Let me start with a question, maybe a bit tongue in cheek. What if during this Covid 19 season while the church has been fasting from meeting corporately that the antagonist in the church have had a huge change of heart and are now determined to come back fully supporting the pastor and the church leaders?
Well, we hope this would be, but I would imagine that the pastor and church leader will in time be under attack again. I am sure for many pastors this break has been a reprieve from ongoing attack and criticism from what our guest today refers to as hero persecutors. Similar to how Satan left Jesus to tempt him again at an opportune time, I have no doubt that this respite for the pastor from attack, will resume again, at an opportune time. What do leaders need to do and understand when the church becomes a toxic environment? How can the church nurture a climate where the work of the gospel thrives even when there is conflict? I have the privilege in this Before You Quit podcast to look at these questions with with Dr. Chris Creech, author of the book Toxic Church.
Chris Creech and his wife, Faith, have been in ministry for over forty years. During this time they have served in pastoral ministry for over twenty-eight years in five churches, including one church they planted in Toronto. Chris earned an M.Div. and Ph. D. from Southwestern Seminary. He has taught at seminaries in Singapore and Malaysia as resident faculty and as adjunct faculty at other seminaries in Asia, Europe, North America and South America. Currently they are serving Pinnacle Ministries as Directors of Pastoral/Missions/Church Health and as adjuncts in several Asian and US seminaries.
During this Covid 19 season (I’m sure it will have a better name down the road) I have been thinking a lot about what this will do to or for the church. Will we be stronger for it? Is this one of those events that God will use to sift the church, from those who are lukewarm to those who are deeply committed? During this time many give testimony of opportunities to reach people they would have never reached before. Online messages have a reach unlike anything else we have seen. READ MORE
What a time we live. Who would have thought even three months ago that this would be our story. Stay at home. Places closed. People lose jobs. During this time my heart has mostly gone to the pastor who longs to continue shepherding his people who are severely being tested. READ MORE
Aside from the Bible, one other book served as my lifeline during the hardest period of my life; my wife’s brain surgery and subsequent struggle to recover her speech, reading/writing skills, and my son’s passing to cancer just months after. That book was A Grace Disguised by Dr. Gerald Sittser. I’ve read the book probably four times, and recommended it to many who needed a healthy dose of theological perspective. What a thrill to land an interview with the author of this book, Dr. Gerald Sittser.
Order A Grace Disguised Here
Oh, the great stuff we can gain from the previous generations. But how will we ever do that unless we pause long enough and listen to their stories. When is the last time you sat down with an elderly saint in your church, or even sat down with your parents or grandparents and listened to their stories and the experiences that shaped them? READ MORE
We live in a day when increasingly people are living in a vacuum, many around us not sure what to believe or even not sure what they believe. This is why it is so important that the pastor and church leaders and even those who are part of the body of Christ own what they believe. READ MORE
Today we’re going to talk theology, especially the theology of suffering. If the church is ever going to become a healing community it needs to have a solid theology of suffering. A pastor who has a theology of suffering prepares his people for times of hardship and also empowers his people to serve one another when one member is hurting. All of this has to come out of a deep and committed understanding of the gospel.
The church committed to the gospel is a church that will understand the role that suffering has in God’s purposes. I have the privilege today to talk to someone who could not have survived deep suffering had it not been for the gospel of Jesus. She talks a lot about the gospel because it’s been her and her family’s lifeline. My guest today is Michelle Bates who in the span of several years faced unbelievable loss. Michelle wrote a book titled Beyond The Shadow, How Suffering Led Me to the Deep End of Grace. It is an excellent book and something we spent a lot of time talking about in this interview. Michelle lives in Humansville,MO where she and her husband Mike and their three children run an Inn.
And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken. Eccl.4:12
Some have asked me when we will tell our story of loss and recovery in our family. And what was it like on our marriage. If you listen to this podcast enough you know I have made reference to my wife’s struggle in recovering from brain cancer, and my oldest son’s death to cancer. AS it happened, we recently were invited to speak at a valentine banquet for a local church. I decided to record it. So here we are, the two of us, telling our story of how Jesus, that third chord, held our world together during the hardest of times.
Some of the most beautiful stories that we hear today are those kind of stories that help us understand the gospel. The gospel story is simply the story of us, people made in the imagine of God who rebelled against him, but he because of his great love pursued us by dying for us, Jesus dying in our place, taking on himself the wrath of God we deserved, and then exchanging our sin for his righteousness. The most amazing verse I think about when I think of the gospel is 2 Cor 5:21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. READ MORE
Obedience is necessary in times of hardship, as much as it is in every other area of life. Jesus anguished in the garden, not because he did not want to go through with what his father asked of him, but READ MORE
Did you know that 30 million people in our nation suffer from some kind of eating disorder? If this is true, than there is a good chance that a good number of people who attend your church struggle with this? We want to help you today not just to understand the scope of this reality, but also what to do to help create a healing community for those who struggle with eating disorders. I believe its safe to say that the church ought to be a place where those who are hurting do not have to hide their hurt. We are told by the Apostle Paul in Gal 6:2 to carry one another’s burdens. What does it mean to carry the burden with someone who’s life has been impacted by an eating disorder? It is an absolute pleasure to talk with a good friend, Heather Lenox, about her struggle and recovery from many years with eating disorders. Heather does more than tell her story but through insight and maturity offers the church some very real ways to love those who are in this battle. Heather and her husband Shannon live in Cedarburg WI, north of Milwaukee and have five children from the ages of 1-7 years of age.
