the Spring trimester. I will enroll in the final workshop in the Doctor of Ministry program this trimester. Now, I realize I’m still a long way from the finish line. After the workshop comes the daunting task of researching, creating and implementing a project that will impact the ministry of Cross Road Baptist Church. That can take a couple of years or more. But this workshop will likely be the last “for credit” classroom setting. I started school forty years ago. This is one of those moments.


Check back in a couple of years to find out if I was able to finish the project and get the degree.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Early hours

I’m a procrastinator. If you read my blog regularly you already know that. I confess it often. I guess that means I’m not getting over it.

I’m up at this early hour because of procrastination. I’ve known about this deadline for about two months. You get the picture? Put if off. Put if off. Lose sleep getting it done!

I do OK with that but it sure is stressful. And I’m sleepy.

What if a person waited and waited to accept Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord? You might wait too long and forever miss your opportunity to spend eternity in heaven with Jesus. The flipside is that you would also miss you opportunity to escape hell. Those are two good reasons to stop putting off trusting Jesus for your salvation.

Do it today. Stop procrastinating!

Tuesday, January 05, 2010


A UPS delivery truck just backed up to the window of the coffee shop where I’m sitting this morning. On the side of the truck are these words: “Worldwide Services Synchronizing the world of commerce.” That’s a good goal and from what little I know about the company, they are getting it done.


The word “synchronizing” caught my attention. Just yesterday I saw a bumper sticker about syncretism. I remember the first time I saw it; it really irritated me. Still does.


The bumper sticker is the word “co-exist” and the letters are made up of symbols from different religions. The Christian cross makes the “T” and the Muslim crescent makes the “C” and so on. The idea is that all religions are of equal value and can be merged or harmonized because all religions are true and lead to the same goal – just different paths. I have no problem with religious freedom – the idea that anyone can believe and practice any religion they want. I have a problem with someone thinking all religions are the same.


If a person claiming to be a Christian believes all religions are the same, how can he really be a Christian? The claim of Christianity is that Jesus is the only way. Our Lord said it exactly that clearly in John 14:6. Reject that and you cannot be Christian. This tenet is called the exclusivity of the gospel: there is only one way to eternal life and right-standing with God.


Although Christianity has the tone of exclusiveness, it also has a universal aspect. First, don’t think that I am saying all people will somehow be saved. I am not saying that because I don’t believe it and it is not true. The universal aspect of Christianity is that “whosoever will may come.” Salvation is available to anyone and everyone. The condition of salvation is faith in the one and only Son of God – Jesus Christ.


There is no reason to synchronize our beliefs with any other belief system. But there is reason to aggressively share the gospel with everyone we meet. Unless they turn exclusively to Jesus Christ the will perish eternally.


It’s OK for UPS to synchronize the world of commerce. In fact, that’s a good thing. But synchronizing religions leads nobody to heaven.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Busy Days

Too much on my calendar these last few days is undone. Must have been too much on there to start with. But what should not be there? Family Christmas gatherings, church services and meetings, weddings, shopping, seminar assignments, and general “life” activities dotted the days. Father and son writers Thom and Art Rainer authored “Simple Life” in which they describe a life free from clutter. The point is to prioritize and then stick to the priorities.


Compounding my problem is procrastination. So the congestion becomes a log jam! At times throughout the years I’ve handled procrastination but at other times it has handled me. I’ve learned that the culprit is perfectionism: if I can’t do the task perfectly I will wait until later when I may be better equipped or have more time. When I have been on top of procrastination it has been because I pursued excellence rather than perfection. Excellence is a better goal because it is attainable. Excellence is doing my best. Honestly, sometimes my best will not achieve perfection but my best is always excellent.


So for me the key to navigating busy days is to focus on priorities and strive for excellence. Hope that thought helps you, too.