Category Archives: Ministry

The Church Speaks on SEX

Okay, I bet that headline got your attention!  This blog is actually a Book Review.  The book is entitled, “REAL MARRIAGE” ‘The Truth about Sex, Friendship & Life Together by Mark and Grace Driscoll.

In preparing for this post, I read a couple of other bloggers review on this book.  Where I truly believe everyone is entitled to their own opinions concerning their likes and dislikes, it infuriates me for someone to render stark opinions about a book having not even cracked it open.

Let’s face it Pastor Mark Driscoll is known for being a loud mouth, pompous, crude, somewhat bully and an opinionated tyrant when it comes to addressing certain topics of discussion.  On the surface it appears nothing is off limits. He has earned the title of One of the 25 Most Influential Pastors some have called him the “Most Controversial preacher of the 21st Century.”

Although I don’t always agree with everything he says and I believe that he can be a loose cannon with his mouth, I do applaud him as being, at least , one of the ‘brave pastors’ who is willing to take certain subjects  dead on while other pastors promise to take them on but never really deliver.

I also believe that Driscoll is an effective teacher, evidenced by his 7000 member church (Mars  Hill Church). I must admit I was intrigued by all the fuss about his controversial book a on marriage and made a point to order it and was glad I did.

Here are a few reasons that I did like the book.

1)      Like Captain Kirk, he dared go where no other preacher would go addressing real issues frank and explicit – no coded terms in here.

2)      Driscoll shares the historical perspective of priest abstinence, sex for procreation only, birth control violations, etc. without drowning us in endless details.

3)      He addresses facts that Christians really want to know about but can’t get frank answers from the church because of fear.  Chapter 10 which is called, “Can We ______?” leaves no subject uncovered.

4)      His book does reference scripture, but does not waste the readers time filtering through scriptural rewrites with the exception of his interpretation of the Song of Solomon which he breaks down.

5)      Book size is manageable.  I like reading books that I can get through in a couple of days.

The first part of the book talks about friendship and marriage as well as a transparent view of  personal hang-ups and baggage both Mark and Grace brought into their marriage.  They offer practical suggestions how to communicate better with each other especially in the chapter called, “Friends with Benefits.”

The second part of the book deals with the subject of SEX. The chapter causing the most fireworks is chapter 10 which is called, “Can We _____?”  This addressed just about every issue from masturbation, oral sex to the use of toys, role playing and even cosmetic surgery.  I did like how they addressed each topic in this chapter addressing each topic According to God and According to Government laws by these three measurements:

1)      Is it Lawful?
2)      Is it Helpful?
3)      Is it Enslaving?

I must admit some things were a little hard to wrap your mind around, and some things I outright disagreed with, however,  I must say I am grateful that someone really decided to take this subject on in more of a direct way instead of beating around the bush using coded worded leaving their readers to guess what they are talking about.

Mark’s passion was that this book was designed to enrich marriages, get couples talking to one another again, to answer questions of what is permissible and to create greater intimacy.  He further added that if the church doesn’t address the questions because of fear, then members will attempt to get answers from unhealthy places.

What do you think about the video clip?  Have you read the book?  What sayeth you?


Church Unity – Can’t We All Just Get Along?

Last week I read a blog on the subject of church membership in whether it was biblical or not.   The writer did a good job laying out the benefits. I scrolled down to leave my comment when I stumbled across another blogger’s comment.  He was ruthless.

WRITER BASHING. The commenter slammed the blog writer up one side and down another challenging him on his interpretation of the scripture.  It was really sad and it embarrassed me to be a believer and witness another so called Christian assassinate the  character of his brother.

TO COMMENT OR NOT TO COMMENT. I read numerous blogs everyday, and not all do I bother to comment on, but I felt a need to let the author know that I thought he did an excellent job proving the case for membership.

The author’s entire blog post had a single scripture to prove his case  in that membership was biblical.  Yes, the author could have used any number of other scriptures to prove his case.  But did he deserve to be demeaned? NO.