I know that today’s topic is touching on something that is not talked much about. However, in my over 34 years of pastoring it’s an issue that is all to real in the church community and it is the subject of sexual abuse. Through my counseling and pastoral ministry I have met countless people who sadly have to include the painful experience of having been sexually abused. Often, the impact of this doesn’t hit until well into adulthood and often impacts the marriage relationship.Well, that brings us to our special guest today, Dr Bill Ronzheimer who knows first hand what it is like to be married to someone who has been sexually abused. Bill is now president of Marriage Reconstruction Marriage Reconstruction Ministries was founded by Bill and Pamela Ronzheimer. After serving at Alliance Bible Church in Mequon, WI for 39 years, the couple has transitioned to Minnesota. It is here that they launched Marriage Reconstruction Ministries Inc. Marriage Reconstruction exists to support and help men and women rebuild marriages affected by a wife’s childhood sexual abuse. After 40 years of marriage, the Ronzheimers have two married daughters and three grandchildren also living in Minnesota. Bill and Pamela have listed their personal bios below Bill is the author of Help, My Wife Is A Survivor of Sexual Abuse.
For the Marriage Reconstruction Ministry webpage click here
Right now, I am reading a book about change. I like a lot about the book, but it’s also got me thinking about some things that make me resistant to the popular premise (not necessarily of this book – I READ MORE
A broken, dying stump, the remnant of a once strong tree now forms the beautiful foreground for this picture I recently shot. Much of what I do in helping pastors and ministry leaders in pain is to guide them to READ MORE
“It is God’s love for us that He not only gives us His Word but also lends us His ear…So it is His work that we do for our brother when we learn to listen to him. Christians, especially ministers, so often think they must always contribute something when they are in the company of others, that this is the one service they have to render. They forget that listening can be a greater service than speaking.” -Dietrich BonhoefferREAD MORE
How many times have you met an adopted person and then listened to them talk about their struggle with feelings of abandonment? Or allowed them to vent about how they have always felt so unwanted? Why do those seem to READ MORE
Today we are going to talk about adoption. It has amazed me to observe through the years how often I’ve seen pastors adopt children. Today I have the privilege of interviewing two young pastors and their wives about their experience with adoption. You will find that the journey for them was hard, real, and full of adventure. We hope through this podcast that you would not only consider adoption and fostering but also that you would encourage you church to be proactive in this arena as one of the greatest ways to serve the community.
” Due to sin, we were all born as spiritual orphans. The only person ever born who was not a spiritual orphan was Jesus. God believed in our adoption so much that he sent that same Jesus, his Son, to die on a cross for our sins so that our adoption would be possible. We are adopted, or placed as a son or daughter, when we receive the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. Understanding our own adoption through Christ helps us realize that the adoption of orphaned children on this earth is a response to God’s adoption of us.” -Micah Meurer
One morning, as I often do, I was scrolling through the news on my iPad as the sound of coffee brewed in the background. The accompanying smell of the coffee usually excites me, but this morning I groaned. The coffee READ MORE
It’s been some time now that I have wanted to tell our story, in particular my wife, Elaine’s story. Twenty years ago our family faced a trial that I know was survivable only because of the help of our Lord Jesus. As we were wrapping up a season of ministry in England, Elaine fell into an unexplainable coma. It turned out she was the victim of an undetected brain tumor. READ MORE
I have always been moved by the story of William Wilberforce the parliamentary figure who fought his whole career as a politician and Christian to see the abolition of slavery in the British Empire in the early 1880s. Amazingly, just three days after hearing that he passage of the act had been assured, he died; his singular longing and prayer answered. He was a man who longed to see one thing before his death, the end of slavery. READ MORE
Today’s topic will be raw and very real. The title was given to me by the person I am interviewing, Todd Adams. The power of the gospel that transforms lives in tragedy. This is the story, the testimony of a man who’s trust in Christ has been deepened by the hardships of serving Jesus in the most remote part of the world, but also more deeply in a time of personal loss. Todd Adams and his wife Debbie have been international workers for over twenty years with the Christian and missionary Alliance in Africa and in Indonesia. They have four children. Their second, Emily, died tragically in a car accident last October at the age of 21.
