About a year and half ago, I posted a collage of all the sermon and bible study artwork since Christ Fellowship began in 2009. I have complied another collage of the artwork since that time. Also I put together a collage of odds and ends artwork, most of which were announcement slides. It is always humbling to look back at something like this and be reminded of all the great things that God has done for our church. He is faithful indeed. Enjoy.
I was recently asked what my opinion was toward ministers receiving 70 – 100 thousand salary, plus monthly allowances. In light of our current economy is this too much? Would the apostles have taken this much? Here was my response:
A few thoughts from the Bible:
1. Love of money and possessions is sinful (1 Tim 6:9-10; 1 John 2:16).
2. Ministers should not seek to selfishly gain from their ministry (1 Pet 5:2).
3. God commands that those who labor in the ministry should benefit from it, that is be paid (1 Cor 9:8-14; 1 Tim 5:17-18). Although, some ministers may choose not to burden a church and support themselves by other means (1 Cor 9:15-18; 2 Cor 11:7-11).
4. It is wrong for a church to not treat a minister fairly in regards to paying them (Gal 6:6-7; 1 Tim 5:17-18).
A few thoughts from me:
1. There may not be a one-size-fits all answer to your question. Different ministers living in different places in different circumstances will determine what is fair pay. That amount may not be too much for someone ministering in NYC or DC where the cost is living is so high, especially if they have a large family. But it may be too much for someone working in a place where living is less costly, especially if they are ministering to a poorer community.
2. I don’t think that the church should view ministers as business-type executives. The business world should not determine what ministers are paid.
3. I do think that a church should do their best to make sure that a minister and his family are cared for well. It is not good for a church to try and pay the minister as little as possible.
4. Since Scripture is silent as to how much a minister should be paid (and how much the apostles were paid), I think this is ultimately a matter of conscience. Individual churches have the right to pay their ministers what ever they believe to be fair.
5. We can only see what is public not private. We see budget reports and find out how much a minister is paid. But we don’t see what he does with the money. We don’t know what a minister is giving back to his church or to missions. It would be just as greedy for someone to make 100 grand and give nothing away as it would be for someone to make 30 grand and give nothing away.
Martin Luther King Jr Day always takes me back to a church that I served at while going to college in Tennessee. My friend was the youth minister at a small Baptist church and one night we decided to have a Q &A time with the students during the weekly youth meeting. The questions ranged from personal questions about our testimonies, some silly questions, and some deep theological questions about angels, demons and Adam’s belly button.
But it was one question in particular that opened up the flood gates: “Should a black student be allowed to date a white student?”
We didn’t know that this was such a hot topic in West Tennessee and simply responded “According to Scripture there is no reason that a black student could not date a white student.” Maybe hot topic was a bit of an understatement, because before the week was up my friend had a meeting with an angry and frustrated parent. A parent who was steeped more in his southern heritage than he was the gospel of Jesus Christ.
It is a truly sad statement that many in the church today are just like this man. They are often more conformed to the religious and racial traditions in the South than they are to the Word of God.
What the church needs today is to be visited by the legacies of Martin Luther and Martin Luther King Jr.
We need Martin Luther to come and teach us the gospel. To teach us again the truth that he once discovered while wrestling with his sin and the Roman Catholic Church. The truth that “the righteous shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:17) We need this truth to expose our foolish hopes that we can be approved by God because of our bible reading, church attendance, assistance to little old ladies, feeding of the poor, or any of the false self-righteous acts that we cling to. Salvation does not come from any thing that we do but only through faith in what Christ has done.
We need Martin Luther King Jr to come and show us the gospel. Martin Luther King was gripped by a dream when he said, “I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” It was a dream that one day the gospel would be the lense by which we see the world. Where one day people look at the world and see only two kinds of people: sinners who need the grace of God or sinners who have been saved by the grace of God. (See Colossians 3:11) For if anybody can look at a man in the face and judge him not through the lense of the gospel but through the lense of race, sex, age, or economic status, than this person does not know the gospel.
I would love to finish by telling you that the conversation my friend had with this parent ended in a spirit of unity and repentance, but instead it ended with the man saying “Martin Luther King Jr. was an evil man and deserved to be killed.” It was frustrating that this man didn’t know his history, but it broke my heart even more that he didn’t know the gospel. I just pray that his son and the coming generation follows in the steps of Martin Luther, Martin Luther King Jr, and Jesus that are marked by grace and love. Rather than the footsteps of the South that often bring only self-righteousness and hate.
