Posts Tagged ‘Church’

For the past year, I have been serving as a Transitional Pastor. While Gayla and I had always juggled a multiple tasks throughout our ministry together — going to seminary (two degrees!) while serving as a full-time pastor, serving on community and Bi-vodenominational boards and committees, coaching our kids in the local recreation leagues, and various other activities — we had never faced the need to work vocationally to have enough income for our personal needs. When I stepped down from my last full-time pastorate, we knew that we would have to “hustle” some extra income.

Now a year-and-a-half after having stepped down from my last pastorate, I’m enjoying pastoral ministry at another level — as a bi-vocational pastor. To be sure, it’s a challenge! My life has hardly slowed down. If anything, I’m busier than ever before.

Finding time to prepare to for all the ongoing services and ministry meetings at church along with working to provide the income necessary for living has been a squeeze. Gayla and I commute about 40 minutes one-way to the church where we serve, so that’s an additional time for which we must account. I worked as a substitute teacher the past year-and-a-half, and this has provided the opportunity to work as a full-time teacher beginning with the new school year in August. Besides the school teaching, our son and I have started a home renovations company that has surprisingly kept us quite busy. So there’s a joy in knowing that the Lord has and will continue to provide for us.

There’s also the joy of serving with a congregation who genuinely wants to make a difference in its community. While they have made some mistakes in the past that has diminished the size of the congregation (what church has not done so?) , they have admitted these failures and have taken steps to move forward with the Lord’s guidance.

The experience of serving as a Transitional Pastor has also helped me understand the challenges that bi-vocational pastors face. Having to work one or two jobs in addition to serving as pastor requires faith, stamina, the ability ability to manage time well, and a faithful and supportive partner in marriage. I’m blessed to have a wife who not only loves and supports me in our ministry, but Gayla works alongside me in our church and often works alongside me in teacher preparation and in our small business. What a blessing she is!

It’s been several months since I have written a blog, so some of you may be wondering, “What happened to Ken? What’s he been doing?” question_mark_emoji_png_1126325I’m sure most people don’t really care, but I thought it might be a good idea to return to the blog and hope that I can return to writing more consistently.

The main reason that I have not written in a while is that I have found little extra time in my packed schedule. The Lord continues to assign responsibilities to me that bring great joy to our lives. The role as transitional pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church, Hammond, continues to offer both challenge and fulfillment. We have seen the Lord work in the lives of so many of the people in that church. We just completed a very successful Vacation Bible School where we saw six children give their lives to Christ. Serving on the state board of Child Evangelism Fellowship has offered me additional opportunities to grow, including to help establish the Northshore Chapter of CEF earlier this year.

The Lord has permitted to serve on the board of trustees of Louisiana College for the past seven years. During this final year of my tenure, I have had the privilege of serving as the board chairman. Getting to work with President Rick Brewer in this way has increased my appreciation for this great school.

In March Curtis Honts contacted me about writing a series of Sunday School lessons for LifeWay. I have written several times for him, so I knew what he would expect. However, I did not expect the deadlines would fall so close together. His offer came about the same time I was offered a long-term substitute teaching position at Fontainebleau Junior High School. These last two opportunities contributed greatly to the unexpected sabbatical from blogging. By the grace of God, I met all six writing deadlines for LifeWay. (Those lessons will be studied beginning next March.) Also by the grace of God, I finished the year out strong teaching junior high science and found that this might be the next avenue of my life ministry.

By the end of March, I had also completed the steps necessary to attend the job fair for new teachers in our parish (county for the rest of states). I interviewed for several teaching positions in junior high schools and high schools. Yesterday I was offered the position at Fontainebleau Junior High where I had worked as the long-term substitute.

Gayla and I are thankful to the Lord for the path on which He has led us and continues to lead us. During our 44 years of marriage, we have gone to college and seminary (two degrees), and served as the pastor of four churches in Texas and Louisiana. These experiences have positioned us to continue giving in the variety of ways mentioned above. The junior high now becomes another field of service in which we will serve as we serve in His work as a transitional pastor. To God be the glory!

