Archive for the ‘Culture’ category

Pastor Shot Dead In Pulpit?

March 8, 2009

The days are truly evil. After worship today I checked Twitter and found that a pastor had been shot dead in his pulpit. At first I thought it was a joke. But as I checked it out I quickly realized the story was true. Fred Winters, Senior Pastor, had been shot. The story is here. More details will surely be found out this week as to how a man walks up to the pulpit and shoots a pastor dead.

We need to pray for the Winters Family and the First Baptist Church Maryville, ILL, family. They watched their husband, father, and pastor die at their place of worship. I’m going to pray for them all week. Join me! 

One thing I’ve learned in the African-American church culture is the role of Armor Bearers. Armor Bearers are men who serve to keep an eye on the crowd. They are the pastors “body guards.” They usually stand at a distance, but close enough to react. No one should get close to a pastor. No one should just “walk up” to a pastor while he is preaching and not be confronted before hand. If your church does not have Armor Bearers, please get your elders or deacons to start this needed ministry. Besides protection Armor Bearers also,

1. Ensure the pastor has water

2. Ensure the pastor has a ride when needed

3. Ensure the pastor is never alone at the church

4. Travel with the pastor to other church related events

5. Ensure the pastor has a light snack between services

There’s more to it. Most of these things can seem unimportant and in some contexts they are. But today is a reminder of the precious commodity a pastor is to his family and church.

I’m sad today for the Winter’s family. Remember to pray. And protect your pastor. The days are evil.

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Tribute the Young Adults @ CBC

February 28, 2009

Last night our young adults hosted an event called “The Pillar.” It was a coffee, community, and conversation hangout. We converted the Cornerstone foyer (half of it) into a living room coffee shot. It was my first time sitting and watching people do poetry or “spoken word” in a coffee shop event. Our worship pastor, whose skills are not right (the guy can preach, teach, make disciples, evangelize, and do all kinds of stuff on every instrument known to man; it’s not right), created music to the theme of the night. Our youth pastor officiated the night. We probably had 45-50 in attendance. We had over 100 in confirmed in Facebook. Ultimately we want to offer something to college students that’s Christian, but not church-ish. 

I have never been more proud of our young adults. They are God’s champions and will reach people in our culture for Christ. 

Observations:

1. A little over a year ago an event like this was a dream, but could never have been a reality. The key players we not in place. 

2. This event was birthed out of a Bible Study Class/small group. Environment is everything. A healthy small group/Bible Study Class should produce ministry and missional life at some point. I knew this could happen, but had to wait a year to see this happen. 

3. One young lady in the class has a vision to open a coffee shop. She said, “let’s do this.” We did it. We had a planning meeting and boom, it happened. Vision breeds unity. 

4. Last night, we had a unchurched people in the crowd. The gospel was shared. 

5. Momentum is important. People were excited. They want excitement. 

6. Every church should turn its foyer into a coffee shop. In this culture, do it. Community is important. People are disconnected and the American culture doesn’t help. People need friends and spiritual growth.  

7. Young adults, if you invest in them, will participate. One of our young adults who is gone to college sent the church a check to defray costs for the event. Hello! That’s kingdom!

Last night before I went to bed I thought of this:

“Taking risks is good when people are the focus and God gets the glory.” 

I’m glad we took a risk to do an event that was “out of the box.”

How Social and Multi Media Helps Me As a Pastor

February 13, 2009

1. MySpace helps me see into the lives of teenagers. Many of them cannot believe I have a MySpace page.

2. Facebook helps me with young adult connections. I use an iConnect card in class. Then I use that to make friends on Facebook. I’m able to send an immediate “glad you came, come back” note. Creating groups helps too.

3. Text messaging has been a great way to communicate on the spot. I’ve been leading a small group now for 10 weeks. The group was born out of my young adult SS class. The small group sends text messages to each other throughout the day. They send book quotes and scriptures encouraging each other. It’s amazing.

4. Twitter connects me with other leaders I would normally not have access to. Twitter can be set up to change my Facebook status. My Facebook page stays functional all day. It’s interactive. Twitter also connects me to information I would normally not get. Articles and blogs cross Twitter a lot. You could get many in your church to follow you on Twitter and communicate with them through out the day.

