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Keep Obedience a Priority When Taking Guest-Preacher Offering

I’m finishing my fourth year as an itinerant preacher and have been the beneficiary of some great (i.e., generous, encouraging) love offerings and the victim of no poor offerings. (That was a good place to have said I’ve been victimized by some unscrupulous pastors or lay leaders, but thankfully, I haven’t. Every check given to me has been more than I deserved and well appreciated.)

On the other hand, I’ve seen the other side of it. I regret to say that a time or two, when I was pastoring, my church was struggling financially and we gave the guest preacher far, far less than he deserved.

Every minister understands this. If a church does all it can, that’s all anyone can ask. On the other hand, some have some funny ways of doing the Lord’s business. Read more...

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Please God With Service Instead of a Culture of Honor

At the risk of not showing honor to peers in ministry, I want to tackle the topic of honor today. I’m concerned. I see a trend in churches that I think is unhealthy. Honestly, I believe it’s also unbiblical.

There are a number of churches today that are trying to teach a culture of honor. The concept of honor is biblical. In fact, Romans 12:10 tells us to:

“Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” (ESV)

We should show honor to our leaders, but God designed it to go both directions. If it’s one-way, it’s unhealthy and unbiblical. Read more...

Integrity in Pastors: A Deal Breaker

“I was the student minister in a fine church many years ago,” Will told me. “We had a wonderful ministry. The single negative about the entire experience was the pastor. You never knew what he would do next.”

“Case in point, one night in a church business meeting, the pastor announced that the property the church owned, including the former pastorium, was being offered for sale. At the time, my wife and I were living in that house! And now we learn they’re selling it. This was the first we had heard of it.

“That night, my wife was angry because she thought I had known about it and not told her. But that was the way this pastor worked. Staff members were nothing to him. Just pawns to be manipulated.” Read more...

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When Leaders Fail, Grace Must Abound

Along with millions of Americans, I have watched The Bible miniseries on the History Channel. As much as I’m enjoying the TV series, the book is way better.

Highlights from Part 2 included: the crumbling walls of Jericho, Samson doing major damage with a jawbone, Saul and David’s dysfunctional relationship, and Nathan calling out David.

I can’t stop thinking about the sad story of David, Bathsheba, Uriah and Nathan, especially that last scene when Nathan confronts David. Because of a faithful and fearless friend like Nathan, and a forgiving and gracious God, David repented and ended strong. Read more...

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How to Keep Success From Crippling Your Ministry

I’ve consulted with several churches over the years, and one thing I’ve often said to church leaders is this: What if all your dreams come true?

What if your marketing worked? What if everyone did invite someone? What if you arrived one Sunday and you had doubled in size? Could you handle it?”

I ask this because rapid growth can sometimes cripple organizations and businesses. If you don’t have a solid foundation and infrastructure in place, you could crash and burn.

I’m dealing with this currently at my church. We’ve tripled in size in less than two years.

I’m up late at night thinking about things like adding a third service and developing more leaders. I’m urging my staff to invest in leaders and build their teams. I’m praying through who I, as the Campus Pastor, can invest in and what areas in our overall church need my attention and focus. I’m thinking through systems and strategy and processes. Read more...

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Steve Murrell: 5 Characteristics of Good Leaders

While reading my Bible recently, I scribbled some notes in my journal. Then I thought that both leaders who read this blog might find these thoughts helpful. So I’m transforming them into this blog, if I can read my own handwriting.

In Deuteronomy 17 God is giving his people guidelines for picking good leaders. Here’s my summary of those guidelines.

1. Calling. “Be sure to appoint over you the king the Lord your God chooses.” (Verse 15) We should not appoint a person to a leadership position unless and until God appoints and anoints them. In other words, divine calling is essential for good leadership. Read more...

Heal Your Servant: Pastors Deserve Grace Too

In any city on this globe, a young man finds his way to an altar, committing his life to Christ. His genuine salvation develops into a deep heart desire to become a servant to both God and humanity.

After a season he feels divinely directed to a wonderful bible college, he later graduates and is on his way to answer the cry of a lost and dying world. Blessed with a beautiful wife, he works his way up the ministry ranks finding himself with his own pastorate.

Courageously, he takes on all of the challenges presented to him and soon, with no one to really talk to, he is encompassed by a nagging sense of isolation and insulation. As a leader, he can’t be totally candid with anyone. He loves serving others, but people begin to see him as super human.

Our adversary is ever so cunning. Read more...

David Lamb: Is God Really ‘Angry, Sexist and Racist’?

Evangelical theologian David Lamb tackles some of the Bible’s most troubling passages in his book, God Behaving Badly: Is the God of the Old Testament Angry, Sexist and Racist? His answer: yes and no.

The book has received mixed reviews in the Christian blogosphere, but Lamb was well-received when he recently spoke at a church here. Religion News Service sat down with Lamb, an Old Testament scholar at Biblical Seminary in Hatfield, Pa., to find out how believers’ long-held views of a wrathful Old Testament God might waver with his findings.

Answers have been edited for length and clarity. Read more...

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What To Do When a Leader Falls

I was on an airplane between Louisville, Ky., and Dallas, trying to relax between speaking engagements, in the first week of October 2006. As I looked at the Arkansas countryside below, an inward voice suddenly spoke to me: “I am about to shake this nation.”

Within weeks the shaking began. My phone rang on a Thursday morning in November. A serious media firestorm was erupting at a church in Colorado, and one of my dear pastor friends was at the center of the controversy.

The church I have pastored for 25 years (Bethany World Prayer Center in Baton Rouge, La.) had helped plant that church 21 years earlier, and I had served as an overseer from the beginning. I knew I had to respond immediately. Within hours I found myself in an office in Colorado, surrounded by media and confused church members. Read more...

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10 Stupid Things Ministers Should Never Do

If you aspire to ministry, don’t be stupid. Decide now to avoid these obvious pitfalls.

I had the privilege of sharing a pulpit with Dr. Mary Ann Brown two times. She was bold, prophetic and painfully blunt. People who hate women preachers hated her even more because of her no-nonsense sermons—always delivered in her Texas twang. She would get her audience laughing and then skewer them with a hot blade of truth.

When this spiritual giant died last month at age 73, I remembered the last words she said to me when we were together at a conference in Chicago in 2011. After lamenting the fact that so many ministers in the United States were failing, Mary Ann locked eyes with me and said with stern, motherly authority: “Lee, please don’t ever get stupid.”

I knew exactly what she meant—and I’ve pondered her words often, especially since her death. I don’t want to be stupid; I want to finish well. So how can we avoid spiritual stupidity? We can start by avoiding these 10 mistakes that have become common in our movement during the past decade. If you are a minister, or if you aspire to be one, please decide now that you will never copy these behaviors. Read more...

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