The Temple

Amazing Grace in the Coliseum in Rome

Here is a great rendition of Amazing Grace, tough to do an old classic impressively, but the environment helps, and they sing pretty good too.

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March 3, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized, Worship | , , | 18 Comments

The Energetic Pastor

In the Federalist Papers, Alexander Hamilton writes about the position of President, and in Federalist Paper 70 he raises the issue of Energy in the Executive.  The fledgling union was struggling to put together a form of government that recognized the strength of a single Executive without the abuses of the monarchy from which they were extricating themselves.  Hence an article on the very idea of a necessary energetic executive in the running of the government.  In his article Hamilton speaks of the ingredients that lend to good energy in the Executive office:

“A feeble Executive implies a feeble execution of the government. A feeble execution is but another phrase for a bad execution; and a government ill executed, whatever it may be in theory, must be, in practice, a bad government.

“Taking it for granted, therefore, that all men of sense will agree in the necessity of an energetic Executive, it will only remain to inquire, what are the ingredients which constitute this energy? How far can they be combined with those other ingredients which constitute safety in the republican sense? And how far does this combination characterize the plan which has been reported by the convention?

“The ingredients which constitute energy in the Executive are, first, unity; secondly, duration; thirdly, an adequate provision for its support; fourthly, competent powers.”

Our new President is especially in need of the substantive ingredients constituting energy.  Elections are about the presentation and perception of “energy”.  We are sold on a prospective candidates potential energy, and then the test of office demonstrates whether that “energy” is real or contrived.  Barak Obama faces a challenge as large as any of our previous presidents, our hope is that he proves himself energetic.

Interestingly enough, there is a correspondence between the office of President and the office of Pastor, and the need for an “energetic Pastor”.  The same four characteristics are necessary for a pastor to provide energy to his office, and to energize the mission of the church.

Unity

Unity refers to a capacity to make singular the direction of an institution.  Hamilton was concerned with the distinction of King and President. The question became can we remove the tyranny that typically accompanies a singular executive, that is the king.  The challenge became, can we maintain unity in the executive with a team?  The answer was negative.  As a result, the idea of President as a singular executive, Truman’s the buck stops here, was affirmed in Federalist 70.

So in churches, a common element contributing to health is a singular, powerful pastor figure.  In the pastorate, even more so than in the Presidency, unity is a necessary component.  Church affiliation is voluntary.  Church allegiance is transitory.  Church support is negotiable, and a method of voting.  To attract and keep people, the pastor must walk the fine line of exercising authority and leadership while maintaining and integrating the necessary plurality of leadership that is prescribed in the Scripture.

One of the keys to unity is the clarity of the plan and direction (clear vision and mission) that is framed from a Biblical perspective.  Unity in the church, and hence unity that flows from the pastor, is a unity that is derived from and submissive to the true head, that is Christ.  This must define the leaders self-perception.  If he is selfish and arrogant he can still be strong and unify a group, but it is not the purpose of the church simply to have strong organizations.  It is the purpose of the church to embody Christ.  When the pastor embodies Christ personally, professionally and directionally he imparts that strong presence to the body, who in fact resonate with all the above as a result of their organic resonance with Christ, hence the pastor.

The unity desired in the body is a special unity.  It is derived from the Spirit, and submitted to by the body.  Hence the competency (see below) of the pastor becomes a key factor in achieving Biblical, Christ-centered and derived unity.

Duration

It goes without saying (doesn’t it?) that in order to achieve Godly results, duration is a necessary component.  Life change may begin with a big bang, a dramatic birthing and beginning, but its growth is elongated.  Our microwave culture mitigates against duration.  We want it now, and we encourage surface and apparent change.  The words “persevere” and “suffer long” are not popular modern Christian terms.

As far as the executive is concerned, duration becomes the appraisal of fitness for ministry.  It is easy to preach one sermon, teach a series, give people my best for a year.  It is a whole different matter to endure before a congregation.  When a group of people can watch you raise your family in their midst, they learn more than any parenting series you could teach.  The church is about life together (thanks Dietrich), and living together takes time. We need more pastors, and more people to stick around and stay put.   Sure, it points out my weaknesses, but presents just more opportunity to point to the true leader.

Support

I have discovered that the church government is not American government.  Church leadership is not about checks and balances, or competing entities striving to get their own way or wield power.  Church leadership is about support.  Church leadership is the stage upon which the church learns how to treat “one another”.  All the one another passages of Scripture are to be played out by the leadership of any church to display what it means to live with one another, to forbear with one another, to encourage one another, to be at peace with one another, to serve one another.

An energetic executive cultivates an atmosphere of support.  He does that by first being a strong support.  The daily work of the pastor is where support is cultivated.  There are some old fashioned pastoring techniques that should be revisited here to achieve the requisite support necessary to build the church.  Ultimately, people give to churches monetarily because they support the pastor.  They support the pastor because he first supported them.

Competency

Uh-oh.  Is the term “Competent Pastor” an oxymoron?  Is there a corollary to the phrase, “those who can’t do, teach” for the ministry?