Natalie, Sully, Emily, Beau, Debbie, Jordan, Todd
For years as a pastor and even since, I have loved counseling because I love to see people change. I love fighting for marriages. I do everything I can to keep couples from divorcing. I rejoice when couples who’ve been fighting and angry at each other now embracing with a new love. I absolutely love it when I witness someone struggling with depression or addiction find the courage to fight through their struggles While I do have training in counseling, I am also convinced that the church can do more to help its own than what we often see. READ MORE
It strikes me sometimes, that the generation that we now call, Gen Z will be making decisions for people in my generation in the future. Having a granddaughter who is in the next generation makes me extremely motivated to understand all the generations that follow me. READ MORE
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This will be a first for this podcast. But it will fit the vision of bringing courage and perspective when serving gets hard. I have the privilege today to discuss a portion of the Bible called the Beatitudes with an author who wrote a book about it. His name is Pastor John Fogal, and his book is called Living the Beatitudes. I loved this conversation we have together because we both agree that the Beatitudes offers us, offers the church a beautiful template for discipleship. John Fogal is a retired pastor with the CMA who also served as a district superintendent for 18 years. But he is really not retired as he spends a lot of his time writing and coaching other pastors. As you listen to this I know you will feel as though you are joining two men having coffee together discussing the Bible. Oh, and again this is a first and something I will problaby not do again, but it turned out the week I interviewed John for this podcast I also happened to complete a two week mini sermon series on the Beatitudes at Grace Presybererian Church in Franklin NC.
Let me start with an analogy that will help lead us into this conversation about disorientation in ministry. As a a pilot, one of the things I had to learn early on in my training was how to recover from a situation in flying called Spatial Disorientation, define as the inability of a person to correctly determine his/her body position in space. READ MORE
Have you ever wondered why there is so often conflict in the church? On the surface, you would think that those who come together for a common purpose of worship and serving Jesus would all get a long, but its often not that way. One reason is I think we underestimate the impact of people gathering together for that singular goal and expected to get along, but in reality often we gather with people who we might not necessarily interact with in any other setti READ MORE
As a pastor I am often invited to shed light on life situations covered by dark shadows. What do you say to a husband whose most recent guest is the hospice nurse checking the vitals of his dying wife? A READ MORE
“You and I have it in our power to demotivate our pastors, so that they are gradually ground down into a slough of despond from which they will be utterly unable to do us any good at all. But we also have it in our power so to cheer them, so to put a spring in their stop, that they will gladly do for us all that we hope and pray.” So writes Christopher Ash who I will be interviewing for this podcast today. What a great topic. How should you, the one who loves your pastor, and loves the church support your pastor so he can be the best possible pastor for you? Exciting notion, isn’t it? Enjoy, and be sure to listen to the accompany blog here!
I am currently reading a book with the title, The Book Your Pastor Wishes You Read – (But is too embarrassed to ask). It’s written by Christopher Ash and it’s a great read. I have the privilege of interviewing Christopher READ MORE
Last week, Elaine and I were driving back home from visiting a friend, when a car recklessly veered into our lane. Fortunately, there was enough room on the shoulder for me to swerve away from his bullying move. As his car rushed READ MORE
In several ways this is a follow up to my last podcast, but perhaps broader. It’s been intriguing to me to observe so many changes in the past decade, and one thing in particular I am still trying to understand what to do with it. So much of the training of believers has been to prepare them to go out into the world to defend and present the gospel to lost communities. Yet, while this is still happening, I know, in our churches but also in Christian academic institutions what we are preparing our people for, particular the younger generation is far more complicated than in past decades. I know for example my own alma-mater, Toccoa Falls College, (TFC) in my generation we placed high stress on preparing pastors and missionaries, but now, and I think this is good, there is a high commitment to train all believers with an equal passion and call to represent Christ in all vocations. This is certainly happening at TFC as well as other Christian Colleges and Universities.
I had the privilege recently to sit down with Dr. Bob Myers, President of TFC, to discuss this topic along with other challenges this college and other colleges are facing as the world becomes increasingly secular and certainly less gospel friendly. I will not introduce Dr. Myers here, as during this podcast he does share a good bit of his own personal journey., but you will find an extensive bio on our BYQ website, www.beforeyouquit.us. So grab a cup of coffee, sit back and join me as my guest as I talk to Dr. Bob Myers in his office on the campus of TFC.
Dr. Robert M. Myers Bio
Dr. Myers has been a part of Christian higher education since 1993 and is completing his seventh year as President of Toccoa Falls College. From 2006-2012, he served as the Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs at Oklahoma Wesleyan University, having responsibility for all academic areas of the university as well as enrollment, financial aid, Registrar’s office, academic assessment, the library and information technology.
From 1999 – 2006 Dr. Myers served as Dean of the Rinker School of Business at Palm Beach Atlantic University and was responsible for all academic areas relating to the Business School on the main campus in West Palm Beach and all academic and business operations at its satellite campus in Orlando, Florida. Prior to his administrative appointments Dr. Myers served as Professor of Management and was awarded the Daniel Goodman Award for teaching excellence.
Prior to entering Christian higher education, Dr. Myers also held positions outside of higher education, one of them being Manager of Information Systems for the Town of Palm Beach, Florida (1988 – 1993).
Dr. Myers served as a police officer from 1976-1988 in Maryland where he held various assignments including patrol officer, field training officer, polygraph examiner, SCUBA team member, hostage negotiator and violent crimes detective. Over the years, he has spoken to many civic groups about workplace violence, leadership, and has conducted strategic planning seminars both nationally and internationally.
Dr. Myers is an accomplished author. He served as a manuscript reviewer for the Academy of Management (Management History Division). His publications are included in Informatica, Management Decision, The Journal of the Association of Marketing Educators, Florida Banker, as well as proceedings from many national and International conferences. He also served as a regular blogger for the Huffington Post. Dr. Myers’ most recent book is titled, No Compromise: Thoughts from a Christian College President published by Lantern Hollow Press.