SOUND THE ALARMS – WHERE’S THE CHURCH? In the wake of the shooting sprees in Colorado, Wisconsin, Arizona, Chicago, the alarms are sounding that  the church has lots of work to do – your church, my church, our church, the church down the road – ALL churches who witness Jesus as Lord.  The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few!

Folks, we do NOT have to argue over the petty things. That one scripture did NOT discredit all the other good stuff that was written.

We must be the light to a dark and depressed world.  How futile it is to spend time online showing us how smart you are as you gloat as being the self-appointed scripture watch dog.  Shame on you!  You know my position, “If the shoe fits…”

IS IT ABOUT HIM OR YOU? If the commenter had a heart for the kingdom, he could have comment on the subject at hand and added “I would have used this scripture to prove the point.” His backlash instead displayed his motivation in glorifying himself by demeaning the blog writer.

MY FLESH WANTED TO REACH OUT AND TOUCH. I must admit, I wanted that commenter more than a horse wanted hay.  Had I  been able to comment I would have certainly wrote out of my flesh. In hindsight I am grateful that I was unable to comment lest I had said some things and blown my own witness.

There are just softer ways to address people.  We need to be sensitive.  Let’s concentrate on the things that UNITE us and stop trying to prove to others that we are so much better than they are.

WHAT ABOUT THE DENOMINATION DEBATES?  You know what I mean .. the Methodist are better than the Baptist who are better than the Lutherans who are better than the Catholics who are better than the  Episcopalians and the list goes on. And let’s not forget the denomination of the Non-denomination.

The fact is, “We are all leveled at the foot of the cross.”

Unless we have a Jim Jones thing going on and we see where a person in power is trying to get people to drink poison or a David Koresh where he’s advocating people to be burned alive, or others who are trying to convince us of the date of the end of the world, let’s speak the truth, but in love.

MOST OF US ARE ON THE SAME TEAM. We all have work to do.  Let’s be the light and stop trying to snuff out other kingdom workers’ flame!

Me . . Left Behind?

I love Sci-Fi movies.  Some of my all time favorites include anything Twilight Zone, Outer Limits, Jaws & Jurassic Park I, II, III, IV, the Matrix, Alien -you get my point. Well when I found a single DVD with 10 Sci-Fi movies on it for only $4.99, I thought I have hit the “Jack Pot!”

One movie I watched really got me thinking.  It was called, “Apocalypse.”  I sat back in my comfy lounge chair with the foot rest up and awaited Bruce Willis and Billy Bob Thornton, but soon remembered that movie was called, “Armageddon.”

Although I did not know these actors; there was a similarity between both movies  in that they both dealt with an  unwelcome guest – an asteroid that threatened the existence of man.

It was an ordinary day.  People were busy doing what they do when a small asteroid hit and destroyed an entire city throwing an entire population in a panic.  The movie centered around a mother and father’s quest to find their teenage daughter who was in another state before the next ‘giant’ asteroid headed to destroy earth.

To my surprise this movie was a film about faith, guilt, courage, rejection and  acceptance.  Honestly, I don’t know how this movie was squeezed in among all the others but to my enjoyment, I was glad it was.

In the midst of coping with the aftermath of the first asteroid decent which set off additional tremors, quakes, tsunamis, tornadoes and the mysterious disappearance of people, while on their adventurous journey, the mother attempts to witness  to her husband about faith and about the rapture.

REJECTION IN SPITE OF EVIDENCE. Like many others, the father vehemently dismisses and rejects her claims and desperately searches for an intellectual and reasonable explanation for the tragic events.

There was a point in the story where some one said, “Well, if you’re a Christian why weren’t you taken up?”  A response went something similar to this ” . . .God had taken up the ‘true’ believers.”

DO I MEASURE UP BY GOD’S STANDARDS? Wow! What a statement, ‘He took up ‘true’ believers.’ It left me thinking.  By man’s judgment, I am thought to be a ‘true’ Christian, but what about ‘God’s’ judgment?  Does He? hmm…..

PERSONALLY PONDERING. I have been reflecting ever since.  How is my relationship with God and His Son Jesus? Am I doing all I can? Is my worship for real? Is God really pleased with me or at this present state – would I be taken up or would I be left behind? hmm…..