The Lord privileged me to attend a historic meeting last night in Mandeville where I have lived for almost 25 years. It didn’t take place at the church house where I served as pastor for more than 23 years. The meeting occurred in what we call “Old Mandeville” at an insurance office. I met with six like-minded men and women who have hearts for reaching boys and girls with the gospel. Last night the Northshore Chapter of the Child Evangelism Fellowship of Louisiana, the first such new chapter formed in Louisiana in more than twenty years.

What is Child Evangelism Fellowship? CEF is the largest evangelistic outreach to children in the world, reaching millions of children each year with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Founded in 1937 by Rev. Jesse Irvin Overholtzer, this wise pastor earnestly prayed that “someday an army of evangelists would encircle the globe sharing the Good News of Jesus with boys and girls.” After now more than 80 years, CEF is actively expanding ministry into new nations and new areas within nations with a goal of reaching Every Child Every Nation Every Day. 

I became acquainted with Child Evangelism Fellowship a little more than a year ago. At first, I was hesitant to become involved. But last summer I attended a couple of “5-Day 5-DayClubs.” In the summer, CEF offers these clubs for children in neighborhoods by using someone’s front yard or city park. They invite neighborhood children to enjoy some fun, singing, and a Bible lesson. CEF always includes a gospel presentation. What really sold me was the fact that teens led all aspects of the club. The teens, known as CYIA-ers(Christian Youth In Action), receive training in a week-long camp at the beginning of the summer which equips them for the 5-Day Clubs. What’s not to love about this?

The big deal about CEF comes through “Good News Clubs” A Good News Club is a good newsministry in which trained teachers (from a local church) meet with groups of children in schools, homes, community centers, churches, apartment complexes — just about anywhere the children can easily and safely meet. A Good News Club is an exciting and fun-filled club held once a week for 60-90 minutes. Many churches adopt a local school to host a Good News Club.

Already at least a half dozen Good News Clubs meet regularly in our parish (county for most of the rest of the country)! It comes as a surprise to many people that the Good News Clubs meet in public schools. But a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in June 2001 confirming equal access to public schools provides the way for CEF Good News Clubs to continue to expand throughout the country.

We believe that the Northshore Chapter formed last night will enable the momentum to continue so that more children can be reached with the gospel. If you would like more information about CEF and Good News Clubs, you can check out cefonline.com. You can call CEF of Louisiana at 225-933-8752.

Transitional1Just a couple of weeks ago, someone asked me, “So how do you like being an interim pastor?” I responded, “I am not an interim pastor. I am a transitional pastor.” He gave me a look of incredulity and drilled down, “What’s the difference?”

While the two terms appear to be interchangeable, the differences lie in the intentionality of the transitional pastor. An interim pastor fills the gap or vacancy caused by the departure of the previous pastor by generally preaching on Sundays and leading the Wednesday prayer meeting or service. He may provide some additional leadership, but generally he has no specific charge for him to lead the congregation. He may even be considered as the permanent pastor.

With Transitional Pastoral Ministry, the congregation and the transitional pastor enter into a covenant relationship whereby the transitional pastor agrees to provide spiritual leadership to the church and lead the church throughout the transitional period. The church agrees to be loving and gracious to the transitional pastor and his family and to pray for spiritual power in his life and work. The church further promises to relate to him as a God’s anointed leader for the task, to support his leadership, and to talk with him about personal concerns instead of talking about him to others.

Therefore, the transitional pastor becomes the lead pastor for the congregation. He leads the church through the spiritual, situational, and psychological stages of the transition that concludes with the church calling a permanent pastor. The transitional pastor helps the church to view the church’s history through the eyes of Christ and assess the church’s current reality redemptively. By affirming biblical principles for church growth, he will lead the church to focus on kingdom results. He will guide the church in a complete review of its documents, procedures, and ministries. He will also train the pastor search committee and assist the committee as a resource; however, he will not be available for a call as the permanent pastor.

