What Brand of 'Independent, Fundamental, Bible-Believing, Sin-hating, Soul-Winning, KJV-Only...Baptist' Are You?
You know why there is a shoeless man in the Australian bush, wearing nothing but a pair of shorts, using nothing but the basic elements provided by nature to survive, making videos and getting millions and millions of viewers on YouTube? I think it is because people are tired of gimmicks! They are tired of power tools and fancy products. It is refreshing to watch someone just get back to the basics...as basic as they can get.
Unfortunately, "Primitive Technology" now has tons of followers who are trying to mock his image in an attempt to capitalize on a new "brand!" So many are selling a product and trying to gain followers to their particular brand of a brand. It's what our society does, and I'm noticing more and more that my Independent, Baptist friends have been doing this too. Whether they are the contemporary, "new" Independent Baptists, or the ultra-conservative, Independent, Fundamental, Bible-believing, sin-hating, Soul-winning...Baptists. Who cares about your brand?!
There was once a rather strange man. He was a hairy mountain man who lived very primitively. He did his best to obey the word of God and he preached hard against the sins of his people. For this he was hated by all the "religious crowd" and their leaders. Yet God was pleased to glorify Himself through this man. He worked great miracles through this man. This man (Elijah by the way) prayed and God sent a drought. When challenging the prophets of Baal, he had them pour 12 barrels of water on the altar before praying that God would consume his sacrifice...and God sent down fire.
I've got many preacher friends who share the popular books and visit the popular websites. They share ministry ideas and join all the groups to ask advice. They encourage each other to "do what that one guy does." They ask the people they are supposed to be leading what it is they think would help them be a better organization.
Let's be clear. If God is going to be glorified, it isn't through our gimmicks! If He is going to manifest His power, He isn't interested in our "brand." God wants empty vessels that the world would never expect to amount to much. It is then that He will pour out His blessings and reveal Himself. That way all will know that it was God that did it and not Such and Such Baptist Church.
I'm ready to give up the gimmicks and get back to the basics. I'm ready to give myself to the Lord and watch Him do amazing things. How about you?
God bless, and may your passion for ministry grow as you addict yourself to it (1 Corinthians 16:15).
I feel for the women, especially moms. I really do! I can't imagine being a woman. I'm glad I'm not! I don't understand them and I certainly can't relate to them.
Don't get me wrong, I deal with my own personal emotions once in a while (all men have them, don't be fooled), but the emotional make up of a woman doesn't compare. The Bible calls the woman the "weaker vessel" and yet men are scared to death of women. They can be like ticking time bombs ready to go off at any moment. And we have all heard the saying, "if mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy."
So how should men in leadership positions deal with women? In many regards, we shouldn't! The Bible clearly places men in authority positions in the church and in the family. No need to question it, debate it, figure out why...it is pretty clear. But in regards to men dealing with women, there is very little:
- "Honor widows that are widows indeed." (1 Timothy 5:3)
- "Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them." (Colossians 3:19)
and then there is this one...
- "The aged women...teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children" (Titus 2:3)
In this passage, preachers are told to teach sound doctrine that puts everyone in their place (I mean that in a positive way). And it is the older women's place to teach the younger women. Other than faithful widows who have no family and are cared for by the church (a case we seldom see today), every woman in the church has their own authority: a dad, step dad, foster dad...or husband.
I'm glad I am only responsible for two women: my wife and my daughter (and I can't be more thankful for the one's I've got). One day (Lord willing, MANY years from now) I'll give my daughter to another man (thinking about it makes me want to buy a gun), and then I'll only be responsible for my wife. This is the way God designed it. We don't need to deal with other men's wives or daughters...that is just a problem waiting to happen.
This can be particularly difficult in youth ministries. Youth pastor's should never usurp the authority and responsibility given to any young person's parents (unfortunately there are many parents who willingly give teachers, youth pastors, etc. this type of liberty in their child's life...and it is dangerous). Nor do I believe the youth pastor should deal with the mother of the youths (any more than is necessary), but he should deal with the father as much as is possible.
It is also important to point out that (it is my opinion, but I believe I have biblical basis to back it up) a youth pastor should be married and therefore his wife may be able to deal with young ladies, or at least be present when he is dealing with them (it should be between the youth pastor and his wife to what degree the wife is actively involved in the ministry).
