TWO-QUESTION SURVEY RESPONSE
A couple weeks ago, in the March 5, 2010, issue of The Pastor’s Weekly Briefing, I asked for a reader response on two questions. We received several hundred very interesting replies. I asked one of our staff members, Dale Wolyniak, to put into capsule form the essence of those responses. Here is what we found:
Question 1: What do you feel is the greatest challenge to your ministry?
It was evident that apathy within congregations was a primary concern. This was also reported as a lack of commitment and help in ministry, a certain lukewarmness — which may stem from being too busy with wrong priorities — plus, distractions in our congregants’ homes.
Some pastors noted that church was seen as an event, rather than a place of being the Body. This was reflected with a view of the church being more of a club, with a consumer approach to ‘serve me.’
A high percentage of comments indicate that the church has lost its sense of urgency to spread the gospel because of being more concerned with tradition, programs and activities rather than personal evangelism and discipleship.
Another indicator was the cultural tolerance for sinful practices. And, within the church, a lack of discipline to live up to biblical values. This fusion of postmodern values and a liberal approach to life can leave the church without a prophetic voice.
Question 2: What one thing presents the greatest challenge or threat to you and your family or marriage?
Respondents spoke most frequently about the need for balancing time and resources of ministry with that of the pastor’s marriage and family. A few phrases that frequently occurred were “emotional exhaustion,” “energy depletion” and “excessive activities” that seemed to plague the ministers’ lives.
One comment was that there was a “rising tide” of evil in the world that is seen in the public schools, TV, movies and the Internet. In speaking of the cultural influence on our children, one pastor commented that we need to “keep a Christ-centered focus in our homes, despite the tsunami of temptations around us.”
A challenge that creates high stress is the unfair expectations of church members toward their pastor and his or her family. A major concern was that a pastor’s spouse and children needed to be given adequate time and attention in spite of busy ministry lives.
It is obvious that we may need new wineskins with new wine to awaken hope in the church and to reach this generation with a relevant and spirited message. Also, another question might be, “What is your greatest blessing in ministry?” I am sure there are more blessings than negatives.
Perhaps we need to sit down with pen and Bible in hand and ask what activities we should be doing. One thing we learn from the survey is that things in the church have not changed much since the last time we asked those two questions nearly 16 years ago. In fact, they may be getting more difficult.
We know that God is still calling faithful ministers and their families. They continue to present Christ, and His truth is being lived out in a pluralistic and often skeptical society. So, keep the faith, my colleague, you are making a difference.
“Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage — with great patience and careful instruction” (2 Tim. 4:2). —HBL
Spread the Word, Barefoot Sunday
There are millions of children around the world who don’t have shoes. They suffer from diseases, infection, and many other ailments as a result. On Easter weekend, April 4th, which is also the 42nd anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King JR’s death, Bishop Paul S. Morton, Bishop James Dixon, Dr. Stephen J. Thurston, Bishop J. Drew Sheard, and Bishop Gregory Ingram are asking 5,000 inter-denominational pastors to preach barefoot to raise funds and awareness for Samaritan’s Feet.
Join us in honoring Jesus Christ and his servant Martin Luther King Jr. by standing for the children around the world who don’t have a voice. The body of Christ will reach across denominations and beliefs to join together to make a difference for His Kingdom. Please join us by preaching in your bare feet on Easter Sunday.
Please participate by doing these three things:
Agree to preach your sermon in your bare feet on April 4th (Easter Sunday) to raise awareness of the 300 million people who cannot afford even one pair of shoes to protect their feet from disease or infection.
Take up a special offering for Samaritan’s Feet. This can happen in two different ways: Ask your congregation to donate $10, which buys, sorts, warehouses, ships and distributes a pair of shoes for a child in need. Or ask your congregation to text “shoes” to 85944 and $10.00 will be added to their cell phone bill at the end of the month which buys a pair of shoes for a child in need.
Make phone calls or send out emails and/or letters to four (4) other pastors asking them to participate on Easter Sunday.
Our goal is to raise one million pairs of shoes for children throughout the world as part of the 10 million in 2010 campaign. Please download the participant package and video to share with your congregation on Easter Sunday, and register your organization to receive ongoing updates around Samaritan’s Feet. Visit www.samaritansfeet.org/barefoot for more information.
The Electronic Great Commission
The Internet can often be a dangerous place, but it can also be used for good. Many organizations are using the reach of the Internet to present the gospel to those around the world. One such ministry, Global Media Outreach, is currently looking for “online missionaries.”
“We believe that God has given us the technology and the strategy,” says Allan Beeber, the Orlando director of GMO, the media arm of Campus Crusade for Christ. “As more and more believers get involved, we think it’s possible to see the Great Commission fulfilled, five to ten times over, in ten years.”
GMO is currently seeking workers who will reap the harvest. Last year, 66 million people reportedly visited one or more of GMO’s 100-plus Web sites to search for information online about Jesus and the hope He brings. Of those, more than 10 million indicated a decision to follow Christ, and nearly two million initiated discipleship and requested more information about Jesus and Christianity through GMO’s 4,000 online missionaries.
