Monthly Archives: January 2008

Is the Post-modern, Emergent Church going to ruin Christianity?

I’m not worried.

I think I’m too deeply entrenched in doing things the way I’ve done them to remake my thought process and become someone I am not. But I’m not threatened by post-moderns or emergent Christians or whatever other buzz word is in use today.

If the post-mods I’ve been in contact with are any indication of what is happening in the COtN I think everything will turn out okay.

For one thing, I don’t think they are trying to do anything I can’t live with. For another, I don’t think they are trying to do as much as they think they are. For them its all very revolutionary but, hey, I grew up in the 1960’s. I don’t think they are going to do anything more revolutionary than my generation did.

For instance, my generation wrestled a 150 year old worship format away from “those in control” and got everyone to singing worship choruses and clapping their hands. We thought we were going to save Christianity by doing it.

In the end, we didn’t save or improve Christianity at all and what we thought was new and different will only be a blip on the history of the Church.

Now we are told that the 20-year olds are going to take the Church into new territory. My instincts say, “been there done that.”

But know what? I hope they do. I’d rather see something happen within Christianity that makes the Church truly relevant to our society than see things stay the same as they are. I’d rather see Christians get a grasp on holy living than just give lip service to something that they have doubts about.

For instance, I believe in a second definite work of grace in which the Lord purifies the heart by faith. If they have to mess with that clear statement to arrive at the same experience okay, mess with it. God isn’t bound by our language or our expectations anyway. At the end of the day, the Lord will respond to their full surrender by doing what he has done for people making that same surrender through the history of Christianity. He doesn’t tailer his work in people’s hearts based on their expectations or lack thereof anyway.

So, fire away PM’s and EC’s or whatever you are going by. Don’t blame me if I don’t jump on your bandwagon. I don’t think this fish will learn to fly at this stage. Tell you what, though, I’m not going to fight you and say you can’t be saved or can’t be a member of the same church as me. And, even if I won’t be one of you, I really do hope you are used of God to reach a lost world.

If the sea change is a big as you say it is, one of these days you’re going to be considered much more of a fuddy-duddy than I am now.

KJIC, Hearts of Grace, playing bass in Spanish!

Our KJIC Sharathon concluded last night – I was on the air quite a bit through the three days and from past experience, I know I’m not in very good shape for preaching on Sunday morning following that big event. (It went okay but not great).

With all that in mind, we had scheduled a gospel trio from Brazoria, Texas called “Hearts of Grace” to come and do a concert this morning. The Lord came too! The Lord blessed as the trio did a terrific job!

Then, following our English service, the Spanish congregation has their service. A few weeks ago I started staying and playing bass guitar for their song service. They are so kind as to write down the chords for me so I can play. I didn’t know much of what was being sung, but the Spirit of the Lord continued right into that service. Their smaller crowd out-sings and out-praises our English bunch. I was lifted by songs I didn’t even understand.

Right now, I am tired in body but uplifted in spirit! PTL

Pastoral Sabbatical Leave

I’ve been thinking about the development of pastoral sabbaticals and have some observations.

Many years ago we Nazarenes voted on our pastors annually. Pastors moved frequently in those days – staying in a church on the average of two years. In time, leaders felt that pastoral tenure of two years wasn’t in the best interest of the churches and that the frequent voting was contributing to the short pastorates.

Because of that, the voting period was increased to two, three, or four years. Sure enough, pastors stayed longer and average tenure topped two years.

Then, the biggest change of all came. The vote was replaced with an every four year review. Soon pastoral tenure neared four years. Pastors were staying longer and longer.

In fact, for the first time the denomination had a significant number of pastors staying 7+ years.

With an increasing number of long term pastors, a new pastor-church problem was seen. Pastors who had been in churches a longer amount of time would spiritually or emotionally or physically hit the wall. We began to hear more about burn out and we found that pastors who were now pretty secure would move, not to avoid a vote, but because they had run short of spiritual, emotional, and physical energy. A pastoral move creates a sabbatical of sorts. For one thing, there is a “honeymoon” in which everyone is on their best behavior, creating a much less stressful pastor-church relationship.

Some in the denomination began to think seriously about the Biblical concept of the sabbatical. Pastors don’t necessarily work harder than other Christians, but they do carry unique responsibilities. As shepherds they are “on call” 24 hours a day and they are well aware that more than is true for most Christians, how they handle their day to day responsibilities carries eternal consequences for not only themselves but for their congregations.

At that point, officially, the denomination was ready to embrace the concept of pastoral sabbatical. It was included in our church Manual, not as a hard and fast rule, but as a guideline.

It takes time for concepts like this to filter down through our churches. After all, we have had long term pastors for less than a generation. We can’t blame lay leaders for thinking “we’ve never done it that way before” unless we make a greater effort to educate them about the purpose of the pastoral sabbatical. Most lay leaders are the best friend a pastor can have. Once they grasp the importance of sabbatical leave for their pastor and realize the possible long term benefit for both pastor and church, they will support the Manual direction on this topic.

The Manual puts the sabbatical at 7 years. Personally, I think a four to six week sabbatical at 5 years would be wiser because the break would come closer to the period of time when most Nazarene pastors consider a move.