“What’s Really Going On?”

I am a  pack rat. My church staff is trying to go paperless. I just bought a new file cabinet to make room for all the various files I keep. Some are decades old.

Not long ago, I found a filed article entitled, “What’s Really Going On?” I won’t mention the name of the author. And you wouldn’t know her if I did. But this article helped save my ministry.

It was the early 1990s. And I was getting beat up pretty bad in a church fight. Actually, it wasn’t a fight – it takes two to fight. It was a straight beat-down. I couldn’t fight back. I didn’t know how. I just rolled with the punches, waiting for it to be over. And I was pretty sure it would end with me getting put out.

I had committed the new pastor’s unforgivable sin. I believed I was actually the pastor!

When I disrupted the status quo, the wrath of longtime members came raining down. It did not matter that I was fresh out of my teens. It did not matter that I was the son of the late, longtime pastor. It did not matter that some of the people fighting me helped raise me. This was their church. And they were going to take it back.

Things were said and done during those months that should never take place in a church. I tried not to respond. But it wasn’t easy. Many times I went to my pastor’s office to vent to him. And when I would ask how to respond, he would quote the first verse of Psalm 39 to me and tell me to be quiet. In the process, my enemies shaped the story. And I suffered under the weight of the lies that were told about me.

For the record, the members supported me. The ruckus was caused by a small group of people who held strategic positions. And the membership did not know how to respond to all that was going on. Neither did I.

But one Sunday, someone brought me an article that was being passed out. I did not want to see it. But the person insisted that I did. It was several pages long. And it chronicled the behind-the-scenes events truthfully, including things very few people were privy to. In many ways, it vindicated me, addressing matters I could not address.

Of course, the document surprised me. But I was even more surprised by the author than the content. The person who wrote the article (which actually became a series of articles) was very close to the people opposing me. She was the last person I thought who would stand by my side. But, as she wrote, right is right and wrong is wrong.

She never stopped loving those on the other side that she had deep and close ties to. And she never stopped loving me for all the years I remained her pastor.

Seeing that article again recently reminded me that if you just stay on assignment, the Lord will raise up people to fight for you. The odds may be against you. And it may seem that no one is on your side. But the Lord will send you friends just when you need it. Many times the most unlikely person will be a postcard from heaven by which God announces that he has not forgotten about you.

What challenge are you facing?

Stay on mission. Be faithful. Trust God. Love people. And don’t take matters into your own hands. The Lord can and will help you through the challenge, even if he shows up through a sister with a typewriter and a story to tell about what’s really going on!

Making a Smooth Transition

The lancemannfollowing is a guest post written by my friend Lance Mann  who serves as the Senior Pastor at St. Luke Missionary Baptist Church in Crockett, TX.

 The first Sunday in December 2013 was like every other first Sunday. We arose this morning, attended Sunday School, participated in the baptism of a new member, and had a wonderful time in worship. But in actuality, this really wasn’t like any other Sunday. It was one year ago this Sunday, where I was introduced as the new Senior Pastor of the St. Luke Baptist Church, Crockett, TX.

Our transition has had a few “bumps in the road” during our first year in Crockett, still we have no reservations that the Lord brought us to East Texas at the right season in our lives and ministry. I wanted to share what I believe has helped us experience a good transition to a new place despite the challenges.

Totally Trust The Clear Voice of God

The great thing about being married to a praying woman is that while the Lord is speaking to you about a move He is also speaking to your spouse. When I shared with her that I felt the Lord was leading us towards Crockett and St. Luke, to my surprise, Penny revealed to me that the Lord settled it in her spirit as well. That gave me a great sense of relief. I was worried about her feelings towards the possibility. However, this proves that when God speaks, He will make sure you are able to trust what He said through confirmation. And I trust that the same God who would send us to a place, is the same God who will keep us while He has us there.

Recommit Your Support For One Another

 This is a very important component for having a smooth transition to a new place of ministry. I had to understand that while I was being sent to lead a local congregation, Penny wasn’t, and for the first time in her life, she was away from her sons and family. This can be difficult and a shock to the system for your wife. Our recommitment to support one another is what has helped us. Reality is, my wife has been super supportive in giving me time to get familiar with “the lay of the land” here, and it has made a difference to which I am grateful. I have supported her in any and every way possible to make her adjustment as smooth as possible. Both spouses must be sensitive to the concerns of each other to achieve a smoother transition.

Engulf Yourself in the Work of the Ministry

I preached at St. Luke on the first Sunday and I did not let a moment go to waste. I immediately had my secretary schedule meetings to quickly get me acclimated to the atmosphere and operations of the church. I set up meetings with all ministries over the first 2 weeks of my pastorate. I intended to introduce myself to them and understand their duties and activities presently going on. I initiated something I called “Quality Time With the Pastor & First Lady”. I had the members schedule meetings with my secretary for 30 minutes each every day over a 4-hour period. My reasoning for such a hectic early schedule was, if the transition was going to be a smooth one, I had to get a handle on the pulse of the church. My suggestion is, when you relocate your ministry, GET TO WORK! You have a lot of work to do, so you might as well get started.

