Wednesday, October 26, 2005

How to Make Your Pastor Happy

An Inside Scoop from 3 John
Kerry S. Doyal –

Okay, I am going to indulge myself. With October being “Pastor Appreciation Month,” I am going to share some ways you can make your pastor happy. To make this as legit as possible, I will use 3 John as my guide.

Lest you think this is a sneaky way to drop hints to the church I am blessed to pastor, let me tell you what they did. These dear souls sent my wife & me away for a restful get away, and took care of our kids while we were gone. Better still, they are generous and kind to us all year, not just in October.

The Beloved Disciple, the Apostle John, one of Jesus’ closest Three, takes on a different role in 3 John. Writing as an Elder (Pastor), he tells his dear friend Gaius several things that bring him great joy and sadness as a spiritual leader. Any spiritual leader in your life would be thrilled if these things were true of you.

First, continue in the truth. John wrote Gaius: It gave me great joy to have some brothers come and tell about your faithfulness to the truth and how you continue to walk in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth (vs. 3, 4 - NIV).

Talk about a happy pastor! John shared his desire that Gaius would have physical and financial well being (vs. 2), but his joy came from matters of the Spirit. The report that John seemed to seek and savor most was that Gaius was staying true to the faith (orthodoxy) and putting shoe leather to it (orthopraxy).

God-honoring beliefs and behavior are two wings of an airplane. Pick which one is optional? Too many act like holding the right doctrines is enough. Forget that they live like moral pigs or never show love for others. They “got saved, baptized and joined the church,” what more do you want? See Matthew 7:20-27; James 1:21-2; 2:14-26; 1 John 3:16-20.

John was also joyful that Gaius showed consistent love in his practical acts of kindness towards others (hospitality). “You are faithful in what you are doing for the brothers, even though they are strangers to you. They have told the church about your love” (vs. 5, 6).

Traveling teachers needed safe lodging to assist in their ministry. Believers were to open their homes and hearts to them, even if their home was not spotless, fancy or in perfect order. Southern Hospitality is over rated when it is hampered by insecurities that lead to closed doors.

Gaius also made John’s day by doing what he could to help spread the gospel. “We ought therefore to show hospitality to such men so that we may work together for the truth” (vs. 8). Gaius many not have been a gifted evangelist or teacher, but by sharing his home, he shared in the work of the Gospel. He became a team member.

No one does gospel work alone. Behind every Billy Graham, or pastor are dozens – no – hundreds of silent, faithful workers. By giving, praying, serving each are indispensable co-laborers for the truth. When we give of our time, skills, homes, lives, we are sharing in the work of the gospel.

Here is a backwards way to make your pastor smile: by NOT following the example of your local Diotrepehes. Bluntly stated, do not be an arrogant and rude Church Boss.

“Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will have nothing to do with us… gossiping maliciously about us… he refuses to welcome the brothers. He also stops those who want to do so and puts them out of the church” (vs. 9, 10). Talk about Chutzpah!

Families that run churches ruin churches. Strong leaders who dominate eventually desecrate God’s holy work. If everything has to meet your approval, I wonder if you meet God’s? How many good men are no longer in the ministry because of a distrusting, power hungry control freak?

Conversely, people who are pleasant coworkers with their pastors imitate good and godly examples. “Do not imitate what is evil but what is good” (vs. 11). Since monkeys see and monkeys do, make sure you pick good monkeys to see. People like Demetruis.

“Demetrius is well spoken of by everyone — and even by the truth itself” (vs. 12). He had a great reputation – one that was deserved. Even Truth found lips and words to speak well of this man. Gaius was shown a stark contrast of models. Picking the right one pleased his Pastor.

In closing this shortest letter (postcard) in the New Testament, John writes: “I hope to see you soon, and we will talk face to face (vs.14). Is the thought of a reunion with you by a previous pastor a pleasurable point for him to ponder? Or is it something to avoid if he wants a good night’s sleep?

Do you need to thank a spiritual parent in your life: a Pastor (current or previous), a Sunday School teacher, a parent, a Camp or Youth leader? Go for it! Let them reap some of what they have sown.

Pastors - Spiritual Parents of all stripes - do you need to express joy in a spiritual child? How encouraging these words from John must have been to Gaius. Let’s remember to share with others the joy they bring us.

