Thursday, December 27, 2012

Challenging my think for 2013!

As pastors, changing how we THINK and ACT is critical to our being successful in LIFE and MINISTRY!

It is our thoughts, beliefs, and attitude – not what happens around us, that cause us to feel a certain way or to do certain things.  The goal of this blog post is help each reader and myself look at our current life and ministry situation and develop an understanding of the causes and objectives for change as we approach the new year.

These are the Simple Questions I’m asking myself this year, and as I move into 2013.

1.                  Do I personally feel that spiritually and practically I’m where God wants me to be in my ministry?
2.                  What has happened in my life to bring me to this point of my life and ministry?
3.                  What problems have I had that were the direct result of my personal attitude, choices, or poor decision making?
4.                  What issues do I feel have been the result of a poor prayer life or lack of prayer?
5.                  Is the way I’m doing ministry giving the results that I believe God is pleased with?

As we approach the NEW YEAR what changes do I feel that I need to make in order for 2013!

  1. In order for me be successful this coming year in my personal relationship with Christ, I need to do what?
  2. In order for me be successful this coming year in my personal ministry, I need to do what differently?

Monday, December 17, 2012

Thoughts about the churches response to the next Shooting ….

My heart is breaking along with the rest of America and the world over the senseless violence on Friday. The school shooting that occurred this past Friday is beyond the imagination of anyone. The horribly news, the terrifying description of the pain, anxiety, fear, and depression on the faces of those affected was heart wrenching to watch on T.V.
            As a Christian my heart breaks, and my prayers go up for the family that is suffering through such tragedy of losing a child to this senseless and unexplainable act. I also pray for the minds and hearts of the first responders, the memories that have been formed in their mind from what they found as they went through the doors for the first time, for the children and teachers in the school that survived, but will forever be touched by this event. My prayer is simple “God grant them the presents of your Holy Spirit, and the helping and healing touch of your love, as you minister to their hearts and minds through this time.”
            As the news keeps breaking and as the story continues to unfold, there has been talk and challenges issued by various groups about gun control, mental illness, and even teachers being armed. I’m not sure if any of these debates will mean much, or if the laws had been different there would have been a different outcome. However, I believe that there are two debates that the national media won’t engage in. The first is not the focus of this post but is worth mentioning. Christians often make the argument of how God being removed from the Public School has promoted a different value system among young people and adults over the past 30 years.
The second debate is more for the church than the media. How do we respond if this happens in our community? Newton, Connecticut is a microcosm of hundreds of thousands of small communities across America. On any given day, any school throughout America could face a similar tragedy. As a minister, Christian counselor, professional addiction counselor, and member of a church, there may be a time I’m called on in a time of crisis. My training and background will help me to respond. However, I’m so concerned today there are hundreds or even thousands of pastors that have never had the training or even the desire to learn how to help individuals in a crisis like this.
I believe as a pastor, church member, family member, and friend there are three essentials the church must get into their brain, heart, and ministry plan.
1.      Tragedy is going to hit your church community in some form and at some point (it maybe a shooting, a natural disaster, or the death of a friend or family member). It is our responsibility to be pro-active now (have the training and plans in place to respond), and not re-active (running around the community looking for help) then.

2.      Develop a prayer network that is going to reach across denominational, cultural, school district, city limits, state lines and the nation. Pray that God is going to protect our children, families, and communities.

3.      Develop an ACTION PLAN … In times of crisis what do we do? How do we respond to the individuals effected by this crisis, how do we pray with them, what do we share with them, and where do we get them help? In my mind the ACTION PLAN is simply about the pastor knowing the answers to these questions, and having the tools to help. It is about the body of Christ, stepping up, being trained, and sharing the love of Christ with the hearts and minds of those affected. The church needs to also look at the on-going care of individuals affected by these events. Post-Trauma Stress Disorder is real, and the statement “pray about it” is a great come back but not the sole solution. Helping them to deal with the emotional loss, physical trauma, and haunting memories will take time to heal, and a loving church to assist them.
As we continue to read and hear more about this tragedy, I pray it is a wakeup call for the church to prepare for the worse, and thank God for his continue blessing on our community.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

