When the Sunday Morning Service Turns into a Train Wreck

When the Sunday Morning Service Turns into a Train Wreck

It was a Sunday morning service like no other. Everything that could go wrong went wrong. Don’t think for a moment that I am exaggerating. For example, the audio team could not get the squeaking and feedback corrected.

The worship team took a new song out of the oven before it was fully cooked. The congregation was as lost as a ball in the tall Alabama weeds trying to learn the song.

The guy doing the announcements was having a bad day and appeared to have the love and compassion of Osama Bin Laden.

I also contributed, getting lost in my sermon notes 3 different times and going on to preach my longest sermon of the year. Not my best to say the least.

At lunch, I remember looking at my wife and saying the following words: “That was the worst service we ever had, what a train wreck.”

So how do you rebound from a service that really is a train wreck?

Here are 10 things to do:

  1. Learn from it.
  2. Talk about it. Laugh! The fact that anyone comes back the following week is proof of God’s sovereignty.
  3. Get clear on what you want.
  4. Get clear on what you don’t want.
  5. Be sure everyone on the team has the right tools to do the job. Ask, make sure!
  6. Remember God can change lives, even in so-called ‘train wrecks’.
  7. When in doubt, don’t tell them, show them. Model to your team what ‘good’ looks like.
  8. Re-evaluate if all team members are in the right spot. If not, make changes.
  9. Encourage your team.
  10. Ensure your team gets back on track immediately!

Confessions of an Arrogant Preacher

Confessions of an Arrogant Preacher

Recently I was asked to do a lecture at a Christian university.  The class was students comprised of men who were training to go into the ministry. As I put the finishing touches on the lecture I opened it up to questions.

The questions were all over the map. Everything from sexual purity, how long does it take to prepare a sermon, to life balance, you get the idea. However, there was one question that stood out and pricked my soul. My prayer is that it also pricked those that were listening then and reading now.

The question was actually simplistic in nature. It was as follows:

“Pastor, how has your preaching changed or what is different about your preaching now since you first started out?”

I looked that young man in the eye and said, “Son, when I first started out I was arrogant and did not even know it. I thought I had to win every battle that came across my desk. I have now learned that I no longer need to win the battle as I am more concerned about the war.”

To be arrogant is to feel superior, to have a need to be right, or put other people’s noses in it. The actual definition is: having or revealing an exaggerated sense of one’s own importance or abilities. That was me!

You see, I was more interested in my pet doctrines than I was for the lost. I was more interested in speaking than listening. My library of books consisted of those who only thought like me. My circle of friends mirrored my thoughts.

Then I remembered why Jesus came. He came to seek and save the Lost. He came to bear witness to the truth. Jesus was a man on a mission. He loved the sheep. Even the smelly, nippy little sheep. Sheep bite you know!

Faithful Pastors are shepherds, certainly not perfect but they are to care for the flock entrusted to them. John 10:11 tells us, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”

I heard Pastor Johnny Hunt say that “Shepherds need to smell like sheep.” And tenure has taught me that you don’t choose your sheep, God does. They come in all sizes and shapes and, believe me buddy, some of them sheep will test you, pull you, and some may even curse you! You are called to love them anyway. I now love my sheep and consider it pure joy to be their Shepherded.

Allow the words of Charles Hodge to help you as it did me. “The doctrines of Grace humble a man without degrading him and exalt a man without inflating him.”

Yes and Amen to that Brother Hodge. I NOW understand what you meant by that!

10 Things this Pastor had to learn about Church Attenders (The Hard Way)

Planting a church has been, and continues to be, a wild ride. We have a beautiful church and we have fun together. Because of that, I thought it would be fun to share 10 things that this rookie church planter did not know about the people he would be asked to lead. Enjoy!

  1. I have an agenda! People will attend your church to push their agenda. These are often noble things, however, it’s their agenda, not yours.
  2. Ronald Reagan sits at the right hand . . . say what! The best way to get Amen’s and the Hallelujah chorus singing is to bash the Democratic Party and of course say something nice about Ronald Reagan. After all, nothing brings them to a blood stained cross like Red & Blue politics.
  3. Hello, Critics! You will have a handful of critics that meet regularly to discuss what they don’t like about you or your leadership team. Some are even open to sharing it with you!
  4. Pastor, you got a minute? Minutes before the Sunday service you will be asked to do numerous things. Here are a few requests I have had; make an announcement (today) for me, show a video, sing Happy Birthday to my mom that is visiting.
  5. Better Late than Never. For some, the Sunday morning service starts in the middle of the third worship song.
  6. Giving is so Old Testament. On the subject of giving, many have worked out that tithing is an option. You will even have a brave one from time to time let you know tithing is Old Testament and we are no longer under the law (code for, “I don’t give”).
  7. Busy, Busy, Busy. Some people have been too busy to serve for several decades.
  8. Social Media: Some in your church will let it rip on Social Media removing all doubt about their maturity and their Christian witness!
  9. First Time Visitors: Some believe that first-time visitors should immediately stop smoking, dress modestly, and clean up their language.
  10. I don’t want to let you down. Key volunteers, Elders, and Deacons will have seasons of unexpected busyness. Because of their commitment to the church, or even a person, they may be inclined to keep the plates spinning in the air. Don’t let this happen! You must step in and assist or the plates will hit your church in the head.