|Best Practices||January 20, 2011|
My mind - because the minds that I have loved,
The sort of beauty that I have approved,
Prosper but little - has dried up of late,
Yet knows that to be choked with hate
May well be of all evil chances chief.
If there's no hatred in a mind
Assault and battery of the wind
Can never tear the linnet from the leaf.
An intellectual hatred is the worst,
So let her think opinions are accursed....
Considering that, all hatred driven hence,
The soul recovers radical innocence
And learns at last that it is self-delighting,
And that its own sweet will is Heaven's will;
She can, though every face should scowl
And every windy quarter howl
Or every bellows burst, be happy still.
- Excerpts from William Butler Yeats, "Prayer for my Daughter," 1919
By Loren Seibold, Editor, Best Practices for Adventist Ministry
Not long ago I heard a sermon by a young preacher about the state of the dead. It was technically quite good: he hit all the standard texts, and gave it a pleasant delivery.
I couldn't help but notice, though, that the congregation wasn't very enthusiastic.
Was it true? Yeah. Then why were they yawning? I think because he was answering questions that they weren't asking.
Something that isn't remembered often enough by us preachers is that it isn't sufficient to exegete the text or the topic. You've also got to exegete the people. You've got to listen to them, so you can speak to them in the way that has the best chance of reaching them.
That's the advantage the pastor has over the guest speaker. That traveling evangelist is an annoyingly dynamic preacher. He knows his sermons backwards and forwards, knows just how to make them sparkle, and can prance around while he does it.
You know something he doesn't, though. You know your people. You've been in their homes and at their hospital bedsides. You know their parents, their children. You and they have a shared story.
That's the difference between a pastor and a preacher.
Here are some diagnostic questions: "Is the topic I'm going to preach about something that I know members of my congregation have had questions about this week? And if not, how can I say what they need to hear in such a way that it will be relevant and timely to them?"
There's a time for reminding people what they already know, of course. But even that has to be placed in context for people to tune in to it. I don't know if anyone in that small congregation of lifelong Adventists had wondered that week about whether great-grandma was asleep or in heaven. But since it was, like many small congregations, heavily represented by 60+ members, there undoubtedly was a need to assure them that there is a resurrection, and remind them how you can be sure you'll pop up for the right one.
That's all anyone can ask of a preacher: speak to the people about what troubles them the most, in a way that will give them what they really need to know.
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No Perfect People Allowed: Creating a come as you are culture in the church by John Burke (Senior Pastor of Gateway Community Church in Austin, Texas), Zondervan, 2005
In these days with all the hype about the emerging church movement, John Burke's book No Perfect People Allowed is a must read for sincere Christians with a passion for the Gospel and for people. Burke manages to show how it is possible to minster to and include postmodern people in our churches without compromising on truth and honesty. He tackles head on the toughest moral issues we are confronted with like homosexuality, co-habitation, drugs etc. and shares real life stories of ministering to people with all the scars of our world. He shows how we must lead people to spiritual growth and change without pushing them away. I have been impressed and encouraged by the book and hope other readers, too, will try to go beyond the noisy discussion about emergent trends in Christendom and seek for answers to how we can constructively relate to and share the Gospel in our times. The book is already 5 years old, but probably more relevant than ever. Burke has really challenged and inspired me.
Reviewed by Atle Haugen, Pastor and Bible teacher at Tyrifjord Videregående Skole, Norway
Worthington Job Networking Ministry--The United States is coming out of the worst recession since the great depression. The jobless rate is staggering and millions of families are affected. What role can a congregation play in meeting the needs of the unemployed? Worthington Seventh-day Adventist church sponsored a job seekers support group that has helped dozens find work and has lifted up this Seventh-day Adventist congregation in the eyes of the community. Watch this interview with Loren Seibold who was Senior Pastor of Worthington at the time of the story.
New iPhone App for AWR--Adventist World Radio is the international broadcast service of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Its mission is to bring a message of hope to people in the hardest-to-reach places on earth, in their own languages. AWR currently transmits programs in more than 100 languages via shortwave and AM/FM radio. This app lets you know which programs are playing right now and what is coming up next near your and around the world. Search 80+ languages and discover the many personalities of AWR. When you find what you are looking for you can download the podcast.
New Vervent Documentary--Jason Ridley pastors two churches in West Virginia, and he is making his first visit to the Atlanta Berean Seventh-day Adventist church. Primarily an African-American congregation with a deep-rooted history, the church has been transformed by the strong leadership of Pastor Carlton Byrd. Jason shadows Pastor Byrd, analyzing his administrative style, the unorthodox worship service, and the staff who support what is considered by many to be the fastest growing and the largest non-institutional Adventist church in North America. Watch and discuss this fifteen minute documentary with your leadership team.
|Reading for Pastors|
Jim Coffin addresses revival and reformation, as applied to the local communion service. (Note that in the comments, a lot of people admit to not being fond of the footwashing service. What can be done?)
"Dad ... it seems like you're always tired or mad." Check out "The Idiot's Guide to Church Burn-out" Quote: "And I really don't think the root cause is being overworked and underpaid. I think the primary cause is our inability to marry our deepest God-given passions and desires to a structure or organization where we honestly believe that God can change the world through us."
You can't lead from ten miles ahead. Stephen Furtick on staying in touch with those you're leading. Quote: "If you're a pastor, you might think that it's going to be inspiring for your people to hear that you're like Martin Luther and wake up at 4am to spend three hours in prayer. Good intentions, but that might not inspire people. It might actually make them want to stop trying at all. They're already having a hard enough time praying for 5 minutes a day.
Seven expectations you should have of your staff.
