Local Church

The Local Church and Abortion

The Local Church and Abortion

The intertwining co-existence of government and personal faith have rarely worked in each other’s favor. Yet when I look at Bible, I dare to hope for an answer for us as the Local Church today. No one is hopeless when it comes to the issue of abortion. 

With Scripture as our source for living, we are not without examples of what to do when our hearts are burdened to the point of grief. In times of despair and disheartenment, Jesus prayed. So, we pray. In the midst of political chaos and uproar, Daniel fasted. So, we fast. We affirm with the Old Testament prophets, voices speaking up for the innocent. So, we shout and proclaim truth. 

But when the passion of our boiling blood settles to a low heat and the topic fades into the back of the news headlines, when we feel helpless and possibly unable to enact immediate change, when the attentions of our routine life steal the importance of this issue which has bounced back and forth in the realm of focus for decades – where do we stand beyond the short-term? 

During government-ordered abortions in Exodus Ch. 2, we see a combination of responses from people of faith, just like us. Midwives Shiphrah and Puah were not compliant and equivalently protested. Moses’ sister watched, waited and offered guidance in the right direction. Moses’ mother served in the gap to ensure life was guaranteed.

Just as I see examples of faith giants in the age of abortion thousands of years ago, I also see a model for consistent long-term action on our end as The Local Church. We’ve each as a body been sovereignly assigned people within our care outside of the church doors. Today we typically call this a community. 

To our community, our preaching may fall on deaf hears. Our words may be misunderstood. But, there are godly solutions. Here are ways we can build for great Kingdom impact in addition to our devotions and disciplines of prayer, fasting, and proclaiming:

5 Seconds And 10 Words That Wrecked My Life

5 Seconds And 10 Words That Wrecked My Life

I was not familiar with the name Nettie Cooper before April 23, 2018. I’ve still yet to have the chance of meeting her. I’ll be as honest to say that at this point I may not recognize her even if we were standing in the same room together.

Though her face and physical stature stood only briefly in my memory, her chosen words that filled a crowded sanctuary on that April evening are immovable and inerasable.

It was the first night of the 2018 Louisiana District Council for Assemblies of God ministers. Nostalgia was the guest of choice in the room as the District’s campground was the host location for the annual meeting.

Generations were united. Though some decades apart in age, Baby Boomers and Gen Z’s alike could walk along the same path and both say with gratefulness, “This is where I experienced the Lord.”

A proud companion to Nostalgia goes by the name of Honor.

One certainly makes for a sore celebration guest without the other. In fact, the only thing that makes Nostalgia so pleasant is its paired attention with Honor. Pleasant and powerful feelings of the past only continue when we can identify and attribute the source that brought about those moments to begin with.

Honor was certainly in attendance with us that night. Firstly, honoring and praising God – the ultimate source -- and then honoring each other. This is how I came to hear from Sister Nettie Cooper.

Pastors Were Never Meant to Know Everyone

Pastors Were Never Meant to Know Everyone

For one year, Kayla and I actively served on the Kids Team at a church in Baton Rouge, LA. We asked to be scheduled twice a month -- and in some cases three times. Although this commitment was more than expected, we loved it that much.

The more we were around and served, the more the leaders engaged with us. We knew the Kids Pastors and staff more than just a quick "hello" on a Sunday morning. We often talked about the church, the vision, and how we were challenged by the messages.

During our entire time serving and attending this church we never once had a conversation with the Lead Pastor. We never even shook his hand. 

... and I thought this was normal!

I had no church background prior to attending this church. When I committed my life to Jesus, I started attending a church, reading my Bible, and eventually serving. Through my discovery of Christianity and my experience at that church, I never expected to know the pastor personally.

Fast forward six years -- a couple of new churches -- and many personal conversations later and I've realized my prior expectation is in the extreme minority. In fact, I've often heard this popular statement: "I just need to go to a church where I know the pastor."

Can I lovingly nudge your perspective for a few paragraphs? My suggestion is that despite what we may think, pastors were never intended to have a close relationship with every person in their church.

I think that this perspective correlates with the fact that 90 percent of churches stay less than 200 people in attendance. I don't fault people for desiring a close relationship with other people -- however our expectations that the person should be our pastor is misguided.

Let's think about it.

