Ministry Roadblock: The Priority of Comfort

I have a recliner that I love to sit in because it is comfortable – and I like being comfortable. The problem is that once I sit down in that recliner I get lazy. Productivity slows to a snail’s pace and very little is accomplished. Whenever I place the priority on comfort, my effectiveness is threatened.

In the same way, the priority of comfort can kill the effectiveness of the church. Too many people are unwilling to move outside of their comfort zones so that God can work.

The Background  

In Numbers 13 we see that the nation of Israel was in a location called Kadesh Barnea. This was a place where God had given them everything they needed. As a result, they had grown comfortable. God’s plan was to take them into the Promised Land, an even greater place, so they could expand and enjoy greater blessing.

However, the Israelites were not convinced. They sent twelve spies into the Promised Land to see if conquering it was as much of a possibility as God said it was. After weighing all the evidence, they placed the priority on comfort and ultimately missed God’s blessing.

Lessons To Learn

1- God has a plan that is greater than you can imagine.

God was going to give the Israelites a land that would more than meet every need they would ever have. However, they didn’t understand the magnitude of God’s plan.

2- What God intends to be a blessing and an opportunity, many people will see as an insurmountable challenge.

The spies went into the land and verified that it was the greatest land they had ever seen. “However” (vs. 28) they began focusing on the challenges and the potential threats.

We are setting ourselves up for failure and an insignificant existence anytime our churches focus on the challenges of moving forward more than the promises and provision of God.

3- A focus on the challenge more than a focus on God can lead to loss.

Israel looked at the challenges and responded with fear and doubt. They were unwilling to leave their comfort zone. They ignored the fact that God had already guaranteed victory.

4- God will not force His plan on us.

The nation of Israel wandered in the desert for 40 years until that generation of unbelieving cowards died off.

Closing Thoughts

There are too many people in churches across America who will not get out of their comfort zones and meet the challenges facing the Church. They would rather sit in their recliner, in a state of comfort, than get up and claim God’s blessings.

Our comfort zones must take a backseat to the plans of God. Until they do, our churches will be left to wander in the wilderness of idleness, never accomplishing much of anything for God.

 

The Family: A Casualty of a Hectic Church Calendar

As I sit in my normal place of writing this morning, my mind is rushing through the multiplicity of church services, activities, Bible studies, dinners, fellowships, trips, meetings, and other events that are on the church calendar.

Here is an honest question: Can all the activities in and connected to the church actually hurt families?

I’ve been on both sides of this. I have been the church member trying to do everything that is “expected” at church while not dropping anything from the juggling act of a busy life.

I am now a pastor wrestling with how much is too much—not  wanting to upset people by eliminating their favorite program, activity, service, or ministry, but also not wanting to see families stretched too thin—driven to the point of spiritual burnout and church abandonment.

The Tension

How do churches offer what Christians need, as presented in Scripture, without the calendar of events becoming a point of stress, burnout, and frustration for families?

The Solutions- What We Must Realize

1- What people sometimes expect may not be what is needed.

2- If you lose the family, you lose the church.

3- Our purpose as a church, as defined by Scripture, should drive our calendars.

4- Activity does not always equal productivity.

5- We need to do less. It’s not really as simple as it sounds, at least not in my context, but I think it is needed.

6- Constantly being at the church building does not necessarily mean the church family is really living in community.

7- It is possible for a church to ‘activity’ and ‘program’ itself to death.

Closing Thoughts

My heart breaks for families that are at a place of spiritual burnout.

Perhaps our lives should be less invested in church events and more invested in the people of the church.

Perhaps in making church events less a part of our schedules we will in reality be making the Church more a part of our lives.

 

5 Reasons Pastors Must Teach Doctrine

Biblical doctrine is at the core of the Christian faith. Throughout the centuries, the Church has used creeds and catechisms to teach doctrine. The concern was not on felt needs, but on core biblical truths. As the church has moved away from a focus on doctrine, its purity has lessened, its witness has weakened, and its impact for eternity has diminished. The key to regaining strength in our churches is to refocus our attention on biblical doctrine. Here are 5 reasons you, as a pastor, should be committed to teaching doctrine.

1- It is the foundation for Christian living.

Doctrine provides the foundation for Christian living. That is why in many of Paul’s writings such as Romans and Ephesians, the first half of the book is doctrinal and the second half is practical – focused on Christian living. When people are not taught doctrine, they miss out on the basis for correct living.

2- It enables our people to refute error.

The best way to guard against false doctrine is to consistently teach true doctrine. We live in a world that is filled with a plethora of cults and religions, each desiring to add people to their belief system. We will never be able to refute error unless we are first grounded in truth.

It is not enough to simply know what we believe; we also need to know why we believe. That requires that we teach doctrine.

3- We are commanded to teach doctrine.

The Bible commands pastors to preach the Word (2 Timothy 4:2). Imbedded in this command is the idea of preaching and teaching all of God’s Word, not just the parts we find easy or interesting. If we refuse to teach doctrine, we will end up ignoring much of Scripture.

4- It is through doctrine that we learn about God.

Doctrine points us directly to God. The more we study doctrine, the more we learn about the nature and character of God, the depth of human sinfulness, and the glory of God’s grace as demonstrated through Christ. Simply preaching to felt needs does not ultimately take us to the nature of who God is.

5- It helps lead to healthy churches.

Preaching and teaching doctrine will help our churches be healthier. Why? The church is the gospel made visible. As such, we need to understand the doctrine at the core of the gospel. The better we understand doctrine, the more clearly we can manifest the realities of the gospel through the life of the local church.

Be committed to teaching and preaching doctrine and you will see many benefits in your church.