Can this really be true - that 7% of Americans worship in someone's home? Could it be that microchurches, rather than megachurches, are the cutting edge of church growth? (See Milton Adams' SimpleChurch for SDA application.)
George Barna, on six themes that emerge in church research of 2010. (Note: Barna is a much-respected researcher, but his studies have been criticized - in this one, say critics, he purports to tell about the church based on random phone interviews of the general public.)
If you have a campus ministry, can you exclude people because they're gay? The Ohio State University may say no. (I'm a sponsor of three teams of campus chaplains in Ohio, one on the OSU campus.)
Important note, though: according to Barna, gay people are far from godless, as they're sometimes portrayed. Quote: "People who portray gay adults as godless, hedonistic, Christian bashers are not working with the facts. A substantial majority of gays cite their faith as a central facet of their life, consider themselves to be Christian, and claim to have some type of meaningful personal commitment to Jesus Christ active in their life today."
Do you let visitors to your church website post prayer requests? It's a growing trend.
Physicians are always perfectly objective about your care - right? Apparently not, says the Sacramento Bee. Their religious beliefs may influence the way they carry out your end-of-life wishes.
Is the new missional church jargon any more understandable than our old theological jargon? Maybe not.
Ever done a baby dedication for a family that only shows up at church for that? I have. And apparently, C of E pastors will now go even a step farther.
|To the Point|
In 1887, an agnostic Mark Twain wrote to his best friend of 40 years, the Reverend Joseph Twichell, about the death of his 24-year-old daughter, Susy, of meningitis. He considered this the most devastating loss of his life, especially because he was traveling overseas when it happened. (Thanks to Tim Mitchell.)
"I do not want most people to write [to me], but I do want you to do it. The others break my heart, but you will not. You have a something divine in you that is not in other men. You have the touch that heals, not lacerates. And you know the secret places of our hearts. You know our life - the outside of it - as the others do - and the inside of it - which they do not. You have seen our whole voyage. You have seen us go to sea, a cloud of sail - and the flag at the peak; and you see us now, chartless, adrift - derelicts; battered, water-logged, our sails a ruck of rags, our pride gone. For it is gone. And there is nothing in its place. The vanity of life was all we had, and there is no more vanity left in us. We are even ashamed of that we had; ashamed that we trusted the promises of life and builded high - to come to this!
"I did know that Susy was part of us; I did not know that she could go away; I did not know that she could go away, and take our lives with her, yet leave our dull bodies behind. And I did not know what she was. To me she was but treasure in the bank; the amount known, the need to look at it daily, handle it, weigh it, count it, realize it, not necessary; and now that I would do it, it is too late; they tell me it is not there, has vanished away in a night, the bank is broken, my fortune is gone, I am a pauper. How am I to comprehend this? How am I to have it? Why am I robbed, and who is benefited?
"I am working, but it is for the sake of the work - the 'surcease of sorrow' that is found there. I work all the days, and trouble vanishes away when I use that magic. ... I have many unwritten books to fly to for my preservation."
|News, Ideas & Reminders|
|Upcoming NAD Events|
Do you have an event you'd like to invite NAD pastors to? Send details to BestPractices@Ameritech.net.ACS Presents - Reach Out! Hosted by Southern California Conference - February 5
& 6, 2011. Location: White Memorial SDA Church
, 401 North State Street, Los Angeles, CA 90003. Link for downloading brochure: http://www.communityservices.org/site/1/docs/ACS_Leadership_Development_Feb_5_2011.pdf
Ohio Ministry University. March 19-20, 2011.
Dr. Leslie Bumgardner "Helping People Get Serious About God." Ray Tetz, "Marketing Your Ministry." Sabbath afternoon workshops on Vacation Bible School, Helping Your Church to Respond to Local Disasters, Reaching High-school Students, and Friendship Evangelism. Call 740-397-4665 x165 for more information. Andrews University Music & Worship Conference
. Mar 24, 2011 - Mar 26, 2011, Andrews University, 100 US 31 Highway, Berrien Springs, MI 49104. The eighth annual Andrews University Music and Worship Conference. If you're interested in exploring worship and worship music in ways that are theologically profound, practical, and inspiring, you will definitely want to join us. Sponsored by the NAD Church Resource Center and Andrews University's Department of Music, Department of Christian Ministry and Center for Youth Evangelism. Phone: 800-968-8428 x4 or 269-471-8352. For more information, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
United Youth Congress 2011 - iServe. Apr 6, 2011 - Apr 9, 2011, Orange County Convention Center, 9860 Universal Blvd, Orlando, FL 32819. Youth, young adults, youth leaders and parents/chaperones are invited to attend. We will have inspiring worship, training seminars, service projects in the community, an evening at Universal Studios, Saturday night concert, recreation, and much more! This package includes hotel and meals. For those who do not want hotel and meals, click here. For Sabbath Only, click here. Phone: 800-732-7587. For more information, email: email@example.com
From Walt Williams, Andrews University InMinistry Center Director, the list of Spring 2011 InMinistry intensive classes for each union - April 3-14
. Apr 15, 2011 - Apr 17, 2011, Andrews University, Berrien Springs, MI. STANDOUT is a spiritual retreat for high school students, hosted on the campus of Andrews University. Throughout two days of spiritual exercises and group activities, we'll challenge you to tap into the amazing power of God so that you will STANDOUT and set your faith in motion! Phone: 269-471-6372. For more information, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Nonprofit Leadership Certification Program - Basic Curriculum: May 15 - 19, 2011 Northeastern Conference in Jamaica, NY. Here is a link for more information: http://www.communityservices.org/article.php?id=124
Best Practices is a Vervent publication of NAD CHURCH RESOURCE CENTER. Editor: Loren Seibold, Ohio Conference. E-mail:
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