Churches in a Time of Rage

I had one thought about the hurt, anger and even violence during and after Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings: How does the church minister in such a time of rage?   If, as Andrew Breitbart observed, “politics is downstream from culture” then the Kavanaugh hearings proved that the divide between the right and the left in modern America isn’t just political. There’s a deeper rift that has to do with perspective, expectations and even with the immaterial parts of life that some call spiritual. What emerged as the hearings dragged on was already there and simply waiting for the right moment to erupt into plain view.   The sources of rage […]

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Church Planters Looking for a Costly Faith

Church planters have the most difficult job in ministry. They uproot their families, move to a place of spiritual need and figure out a way to gather people into a congregation. All while wrestling with logistical problems, financial need and the immature behavior that always goes with new believers. What they do isn’t for the faint of heart.   My wife and I were on the west coast earlier this week and saw what I’m talking about first hand.   The picture at the top is of Pam and me and two church planting families that our church sent out in the last 18 months. Pam and I are on the left. On the far right are Kevin and Jennifer. Trevor and […]

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How to Wait for a Hurricane

It’s 9:00 Friday morning and like everyone else around me I’m counting the hours until Hurricane Florence hits. This storm is so unpredictable that nobody really knows where it’s going or how much destruction it will cause when it gets there. The only thing any of us knows for sure is the anxiety that goes before it. Waiting like this can drive you a little crazy.   For the half million or so who live on the North Carolina and South Carolina coasts, the waiting is over. Florence is pounding onto land at this very moment and those in her path are even now battling wind and water. Many are […]

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What I’ve Learned about Empty Nest as a Military Parent

Empty nest is the challenging season of life that parents go through when their children leave home. While it’s a mixed bag of emotions under any circumstances, many military parents have an especially hard time of it because the distance between them and their adult children isn’t measured so much by miles as it is by experience.   My wife and I are part of that group. Since our son recently deployed for the second time, after moving with his family to the west coast, we’ve been thrown into the empty nest years with a vengeance and are learning first-hand how great the distance can be between parents and their […]

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Time Out: When Pastors Take a Break

I return to my church this morning after a month-long break, so it’s a good time to do what the Army calls an after action review. That’s when you debrief what happened, why it happened and how to improve next time.   It’s cheaper for a church to give its pastor a few weeks off every five years than to bring on a new one every seven What my church and I agreed to was a sabbatical—time off for personal renewal—something many churches are adopting as a way of keeping their pastoral leadership fresh and on point. I blogged about two previous sabbaticals here and here. The expectations of pastors are so […]

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Reset–When Pastors Go on Sabbatical

The last Sunday of June my church told me to go away and not come back until August.   Before you think this was just another congregation running their preacher off or one of those dysfunctional relationships where two conflicted parties needed a break from each other, let me assure you it was just the opposite.   My church–a gracious and generous congregation–gave me the month of July away from my pastoral duties as a sabbatical, a planned time away from my pastoral responsibilities. They do this every five years for our ministerial staff and speaking for all of us on the ministry team, it’s an incredible gift.   “Sabbatical” […]

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Vice President Pence Speaks to the Southern Baptist Convention

I’ve tried all week to describe the two story lines of this week’s convention. The first was the celebration of worldwide missions that’s our reason for existence. We’re passionate about taking the message of Jesus to the world.   The second story line was the hand off of leadership to a new, younger generation, something that didn’t go as smooth as it could have but at the end of the day had to take place.   But Vice President Mike Pence introduced an altogether different narrative when he spoke Wednesday morning: our denomination’s connection with a single political party and its agenda. Even though I had voted for him to […]

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Southern Baptists Are Changing

Southern Baptists aren’t what they used to be–and Tuesday’s developments at the convention are proof.   Right out of the gate at 8:30AM a challenge was made to the order of business. Vice President Mike Pence had been invited to address the meeting today, but Garrett Kell, a young Virginia pastor, brought a motion to not allow Pence to speak and instead spend the time in corporate prayer.   I don’t want to spend too much time on this, but Kell’s reasoning is an object lesson in the age dynamics within Southern Baptist life. First, he said, many minorities feel alienated by the present administration and hosting the Vice President […]

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End of an Era–Paige Patterson Rides into the Sunset

The Paige Patterson era finally came to a conclusion–not in the President’s office of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary where he served for the last twelve years, not in the pulpit of one of the thousands of Southern Baptist churches where he preached through his storied career, and not in one of the untold committee meetings he chaired through the decades as he directed the denomination he loved so much.   It ended instead at today’s last session of the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual convention.   I won’t go into all the events, rumors and decisions that led to Paige’s firing last month. You can find that complicated story reported in […]

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The Southern Baptist Convention at the Crossroads

Pam and I are sitting in the Charlotte airport on our way to Dallas, TX and the SBC convention where we’ll join up with 25,000 or other folks ready to preach, pray, fight, do business, make pronouncements, raise money, organize, posture, evangelize and in general do what we do more of than anyone else. My dad got it right when he pointed out to me once that Baptists are like cats. When you think they’re fighting they’re actually multiplying.   Southern Bapitists are the largest and best-known branch of the larger Baptist tree. Beginning with English non-conformists in the 17th century, the Baptist movement through the centuries has produced luminaries […]

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