Nine Stupid Things I Did as a Pastor

Nine Stupid Things I Did as a Pastor

3981364314_d4b30cb739_bBy Thom Rainer

If you want to read the tale of a pastor who really did some dumb things, keep reading.

I served as pastor of four churches. It was only by the grace of God and the graciousness of the congregations that I was called and allowed to stay at those churches. I absolutely love the members of those four congregations, and I will forever be grateful to them and for them.

Frankly, I’m not sure I would give myself a passing grade as a pastor. I messed up quite a bit. I would do several things differently today. And as a point of full disclosure, my list of nine is not close to being exhaustive.

1. I neglected my prayer life and time in the Word too often. It sounds absolutely insane as I write it, but I got too busy for God. As a consequence, I operated out of my own insufficient power too many times.
2. I neglected my family too often. Paul wrote these words to Pastor Timothy: “If anyone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of God’s church?” (1 Timothy 3:5, HCSB). Ouch. So many times I communicated through my actions to my family that they were not as important as other church members.
3. I let the crisis of the moment overwhelm me. In doing so I did not trust in God to see me through the situation. And I did not have a longer-term perspective to understand that difficulties are only for a season.
4. I perceived most of my critics as my adversaries. Some of my critics actually had constructive input. Others were going through their own struggles, and I was a convenient target. I took criticisms personally instead of responding pastorally.
5. I competed with other churches. Shame on me. Too often I wanted my church to have a greater attendance than other churches in the area. I should have been praying for and working with those other church leaders more.
6. I neglected praying with my staff. My prayer time with my church staff was haphazard at best. The one thing we needed to do the most, we were doing the least. I was a terrible leader on that front.
7. I often worried about what others thought about me. My sole concern should have been how Christ-like I was. Too often I sought the approval of others rather than the blessings of God.
8. I often yielded to unreasonable requests and demands. Instead of spending my time doing those things that really mattered, I gave in too often to the “squeaky wheel.” I sacrificed the great in order to do the good.
9. I gave up too often. Due to frustration, exhaustion or, more often, lack of faith, I gave up on challenges too quickly. I am convinced I missed out on many victories when they were just around the corner.

Those are but a few of the stupid things I did as a pastor. Most of you can breathe a sigh of relief that I never served as your pastor.

So why I am writing these self-critical comments at this stage of my life? I pray that some of you may see something in your own lives and leadership that you can correct before it’s too late. God is able. God is willing.

I look forward to your comments.

ThomRainer

 

This article was originally published at ThomRainer.com on May 4, 2015. Thom S. Rainer serves as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam, Art, and Jess; and seven grandchildren. Dr. Rainer can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at facebook.com/Thom.S.Rainer.

15 comments

  • Sherene D Smith

    Thank you for sharing. We have start a new church and it has been challenging.. thank you again for sharing your wisdom so we can stay focused.

  • Erick

    Thanks for being transparent. I believe it’s part of the reason people are leaving the church today is there is not enough transparency from the pulpit.

  • Genaro Martinez, Jr.

    Thank you for sharing this, all I can say is I have found myself there many times too. Only the grace of God and the love of the people we serve is what gets us through… God bless!

  • David

    I could add, “I spent too much time being mad at the ones who WEREN’T there and not enough time appreciating the ones who WERE there.”

  • Anthony

    I’ve been pastoring now for over 10 yrs. and I still haven’t perfected it. I have found out though, that the word of God, will always prevail over any situation. Just stay with the word. I have felt rejection, experienced slander, been taken to court, you name it; but God, and His word has always brought me through. And for that, I am encouraged.
    Thanks for the post.

  • Lawrence Kumi

    Thanks for sharing. It will be very helpful to some of us lay ministers. Most grateful.

  • Musa Mitekaro

    Dear Pastor Rainer
    Greetings from Africa. I have been so much blessed by your articles. Sharing your experiences is a great ministry. I am a pastor and administrator here in Africa, you have touched my life. God bless you, your family and ministry

  • Deborah Yinka

    Thanks for sharing your downsides with others. I really appreciate the fact someone else goes thru these challenges in serving the Lord Jesus. I think I get how to serve better. God bless you

  • KOFI APPIANING

    Thanks for sharing. This is a great lesson for all ministers and Christian leaders

  • Dexter

    Thank you for sharing some of the stuggles, and I believe it will help somebody.

  • Jean Jackson Luma

    Dear Pastor Rainer
    Greetings From Haitian Community ( Norwood Church of God in Massachusetts) .

    Thanks so much for sharing your experiences with us ,by today I will apply them in my ministry .

    May God bless you and your family

    Bishop Jean J Luma

  • Thanks, when I hear or see someone take a stand for being wrong, I know they are on their way to greatness. Show us oh Lord who we are and how to grow in you.

  • Frank esilaba

    Dear Pastor
    Thanks for sharing. This is a great lesson for all ministers and Christian leaders and especially me. I will use this in my service for Christ our Lord.