Dr. Myers has served on a number of professional boards including the Board of Directors for the Toccoa/Stephens County Chamber of Commerce, the Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Georgia Independent College Association, the Board of Directors for the Oklahoma Cherokee Area Council for the Boy Scouts of America, and the Board of Directors for the Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast of Florida, Inc. Dr. Myers also served as the Chairman of the Board of Commissioners for the International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education (IACBE).
Dr. Myers’ academic credentials include a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Maryland in Information Systems Management, a Master of Business Administration from Palm Beach Atlantic University and a Doctorate of Business Administration from Nova Southeastern University.
He and his wife, Cheri, have two children, Joshua (22) and Joy (17).
I talk to a lot of people who are trying to deal with conflict in their lives. I’ve come to the conclusion, following hundreds of conversations, that most conflict is unintended. In other words, I rarely meet people who are READ MORE
This is a needed conversation, especially as the church, as we believers find ourselves trying to figure out our response to the moral dilemma impacting our society. We are no longer just preparing our people on how to respond to the issues of our world, but now we are the ones struggling ourselves with these issues. Many of the issues the world now gives in to are the issues many in our churches are fighting against. It was amazing to me to watch a change take place in my last ten years of pastoring. I remember so well begging a young college girl who attended our church not to abort her baby. I even promised that our family would adopt the baby. She went through with her plans, and for the first time this was no longer a statistical crisis for me.
I remember too well the conversations I had with same sex couples who, while attended our church, struggled to find a way through and live obedient to the message of the gospel. Others who attended found it too difficult to live under the continuous invitation to embrace the gospel message.
I cannot count how many conversations I had with young men struggling with the ravages of pornography, many of them deeply addicted. I really don’t think we can have too many conversations about these many issues on what I am titling for this podcast; Sexual Identity and the Gospel Response. The big question we are going to wrestle through today is how can the church remain committed to the gospel and in a loving and caring way speak out against the ravages of sexual addiction while at the same time speaking for the person who is caught up in these issues.
I had the privilege of meeting Gene Shroeder several years ago through a mutual friend and because of his expert training and experience in counseling people with sexual addictions I asked him to sit down with me for an honest and open conversation on exactly this; What is the gospel response to sexual addiction.
Gene Schrader, founder and director of North Atlanta Counseling Services (NACS), is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors (A.A.C.C.). He has been in private practice since 1977 with extensive experience in individual therapy, marriage and family therapy, teenage problems and sexuality. He brings God’s truth to those in conflict within their marriages, adjusting and grieving to losses in life, and depression.
A frequent speaker for church groups, he has conducted seminars on sexuality, bonding and true intimacy, parenting and fathering, overcoming affairs, and loyalty. Gene earned his masters degree in counseling from Georgia State University concurrently while attending Psychological Studies Institute (a Christian psychological institute). He has been in Christian related ministries since 1972.
Married since 1963, Gene and his wife, Eldeen, have two daughters, a son, and five grandchildren.
Some times I wonder how well I would do raising children even teenagers today. Maybe all parents feel blessed that they are not having to raise children during this generation. Even those raising them now will likely say the same thing when their children are all grow’d-up. One thing every parent who is seeking to raise godly children will say is, it is not easy to do so in a culture that is becoming increasingly godless and even now promoting things that are completely antithetical to the gospel. Perhaps one of our biggest challenges has to do with exposing or protecting our children to social media. I love watching my daughter and her husband navigate this challenge so beautifully with our three year old granddaughter. We share strict roles with them. No youtube. No TV till age of two because of how such a young brain views the images and interprets them differently than we think. Limited time watching TV.
Some times I wonder how well I would do raising children, even teenagers, today. Maybe all parents feel blessed that they are not having to raise children during this generation. Even those raising them now will likely say the same thing when their children are all grow’d-up. One thing every parent who is seeking to raise godly children will say is, “it is not easy to do so in a culture that is becoming increasingly godless and even now promoting things that are completely antithetical to the gospel”. Perhaps one of our biggest challenges has to do with exposing or protecting our children to social media. I love watching my daughter and her husband navigate this challenge so beautifully with our three year old granddaughter. We share strict roles with them. As grandparents we have conversations about being all on the same page. No youtube. No TV till age of two because of how such a young brain views the images and interprets them differently than we think. Now that she is past 3 limited time watching TV and so many other value commit READ MORE
Lets talk Church! Do we need to resign oursleves to the notion that church as we know it is dead?
A recent FoxNews story wrote the following: “Now, about a decade ago, forward-thinking churches realized that people no longer engaged with organizations just physically, so they developed online platforms that streamed services parallel to the physical church.
This caused plenty of controversy at the time because people suddenly had the option to attend church OR stay home and watch online, rocking the old location-centric model. So, church leaders opted to keep the physical and digital services separate enough to make it work.
Then, when social media and YouTube entered the scene, those forward-thinking churches adjusted again, creating multi-channel strategies that allowed people to access some content physically, some online, and some on the church’s social media platforms.” (For Source of article click here)
I recently had the privilege of talking to Dr. Dwight Smith about how church has always mattered, and continues to matter. In fact, it is primarily through the church that God does what he is doing. The church IS The Body of Christ. God works through his church. Church does matter.
