August 2017 Newsletter Article
An association pastor recently commented that folks may not fully understand or appreciate the designation, “bi-vocational pastor.” He may be correct. First, and most obvious, shepherding is
certainly not a 9–5 job and we should appreciate the internal and external struggle of having a desire to give more in the feeding and care of your flock, but possessing only a finite amount of time and mental and emotional energy to accomplish all your work. This is certainly no small obstacle.
Second, and maybe the thing we really miss about being bi-vocational, this method of ministry is a powerful expression of the doctrine of the priesthood of the believer. Early on in the life of the Church our leaders did us a disservice by separating the “sacred” work of the clergy from the everyday life of the common person. We develop a priestly class, like the Levites of the Old Testament, but under the New Covenant, everyone in Christ is a royal priesthood. God does not live in a building, each believer is the holy of holies in which God dwells. Full of the Holy Spirit, everywhere we go, we are Christ on earth. Through Christ, God is redeeming all things. Those that have adopted a kingdom agenda are committed to being redemptive in everything they put their hands to do, everything our Lord gives us to do. Kingdom workers do not live compartmentalized lives. Whether we eat or drink, repair cars or set bones, grow things, sell goods or services, help people manage their resources or information, teach or govern, or whatever we do; we do all for the glory of God. We are coworkers with the new Adam, to reverse the curse and defeat the work of Satan inevery place and in every way, “as far as the curse is found.”
Our pastors, who work “in the world,” have a unique opportunity to bridge the gap between the sacred and profane and bring the redemptive presence of the Holy Spirit into places that desperately need the Christ in us. They not only prepare sermons, they are sermons. Contrary to being less “ministry,” bi-vocational ministry is as real as it gets.
On another note, our understanding of the atoning work of Christ makes all the difference in how we understand our calling and the work of the Church. At this year’s Southern Baptist Convention our denomination affirmed the centrality of the doctrine of Penal Substitutionary Atonement. I’ve written a report on what we said and why we felt the need to speak out on this topic at this time. Find my report at http://www.dbachurches.com/blog/
July Newsletter Article
Successful financial investors don’t jump at the sight of every shiny new penny. They don’t react to every change in the market. They play the long-game. The overnight success is rare. More often, wealth is built through wise incremental investments over the long haul.
As I write this, I’m at DBA Children’s Camp in Adrian. I see the long-term strategic value in having a local Association camp. The kids that attend our children’s camp meet here year after year and build Christ centered long-term local relationships with other kids and adults in our area. The counselors here are like family. Many of them attended camp here as kids. The strength of our camp is in the relationships that are developed, local long-term relationships.
Surge camp is upon us and I expect to find the same long-range spiritual investment planning at Surge that I experienced at our children’s camp. In fact, this year’s theme at Surge is “Legacy.” Jeff McCormick will be our camp pastor and I’m confident he will teach us about the eternal impact of a life well lived, a life in step with the truths of the gospel. Please pray for Jeff and our Surge Camp leadership as they minister to our youth this year.
As Southern Baptists we need to be consistent and in step with the truth of the gospel. At the Southern Baptist Convention this year we addressed several important issues. One of the issues addressed was the anti-gospel message of white supremacy. I wrote a piece on what transpired, which is online at http://www.dbachurches.com/blog. Socio-economic and racial segregation, or even partiality, within the church is certainly not in step with the truth of the gospel, but some ships take a long-time to turn.
God has his eye on the long-game. Over time, the influence of Satan and the ways of this world will prove false. The truth of the gospel will become evident as the Church faithfully walks in step with the Spirit of God. If we will make choices that shape our churches and our Association in such a way as to reflect the truths of the gospel, I know we will shine as lights to this world. I’m praying that God will give our Association the wisdom, vision and fortitude to keep in step with the Holy Spirit and adopt a long-range spiritual investment strategy that will ultimately accumulate sizable kingdom dividends.