Connect With Your “New Family” in Christian Fellowship

Along with the Quality Time, we took time to visit any member’s home who invited us over. We believe thirty minutes is not enough time to really know each other. We also discovered that most people are more comfortable in their own settings. Go and visit members at home. If they own small business in town, go visit. Spend time talking to them at the Wal-Mart or restaurants. Show them that you are genuinely concerned with their lives, not just wanting them to be concerned about yours. Real recognizes real! That’s a colloquialism but it rings true. If you are not honestly attempting to connect with your members on their terms as well as yours, they will be able to tell and the transition will be difficult.

Don’t Neglect Quality Time

Don’t gloss over the importance of spending time with your spouse. Alone. With all the ministry demands at church the home can suffer easily. Man’s first ministry is not the church or his calling, but his family. So I would make sure that at least once a week, Penny and I left town to not be Pastor and First Lady, but husband and wife. If you cannot afford to go to a fancy restaurant or the like, just take a long drive one Sunday after church, or Saturday morning and spend good quality time together. A movie and some fast food chicken will do wonders as long as it’s just the two of you alone.

Make Time To Go Back Home

This is probably the most difficult part of the transition. You are caught between your family wanting you back home and your new family wanting you with them as much as possible. The truth is, while the majority of your time will be spent in ministry with your new family, both sides need to understand that you need to go home sometimes. Penny and I went home to NJ a little over a month ago, and it was exactly what we needed. Just to see our kids, family, and friends. Although we weren’t in town long enough to see everybody, you need to get home to stay grounded and focused.

Pray

This really should have been number one on the list, but I have it last because it’s the most important. Nothing you do will ever be successful until you seek God’s direction in prayer first. And after you get to where God sends you, pray that God keeps you in your new place. And as you engage in ministry and fellowship, pray that God will give you a clear view on those around you, to show you who to trust and who to leave in the Lord’s hands. A consistent prayer life is the key to whether your transition is a great success or a complete failure. The same God you prayed to open the door must be the same God you pray to so you can stay in the room.

Saturday Shout-Outs: 15 Years, R.A. Williams, & Ministry Links

Thanks for reading my weekly bulletin board, Saturday Shout-Outs. You can sign up for email updates of future posts under the picture to the left.

Thanks for the kind and warm congratulations as Crystal and I celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary this past Thursday.

Check my interview with Dr. R.A. Williams Jr.

Hope to see you at the Jacksonville Pastor’s Conference 2014!

R. Albert Mohler: Nelson Mandela and the Ironies of History

Tim Cantrell: How One South African Pastor Prayed Yesterday

Ryan Huguley: 5 Ways to Love Your Pastor’s Kids

Thom Rainer: When a Pastor Receives an Anonymous Letter

Mike Leake: 7 Ways Social Media Makes Pastoring More Difficult

Tim Challies: The Dark Side of Christian Celebrity

Trevin Wax: How to Get People to Read the Bible Without Making Them Feel Dumb

Andy Naselli: Murray Harris’ 6-Page Expanded Paraphrase of Colossians

Tim Keller: Tim Keller On Writing and Ministry

Any Crouch: The Real Problem with Mark Driscoll’s ‘Citation Errors’

Sarah Pulliam Bailey: Meet Sally Lloyd-Jones, the Most Successful Christian Author You’ve Never Heard Of

Anthony Carter: Keeping Black Christians at Arm’s Length

R.C. Sproul: What Does the X in Xmas Mean? 

A man does not preach heartily to his people, if he does not pray earnestly for them. – Richard Baxter

Do you have any shout-outs to share? Join the conversation in the comments section. 

R.A. Williams Jr. Interview

n1440714769_30435593_735851-200x300Dr. R.A. Williams, Jr. is the Pastor of the McCoy Memorial Baptist Church in Los Angeles, where he has served for more than 30 years. Pastor Williams is also the President of WHW Ministries, which hosts an annual conference of preaching in Los Angeles.

I was a teenager when I first heard Dr. Williams preach. It was a powerful exposition of John 3:16. I followed his ministry afterwards, looking to him as a model of exposition preaching in the African-American church. Without knowing him very well, Dr. Williams mentored me from afar. And he was very kind to me over the years that I served in Los Angeles.

 

Following is an interview with R.A. Williams about his life and ministry. Enjoy!

Did you find this interview helpful? Join the conversation in the comments section. 