About Dwight. In addition to his responsibilities as the leader of Saturation Church Planting International, Dr. Smith carries a strong burden for the local churches of North America because it is his firm belief that the local church is God’s primary instrument for world evangelization Therefore, he makes himself available on weekends for conferences, teaching seminars and leadership workshops. as his schedule permits. In recent years, Dwight has worked with a growing number of church leaders and church planters in the US. The goal of those relationships is the reevangelization of the some 300 million people living in America by the planting, replanting and repurposing of 100,000 churches.
A Burden I Can’t Shake I’ve been burdened about a number of things recently that I can’t shake off. During a recent quiet morning between sips of coffee, and reflecting on a Psalm, it struck me that some burdens are READ MORE
I am not sure we appreciate as well as we should what its like to serve the Lord Jesus and share the gospel with people in a society with little freedoms. Most of us are aware that many believers from the US and other nations are working undercover in a sense in what we call Creative Access countries. In many cases if the government really knew what we were doing there, our workers would either be captured, or expelled. While this is hard, its not near as hard as it is for those in those countries who do not have the freedom to leave. They are left to live out their faith sometimes under severe opposition. Today I am going to be talking to Pierre and Chloe, but for their protection that is not their real name. They are going to tell the first hand account of what it was like to be caught preaching the gospel in a creative access country. WIth that story they will also share the amazing way that God reached them with the gospel and the eventual cost to them personally but also their family.
I grew up in the jungles of Papua, Indonesia. Over 200 tribes with distinct languages spread across the landscape of this rugged island. It was only in the late 1950’s that many of these tribes heard the gospel of Jesus Christ. I remember as a child hearing of the tragic death of two men, Phil Masters and Stan Dale who were martyred by a tribe they attempted to reach. Six months later, a small airplane crashed in the same location when one sole survivor, Paul Newman, was rescued by an old man belonging to the very tribe that had killed Phil and Stan. In only the way God can, these two events came together to provide the sovereign context for the gospel to be presented to these people. What a privilege I had to interview Phil’s wife, Phyliss, who shares about her role in helping the people who killed her husband to hear of the saving message of Jesus.
Those who have any connection with Toccoa Falls College will know exactly what happened on November 6, 1977. The flood at Toccoa Falls College, pushing millions of gallons of water through a weakened earthen dam, took the lives of 39 people. Several lost their entire family. The story you’re going to hear in this podcast is Pastor Bob Harner’s account of remaining faithful to Jesus while trying to cope with the drowning of his wife and young son. This is truly a story that continues to bring glory to a faithful and sovereign God who shows his goodness to those who continue to trust him despite the pain that comes along the way.
The relationship between church members and their pastor is most healthy when the gospel defines that relationship. The moment we take our eye off the gospel, the view we have of each other (pastor and members) will be reduced to READ MORE
One of my passions with the Before You Quit podcast is to reach not just pastors and ministry leaders, but also to relate to elders who serve these churches and pastors. One of my greatest joys with this ministry is when I see elders coming around their pastor, serving him, making him accountable to them, them to him, and watching his back when he’s either criticized or even under attack. In a true sense, the elders are the Guardians to the past READ MORE
What does disappointment mean to you? To me it is when the things you have planned for, longed for, expected to happen, don’t happen the way that you planned. There is a sense of control that we as humans expect READ MORE
Relationships are a funny thing. They are kind of like eating an orange, or an apple. An orange is a fruit that, when you peel the cover off, you better eat it right away. It’s messy if you don’t. You READ MORE
We’re going to talk today about what it is like to be serving in a closed country. When we say closed country, we mean a culture where sharing the gospel freely is not possible without likely recriminations. I will not be using the person’s real name that I am interviewing, but I will refer to him a few times as Peter.And for his protection we will not refer to the country where he serves. However I can tell you that God is moving. READ MORE
The church I’m attending is looking for our next lead pastor. Two weeks ago, we said goodbye to the pastor who served this church for eight years. The farewell given to him, and his wife, was unlike anything I’ve seen in my READ MORE
Several weeks I drove through the campus of Toccoa Falls College near where I live and watched hundred of students streaming toward the auditorium of the college for their chapel service. I looked at these young faces and remembered being where they are. That was a long time ago, actually 35 years ago and so much has happened since then, in my life but also in our culture. I also looked at them and thought about how they will one day be where I am now. Unless the Lord returns first, these young people will be looking back to their 35 years no doubt living in a world so different than ours today. I find myself in these reflective mood wondering what the church will be like and how many of these young people I saw streaming toward their chapel service will be leading the church. READ MORE
“When the Lord restores the fortress of Zion, we were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, ‘ The LORD has done great READ MORE
In the 1980’s AIDS was an unfamiliar disease leaving those with the diagnoses alone and often shunned. It was during this time that young Ian Puckett, was diagnosed with AIDS due to a blood transfusion following a serious accident he and his father, Henry, were in. Up to this time, Henry and his wife Donna were experiencing deep marital problems that led to a temporary separation. READ MORE
The Pastor needs to remember that the folks who attend church on Sunday have likely had far more to think about than his church during their week. Most, if not all come to church tired and burdened from a week’s READ MORE