5. Mass email in Google is still trustworthy. I use it weekly to communicate to my class. They like getting the reminder for class and encouragement through the week.

iPhone is simply great for doing all these social media things. It’s amazing how many people can be touched anywhere, anytime.

If you’re a pastor, get with the program Let media work for you.

10 Core Values for Churches in the President Barack Obama Era

January 28, 2009

What should the church do in an Obama era? What can we do to seize the moment? I want to suggest 10 things. 

1. Commit to allow the scripture to be what determines your beliefs, preaching, and agenda, not political values. Political values have too long been allowed to be grouped with biblical truth. Republicans did it for a long time. But the game is over. If scripture alone drives my preaching and ministry, then I will focus on what God wants me to focus on. Our culture is trying to slip its value system into the church communities. We cannot let that happen. We must not be Dems or Repubs, but Christians. 

2. Value other cultures without becoming a theological pluralist thus rejecting the exclusivity of Jehovah God and Jesus Christ. Many non-Christian cultures will build relationships with others. But, when the discussion comes to Jesus Christ you will be challenged to accept other religious ideas, thus marginalizing the biblical teaching of “one God” and the exclusivity of Jesus Christ. The exclusivity of Christ is already being softened in the American church. Be careful, but stay connected to unbelievers. 

3. Help your people by avoiding politics in the pulpit because it only causes division along party lines, thus eliminating Great Commission unity in your community. I’ve pushed politics in the pulpit. I’ve been subtle about it, but I’ve done it. It rarely helped me do what God has actually called me to do: “Make disciples.” Don’t get me wrong. I love our system of free voting. I appreciate a democratic culture. BUT, it cannot produce transformation, kingdom change in a culture.

4. Preach the gospel clearly and weekly. I follow a lot of pod casts and preaching on TV. I’ve noticed the gospel is rarely being shared. It may be added on barely at the end of the message, but it’s not the priority. I’m not saying preachers should preach the same evangelistic message every week. I’m saying evaluate your preaching. Are you leaving the gospel out? When’s the last time you challenged people to be saved from your pulpit or small group? 

5. Partner with Pastors who are not your ethnicity and build honest, long-term relationships with them. Our country is truly a melting pot is diversity. To see the election of Barack Obama was an amazing, stunning event. Yet the unity is cultural and political. Is our country really interested in racial unity? I’m not sure. What I do know is that the church is lagging sadly behind in race relations. Most White and Black pastors have no real friends of opposite color. And now, our nation is trying to have a dialogue on race? We are not ready for it. We are trying to have the hardest discussion with the wrong people. While I need to have the race discussion with people who are my color, I really need to have it with people who are not my color (different for me because most of my friends are non-anglos). We need to understand the other side of race. How can we do that when we don’t have any real friends of another ethnic background?

6. Hire/Call a staff leader/minister who is not the ethnicity of the majority of your congregation. Not all churches are ready for this, but some are. And it will only take a little vision casting to make it happen. Many churches and church people are ready to enter the game of race relations. They are just waiting for leadership. Bring on a person of different ethnicity proves our motives. Our country is experiencing racial unity. Why not the church? The time is right for us to make a move up on the front lines. We cannot stay in the rear forever. 

7. Start a multicultural church, in partnership with another church of different ethnicity, in your community. This would be the next level commitment. Can you imagine the witness of two or three churches planning, praying, promoting a new “multi-cultural” church start? WOW! Why not? Why not do it? Most churches are not going to become ethnically diverse. Churches are intrenched with racial division. Digging them out is probably not worth it. 

8. Develop “position papers” on homosexuality and abortion. Distribute them. Then don’t preach these issues often. These issues are being marginalized in our present culture. It’s not worth it to preach on them hard because when you do, you will be working against the momentum from the recent election. I’m not saying be weak on these issues. Just wait and be timely. I’ve heard only John Piper preach against these in the last week, in churches or even media. If you preach against it your preaching against the President. It’s not worth it. 

“83% of always-unchurched said lack of openness to homosexuals would negatively impact their view of the church.”Ed Stetzer at I3 Conference 2009. 

