I believe very strongly in decision paralysis. People cling to the idea that the more options you have the more freedom you have. There’s just one issue: many people become less decisive with more options. Pretend you had never eaten cereal a day in your life and I take you to the grocery store. Which one do you choose? (If your answer is anything but Lucky Charms or Cinnamon Toast Crunch, you are wrong). Churches fall prey to this. They offer fourteen baker’s dozens of programming and simply ask you to “get involved” in some of them. And then, before you know it, you are a community group leader, a greeter, on a steering committee for the worship ministry, and a table host at the new member’s class. Then the prospective member asks this (horrifying) question:
How do you see me involved in this church body?
It’s a threat level midnight kind of question. . .
Have you ever thought about how many careers exist in our world because sin exists? I’ve recently been able to give it more thought than usual as I prepared to preach this Sunday from Acts 19. A quick summary of the passage: Paul preached in Ephesus, people were coming to faith in Jesus, and other people were getting annoyed. Enter Demetrius–a man who made a significant amount of money making idols for people to purchase. Needless to say, some people’s newfound faith in Jesus started to shrink the pocket of our friend Demy (what I affectionately call him).
I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like this before. Jim Standridge, a pastor in Oklahoma, takes about five minutes during a sermon to individually call out members of his congregation and address some of his frustrations with them.
Let me say this: I know people hated the rant, but I get it. I didn’t like it, but I get it. . .
There are some sermons you preach that you wish you could’ve stretched into many, many more sermons. This past Sunday was one of those. Acts 18:24-19:20 (a chunk of Paul’s third missionary journey) has so many stories that I could’ve preached it over the course of four or five or six weeks. But more on that in a second. . .
We were out of town at Family Camp this past week. I’m not much on jumping up and down, loud cheers, and other high-energy things, but I love going there. This was our second year and we plan, Lord willing, to get there next year. Getting back into the pulpit after nine(ish) days of vacation with the family is good and bad. Good because I missed The Oaks (though The Oaks is always in great hands when I’m gone—better than my own). Bad because I was gone for nine days and didn’t think much about preaching (replace “much” with “at all”).
We work on sermons about 17 days out in these parts so it wasn’t the preparation that really bothered me, as a lot of that was done a few weeks ago; but it was simply getting back in the groove and into this super-long passage. . .
Ever rented a car and had the rental company’s insurance? You know what happens. “It’s a rental,” you say. Translation: I can do what I want with it. It can get stolen, broken, crashed, bashed, and destroyed. Why? It isn’t mine. It is someone else’s.
Ok, young and hip pastor, here’s my question: who are your people? When you stand before Jesus and give an account for how you cared for His church and the people he entrusted to your care, how will you answer that?
“Well, I had lunch with every single person who came to my church.”
“I only talked to my friends.”
“I personally followed-up with ever first, second, third, and fourth-time visitor.”
“I led a church-wide fantasy football league.”
This issue is not insignificant, but can be treated as such. Pastors/Elders of churches have to be able to oversee their people; and, thus, they must know what is meant by “their people.”