Next Sunday there will be a special guest in the worship service at your church. He has shown up before on Sunday but has been lost in the crowd. There are times where he has tried to speak but some didn’t listen. Other times he wanted to be engaged by the people but people were distracted by the songs they didn’t like or where they would eat lunch.
God will be present in worship this Sunday.
We don’t need to miss Him. We need to be prepared to engage with Him. And we should strive to eliminate all distractions that could keep us focused on lesser things.
This Sunday God wants to be the star of the show. He wants to be exalted over every name, in every song and through every sermon. Why? Because Sunday worship is always about God. It is not about the seeker and what he likes. It is not about the church member who has musical preferences different than others. Worship has always been and always will be about the church knowing and loving God.
So I wanted to spend some time encouraging us in ways for us to engage rather than being mindless in worship:
1) Connect Mind and Heart with the Words You Sing
Many times it’s easy to sing mindlessly. We can be distracted by the music. We could focus on lunch later or on a test we have in school this week. Maybe you are busy looking around at who all is present. However, remember that the Lord wants you to engage with Him.
Therefore, sing with your mind’s attention on the words and their meaning. Sing with a heart that makes the songs your own. Sing with your heart’s affection for the Lord.
2) Pray with the People Praying
Corporate prayer should always be taking place corporately. The pastor or church member that is praying before the church is not just letting us listen to his private prayer with God. He is praying on behalf of the church and with the church. Next Sunday when someone stands to pray, pray with them at your seat in one accord and in one Spirit.
3) Ask the Lord to Bless the Offering
The easiest time to disengage during a service might be when the offering is taken up. Yet this could be one of the most worshipful moments in worship. Instead of sitting in silence or listening to the music, spend time praying for the money being received. Pray that the money will impact believers in the church. Pray that the Lord will multiply the money and continue to bless the church. Most of all, ask the Lord to use the money to bring many to faith in Christ through the ministry.
4) Meditate on the Gospel during the Lord’s Supper
One of the greatest blessings in worship is the Lord’s Supper that was given to us to picture the salvation accomplished by Christ. Sadly, we can take this great blessing and miss out by not focusing on the gospel. During the Lord’s Supper let your mind rest on God’s saving work in Christ. Confess your sin and truly examine your hearts. And celebrate the truth that sin and death have been defeated and you have been reconciled to God.
5) Apply the Word to Your Life as you Listen
One danger in listening to sermons every Sunday is thinking that the sermon is about other people. Instead, members of the church should be diligent to do heart work every time the Word is preached. Ask the Lord to illuminate your heart when you hear the sermon and strive to apply the words you hear to your marriage, your workplace, your parenting, your relationship with friends, and your pursuit to be more like Jesus.
6) Come Sunday Ready to Minister
On Sunday’s we can get in the habit of going through the motions and losing sight of God being present. But it is equally true that we can be so focused on ourselves that we are not mindful of the people that God places around us. Hurting single mothers that need to have people pray with them. People from the community that need to hear the hope of the gospel. Fellow church members that need to hear the promises of God spoken to them from a brother or sister in Christ. Come on Sunday’s with a heart to minister to those around you.
So the next Sunday will soon be upon us. And we will gather together as the people of God. Singing songs about Jesus and hearing his Word preached. The question will not be “Will the Lord be present when we worship?” The question is: “Will we miss Him?”
Below are some great points from a conference going on in Washington D.C. as posted at the 9marks website by Michael Mckinley. I hope that this is a helpful post for Christ Fellowship.
At the Trellis and Vine Workshop in DC today, Colin Marshall shared ways that ordinary church members can serve the church on Sunday mornings.
Before the Service
- Read the passage in advance
- Pray for the gathering
- Greet newcomers (act like you are the host)
- Think strategically about who you should sit with
- Arrive Early
During the Service
- Sing with gusto (even if you can’t sing)
- Help with logistics (if there’s a problem, help fix it)
- Don’t be distracted
- Listen carefully
- Be aware of your facial expressions (you may affect others and discourage preachers)
After the Service
- Connect newcomers with others
- Get newcomers information
- Start a conversation about the sermon
- Ask someone how they became a Christian
- Stay late
This past Sunday, Pastor Brian Curtis did a wonderful job at pointin the church to be people of the Word. The early church was constantly looking to the OT, quoting the OT, and even seeking to follow the apostles teaching. Our prayer at Christ Fellowship is that we would be people who hear the Word and walk in it’s truth. The following information is from Donald Whitney’s website (www.biblicalspirituality.org) on how to meditate on the scriptures. Use these tools to apply God’s Word to your heart and life: