Quantity or Quality?

Below is a discussion between three pastors concerning the tension between evangelism vs. discipleship efforts.  Notice the encouragement from Matt Chandler for the older to invest into the younger.  This is such a critical need for spiritual growth to occur in BOTH parties, both the young and the old.  Also, Mark Dever points out that in order for us to consider ourselves a follower of Christ, we really should be helping others to follow Christ.  He also reminds me of the importance of praying for and encouraging others. 

  • Mark Dever is pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist church located in Washington D.C. and founder of 9Marks ministries
  • Matt Chandler is pastor of the Village church located just outside of Dallas, TX
  • James McDonald is pastor of the Harvest Bible Chapel located in Chicago and host of the Walk in the Word radio program

 

Tweets of the week…

For those who are not familier with Twitter, allow me to provide you with a definition I found at PCMag.com…Twitter is defined as – A very popular instant messaging system that lets a person send brief text messages up to 140 characters in length to a list of followers. Launched in 2006, Twitter was designed as a social network to keep friends and colleagues informed throughout the day. However, it became widely used for commercial and political purposes to keep customers, voters and fans up-to-date as well as to encourage feedback.

I have actually found Twitter to possess some redemptive value so I thought a “tweets of the week” spot would be in order.   Here is the 1st installment…

Russell Moore:  Sometimes the grace of God is finding yourself a complete failure in something you thought was 1 of your strongest points. Count it all joy!

J. C. Ryle: “A true Christian is one who has not only peace of conscience, but war within.”

David Platt: Worry is a sure sign that you have forgotten you are a child of God the Father (Mt. 6:25-33).

Spurgeon: “… even if you cannot speak w/ men for God, if you know how to speak w/ God for men, you occupy a position that is second to none.”

Andy Stanley:  So, if I raise my own debt ceiling will it end my crisis?

Francis Chan: “Isn’t it a comfort to worship a God we cannot exaggerate?”

John Piper: “Can you drink my cup?” “Yes.” “Then you will.” But they did not, and could not, drink it all. His cup was to die FOR them.

I’m sure somebody said it…

Keri received this in an E-mail last week and I thought it was worth passing on.  Taken from Claudia Barba – “I think I know what somebody said…”

  1. When the palsied man was lowered through the roof to be healed: “We ain’t never done it that way before.”
  2. While picking up 12 baskets of leftovers after the 5000 were fed: “What a mess!”
  3. When Jesus gathered little children into His arms: “Don’t you have more important things to do?”
  4. When He called for self-denial and cross-bearing: “Sorry—that’s not my style.”
  5. When He chose the unlearned and ignorant to be His disciples: “They’re not in our target demographic.”
  6. When they heard Jesus was a Nazarene: “He’s  from the wrong side of the tracks.”
  7. When He announced that the last would be first:  “That’s not fair.”
  8. When He honored a widow with only two mites and sent a rich young ruler away sorrowful: “He really ought to cultivate friendships with wealthy donors.”
  9. When Jesus allowed a woman to anoint His feet with her tears and wipe them with her hair: “Why can’t He  be more dignified?”
  10. When He taught by telling stories: “His preaching is shallow.”
  11. When He talked with the woman at the well, when He ate with publicans and sinners, when the common people heard Him gladly: “He attracts riffraff.”
  12. When Jesus took only Peter, James, and John up the mountain of transfiguration: “He’s playing favorites.”
  13.  When He accepted worship and forgave sins: “Who does He think He is? God?”
  14.  When He was crucified: “What a failure.”

 

Have it your way…

1996!  That was the last time that Lectures in Systematic Theology by Henry Thiessan was checked out of the church library.  A couple of years ago I asked Judy Miller to purchase a few books for our library, books I recommended because I thought our people would enjoy them.  She kindly purchased those books and placed them in the window as soon as they arrived…and there they sat.  I guess it is a bit unrealistic to pit systematic theology books against Beverly Lewis or Karen Kingsbury, so from here on out, I’ll leave the book recommendations to Oprah. 

 Instead, I’d like to know what YOU would like to see in our church library.  Ann Modrall and Doris Faubert have taken responsibility for this ministry, and are doing a fantastic job!  I know that they would love to hear your thoughts on what you’d like to see.  We aren’t asking for specifics, although you may be as specific as you would like.  I know many have suggested we carry DVD’s, and our selection of those grow each month.  Are there particular authors you’d like to see in our library, or small group studies?  What about music or books on tape?  Greek and Hebrew lexicons …OK, I was just kidding with that last one.

 Understand that we don’t make any promises here.  Just because you ask doesn’t guarantee you’ll see it.  But we do recognize that this is YOUR library, and we want to make sure as many people as possible from our congregation can benefit from this tremendous resource.  In two weeks we will have a bulletin insert asking for your thoughts and ideas.  You may not want to wait that long, so feel free to communicate directly with me at pastor@duncanpark.org or you may leave your thoughts in the comment section below. 

 

Just to be clear…

I feel that it is best if I spend a bit more time offering some clarification on a few of the statements I made during the sermon “I love my church.”  I’m realizing that as I grow in my preaching, so does the length of my sermons.   Because I’m racing against the clock, sometimes I rush over things that should really be explained in greater detail.  Hopefully, I can do that here with this blog post.