    God bless you, your family and Ministry,

    Bishop Frank Esilaba

  • Ps Ray Terborg

    Thank you pastor for sharing with us your experiences this counts for Every ps bishops this is an eye opener for every leader in THE churches today,
    Thank you

  • Pst. Edith Wekesa

    Thank you pastor greetings from Kenya and for sharing about yourself. It is great that one can admit their faults. it gives me strength to know that the struggles are for all of us, therefore we need to uplift each other as ministers of the word of God all the earth. Its encouraging to share and enable others avoid same mistakes.

Ten Troubling Statements Church Leaders and Members Make

Ten Troubling Statements Church Leaders and Members Make

Arguing-WorkersBy Thom Rainer

If you want your church to move toward a slow yet certain death, make certain your church leadership and membership affirms most of these ten statements. They are troubling statements. Indeed they are proclamations that virtually assure your church’s decline and probable demise.

What is troubling is that these statements are not uncommon. They are articulated by both staff and lay leaders at times. See if you have ever heard any of these ten.

  1. We hire our pastors and staff to do that. “That” can be evangelism. Or discipleship. Or caring for others. Or visiting people in the hospital. Some lay leaders view pastors and staff as hired hands to do ministry they should be doing themselves.
  2. We have enough churches in our community. I rarely see a community that is really “overchurched.” The number of unchurched people in any one community is typically increasing, not decreasing. This comment usually comes from church leaders who view new churches as competition.
  3. We are a discipleship church. Or an evangelism church. Or a ministry church. Church leaders who say their churches are focused on only one area of ministry are offering excuses not to be obedient in other areas.
  4. We have never done it that way before. Yes, it’s cliché. But it’s still a very pervasive attitude among change-resistant people in the church.
  5. We don’t have the money to do that. More times than not, the church does indeed have the money to focus on necessary priorities. The problem is that some church leaders don’t have the courage to reallocate funds toward those priorities.
  6. We really don’t emphasize small groups. Churches that do not give a priority to small groups or Sunday school classes can count on a big exodus of people out the back door. Those in groups are five times more likely to stay involved in a church than those in worship services alone.
  7. We have enough people in our church. This is a tragic statement by leaders of inwardly focused churches. And it is an excuse not to do evangelism and ministry.
  8. We aren’t a church for those kinds of people. Though similar to number seven, this statement is an appalling declaration made by church members who really believe people of a certain race, ethnic group, income group, or other descriptor should be excluded from the congregation.
  9. We really shouldn’t expect much of our members. Low expectation churches are far too common. Too many church leaders communicate unwisely that it’s okay for members to do nothing, give nothing, and not be concerned about growing spiritually.
  10. We focus only on our members, not guests and others. Many church leaders make this statement either explicitly or implicitly. Sometimes the facilities, the worship services, and the small groups shout “Guests not welcome!” I released a resource today that addresses this critical issue of guest friendliness.

What do you think of these ten troubling statements? Are they accurate? Are they fair? What would you add or change? [Please leave your comments below]

 

ThomRainer

This article was originally published at ThomRainer.com on December 8, 2014. Thom S. Rainer serves as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam,  Art, and Jess; and seven grandchildren. Dr. Rainer can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at facebook.com/Thom.S.Rainer.

9 comments

  • “We don’t have enough _________ to do that. ” “We’re too small”

  • Thanks for telling it like it is. Our churches need to wake up band realize it’s not about our church. ..it’s about the kingdom agenda.

  • Francis K. Tamba

    This is amazing and most acurate especially for a dying church.
    To add also, We will preach only the word the increase will come by faith.

  • Francis K. Tamba

    Amazing and acurate.

  • Pastor Jerome

    I agree that those are statements that can ruin a church. We as church leaders should look to the father for our guidance. When we make decisions on our own 9 times out of 10 we make the wrong choices. Only God knows the direction He wants His people to go in, when we look to Him for those answers, we can’t go wrong.

  • Robert Walker

    I have been involve in my church for over 30 years ,and as a lay leader, 25 of these years. Unfortunately, I have ,and even more so, am experiencing the slow death of my church. I and my Pastor both have introduced Dr. Rainer book ,The Autopsy of a Deceased Church, to the membership, in trying to get them to understand our present state. The 10 symptoms are so prevalent in so many churches. Thanks!!! for your acknowledgement of this subject. I see it as confirmation to keep pressing onward. I believe Christ, that the gates of Hell will not prevail against His church. Thank you and Please!!! don’t stop bringing your prayerful insight of these subjects to the populations.

  • Bob

    Not accepting help when some one wants to help.

    Being judgmental and not supporting others in there walk.