There is a requisite humility required to pastor.  I often ask the question “who am I?” when reflecting on my role as a pastor.  It is truly a humbling vocation.  With the humility there must be a confidence without which no executive can exert energy.  This confidence must reflect an accurate assessment of competency.

The pastor must be competent in the following areas:

  • Spiritual health, growth
  • Integrity
  • The Scriptures
  • The mind
  • Relationships
  • Communication

I am sure there are many more.  But these seem like the critical areas to me.  Too many pastors are incompetent. This incompetence covers the gamut from big to small churches.  We often ascribe competence to church size, another accommodation to culture.  Pastoral competence (sometimes) has nothing to do with church size.  Many small church pastors are incompetent, and some large church pastors display incompetence in the above areas.  They probably have a rare competence that leads to the large church experience, but are woefully incompetent in many Biblical pastoral ways.

So there it is guys, for those of you who are pastors/elders in churches, what do you think of the list?

February 26, 2009 Posted by | Christianity, Church, Leadership, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Penn Says: A Gift of a Bible

Penn Jillette has a lot to say about religion, he is an atheist, but here is a provocative video where he tells of someone who gave him a Bible. He says some interesting things that Christians should remember when talking to unbelievers:

  • He was complimentary
  • He said nice stuff
  • He gave me…
  • He looked me in the eye
  • He made it personal (Penn says: “He said I wrote in the front of it, wanted you to have it)
  • He was not defensive
  • He was truly complimentary, kind, nice, sane, looked me in the eye
  • He cared enough about me to talk to me

Here are some other things he said about the encounter and evangelism (proselytizing):

  • It was really wonderful
  • I don’t respect people who don’t proselytize
  • How much do you have to hate people to not proselytize, if you really believe heaven and hell is at stake?
  • He cared enough about me to talk to me

Not all atheists and unbelievers are interested in being evangelized, but everyone is interested when you care about them. Evangelism must be driven by unadulterated love for the person you are speaking to. It is not a debate or an argument, it is an expression of care and concern.

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February 5, 2009 Posted by | Atheism, Christian Living, Christianity, Philosophy, Uncategorized | , , , , | 3 Comments

Why Does the Wedding Ring go on 4th Finger?

Fun video, irritating audio, but worthwhile anyway…

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February 5, 2009 Posted by | Culture - Values, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Quotes

Thanks to TV and for the convenience of TV, you can only be one of two kinds of human beings, either a liberal or a conservative.

– Kurt Vonnegut

Maybe this world is another planet’s hell.

– Aldous Huxley

January 6, 2009 Posted by | Quotes, Uncategorized | , , | 1 Comment

Proposition 8 & The Church

I do not intend this post to be an endorsement for or against Proposition 8 rather to raise some issues as to how the church involves itself in issues like the one surrounding Proposition 8.

The Proposition

Proposition 8 is an initiative on the 2008 California General Election Ballot.  If passed it would force an amendment to the California Constitution to include the statement “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.”

“Prop. 8 is About Preserving Marriage; It’s Not an Attack on the Gay Lifestyle. Proposition 8 doesn’t take away any rights or benefits from gays or lesbians in domestic partnerships.  Under California law, “domestic partners shall have the same rights, protections and benefits” as married spouses. (Family Code §297.5.) There are no exceptions. Proposition 8 will not change this.” (This is from “Protect Marriage – Yes on 8” Campaign)

The Position

There is a great deal of heat surrounding the proposition and the Constitutional amendment.  I just watched a half hour video mailed to the church free of charge from AFA (You can watch the video at American Family Association) calling on churches to inform their congregations to register and to vote for Proposition 8.  The video was full of clips from homosexual “marriages” performed in courthouses soon after the California Supreme Court ruled that Proposition 22 (passed in 2000 by California voters) was unconstitutional and opened the door for gay marriage in California.  It also made it clear that it was the duty of every pastor to get the word out to their congregations to register to vote and to vote yes on Proposition 8.

The Problem

The problems raised by the amendment and the PR campaign are numerous and regardless of your position, conversation on the process is a must. Political rhetoric has its own rules and agendas. When the church gets pulled into the “silly season” Continue reading

September 23, 2008 Posted by | Christian Living, Christianity, Church, Culture - Values, Ethics, Politics, Politics and Religion, Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 55 Comments

Hillsong – Your Name High

September 19, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized, Worship | , , | 1 Comment

What I am Watching

The Good Life…Sunset on my bike ride from Saturday, Monday morning view at the beach.

August 18, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence


This 13th century Christmas Hymn is a good example of marvelous lyrics with a timeless tune. This version, by Fernando Ortega, is really good. The video is not bad either, some of the connections are sketchy, but the opening and closing are good.
Take some weekend time to be silent before the Lord…

But the LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him.

Habakkuk 2:20

August 9, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | 1 Comment

New Blog

Everybody I recruit to blogging has a more popular site than me….boo hoo

Visit my wife’s blog, Substantive Education (she is giving me advice right now)(she says I need it)…

July 24, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments