Why a good pastor-teacher keeps repeating himself. Or herself.

“To write the same things again is no trouble for me, and it is a safeguard for you” (Philippians 3:1).

“Now, students, as I was saying….”

“Some of you in the congregation have heard me tell of the time….”

“To reiterate….”

“We’re in a series on “Steps to Finding the Perfect Church.”  Let’s begin by reviewing the first 153 principles which we covered last week….”

We all repeat ourselves, whether by intention or omission.  We seniors get accused of repeating the same stories over and over.  (I tell people I’m a pastor, and “Hey–it’s what we do!”)

The effective pastor-teacher not only may repeat himself, but must.  Good teaching involves something called  spaced repetition.  After saying something essential, the teacher goes on to something else or tells a story, then returns and repeats it, often making an additional point.

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What the pastor’s wife says about him matters a lot

“Let the wife see that she reverence her husband.”  (Ephesians 5:33) 

“My husband is always confident–and sometimes right.”  –What Mrs. Mark Devers says about her pastor-husband

My wife Margaret–a pastor’s wife for 52 years–was watching a panel discussion of some type or other in which four pastors’ wives were discussing their lives, their homes, and their husbands.  One said, “My job is to keep him grounded.  I tell him all those people at church see you as some kind of saint, but I saw you this morning in your underwear.”

The audience laughed; Margaret was offended.

She was embarrassed for that husband/pastor.  “It was unbecoming to him,” she said. “She could say that sort of thing to him in private, as a tease, but should not say it in public.  It was wrong.”

Wish we could take a poll at this point, and ask every spouse of a minister to register whether they agree or not.

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Why reading a book will always be golden

“I was amazed that some words on a page could change your life.” –Testimony of a woman in rehab last Monday night.  She had been in and out of jail more times than she could count, and in prison three times.  These days, she is a solid Christian woman with a strong testimony and a peace that passes understanding.

“I felt I had jewels in my mouth.”  –Frank McCourt, writing about his youth in Belfast.  When a teacher introduced the teenager to Shakespeare, a new world opened for him.  The movie “Angela’s Ashes,” based on McCourt’s book of the same name, showed him lying in the bathtub reading Shakespeare out loud.

In the last week, I have read five books.  Hey, I’m retired and some weeks the calendar is blessedly empty.  Those are great days for grabbing a book and disappearing into another world.

What’s funny about reading all those books last week–my wife thinks it’s more than a little bizarre–is that I read them all at the same time.  Which is to say, I would read one for an hour, then switch to another.  Some nights my bedtime reading was two of the books.  Friends ask if I mix up the story lines.  The answer is that about two sentences into the reading and I’m back in the world created by that author.

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Call it what you like, God calls it sin.

He who has little thoughts of sin never has big thoughts of God.  –Anonymous

Michigan State’s medical advisor to the nation’s champion acrobats has been sentenced to 175 years in prison for sexual transgressions.  (Update: More and more accusers keep surfacing with lurid stories of the crimes of this man, and judges keep adding years to his sentence.  He’d have to live several lifetimes to serve the complete sentence.)

Hundreds of young women have brought charges and accusations against him. They spoke through tears, telling how he ruined their lives.  To no one’s surprise, the doctor seemed unmoved by it all.  Anyone who would do such a thing has long ago hardened his heart toward God and rejected any thought of compassion toward his victims.  While the doctor did not deny touching these young girls, he explained, “I touched them medically, not sexually.”

Yeah, right.  The women–and the judge–thought otherwise.

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What she said at the start of the worship service changed everything.

Recently, as my wife and I settled into our favorite pew a few minutes before the morning worship service, we greeted the people around us.  The woman to our right was waiting for her husband, she said, and would not be remaining in that pew.  A couple of minutes later he arrived.

Before she left, the woman leaned over and said to my wife, “This is going to be a very difficult service.”  When Bertha asked why, she said, “I’m not at liberty to say.  But you’ll see.”

That changed everything for me in that service.

Our church is pastorless at the moment, so I knew we were not going to be hit with a resignation of our shepherd. Those are always tough. The staff is fairly depleted these days, and we have an interim pastor who flies in on weekends from another state.  We’re in the early stages of raising several million dollars for renovation, but that seems to be moving seamlessly.

I had no clue.

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The question for all church big-shots

“…who loves to be first among them” (III John 9).

I’ve known them in quite a number of churches. They have no trouble identifying themselves as the force to be reckoned with around this church.

If you are the visiting preacher, their words to you before or after the service will be an announcement, not a comment.  You will know you have heard from the control room of the universe.  You have heard the voice of God.  This man is in charge around here.

No one has to tell you.  You just know.

This one calls the shots.  Rules the roost. Throws his weight around.  Is the power behind the scene.

He loves to have the pre-eminence.  (See Diotrephes in III John, above.)

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Why your pastor isn’t as good as those professional speakers

On a website devoted to professional speakers, the author gave advice about “that great killer story you love to tell,” and then “the heart-rending windup.”  I imagine every speaker wants one each of those in his messages.

Then, the blogger dropped the bomb.

“After you get your speech down pat and you’ve given it a number of times and feel you’re effective, it’s time to start working on speech number two.”

I laughed out loud.

Speech number two?

These guys have one speech?  One???  And then, when all is going well, they add one more?

Pardon me while I sit down.

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How to be satisfied with your church no matter what

“What did you go out to see?” (Luke 7:25)

“What do you want me to do for you?” (Luke 18:41)

The other day during the worship service at our church, I had a revelation.

I now know something that had eluded me before.

I know the secret of people who come to church year in and year out and are never dissatisfied with what goes on there.  They like the preacher “enough,” they’re generally satisfied with the programs of the church, and you’ll not hear any carping coming from their direction.

They don’t require much of the church.

That’s it.  That’s their secret.

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