Ash Avenue Church of God
127 Ash Avenue
Moundsville, WV 26041
8:30 - 9:30 Early Morning Worship Service
9:45 - 10:30 Sunday School for ALL ages!
10:45 - 12:00 Second Morning Worship Service
We were once a powerful evangelistic movement. Now, we are forever searching for new ways to manage our decline. Endless studies and reports and commissions and re-structuring and new slogans (Open hearts, open minds, open doors) have ensued over the years. None of these well intentioned initiatives have halted – or even really understood – the nature of this decline. It will probably take a least three more cycles of general conferences before the following suggestions can be heard.How does he propose to turn the ship around? Below is a summation of his points. You can read his blog in its entirety here.
I'm looking forward to getting my two volume copy; at 1172 pages it surely is a thorough treatment and when someone such as Ben Witherington III says, "We have here perhaps the best book ever written on miracles in this or any age" I take note.Most modern prejudice against biblical miracle reports depends on David Hume's argument that uniform human experience precluded miracles. Yet current research shows that human experience is far from uniform. In fact, hundreds of millions of people today claim to have experienced miracles. New Testament scholar Craig Keener argues that it is time to rethink Hume's argument in light of the contemporary evidence available to us. This wide-ranging and meticulously researched two-volume study presents the most thorough current defense of the credibility of the miracle reports in the Gospels and Acts. Drawing on claims from a range of global cultures and taking a multidisciplinary approach to the topic, Keener suggests that many miracle accounts throughout history and from contemporary times are best explained as genuine divine acts, lending credence to the biblical miracle reports.
With the proliferation of modern media, preachers today face an unprecedented challenge of being compared with other preachers. Do you ever find yourself wishing you had one of those famous radio/television/Internet preachers in your local church pulpit? Measuring your pastor against the supremely gifted isn’t just unfair or ungracious; it’s detrimental to your spiritual growth. It’s not the preacher, the human instrument, that’s the main issue for you (cf. 1 Cor. 3:5-7). God uses what the preacher preaches to change lives—that’s where your attention needs to be focused.I doubt I'm far from base when I guess many churches feel, "We are scared because younger Christians are abandoning us to attend larger congregations that offer more stuff. We, the older saints, are holding on but we are aging and shrinking in membership so we need an unusually dynamic leader who is a multifaceted and extraordinarily gifted individual to turn around our situation." Let me tell you that few ministers are so designed by God...and those who are so gifted are already employed by larger churches earning larger salaries. One church actually had the audacity to put this in their brief about pastoral pay:
Proven history of leadership and growth will earn the top range of salary posted. Less experience will fall below posted salary range.What the church was offering as the "top range" salary wasn't great when one considers the not inexpensive area where they were located. How sad that this congregation would treat the minister as a secular business would treat an employee. However, that is how churches see pastors these days: as professional employees/executives. What is additionally sad is that this congregation misses the areas Paul says to reward with more money. He wrote:
Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, "You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain," and, "The laborer deserves his wages." (1 Timothy5:17-18 ESV)
I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. (1 Corinthians 3:6-7 ESV)However, a pastor can help it if he works hard at preaching and teaching. That takes discipline which he is capable of exercising through the Holy Spirit. That is within his control.
In my Ephesians 4 sermon from February 19th, I made reference to an interview a pastor friend of mine had with a CRC congregation when he was a candidate for ministry. He asked them the simple question, “What are your expectations for your next pastor?” Someone immediately chimed in, “We want a heroic leader who will fill our pews.” As I said in the sermon, my friend didn’t end up serving in this particular church. A statement like this sounds ridiculous and yet it sheds light on some of the unhealthy, unrealistic, and unbiblical expectations that churches and pastors come to expect from the role of pastor.What scares me is that many churches may see nothing wrong with that person's answer. That, in itself, is an indicator of how prevalent this problem is in the church world.
but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8 ESV)While we were ugly and bankrupt with sin with nothing to bring to the table God loved us. God never sized us up and said, "I'll pass; there are plenty of fish in the sea." No, all of the fish of the sea were ugly and spiritually bankrupt but God said, "I choose them." Praise God!