In my role in ministry, I have a lot of people confide in me that they feel they are failing with personal evangelism. You may be one of those people. Honestly, I feel I am at times. Truth is, I am afraid too many believers (here in the US that is) are struggling in this area. That’s one reason why I'm so excited about a new initiative by the Southern Baptist Convention called “Who's Your One?”
Why is this discussion of a leader’s power so important? Recent issues have made this question extremely pressing for us. Power is possibly the greatest asset towards leadership. It provides leaders with the potential to do good or bring harm. Power allows leaders to build trust and thus gain the voluntary and legitimate permission of people to influence them, or power can be used in such a way that it undermines trust and legitimacy. Abraham Joshua Heschel writes, “Nothing is more useful than power, nothing more frightful.”
Since this is true, the way a leader uses power is the truest test of his or her character. God gives power and position for the sake of his people, not for the privilege of the leader.
I just finished the 1st of The Houston Chronicle 3-part series on sexual abuse within Southern Baptist churches. Like other SBC pastors and church members, my response is one of grief and sadness for the victims and frustration for those who were never brought to justice. Yet, I also understand that while calls for a response and a denominational fix have been given for years, the nature of church autonomy—as addressed briefly in the article—puts the SBC in a unique position as compared to other denominations. Nevertheless, denominational polity is not something that will concern most readers of the story. For those who are victims of such abuse, it shouldn't.
On my last sabbatical, I researched the early church. I studied the time from right after the resurrection of Jesus until the time of Constantine and wanted to see how they survived and thrived during a time when they were not the cultural norm and experienced intense persecution. I grew up in a Christian culture where Christianity was not only accepted but also encouraged by the culture. Getting to know the early church taught me many important lessons, some of which were hard to learn.
Los que estamos al frente de una iglesia tenemos la responsabilidad de desarrollar un plan para discipular a todo aquel que esté dispuesto a disciplinarse en la vida cristiana. Según la Gran Comisión (Mateo 28:18-20), el Señor no nos envió a tener cultos maravillosos, ni actividades interesantes. Simplemente, nos envía a hacer discípulos. Pero parece que el hacer discípulos es la parte menos practicada.
Those of us who are in charge of a church have the responsibility of developing a plan to disciple anyone who is willing to discipline themselves in the Christian life. According to the Great Commission (Matthew 28: 18-20), the Lord did not send us to have wonderful worship times or interesting activities. The Great Commission simply sends us to make disciples. But it seems that making disciples is the least practiced part.
As the end of Human Trafficking Awareness Month draws to a close, we do not need to simply move on from the issue. Only in recent years has the evil of human trafficking gained the exposure it has now. That is, while many may consider slavery a thing of the past, we now know that, though it takes different and less obvious forms, slavery and trafficking are just as pervasive today. There is much work to do to eradicate it altogether.
What if we did away with harmony in musical worship? Is it, or any other artistic expression, really necessary to the way we function as a church? Probably not, but most note beauty definitely adds something to the experience. Good art can help better articulate the gospel and move our affections towards God.
In the same vein, I wonder what other expressions of worship we may be missing. Are there some art forms we could use to help us better feel the depth of God's story or understand His person? How might leaders use those mediums to teach, to disciple, and to better explain the faith?
If I were to ask the people of your church, “Why do you do what you do?” I’m sure I would get a gospel-related response. But the true litmus test of the Great Commission motivation in a church is less about whether or not we make disciples as a matter of obedience—which is good. Instead, it's more about if we're making disciples out of genuine urgency and concern that a person's life be radically transformed by the grace and mercy of their Savior—which is better. I have been challenged by this idea in recent months, and this experience has helped me firm up my “why” for UBA and our churches.
In 2016, my sister and I decided to take on the responsibility to plan our church's first Vacation Bible School (VBS). We've learned quite a few things along the way and are still learning. Hopefully, these thoughts and tips can be helpful to those of you thinking of planning VBS, no matter how big or small.
En el 2016, yo y mi hermana, tomamos la responsabilidad de hacer una Escuela Bíblica de Verano (EBV) por primera vez. Hemos aprendido varias cosas y espero que estos les ayude a planificar EBV, grande o pequeño.