This week I am reviewing a workshop I went to last Friday, featuring Bob Russell, formerly the preaching minister of the large mega-church Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, KY (attendance around 18,000 per weekend).
Russell gave five challenges that ministers face today:
- The economic downturn
- Stark generational differences
- Increased cultural wars
- Postmodern thinking
- Unrealistic expectations on the part of the people.
In response, he talked about how do we respond?
1. Rely on God.
- Always remember: We preach to an audience of one.
Cal: I think this is the only way to do most of the rest of the list.
2. Maintain your composure and integrity even when you have a reason not to.
- Kipling: If you can keep your head when all around you are losing theirs; you’ll be a man, my son.”
- Don’t use temper, porn, etc. as an escape
- Pain is God’s spotlight.
- 1 Peter 2:23: When he was abused, he did not return abuse; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he entrusted himself to the one who judges justly.
Cal: this has been my struggle over the past five months.
3. Quit comparing & complaining & looking for greener pastures.
- Ill of Russell’s book“When God Builds a Church” and “Purpose Driven Church”—both books came out at the same time. Hard not to compare.
Cal: ditto on what I said on #2
4. Get a life outside of the church.
- Importance of shifting gears.
- Too often our wives get the leftovers of our emotions & energies.
- Cal: I think that this is one of my greatest weaknesses. But I think that the failure to do this is a result, no a cause. Identifying too closely with a congregation; forgetting that you “work” for God, not for a board of elders or a congregation; believing that “if I just work a little bit harder/more/smarter that things will turn around.”
5. Either get happy or act happy!
- I Thess. 5:18
- Minirth & Meir: Happiness is a Choice.
- You can choose to be happy in your present ministry.
- Nobody wants to be around a whiner.
- Congregation will take on the tone that you set.
Cal: This one caused the most controversy. One of the pastors consistently held out that this was simply justifying hypocrisy and two-facedness. Russell conceded that on occasion, we can show people a non-happy side. But, he said, make it very rare and very short. I am not sure what I believe about this. I saw it an an internal attitude more than an external projection. I have to work first on BEING happy, or “acting my way into happiness.” What do you think about this??
6. Remember our primary calling & hold on to the power of preaching.
- Many times we don’t even use the word preaching. “Our teaching pastor will now come and share a message.”
- “Preaching doesn’t just matter but it is the most important thing that we do.”
- “Preaching is indispensible to Christianity” John Stott’s opening to Between Two Worlds.
- Words have power. Barak is President because he is a dynamic speaker. If that can happen with secular words, what can words do when they are ordained by God?
- “If you teach the book & apply the book where people live, it comes alive.”
- The preached word bridges the gaps between us and people who are very different from us.
Cal: more on preaching tomorrow.