I realize that in our culture there are many cases that come up where young ladies don't really have father figures in their lives. These cases are heartbreaking and will have to be dealt with carefully, but I believe the principle still applies: Older women should deal with younger women, and men should lovingly and patiently lead their own wives and daughters.
God bless, and may your desire and passion for ministry grow as you addict yourself to it (1 Corinthians 16:15)
(See part 1 - Motivations for Evangelism)
II. The Methods of Evangelizing
"Evangelism" (1828) -To instruct in the gospel; to preach the gospel to, and convert to a belief of the gospel; as, to evangelize heathen nations; to evangelize the world.
There are many ways in which we attempt to evangelize the world. Some ways are more confrontational than others. In the following list of methods, we are going to try to start with some of the least confrontational methods and work our way up to the "more advanced" forms of evangelism. If we are going to effectively reach the lost, we should probably be doing a combination of these:
A. Lifestyle Evangelism - In the process of everyday life, our testimony sometimes opens doors to be able to give the Gospel message (explained more in the next lesson, "The Message of Evangelism")
a. Others (family, classmates, co-workers, neighbors...) see us living godly and are attracted to it.
b. Inviting others to a service at our church where preaching the Gospel is involved
c. Building relationships with people in an attempt to witness to them later.
d. Wearing clothing that promotes questions (message on T-shirt, button/pin, wrist band...even peculiarly "modest" clothing)
a. Biblical examples:
1). Wife reaching her husband (1 Pet. 3:1-5)
2). Man that was blind (John 9:8-10)
3). Inviting others to "come and see" (John 1:45,46)
b. Christians should be living for Christ anyway, so this should be the easiest method and a minimum of our evangelizing methods.
a. It can become an excuse not to properly confront people.
b. As a result of this, it often doesn't go far enough and is not effective.
c. Christians often don't "shine" in the world as they should.
B. Broadcasting (Radio, TV, internet, phone...)
a. Though this technology wasn't necessarily available in Bible days, we can make a pretty good guess that if Paul were here today he would use every means necessary to reach the lost with the Gospel.
1). Paul said he had become "All things to all men" (1 Cor. 9:19-22).
2). Paul's approach to evangelism in Athens (Acts 17:16,17)
b. Power of numbers (the more you contact, the more chances of successfully reaching someone with the gospel).
c. Broadcasting can reach many people (all over the world) that you wouldn't otherwise have opportunity to reach.
d. We live in an age where broadcasting doesn't have to be expensive (could cost next to nothing)
1) Social media is free.
2) Video and sound editors are free.
3) Fairly good quality videos can be made from our phones (that we already have and use anyway).
a. This could be expensive.
b. There are obviously dangers associated with the use of modern technology.
1) It can easily become a time-waster and be counterproductive
2) It can encourage you, and those to whom you are witnessing, to take in ungodly things.
c. This could become an excuse to be lazy and non-confrontational.
d. We cannot really connect with people in the same way that we can face to face.
C. Tract/Flyer distribution ("blitzing")
a. People do read gospel tracts and get saved!
b. This is a very easy way to get the Gospel to a lot of people
c. In the process of passing out the literature you often meet people who will talk to you about what you are doing.
d. This could lead to "personal evangelism" which will be discussed more in detail later.
a. There is a minimal cost involved which could hinder mass production of good quality material.
b. Although people do get saved reading tracts, the percentage is very low.
c. Much of the material ends up blowing into the yard and becomes unsightly litter.
d. This could become another excuse not to be confrontational in our approach.
D. Public Preaching
a. Church "revivals."
b. Evangelism "Crusades."
c. Street preachers
a. Usually involves effective preachers who can connect well with people.
b. Unsaved people who have come are more likely willing to hear what the preacher has to say.
c. Prospects are usually recorded and follow-up visits can be made.
a. Many feel out of place in a "church setting."
b. Many don't know how to respond properly to the message.
c. An alter call can be a hindrance to introverted people and a false security for extroverts.
