Tag Archives: church

Heaven Ain’t A Lot Like Dixie-How should the church responding to Sterling?

29 Apr

If we were as outraged about racism in the church as we are about it in sports we might see a revival. That’s my thought on the situation surrounding Donald Sterling and the NBA right now. The LA Clippers owner has gotten himself into hot water over some ignorant and clearly racist comments.  People all over the nation, including the South, are disgusted at the mindset of Sterling. The aged NBA owner seemed to have a serious problem with his mistress associating with people of color in public. He justified himself by claiming that he was not a racist because he has helped so many black people. When his mistress encouraged him to change his obvious prejudice ways, he responded by saying “I don’t want to change.”  I wish this were the first time I’ve heard views like this espoused. But the reality is that the logic of Mr. Sterling has been alive and well in many churches for quite some time. I can attest to this because my ministry has been limited to leading smaller churches in the South.

Don’t misunderstand me. Not all the churches in the South have the Sterling mindset. Lots of churches have overcome this hurdle and are doing great in the area of race relations. But there are many in our Southern churches that have difficulty embracing people of color. I have experienced that personally in churches & communities in which I have served. As well, I have had many conversations with pastors struggling to overcome prejudice in their own churches. How can we overcome racism in the church? Let me offer some suggestions.

1. We need to reveal racism as a horrible sin. Sadly, many church leaders are silent on the issue. It bothers me that we blow up on social media over this issue but clam up behind the pulpit over it. There is a big movement today to plant multicultural churches. That’s fine, but I don’t think it’s the answer. In fact, sometimes it may be counterproductive. I can hear some saying, “Of course we’re not prejudice, we started a Hispanic church!” The answer to racism in the church is not to give everyone their own church. The reality is that some ethnic churches are started so that certain races will stop coming to a particular church. Racism is a sin that must be pointed out. It is a sin that many in our churches need to repent of. It is likely that the people in our churches will not repent of this sin unless we are willing to address it from the pulpit. Use the Bible to show God as the Creator and Redeemer of all nations. Be bold on the issue. Be clear on the issue. In a recent sermon I said “If you are prejudice you have either not read the Bible or you don’t care what it says.”  We must be that bold on the issue of racism. We must reveal it as a sin.

2. Point out the hypocrisies in missions. Normally it is not difficult to get a church in the south to support reaching a people group in another country. Often times our churches have ministries to help reach people in places such as Africa and Haiti. We will send our money and engage in short term mission trips to reach such people with the gospel.  We often have power point presentations and videos with whites and blacks working with one another for the sake of the gospel. We celebrate diversity in foreign missions; we hesitate diversity in home missions. Use this to teach your people about home missions. If we are going across the globe to reach people of a different skin color why would we not go across the street to do the same? Generally speaking, people are reasonable. No one wants to be a hypocrite. Revealing this hypocrisy could be something God uses to overcome prejudice in your church.

 

3. Model racial diversity in your life and ministry. It’s important that people see us model what we preach. I have made it a priority to minister and befriend people of color. I work at it. My church is 100% white. However, I have a weekly ministry that is 100% African American. I once had one of my older men approach me at church. He told me of an encounter he had with an African American gentlemen in the community. The subject of church came up. Amazingly, both men identified me as their pastor. One on Sunday, the other on Tuesday! The African American man told the old timer at my church “Your preacher is a black man trapped in a white man’s body!” I don’t know what that means, but I took it as a compliment. Our life speaks volumes. If we only address racial harmony from the pulpit I am not sure that we will get very far in overcoming the problem in our churches.

4. Be as bold in condemning prejudice as they are in promoting it. I have heard some really dumb things in church when it comes to the issue of prejudice. Remember this; prejudice is impossible to logically defend. The more a racist person talks the dumber they sound. Instead of overlooking the rude comments people make, engage them in conversation about them. Make them defend their position. I have heard some really dumb logic when it comes to this issue:

“You never see blue birds and red birds together!” I guess they forget about the rest of the animal kingdom. Cows, horses, cats, dogs, etc. all come in different colors.

“The Bible says you’re supposed to stay with your own tribe”. To which we must ask, “And to which tribe do you belong?”

“The Bible says not to be unequally yoked”. They usually don’t know the rest of the verse. It says “with unbelievers”. It’s important to let them know that Moses married outside of his race. Boaz married outside his race as well. There are other biblical examples  but that should be enough to make the point.

It takes boldness to engage church members on these issues. However, we can’t allow an unbiblical mindset to go unchecked in our churches. We must be bold enough to confront sin if we are going to be leaders.

5. Engage different races with the gospel. Include neighborhoods of all races in your visitation and outreach. Invite children of all colors to your church activities. Don’t simply have a Backyard Bible Club in a minority neighborhood. Involve children of all races in your weekly ministries. Start a transportation ministry if necessary. Even if you are a small church you can do this. It’s likely you could double your children’s ministry by including minorities.

6. Invite speakers of different races to your church. Have them preach for you. If possible, use local ministers. Let your people see and hear from men of God who are not the same color as you are. Allow them to bring a choir or special singer with them as well.

Those are six simple ways to start overcoming prejudice in our churches. I hope they help. But regardless, let’s get serious about overcoming this sin in our churches. Let’s not simply opine online. We are called to speak the truth from our pulpits to our people. I trust that God will honor His Word.

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Top Ten games not To Play at the Church New Year’s Party

31 Dec

Usually on New Year’s Eve I find myself hanging out with people from my church. This is mainly out of guilt…and my complete lack of friends outside of the church. So throughout the years of attending church New Year ’s Eve parties I have discovered that there are some games you shouldn’t play. Here are the top ten:

 10. Twister. The fact is there just isn’t enough room on a Twister mat for very many Baptists. And trust me, you don’t want a pic of your face at the rear of the Chairman of Deacons floating around on Facebook.

 9. Truth or Dare. This just can’t go well. Especially if you are a pastor. If you pick “truth” they may be like “Do you have any resumes out?” If you choose “dare” the youth guy will have you shaving your eye brows.

8. Quarters. That’s the old drinking game. You feel a glass with beer. If you ring it you make someone else drink it, if you miss you have to drink it. Your pastor just isn’t going to feel comfortable with this going on. And in about thirty minutes someone is going to really loosen up & start saying things they have wanted to say for a long time. It won’t be edifying either.

 7. The choking game. This is the one the kids play. They choke each other until they pass out. It’s supposed to give some kind of a high. Now granted, there are some people at the party I know you would like to choke. But please don’t play this game. It’s really dangerous.

 6. 5 Card Draw. In my experience those who lose take it out of their tithe and the ones that win don’t consider the money income, so they don’t tithe off of it. So it’s best if everyone’s money stays in their own pocket.

5. Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board. In this game folks lift a person with their fingers while they chant “Light as a feather stiff as a board.”  I can speak for Baptists, none of us are light as a feather. But a lot of us are stiff as a board.

4. Ouija Board. Don’t think that some of your church members don’t have a Ouija board laying around. When things get boring someone is likely to bring it out, “just for fun.” Halfway through the game you may get a knock on the door and find Elijah ready to call down fire from heaven. You have been warned.

 3. Chicken. This is the game where two cars race toward one another until one chickens out and turns away. This game is actually played at many churches on Sunday mornings between the two services. But it’s not a good idea to play it at the party. Especially if you have any rednecks with over-sized tires on their trucks.

 2. Seven Minutes in Heaven. You know, the game where you are locked in a dark room with another person for seven minutes. I mean, what if you and the worship leader have to go in there? Could you imagine the rumors?

1. Spin the Bottle. Just not a good idea. Ever. My daughter asked about this game the other day and my wife said, I quote, “You are never allowed to play spin the bottle…unless you’re married.” She’s right. This game is reserved for two players who are married to one another.

I hope you all have a happy new year. Be safe. Be wise. And if possible, just stay home.

Some Thoughts on Pastor Appreciation Month

26 Sep

Next month is Pastor Appreciation month. If you follow me on Twitter you’ll probably catch me whining about something. I’m not sure why or how this tradition started (Not the whining thing but the Pastor Appreciation deal).But over all I think it’s a pretty good idea.  I will be trying to identify with pastors and cheer them up. I’ll also be releasing some of my own insecurities into the Twitter-sphere.  But for now, allow me to give you some thoughts about Pastor Appreciation Month from The Unappreciated Pastor.

1. The worst gifts usually come from a Christian Book Store.

Look, I have a Bible. There, I said it. I have a lot of them. I have Study Bibles, Greek Bibles, hard back Bibles, leather Bibles, Scofield Bibles, Dake’s Bibles, New Testament and Psalms Bibles. I could go on. I preach from a Bible every Sunday and Wednesday. I have a Bible in my home, in my car, in my office, in my back pack when I go hunting. Could we just put “The pastor has a Bible” in every bulletin during the month of October.  I have a Bible. I don’t need another one. And when I do need a Bible I’d really like to pick it out myself.

I have every trinket you could imagine. I don’t know what to do with them all. I have paper weights and little statues. I have pictures with eagles and Bible verses. I have coffee mugs (I don’t drink coffee by the way). I don’t need another trinket. Oh, I’ll smile and play the part if you get me one. But honestly, I don’t like collecting things. And I only have so much room in my office. So when you are in the book store and see that shelf with all the trinkets, save yourself some money and me some space by just walking on by.

I have LOTS of books. And quite frankly, sometimes a book title can add to my low self-esteem. The book title may be “The Secret to Becoming a Great Leader” but what I see is “It is No Secret You’re a Horrible Leader.” Most pastors do read a lot, but once again, we like to pick our own books.

2. Church is about Jesus.

On Sunday I don’t want a big deal made about me. I don’t want people to stand up and applaud the pastor. Pride is already a serious issue I deal with on a daily basis. A church full of people applauding me could just send me over the edge. I’ve read enough of the Bible to know that when people touch God’s glory bad things happen. I can just imagine standing up in response to your applause, clutching my chest and falling over dead in the sanctuary. I really don’t want to go out like that. So let’s just clap for Jesus and make Sunday all about Him.

I don’t want a power-point presentation with pics you stole from my Face book page. And I certainly don’t want any presentation set to Ray Boltz song “Thank You for Giving to the Lord”. I know that sounds harsh but it makes me feel uncomfortable. I’ll never forget the year the lady behind me said “Boy you used to be fat!” during the presentation.  My wife and kids always find themselves in the photos and they aren’t real excited about it either. So let’s keep the focus on Jesus and don’t eat up my preaching time with a power point presentation about me.

3. Three Things I would like.

A story. Maybe God used me in your life. That would be awesome. Stop by my office and have a chat with me. Let’s talk one on one. I struggle with whether or not God is using me all the time. There are many days pastors feel useless. If God has used me in your life come by and tell me about it. I’d love to hear your story.

A break.  Some people just can’t help but complain. I understand that’s some folk’s gift. And I guess I need them to keep me humble. But it would be great if during October you just gave me a break. You can start right up again in November, I promise. Unless it’s something the pastor absolutely needs to deal with immediately, just give him a break. He’ll appreciate that more than you could imagine.

A volunteer. A good pastor wants to see people come to know Jesus and grow in grace. We need helpers in lots of areas to see that happen. If you have simply been a consumer in church change that this month. Volunteer and commit to a time of service for the Lord. Nothing makes a pastor smile like a church filled with volunteers.