How do I determine a successful Men’s Ministry event…

                I have been involved in pastoral ministry for over 30 years, and have been focusing on Ministering to Men for the past eight years.  Over those years I have seen several things work, and I have seen several others fall flat. However, what is interesting is that some ideas I implemented were successful in one place, and a failure somewhere else.  This difference in success from place to place can be found in the attitudes of the attendees and the opinions of the leaders.  As a leader I would sometimes view an event or activity as a failure or unproductive, but this may have been the farthest thing from the truth.
                I have spent a great deal of time looking at the activities and events I have encouraged men to partake in, trying to determine the success and flop of each. The only formula that I have come up with is what the Lord has laid on my heart.
·         Was the activity/event Christ centered?  Personally, this is the most important aspect.  If Christ is not the center of the activity then there is no reason to have it.
o   Did the attendees see Christ lifted up through my actions, and speech, and those that participated in the event?
·         Did the men engage and participate in the activity/event?
·         Do you see a number of the men making changes as the result of their participation?
Planning an activity or event that provides the following principles will help you to answer yes to the questions above.
·         Use a variety of methods that will reach, engage, and challenge men of various ages and cultural groups.
o   Avoid the trap of only ministering to one age group, because that is where we fill most comfortable, and it is the path of least resistance.
·         Ask your men questions, such as what are your men interested in doing? How can you make their interest a successful event?
o   Be willing to think outside the box.
·         Remember … an outcome is simply a matter of someone’s opinion!
·         Continue to try, and improve on those that work.
·         Understand your personal limits and search for help from others that have a special skill that will help you.
o   Example … I love to write, but my grammar is really bad (most editors say I “write like I talk”) So over the years, I have surrounded myself with some awesome editors, that take time to proof read and clean up everything I write (Including this post).
The key to success is simple …
Keep trying and give God the glory!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The 2nd Man within the Church

               The 2nd Man within the church is generally referred to as the Associate or Assistant Pastor. He is often the go to man for most things within the church and is often considered the right arm of the Senior/Lead Pastor. However, there often is a misunderstanding of the 2nd man’s role within the church by both the pastor associate/assistant, and especially the congregation.  Having been in pastoral ministry for the past 33 years, I have been the 2nd man in churches with a small congregation of 40 to a larger congregation of over 3000 and assisted the various pastors in a full-time capacity, as well as, part-time and volunteer positions.  However, no matter where I have been, the job has been the same: assist the Pastor.
              
My definition of a 2nd Man is quite simple, “To assist the pastor in accomplishing the mission that the God has called him to do within the Body of Christ in which we both serve together.”
 I’m about to make a statement that is going to send some Associate/Assistant, Children’s and Youth Pastor over the cliff.  As the 2nd man, you are hired to serve with the pastor, you are not the shepherd.  I believe that God only calls one Shepherd for each flock to avoid confusion and chaos.  There can be only one direction, one mission, one plan of action, and one leader.  As the 2nd Man, you can provide wisdom and support but ultimately, it is the pastor who leads the ministry.
              
I believe that there are key strategies for both pastor and 2nd man.

1.       Support your pastor publicly, disagree with him privately.
It is never appropriate to disagree with him publicly.

2.       Discuss your doctrinal disagreement prior to preaching or teaching in the church.
·         There has been times that I have worked with a pastor that has a different view of Calvinism than I do or the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.  If you’re going to be teaching or preaching, you don’t want you compromise your personal beliefs, so it is better to let him know your feeling or thoughts beforehand. But it is important to find out how the pastor wants you to proceed.

3.       Take your concerns to the pastor first, not members of the church.  This could also apply to the pastor if he has a concern with the Associate.
·         If you have a concern about something the pastor is saying, doing, or something in the church that you’re concerned about, you have an obligation to talk with the pastor first. If it is not resolved and the concern involves ethical, moral, or spiritual issues, take it to denominational leaders or your church board. A word of caution: pray before you do this and be prepared to defend what you say.

4.       Be yourself, but not to the point that you over shadow the pastor.
·         My personal style is very outgoing while others are more reserved even stoic.  Just be cautious that you don’t become the center of attention at the church; always keep the focus on the pastor and most importantly CHRIST.

