Church Catering Service

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Imagine a scene with me for a moment. You walk into a building on a Sunday morning. Greeters meet you at the door and ask you if you would like your music mild, medium, or spicy. They continue to ask about your seating preference, etc. It sounds crazy, but many churches have become catering services. Rather than desiring what God wants, they poll the people.

Most people want to blame this on the contemporary church, but it happens in traditional churches too. Pastors with little to no backbone seek to appease the older generation because they vote with their money. No money = no pay for the pastor. Churches are dying today because they are led by caterers rather than Spirit-led people.

I would like to say more about this issue, but I will save it for a pastor-staff relations blog. Stay tuned…

A Man with a Mission

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If you are a Christian, this poem “The Fellowship of the Unashamed” by Bob Moorehead should set your soul on fire.

I am a part of the “fellowship of the Unashamed.”

The die has been cast. I have stepped over the line.

The decision has been made. I am a disciple of Jesus Christ.

I won’t look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still.

My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, and my future is secure.

I am finished and done with low living, sight walking, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, chintzy giving, and dwarfed goals.

I no longer need pre-eminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits, or popularity.

I now live by presence, lean by faith, love by patience, lift by prayer, and labor by power.

My pace is set, my gait is fast, my goal is Heaven, my road is narrow, my way is rough, my companions few, my Guide reliable, my mission clear.

I cannot be bought, compromised, deterred, lured away, turned back, diluted, or delayed.

I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of adversity, negotiate at the table of the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity.

I am a disciple of Jesus Christ. I must go until heaven returns, give until I drop, preach until all know, and work until He comes.

And when He comes to get His own, He will have no problem recognizing me. My colors will be clear.

Crazy Church Names

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Most of my posts tend to be serious or encouraging in nature. This one, however, will be a little more on the humorous side. After years of working in the church, I’ve realized churches do some weird things (including naming the organization). Here are some of my favorites (to name a few):

Big Bottom Missionary Baptist Church – I’m sure the inspiration for this name will remain anonymous.

Big Lick Baptist Church – This one actually had my resume years ago.

Hell Hole Swamp Baptist Church

Boring Seventh Day Adventist Church

Scum of Sinners Bible Chapel

Big Ugly Freewill Baptist Church

Little Hope Baptist Church – I think I’ve attended this one and its many campuses 😂.

Run for Your Life International Chapel – Been here too.

Church of God-Zillah

Martini Lutheran Church – I have friends who would love to attend here and have seconds on communion.

Matthew’s Party – I couldn’t help but like this one since my name is Matthew. Plus, every church service should be a praise party.

Salvage Yard Church

IF YOU HAVE ONE YOU WOULD LIKE TO ADD, FEEL FREE TO ADD IT TO THE COMMENT SECTION.

Can Ministry Be Insignificant?

I’ve been blown away by how some people think that you’re a big time child of God if you are a pastor or a paid ministerial staff member while everyone else is beneath them. Last time I checked, we are all on equal level. Each one of us possesses a calling and a responsibility to fulfill that.

As I have served as a hospice chaplain, I worked alongside people who are clearly called to do what they do. They have a passion for it and give themselves wholeheartedly to it. That includes the nurses, aides, social worker, etc.

I was tempted to think that what I do now is less significant because I’m not so much in the public eye, but I’m still called and what I do is significant to God. I am reminded daily of how God uses me when I go into a home of a hospice patient or when people tell me how God used this blog in my life.

So, let me make this clear: what you do for God is significant! The fact that God created you shows that you are significant! You have a purpose, and don’t you dare compare your purpose to that of someone else! Your contribution is just as important as that of the next person, even if yours might be behind the scenes. God sees it. So keep that in mind and continue to do it for God’s glory. One day He will say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”

Just a City Boy…

For those of you who know the song, you are probably humming this song from Journey. I can’t help but confess that I’m a Journey fan. Confession is good for the soul.

I was just thinking about my life, and the words “just a city boy” came to mind. That’s me…just a city boy from Portsmouth, VA that God decided to call into ministry. I always wondered why God would use me. When I think about how shy and backward I was, I never imagined that I would stand in front of people and preach or sing. I asked God to show me why He would call me out of all people. According to I Corinthians 1, it is for God’s glory.

My first public speech contained more stuttering than words. I feared getting up in front of people and saying anything. I never thought I would lead worship in churches ranging 25 to 600 or pastor a church of 100.

Now, my ministry is more personal. I ministering to hospice patients and families and those who read this blog. I get the occasional phone call or message from someone seeking direction or prayer. Whatever I am called on to do, I still count it a privilege and joy.

You may think you are just this or just that, but God can do great things in and through you for His glory. That’s what He did with “just a city boy”.

It’s a Girl!

I normally don’t post much about my personal life on here that is unrelated to spiritual lessons or general ministry. However, I am excited to announce to my online friends and followers that we will have a little girl in July. We had a reveal party on Saturday with some of our closest friends. We are so blessed. Please continue to pray for our blended family.image

The Words I Would Say

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As I mentioned in the other blog today, I have visited several churches over the last six months. The experiences have varied. Although I have been in church ministry for almost 20 years, I am far from an expert on ministry. I would, however, say the following things to churches and pastors if I had the chance:

1. Prepare to have first time guests. Have a strategy! Put people in place who can guide guests to a nursery, restroom, or just make them acquainted with your ministries.