  • Dr. Mark Lynch

    I agree with these statement whole heartily. I have always led smaller churches and I have found that most of the problem with smaller churches growing is the fact that they are stuck in a tradition that they are unwilling to change. In my case it is most often the unwillingness to even try to bring praise & worship music into the service to help draw younger families into the church. Most smaller churches are stuck using 250 and 300 year old music and unwilling to use any newer more spiritual praise and worship music into the church which will both bring life, spirit and joy into the service. They all to often consider it “satanic music” when in reality it is just as or more spiritual than some of the older hymns. They have sung the older hymns so long they have lost most of their meaning in the peoples lives, they simply sing the words without feeling what they are singing. Another major problem I have faced in my 27 years of ministry is the unwillingness for smaller churches to evangelize the community in which they reside. They claim “it is the Pastor’s job to do the visitation” and say “that’s what we pay you for” when the Bible is very clear that Pastor’s are called to “equip the saints for the work of the ministry.” If a Pastor is doing what God “called him to do” he will have a full time job and if the members would do what they are called to do then ” we would all come together in the fullness of God’s glory and our churches would grow and prosper.

  • J. R. Padgett

    Very accurate.
    If your not part of the solution,
    Then your part of the problem.

Seven New Trends in the Pastor Search Process

Seven New Trends in the Pastor Search Process

magnifying-glass-450690_640

By Thom S. Rainer

If there is anything consistent about the current state of how churches find and call pastors, it is the inconsistencies of the process for each church. It is inconsistent by denomination and by each church individually.

I have the opportunity to interact with a number of churches looking for pastors, and with pastors who are being considered by churches. Over the past few years, I’ve noticed changes and trends in the process. Let me highlight the seven most frequent changes I’ve discovered.

1. Social media has become a major reference to check on potential pastors. More churches and pastor search committees are looking at blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media venues of potential candidates. One search committee member told me he read four years of blogs of a pastor their church is considering. He said that he could tell a lot about the leadership and personality of a pastor by reading his articles and how he interacts with those who comment on the blogs.

2. Two background checks are more common: criminal and credit. Most church search members will not disqualify a candidate who has some issues in his background legally or credit related. But they do want the candidate to be upfront about any issues; and they want to know how he is dealing with those issues today.

3. More leadership questions are asked. In the past, Bible and theology rightly dominated the questions asked of a prospective pastor. Today those considering these pastors want to know more about his leadership qualities. “We had problems with two of our last three pastors,” one church member wrote me. “But none of those problems had anything to do with their theology; they just had terrible leadership skills.”

4. Churches scrutinize the prospective pastor’s church website. I have been surprised how much churches depend on a website to find out information about a prospective pastor. They certainly expect to hear sermon podcasts there, but they are looking for much more. Rightly or wrongly, they often evaluate the pastor by the quality and the content of the site.

5. Fewer search committees are going to the prospective pastor’s church to hear him preach. I am hearing more often that they view such a move as disruptive to that pastor and the church. They have other options available to hear him preach. Of course, they lose the advantage of seeing and hearing that pastor in his current context.

6. Churches are depending less on traditional resources to seek prospective pastors. More are depending on informal networks to seek these pastors, rather than denominational or similar sources.

7. More churches are asking questions about the emotional intelligence of a candidate. Is he self-aware? Is he moody or temperamental? How motivated is he? Is he empathetic? Does he have good social and interpersonal skills?

There are several other trends I am watching closely. But these seven are the dominant trends in the pastor search process. Though they are ranked in order of frequency of comment, they are really all very close in their overall importance in the ways churches seek to find and call a pastor. So the number one issue, social media and the pastor, is not that much more dominant than the number seven issue, the emotional intelligence of the prospective pastor.

What other trends have you seen?

This article was originally published at ThomRainer.com on October 29, 2014. Thom S. Rainer serves as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam,  Art, and Jess; and seven grandchildren. Dr. Rainer can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at facebook.com/Thom.S.Rainer.

Nine Stupid Things I Did as a Pastor

Nine Stupid Things I Did as a Pastor

3981364314_d4b30cb739_bBy Thom Rainer

If you want to read the tale of a pastor who really did some dumb things, keep reading.

I served as pastor of four churches. It was only by the grace of God and the graciousness of the congregations that I was called and allowed to stay at those churches. I absolutely love the members of those four congregations, and I will forever be grateful to them and for them.

Frankly, I’m not sure I would give myself a passing grade as a pastor. I messed up quite a bit. I would do several things differently today. And as a point of full disclosure, my list of nine is not close to being exhaustive.

