Closing the back door is more about keeping the front door wide open. The spirit and atmosphere that makes a church inviting is the same spirit and atmosphere that makes people want to stay.
Church leaders have been talking about “closing the back door” for years. It’s a good conversation. After all, it is frustrating to see visitors come, people say yes to Jesus, get baptized and maybe even attend a new Christian’s class. And yet, the church still struggles to grow. People seem to be coming in the front and going out the back.
During my first six months at Newport-Mesa as pastor, the church emptied out. You could have fired a shotgun in the sanctuary on Sunday morning and not hit anybody. Even the church finances began drying up. I had been faithful to build on the strengths God had given me, but I was a total failure.
That’s when I came face to face with another principle of godly leadership. It’s not enough to build on your own strengths, because they’re not enough to build God’s kingdom.
As a pastor, I’ve always found it difficult to talk about money, but I decided to bring the problem to the board. I asked the seven deacons to begin meeting me every Saturday at 6 a.m. for breakfast at a restaurant where we could have a private table. We would do three things: eat breakfast, pray and decide what bills to pay during the upcoming week.
Recently, I did an article on “7 Women Pastors Need to Watch Out For.” Someone who just read it wanted to know why we put the blame on the women when pastors are more likely to be the sexual predator.
“Google that,” she suggested, “and see for yourself.” My only defense is that in the body of the article, we said, “Sometimes women are the victims; sometimes they are the victimizers.” However, my critic is correct. And thus, what follows …
I’ve known more than one pastor who was a sexual predator. And if it makes readers feel any better, every one of them is out of the ministry now.
Pastor Jeff is at it again—this is his third week in a row without a break.
Monday is his day off, and he takes it. But most weeks, it looks like this:
1. Get up early to “enjoy” time with the kids (who are not morning people and therefore not very enjoyable).
2. Then, once the kids are off, he sits to have quiet time. Lately, whenever he opens the Scriptures, he sees options for his next sermon and starts jotting them down.
3. The morning quickly fades, and the “honey do” list needs attention. Jeff mows the lawn, fixes the gutter and trims the hedges.
4. To ease stress on the family and give his wife a break, Jeff decides to make dinner.
5. The kids need shepherding through chores and homework and, at long last, it is time for real rest.
6. But it is almost bedtime, and tomorrow morning is staff meeting. Jeff takes a few moments to collect his thoughts for Tuesday and finally falls asleep.
The subject of mental illness is very controversial in Christian circles. Inside the extreme schools of thought, we find balance and a scriptural viewpoint.
First, let me say clearly: All mental illness is not the result of demonic attack. Further, good psychological care from Christian professionals is vital and in order when an individual is struggling.
Also, professionally administered medication may be necessary when chemical imbalances occur. But when normal medicine and therapy do not result in a cure, then it is possible that these symptoms could point to demonic operation.