PASTORS LEFT BEHIND? This movie was also very similar to the Christian movie, “Left Behind” starring Kirk Cameron.

What sayeth you that in this movie some pastors were originally left behind?

Why I Hate Religion

This video is really profound.  It was all over the Christian Network, Christian News, Christian blogs and now I can see why.  Take a look.  It has received well over 15 million views.  I noticed that the author disabled the ‘comment’ feature. Although over 15 million people viewed this video, 260,000 liked it and 39,000 disliked it.  I wondered how many of the 39,000 people are religious…. hmmmm….

Your thoughts???  If Jesus walked the earth in human form what would he really be saying about the church? Would He be proud or disappointed?

Everybody Needs to Laugh – Even Those Behind Bars

I have to admit that I was touched by this video.  Sometimes we tend to not think about those who have been incarcerated.  I guess to some degree, me and probably countless others are guilty of even dehumanizing those who stand behind bars.  I must admit I am ashamed to say this.  But this video convicted and reminded me of what Jesus said in Matthew 25,  “Then He will also say… for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; . . . when I was sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’  “Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You … hungry or thirsty …. sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’  Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ 

It’s good to lay your eyes upon a video to see the human side of people who got off track, but are still valuable in the eyes of God.  God’s arms are long enough to reach down to all of us. Okay you may say, “Michael Jr. isn’t imparting a Word,” but he is working his gift. If a person is hungry, don’t say “Allow me to pray for you.” For Heavensakes, give them a slice a bread at least! Remember this, some PLANT, some WATER, but God makes them GROW! Somebody has got to till the ground before the seed is dropped.

Enjoy the video as Michael JR. takes us on part of his journey on “The Road Less Traveled” as he brings comedy that lifts the spirits of those behind bars, the homeless and the disadvantaged.

Pastors, could you imagine showing this video in your congregations?  It brings the human level and addresses the “Felt” need.

Pull the Plug Already! That’s Too Much Grace

There is something as “Too Much Grace.” The church is the only organization that will keep a ‘thing’ on life support when it is evident that you needed to ‘pull the plug” long ago. This is so true with: Programs/Annual Events/Staff and even Volunteers.

As a senior pastor you may not have the heart to pull the plug because inevitably it would probably lead to more conflict. Face it, your life, like that of many others probably can’t stand one more thing –  so your position is to “Let sleeping dogs die.” But the problem is that the dog keeps hangin around. It won’t die on its own.

When we look at the phrase “too much grace,” it refers to giving a person or a thing an unlimited amount of chances to get it right and or be successful even if it means compromising other things.

The president of Egypt had been reigning for more than 30 years when the people had had enough. “We want our king out of office – NOW!” they shouted. Their economy had reached an all time low; poverty and unemployment had reached an all time high. The people protested in the streets yelling, shouting and displaying handwritten signs. Feeling the pressure from his people, the king stated that he would not run for re-election in the fall and that he would leave office then. The people responded, “NOT good enough – leave office now!” The king stated that he had heard their cries, their passions and he promised to work on reform. The people turned a deaf ear to the king and shouted all the more, “Step down, leave.” The people’s sentiments were, “If you haven’t done anything in 30 years, why should we expect anything in 30-years and six months.

It is the same with our churches, we as pastors will keep supporting those programs year after year because they have a 20-30 or 50 year history even if the same 13 people are the only ones attending. You know Brother Boring should not be doing announcements as he puts everyone asleep, but he is faithful to his job. You know you should send your secretary packing. Things are just not working out, from spelling errors in the bulletin, to missed appointments and to make matters worse she isn’t all that great on the computer. But you continue to hold out waiting for the day that she will “wow” you with her competence. 

Somehow you are feeling guilty in that firing someone whether staff or volunteer or deleting a program is unChristian like.  But it is very Christian like. We are to be good stewards.  God expects us to maximize the resources we are given to manage. 

Do you remember the story of the Fig Tree?  It was not producing and the manager told his assistant to cut it down.  It was wasting soil and another tree could be planted in its place that would bear fruit.  There was some grace extended by the assistant in that he was going to pay special attention to the tree.  He bargained with the manager, but I ask you what if the assistant still could not get the tree to bear fruit, would you object to the tree being cut down?

