The Church Collapses if it Fails to do These Two Things

The church I grew up in was a veritable bee hive of activity, particularly for students. A typical Sunday looked like this: Sunday School at 9:30 Worship at 11:00 Ensemble at 3:30 Choir at 5:00 Snack Supper at 5:45 Bible study at 6:00 Evening worship at 7:00 Fellowship at someone’s house at 8:00 When you consider all of the other age-related and need-based ministries taking place, and all of the other business-type activities required to run the church, it be can be difficult to sort out what, exactly, a church is about at its core. Indeed, when churches become overly focused […]

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Sitting in Worship: Front Row Rocks!

Earlier this week, I wrote about how much I enjoyed corporate worship sitting in the back. But sitting in the back is an anomaly for our family, for we usually sit in the front. Here’s why. We can hear the whole congregation singing. Though we’re closer to the stage and the music is a bit louder and not perfectly positioned for where we sit, the sound of the congregation singing is comforting and encouraging to me. I’m not alone! There’s no escaping the elements of worship. When the stage is nearly within reach, fewer elements in worship go without notice. […]

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Sitting in Corporate Worship: It Pays to be a Back-row Baptist

I worshipped with my boys last weekend. Our daughter was in nursery, and my wife served in the preschool department, so the men were left to their own devices. In a breach of protocol, we sat in the back, and I liked it. Here’s why I liked sitting in the back for worship. I could see that there were many more people worshipping with me without awkwardly turning around or craning my neck backwards. Not only did I get a better gauge for how many are attending, but I saw many people I knew that I had no idea were in […]

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An Interview with Brad Hambrick, Pastor of Counseling at The Summit Church RDU

I met Brad Hambrick in the summer of 1998. We were put on the same Christian sports camp team: He was a stud baseball coach, and I was a lowly tennis coach. Years later, he now serves as the Pastor of Counseling at The Summit Church in Durham, NC. He’s an excellent writer and counselor, and his endorsement of Southern Fried Faith is a great gift. Comfortable? No. Challenging? Yes. Fit your church? You’ll have to read to find out. Accurately assessing our culture may be even more difficult than accurately assessing ourselves, because our culture is one of the most powerful […]

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Three Questions about the Church in the South for Dr. Todd Brady

I met Todd Brady in 2004, and I’ve been grateful ever since. He currently serves as Vice President for University Ministries at Union University. He’s an excellent leader, writer and preacher, and I’m really grateful for his endorsement of Southern Fried Faith. Here’s part of it: “In this part of the country where we drive past church signs proclaiming messages like, “JesUSAves” and “If you don’t love Jesus and root for Bama, you’ll Au-BURN,” Southern Fried Faith helps us discern between the true and the trite, between the challenging and the cheesy and ultimately between the culture and Christ.” A few […]

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Preventing Burnout in Ministry

It’s all too easy to burn out when it comes to ministry. You can see some stats below this article. The odd thing about these kinds of statistics is that they simultaneously freak me out and comfort me. Evidently I’m not the only one who’s been there. But pastors aren’t the only ones with ministries. Indeed, their ministry is to equip those to do the ministry! I suppose it’s questionable whether Jesus had the capacity to “burnout.” Mark 1:35-39 gives us a glimpse into the kinds of ministry pressures Jesus faced and how he dealt with them. 35 And rising very early […]

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Sam Storms is Concerned about Ten Pastors

Sam Storms is concerned about 10 pastors, and rightfully so. (1) I’m concerned about the pastor who is better at managing church programs than he is at making disciples of Jesus. Thom Rainer & Eric Geiger addressed this topic somewhat in the book Simple Church, but I’m not sure how many pastors paid attention to the message. The church is not better because it has more programs. It’s quite possible for programs to hinder its real mission. (2) I’m concerned about the pastor who attracts people with fancy self-help sermons instead of teaching people to be students of the Bible […]

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First Church of the Hot Mess

When you read through Paul’s letters in the New Testament, it quickly becomes clear that the first churches were a hot mess. Immorality abounded. The list of things going on in the Corinthian church alone would make a preacher blush as he read through them from the pulpit. Doctrinal debates were feisty. Jews, Judaizers, Gnostics, Artemis: the list is long, the heresy profound, and all of them worked hard to work their way into the Christian church. These moral and doctrinal issues were serious, and required a serious response. A belief in false teaching leads to worship of a false […]

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Stricter Judgment: Receiving Criticism of your Preaching from Loving Members

Imagine that you are a teaching pastor, called with the burden of loving the church God gives you as Jesus loves the entire church. Part of this love requires preaching and teaching the Word of God faithfully and accurately. You know that, according to James 3, you will face a “stricter judgment” as a teacher of God’s Word. But somewhere along the way, your preaching has taken a legalistic turn. Or maybe it’s highly works-oriented. Other priorities have replaced prayer and preparation for preaching. As a result, members of the congregation take notice and are concerned for you, themselves and […]

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