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Monday, October 31, 2011

Church Dropout

Last night on KJLH Beyond the Pulpit with Pastor Xavier Thompson pastor of Southern MBC, they discussed the topic "Church Dropout" with special guest pastors of our city, Pastor L A Kessee of Bethany Baptist Church and Pastor Melvin Von Wade of Mt Moriah Baptist Church both in Los Anageles, Ca. Good listening piece of material from seasoned pastors on the subject at hand.

Why do people stop attending and being committed to church?

Here are a few of the responses from callers and guest (that I can remember):

1). Lazy pastors and preachers

2). Church has become a distraction for some people. The caller explains that for them church politics, fighting, etc is too much to handle and therefore resolves that staying home is better to getting closer God.

3). Churchless Christianity- people who use TV, internet, and radio as they're church fellowship

4). Pastor Wade says church dropout is due to "church frailty".

5). Rev Melvin Wade Jr says that the church is not bridging the generational gap to reach young people. When God led the people of Israel to the promise land with Moses they crossed a Red Sea but with Joshua they crossed the Jordan River. Two different bodies of water but headed in the same direction.

6). Entertainment - the church has allowed the entertainment world to enter into the worship service to compel men, women, boys, and girls to come to Christ.

7). Mixed priorities of what's important

8). Lack of developed leadership resulting in senior leadership staying too long as the church's pastor.

9). Under-developed leadership, lack of training, or lack of mentorship in young preachers. Therefore, throwing them into the fire before their time.

10). This one is my thought on the issue....lack of sincere reverence in the church. I believe our reverence for God has lost its sincerity. And churches that strive to maintain reverence are labeled as traditional for which I take exception. I love contemporary, exciting, lively, enthusiastic, zealous worship. However, I believe we can't allow our contemporary worship overshadow our reverence for God. There has to be a limit where we don't push the envelope so far that God is pushed to the back of the line. God is to be the centrality of our worship whereby leading us to worship Him in spirit and truth. In laymen's terms, watch how we treat God in our worship service. Both saved and unsaved attendees need to know that they are in the presence of God.

What's the solution? Writing my thoughts to publish soon

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Recovery!

A few weeks ago Tracy and I were going to Walmart to do a lil shopping. While driving, she says to me: "Clint, have you noticed that for the past few months we have not discussed our departure from First Goodwill". I looked at her and said: "No, we have not and that's a good thing to give us time to heal". I have discovered in the past few months that sometimes you have to step away from intense situations to clear your mind, to guard your heart, protect your family, and listen to God. Unfortunately, the enemy is not happy when he can't and couldn't destroy you in a situation with the hope that you will doubt God and turn away from Him. So he (the enemy) will throw at you nuggets of past hurtful situations that will cause you to feel the sting of pain, loss, frustration, guilt, unforgiveness, depression, discouragement, and frustration. So, a few weeks ago, we started receiving calls that we thought were calls of concern about our well-being that ended up being a strategic plan of attack to pull us back into feelings of hurt and pain and frustration by discussing events that took place earlier this year. Blood starts boiling! Eyes filled with drops of sadness! Heart is pounding hard and fast! Mind is racing faster than words can come out! We've been incognito on purpose and staying in Lakewood not bothering anybody trying to move on. Why are we being pressured into having feelings failure and that we've done something wrong by moving on. I write this experience as help to others because I know i'm not the only who has been attacked with the weapon of pulling you back into past hurt to get you off the course of recovery. Recovering from any hurt in life is a long process and even still some people still do not recover. The memories still linger in the air of our minds as a dark cloud covering portions of a blue sky. We may never forget the hurt but God will take the pain away. Here are a few suggestions that has helped me recently keep on track to recovery while being attacked at the same time.

1). Pray - this seems simple and easy but also hard to do when the heat is on. Ephesians 6:19-20 teaches us that the best defense in heated situations is a praying offense. Pray about it!

2). Speak the truth in love (confrontation) - Many of us don't like tough conversations. At least I know I don't. However, I've found myself as of late doing it more an more often. The difference is that now I'm slow to speak. Confrontations are difficult but is do-able without breaking fellowship with the other person. Matthew 18 outlines for us how to handle disagreements between two people. Moreover remember, the end goal in confrontation is reconciliation.

3). Control your anger - When I started receiving phones calls immediately my blood started boiling when i discovered the true nature of the call and I was about to burst like a screaming tea kettle. A few months ago, I received some information that again made me boil on the inside. In time past I would have unleashed the dragon but I didn't. I waited for a few weeks before having a conversation with the other person so I could be clear and plain about what I needed to say. I made my point and ended the conversation so that I didnt violate Paul's exhortation to be angry but do not sin.

4). Move on - what happened yesterday cant stop you from moving on not unless you allow it to. I've vowed to the best of my ability to not speak of any issue that will cause me to loose focus. So unfortunately for others but fortunate for me, I kill the subject before it starts. This Sunday I heard one of the greatest messages on Genesis 13:11-16 when Abram and Lot split. One of the points in that message was that we need to find peace in parting. In other words, we need to split from some things so we can be successful in other things. Find peace so that it doesn't bring you down and move on.

5). Surround yourself with godly people who are really concerned about you and not the situation - it's amazing that when I was in the heat of battle I heard from people that I normally don't hear from and now that the dust has settled some I don't hear from them much anymore. But God has placed some genuine people in my life now that is not concerned with what was. We talk about what God has on the other side of it but most of all we just have fun together period. We pray together. We encourage each other. And we hold one another accountable. Without any hidden agendas.

6). Be honest about your feelings - if it hurts it hurts! God created with emotions but we can control the emotions that we feel. We can hurt and still maintain our faith and character. When I broke my hand years ago it hurt pretty bad. Now, I have scars but no pain.

7). Recovery is a process, so don't rush it

8). Be cautious with whom you share your dreams and successes - everyone can't handle the success (or even potential success) of others. They will celebrate but it will be what I label as "coveted celebration". Some people celebrate and covet your success at the same time with hopes of your ultimate failure. I heard a preacher say once "you can't share your dreams with everyone".

9). Trust people again - I know this sounds like a contradiction after saying be careful with whom you tell your dreams. But it's not. You can develop relationships without sharing your dreams. The point is we can't judge new relationships on past hurtful experiences. I know for a fact God will move some people and bring new people to your life.

10). Keep trusting God - oftentimes when bad things happen the first person to get attacked is God. Why did God allow this happen? It's hard to accept the sovereignty of God most times. However, I've learned a valuable lesson over the years and certainly within these past few months. That is, most times we see the agenda of others before it's revealed and God will throw up a red warning sign saying: "Be careful danger lies ahead!" However, we put on our ignoring blinders saying to ourselves "they won't do that". And then when it happens, we start to blame God. There are some things that happen in life that we can't control and then there are some things in life we can control with discernment.

Keep it pushing! I believe things will get better!