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
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.