In June the Ebenezer Baptist Church of Hammond, Louisiana, called me to serve as its Transitional Pastor. Since that time, I have come to love it and appreciate the value of a transitional pastor in a local church. I believe that through the transitional pastoral process, the church I serve can become more effective as it learns from past experiences, frees itself from hindering traditions, and replaces discord with harmony. As a result of the transition, the church will come to understand its mission and will develop church practices that should enable the church to fulfill its mission. Too often misunderstandings exist about the pastor’s role and his responsibilities which preclude his effectiveness in serving as pastor. The transition period allows for the transitional pastor to reset the expectations for both the pastor and the congregation. This will likely mean that energy previously spent addressing conflict will be redirected so that the church enjoys an increased participation in ministry and mission.

1 cor. 9.22.001Recently I posted about purchasing a couple of tickets to a baseball game for my wife and me to attend. Our local AAA baseball team had partnered with a semiprofessional football in our area for a one-night promotional event through which the Bayou Lacombe Cardinals football team would receive a portion of the proceeds. I also happen to work with the team as their public address announcer.

I had no idea that my post — meant to urge others to purchase tickets to support the football team — would be controversial. Because I am also a pastor, my association with the team was questioned, and I offered an immediate straightforward answer: “I’m building relationships with people who need the gospel.” Somehow this led to a charge that my “popularity” has to do with my willingness to please people and to conform to their ways. The charge continued to what must have been the aim of the original question, which was to disparage the use of contemporary music in churches.

Okay, I’ll admit it. I enjoy contemporary music. But I also enjoy the sacred hymns. However, I also enjoy many other styles of music. When asked “What kind of music do I want the church to use?” I always respond, “Music that honors God and that is done well and that relates to the people. I define “done well” as that which is presented as the best the particular congregation, singers, or instrumentalists can offer because we ought always offer our best when it comes to worshiping the Lord.”

Throughout my ministry I have pursued a variety of interests in order to connect with people in the community. The goal has always been the same — to build relationships with people who need the gospel. The apostle Paul modeled this (cf. 1 Corinthians 9:19-23). Paul clearly stated his purpose for conforming to the customs and opinions of men by stating “I have become all things to all people, so that I may by every possible means save some” (1 Cor. 9:22). What mattered to Paul was not him, his rights, or his preferences, but the gospel. The gospel consumed his life.

The controversy surrounding “contemporary music” hardly smacks of something new. In 1873 (that’s more than 150 years ago!), something new came on the scene when the great preacher D.L. Moody’s singing associate, Ira D. Sankey, introduced what became known as the “singing of the gospel.” Sankey’s style completely revolutionized the music of the church.

Before Sankey, a cappella singing of the psalms and hymns and spiritual songs had always been an important part of worship services. However, Sankey introduced a style of popular hymn calculated to awaken the careless, to melt the hardened, and to guide the inquiring souls to the Lord Jesus Christ. Often when the Moody-Sankey team came to town for an evangelistic campaign, the people would come out of curiosity to see and hear Sankey sing. Pedaling his small cabinet organ, he would sing out in his rich, melodious voice, and completely captivate his audience. During this time many church members thought that the use of an organ or any kind of musical instrument to accompany the voices of singers was wicked and worldly. Strict church people, accustomed only to the unaccompanied old psalm-singing type of church music called Sankey’s songs “human hymns.” It took tact on the part of Sankey to break down the prejudice against organ music. He helped transition the practice and the result was a wave of well-composed and great theologically sound hymns which are still sung in churches today.

I believe that each generation needs its Ira Sankeys who can tactfully make the theology of Scripture speak to the people. People often say that the older hymns have such theological value and that we should be teaching their value and not have them lost. If by teaching the value of hymns, you mean that we should sing songs that have robust theological meaning, I wholeheartedly agree. If you mean that we need to teach a particular style of music, that’s actually missing the point. People are converted to Christ through the gospel not through a style of music.

What matters is the theological truth that comes from Scripture. Words are what matters — not the melodies or tunes or even the instruments. We should sing truth. We can sing truth with new songs and new instruments, and we can sing truth with old songs and new instruments and new arrangements.

It comes down to getting the saving message of the gospel to people. I cannot win everyone, but I’m willing to do whatever is biblically permissible to win some. And I’m willing to rub elbows with anyone if it means that I might have the opportunity to speak the gospel.

