Insufficient Reasons For Leaving a Church

Jason Helopoulos has another great post today on Kevin DeYoung's blog. It deals with good reasons to move on from one church to another. Be sure to read the good reasons to move on, but I thought I would share the insufficient reasons he gives for leaving one church for another.

Here they are:

1. Children’s Ministry—The Children’s ministry at another church is better. This cannot be a reason for changing churches. It is rather an opportunity for you to get involved in the children’s ministry of your church.

2. Buzz—Many people will flow to whatever church in town has the current “buzz.” The argument will be that the Spirit is at work there and we want to be part of it. But buzzes come and go. And so do the people that follow them.

3. Youth Group—The unhappiness of our teenage children in the current Youth Group, because of activities, other youth, etc. is not a reason for leaving the church we have covenanted with. I know this one will be controversial. Believe me, I have empathy as a parent and a former Youth Pastor. But our children are not the spiritual directors of our home. They should not be choosing the church we attend based upon their social status and network.

4. Church has changed—Churches always change. Unless the changes are unbiblical than we don’t have a reason to move on. We don’t move on when our wife or husband changes! We are we so quick to do so with the church we have covenanted with.

5. New Pastor—A new pastor is not a sufficient reason to change churches. It doesn’t matter how stiff, impersonal, unfunny, etc. he is. The list is endless. It doesn’t even matter if he is not the most interesting preacher. He is the man God called to this church for this time. And this is your church. Again, unless he is unbiblical why move on? You haven’t covenanted with a man, but with this body.

6. I’m Not Being Ministered to—I tell every one of our new member classes, “If we all walked into church each week and had a list of people we were going to try and ‘touch,’ encourage, or minister to, do you know how dynamic this church would be? Just on Sunday mornings, let alone if we did it during the week. If we each were concerned about the other person and walked in each Sunday with that in the forefront of our mind instead of, “Why didn’t he talk to me?,” “Why doesn’t anyone care about me?,” “Why isn’t anyone ministering to me?” Start ministering to others and you will find that you are being ministered to.

7. Music—Not a reason—whether it is slow, fast, traditional, contemporary, Psalms, hymns, or gospel choruses. Stop using it as an excuse!

8. There are others…we haven’t even mentioned the service is too early, the coffee is terrible, the pastor doesn’t know how to shuck corn (Yep…those are all true ones I have heard).


Pastors: Are We Listening?

As pastors, sometimes we are not the best listeners. It's not a lack of care and concern. It's more a product of how we are wired as pastors I guess. We are used to speaking to others as opposed to listening to others. Our minds are usually going a mile a minute and we are tempted to think about the next thing on our "to do" list. And sometimes instead of listening, we jump right to "fixing," which is also a defect we have as husbands! Jason Helopoulos gives some great recommendations to help us be better listeners.

Here's to listening better so that we can better shepherd the flock the Lord gives us.

  • Sermons are for the pulpit—Leave sermons in the pulpit and enter into dialogue with your people. Dialogue requires talking and listening. Taking breaths in conversation is a good thing. It allows the other person to talk!
  • Remember that the person before you is the person you are to be ministering to—seize this moment instead of thinking about talking to the person “over there.”
  • Be teachable—we may be called to teach, but that does not mean that we can’t be taught ourselves.
  • Show honor to all—the five year old or the mentally disabled person begging for your attention and conversation after the worship service is just as important as the District Attorney and his wife who are walking by.
  • Silence is golden—Silence in conversation is fine. The tension is not a bad thing. It often helps bring the true issue to the surface. Don’t fill the space.
  • Maintain eye contact—most pastors are multitaskers and are busy looking around. Stop!
  • Ask questions—avoid jumping to conclusions and giving your stock answer. Ask clarifying question after clarifying question.
  • Don’t always feel the need to lead—Many pastors are busy leading all the time and so every conversation they enter into is dominated by them. Allow others to lead the conversation. You will surprised at what others want to talk about.
  • Don’t be “super-spiritual”—Every conversation does not have to end with a discourse on the atonement. Nor does every conversation need to be a demonstration forum of your Bible knowledge.
  • Think through questions—On your way to a meeting with someone, make a mental list of questions to ask them. And then ask the questions and listen.
  • Care tenderly—Always remember that these are Christ’s sheep. They are his and we are to lead them with a loving-tender care. And surely that must mean listening to them.


My Identity Is Defined By the Gospel

Excerpt from Dave Harvey's Rescuing Ambition:

The gospel answers my questions of identity. It tells me I am God's bondservant, His child, a worshiper, and a functioning member of His Church. My identity as a pastor was always a secondary identity. I have not lost my main identity.

The gospel answers my questions about purpose. The gospel opened my eyes to the glory of God in Christ. I responded to the call to ministry in order to glorify God. Being pastor was never, rightly, my chief end. I do not presently have opportunity to serve as a pastor, but I do have daily opportunities to fulfill my main purpose in life. Asking the question, "How do I glorify God now?" wonderfully liberates me.

The gospel always points the way to my ongoing happiness. My main joy is in God and and in the salvation Jesus wrought for me on the cross. Above all else, I'm grateful to be a Christian--to be saved--to know the joy of sins forgiven and conscience cleansed. The joy of ministry could never legitimatey be the foundation of my happiness. It is secondary, derivative joy.