5.       Don’t fall into the trap of believing your own press. Members that are disgruntled with their pastor will often attempt to influence the Associate rather than speak to the pastor; it is a dangerous walk.
·         To be blunt, if you need to be the boss and the center of attention and can’t see yourself as an assistant (non-dominant), don’t take the position.  But, if you’re ready to be a blessing to Christ, your pastor, and to your congregation, then step into the very rewarding position as an Associate.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

White man preaching in the African American church!

                I recently preached on Sunday morning for a dear friend of mine as he celebrated his anniversary as pastor of his church in Cincinnati Ohio. I have known this pastor for a number of years, and have spoken to his men’s group prior to the invitation for Sunday morning. It is important to understand this is not my first go around in the African American church, my best friend for over 20 years pastors a African American church here in Cincinnati, and I have spoken in at least a half dozen African American churches over the past 20 years.
                Growing up in the Fundamental Baptist movement of the 70’s was a God send when comes to crossing over to the African American church.  The fiery preaching of the Pulpiteer’s of yesteryears in the white church are all but gone.  They have been replaced by the teaching pastors, the encourager, and sermonette. One of the great pastors I remember as a young preacher was A.V. Henderson he used to tell us in college … “Get up, speak up, sit down, and let God do the rest”.  My pastor Dr. Don Lougheed at the Flint Baptist Temple, used to say “I don’t care where you start in scripture, always run for the Cross!”
                Watching a African American church service on T.V. or listening to one on the radio, will not prepare you for the personal experience of being introduced, reading your text, and beginning a dialogue with the group of people that are so excited you showed up to preach. I have preached in dozens of white churches, from independent Baptist, Southern Baptist, Church of God, Methodist, and yes Assemblies of God and have never felt the excitement of people wanting to hear what I had to say.   This is the experience that I have when I am invited to preach in African-American churches.
                Four things that you must come to understand as you prepare, preach, and provide an opportunity for the folks at the African American church you preach in to worship with you.
1)      You must lose any racial stereo type you may have, until you preach in a African American church you haven’t experienced anything yet. Not all African American churches are alike just like not all white churches are alike. However, my experience the African American church is more excitable and interactive with the speaker.
2)      Always be yourself they can identify the fake a mile away.
3)      Always preach the scripture, African American churches are not about the short sermonette, or the simple teaching, they are about the word of God from cover to cover.
4)      Always be ready to show up, and show out as they say in the African American church. Remember you are their guest.  Don’t change their style of worship, part of the fun preaching in the African American church is the Deacons on the front row shouting “preach brother preach, tell me like it is, and keep going God is anointing you.”
Over the years I have read a number of books on preaching, watched a number of preaches on television, attended a thousands of church services and revivals. Every pastor, evangelist, and Bible teacher has their own unique personality and style. In the African American church you will be challenged to take your personality and preaching the next level. As you feel that compassion and excitement as you preach. I pray that every pastor, evangelist and Bible teacher would have the same opportunities that I have and continue to have to speak in African American churches. It is the most humbling, exciting, refreshing, challenging, and rewarding time all wrapped up in 45 to 60 minutes you will ever have.
I should point out here a very important component of preaching in the African American church, and it is summed up in one word relationship, I’m convinced the reason that I have so much freedom, fun, and excitement in the African American churches I preach in is I have a relationship or a better word is friendship with the pastor.  Sunday morning remains the most racially divided time in America and we need to change that, by building relationships and friendships that will allow us to have the freedom to cross over into churches of various cultures and make an impact for Christ.
I want to thank the many friends I have in the African American community that have allowed me over the years to show up, and show out. I have never been disappointed in seeing God move as I have preached the uncompromised word of God in their churches.
               

Monday, November 5, 2012

My Heart is breaking …

 In June of 2002 following the events of September 11, my family and I moved to Staten Island to work with individuals that were affected by that tragedy in New York City.  I was in charge of a ministry called “The Hope Center.”  The ministry only functioned for about a year, and we had to return to Cincinnati.

The purpose and vision of The Hope Center was to help individuals deal with emotional and psychological crisis, such as the East Coasters are currently experiencing with the recent storm, Sandy.  My heart breaks as I read the news, watch television, and listen to the radio. The entire region is experiencing overwhelming grief, isolation, and desperation, and many do not have even the most basic necessities.