1. I neglected my prayer life and time in the Word too often. It sounds absolutely insane as I write it, but I got too busy for God. As a consequence, I operated out of my own insufficient power too many times.
2. I neglected my family too often. Paul wrote these words to Pastor Timothy: “If anyone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of God’s church?” (1 Timothy 3:5, HCSB). Ouch. So many times I communicated through my actions to my family that they were not as important as other church members.
3. I let the crisis of the moment overwhelm me. In doing so I did not trust in God to see me through the situation. And I did not have a longer-term perspective to understand that difficulties are only for a season.
4. I perceived most of my critics as my adversaries. Some of my critics actually had constructive input. Others were going through their own struggles, and I was a convenient target. I took criticisms personally instead of responding pastorally.
5. I competed with other churches. Shame on me. Too often I wanted my church to have a greater attendance than other churches in the area. I should have been praying for and working with those other church leaders more.
6. I neglected praying with my staff. My prayer time with my church staff was haphazard at best. The one thing we needed to do the most, we were doing the least. I was a terrible leader on that front.
7. I often worried about what others thought about me. My sole concern should have been how Christ-like I was. Too often I sought the approval of others rather than the blessings of God.
8. I often yielded to unreasonable requests and demands. Instead of spending my time doing those things that really mattered, I gave in too often to the “squeaky wheel.” I sacrificed the great in order to do the good.
9. I gave up too often. Due to frustration, exhaustion or, more often, lack of faith, I gave up on challenges too quickly. I am convinced I missed out on many victories when they were just around the corner.

Those are but a few of the stupid things I did as a pastor. Most of you can breathe a sigh of relief that I never served as your pastor.

So why I am writing these self-critical comments at this stage of my life? I pray that some of you may see something in your own lives and leadership that you can correct before it’s too late. God is able. God is willing.

I look forward to your comments.

ThomRainer

 

This article was originally published at ThomRainer.com on May 4, 2015. Thom S. Rainer serves as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam, Art, and Jess; and seven grandchildren. Dr. Rainer can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at facebook.com/Thom.S.Rainer.

15 comments

  • Sherene D Smith

    Thank you for sharing. We have start a new church and it has been challenging.. thank you again for sharing your wisdom so we can stay focused.

  • Erick

    Thanks for being transparent. I believe it’s part of the reason people are leaving the church today is there is not enough transparency from the pulpit.

  • Genaro Martinez, Jr.

    Thank you for sharing this, all I can say is I have found myself there many times too. Only the grace of God and the love of the people we serve is what gets us through… God bless!

  • David

    I could add, “I spent too much time being mad at the ones who WEREN’T there and not enough time appreciating the ones who WERE there.”

  • Anthony

    I’ve been pastoring now for over 10 yrs. and I still haven’t perfected it. I have found out though, that the word of God, will always prevail over any situation. Just stay with the word. I have felt rejection, experienced slander, been taken to court, you name it; but God, and His word has always brought me through. And for that, I am encouraged.
    Thanks for the post.

  • Lawrence Kumi

    Thanks for sharing. It will be very helpful to some of us lay ministers. Most grateful.

  • Musa Mitekaro

    Dear Pastor Rainer
    Greetings from Africa. I have been so much blessed by your articles. Sharing your experiences is a great ministry. I am a pastor and administrator here in Africa, you have touched my life. God bless you, your family and ministry

  • Deborah Yinka

    Thanks for sharing your downsides with others. I really appreciate the fact someone else goes thru these challenges in serving the Lord Jesus. I think I get how to serve better. God bless you

  • KOFI APPIANING

    Thanks for sharing. This is a great lesson for all ministers and Christian leaders

  • Dexter

    Thank you for sharing some of the stuggles, and I believe it will help somebody.

  • Jean Jackson Luma

    Dear Pastor Rainer
    Greetings From Haitian Community ( Norwood Church of God in Massachusetts) .

    Thanks so much for sharing your experiences with us ,by today I will apply them in my ministry .

    May God bless you and your family

    Bishop Jean J Luma

  • Thanks, when I hear or see someone take a stand for being wrong, I know they are on their way to greatness. Show us oh Lord who we are and how to grow in you.

  • Frank esilaba

    Dear Pastor
    Thanks for sharing. This is a great lesson for all ministers and Christian leaders and especially me. I will use this in my service for Christ our Lord.

    God bless you, your family and Ministry,

    Bishop Frank Esilaba

  • Ps Ray Terborg

    Thank you pastor for sharing with us your experiences this counts for Every ps bishops this is an eye opener for every leader in THE churches today,
    Thank you

  • Pst. Edith Wekesa

    Thank you pastor greetings from Kenya and for sharing about yourself. It is great that one can admit their faults. it gives me strength to know that the struggles are for all of us, therefore we need to uplift each other as ministers of the word of God all the earth. Its encouraging to share and enable others avoid same mistakes.

Some thoughts on Billy Graham’s passing directed toward pastors.

5 comments

  • Very Good….A man who touched the heart of the World….With the simple Gospel of Jesus.

  • RubenCC

    May he rest in peace and may his influence continue working in all of us.

  • Billy was a wonderful servant of Christ.

  • Germany Bennett

    He was a modern day Paul… The impact he made on this world during his lifetime will never be forgotten…

  • Rev. John Davis

    The true impact Rev. Billy Graham had in this world will never be known. The countless people who heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ on the radio, TV and in the venues where his crusades were held are uncountable. We will never know how many people received Christ because of the simple message of salvation that he preached. If we all preached that simple message of Christ first and that sin is sin no matter how you try to try to whitewash it. It is time to stop being ‘politically’ and “culturally” correct and focus on being “Biblically Correct”.

