Monthly Archives: April 2018

Sins of the Keyboard

Did I miss a heavenly memo that stated all Bible verses concerning gossiping, grumbling, and spreading rumors are null and void? Was there a new proclamation from on high giving the green light to murmuring and slanderous talk? Isn’t such blabbering still considered unChrist-like?  From my casual perusal of social media, to a few conversations and even some flat out lies spoken by followers of Jesus (or maybe better stated, people who claimed to be following Jesus), the growing frequency of “sins of the tongue” (or “sins of the keyboard”) seem to indicate that such behaviors are no longer all that sinful.  (Sarcasm alert:) Who knew?

For example, when news of a renowned pastor’s allegations of misconduct hit the news, it seemed that Christians could not stop reading and regurgitating the reports and blogs of those for and against. It was the talk of the town. Christianity Today’s Twitter feed seemed to tweet about the scandal every other day. This month it’s a renowned pastor’s reputation to devour. Next month it will be someone else. In the old days, under the guise of spirituality we couched our gossip as sharing a “prayer request,” now our gossip is posted on social media with no phony “prayer request” agenda given. It’s simply juicy morsels of murmurs to be shared, as if the biblical warnings about unwholesome talk and slander no longer apply.

Should we rightly condemn bad behavior. Yes. Should we be careful about jumping onto the latest pile of rumors and innuendoes? Double yes. Should we decide to take the plank out of our eye instead of worrying about the speck of sawdust in the someone else’s eye? I’m pretty sure Jesus would say, “Triple yes.” Maybe if we were to receive a memo from on high, it would require us to memorize Ephesians 4:29:  Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.If Paul were writing today, he might have penned, “Let no unwholesome talk come out of your mouths or posted on your Facebook or Twitter feed.” If that is too difficult, how about if all who claim to be followers of Jesus humbly relearn the truth in the pre-school Sunday school song:

O be careful little tongue what you say,

O be careful little tongue what you say,

For the Father up above is looking down below,

So be careful little tongue what you say

Reversing the downward trajectory in the Church of the Nazarene

It’s no secret that attendance in the Church of the Nazarene in the USA is in decline.  There is also no shortage of explanations of why this might be the case: It’s tougher these days; people aren’t interested; culture has changed; every denomination is losing members, blah, blah, blah.

I understand the challenges of leading a church are far different today than when I started pastoring 30 years ago.   Having written that, I hope that my solution is not simply a reminiscing of the “good old days.” I don’t want to be the old guy saying, “Hey you kids, get off my lawn! I remember when…” Still with that disclaimer, here it goes:

We need make evangelism a priority again.  Not church growth (although as evangelism happens churches grow). Not planting churches (although evangelism happens when churches are planted).  My observation has been that most church growth and church planting growth comes from disgruntled church attenders finding the hip new church to attend. It’s mostly fat and sassy sheep changing pastures, not lost and hungry sheep being found.

What we need is pure and basic evangelism.

On a personal level, it’s always remembering that we believe that this world determines one’s eternal accommodations and acting accordingly.  We have friends and loved ones that are on their way to hell if something doesn’t change. Let’s quit saying society has changed and admit that we have changed.  We aren’t as bold as past generations.  We aren’t as committed.  We don’t sacrifice like our grandparents did. We have other interests (distractions) and other priorities.  We need to confess that we have failed at living into the Great Commission and determine to become friends with sinners (it seemed that Jesus was accused of keeping such company) so that we might have the opportunity to share the love of Christ.

Local churches can never be satisfied with the status quo or decline, but having a healthy dose of shame when conversions and baptisms are in decline. Local churches need to be training people (and pastors?) in personal evangelism. We need to count what counts: contacts, conversions and baptisms. We need less emphasis on cool and more emphasis on warm. Less café’s and less wood pallet backdrops and more biblical preaching. Less politics and more holiness.  Less excuses and more Jesus.

On a denominational level, it’s returning the “M” events back into evangelism workshops and evangelism strategizing. Let’s create an Evangelism Department again (I think that office morphed into the USA/Canada office years ago). Let’s produce curriculum in the colleges and seminary that create a fire within the bones of our young people to do the work of an evangelist.  It’s becoming downright Bresee-like in going to those whom society has rejected.  Joining with the poor, the burdened, the disenfranchised and saying. “You are welcome here!” It’s confessing that our last 20 years have been mostly a disaster when it comes to evangelism and the way we have done it (or haven’t done it) has been wrong. Let’s get creative again!

While we are going back to the good ol days of evangelism emphasis, remember keep off my grass you young whippersnappers!

The Best Reasons To Return to Church on the Sunday AFTER Easter

1).  No Problem finding your car in the parking lot (It’s the lonely Chevy surrounded by empty spaces).

2). If you are allergic to Easter lilies, sneeze no more.  They were out of the sanctuary quicker than Michigan State was out in this year’s NCAA basketball tourney (Too soon, Sparty? Sorry!)

3). No pressure to wear the most fashionable Easter Bonnet. (The last Easter Bonnet was worn by Mrs. Bertha Davis at the First Baptist Church of Hattiesburg, Mississippi in 1998.)

4). Two Bulletins for the price of one. (Our worship folders are always free).

5). Plenty of seats in the front (and in the back and on the side and in the balcony and in the… well… you get the idea)

6).  If you have agoraphobia (fear of crowds), you have no worries. Of course, if you have monophobia(fear of being alone) you might want to consider bringing a friend.

7).  No Tithe Sunday! (That’s a lie).

8).You feel bad that no one will be there to laugh at the preacher’s corny jokes (Who’s kidding who? Even in a packed sanctuary no one laughs at the preacher’s jokes… not this preacher’s jokes anyway. Notice your lack of chuckles, giggles and merriment to #7 as proof).

9). The Choir will take requests from the “crowd.”(Umm… no they won’t).

And the VERY best reason to come back to church on the Sunday AFTER Easter…

10). You love Jesus and you want to praise Him on Easter and every other day too! Let’s not wait until heaven to join in the chorus singing, “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.” (Revelation 4:11)