It is time for local churches, the universal denominations, and the Para-church ministries to stand up and tell the government to move out of the way and let us do what God has called us to do.  Food, clothing, and shelter should be available to anyone and everyone in the storm torn region.

Someone reported that the bridges are closed. Why? If they are unsafe, take the supplies in by foot, in boats, in helicopters or any other number of imaginative ways that God provides  This is America, we were built on the “can do” philosophy.   It is time for us to do what most of us already know how to do very well.

I applaud the local governments for what they have done, but I believe that their attitude of, “we know how to run this better than anyone else,” is a false sense of pride and a failure to those who need help now.

But, unfortunately, I believe that the church has become complacent and willing to let the government do it. I recently asked a pastor friend of mine what the emergency plan for his church was if a disaster like 'Sandy' hit his town. He looked at me funny and said, “That’s what the Red Cross, Salvation Army, and the government are for.”

  As we watch and hear the events unfolding, we realize it is about the people and families coming together and not about waiting for the government to do it all. The church provides their communities with prayer, encouraging words, multiple types of support, sharing of resources, and a compassionate God that touches every heart.
Each church must develop its own plan for an unforeseen disaster. Hopefully, they reach out to their fellow church organizations and work together, along with the government, to insure that all who in their care receive what they need with a minimum of suffering.

Each church should be asking itself these questions and coming up with the answers:

1. What is our church's plan to meet the needs of our community when we face disaster?

2. How do we deliver spiritual, emotional, psychological, and physical support along with the basic needs to support life, food, clothing, and shelter?

3.  How do we coordinate with the fellow churches in our community to insure no one is left out?

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Lord's Supper is truly about the Act of Worship:

The majority of churches across a America celebrate the Lord’s Supper in some form (some refer to it as Holy Communion, the Eucharist, Sacrament at the Alter, or the Blessed Sacrament). Some get hung up on the name. However, I believe without reservation it is not about the name it is about the ACT of WORSHIP.

I’m fearful that in the majority of the churches today that Lord’s Supper has become a tradition or monthly/quarterly requirement and not the act of worship it was meant to be. It has become a set date on the calendar. It is simply the act of passing a tray down the aisle, a short prayer, and verse of hymn and thank you for coming and out the door. There is no longer a call to repentance of sin, a discussion of forgiveness that we have been hurt by others, or a time of reflection of what I have done to others, no serious reflection on what Christ did at the cross.

Paul clearly set the stage in II Corinthians 11: 17-34 that the Lord’s Supper is not about the church meeting its monthly requirement, fulfilling that constitution/by-laws, or getting together for a time of fellowship it is about a Heart Searching Change.

As I write, this it is not my heart or intent to criticize any method used to serve the Lord Supper It is my belief that as pastor and spiritual leader we need to take the individuals of our congregation to the very foundation of the teachings of the Lord Supper. We should continually take the members of our church to the place of remembrance, of the shed blood of Christ which is represented by the wine/grape juice, and the broken body of Christ which is represented by the broken bread. Helping them understand that it through a personal relationship with Christ, and remembering what he did at Calvary is what we need for a personal relationship with Christ.

As I close, pastor’s I encourage to simply reevaluate the motive and method for serving the Lord’s Supper. Spend some time doing a search of scripture, challenging your own heart, philosophy, and thinking about the Lord’s Supper. Does the method you currently use bring individuals within your congregation to the place of worship, repentance, and develop a personal commitment with Christ. If not it is time do to something differently. My pastor and mentor in the ministry Dr. Don Lougheed emphases to all us young preachers, Always take them to the cross, always make sure they understand the significance of the cross, and lead them to repentance at the cross. That sum’s up what the Lord’s Supper is really all about.

 

Monday, September 3, 2012

Update on workbooks/study-guides published

I was recently asked how many workbooks/study-guides that we have published over the years @ Through HIM Ministries,.

Please keep in mind we will never know the total for a few reasons (1) a couple of sites that have our material,  keep no records of how many time the material is downloaded, (2) I have found our material on a couple of the websites that copy and publish material, which is fine. I say thank you for helping us get it out.  (3) In 2003 we published are first workbook “Christian coping with grief” with www.lulu.com partly because of the way they kept a running total of the number of times our free workbooks/study-guides were downloaded.  Then without notice that service was gone from their website. They recently restored the service, but for nearly 5 years we don’t know the number of download.