A Question for Pastors…

12 comments

  • The Bible says that in the last days there will be a great falling away. This is the evidence. I don’t feel that pastors are leaving the flock, I feel that people don’t want to hear the gospel truth. A spirit of compromise and assimilation has taken over. People want to feel good about where they are at in the walk with God. If the preacher is telling them something they don’t want to hear, they go somewhere in which they can. Just my opinion.

  • Times are changing, people are changing, cultures are changing, societies are changing. If we look at some of the data that exist, this trend of closing churches and decreases in membership is not new, it’s been,happening for well of a decade.

    I believe there is one significant cofactor that affect this trend:

    1-the church has lost it’s vision.

    Before Jesus ascended, he had ONE last conversation with his disciples, those that would continue to carry out his work. We find His words in John 13: “and by this shall all men know you are my disciples that you love one another as I have LOVED you”.

    It’s really that simple. However, we are living in a day where scripture is blatantly being misused, used out of context and continues to be used as a whipping post and battering ram.

    I realize this is a hard truth!

    We are living in a day, we’re individuals have become, frankly, disgusted with all the light shows, the flashy banners, the lists of “do and don’t” and “cans and can’ts”. There’s and ole song that has a line in it: “I know the tricks behind the magic show”.

    In addition, the church should be about, simply Jesus, and unfortunately today it’s more about politics.

    We know what Jesus said about that.

  • Gene Hutter

    The Church will always be . . . it has existed for almost 2000 years . . . sometimes good, sometimes bad. Perhaps a pastor is suffering from burn-out. Rather than leave, he/she stays ending in apathy. Change is a challenge but sometimes necessary . . . and, a congregation should not be afraid to ASK for change. Also, there is the issue of “all-inclusive” churches: this is not to open up to a debate, but some denominations are closed to LGBT persons. Everyone is a child of God, whether one likes it or not. Also, some pastors interpret scripture to their own liking as a control mechanism to scare people into staying. But, the intelligent person sees through a controlling pastor and if they don’t challenge a pastor, they leave.

  • Chris

    I have been a pastor of small churches all my pastoral life and what I see is that culture is changing and church people do not know how to interpret it. Some say that the changes would cause the church to be led away from the gospel while others just don’t do well with change. So I say that the center of this decline is the churches lack of understand the world and trying to get the world inside the church so that they can hear the gospel. The churches that are growing are able to see what needs the world has and then respond to that need and as the world comes in they present a gospel that is not controlling nor damning. The gospel has always been about love and receiving the lost and loving them. We as Christians should not condone their sin nor embrace it but simple love and embrace the sinner. We love them and desire to help them find the gospel. Let the Holy Spirit convict them thatnis his job. Our job is to bring them in so that they can hear the gospel in a safe place that they don’t feel that people are judging them. The methods to accomplish this endeavor might require us church goers to change our methods of evangelism but it would never require us to change the gospel message.

  • Roger Hagan

    The church has lost its identify as the vehicle of evangelism God has chosen to save the world. We do not lack programs, we lack power. The church seems to be in competition with the world when it should be the world in competition with the church. Though our goal is not to be offensive in our nature or delivery we have become silently complacent rather than be politically or socially incorrect. Our slogans and themes are all catchy enough but I desire to see a demonstration of Acts power for my congregation. I am afraid that even in the church the flesh has overcome the Spirit. Congregations have become more concerned about “when” we get out of church than “what” we get out of church.

  • This is near and dear to my heart because we are facing the option of closing. I came to this church a little over a year ago, and now it’s down to my family and about 4 other people. Of course, it was already tiny when I came, but more left.

    But here’s the thing: I’m staying. The people who left were those who said they were willing to do anything, but it was only words. When I scheduled a month of prayer (every night in May), none of those who have or are leaving came to pray with us. That says something. So, what we are going to do now is start over, just like a new church plant. On top of that, tradition and format are going to go out the window (except what’s necessary and biblical). We are going to narrow our focus and concentrate on wearing out our shoes and making disciples.

    Ultimately, I want to see God get the glory for raising the dead.

  • Rev. Ronald E. Davis, Jr.

    People have quit believing the Bible is the unerring Word of God. They think they can pick out and choose what they want to believe. These same people think the Declaration of Independence, The Constitution and the Bill of Rights are only suggestions. And yes the LGBQT in tearing the church apart. It has happened to the Lutherans, The Presbyterians, The Episcopalians and now the Methodist. All are welcome in God’s church, but that does not mean we have to accept their lifestyle. As the end approaches our Lord is separating the wheat from the Chaff. In the end It is God that I have to answer to and not man.

  • Kevin K. Chapman JD,MA, DBS

    Why are Churches closing? Its an Epidemic! What happened?

