The world needs the influence of the church more than ever before. And, at least in Western culture, the church faces many significant struggles as it seeks to influence its surrounding culture.
I know, I know. You preach the gospel regularly. You declare weekly or more often the good news about how sinners can be redeemed. But are you evangelistic? Do you regularly put yourself in situations where you can share your faith personally?
I believe church revitalization is possible, and I want to help leaders ask the right questions, focus their spiritual disciplines, and move forward in the task. At the same time, though, revitalization can be one of the toughest faith challenges a pastor will face in his ministry. Here’s why:
It’s now been a year since the Sharing Jesus (Without Freaking Out) book released. It’s been ridiculous to see the response. I’ve written a lot of books over a lot of years, but I’ve seen nothing like the response to this. I give glory to God and attribute it to his good hand, lots of things I’ve learned from students, colleagues, and others. I think slowing down and having more time to think deeply and reflectively as I wrote helped tremendously. And, my most excellent literary agents Robert and Andrew Wolgemuth have given me the encouragement to believe more in myself as a writer, which is no little thing.
The call of Christ is not an invitation to an easy life. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer famously said, “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” But we know from Jesus that we actually find our lives when we lose them for his sake (Mark 8:35).
Muche Ukegbu, church planter in South Florida, speaks to the importance of being self-aware while leading a group of new believers and leaders.
When it comes to planting a church (or pastoring an established church for that matter), praying, preaching, singing, and a host of other things demand attention. Recently, Tony Merida wrote about the importance of hospitality in church planting. Pastors who are not hospitable simply should not hold the office of pastor (1 Tim 3:2).
Like many Christians, I grew up thinking the Bible was a story about people who looked a lot like me. This natural assumption was strengthened by my pictorial Bible (with Renaissance-era paintings of European-looking characters), Sunday school material, and Hollywood movies like The Ten Commandments (with Charlton Heston playing Moses). Perhaps you grew up with this same impression.
Pastors are a motley bunch of souls. We represent different personalities and tribes, different methodologies and styles, not to mention denominations, traditions, and theologies. But I’ve learned over the years that there is something many of us all have in common—a profound sense of insecurity for which the only antidote is the gospel.
In the Oscar-winning short film The Accountant, Ray McKinnon tells Walton Goggins and Eddie King, two brothers trying to save the family farm and a way of life, that if they are not careful there will soon come a time when they stop being country and start acting country. What he meant was that there’s a difference between southern culture as it’s presented on television (See: The Beverly Hillbillies) and actual southern culture. On television and in movies, the rural south looks like a slightly updated version of the Antebellum period with bad accents. In reality, it’s much, much different.