E. Public Speaking/Debate (Not to be confused with public preaching, this is more like a trial or a hearing in which one attempts to prove their faith before a particular audience and where someone else may then have an opportunity to make some opposing arguments).
a. Paul at Areopagus (Mars' Hill) (Acts 17).
b. Paul before Felix, Festus, Agrippa... (Acts 23- 26).
c. 1 Peter 3:15.
1) Sanctify the word in your heart.
2) Be ready (not necessarily to have the particulars of your presentation planned out, but to know the facts and the issues before being asked of them).
3) Give an answer (regarding the hope that is in you).
d. Present day examples: Ken Ham, Kent Hovind, Ravi Zacharias, Craig Lane...
a. People are not typically there out of obligation, but there to hear what the speakers have to say.
b. Speakers have opportunity to clearly present their position.
a. Everything the speaker says will be criticized publicly by someone else who has an opposing view.
b. People typically have their minds made up regarding which position they favor.
c. Although your position might be considered by some of your audience, most people will not change their position, but will simply learn how to better debate their position.
F. Personal Evangelism
a. Jesus and the woman at the well.
b. Phillip and the Ethiopian Eunuch.
c. Paul and Silas and the Philippian Jailer (we'll talk about the power of evangelizing "partners" later).
a. Many other methods will lead to this method eventually.
b. The "one-on-one" approach is usually the most effective method of evangelizing people.
c. We can be more assured that the person being evangelized understands what we are saying.
d. If they don't understand, we can usually answer questions or clarify ourselves.
e. We can personally witness conversions and get information for future discipleship (we'll cover discipleship later in the series).
a. Many are turned off by a "high-pressured sales approach."
b. We physically see more rejection than most methods.
c. More knowledge of the Bible and doctrine are required.
d. Takes more physical effort to reach people "one by one."
Feel free to add some methods you can think of or comment about any of these. Lord bless, and may your passion for ministry grow as you addict yourself to it. 1 Corinthians 16:15
When I say "Ministry is sloppy," I have a feeling most know what I mean: accusations, broken hearts, betrayal, tears, shock... In the short time I've been "in the ministry" I've seen how tough it can be. But really, that is life. That is people! (By the way, you kind of need people to minister to if you are a minister!)
People are hard to figure out! About the only thing we can know for sure about people is that we don't know any of them as well as we might think we do. The Bible tells us "all have sinned," "there are none righteous," and in general "the heart is deceitful in all things and desperately wicked," so why should we be surprised when others lie to us or let us down? Furthermore, we shouldn't set ourselves up to be anything more than fallen beings ourselves. If we are honest with ourselves, we know we are capable of committing all sorts of sins.
However; hurting, broken, messed up people need someone to trust. I know, I know, they need God and He is the only One they can fully trust...but there is a reason God uses tangible, human "messengers" to deliver His word and to conduct His business. People need that human element to which they can relate. Unfortunately, we are fallible just like the ones to whom we are ministering! So for that reason alone, we must purpose to be the best human element we can be for His work.
We need to be real, but we must train ourselves to be what the Bible tells us to be: alert, "sober-minded," equipped with knowledge and wisdom. We must fine tune our skills in the arts of communication and management. I'm not saying it is easy (In fact, I feel a little hypocritical just writing this article!), but it is what we are called to do. With that, let's look at some practical advice that will help us ministers not be so sloppy at the job we are called to do: (Lord knows I need to improve at each of these!)
1. Pray often! (We have His help or we fail. Simple as that.)
2. Set strict guidelines to help you avoid being lured into situations that could damage your testimony.
3. Memorize tons of Bible. (Word-for-word, including reference.)
4. Learn to read, write, and speak better. (This is pretty much the essential "trio" of communication.)
5. Always be well-groomed and appropriately dressed in public. (Physical appearance is very necessary for making the right impressions.)
6. Learn not to be content with incomplete or shoddy work. (Keep improving all the time.)
7. Learn to prioritize! (The non-essentials can wait while we get the most important things completed first.)
These sound so simplistic, but really, let's stop being sloppy!
God bless, and may your passion for ministry grow as you "addict yourself" to it (1 Corinthians 16:15).
No, seriously, hear me out! In many ways, second men are to the church what housewives are to the home. If you don't like that statement it could be that you don't understand either position or respect it for what it is worth.
