Whether you have read the Bible or not, you have probably heard the saying “We have this hope as an anchor for our souls…” (Hebrews 6:19). This is a staple verse, if you will. It’s often written on beautiful decor for your home, fresh-brewed mugs of coffee, even jewelry. Unfortunately, when we see a phrase on a regular basis, it can lose the magnitude of meaning it was intended to have.
Pastors and wives, don't forget that there is one time the Bible commands you to get drunk: "...Be intoxicated always in her love." (Proverbs 5:19) God wants you to be drunk with love for your spouse. This is best for you, best for your spouse, best for your kids, best for your church, and it glorifies God. Pastors and wives face unique pressures and challenges due to our roles in the body of Christ. Here are three ways a pastor and wife can stay madly in love through all of the ups and downs of pastoral ministry.
The name “Youth Encountering Christ” fits the weekend so well as many kids from all across New England, some who may have never have heard about the Gospel, got to encounter our Savior. Since 1981 the BCNE has put on this amazing weekend which has saved many and showed many youth the Gospel truth. This year, 50 congregations from five New England states, a total of more than 750 people, gathered at the Sturbridge Host Hotel in Sturbridge, MA. Throughout this weekend-long retreat many lives were changed for the better.
“I threw on my sweats and got here as fast as I could. This is my favorite event at church, and I wasn’t going to miss it!”
That’s what Jane blurted out breathlessly one Saturday morning at a gathering we call Mug & Muffin. She had gotten up early with her three little boys but in the distractions of their morning routine had completely forgotten about this semi-annual women’s event. When she finally remembered, she dropped everything, explained things to her husband, said she’d be back in a couple of hours and dashed out of the house.
It is that time of year again here in New England – time to celebrate another winning Patriots season. But it’s not only their athletic skills that I admire.
A few years ago, they made the phrase “Do Your Job” popular, and my wife bought a Patriots beanie with that slogan. When they won Super Bowl 49 (I’m not so good at Roman numerals), there was a documentary called “Do Your Job” that followed the Patriots season. The filmmakers showed the interior of the Patriots offices, and etched on a glass door were the staff rules —
I’m 36 years old, and I’m from Dallas, Texas.
So what does that have to do with anything? Well, it means that I hit my most formative “fan years” at a very speciﬁc time period and in a very speciﬁc place. In the early nineties, like every other 10-year-old boy I knew, I began to become acutely aware of professional sports, and I was certain that I was going to be a multi-sport athlete when I grew up.
Ministry in the urban context comes with its own set of challenges. Among them are the objections to Christianity that run deep within inner-city communities of color. As I pastor in a neighborhood made up largely of ethnic minorities, it is not uncommon for me to hear someone dismiss the Christian faith purely because it is perceived to be “the white man’s religion, meant to oppress ethnic minorities.” It is important to note that this characterization of Christianity is not completely unfounded.
Go-getter. Independent. Fearless. Capable. In the American economy, these are titles worth striving for, and strive we do. We strive until our peace is shot-through with bullet holes, our families have learned to function without us, and our souls are withered and whimpering. "Arm yourselves!" is the new battle cry of the republic, and much of the church rushes to answer.
Over the years as I’ve helped churches make connections with mission teams and partners, I’ve worked with many churches that had difficulty finding partners. They’re not impossible to partner with, as nothing is impossible for God (Luke 18:27), but they do have extra challenges. I would encourage pastors and churches seeking to go on mission, to work through these challenges with sensitivity and the power of Christ. Sometimes these churches are the ones who are most in need of partners!
I have only been the lead pastor of two churches: a church plant in a rural-to-suburban community in Washington state and a replant/revitalization pastor of a church in the Charlestown neighborhood of Boston. On the surface there seems to be very little common ground, but something that I have learned in both roles is the importance of community engagement.
2018 was a year of firsts for me. I graduated college, traveled to places I had never been, started a new job and began working on my next degree. It was all so exciting and new. But one thing I did that wasn’t in my plans was say “yes” to leading children’s ministry at my church. Out of all my new experiences, this was, and continues to be, the scariest one.
I got a text message from a friend in Vermont over the New Year's holiday. She shared that a mutual friend, only a little older than me, had suddenly passed away. Though I had not talked to him in a few years, when I lived in Vermont he was a great colleague in ministry. Less than 24 hours later, one of our BCNE pastors sent me a text to say one of their youth workers, a really fine young man with a promising future, had also unexpectedly passed away that morning. So much loss. So much pain. Such a short time to process it. Many of my circle of friends were struggling with why God lets these things happen. One mused that perhaps there was no point in following Christ if we still have to endure such pain.
Of all the places I have been, the Amazon jungle is definitely the most interesting and exotic destination. There is a tremendous variety of animals and plants, many of which I had never even known existed. As we were walking by a small tree with some beautiful fruit that looked like apples, I asked the tour guide if I could pluck one and eat it. To which he replied, “Don’t be fooled by the beauty of that fruit, because it disguises death. One bite of that fruit could kill you.”
Everywhere we look, social media, adds, commercials, etc. We see promotions challenging us to make a change to kick off the new year, often with a specific S.M.A.R.T goal. These goals might sound something like “I plan to lose 20 lbs before the summer begins” or “this new year I am limiting my time on Netflix to two hours a day.” Setting goals is a proven way to achieve growth in our lives. However, what if you chose to do something different this year?
Before church planting was a part of my life, discipleship pathway was not in my vocabulary. But now, 18 months in, I’m thoroughly convinced that discipleship pathway is the way forward, and the very thing that God will use to take our church to the next level of growth. Here are three reasons why I think this.
The last 10-mile drive into Ivanhoe, NC, on Dec. 11, was not what we expected for our mission. It was flat, largely rural farmland, but evidence of poverty abounded. Broken-down buildings and trailer homes frequently interrupted the landscape. More subtly, there were signs of flooding. The ground was saturated and puddles flourished after the slightest of rain. Some boarded-up homes and buildings were clearly abandoned, while others had RVs parked outside with building materials stacked in the yard.