As more and more people gain access to the Internet and visit GMO sites requesting information and assistance, more and more mature believers are needed to respond. GMO says it now needs at least 10,000 online missionaries. These volunteers are asked to devote as little as 15 minutes a day to help respond to the e-mail inquiries that are being received — 80 to 90 percent of which are reportedly sent from outside of the United States.
Since its inception in 2004, GMO has seen the number of people indicating a decision for Christ grow from 21,066 annually to more than 10 million in 2009, twice its original projection for last year. No projection has been announced for 2010, but it could be over 30 million.
Anyone interested in more information or applying to be a volunteer online missionary should visit GMO’s Web site at globalmediaoutreach.com. [ChristianPost.com]
Churches Feel the Competition
According to a new survey released by American Congregations 2008, nearly two-thirds of U.S. congregations said they feel at least a little competition from nearby churches. The report — titled FACT (Faith Communities Today) — was written by David A. Roozen, director of the Cooperative Congregational Studies Partnership and professor of Religion and Society at Hartford Seminary.
“Old-line” Protestant churches indicated feeling more competition (42%) than the evangelical Protestant ones (19%) and the Catholic/Orthodox churches (13%). Even 37 percent of non-Christian groups — including Jewish, Muslim and Baha’i — said they feel at least some competition in drawing newcomers.
The “survey shows that the greater a congregation’s sense of being different and the greater a congregation’s clarity about its purpose, the less competition it feels from others,” the report states. FACT was based on responses from more than 2,500 congregations, providing an in-depth look at various aspects of congregational life. [ChristianPost.com]
Wyoming’s Code of Behavior
Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal recently signed into law the state’s official code of behavior. The legislation, sponsored by state senator Jim Anderson, was adapted from Jim Owen’s book, Cowboy Ethics: What Wall Street Can Learn From the Code of the West. Wyoming is the first state to define values its residents are to pursue encoded in a set of quidelines.
The guidelines are: 1) Live each day with courage; 2) Take pride in your work; 3) Always finish what you start; 4) Do what has to be done; 5) Be tough, but fair; 6) When you make a promise, keep it; 7) Ride for the brand; Talk less and say more; 9) Remember that some things aren’t for sale; 10) Know where to draw the line.
Using the guidelines, a four-week course has been adapted to help high school students build the personal characteristics needed to achieve success in life. [WorldNetDaily.com]
The News at a glance
• ‘God’ Stays in Our Pledge
After years of atheist Michael Newdow pushing to have “one nation under God” removed from the Pledge of Allegiance, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last Thursday that teacher-led recitations of the pledge of allegiance in public schools is constitutional. The court ruled that the “pledge is not a prayer.” In a separate decision on a companion case, the same three-judge panel unanimously rejected Newdow’s challenge to the use of “In God We Trust” on coins and currency. [The Associated Press]
• Majority of American Adults Consume Alcohol
The National Center for Health Statistics released a report Monday showing that six in 10 American adults drink alcohol. Nearly a quarter said they were lifetime abstainers, 14 percent were former drinkers, and around five percent were classified as heavy drinkers. Men (67.6%) were more likely to be current drinkers than women (55.3%). Women (30.9%) were more likely to be lifetime abstainers than men (17.7%). [CBSNews.com]
• Gay Agenda in New York Classrooms
New York City schools are hosting a “Respect for All” week. Its theme is anti-bullying, and brochures were handed out to students. The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network partnered with the city to develop the event. GLSEN helped train school staff for the program, and its resources are recommended to teachers for use in the classroom. Joseph Mattera, presiding bishop of the Christ Covenant Coalition, said that this gives GLSEN a permanent foothold in New York City classrooms. “The whole idea is just to soften up the students so that there will be a receptivity in the future to same-sex marriage or other gay-friendly curriculum,” Mattera said. [CitizenLink.com]
A Pastor’s point of View
Question of the Week:
As a young pastor of a small church, I’m considering tendering my resignation and moving on — maybe even away from ministry altogether. Ministry in the church is tough, and I’m not sure this is for me anymore. Do you have any advice?
Friend, you’re not alone in your apparent pain and disillusionment. There’s no doubt that everyday thousands of pastors across the land give serious consideration to quitting ministry altogether. Ministry is tough, and one of the toughest arenas is in the church.
It’s during these times that one needs to be sure of his/her calling. To assist in that process, it might help to “retrace” your calling. When did you first sense God stirring something in your heart about vocational ministry? Can you recall a verse or a passage of Scripture God used to lead you along? In what ways did God provide opportunities for you to exercise your gifts and calling? Who were the people who affirmed that calling in your life?
Years ago, a colleague of mine struggling with his own calling, traveled thousands of miles overseas to the very place he believed God called him many years before to be a pastor. That journey of retracing had a profound impact on his life. He’s still serving as a senior pastor — in that same church. The challenges are still there for him, but what’s different today is that he’s more sure of his calling than he’s ever been before. God’s calling has served as a tremendous anchor for him.
We pray that, whatever distance you travel, you also will rediscover your sense of calling — and, more importantly, the One who called you. I’ll leave you with some words from Peter:
“Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:10-11).