Let me say at the onset that I am all for prayer. I believe deeply in prayer. I pray often. I have seen answers to prayer that on their own prove the existence of God. So, when I set out READ MORE
The enemy will do all he can to interrupt the mission of the church, usually in the form of conflict. I have on many occasions brought people together who were involved in petty, or major conflict, and said, “Folks, this READ MORE
It’s generally accepted that most people leave churches because of personal conflict, not because of theological differences. We hear too often of churches that are hurting because of conflict and sometimes this pain can last for years. Is it possible God is behind that pain more than we might think? READ MORE
Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows READ MORE
I think we would all agree that suffering produces the best leaders. I am amazed when I talk to people who consistently tell me that they are who they are because of how God shaped them during hard trials. In other places I have share about my own personal trials. When I recount these stories I will state how it scares me who I would be today had God not taken me through those trials. READ MORE
Ez.18:7 “He does not commit robbery but gives food to the hungry and provides clothing for the naked” It is not enough that we stop doing what is wrong. We must replace that with something that is right. If a READ MORE
Gerald Sittser in his book A Grace Disguised portrays us in respect to God’s sovereignty as actors on a stage who take part in the story that he tells. I love watching God work even when things do not go the way I expect they would, especially in the ministry context. If you would have asked me thirty years ago what I would be doing now, I would not describe who I am now, and what I am doing. Thankfully God does not show us the future, but he does promise to be in charge and he does assure us that he does what is best for his glory and ultimately for our good. It is also true that in those uncertain and unexpected times that we discover best how good and amazing he is. READ MORE
We hear often of pastors who experience some kind of failure. They are statistics, far off stories, but rarely someone we know, or hear personally about. I’m talking to someone today who knows too well the depth of shame and loss that comes when the heart is not guarded from the all too common temptations that pastors face. His name is Jay Depoy and his story is riveting, but its a story that speaks more loudly of the grace and mercy of Jesus than of any scandal you will hear about from him. READ MORE
Think of playing a game, only this game has no rules. That described our marriage. Communication, with no rules, no boundary lines made for a toxic marriage. Sarcasm and cutting and hurtful words were the plays used to manage this READ MORE
In 2013 my wife and I moved to Augusta GA for what turned out to be one year ministry of helping replant a church that had just closed. Several months after our move a dynamic young couple, Chris and Carla Gerlach, moved near us to help us in this mission and to network with several other churches in the area. READ MORE
Pastors have two primary responsibilities involving two families. One involves his congregation, the other, his wife and children. As I write this, I am taken back to a conversation I had with a friend, and pastor, several years ago. Let READ MORE
A little over 18 years ago my wife Elaine and I and our family returned to the States practically ruined. My wife was just beginning her recovery from brain surgery, and two weeks after o
ur return our oldest son was diagnosed with, and ended up dying from brain cancer. We left England after having pastored a church in a north west town called Warrington. We absolutely loved our time there. We loved the culture. Loved the people and especially loved seeing God move in the hearts and lives of many who were being drawn to Jesus especially in a community and a society where there was not a strong Christlike presense. In all my years of ministry, I still look back over those years as my golden years. Because of our medical situation we were not able to go back. In the meantime, the church we’d pastored continue to navigate the normal challenges of new leadership, declining attendance, and redirecting their vision in a society not all that interested in spiritual things. READ MORE
In my last blog I insisted that to have healthy relationships, asking questions plays a significant part. I love it when people ask me questions. It tells me they really care and have a real unselfish interest in my life. READ MORE
No Relationship Without Questions Asking questions of each other is the key to healthy relationships. Deeper yet, the way we ask questions can open up new doors inviting us into another’s soul. Larry Crabb in his book Soul Talk goes READ MORE
Have you ever been in a situation where someone is grieving the loss of a loved one, and you just don’t know what to say? Sometimes you feel you’ve said the wrong thing, and other times you walk away having said nothing and you feel horrible about it. I really believe the ministry to grieving individuals and families can be one of the strongest and most impactful ministries the church can have, and it’s something that can be learned and practiced. READ MORE
It is understandable to assume that when something good is happening it means God showed up, but when something bad happens, well, we just aren’t quite sure where He is. Western Christians, especially, tend to easily connect the dots between READ MORE
Some years ago an elderly lady approached me in the lobby of our church. She placed her worn, leather-skin hand on my forearm and said something that normally would cause me to flinch in resistance. “Pastor Mitch,” she said, her READ MORE
Some years ago an elderly lady approached me in the lobby of our church. She placed her worn, leather-skin hand on my forearm and said something that normally would cause me to flinch in resistance. “Pastor Mitch,” she said, her READ MORE
Many pastors and ministry workers struggle in relationships with colleagues who share their passion for the gospel. It’s not uncommon to hear stories of team or staff situations where two people or two families, both committed to the same mission, READ MORE
What is better than resolving conflict? Avoiding conflict! Or at least seeing conflict as healthy to the strength of your church. In our last podcast interview we talked to Ken Sande, of Peacemaker Ministry about the value and importance of bringing about resolution to conflict. In his 30 years in this ministry, Ken also discovered principles and lessons that he placed in his toolbox to start a new ministry, called Relational Wisdom 360.
