Whatever Happened to…?

church directory22 Timothy 4:11

VH1 used to host a show devoted to today’s question:  Whatever happened to… Christopher Cross or M.C. Hammer… etc. ?  Several magazines I’ve seen recently have asked:  “Whatever happened to the cast of [insert television show of yesteryear]?  We seem fascinated to solve these mysteries.  Here is one you can research on your own today.  Pull out a church directory that is over 2 or 3 years old.  Look at the names and faces.  Who is missing from the sanctuary these days?  Did you know they were gone?  Ever wonder what happened to them anyway?

Chances are they didn’t run into a Barnabas.  He was the Apostle to the lost cause.  He once stuck his neck out for a man name Saul who was facing a Christian community scared witless over his recent “conversion.”  Everyone stayed clear of him… that is except for Barnabas.  Fast forward a few years and you have this “son of encouragement” standing with a man named Mark.  Mark had deserted Paul and Barnabas the first go around, but now wants to get back in the game.  Paul (formerly Saul) says:  “No dice!”  But Barnabas is willing to stick his neck for yet another “lost cause.”  He takes his cousin Mark and they sail to Cyprus.

We need men and women like Barnabas in the church today.  People that aren’t so quick to update the directory.  They are aware that there is a story behind every photo… and some of those men and women are redeemable.

Barnabas’ faith was later vindicated by Paul himself.  2 Timothy 4:11 reads:  “Only Luke is with me.  Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry.   … When you come… bring my scrolls, especially the parchments.”  What do you get when you put Luke (author of the Gospel Luke and the Book of Acts. a master historian), the scrolls and parchments of Paul, Paul himself and Mark together in the same room?  You get the second book of the New Testament.  The one that bears the name of a one time  “quitter.”  God love Barnabas for not giving up on this kid!

Harold Myra and Marshall Shelley shared this story about a “Barnabas” type named Ruth Graham:  “Disgraced televangelist Jim Bakker testifies of her kindness.  Despite the fact that Bakker’s public scandal, which involved sex, hush money, and defrauded investors in a real estate scheme, had brought suspicion and scorn on all evangelists, both Grahams maintained a friendship with Bakker throughtout his imprisonment and afterward.

Moreover  “the first Sunday out,” Bakker said, “Ruth Graham called the halfway house I was living in at the Salvation Army and asked permission for me to go to the Montreat Presbyterian Church with her that Sunday morning.  When I got there, the pastor welcomed me and sat me with the Graham family.  There were two whole rows of them—I think every Graham aunt and uncle and cousin was there.  The organ began playing and the place was full, except for a seat next to me.  Then the doors opened and in walked Ruth Graham.  She walked down that aisle and sat next to inmate 07407-059.  I had only been out of prison forty-eight hours, but she told the world that morning that Jim Bakker was her friend.  -Harold Myra and Marshall Shelley  (The Leadership Secrets of Billy Graham, p. 323.)

Who is that person you see missing from the pews?  Could they be the next Mark?  Don’t be too quick to quit on a “quitter.”  He or she might just surprise you just how far they can go with a little encouragement from you.

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What’s Your Motivation?

1 Peter 5:2-3

“…not greedy for money, but eager to serve; ;

Just saw an interesting title for a Blog Entry: “Fleecing the Flock for Fun and Profit.”  It was a tongue and cheek look at methods that some pastors and televangelists use to extract the niave from their hard earned cash.  When we look at our sheep, do we see them as people with real needs to care for… or as dollar signs?  It is so subtle to shift from helper to helping ourselves.

I love the words of a blogger I recently came across, Matt Rose:  “I work in Christian retail; I’ve been around quite a few Christian leaders; and I also do a lot of study on my own time. Here’s what I’ve learned: No one has to beg in order for God’s will to be done. Period.
In Christian retail, there is the “plus sell opportunity,” where the cashier (following secular business models) offers additional products at the register in order to boost sales. As I said, this is my job. But that doesn’t make it easy for me.
Here’s a little irony: the point of Christian customer service, as best I understand it, is to serve the customer. In fact, that should be the point of all customer service, Christian or otherwise. But as soon as you make the switch from focusing on the needs of the customer to focusing on the percent of transactions that result in a plus-sell, you turn people into objects–mere means to your end. And what is your end? Money. Higher sales.  Higher profit. Money. Mammon, they used to call it.”
I totally understand and agree with Matt’s words.  I used to sell jewelry in a JCP.  We were required to keep a certain percentage of “care plan” sales.  For some items, like diamond rings, this was easier.  But sometimes it did not advantage the customer.  At that point I was no longer “serving” the customer… but fleecing them!

If you are in charge of God’s flock in your church ask yourself… and ask yourself often… what’s your motivation?

Do You Have the “Want To”?

1 Peter 5:2 

The next word Peter has for Shepherds is about motivation.  We can all learn from his observations,but Peter has leadership in mind when he says:  “…serving as overseers—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be;”

Years ago I worked at the seminary I attended and lived on campus next door to a fella that was attending there at the time.  He played the trumpet and was very interested in becoming a music minister.  His wife however felt there was no money there.  He needed to be a preacher.  One problem:  The man couldn’t preach!

He once preached a sermon on Joel at the church my family attended.  It was long and dry, but we made it through.  Afterward we saw the wife of the Hispanic pastor coming out of the church shaking her head.

We immediately assumed she had trouble understanding the message because her English wasn’t that good.  She responded, “I understand what he said.  But… boring!  No reason for the Bible to be boring!”

His lack of preaching skills was due to a motivation problem.  He couldn’t preach because his heart wasn’t in it. He didn’t have the “want-to.”

If you are a leader at church, or serve on a committee at church, or work in a para-church organization, hear this:  if you are doing ministry because you feel like you have to… you need to examine your motives.  God wants you to want to.

Every year churches have the same problem with a lot of their committees.  No one wants to be the chair of the committee.  “I’ll be on it (begrudgedly) but don’t put me in charge.  No one wants to take the reigns of leadership!  Sometimes the committee decides:  Let’s just not have a head of committee.  We’ll all just do our jobs and lead together.  The result:  the committee is weakened and nothing gets done.
You might say:  “But I don’t have the skills to lead!”  I would say, “But do you have the “want to?”  God is able to supply the skills to those that possess the “want to.”  I pray that God will move you to a position where you can lead for His glory… where you WANT to lead for His glory.
WE NEED MORE LEADERS.