October, the “Official” Pastor Appreciation month is almost over. However, even if you run out of days, I doubt a late letter or call of thanks would be a problem.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Locked Out of Church and Loving It

Acting Out the Gospel Message -
Locked Out of Church and Loving It

Have I got a wild idea for you, for your church? It may seem crazy, threatening and counterproductive to "doing church." But, it is an idea whose time has come. Will you take the risk of reading on and leading on?

First, some context: my notion was inspired by seeing people blocking the doors to the courthouse in Alabama to keep the Ten Commandments in the lobby. As I mulled that over, something seemed backwards to me.

When I heard Christian leaders calling people to head to Alabama to join the ranks, it became crystal clear to me. I knew what needed to be done instead.

What if, instead of protesting to keep the Law in the public arena, we stage an exact opposite protest - as reverse from that as a film negative. Let's mobilize an army of people to block church doors before some Wednesday night gathering, or gospel singing or Board meeting.

Not to barricade them in, mind you, but to keep them out.

Our militant crusaders would surround the building and keep them (us) from hiding inside the safety of our building, insisting - in a gracious, Christian way - that they take the gospel out to the public square, a needy world.

Question: are we nearly as vexed by the lack of penetration of the gospel in our world as we are the removal of the Ten Commandments from courthouses and schools?

May I make it a bit more personal? When you have been disturbed by news of "getting God out" of public settings, have you also allowed yourself to be nearly as upset by the minimal movement to get the gospel message out by God's people?

The presence or absence of the Law from the lobby of a courthouse is far less significant than the absence of believers in the world sharing Jesus. Hands down, no competition.

In fact, at one level, to insist on The Law leaves people in a condemned state, in more desperate need of the gospel (see Romans 7; Galatians 3 & 4). To fight for The Law in such public arenas at neglect of the gospel is cruel. Granted, they are not contrary to one another, but certainly the gospel completes the Law.

Back to our budding protests. A militant group called ACT UP has garnered headlines in the past few years with outlandish, often rude protests and disruptions. How about forming an alternative group for Jesus' people?

Let us start "Act It Out", a squad of disciples of Jesus who refuse to simply "be in their place" every time the church doors are open.

We "Act It Out" radicals would refuse to come to every church event, too busy taking Jesus' love and message of forgiveness to those who do not come to us. Have noticed that they don't come? Who said it was their job to come to us?

News would spread of us showing up in nursing homes with listening ears and hugging arms, converging on widow's homes to cut their grass, rake their leaves and disappear as suddenly as we came.

Rumors would spread of "Act It Outers" blitzing food banks with bags of needed groceries, showing up with quarters in laundry mats, paying for people's wash cycle (Jesus did ours).

Word would get out of people being fishers of men with hammers, pulling wires, painting, landscaping, building habitats on earth, while telling about ones available in heaven.

Pews would grow occasionally cold, as we A.I.O.'ers are MIA (Missing In Action) in the best sense of the word: picking up trash, sharing a tract, telling the gospel, offering food for both body and soul.

To be fair, the first "lock out" should be at my church, during the week, when I am heading to the office. Start with me. While I need office and study time, I can hide behind my desk, with my books to a sinful fault.

Go ahead, make my day, flush me out - better yet, fence me out some time.

So, if I arrive at church some day to face a loving, smiling, singing group of protestors blocking my way, I will count myself blessed. I will head to the bank, get a roll of quarters and hit some laundry mats, taking a few of you with me.

But be warned, I will also try my best to organize a retaliatory lock out at
your place some time soon. And payback - in this case - can be heaven.

"He said to them, 'Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.' " (Mark 16:15)

"Again Jesus said, 'Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.' " (John 20:21 - NIV)

Sunday, October 02, 2005

I was one conversation away from . . .

. . . coming home from church real encouraged. Should have snuck out while I could ;-)

Overall, a good AM. God was kind to this tired pastor / teacher, & I trust to His people through me. Would have paid big bucks to have come home upbeat. Frankly, could use a dose of that right now.

Prayers appreciated.

For the record, the last Conversationalist was not intending to discourage or change the tone of my day. A dear, loved, trusted friend. Come to think of it, I probably had the same impact on him . . . bummer . . .