How one preacher feels on Sunday morning

“Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this life” (Acts 5:20).

I feel like I have a delivery to make.

I will drive 130 miles up the interstate and across some state highways, greet the members of Centreville, Mississippi, Baptist Church, and then join their worship service.  At the appointed time, I will rise and ask them to turn to Matthew 10.

All week long, I have lived in Matthew 10.  I’ve read it, thought about it, written about it, read about it, and talked to the Lord about it.  I feel I have a load to delivery.

When I drive South this afternoon, I will feel spent.  Empty. Unburdened.  And drained.

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Perhaps the most amazing thing the Lord told His disciples

“He who receives you receives me” (Matthew 10:40).

“He who hears you hears Me; he who rejects you  rejects Me” (Luke 10:16).

Imagine this scene:  You are about to go out and preach the Word of God.  You are devoted to your Lord, certain of the message, and sure of your call. But then….

You begin to worry about the kind of reception you will get.  Will I be effective? What if I’m not ready? What if they don’t like me?  I’m not that great a speaker.

That’s when you hear the most amazing words from the Lord.

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What unbelief looks like in a pastor

“The just shall live by faith” (Habakkuk 2:4; quoted in Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11; Hebrews 10:38).

“Whatsoever is not of faith is sin” (Romans 14:23).

In a real sense, the shepherd of one of the Lord’s churches demonstrates faith every time he goes about his business of tending to the flock, of preparing sermons, delivering the message, or stepping into a hospital room.

He never knows what God is going to do and lives in the hope and expectation that He will do something.  Anything!

But there is another sense, perhaps on a deeper level, in which this one called of God may send a different kind of message, one of unbelief and not of faith.

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When to fire a pastor

This is the most painful subject I ever deal with (and I write about plenty of them).

The very nature of church conflict demands that the pastor be found in the midst of the firestorm.  Sometimes, he is an innocent bystander, sometimes he inherited the problem, sometimes he is the problem and at all times he tries to be a healer.

In every case, he gets bloodied in the fray.

The church consultant we brought in to help us deal with a 30 year split in the congregation did his interviews, took his polls, and then announced, “McKeever is not this church’s problem.  But he has become the focus of it in the minds of many. So, I’m going to recommend that he leave and the church start afresh with someone new.”

Sheesh. Thanks a lot, friend.

But, that’s how it happens sometimes. You were trying to help the church and were downed by friendly fire, as we call it.

At other times, the pastor is neither a healer nor an innocent bystander. Sometimes, he is the problem and the congregation decides to take action.

The only question is “what action”?

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Roasting (and toasting) Dr. David Crosby

My good friend Dr. David Crosby is celebrating 20 years as pastor of the First Baptist Church of New Orleans.  Today, June 5, the church devoted the morning service to this, followed by a luncheon and a program consisting of a “roast,” with 6 speakers, of whom I was one.

What follows is my roast, with an explanation or two in italics along the way, followed by my “toast.”

Roasting….

“I’m honored today to stand before you to say a few words about a great American, a man beloved in New Orleans and elsewhere.  A man of great popularity who is held in high esteem.  He is a success any way you cut it.  A man of movie star looks, with a beautiful wife.

“But–enough about Donald Trump.  Let’s talk about David Crosby.

“David, you and I were both born on March 28.  Thirteen years apart.  No one looking at you today would ever believe you are that many years older than me.  Janet is clearly taking good care of you.”

“In June of 1996, when you first arrived in New Orleans, I was pastoring the First Baptist Church of Kenner, and had just had surgery. Since the doctor ordered me to rest up for three weeks, I was able to hear your first three sermons–the first two on live TV and the third in person.  I will never forget the subjects of your sermons.”

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The Effective Pastor will not say certain things.

Third in a series on The Effective Pastor.

Every parent, every teacher, and every pastor has things they believe strongly about, lines they will not cross.  Call them pet peeves or strong convictions, the leader will not go there.

As a pastor for over four decades and a minister for five-and-a-half, here are some statements you will never hear from me:

1. Will you lead us in a word of prayer?

The expression “a word of prayer” is a putdown.  It minimizes the value of prayer and the effectiveness of praying.  So, you will not hear me saying it.

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Why I participated in the work of the local association (even when pastoring the largest church in the city)

In our Southern Baptist Convention, the SBC churches in an area form themselves into an association. Usually, it’s the churches within one county, but often several counties (in Louisiana, counties are called “parishes”) go together to form an association.  Our New Orleans Baptist Association (called NOBA) comprises churches from the tip of the Mississippi River, 100 miles northward into New Orleans and beyond, which takes in the parishes of Plaquemines, St. Bernard, Orleans, Jefferson, St. Charles, and some in St. John the Baptist.

Here’s what often happens, as it did recently.

I’ll be preaching a revival in a middle-sized town somewhere in the South.  Often, I’ll meet with the pastors’ in the city and speak to them, maybe give them copies of one of my books.  At some point, I’ll ask the host pastor, “Does the pastor of the First Baptist Church attend these meetings?”

You would be distressed to know the answer is frequently, “Never.  They don’t participate in anything the association does.”

Big, big mistake.

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The effective pastor: Be the host.

(This is the first of a series of article on “The Effective Pastor.” )

This morning as I had breakfast in the hotel dining room, a tall blonde lady entered the room and called out, “Good morning, everyone.”

I figured she had to be the manager.

She was.

Terri told me later–as I sketched her–she had been on the job just two weeks. “Before, I managed a hotel in Opelika,” a few miles down the interstate.  I complimented her on the way she greeted people. And I told her something.

I work with pastors. And I have to remind some that they are the manager of this enterprise. They are the chief greeter. The mood-setter.  The actual worship leader.

They are the host.

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The nominating speech: When someone puts you up for elected office

“A certain slave girl possessed with a spirit….followed Paul and cried out, saying, ‘These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation.’ And this she did for many days.” (Acts 16:16-18)

When you decide to let your name be put up for an elected office–keep in mind, I write for pastors primarily–choose carefully your recommender.

The person giving the nominating speech can make you or break you.

It wasn’t so much that what the demon-possessed girl of Philippi said about Paul and Silas was wrong.  It’s only that she was crazy, pardon the expression.

She was not qualified to be recommending anyone.

Her recommendation was the worst thing imaginable.  People who knew her scoffed at the recommendation she gave these preachers.  I can hear them laughing. “If she thinks they are hot stuff, we’d better be careful. They’re probably as looney tunes as she is.”

Some recommendations are to be eschewed.  (After 14 years of blogging, this is the first occasion I’ve used “eschewed.”  It’s about time!)

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