However, we have used three additional sites (my objective is to make available to everyone) to get the information into as many folk’s hands as possible.  So here are the totals as best as we can tell, from the information we have today! Of the 47 workbooks we have published since 2003 there have been over 25,000 downloads or view, depending on how the site tracks them. Not including anything from lulu.com

Through Him Ministries is a ministry dedicated to helping bring together theology and practicality in the church today. We provide material and resources in a number of ministry related subjects which will assist users in developing their own personal ministry and enhance the effectiveness of the local church.

We will continue to do this through writing workbooks/study-guides in a variety of topics such as pastoral theology, grief, addiction, coping with stress, men’s ministry, and other topics as God leaders. Check out website at www.throughhimministries.org for more information.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Great Men Steak Out!

I have been involved in Ministering to Men for over nine years, and have been in pastoral ministry for over thirty years. One of the greatest events or outreaches I have been blessed to attend, and later help plan is the Great Men Steak Out. I was first introduced to the Steak Out at Milford Assembly of God by Pastor Les Sanders.
This event is awesome giving you a great opportunity to reach men not only within your church, but in the community. We start with a simple philosophy men love food, and especially steak. So we invite them to come to our steak out. We ask the men to bring a steak to grill (for those that don’t like steak they are free to bring chicken, fish, hamburger or even a hotdog) we set up a couple of grills, and start grilling.  The additional challenge to the Great Men Steak is to encourage the men attending to purchase a second steak and bring it along with their friend and share the evening with him.
This becomes a great time of fellowship, and fun as we stand around the grill talking then sitting at the table sharing stories and testimonies that challenge men to be unique in their Christian walk. Then there is the time to share, I believe that men are looking for the truth. They are looking for someone to be real, and someone that can help them understand the scripture in a simple practical way.
The Great Men Steak Out can be done in conjunction with other events, and is often best to have an activity on the same night. I have challenged our men in a horseshoe tournament, corn hole tournament, or we even host the Steak Out the night of a televised football, basketball, a hockey game giving the men the opportunity to cheer for their team. Where I’m from in the greater Cincinnati area we used the Cincinnati Bengal verses the Indianapolis Colts game. I’m sure you have a game that you are already thinking about.
The challenge for all of this is to make the Steak-Out relevant and insightful so the men know that they have been blessed, challenged, and encouraged. Good luck and may God bless you at your Great Church Steak-Out.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Standing on the Banks of the Ohio River

I was recently standing on the banks of the Ohio River in the small town of Rising Sun, Indiana, where I live, and thinking of the folks of this quiet little community, with its population of only 2304. Of which 1139 males, it is one to those communities that you wished you had raised your kids in.

As I watch the river flow, with the occasional barrage, and the big tree logs floating past. I often wonder what this city was like years ago. Stories abound that tell of it being one of the main stops on the Ohio River for the ferries, and barges, wood cutting mills, stores, and  an abundance of boarding houses.  I wonder about the men that lived here, worked in the mills, and jumped off the barges. I bet they were some really tough men.

It’s only a small spot on the map and things change over time, I guess. But I have come to like it here.  I love it here in Rising Sun.  However, as I stand by the river wondering about those 1139 men, I would bet that less than 20 percent of them go to church anywhere. Most are actively involved with their family, sports, working on the farm, taking care of the home, doing shift work at nearby plants, and the hundreds, people do on Sunday morning. I understand there doesn’t seem to be enough time for it all family, work, and church.

Maybe you feel like me and many of the men of Rising Sun, finding the time for God is a challenge. Yet you know it is something you need to do.  As I minister to men throughout this awesome little city, I have come to realize that my challenge is not to minister as they do in the Big City, but to Minister to the men where we are right now.  It is amazing there are only 8 churches in town, the church that my wife and I attend is the second largest and we are blessed to have a number of men attending the Sunday morning worship service.

As a Minister to Men, I have to ask myself continually “How does God want me to minister to the men of this awesome town?” For me God’s message is simple!

I remember growing up being taught by my dad (a retired Air Force Master Sgts, and Auto Worker for Buick) the KISS principle “Keep it Simple Somehow” or some have said “Keep it Simple Stupid”
Whichever one you likes work, here is my K.I.S.S. for Men!