So, God has taught me to...
  • think of myself in terms of my main identity
  • busy myself with my main purpose
  • delight myself in my main joy.

By God's grace, lesson learned...hopefully.


Tasmanian Devil Christianity or Plodding Visionaries

Kevin DeYoung explains:

It is easy to blast the church for all her failures. It is harder to live in the church day after day, year after year, with all of the ho hum, hum drum, and to slowly and consistently make a difference.

What we need are fewer revolutionaries and a few more plodding visionaries. We need to ask the right questions, we need to have the right expectations, and we need to establish the right vision...

Here is my burden for our generation: along with all the necessary pleas we have to be earnest and intense and radical and sold out. With all of that, I just also want to wave the banner from Zechariah 4:10, "Do not despise the days of small things." That is what I mean by being plodding visionaries.

If you are a visionary, you don't have your head in the sand. You are going somewhere. You are looking out. You are moving in a direction. But you are a plodder. One foot in front of the other.

Many of us are attracted to a Tasmanian Devil kind of Christianity...splattering, spinning around. You get fired up--praise God for that--and you spin out like the Tasmanian Devil ready to conquer the world for Christ and you blow up into a tree somewhere.

We need plodding visionaries.

When I wrote the book on the church I read nine books that called for a revolution. Every other day it seems like a read of a new manifesto. We may need to just simplify a little:

Get on the right road and keep going. Our generation in particular is prone to radicalism without follow-through. We want to change the world and we have never changed a diaper. You want to make a difference for Christ? Here is where you can start: this Sunday, volunteer for the nursery. Say, "Here I am, pastor. What can I do to serve?"

We need more of the latter and less of the former.

How To Be A Difference Maker In Your Local Church

Here's Kevin DeYoung's answer to that question from his message "The Church" at the NEXT2010 conference this past may:

  • Find a good local church.
  • Get involved.
  • Become a member.
  • Stay there as long as you can.
  • Put away thoughts of a revolution for a while.
  • Join the plodding visionaries.
  • Go to church this Sunday and worship in Spirit and in truth.
  • Be patient with your leaders.
  • Rejoice when the Gospel is faithfully proclaimed.
  • Bear with those who hurt you.
  • Give people the benefit of the doubt.
  • Say "hi" to the teenager that no one notices.
  • Welcome the old ladies with the blue hair and the young man with the tatoos.
  • Volunteer for the nursery.
  • Attend the congregational meeting.
  • Bring your fried chicken to the potluck like everybody else.
  • Invite a friend.
  • Take a new couple out for coffee.
  • Give to the Christmas offering.
  • Sing like you mean it.
  • Be thankful someone vacuumed the carpet for you.
  • Enjoy the Sundays that "click."
  • Pray extra hard for the Sundays that don't.
  • And in all of this, do not despise the days and weeks and years of small things. (Zechariah 4:8-10)


Your Church & the Gospel: More Like Dunkin' Donuts or Starbucks?

I love Dunkin' Donuts' coffee. You can't spend two years of your life in New England and not love Dunkin' Donuts coffee. I love the Gospel even more. Therefore this made for a great post. It's from Ed Stetzer's blog in which Michael Kelley asks the question, "What Can the Church Learn From Dunkin' Donuts?"

Here's a snippet of the answer, but be sure to read the whole thing here.

I would propose that the church has something to learn from Dunkin' Donuts.

The reason we have something to learn is that we have tried to be Starbucks. We've tried to be slick, trendy, and hip. We've tried to be a place that is non-threatening and easy to come to. And when you walk in, you see beautiful people in holey jeans and black glasses, all looking very intellectual and hair-frosty. Additionally, we have tried to make church a low-demand environment, much in the same way Starbucks is. It's low demand in that even though the basic premise of the store is selling coffee, some people don't even go there for coffee at all. And nobody's going to pressure them about the coffee. That sounds familiar, too...

And you know what else? The thing that we have? It actually tastes good. Maybe the problem is that we don't really believe the gospel tastes good. We don't believe it tastes good, so we feel the need to pile a lot of stuff on top of it to make it more palpable. Maybe if we really believed it tasted good, we would have the courage to let it speak for itself, like Dunkin' Donuts did, rather than trying to help out the product so much.

Enjoy a good cup of Dunkin' Donuts coffee, but enjoy the Gospel even more.

Pastors: Are You Preaching the Gospel?

From a recent interview with David Nicholas, Ed Stetzer asked the question, "Tell us what you see in regards to how pastors preach the gospel?"

Nicholas' answer is true and piercing:

I have discovered that there are various categories of preachers and their approach to "preaching the Gospel." There are those who think they are preaching the Gospel because they preach from the Bible. But the two are not the same. Some assume they are preaching the Gospel, but in reality, they preach in a language I call "the Christianese language," a language understood only by believers, but unbelievers don't have a clue. Many pastors preach an incomplete Gospel and others preach a Gospel that is garbled and disjointed. Then there are those preachers who think they are preaching the Gospel because they encourage their people to get involved in service projects and social justice. Again, the two are not the same. Then there are pastors who give an invitation at every service for people to come forward to "receive Jesus into their hearts," but they never explain who Jesus is, why people need him, or what he did for them. And this one is epidemic in some circles. Then there are those pastors who never think about preaching the Gospel. Some don't believe it. Others view the Gospel as the "basics" and know their people are way beyond that. Then others can't imagine having any unbelievers in their services.