 

 

 

 

I often use “Truth is unkillable” as my salutation on emails and letters. Occasionally, someone will ask, “What does that mean? Why do you sign off like that?”

I started using the salutation after I had attended a conference at Southwestern Theological Baptist Seminary held in January 2012. The conference, “Anabaptists and Contemporary Baptists,” included speakers including Paige Patterson, Malcolm Yarnell, and Emir Caner. One speaker in particular included that surprised me was Rick Warren of Saddleback Community Church.

Known also as the Radical Reformers, 16th-century Anabaptists, such as Menno Simons (the namesake of the modern Mennonite church), Pilgram Marpeck and Balthasar Hubmaier, defended the authority of Scripture, the practice of believer’s baptism and religious liberty. Modern Baptists hold these convictions in common with the Radical Reformers, who for their beliefs often faced persecution and death at the hands of both Catholics and Protestants alike.

Warren pointed out during his address that the word “radical” means “of the root,” as portrayed in most areas of life. In Botany, for example, “radical leaves” on a tree are closest to the root; in mathematics, “the radical is the root of the equation;” and in grammar, “the radical is the root with all prefixes and suffixes removed.” In most areas of life, Warren said, “radical” does not mean “extreme.”

Radical means “rooted.” The Radical Reformers were rooted in Christ and rooted in the Word of God. As rooted believers, as the Radical Reformers read the Scriptures following the Luther’s Reformation, they concluded that Christianity had strayed from its doctrinal moorings. In other words, the faith and practices of the Catholic Church did not root in Scripture but in tradition. The Radical Reformers also concluded that the magisterial reformation did not go far enough.

“The Anabaptists didn’t just believe in the purpose of the Great Commission,” Warren said, but also in “the exact order of the Great Commission.” The church should first go, then preach the Gospel and make disciples, then baptize those who believe, and then teach them to do everything the Lord Jesus Christ has commanded.

At the conference I picked up several books about the Anabaptists, including one on the writings of Balthasar Hubmaier, the greatest theologian of the early Anabaptists. He used this salutation on all his writing: Die Wahrheit ist untödlich (“Truth is unkillable”). “Unkillable” is not a word in the English language; however, it is the best translation of Hubmaier’s word.

We live in an age where many people want to define truth for themselves — to make it relative or convenient. But truth does not change. We need a reliable source, and the world’s culture will never deliver on a reliable source. We must root our lives on the only reliable source — Jesus Christ. He has given us His Word. The Word alone is reliable — eternal — unkillable!

soccerNothing can stop the world’s most dedicated sports fan from supporting his beloved team.

Ali Demirkaya, nicknamed  “Yamuk Ali” (or crazy Ali) by the Internet, is a soccer fan of the local soccer team in Denizlispor, Turkey. Ali, who had been banned from Denizli Atatürk stadium for unspecified reasons, took the only reasonable course to watch the game. He rented a crane. soccer fan

From high above just beyond the stadium limits, the diehard Denizlispor fan watched his team vanquish Gaziantepspor 5-0. He even led the crowd in a chant.

“That match was very important for our team,” he explained to Yeni Asir newspaper. “I had to go to the police station to sign a paper to show that I am not watching the match in the stadium. Then I quickly went to rent the crane.” Social media in the area was full of pictures of a jubilant Ali cheering from his perch.

Ultimately, police were summoned and Ali was forced to lower the crane. Nevertheless, he still ended the day on a high note. The stunt only cost him the equivalent of $86, he wasn’t cited or fined by the authorities, and his team won 5-0.

How far would you go to get something you wanted? It will likely come down to how bad you want it. If it means something to you, you’ll get creative to make sure you don’t miss out. Sometimes God’s blessing comes to those willing to go to extremes.

God offers spiritual disciplines as the means to understand His heart and His will for our lives. The disciplines of prayer, meditating on His Word, and fasting are only some of them. Unfortunately, many believers think that the spiritual disciplines are extreme and only have to be used in dire circumstances. However, if you really want to know that heart of God, you’ll be more than willing to do whatever it takes.