·         Klear (YES … I know it spelled Clear) Vision!
o   It is imperative that you know where you are going and what you intend to accomplish with them. I work on a yearly plan and have a vision or desire to accomplish at least three major events a year. This could include a trip to a Men’s conference with an overnight stay, a father/son breakfast, and many more great ideas that you already have.  Keep in mind that in a small town, it is always smart to keep options open for example I’m planning our Father/Son Breakfast this year and hosting it with all the churches in our town.  My vision is simple and Klear (clear) - Minister to the Men within our community to be the man of God and help them to be within their family, church, and community.

·         Invite them to worship
o   It is imperative that we give men the opportunity to worship and pray both in public and private.  As I look around the church today, I’m very concerned that we have spent so much time giving men tasks that we miss the opportunity to give them time to grow in their personal spiritual walk with Christ. I can do this by providing opportunity for them to study the word of God together, pray together, and fellowship.

·         Share with them the truth
o   We have geared our teaching programs to children and women and forget that men need to be taught as well. Many of your men get excited when they can go on the field and learn from a pro about a new basketball or football skill, or how to fix a car from hands on expert.  Men enjoy learning; we need to adapt our ministry to teach new skill to men so that they learn the truth- effectively, spiritually, and biblically.

·         Serving opportunity
o   Give men a chance to do something! Inform them as to what is going on at the church that a man can help with. Men want a challenge! I want to give it them.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

It’s Not About Hats, or Hair Length

The following post was written by a dear friend of Through HIM Ministries, Bro Jim Jenkins is Pastor of First Baptist Church in Rising Sun, Indiana (and is my wife's and mine pastor). Originally written for the website "He Restoreth my Soul" ... Bro Jim has agreed to allow us to publish here on our blog for you to be blessed.

It’s Not About Hats, or Hair Length.

After preaching a sermon from 1 Corinthians My friend Darlene Harris asked me to write an article on the roles of men and women.