 

First of all, I want to explain my use of the word “frustration.”  As I said yesterday, there have been a small few (I can count on one hand) who have communicated with me in an effort to voice their “frustrations.”  Before I write more, I think it best that I define what I mean when I use the word frustration.  Merriam-Webster defines frustrate as “to induce feelings of discouragement.”  This is the sense in which I am using the word.  Sometimes we like to associate the emotion of anger with the word frustrate, but that is not the case here.  Each of the letters, phone calls or face-to-face meetings has been means by which the individual(s) has communicated to me their “discouragement” with our present situation. 

I don’t fault them for having these discouragements, and as I said on Sunday, I share their frustrations…discouragements.  The decline in our average attendance and current budget shortage are two major issues.  To ignore the seriousness of these two issues would be a mistake.  Proverbs 27:23 exhorts us to “be diligent to know the state of your flocks, and attend to your herds…”  Ministry leaders have to look at attendance and giving because they are indicators of the health of the flock.  Frustration enters when we are unable to pinpoint exactly what those indicators are indicating…does this make any sense???  I wish I knew why our budget is what it is, but I don’t.  Now, I actually DO know why our attendance is down – less people show up for church on Sunday mornings.  Wasn’t that a tough nut to crack?  But, frustration enters when I don’t know how to correct that problem. 

I don’t want you to think that I’m angry or disappointed with you, the people of Duncan Park.   In fact, it is just the opposite, hence the title of my sermon – I love my church.  Allow me to let the cat out of the bag here – we aren’t perfect!  Our church needs to improve in some areas.  Honestly, I think it is safe to say that improvement in ALL areas is necessary, but isn’t this also the way it is for own personal lives.  We all have room for growth!  But…I say it is easier for us to grow through the encouragement and exhortation of one another than to attempt it alone.  (Hebrews 10:24-25)  We will continue to seek God’s face and set our faces on “the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 3:14)

 

Secondly, I think I failed to communicate that the letters, phone calls and face-to-face meetings were filled with love and compassion.  Please don’t think that anybody beat up on your pastor.  There wasn’t any finger pointing or efforts to blame anybody.  In fact I will say that the majority of the individual conversations or letters were filled with words used for the purpose of encouraging me.  Please don’t feel the need to defend me or to protect me, because that isn’t necessary.  (Someday I may really need you to fill that role, so I’ll save that favor for another time.) 

 

Lastly, I wanted to communicate to those who wrote or spoke with me that I was listening, even though I didn’t offer you a formal response.  I want you to know that I am approachable and teachable.   I may not always agree with you, in fact, in the end I didn’t agree with everything that I discussed with one individual, but I did give it consideration.   I also wanted our congregation to know that there were men who were willing to speak into the life of a younger believer, even if he is their pastor.  They did it well, and you should know they did it well.  I am better because of these conversations, and I hope they won’t end.  I invite you to speak freely with me because this is one way that iron will sharpen iron.  I’m proud of them and I’m grateful for them. 

 

I do hope this clarifies some of my statements.  If not, please talk to me.  I sometimes hear that my sermons “step on your toes.”  Good!  Your toes need to be stepped on sometimes, as do mine.  However, we also need to be encouraged.  I was made aware of that yesterday when some of you came to me in tears and said you really needed to hear that.  Ministry is tough sometimes.  Ministry is discouraging sometimes.  Ministry is frustrating sometimes.  So let’s continue to minister together so that we can support one another by faithfully loving them unconditionally.  The easiest way to start is by simply telling others that you love them.  So here it goes…

 

To Duncan Park:  I am humbled by the opportunity to pastor you.  You have demonstrated grace and patience to me, allowing me to grow at my own pace.  You have stood with me and fought for me.  You have accepted me as I am and loved me in both word and deed.  You have given us a place where my wife and I can thrive and our children can grow in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.  We love our church, and we love you. 

 

Now it is your turn to tell  me why you love Duncan Park.  Send it to me however you wish, and remember that anonymity is OK too.

A changing church…

The offering plate…  though most profess to tithe the standard 10 percent of their income to the church, the actual average percentage of income given to the church in the last two years was only 2.43 percent.  This number has declined over the last 40 years, with the highest amount being only 3.11 percent in 1968 (Christianity Today, February 2011)

Church dropouts…  some 20 percent of students who stopped attending church after high school say they had planned to no longer attend weekly services once they were in college.  The other 80 percent of those who “dropped out” of church after high school say they made no premeditated decision to do so, but rather, slowly drifted out of the church. (Lifeway Research)

Keeping up with population changes…  In 1820 there was one church for every 875 people in the United States.  By World War I the ratio had dropped  to one church for every 430 people.  Today, there is only one church for every 6,194 people.  In Canada the ratio is 1 church to every 123,971 people.  The population of North America is 345 million, and at least 259 million do not have a relationship with Jesus Christ. (U.S. Census Bureau, Lifeway Christian Resources, Statistics Canada and Canadian National Baptist Convention)