2. Musicians and audio/video, prepare! The lyric mess ups in a service can be a MAJOR distraction. It sends a message to guests and regular attendees that you didn’t care enough to get ready ahead of time.

3. Eliminate unnecessary aspects to your service! First time guests aren’t interested in someone spending long drawn out periods giving announcements and prayer requests. Do make prayer a priority, but set aside a time in the service for people to come and pray and altar workers to be available.

4. Make the decision time sacred! Don’t allow a bunch of people in and out when the pastor is calling people to give their life to Christ. These distractions could be just the thing the devil uses to keep someone from making that important decision.

5. Be user friendly! Don’t talk in code. Explain your ministries. People coming for the first time don’t know that the JOY club is what you call your senior adult ministry. Have signage to direct people to the worship center, classrooms, restrooms, etc.

6. Pastors, be real! Preachers who have the “preacher voice” are a dime a dozen. They have this special talk with words most people don’t know. You might impress your preacher buddies, but most in your church or outside your church won’t relate. Just be you! People will more likely be real with you too, and God will expand your opportunities for ministry.

7. Pastors, keep your promises! If you tell someone you’re going to take them to lunch, do it! I can’t tell you how many promises pastors have broken to me. I’m sure I have unintentionally not followed through on things. I realize how that made me feel to be on the other side.

8. Church member, allow your pastor and his family to be normal like you. God holds everyone to the same standard of holiness, so you better live up to what you expect from your pastor and his family.

9. Don’t be so mechanical that you don’t allow room for the Holy Spirit, but don’t be so long winded and consider it spiritual! I’ve seen both extremes.

10. Throw negativity out the window! People want you to be straightforward in your preaching, but don’t allow every service to be doom and gloom. Preach the whole counsel of God! People need encouragement and correction. Let the Holy Spirit be the One who does the work.

11. Finally, eliminate dead time!!! The pastor I worked for in my first full time ministry always said this to me. I finally understood it. Keep the service flowing! Have the piano or guitar play lightly in the background for announcements, fellowship, prayers, etc. People hate choppy! I hate services that feel like roller coaster rides. I’m sure I’m not alone. One second of dead time can take minutes to regain people’s attention.

These are just suggestions. I see these things, and many people are never trained to make them better. Why have mediocrity when you can have something that is first place for the One who deserves our best? My philosophy has always been, “If this ministry for Jesus can’t be first class, wait until it can be.”

6 Months and Counting?

For those closest to me, let me clarify that this is not about my upcoming 6 month wedding anniversary although I have MANY wonderful things to say about that special day coming up this Friday. This is more in reference to when I stepped away from paid church ministry 6 months ago today. I have learned some valuable lessons during this time.

1. I have learned who my true friends are. The rumors as to why I stepped down were entertaining, to say the least. Some assumed I had sinned. Others thought it was so I could get married. I heard through the grapevine that I was a popular topic of conversation for a season. I assume my “friends” have moved on, because there are quite a few people who don’t talk to me anymore since I’m not among the “elite” (I guess that me not currently being an active vocational minister means I’ve fallen from grace?).

2. Every minister needs rest. A pastor friend advised me to take a year off when I resigned the pastorate because of the family turmoil which happened simultaneously. However, I didn’t listen. I went to a wonderful church that loved me through that tough time, but it did catch up with me later. It really caught up with me when I went to a more demanding ministry and I had to drive a 4 1/2 hour turnaround trip to drop off kids and be back for a 6:00 service. By the time I resigned that ministry, I was totally exhausted. Sadly, most churches in my denomination don’t have ministries that are conducive for my situation or church members that are understanding of why you can’t be at all places at all times.

3. I have been afforded the opportunity to meet people and visit churches I never would have met and visited without this season. I have even attended those outside of my denomination (everyone gasps). Many people I know have never attended churches other than the one they grew up in. I can’t imagine having such a narrow experience of church.

Overall, these last 6 months have been nice. I do miss preaching. I cannot lie! Some will say I have no business doing that because I’m divorced and remarried, but I will let God determine that. With that said, it should be interesting what God does in the days ahead. He will make all things beautiful in His time!

My Dirty Little Secret

We all have secrets and things of which we are ashamed. It may be something dishonest we did at work, a sexual sin we committed, an addiction to alcohol, drugs, porn, or something we don’t want anyone to find out. On the flip side, this dirty little secret could be something we could not help. We may have been victims of sexual abuse or a witness to something to which we were sworn to secrecy. We all have dirty little secrets.

Is there a safe place where we can share these things? Is there a place with people who will love us despite what we have done or experienced? That place should be the church. Unfortunately, some churches are known for being judgmental. Pastors have preached that we shouldn’t be soft on sin, but many Christians have gone to an extreme. However, loving people who have a “dirty little secret” doesn’t mean we condone what they do. Many want help, but the only help some churches provide is telling them to stop. They already know they need to stop. What they need to know is that you are going to love them through their recovery.

What is your church doing to provide a loving and safe environment for people to tell their secrets and know you will still love them? Do you have programs to help? Are the people trained to go above and beyond to welcome EVERYONE who walks in the doors? Do the people intentionally  try to build authentic relationships, or do they say shallow things and keep their distance?

For the last few years (whether I was on church staff or in the pew), I have longed to be in a church that loves and helps those with dirty little secrets. If you are one of those of whom I speak, I believe you also want a loving community who will treat you well despite your “dirty little secret”.