Some evidence of this being an accurate comparison can be found in smaller churches that don't have a second man. Who usually fulfills the role? The pastor's wife! Now, don't misunderstand the illustration; even apart from the obvious fact that we are...well...men, there are definitely many ways in which we cannot be compared to literal wives. And most of us have our own families that we must tend to in a different way than what this article is talking about. But I just thought I would take a minute and jot down some similarities while I am still thinking about it. I'd love your help on pointing out some of the similarities I have missed:
-A good second man will be a helper "meet" for his pastor.
-A good second man will lift up and honor his pastor in the presence of others.
-A good second man can be entrusted the responsibility of running the affairs of the "home" in the pastor's absence.
-A good second man will not nag and complain about every little thing the pastor does.
-A good second man will be a sounding board and will help implement the pastor's ideas and goals for the "household."
-A good second man will offer helpful solutions rather than increasing the amount of problems.
-A good second man will help provide a place of comfort and joy for the pastor rather than making it grievous and troublesome. (Hebrews 13:17)
-A bad second man will do whatever they want to do when the pastor is not over their shoulder.
-A bad second man will fight and question everything the pastor does.
-A bad second man will take the side of the "household" over the pastor.
-A bad second man will care more about advancing themselves fulfilling all their own needs.
-A bad second man can be the most hurtful and do the most damage to a pastor.
It was right before the Farm City Days parade, and much of our townsfolk were gathered together at the Square. My family and I were passing out copies of John and Romans with gospel tracts. We got a lot of "thank you's," and a few "no thank you's," but what stuck out the most in my mind was one particular response that I didn't know how to handle at the time.
"I have my own beliefs," one man said. I paused for a moment, kept the material, and moved on. I wondered what a person could believe that would actually be their own belief? I guess all of our beliefs to some degree could be called "our own beliefs," but surely those beliefs are a mixture of what we have heard or read from others, what we have observed with our own eyes in nature... and what we just want to believe for some reason or another.
Later, I asked myself how I should have responded. Perhaps I should have responded with "I'd love to hear your beliefs, do you mind sharing?" (to which he would most likely have said "yes, it's none of your business") I could have just asked him "Now, do you mean they are your original beliefs and no one else shares them or are you just saying you don't believe the Bible?" At any rate, I really wished I would have found out what he meant by "I have my own beliefs" before I walked away.
If a person doesn't view the Holy Scriptures as their main source of their principles and moral standards, then obviously they have rejected them, whether they are really saying "I have my own beliefs" or they are saying "I don't believe the Bible because I believe what someone else has told me." But the real problem is when "Bible believers" say "I have my own beliefs," and unfortunately, whether we realize it or not, we are probably guilty of saying this quite often.
How many times have you heard or said this,
"Here's What I Believe The Bible Is Saying."
That is often no different than saying "I have my own beliefs." I'm afraid we have gotten into a bad habit as Bible teachers and preachers of making the Bible say what we want it to say...or what someone else has told us it says. There is nothing wrong with having confidence in God's Word, there is everything wrong with having too much confidence in other men or in ourselves to interpret God's Word the way we want.
When I was in Bible college, I was a member of Southwest Baptist Church. At the time, Brother Sam Davison was pastor, and I'll never forget a particular message he preached on the text found in Genesis 6 regarding the "sons of God." I suspected he would be very dogmatic about the position he held and would show us exactly what the Bible said about the subject. I was eager to know what I was supposed to believe about this subject.
To my surprise, he carefully presented all three common views. He gave the reasons people have those views, and then pointed out the strengths and weaknesses of those views according to Scripture, and why he THINKS one of those views is probably correct. I learned so much about Hermeneutics and Basic Bible study by observing how he handled that one subject, that I hardly needed the class after that. To this day, I try to handle most subjects I'm not 100% sure on the same way (not to say I don't fall into the "this is what I believe" trap from time to time...why do you think I am writing this article?)
I realize it is good to take a stand. I realize there are certain people in our lives we are going to trust more than others to guide us. Most importantly, I realize that we have the Holy Spirit within to guide us... but this doesn't mean we cannot be deceived or deceive ourselves when trying to interpret the Bible. I am far from being any kind of authority on Scripture, but I have found that the more I study the Bible with this thought in mind, the more I am discovering in which facts I can be most confident and on which truths I can stand the firmest. I have found it is far more dangerous to have "my own beliefs," than it is to say "I'm still trying to figure that out."