The first pastor in the Bible was Moses. It was physically impossible for him to be close with his people. Why? There were millions of them. In fact, so overwhelmed by the administration of leading millions, his father-in-law suggested he develop other leaders to meet the needs of the people.

When Jesus arrived on the scene, many instantly decided to follow Him after witnessing His teachings and signs. As His followers increased, He always stayed close to his 12 disciples.

When the Church exploded on the scene in Acts, we quickly see the apostles couldn't handle everything and everyone. They had to raise up team leaders (elders) to lead areas of ministry.

As Paul started planting churches, he would arrive to towns, preach the Gospel, develop leaders and leave. As the churches continued growing, they continued to develop leaders. It's why Paul spent most of his time writing letters to leaders and churches. There was no way Paul could personally know everyone -- even in churches he personally planted.

In fact, the roles God assimilates in the church -- apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers -- were designed for this one functionality.

The Task of Engaging Young Leaders in a Rural Church

The Task of Engaging Young Leaders in a Rural Church

With butterfly’s in my stomach I ran out of the tunnel from the locker room to our high school football stadium. It was the biggest game of the year – Leominster vs. Fitchburg – on Thanksgiving Day. So big in fact that this rivalry of neighboring towns has been played since 1894.

As we approached the sidelines I looked at a teammate and said, “Where is everyone?” I was naïve because this specific game broke 15,000 in attendance, but it looked empty in my eyes.

Growing up I couldn’t comprehend small or rural America. I didn’t even know such towns existed. I grew up 40 miles outside Boston (673,000). I eventually moved to Baton Rouge (227,000) and spent a short span of time in New York City (8.5 million).

Endless food options paired with a Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks on every corner was the norm to me. Fun activities and the general personality of a large city was always on display. There was never a dull moment to be found.

This past December, Kayla and I went on vacation to Los Angeles (3.9 million). At this point though, we lived in towns of 4,009 and 4,652 for the previous six years.

It was a Sunday and we were making our way to the Griffith Observatory in LA. The Observatory was only seven miles from our hotel. It took us 45 minutes to get to our destination. I looked at Kayla and screamed, “Bring me back to my town of 5,000 people!”

I never thought I’d live – or enjoy living – in a small town. Maybe that's because this isn’t the case for most people my age. Because of this it’s becoming more difficult for churches in rural locations to not only employ young leaders, but engage with millennials in their communities.

It's My Pleasure: 6 Lessons For the Church from Chick-fil-A

It's My Pleasure: 6 Lessons For the Church from Chick-fil-A

Upon graduating college, Chick-fil-A was not the place I envisioned myself landing. Endless amounts of chicken and the growing infatuation for chicken (plus two pickles) sandwiches seemed less than the bright future anticipated. Thankfully, it was the exact job God planted me in to grow my love for people, not poultry.

While my time with CFA recently ended, what I gained from the company never will. Forgetting the times I spilt three gallons of sweet tea on the floor and had to remake 150 homemade biscuits, I’ll pass along the valuable lessons learned during the past 13 months.

1. It’s my pleasure! Or is it?

Chick-fil-A is known for having the most caring team members around, workers who take pride and pleasure in what they do. While working at my most recent restaurant, many guests posed the question, “Why is everyone here so nice?!”

Here’s the secret; the hiring process for Chick-fil-A is brutal and hard to get through. Operators only hire the cream of the crop in group interviews and stacks of applications. If it’s not going to be their pleasure serving others, then Chick-fil-A is not the company for them. In the words of a former operator, “the paycheck is not the reason they should be applying at this company.”

When considering if a ministry/a church volunteer position is for your or someone else, take a close look at the reason why. If serving others isn’t the top reason, it’s not a good fit for the church.

2. Stop stocking Polynesian.

The first faces of a Chick-fil-A restaurant are the front counter crew. If someone on the frontline isn’t taking an order, their first trained reaction is to clean and their second is to stock.

Know what America’s favorite dipping sauce is? Most guess Chick-fil-A sauce, but it’s surprisingly Polynesian sauce. With a high demand for the beloved, tangy sweet-and-sour sauce, many on the frontline find themselves keeping occupied and being on task by stocking Polynesian when the lines get low.

Unfortunately, if all eyes stay too long on the task, the guests are ignored.

Where are our eyes in the presence of guests? Is it on the church budget, the worship team set up, the attendance … or on the needs of those we have a moment with? There’s a difference in completing a task and actually doing our job.