    Indeed in the end times Scripture reveals a falling away; and indeed, the times are changing. Further, there is no question that we in American are no longer living in a Christian era and people have quit believing in the unerring Word of God, but you asked why churches are closing, and to get to that we must dig deeper. It is not about the LGBT sins permeating society, nor is it about the Republican/Democrat debacles of the day or even about the evolutionary and untruthful teachings of the elementary and higher education schools. It goes much further back than all that. Although some may say it goes all the way back to the thought processes which brought people to America for religious reasons and even some would say it goes back to the period of the Puritans or even to the original Methodist (both of which I honor as groups trying to do what is right at the time) I think the reason is deeper and yet simpler than all that.

    Why are churches closing all over America (and I am one who has had to close one, putting all the assets in a church planting trust and using the resources to plant 5 new churches)? It is because the pastors of what appears to be the early second half of the last century, failed in a major way as they led their churches, no matter what denomination they were. (It’s only my opinion that it must have happened in a big way about this time.)

    What didn’t they do? They failed to “equip the Saints for the work of the ministry.” Paul writes to the Ephesians “11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” Ephesians 4:11-16 (ESV)

    If this one instruction had been fulfilled, we would not have the epidemic of church closings we are seeing. Oh, I of all people I know there are times, due to sin (usually) but sometimes because of population shifts, where it is best, if not necessary for a church to close. However, if the people had been properly taught and equipped to do the ‘work of the ministry’ (and the pastors/employees were not the only ones working) there would be enough equipped people in the next generation(s) to sustain the ‘work of the ministry’ which should be lodged in and focused in the local church and fewer if not most would not be closed and/or abandoned.

    I am looking to pastor such a church which is willing to be the ‘church’ and be so equipped.

    • ARNOLD MUKWENA

      Iam indeed inspired by your comment.There is always a need for a visionary plan into the future of any denomination.Foundation work to ensure future challenges are overcome and sustainability ensured.The Disciples were fully prepared for missionary work that would follow.They were rigorously trained for ministry and they succeeded.This is what we need in the church ,ensuring that we have a compliment of Christians as explained in Ephesians 4:11 who will carry out God’s work to the end. Thank you so much ,iam inspired.

  • Arthur Courchesne

    I retired from a church in which I was the Assoc. Pastor (By-Vocational Pastor). The church did close it’s doors about a year after I left. I don’t believe it closed it’s doors because of me leaving,( just a tired leadership with no replacements.).
    Our two oldest sons are members of a CMA church in western Mass. of which my wife and I attend on occasion. My oldest son is an Elder there. They seem to be a growing church providing the physical and spiritual needs of the congregation. They are also actively involved with Campus Crusade at the nearby UMass campus.
    I believe that in order for a church to thrive it has to go beyond a meeting on Sunday. There needs to be weekly prayer groups and weekly bible study groups as well as Pot Luck dinners and church socials. In other words, the congregation should be consumed in church activity.
    My wife and I are “snow birds” we spend our winters in Florida. On Sundays we attend the Hernando Church of the Nazarene in Hernando Florida. Over 90% of the congregation are seniors and yet they have a thriving youth ministry.Many of the youth’s parents don’t attend church, so volunteers take a mini church bus and pick up the kids for Sunday School & church. On an Easter Sunday, there can be as many as 400 in attendants. They also have an outreach program for those who struggle with drug addition. This is a vibrant church!!!.

  • John Peeling

    For one, Churches are not preaching the Full Gospel. They are not preaching Salvation. Also, The flock sees much hypocrisy in the church and just throws up there their hands and walks away. Convicting messages are not being preached. Everyone wants to be politically correct. Whatever became of SIN, the author once asked. The Bible Belts of the country have become “Bible Suspenders”. Christians need to hang in and contend for the faith once delivered unto the saints. AMEN and Thank you.

  • Margerita Murib

    Yes that is also true and l also wonder could it be that the Church was not build on the proper foundation of God’s word as in Biblical teaching and expository preaching.?

Nine Stupid Things I Did as a Pastor

Nine Stupid Things I Did as a Pastor

3981364314_d4b30cb739_bBy Thom Rainer

If you want to read the tale of a pastor who really did some dumb things, keep reading.

I served as pastor of four churches. It was only by the grace of God and the graciousness of the congregations that I was called and allowed to stay at those churches. I absolutely love the members of those four congregations, and I will forever be grateful to them and for them.

Frankly, I’m not sure I would give myself a passing grade as a pastor. I messed up quite a bit. I would do several things differently today. And as a point of full disclosure, my list of nine is not close to being exhaustive.