I'm reminded of the words of the blind man to whom Jesus gave sight. When they tried to convince him that Jesus was a sinner and could not be given credit that should only be given to God, he replied "Whether he be a sinner or no, I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see." (John 9:25).
God bless, and may your passion for ministry grow as you "addict yourself" to it (1 Corinthians 16:15).
Imagine you're in a war. You're firing at the enemy, and the enemy is firing back at you. Your battalion has no idea how the enemy discovered your current location. What is worse, the enemy seems to know your every move before you make it. They are detonating all your valuable equipment and your arsenal. They are finding all the places you and your battalion thought were safe places. You watch as faithful men all around you are falling. Many surrender and are marched off into captivity.
Then things are silent just long enough for the smoke to clear. You scan the area with your binoculars to discover the most heart breaking sight you could have ever imagined--one of the best men from your battalion is among the enemy. He is dressed like them. He is armed and has been firing at you the whole time. He has been sharing classified information with them and leading them to every vulnerable spot where they could do the most damage. You are sunk. You can't even imagine moving forward any farther. You feel you have nobody left that you can trust.
"And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles; Simon, (whom he also named Peter,) and Andrew his brother, James and John, Philip and Bartholomew,
Matthew and Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon called Zelotes,
And Judas the brother of James, and Judas Iscariot, which also was the traitor."
Those who are closest to you have the ability to do the most damage. This is a very real and scary truth. Just for a moment, nevermind that everything worked out for good according to God's plan. That is not the point. Judas was a traitor, and Jesus and the rest of the disciples were hurt and betrayed by him!
I expect that none of us would ever want to be a Judas. Yet, if we are not careful, we second men have the potential to become traitors ourselves and have a huge impact on the destruction of our pastor (or at least his current testimony and ministry). I would hope none of us would ever be so wicked as to desire our pastor's destruction in any way. But I would venture to say that we could unknowingly be hurting him and putting "The Mission" in jeopardy by some of our careless actions.
Following are a 10 simple thoughts that could go a long way in keeping us from ever becoming a "traitor" to our pastor and church family:
1. Recognize the importance of the mission of the church, and make that your main focus.
2. Recognize the dangerous and manipulating power of the enemy to hinder the mission and to destroy the church from within.
3. Pray! Pray for your pastor, pray for your fellow laborers and church family...our greatest asset is prayer.
4. Discuss any significant differences of opinion (regarding theology, methodology, etc.) you have with your pastor in private.
5. On things you cannot come to agreement on, assure your pastor that you recognize his authority and you will do your best to support his views (this doesn't mean you necessarily compromise your own convictions).
6. Never talk negatively or engage in gossip about your pastor to members of your church.
7. Rebuke anyone (in love) that would come to you secretly to discuss their negative views about the pastor, and demand that they talk with the pastor about them.
8. Be sure to let your pastor know if you have engaged in such a discussion with other members, and reassure him that you will discontinue further discussions to the best of your ability.
9. Support your pastor publically as often as you can.
10. Even in the worst possible case, if you must resign your position on account of major disagreements you have with your pastor's doctrine or methodology, resist any pressure to criticize or belittle him to your next pastor or other fellow pastors or church members.
(All three of these structures assume that "elder," "bishop," and "pastor" are all interchangable titles, and that pastors are paid by the church.)
In the first example, there is somewhat of a plurality of pastors with the "senior pastor" being the main leader. These "pastors" work closely together and are typically all paid by the church body. Deacons are not paid, but share in some of the main decision making of the church and are typically more actively involved in the support of the ministries and upkeep of the church.
In the second example, there is one pastor, and he works very closely with his "assistants" who actually fulfill what would be the Biblical role of a "deacon" in teaching, soul-winning, and carrying out various ministries in the church. In this case, the "deacons" are usually provided for financially by the church body.
In the third example, there is one pastor who serves similarly to a CEO of a corporation. He typically hires his assistant pastors who would be more like managers or "vice presidents" of a corporation. Typically, the assistant pastor(s) would be brought on staff with some sort of agreement of financial compensation. Deacons are laymen of the church who typically share in the decision making and support of the ministries and upkeep of the church.