As we look at 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 we see some points that need to be understood in their proper biblical context.  When we understand what is being said, the apostle Paul makes a lot of sense.
            What is Paul talking about in this passage?  Why is he worried about if ladies wear hats and how big they are?  Why is he so concerned that men don’t wear hats (or literally down from the head)?  Remember in the day in which Paul lived the non-Christians were in the majority and pagan worship was very prominent.[i]  In pagan worship, the leader would often “cover his head” as he would offer prayers, sacrifices, they would pull up the hood.  The robe that the pagan priest wore during these times had a hood similar to the hood on the robe of a Monk.  Maybe it added to the mysterious aura surrounding the priest, or the heathen worship practices. So when Paul says in verse 44 Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonors his head[ii].  Why?  Paul doesn’t want them to be confused with the pagan priest.  Paul does not want them bringing shame on Christ by how they dress and present themselves.  (Now keep that idea in mind)
      Now for the ladies, look at 1 Corinthians 11:5 5 But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, for that is one and the same as if her head were shaved. The Jewish ladies covered their head to show that they were religious, chaste and virtuous.  Eastern society at that time was very jealous over its women. Except for the temple prostitutes, the women wore long hair and, in public, wore a covering over their heads.  Paul did not use the word veil, i.e., a covering over the face.  The woman put the regular shawl over her head, and this covering symbolized her submission and purity. For the Christian women in the church to appear in public without the covering, let alone to pray and share the Word, was both daring and blasphemous.[iii]
The head covering was just part of the fabric of life.  In fact I found it unusual that if a lady who walked out of the house without a head covering and was attacked she would forfeit the protection of Roman law, and the attacker could plead extenuating circumstances.[iv]  As I read that information, the best modern day picture would be a married woman who chose to not wear a wedding ring and then every guy in town hits on her because they have no way of knowing that she was married.  It is not excusable but that is the way things worked then.  So a lady wearing a head covering would be considered as virtuous and chaste in society in general, and unavailable.
      Paul did not forbid the women to pray or to prophesy (see 1 Corinthians 12-14 especially chapter 14). It seems that a prophet and a preacher/pastor or minister would be filling different roles.  It would appear from reading scripture that a prophet would foretell a message that the Holy Spirit gave him immediately (see Acts 11:28) whereas a minister today studies the word under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  The New Testament does not permit women elders (1 Tim. 3:2), yet women in the early church who had the gift of prophecy were allowed to exercise it. They were also permitted to pray in the public meetings (again see 1 Corinthians 14). However, they were not permitted to usurp authority over the men (1 Tim. 2:11–15) or to judge the messages of the other prophets (1 Cor. 14:27–35). If they had any questions, rather than interrupt the service Paul encouraged them to ask their husbands (or possibly father) outside of the church meeting.
As I read this passage again this week several thoughts came to my mind; 1) Men and women are different! Differences do not mean that one is inferior and the other superior.  Differences do not mean unequal.  Difference means, well different. God is the head of all.  Christ is the head of the Church and if there is going to be peace in the church (1 Cor. 15:33), then there must be some kind of order.  I love how author and pastor Warren Wiersbe put it, “However, rank and quality are two different things. The captain has a higher rank than the private, but the private may be a better man.”[v]  I love how my pastor in KY reminds the bride and groom of the rank and quality, “Eve was taken from the ribs, from his side, not from his feet so that he should walk all over her, nor from his head, so she would be over him, but from his side, so they would be on the same level.”
            2) A second issue no less disturbing seems to be one of demanding rights and demanding following rather than grace, mercy and submission between men and women.  In Ephesians 5 we have a little more instruction on this topic; Ephesians 5:22 “wives submit (voluntarily placing yourself under the authority of another[vi]) to your own husbands as to the Lord.  Then in verse 25 “husbands love your wives, like Christ loved the Church and gave himself for it”.  Evidently some ladies were demanding that they no longer wear the hair covering, and some men were demanding that they submit.    When submission is demanded it isn’t submission it is domineering.  Any husband who has to force submission on his wife is walking on dangerous ground with the LORD (and probably should sleep with two eyes open).  Any wife who is not willing to submit to her husband also walks on dangerous ground, with the LORD.
            When husbands love their wives like Christ loves the Church, very few women will have a problem with submission. God made men and women different and put them in different positions, not superior or inferior, but different.  When men accept the leadership role in the home that God gave them it frees women to fulfill their role that God gave them.  When men do not fulfill the role of the leader, it then forces the women to assume that role.  This is when real problems start.  It is like using a ratchet as a hammer.  I had not been married very long when I came home from work to find my wife using a “Snap-On” ratchet (very expensive brand of tool) for a hammer.  Ladies, think of a “Versace” purse being used as a duffle bag stuffed with sweaty gym clothes and sitting on the floor of a locker room.  It may work, but the ratchet or purse was designed for something else and will work much better and more effectively doing what it was designed to do.  When women assume the role of leader in the home it confuses and frustrates the man to the point where he will literally sit in the chair and mutter to himself, “Well if she will do it … then let her.  That gives me more time to do other things.”  The wife is also frustrated by the fact that the husband will not be the leader and therefore assumes that she will have to do it all.  This then also leads to a lack of trust.  That lack of trust then leads to communication breakdowns.  The lack of communication leads to a lack of “intimacy”.  Which then sends each partner to search for ways of having their intimacy fulfilled by something or someone else.
            When we fulfill our God given and inspired roles our homes function more like a reflection of what God intended.  No home will be perfect this side of heaven because we are all sinners, yet they could be and would be better if men took their role seriously, and ladies took their role seriously.  When our homes do not reflect God’s design, it also has serious implications for the Church.  If you want a Church that more accurately reflects the glory of God, then you have to start with the homes of that Church.  If you want homes that reflect the glory of God more, then God’s people (men and women) must learn to take their differing roles[vii] seriously and encourage their spouse to do the same.



[i][i] Garland, D. E. (2003). 1 Corinthians. Baker exegetical commentary on the New Testament (517). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic.
[ii] All verses quoted are taken from The New King James Version. 1982. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, Nashville, TN.
[iii] Keener, C. S., & InterVarsity Press. (1993). The IVP Bible background commentary : New Testament (1 Co 11:3). Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press.
[iv] Garland, D. E. (2003). 1 Corinthians. Baker exegetical commentary on the New Testament (520–521). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic.
[v] Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (1 Co 11:3). Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.
[vi] See Spiros Zodhiates discussion of the Greek word “hypotasso” (Strongs 5293)



Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Ministering to Men in Small Churches!