1. I neglected my prayer life and time in the Word too often. It sounds absolutely insane as I write it, but I got too busy for God. As a consequence, I operated out of my own insufficient power too many times.
2. I neglected my family too often. Paul wrote these words to Pastor Timothy: “If anyone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of God’s church?” (1 Timothy 3:5, HCSB). Ouch. So many times I communicated through my actions to my family that they were not as important as other church members.
3. I let the crisis of the moment overwhelm me. In doing so I did not trust in God to see me through the situation. And I did not have a longer-term perspective to understand that difficulties are only for a season.
4. I perceived most of my critics as my adversaries. Some of my critics actually had constructive input. Others were going through their own struggles, and I was a convenient target. I took criticisms personally instead of responding pastorally.
5. I competed with other churches. Shame on me. Too often I wanted my church to have a greater attendance than other churches in the area. I should have been praying for and working with those other church leaders more.
6. I neglected praying with my staff. My prayer time with my church staff was haphazard at best. The one thing we needed to do the most, we were doing the least. I was a terrible leader on that front.
7. I often worried about what others thought about me. My sole concern should have been how Christ-like I was. Too often I sought the approval of others rather than the blessings of God.
8. I often yielded to unreasonable requests and demands. Instead of spending my time doing those things that really mattered, I gave in too often to the “squeaky wheel.” I sacrificed the great in order to do the good.
9. I gave up too often. Due to frustration, exhaustion or, more often, lack of faith, I gave up on challenges too quickly. I am convinced I missed out on many victories when they were just around the corner.

Those are but a few of the stupid things I did as a pastor. Most of you can breathe a sigh of relief that I never served as your pastor.

So why I am writing these self-critical comments at this stage of my life? I pray that some of you may see something in your own lives and leadership that you can correct before it’s too late. God is able. God is willing.

I look forward to your comments.

ThomRainer

 

This article was originally published at ThomRainer.com on May 4, 2015. Thom S. Rainer serves as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam, Art, and Jess; and seven grandchildren. Dr. Rainer can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at facebook.com/Thom.S.Rainer.

15 comments

  • Sherene D Smith

    Thank you for sharing. We have start a new church and it has been challenging.. thank you again for sharing your wisdom so we can stay focused.

  • Erick

    Thanks for being transparent. I believe it’s part of the reason people are leaving the church today is there is not enough transparency from the pulpit.

  • Genaro Martinez, Jr.

    Thank you for sharing this, all I can say is I have found myself there many times too. Only the grace of God and the love of the people we serve is what gets us through… God bless!

  • David

    I could add, “I spent too much time being mad at the ones who WEREN’T there and not enough time appreciating the ones who WERE there.”

  • Anthony

    I’ve been pastoring now for over 10 yrs. and I still haven’t perfected it. I have found out though, that the word of God, will always prevail over any situation. Just stay with the word. I have felt rejection, experienced slander, been taken to court, you name it; but God, and His word has always brought me through. And for that, I am encouraged.
    Thanks for the post.

  • Lawrence Kumi

    Thanks for sharing. It will be very helpful to some of us lay ministers. Most grateful.

  • Musa Mitekaro

    Dear Pastor Rainer
    Greetings from Africa. I have been so much blessed by your articles. Sharing your experiences is a great ministry. I am a pastor and administrator here in Africa, you have touched my life. God bless you, your family and ministry

  • Deborah Yinka

    Thanks for sharing your downsides with others. I really appreciate the fact someone else goes thru these challenges in serving the Lord Jesus. I think I get how to serve better. God bless you

  • KOFI APPIANING

    Thanks for sharing. This is a great lesson for all ministers and Christian leaders

  • Dexter

    Thank you for sharing some of the stuggles, and I believe it will help somebody.

  • Jean Jackson Luma

    Dear Pastor Rainer
    Greetings From Haitian Community ( Norwood Church of God in Massachusetts) .

    Thanks so much for sharing your experiences with us ,by today I will apply them in my ministry .

    May God bless you and your family

    Bishop Jean J Luma

  • Thanks, when I hear or see someone take a stand for being wrong, I know they are on their way to greatness. Show us oh Lord who we are and how to grow in you.

  • Frank esilaba

    Dear Pastor
    Thanks for sharing. This is a great lesson for all ministers and Christian leaders and especially me. I will use this in my service for Christ our Lord.

    God bless you, your family and Ministry,

    Bishop Frank Esilaba

  • Ps Ray Terborg

    Thank you pastor for sharing with us your experiences this counts for Every ps bishops this is an eye opener for every leader in THE churches today,
    Thank you

  • Pst. Edith Wekesa

    Thank you pastor greetings from Kenya and for sharing about yourself. It is great that one can admit their faults. it gives me strength to know that the struggles are for all of us, therefore we need to uplift each other as ministers of the word of God all the earth. Its encouraging to share and enable others avoid same mistakes.

Nine Stupid Things I Did as a Pastor

Nine Stupid Things I Did as a Pastor

3981364314_d4b30cb739_bBy Thom Rainer

If you want to read the tale of a pastor who really did some dumb things, keep reading.

I served as pastor of four churches. It was only by the grace of God and the graciousness of the congregations that I was called and allowed to stay at those churches. I absolutely love the members of those four congregations, and I will forever be grateful to them and for them.

Frankly, I’m not sure I would give myself a passing grade as a pastor. I messed up quite a bit. I would do several things differently today. And as a point of full disclosure, my list of nine is not close to being exhaustive.