Don't forget to take the survey above. That will really help me with some upcoming articles I am preparing. Thanks!
God bless you, and may your passion for ministry grow as you addict yourself to it (1 Corinthians 16:15)
Above is a photo of Richard Proenneke. Proenneke is a well-know, self-taught naturalist who lived alone in the Alaskan wilderness for over thirty years, well into his eighties. A documentary (one of my favorites) was made from his videos and written records of his life and adventures. The documentary is called Alone in the Wilderness. I'll come back to Proenneke in a minute...
I had a dream this morning (I have similar dreams from time to time) where I am trying to run a church service in Pastor's absence. Totally unprepared, I was still trying to figure out what I was going to preach. I had a tough time getting people to even listen to me, so I kept trying to raise my voice...which for some reason is a task I really struggle to accomplish in my dreams (okay, a little in real life too). Eventually, I decided the message I was going to preach was about the loneliness in the ministry (Please, let's forget about trying to psychoanalyze this dream for the time being). Thankfully, I woke up and didn't have to watch myself try to stumble throught the sermon with no outline or notes... but the dream really stuck with me all morning.
I began to think of the many times I have heard people in the ministry tell me how lonely the ministry can be. Sure enough, I have watched pastors and assistants grow very lonely and even depressed. I have maybe experienced it a time or two since I've been in the ministry, too, but I have learned a few things that are almost always the case. In trying to explain, I'd like to make a comparison to Proenneke's life.
1. If we don't want to be alone, we have to choose not to be alone.
In the case of Richard Proenneke, being "alone" in the wilderness didn't seem like such a bad thing. We tend to think of being all alone as a terrible thing, but the fact is, being alone can grow on you. I for one love solitude. I'm not so sure I could live without companionship for thirty years (not sure why I would want to), but I love to hike or run on trails alone. I don't mind spending hours working on a project by myself (In fact, I often feel as though I get more accomplished on my own), and I have worked for years cleaning office buildings early in the morning or late at night all by myself with nothing but my work, my thoughts, and quite often some good, old, Bible preaching on my mp3 player.
But I have to admit. I sure am glad I get to come home after work or after a nice long run and sit down at the table and eat dinner with my family. I'm glad for every opportunity I get to share with anyone who will listen as small sample of all the things that have been going through my head in my time spent alone. I'm glad for some interaction with people, honestly, even if it is just a comment on my Facebook post or a text message from a friend of family member. I'm not sure I could handle solitude without the comfort of knowing companionship is there whenever I want it.
2. We have to realize the dangers of staying alone.
First of all, let me scold myself and Mr. Proenneke for a second. Avoiding people for our own pleasure is selfish, plain and simple! There are people who need us, no matter how much we feel like they don't. Proenneke may not have had a wife or children, but most of us in the ministry do. There is simply no excuse for us to isolate ourselves from them for long periods of time when we have a responsibility to invest time and energy in them (and I'm not talking about going off to Alaska for thirty years, I'm talking about avoiding conversations and finding every opportunity to get away from people so we can be by ourselves). This is not just selfish, but it is dangerous on many levels. Our marriages require us to be good companions, our relationship with our children require it, and our ministries require it.
Now, if we enjoy the solitude, there is certainly nothing wrong with getting a way an hour or two...or even a day or two... It can be great for our spiritual, mental, and physical health. I strongly recommend it. But we must remember our responsibilities are to others first, not to ourselves.
3. We can't be too picky about our companions.
But let's say we never asked to be alone. Let's say we desire companionship but it just doesn't seem to be available. Maybe our personalities don't seem to match others. Maybe people just don't seem to like what we like or the things we care about don't seem to be a priority to them. My advice here is simple--we need to quit being picky about who our companions are. We need to allow them to have their annoying quirks (trust me, we have ours!). We need to allow them to not understand things we think they should understand (we don't understand all the things they think we should understand either). In short, we need not be "perfectionists." Perfectionism is just a figment of the imagination. We determine in our own minds what perfection is...even though others have a completely different view of what perfection is. We need to just decide to be a companion and to accept the campanionship of others despite our differences (of course, I'm not talking about hanging around those who would lead us away from following Christ).