Often when difficult people are confronted for bad behavior it’s easier for them to run somewhere else than stay and work it out. I love it when the circle of restoration that began with confronting sin, and then leads to repentance and confession is completed in reconciliation. Sadly, I’ve not seen it often. I remember in a church I pastored, the leadership warned a divisive man to stop organization a secret petition against the elders and step down from teaching his popular Sunday school class. Remarkably, he did, and a year latter, in humility, he resumed his teaching and served many years as a model of what happens when peacemaking is allowed to run its course. That is where peacemaking really works. READ MORE
One of my favorite moments as a pastor is to see hurting and broken relationships restored where the wounds from words and actions are changed into life-giving expression toward one another. To get there, two people have to admit their READ MORE
I remember years ago listening to well know pastors and often thinking, wow, it would be so cool to sit down with them and ask any questions I wanted.Well, I had such a privilege recently when I sat down with Pastor Stuart Briscoe to talk to him about pastoring in this critical age. READ MORE
You probably have heard this statement before. I love Jesus, but I’m not a big fan of the church. There is strong evidence today that our millennial generation, I know, they get picked on a lot don’t they, is becoming increasingly dissatisfied with the church. This generation is what I would refer to as the “optional-church” generation. Studies show that this generation will get involved mainly if there is personal value. This becomes a crisis of sorts particularly if you are one, as I am, who strongly believes that what God is going to do in the world today he is going to do through the local church. READ MORE
“Why the trend towards ministry as a second career? Is this a positive trend? Is it a trend about which the church should be worried? Why are fewer younger women and men not pursuing ordained ministry upon graduation from college as was the case in the past? Do second career clergy bring greater maturity and experience to pastoral leadership than those who did not work for any significant length of time in another career? These are important questions.” (Jackson W. Carroll). READ MORE
What the pastor believes really matters, and what his congregation believes really matters. Spiritual discernment is vital in the pastor’s commitment to stand for the gospel, and to stand against false beliefs. How does he remain faithful to the gospel when compromise and accommodation are the norm? I’ve covered a lot of topics to this point on Before You Quit. Marriage difficulties! The pastor’s family! Dealing with conflict! Antagonists! Sense of failure! Loneliness in ministry! When is it time to make a change! Dealing with loss! Confessing sin! READ MORE
The call came late. I’d counseled the couple in preparation for their marriage, but someone else would officiate. Four days before the wedding, the pastor’s son fell ill, forcing him to cancel, and the couple asked if I would perform READ MORE
We talk a lot in these podcasts about the sort of hard things pastor’s face; marriage challenges, hard people in the pastor’s life, the struggle with children and even facing loss. My goal has been pretty singular with all the interviews, and that is to encourage the pastor to keep his focus, to not be distracted and to realize also that with serving Jesus can come, and probably will come a lot of opposition and challenges. There is one thing we have not talked about in the sort of things pastors face and that is the pressure to bend his convictions to the many theological trends blowing across our landscape today. The pressure for the pastor to bend to, to compromise his message is becoming an increasingly heavy load to carry. It’s getting harder and harder to just stick to the simple message of the gospel. Even with all the pastoral responsibilities he carries, it’s getting harder for him to take time in studying and preparing for his primary role, of preaching the Word of God. READ MORE
I am sure you can identify with these following comments: I wish I was preaching more. If only I could take on more responsibility, I would be happier. I wish the board would let me start that ministry program. Even if you are not a pastor or in ministry you have longed to do something that fits your gifts better, or to find what we are going to define today as your sweet spot.
I’m taking a huge risk with this blog. To suggest that we curb how often we tell people we’ll pray for them could leave me isolated, should you take me too seriously. Allow me some room for hyperbole here. Before READ MORE
About a year ago, I began to ask the Lord if he would be so kind to allow me to serve a local church somewhere, somehow, as an interim pastor. With no agenda, no idea how to land this, I READ MORE
“Antagonists go for the jugular. They have a singular goal. They want to hurt, humiliate and destroy the senior pastor. In the course of their attacks, they intentionally want to divide the congregation between those that agree with them and the supporters of the rector.” Dr. Dennis R. Maynard.