The skills of ministering to men is often misunderstood because we are working with a group of individuals that by virtue of their life are wrapped up in dozens of things at one time, generally running from one place to another, dealing with the stress of family responsibility, work, and taking care of a home.
The average church today is running between 100 and 200 people, and these are considered small to medium churches. As a Minister to Men it is important to understand that we cannot keep up with the Mega churches, nor should we want to. The men of your church have chosen your church for a reason, many like the small intimacy of the church, the friendships they develop, others attend small to medium churches due to living in small towns, or small local communities.  Whatever reason they chose to attend your church you have a unique opportunity to minster to them that big churches miss out on.
As a Minister to Men in three small to medium size churches, I have found it critical to choose two or three things at the most that we can do well, and focus the men on these. I believe that there are 3 things that we need to do, to be effect in ministering to men in small to medium size churches. In my churches we focus on fellowship, friendships, and fatherhood. If I can strengthen the men I minister to in these three areas I will have accomplished a great deal.
Let me explain my reasoning for these three points (challenges) in ministering to men.
1.       Fellowship … Helping the men to develop a personal time of fellowship with Christ, through their devotions, and Bible Study. We do this through various challenges (such as Champion Program, Men’s Fraternity, and etc.) as well as hosting Bible Studies at the church for the men to attend.
2.       Friendship … Helping me to strengthen their relationship’s with their Christian brothers within the church is essentials to their Christian walk. Spending time with Godly men, learning, and maturing with them helps them grow.
3.       Fatherhood … Helping them to learn to be the Godly father’s (dad) they should be in their family is a key point of the Christian walk. Any man can be a Biological father, but it takes a REAL MAN to be Father/Daddy.  This is a foundational point of not only the family, but the church.
As a Minister to Men for over the past 8 years, I also believe that it is important for you personally as Minister to Men to have five foundation principles. Know where your Men’s Ministry in the local church is heading, and how you plan to get there. Someone once asked me when I sleep, because it seems like my mind is always going. It’s going at this pace because I believe that we have something to accomplish over the next year with our men. And it is my obligation as men’s leader to set the vision, pace, and agenda for the men. Ministering to Men in your church will only go as far as you plan to go!
1.       Have a clear vision/direction of what you believe God wants you to accomplish. It is essential that you know what the vision or direction you are going, without it you will get side track and off on to many projects and miss the opportunity too something very well. The one thing that I need to caution Men’s Leaders about in the small and medium church is don’t try do everything do what you can and do it very good. If you have an older group of men, the Saturday breakfast is great idea, if you have a younger group of men they need to have an activity that requires action. If you have both, looks for a balance that will impact your men.

2.       Have a clear understanding of what you’re teaching the men, and what they need to learn: I think that it is essential to find good solid material to teach your men, and to challenge them to learn from. There are several great teaching tools available for Ministering to Men, I suggest that you check your denomination, some other the awesome Men’s ministries on the web or e-mail me at don@throughhimministries.org for recommendations of material I use.

3.       Have a personal Mentor … Have a personal Mentor and accountability partner to keep you grounded and focused. I encourage our men to develop mentorship roles with other men, and continue to develop the relationship as the mentored individual moves on to mentor. In my mind it works sort of like the father/son relationship. Father is the father to his son, but he is also the son to his father. The same applies a Mentor is the mentor to mentored, but he is also the mentored to the mentor. This is referred to as discipleship, and believe me it is the foundation of your church.

4.       Have a good relationship with your pastor: I’m convinced that it is essential that as a Minister to Men you have a good relationship with your pastor that he is included in all the decisions that are being made by the Men’s Ministry. It is essential that you show respect to the pastor, because you set the tone for what your men will do.

5.       Have a clear and personal testimony: Have a heart to share your faith with the men whom you come into contact with. Develop the skills to bring a man to Christ, if you don’t know these skills ask you pastor to help you, or your need to check out the resources online.

Friends, as you develop your skills to as a Minister to Men, remember you have two people to impress and represent. (1) The Lord Himself, and (2) the men of your church.

Rev. Don Allen, Jr PhD Grace Church of the Valley School of Ministry 1709 Nowlin Ave. Lawrenceburg, IN 47025 Dear Family & Fri...