We need to change the way we communicate our message. The message also needs to have a practical, redemptive element to it. 

9. Host “Unity Forums” with your pastor friends in #5 to educate people in racial issues.” Get the discussion going. Yes, it may be hard, but hey isn’t it worth it? Move the discussion from the back room  and living room to the church rooms.

10. Partner with a church, not of your ethnicity, to do a ministry project in your community, together, as a witness (John 17). 

I plan to register soon as an Independent. Never again will a candidate get my vote by playing the Jesus card. I have told my family to not talk to people about politics, especially our Christian brothers and sisters. Interacting politically in the church only divides the church in America.

What do you think?

2009: A Heavenly Culture

January 1, 2009

twins2races2009 should be a year when the church seizes the moment on race relations. The two girls in the picture to the right are twins. They have an Black Dad and White Mom. It’s an amazing story if you want to read it, go here. The parents had twins recently and AGAIN, they produced twins: one black and one white. Look at the picture. That family does not view race like most Americans, including Christians. 

Rev. 5:9 says in the end time,

And they sang a new song, saying, Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.

The church has an opportunity to seize the moment and produce authentic racial unity. While I’m excited about the unity found in the election of our first Black President, I’m still looking for the people who should have racial unity to show up. The church must show up this year. The church has no reason to passionately pursue racial unity in the church as a witness to the community. 

1. Will the church do anything different this year OR, will we remain as divided as ever?

2. Will our country really see change, the mystical change we have heard about in our recent election cycle?

We will see! Let’s do our part. I’m going to do my part. We can experience a little heavenly culture on earth. How bad do we want it?




Why I’m Stoked About 2009

January 1, 2009

There are many reasons to be excited about 2009. In my previous post I outlined 10 things I plan to do in 2009. Here are a few reasons why I’m stoked about 2009. This is a shortened list because any good list is visionary and has been revised. Here’s the revision.

I’m stoked about 2009 because:

1. I am going to finish my doctoral project and prayerfully receive the Doctor of Ministry degree. I didn’t go to Gordon Conwell for a degree. I went to study preaching with one of the greatest homiletical minds of the past few decades, Dr. Haddon Robinson. I’ve become a better preacher and communicator because I studied and was mentored by Haddon Robinson during 3 doctoral residences. I’ve never been an educated person. I went to seminary only because I didn’t grow up in the church. My formal education will end this year (unless I do a PHD in Leadership at Dallas Baptist University, which does interest me, but I doubt it). 

2. I am going to accomplish more in 2009 because of my mistakes in 2008.  

  • Work out more and eat better
  • Watch my finances closer and spend less
  • Spend less time in large group fellowships and spend more time investing in a few

3. 2009 will be a great year for race relations. If race relations and multicultural ministry is a possibility in the church, the time to experience it is now. With President Obama getting in, a real impact on race may be the only thing he can accomplish that would be something he could do that a politician has not tried yet.

4. I believe God’s going to bless the church who does His will (Matt. 2819-20) and out nation may experience revival. I believe God has stayed His judgement on our nation because He still wants to use the church. I do believe God will use the western church to reach the nations. Our economic situation will get better as we turn from greed. I believe a spirit of generosity will break out in the church as a witness to the world. 

 


Christmas Reflections

December 25, 2008

I had a great day today and have enjoyed the Christmas buildup this year. 

Today, I had 10 of my young adult small group members serve the poor. We went to an event that feeds them and gives them gifts. I was so pleased to see them show up and serve. Started a great tone for the day.

Then, I went to Cornerstone Baptist Church for worship while the small group continued to serve. We probably had 500 or so at that service. We have a good turn out for this service every year. It was great today.

I then came home and we had a fellowship with a couple of friends from church. 

I was really impressed with Rick Warren’s Christmas special on Fox News. I’m convinced Rick is the next Billy Graham. He shared the gospel in a simple yet relent way. It was excellent. I have my reservations about Foxnews, but they are the only thing out there beside the less conservative stations.

The main reason for the season is the incarnation of Christ and how others need him. The main message for life is the same.

How was your Christmas?