Pastors face a lot of challenges, but the hardest is when they’re attacked by an antagonist. Sure, there are some bad apples that fall from the clergy tree, but most are loving and compassionate. They really care about people and do long for those under their care to grow spiritually and thrive in their journey. Why is it then, that too often pastors are attacked? Is it possible that not all the sheep are, what one writer once referred to as, “well intentioned dragons”? Could it be that some are actually bent on causing harm to the pastor and to see his ministry fail? Dr. Dennis Maynard speaks candidly and boldly on the subject while urging the church to become a safe place for the pastor to serve affectively without this all to real pressure. READ MORE
With Dr. Bill Ronzheimer
What does it take to remain passionate and committed to the gospel that will take you the long haul in ministry? I read one stat how 80% of pastors will leave the ministry within their first five years. Some, I’m sure, leave for good reasons and are still serving Jesus faithfully. Others, however, no doubt faced disappointment of not having what it took to stick it out for the long haul. We are not interested necessarily in people having to stay in vocational ministry, but rather committed to serve Jesus wherever they are. Today’s podcast I know will encourage you to serve well, no matter where you are and what you are doing, or even how long you’ve been doing it. READ MORE
He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep in order to gain what he cannot lose. – Jim Elliot An Appeal to the Future I hope to look back one day celebrating the hard decision I made READ MORE
Today we are going to talk about the pastor’s wife and it struck me as I was preparing for this that I have been married to a pastor’s wife for over 30 years. And while she’s been amazing, I know there were times where it was difficult. There is no defined role, but there are certainly definite expectations placed on the pastor’s wife. So much is on the pastor’s wife and she’s never been trained for it. The pastor gets the training, but the wife is expected to be everything for everyone else. She shares her husband with the entire church, and fights to know her place. She’s expected to serve the church, be a model wife and model mom, and in the meantime she’s asking the Lord Jesus “who am I, and what do you want from me?” READ MORE
The Capacity to Forgive It’s hard to forgive. Really hard. It’s like trying to blow up a brand new balloon, which at first invites only small amounts of air, but the more you put in, the larger the balloon expands. READ MORE
What do you do when you’re great at pastoring but not that good at marriage. I ask the question often, can a pastor and his wife have a good ministry when the marriages is hanging by a thread? I enter into a very delicate conversation with a young pastor and his wife who from the day they met, ministry was all they had in common. This almost caught up with them, but God intervened in only the way he can. READ MORE
Most pastors will often tell that they are like a small time pilot being asked to fly a huge plane, something way beyond their ability. Most of us in ministry will even feel that all the training in the world will not prepare us enough to do this job. READ MORE
Today we are going to talk about the preverbal elephant in the room, and that is what to do when there is conflict in the church, or even conflict in your own life. How do you respond when people in your church do not get along. Perhaps one of the saddest thing a pastor ever witnesses is when people are not getting along in his church. I’ve seen it and I know many others have to. Conflict in the church drives people away from the church and sadly, their perception of God is shaped by what they witnessed in a church. I remember someone coming to me once and his words broke my heart. He said, Pastor, I can no longer attend here with all this tension. It led me to pray for renewal and work hard for it. In this podcast interview we talk to Pastor Eric Anderson who is open
and very candid about how he managed through, and survived conflict. Eric even speaks about the nature of conflict, the value of conflict and even how it made him a better shepherd to a hurting group of people. Eric lives deep in the cold flat lands of MN and pastors LifeSpring Church, a reformed church belonging to the Fellowship of Independent Reformed Evangelicals. He is married to Miriam for over 11 years and both he and Mariam have eight children; five girls and three boys ranging from 19 years old to a 1 year old. You will be blessed listening to this wonderful story of how to thrive where there is conflict.
Here are some of the resources Eric referred to:
Antagonists In The Church click here!
I also highly recommend Thriving Through Church Conflict click here!
“Confessing sins to each other makes for a healthier more humble church.” – Prof. Russell Huizing
We hear the story too often. A well loved pastor, seemingly well put together, a model of righteousness, is outed as a sinner. He’s committed moral failure, or admitted to a sexual or alcohol addiction. And everyone is shocked. We discover that for years he has kept this secret to himself, and not even those close to him, his wife or elders knew of his pain. Imagine if early on, when the first moments of his struggle began and before they took over his life he had taken the opportunity to share with someone else, and confessed his sin to them and received forgiveness and encouragement. READ MORE
When I was twelve, I wanted to die because living no longer seemed possible. Later, I discovered that the cause of this depression was a chemical imbalance created by the usual biological changes that normally occur in a preteen boy. READ MORE
Are pastors allowed to struggle? It seems too often that those in ministry are expected to keep their struggles to themselves. Carly Simons’ well known song, Haven’t Got Time for The Pain could easily have been written for pastors who struggle to hide their pain behind the busyness of ministry and the expectations of others. READ MORE
Brett Schultz grew up in a pastor’s home and he’s actually a normal kid.
Pastors try as best they can to assure their children do not grow up with the common stigmas that come with being a PK (Pastor’s Kid). The pressure to represent the family well can be a heavy burden for any child of a ministry parent. While most pastors and missionaries do a great job protecting their children from these burdens, there are some things that are beyond their control. Brett is my son, and he’s often told me that we did well allowing him to be a normal kid, but there were somethings we could not protect him from. READ MORE
“When is it time to move on?” Is a question many pastors ask. Even if you are a not a pastor, it’s critical you know your pastor is probably asking this question. Your role is important to his health. Encouraging him and praying for him provides the life and fuel for an affective ministry. Letting him know he is appreciated makes him feel valued, but you can do more than that. Tell him what you like about his ministry. Share with him how God is using him in your life. Nothing is more vital than a pastor feeling loved and supported, but, there are times he’s going ask this question of God and certainly of himself, how long do I stay? Should I Stay, or Should I Go, is a great title for a rock song, but for right now, it’s an important subject for us to cover in this podcast. Pastor Steve Kerhoulas readily admits that he stayed two years too long in a recent ministry. How does one reconcile that realization with a solid belief in the sovereignty of God and his management of our lives. Whether you are a pastor wondering if it’s time to move on, or asking that question about a business or a move to a new place, you will be challenged and refreshed as you listen to this conversation.