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Archives for : March2020

Navigating Crisis

The plethora of opinions on this present declared pandemic is vastly different and the pendulum swings to both extremes.  Here are some thoughts for you to consider as we strive to approach this biblically and with wisdom.  The Bible must establish our moral baseline because it is the divine standard.  Yes, the Bible is our guideline and the Holy Spirit is our guide.  The scriptures do not reveal to us the logistics of individual decisions that involve the when, how, and where. That is the job of the Holy Spirit. 

When you decide how to face this health concern think about the following statement that was on twitter this week.  “Church A – feels led to cancel Sunday Services.  Church B – feels led to maintain Sunday Services.  Let every pastor be fully persuaded in his own mind.  He who cancels does so for the Lord.  He who maintains does so for the Lord.  #TrustYourPastor.  #DontJudgeAnotherChurch.  #SameTeam.”  These are difficult waters to navigate and there is no 100% right or wrong.  Even that statement will be debated and disagreed with.

The New Testament, as it functioned in the book of Acts, was built on home churches.  It is part of the reason why the church has survived crisis after crisis and has remained a force in the world up to today.  Once again, churches and believers will weather this storm through God’s grace and direction.  Much is being said about these present health concerns.  We have all been watching these developments closely and have consulted with many to decide what is best.  Here are some things to consider if you do decide to continue with services.

If through the leadership of the Holy Spirit you decide to have services be mindful of individual health and the health of your church community.  Instruct your people accordingly, that if they are a health risk, do not attend.  If they are not comfortable with being there, do not attend.  If they are sick, do not attend and let everyone know it is ok to stay home.  Encourage every family to decide what is best for them and follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit.  Make all aware of the options without any pressure or guilt.

You may decide not to have a nursery or children’s church.  Make your people aware that if their children come with them they will be required to stay with their parents.  This decision may prompt them to stay at home with their children and that is understandable.  Once again, utilize the biblical principle of, “Each one must be fully convinced in their own mind.”  The driving force here is not fear or panic but rather wisdom, safety, and good health practices.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gives excellent guidelines on maintaining good health.

Make sure that everything will be wiped down and sanitized before anyone arrives.  Think of all the door handles, light switches, and faucets.  You might consider propping open all of the entrance doors so people do not have to touch them.  Advise and instruct them to not shake hands but instead greet with a smile and say hello.  If your custom is to pass an offering plate consider just having a basket in the back, where they can give at the end of the service.  Place hand sanitizer at every door, which honestly, should have already been there.

That was Plan A, but you may decide that Plan B is the better option for your church.  Yes, this virus scare might be getting blown out of proportion but you believe it is better to be safe than sorry.  Officials have asked everyone to limit their exposure to crowds as best we can.  There are many ways to utilize technology.  There is live streaming, Facebook live, and other ways to worship corporately but not necessarily being in the same room.  The primary focus of the church could shift from a spectator sport and watching the show to being the church.  

This might be the perfect time for a dress rehearsal for your church to get a taste of what it means to be both deeply communal & intentionally missional.  This is a wonderful opportunity to refresh, recharge, & refocus.  This is a time that should help us to appreciate the underground church because this is their regular routine every single week.  Corporate worship was designed to remind us of what really is important in our lives.  God could use this to increase our appreciation for the importance of corporate worship.

Maybe this is not a crisis but rather a great opportunity for the local church to live on mission and be less focused on only the show!!!  What if God is using this virus to reorient His people to love him more than a building and to get back to family worship?

Healthy Church Podcast

The first two episodes of our new podcast is out.  We are praying that it will be an encouragement to you and your church.  We do not have all the answers but we do have a lot of years of experience and figured out a couple of things not to do.  The heart of this came out of a burden for pastors and church leaders with a desire to provide a place where you can know you are loved and someone does care.  Lance Witt in Replenish says, “Inadvertently we have marginalized the soul side of leadership.”  Bill Wellons in What Really Matters would agree with this focus.

Lance Witt shares these alarming statistics,  “1,500 pastors leave the ministry permanently each month in America.  80% of pastors and 85% of their spouses feel discouraged in their roles.  70% of pastors do not have a close friend, confidant, or mentor.  Over 50% of pastors are so discouraged they would leave the ministry if they could but have no other way of making a living.  Over 50% of pastors’ wives feel that their husband entering the ministry was the most destructive thing to ever happen to their families.  71% of pastors say they are burned out.”

There is more from the Barna Group, Lifeway Research and others but the point is that if you are in ministry you have a target on your back and you are in trouble.  The struggle and battle is real and the spiritual warfare involved is often greatly underestimated.  Difficulties in ministry are not just temporal issues. Like an iceberg, 90% of the spiritual battle is invisible.  Never forget that the evil one hates what you are doing and will do anything and everything he can get away with to stop you.  Don’t be alarmed by the challenges you are facing, they are natural.

The attack of spiritual warfare is real but the enemy will not stop there.  He will use loneliness, isolation, family pressures, financial stress, and unrealistic expectation, along with leadership and people challenges.  Once the wear and tear of the struggle begins to overwhelm you where can you go?  Who can you turn to?  Hopefully, you have many options such as friends, pastors, mentors, etc. but our prayer is that this could be a resource for you to know there are no perfect leaders.  Maybe we can find some answers as we journey this ministry path together.

