I'm increasingly enjoying Derwin Gray's writings... and you should to. Here is a recent entry.
How did 120 Jewish followers in the first century turn into a multi-ethnic movement of over 33 million followers by 350 AD?
Immediately we know they preached the Gospel under the power of the Holy Spirit. This is a given. Sociologist and comparative religion professor, Dr. Rodney Stark in His book, The Rise of Christianity, outlines three things the early church did to bring about the greatest movement planet earth has ever seen.
I propose that as America becomes more post-Christian, the 3 things the early church did, are 3 things the church in America must do as well.
The Early Church took care of the sick and the poor.
The Early Church honored women and endowed them with dignity
The Early Church was a multi-ethnic, local church movement
The Archbishop of Canterbury speaks in tongues-- which, I must say, is just fascinating.
'It's such a lovely day, let's go into the garden," says the Archbishop of Canterbury. Carrying a tray heavy with coffee cups, he leads us down the wide steps of Lambeth Palace round to its wider lawns. Justin Welby is the fourth Archbishop I have met in this place; though new in the job, he is by far the most relaxed.
He answers everything with the same directness. Since he is an evangelical, I ask him whether he can speak "in tongues" – the "charismatic" spiritual gift recorded in the New Testament. Oh yes, he says, almost as if he had been asked if he plays tennis, "It's just a routine part of spiritual discipline – you choose to speak and you speak a language that you don't know. It just comes. Bramble! Go and find Peter [the Welbys' second son, one of five living children, and brother of Johanna, who died in a car crash as a baby], you idiot!" The last bit of these remarks is addressed to his exuberant six-month-old Clumber spaniel who has rushed up to him.
I am amazed. I first saw this man 40 years ago, when we were both pupils at Eton. Later, I was with him at Trinity College, Cambridge. He was the shyest, most unhappy-looking boy you could imagine. Now he is 105th in the line that began with St Augustine. He seems to be loving it. I remark on the change, and he agrees. "That's something to do with the Christian faith," he says.
Is it necessary, I ask, for a true Christian to have had a personal conversion experience? "Absolutely not. There is an incredible range of ways in which the Spirit works. It doesn't matter how you get there. It really does quite matter where you are."
Is it like suddenly realising that you love someone and want to marry that person? The Archbishop laughs: "That's not what happened with Caroline [his wife] and me! And it's not what happened with Peter, who got engaged to a lovely girl two days ago. That's been a gradual thing."
Any article that begins with a Ron Burgundy quote is worth your time... but the content is really great as well!
There is a great line in the movie Anchorman, when Ron Burgundy introduces himself and says, "I'm kind of a big deal. People know me." This thinking sums up the thinking of many pastors, but not always the ones you think.
Many people bemoan the rise of mega-churches and talk about the "celebrity pastor" that has come because of it. It may be true true that some pastors of larger churches have created a pastor-centralized way of doing church. They strive to be celebrities.
But I've also met pastors of really large churches who are incredibly humble and seek to serve those around them. Large churches do not equal celebrity pastors just like small churches do not mean the pastors are not celebrities.
Now, in a small church, celebrity can be harder to see. But it is there.
You see this when…
A pastor has to be at everything. Something isn't important if he isn't there or if he doesn't announce it from the stage.
Everyone needs to talk to the pastor or be counseled by the pastor. Talking to another elder or leader is seen as getting passed down the line.
People skip church if the pastor isn't preaching.
This problem can be deceptive because most pastors become pastors to help people. They care deeply for people, the hurts they experience and want to help them find life in Jesus. Underneath this desire for many pastors is a need to be needed. This fuels and drives many pastors to work themselves into a position where they feel they are always needed.
Here are a few ways to know this might be you:
You can't turn your phone off at night.
You worry what people say about you, your sermon, or your church on Facebook. You also feel the need to comment on everything or want to know how many likes your last status update got.
You have to be at every meeting, part of every decision that is made.
You don't take time off from preaching. When you go on vacation, you're afraid someone may like the guest speaker's sermon more than yours.
When counseling or talking to someone, you do not challenge their sin for fear you will hurt their feelings.
You are the bottleneck for all decisions; they must run through your office. By doing this, you say that you are keeping everyone on the same page, but really it is because you don't trust that the culture and DNA of your church has spread, which says more about your leadership than your followers.
Pastors are needed by their people. God designed it this way and it is a good thing.
Recently on The Exchange, my friend Alton Garrison joined me and talked about Spirit-empowered speech. Don't forget to join me every Tuesday at 3:00 PM Eastern for The Exchange.