My friend Charles wanted a mentor. He was eager to learn the ropes of ministry, so he asked an older pastor for training. The pastor agreed—but Charles soon realized the man wanted a valet, not an apprentice. Charles became the man’s “armor bearer.”
The man never took Charles on hospital visits, involved him in ministry assignments or prayed with him. Instead, Charles was expected to carry the pastor’s briefcase, fetch coffee and take suits to the cleaners—with no salary offered. In this case, “armor bearer” was a spiritualized term for “slave.”
This bizarre trend became popular in churches 20 years ago, but it still thrives. It appeals to insecure leaders who need an entourage to make them feel important. Some pastors have even assigned trainees to serve as bodyguards—complete with dark glasses and concealed weapons. These young men are instructed to keep people away from the pastor so he doesn’t have to talk to anyone after a church service (because, after all, the poor preacher might be “drained of his anointing” if he fraternizes with common folks).
Note: This is the second of a three-part series about Christian marriages.
There is nothing wrong with having a marriage class, seminar or retreat. We have them all. But a healthy marriage ministry will focus on strengthening marriages, not just fixing marriage problems.
I began to teach a weekly “couples class.” The title alone immediately attracted singles and the divorced. We found that the classic marriage class is designed to fix the problem marriages. I wanted more than that. So we send struggling marriages to the marriage class in hopes that they will get better, graduate and then get back to work for the church.
The very title “marriage class,” along with the predictable subject matter, often defines “healthy marriages” according to a series of dos and don’ts, steps and conditions and understanding one another's differences. After that, there is just getting through life with a new set of tools.
What every church can do about human sex trafficking—now
Can I be blunt and say that I’m sick and tired of churches and ministries that are committed to “raising awareness” about sex trafficking?
We’re living in a time in which the world has more modern-day slaves than ever before. The United Nations crime-fighting office estimates that at any given time, 2.4 million people are being trafficked—and of those, half are children. Nearly 80 percent of those 2.4 million are being exploited as sexual slaves.
Although it’s difficult to cite an exact figure, we know that no country is providing more girls per capita than Moldova, where I’ve worked for more than 20 years. Right now, 450,000 women and girls have simply and mysteriously vanished from the tiny country—more than 12 percent of the nation’s total population!
Taking the first step in leading others to share their faith
Willing men inspire fear.
The one thing Satan fears more than any other is a man of God who’s willing to say two little words each day: “Use me.” As leaders, we especially grab the enemy’s attention when God burdens us to begin inviting others to explore a relationship with Christ. Satan will stop at nothing to keep us from fusing these two little words in our prayers; he knows he needs to keep them separate in leaders’ lives. Using something else is much better, he’ll say to us—people, substances, credit cards, false motivations, feelings. Using these things now is optimal.
If the enemy can make us a dedicated user, distracting our lives and minds with other things, he knows we won’t be available for God to use us. So go on, he says, use, abuse and blow a fuse! Satan would love to decommission you, dishonorably discharge you and destroy your availability to lead and be used by God.
Note: This is the first of a three-part series about Christian marriages.
An alarming number of Christian marriages end in divorce. What can the church do to reverse this trend?
I had just started my new position as an associate pastor back in 1983. There I was at a barbecue for the adult Christian singles. The majority of those attending were divorced. With each hurting conversation and each prayer of restoration, my burden grew for these singles.
Later that year, I sat in a small support group for divorced men and women, hoping to find how to best minister to them. One of the singles, perhaps sensing my dilemma, blurted out: "The best way you can minister to the divorced is to minister to marriages." It was then that I realized that the greatest ministry I could have to the divorced single was to build strong marriages.