You can find us at healthychurchpocast.com or download the podcast through iTunes or your favorite podcast provider. Our website states, “The Healthy Church Podcast is an honest conversation about what it means to be a part of a healthy church. There are no perfect churches – because they’re all filled with imperfect people led by imperfect leaders.  But by God’s grace we can begin to dialogue about what changes can be made in our lives as leaders, and in the churches we serve, in order to better love God and His people.”

The podcast will be released on the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of every month with Drew Cline and I serving and your hosts.  Between Drew and I we have over 70 years of ministry experience or maybe we should say ministry mistakes.  Either way we want to help if we can.  Our backgrounds are quite similar yet very unique.  All I ever wanted to do was pastor and began when I was 21 years old.  Yes, way too young but I knew I didn’t need college anymore (sarcasm) because of how brilliant I already was so I headed to my first pastorate without a clue.

Drew’s path led him to minister more in the area of music and creative arts.  He was the lead singer for NewSong, recorded a couple of solo albums, and led the worship teams for Fellowship Bible in Little Rock.  Recently, he was led back to his home church where he grew up, Temple Baptist Church, Little Rock, AR.  Over the last three years he has walked this church through a major replant process as South City.  He has great insights in these areas and is ready, as I am, to not just talk about what went well but where did we struggle.

Church health begins with healthy church leaders and that means every leader’s first priority is to make sure they are spiritually healthy.  Your ability as a leader must come out of your being not just your doing.  You as a leader cannot give what you do not possess.  You can never expect your church to be any healthier than you are.  Our prayer is that you will lead out of a healthy soul as you walk with the Lord and allow Him to do His transforming work in your heart and life.  Join us on the podcast and let us know any other way we can be a help and blessing to you!

Church Health & Revitalization

Church revitalization can be minor tweaks all the way to a major rebuild.  It has been described as an inside job because it is driven by a team within the church whose heart is to see it the church thrive and flourish.  It is resuscitating what already exists.   Replanting is more an outside job that requires much more major help and a total redo which usually involves the passing of the baton.  In today’s article you will hear from our Activate pastor’s advocate, Heidi Sorrells. 

“When I think about Activate I’m in awe of how God has moved and continues to move! When I started working with the Activate ministry in 2015 I didn’t know BMA history, most pastor names, or who was related to whom. Can you believe I didn’t even know who Jerry Kidd was? Somehow, God was able to use what I didn’t have or didn’t know to bring a refreshing newness to everything. Every pastor and church was framed by what God could do in and through them.     Nothing was stale or old.  I found delight in learning who someone was and hearing their story. It was a privilege to begin work with Activate, but also to be on an Activate Team at an early pilot church. This gave me a new depth of insight I’m thankful to have in my current role as pastor advocate. 

Although church decline is sometimes obvious, it’s often hard to recognize. It can come disguised in quality programs and new additions, in filled seats and good preaching. Just as concerning, pastors are wearing thin and struggling to balance the demands of ministry, family, and sometimes full-time jobs. 

To those of us listening there’s a rumble of distress among pastors, a crying out for God to help in stuck places; but, also an uncertainty about where to start or what resources to use. I’m thankful to BMA leaders who saw this growing need; stepped up to take away some of the guesswork; provided a biblical place to start; and gave instruction to help pastors build a team to start with, and discover along-side. 

We see pastors sacrificing to seek God’s vision for their church. One pastor put retirement on hold and committed three years to the Activate journey, believing in God for answers and next steps. That church is now unified as a body and sold out to the new vision God has given them. We hear about hard changes that turned out to reap amazing blessing, people stepping up to lead like never before, churches forming new discipleship initiatives, pastors opening up to other pastors about struggles, and outreach efforts being done with collectively changed hearts. 

 Some of these faith stories include our Activate huddle leaders who are our heroes. They take time from their already busy pastor schedules to facilitate a regional or online pastor huddle for prayer, sharpening and discipling. These huddles are open to pastors who aren’t BMA affiliated, and we pray they will become bridges to our association. 

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that this ministry has been targeted by the enemy. There have been obstacles along the way including serious health battles, lack of financial support, minimal man-power, changes in staffing, and heavy temptation to overload and out-pace ourselves. 

I joke sometimes that we just keep rowing the boat. In truth, God has kept this little ministry going in His goodness, for His purposes, even in the middle of seasons where we were still figuring things out or didn’t know what the future would hold. It’s been humbling to sit in acknowledgment that we’ve had deficits; that there were times we got stuck and couldn’t deliver the next thing we’d been praying about, or that we tried something that didn’t work. 

Ironically, God is helping us take Activate through Activate. We’ve gathered pastors, directors, and huddle leaders and have gotten feedback to evaluate our present reality. We’ve celebrated victories and given praise to the Lord. We’ve bent our knees, gotten real about our failures, and said so. We’ve re-visited God’s vision for the ministry; made sure our values reflect greater humility, more balance, and a true heart of love for every single pastor and every single church that might seek resourcing. We never want to stop learning and applying God’s wisdom. 

As pastor advocate, my role is to listen to the needs of BMA pastors and churches, to coach through Activate materials, and to speak on their behalf. If we can help with an area of resourcing we don’t currently have available, we want to know. We’re mindful of pastors and understand a bi-vocational pastor will have a different schedule and challenges. 

 We recognize that pastors know their church and community best and we give them freedom to adapt Activate tools to fit their environment. We encourage pastors to start with our prayer trainings believing prayer-positioned churches will make change that’s Holy Spirit led.”

You can contact Heidi (Heidi@bmaam.com) to learn more about the Activate Initiative!