1. I neglected my prayer life and time in the Word too often. It sounds absolutely insane as I write it, but I got too busy for God. As a consequence, I operated out of my own insufficient power too many times.
2. I neglected my family too often. Paul wrote these words to Pastor Timothy: “If anyone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of God’s church?” (1 Timothy 3:5, HCSB). Ouch. So many times I communicated through my actions to my family that they were not as important as other church members.
3. I let the crisis of the moment overwhelm me. In doing so I did not trust in God to see me through the situation. And I did not have a longer-term perspective to understand that difficulties are only for a season.
4. I perceived most of my critics as my adversaries. Some of my critics actually had constructive input. Others were going through their own struggles, and I was a convenient target. I took criticisms personally instead of responding pastorally.
5. I competed with other churches. Shame on me. Too often I wanted my church to have a greater attendance than other churches in the area. I should have been praying for and working with those other church leaders more.
6. I neglected praying with my staff. My prayer time with my church staff was haphazard at best. The one thing we needed to do the most, we were doing the least. I was a terrible leader on that front.
7. I often worried about what others thought about me. My sole concern should have been how Christ-like I was. Too often I sought the approval of others rather than the blessings of God.
8. I often yielded to unreasonable requests and demands. Instead of spending my time doing those things that really mattered, I gave in too often to the “squeaky wheel.” I sacrificed the great in order to do the good.
9. I gave up too often. Due to frustration, exhaustion or, more often, lack of faith, I gave up on challenges too quickly. I am convinced I missed out on many victories when they were just around the corner.

Those are but a few of the stupid things I did as a pastor. Most of you can breathe a sigh of relief that I never served as your pastor.

So why I am writing these self-critical comments at this stage of my life? I pray that some of you may see something in your own lives and leadership that you can correct before it’s too late. God is able. God is willing.

I look forward to your comments.

ThomRainer

 

This article was originally published at ThomRainer.com on May 4, 2015. Thom S. Rainer serves as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam, Art, and Jess; and seven grandchildren. Dr. Rainer can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at facebook.com/Thom.S.Rainer.

15 comments

  • Sherene D Smith

    Thank you for sharing. We have start a new church and it has been challenging.. thank you again for sharing your wisdom so we can stay focused.

  • Erick

    Thanks for being transparent. I believe it’s part of the reason people are leaving the church today is there is not enough transparency from the pulpit.

  • Genaro Martinez, Jr.

    Thank you for sharing this, all I can say is I have found myself there many times too. Only the grace of God and the love of the people we serve is what gets us through… God bless!

  • David

    I could add, “I spent too much time being mad at the ones who WEREN’T there and not enough time appreciating the ones who WERE there.”

  • Anthony

    I’ve been pastoring now for over 10 yrs. and I still haven’t perfected it. I have found out though, that the word of God, will always prevail over any situation. Just stay with the word. I have felt rejection, experienced slander, been taken to court, you name it; but God, and His word has always brought me through. And for that, I am encouraged.
    Thanks for the post.

  • Lawrence Kumi

    Thanks for sharing. It will be very helpful to some of us lay ministers. Most grateful.

  • Musa Mitekaro

    Dear Pastor Rainer
    Greetings from Africa. I have been so much blessed by your articles. Sharing your experiences is a great ministry. I am a pastor and administrator here in Africa, you have touched my life. God bless you, your family and ministry

  • Deborah Yinka

    Thanks for sharing your downsides with others. I really appreciate the fact someone else goes thru these challenges in serving the Lord Jesus. I think I get how to serve better. God bless you

  • KOFI APPIANING

    Thanks for sharing. This is a great lesson for all ministers and Christian leaders

  • Dexter

    Thank you for sharing some of the stuggles, and I believe it will help somebody.

  • Jean Jackson Luma

    Dear Pastor Rainer
    Greetings From Haitian Community ( Norwood Church of God in Massachusetts) .

    Thanks so much for sharing your experiences with us ,by today I will apply them in my ministry .

    May God bless you and your family

    Bishop Jean J Luma

  • Thanks, when I hear or see someone take a stand for being wrong, I know they are on their way to greatness. Show us oh Lord who we are and how to grow in you.

  • Frank esilaba

    Dear Pastor
    Thanks for sharing. This is a great lesson for all ministers and Christian leaders and especially me. I will use this in my service for Christ our Lord.

    God bless you, your family and Ministry,

    Bishop Frank Esilaba

  • Ps Ray Terborg

    Thank you pastor for sharing with us your experiences this counts for Every ps bishops this is an eye opener for every leader in THE churches today,
    Thank you

  • Pst. Edith Wekesa

    Thank you pastor greetings from Kenya and for sharing about yourself. It is great that one can admit their faults. it gives me strength to know that the struggles are for all of us, therefore we need to uplift each other as ministers of the word of God all the earth. Its encouraging to share and enable others avoid same mistakes.

1 2 3 4 5 13