In conclusion, yes, I suppose the ministry can feel quite lonely. We can sometimes feel like we are the only ones left who want to serve the Lord...but we aren't. We can feel like we are shouting at the top of our lungs and no one is listening...but some are. We might feel like no one wants our company, but I guarantee there are plenty who could use it, whether they know they want it or not.
May the Lord bless you, and may your passion for minstry grow as you addict yourself to it (1 Corinthians 16:15).
1. It helps you stay focused on the sermon.
I struggle to stay awake through sermons. There, I said it!
No, I'm not praying, as much as I'd like you to believe that. I'm falling asleep! Yes, I got some sleep last night (though maybe not as much as I would have liked), but still I am falling asleep during the preaching.
It has very little, if any, to do with the preacher or the sermon preached; it is simply a matter of my body shutting down when I am sitting still. Many can relate. I can rarely sit through a whole movie, I hate board games that take longer than 15 minutes to play...and I might yawn 5 or 6 times during our conversation. I might not even make it through writing this article before I start another one. I like to be active and I have a short attention span (Call it ADD, ADHD or whatever). I'm not saying I shouldn't work on it more, and I'm not trying to make excuses for myself. It is just the facts.
For several years in Oklahoma, in a church of about 2,000 members or so, I sat in the choir, and people watched my head bob throughout the sermons. For many of those years, my favorite preacher was my pastor--Sam Davison. I love his style, the way he takes command of the service, the way he so clearly communicates the Scripture, the way he applies it...even his farm illustrations made me want to be a farmer... but I would nod off several times during his preaching, and people would ask "How can you sleep during Sam Davison's preaching?!" I don't know, I just did.
One thing I have noticed that helps with this, however, is the simple practice of saying "A-men" throughout the message. You have to be careful, though, because if you are not paying attention you may holler "A-men" at a very inconvenient time. Some preachers will trick you, you know?
"Let's go to Romans 10:13," the preacher will say. "The Bible says 'for whosoever shall be BAPTIZED shalt be saved,' right?"
You shout out, "A-men!..."
Suddenly, everyone is looking at you and the preacher says "No, not A-men, it says whosoever SHALL CALL UPON THE NAME OF THE LORD..."
You knew that...but you weren't paying attention!
I don't know, maybe this is why some people don't want to say "A-men." But anticipating the right opportunities to agree with specific points of the sermon can help keep your mind focused. It can help you stay awake, and let's face it, you don't really want to be the one being laughed at for falling asleep during a message...especially if you are the second man!
2. It validates what is being said.
When the preacher makes what sounds like a great point, and everyone is silent, one might sort of wonder if what the preacher said was right or not. However, if men in the church are joining the preacher in agreement, others who aren't so sure what to think may be a little more accepting of the message as it is preached.
Now, I'm not saying we should lie. Sure, there have been times I have disagreed with something that a preacher says... okay, many times. It is my nature to question things, but it wouldn't help anybody for me to cringe, frown, fold my arms in protest, or look at my wife and shake my head. What I do instead is try to keep a straight face, maybe even write down a note or two to remind me to look up that point later (maybe even politely discuss it in private with the preacher...I could, and maybe should, write a whole article on how to go about doing that properly...), and then I wait for another point I can "A-men." Trust me, it will come!
This becomes even more important during a message that is a little more controversial or less popular to preach. When people hear something that contradicts everything they have been taught in the world, they have a natural tendency to prick against it. As second men, we have a responsibility to lead by following. When you follow, others will follow, and soon the majority will follow. This makes your participation in a service (by simply saying "A-men") almost as important as the delivery of the message itself.
3. It encourages the preacher.
Every preacher understands this. If you aren't a preacher, just imagine standing in front of people trying your best to deliver a message and half of the crowd is falling asleep. It is hard to tell if the other half agrees with you or not because they are just staring at you. Now imagine the majority of the men nodding their head and saying "A-men preacher, that's right." It is a HUGE encouragement, and I would say it almost always increased the overall quality of the delivery of the message.
So there! It is our fault if we think a message is dry and boring. What part are we playing in helping the preacher preach? Let's consider this during the next message we hear, and let's try to get better at supporting our preacher.
Lord bless you, and may your passion for ministry grow as you addict yourself to it (1 Corinthians 16:15)
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