Pastors:5 Suggestions for a More Successful Year

Pastors and senior leaders in ministry me this, why is it that every business worth their salt demonstrates evidence of planning and strategizing in order to improve their performance EXCEPT the church?    Here’s something you need to think about – – the concept, “Build it and they will come” is a myth.  And even if they do come  are your services interesting enough to convince them to STAY?  I hope this year (2011) we see more churches growing instead of closing.  We seem to begrudge the larger churches for their success but are bent on keeping things the same.  I always say to pastors, “Stop forcing the square pin into the round hole.”  Our culture is changing and if you don’t change with it, you will be left behind.  As long as the “Message” remains the same, the “Method” can change. I would like to leave you with five suggestions that will help you be more successful this year.

  1. Get Exposed! Not everyone does church the same. Go visiting! A pastor friend of mine told me told me that he tells his wife to book their vacations anywhere she wants, but he always selects the church they will visit.  He then selects the largest church in that city.  He wants to see why the people are coming, what is attracting them and he wants to see how they do church.  He then gleans what he feels will work at his own church and of course leaves there what he feels will not be  a fit.
  2. Learn from the ‘Big Boys.’ Don’t begrudge them, learn from them! Some of the authors of the mega churches have authored

    Pastor Ed Young, Jr.

    books which are loaded with valuable insight.  Believe me when I say they have studied the behavior of people.  They have made mistakes and often times their books will disclose their failures as well. Some of them even have YouTube channels and will speak to you on video.

  3. Know facts about your own congregation. Have you taken the time to really know who you are preaching to every Sunday?  For example if I were to ask you right now what percentage of your congregation are between the ages of 8 – 16 or 20-35 or 40-65 would you be able to tell me with a reasonable degree of accuracy?  Why is this important?  Because it will tell you some areas that you will need to focus on.  If you have a large sized youth population, you may need to start planning for a youth pastor. If the majority of your people are between the ages of 20-35 you may want to explore communicating with them differently since this age group is very technically astute.  Do you get it?
  4. Plan, Plan & Plan some more. Come on, do you really want your program to be successful or not? Do you really want to get a youth pastor on board or not? Name it, claim it very seldom works.  If you really want to make a difference in your church you have got to demonstrate to your leadership and members that you thought about a thing for more than just 5 seconds.  Shooting from the hip with limited church resources should be a thing of the past.  If you want buy in you got to demonstrate that you have done some due diligence.  Remember, the number one reason for resistance to any idea in a church setting is MONEY – how much is gonna cost?  You must demonstrate that you can show them a ROI (a return on investment).  For example, you want an experienced youth pastor.  You have recommended a salary of $12,000/year to start.  You need to be able to show the benefit to the leadership and membership, such as increasing your youth ministry by 25% in 12 months, which will yield at least five new families to the church.  The idea here is that the parents have to bring the kids to church, so they end up coming to church themselves. If the average contribution (tithes/offering) per family is $200/month and there are 5 families that’s $1000/month or $12,000/year which is equivalent to the proposed Youth Pastor’s salary. These figures may be on the high end, but you should get the picture.
  5. Reward – Don’t Forget to Thank. If ever there were a subject that rubbed me the wrong way is when a pastor says, “Your rewards are heaven, God will take care of you.  You should be willing to do for the Lord without expecting a reward.”  Hey pastor if you think like this, then let me say this to you… “touche.” Instead of you getting a check we will just pay you with your own words – – “Your rewards are in heaven…” Again the world is so much further ahead than the church is in this area. Happy, well appreciated employees work better than unappreciated ones.  It is the same with the church more people will volunteer their time, if they felt appreciated and were rewarded from time to time. Sure not everyone can be on salary, but there are so many inexpensive or free ways to tell people you appreciate them.  I was told by a pastor that he doesn’t single out and thank people because he doesn’t want to miss anyone because the backlash for missing a person is far too stressful.  So what was he saying? He doesn’t thank anyone or he groups one big thank you and if it applied to you then that thank you was for you. Hmmmm selfish! How about being more intentional about knowing who is helping to serve?