Related Resources:

George Waddles Interview

Maurice Watson Interview 

David Olford Interview

 

Thankful for 15 Years of Sunshine!

IMG_1506Today is a blessed day in my life. It is the fifteenth anniversary of my marriage to my Crystal.

Crystal and I met at Los Angeles High School. She was in the tenth grade. I was a senior… and a senior-pastor (but that’s another story). We met in Coach Williams’ World History Class. It was the easiest class in the school (Do the math: the football coach was the World History teacher!).

Our first (romantic) words to one another were…

Crystal: “Did you do the homework?”

Me: “Nope. You?”

Crystal:  “Me neither.”

After that class, we did not see one another for several years. But I would often ask my sister – who was in the same grade – about Crystal.

By time we made a personal connection, Crystal was out of school. And I was knee-deep in pastoral ministry. We bumped into one another at my mother’s house. And we have been in another’s life sense.

Our relationship developed slowly. But that was a good thing. We became friends. And there was no pressure for the relationship to go any further than that. In fact, we both had no expectation that it would. By the time I knew what was happening, I was in love with Crystal and could not live without her. Fifteen years later, those realities have only intensified for me.

I am a nerd who married the prettiest girl in school!

Pastor & Crystal C#27CC822When Crystal and I were dating, we had one major issue. My life had already been mapped out. I did not have a choice. My life would be given to pastoral ministry. I felt that Crystal had a choice. And I didn’t want her to waste it. So, in a real sense, I courted her and pushed her away at the same time.

I cannot tell you how glad I am that Crystal chose to spend her life with me. It has not been an easy for her. But she has been my partner in the ministry for fifteen years. And I would not be who or what I am without her love and support.

Fifteen years. Three terrorists… I mean, children. Two churches. From one side of the country to the other. Yet there have been two constants in my life through it all: the Lord Jesus Christ, who deserves the highest praise for his unwavering faithfulness, and Crystal.

Happy Anniversary, Sunshine! I love you! Always! 

Saturday Shout-Outs: On Preaching, West Point, & Ministry Links

Saturday Shout-Outs is my weekly bulletin board of news, articles, and events. Thanks for reading. You can sign up for email updates of future posts under the picture to the left.

Congratulations to my friend Romell Williams and his wife, LaTashia, on their birth of their new son this week! Praise the Lord!

Thanks to Pastor W.T. Edmondson for the opportunity to minister the word during the church conference at the Bethlehem Baptist Church in West Point/La Grange, GA.

A big shout out to ChurchLeaders.com for posting “What Should You Expect From Your Preacher? by Pastor Charlie Dates.

You can now pre-order my new book “On Preaching.” It will be released May 2014.

Get your copy of It Happens After Prayer today. Or buy it as a gift for a friend.

SAVE THE DATE: Cutting It Straight Expository Preaching Conference at the Shiloh Church in Jacksonville – September 24-26, 2014.

Christianity Today: Died: Nelson Mandela, South African Leader Who Stood Against Apartheid

Pro Preacher: The #1 Thing Young Pastors Can Do Today To Improve Their Preaching

Kevin DeYoung: Seven Thoughts on Pastors Writing Books

Trillia Newbell: Can Any Good Come From Controversy? 

Thabiti Anyabwile: How to Make a Confession and Extend Forgiveness

Andrew David Naselli: 12 Reasons Why You Should Pray Scripture

Mark Driscoll: 6 Simple Ways to Write Better Blog Posts

Ron Edmondson: 7 Suggestions NOT to Do When the Church is in Decline

Tim Challies: Stopping An Affair Before It Begins  

The Christian Pundit: Adultery Prevention

Jonathan Holmes: Why Does He Look at Pornography? 

David W. Jones: Errors of the Prosperity Gospel 

R.C. Sproul: Escaping the “Stage Cage” 

We should not be entertained by the sins for which Christ died. – John MacArthur

Do you have any shout outs to share? Join the conversation in the comments section? 

Saturday Shout-Outs: Thanksgiving, 7 Churches, & Ministry Links

Happy Thanksgiving!

I am planning to finish my series on the Lord’s Letters to the Seven Churches in Revelation 2-3. Thanks for your prayers. I plan to wait for 2014 to start my next series. It will be an exposition of the Epistle of Ephesians. Should be fun!

Preorder “On Preaching” by H.B. Charles Jr. (May, 2014)

Save the Date: Cutting It Straight Expository Preaching Conference at the Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church of Jacksonville (September 24-26, 2014)

Practical Shepherding: What is an important reason a pastor should commit and stay in one church?

Anthony Carter: Sunday Best 

Erik Raymond: Delayed Adolescence in the Church

Thom Rainer: Thoughts on the Court Ruling on the Ministers’ Housing Allowance

Julian Freeman: Four Little Words

Stephen Altrogge: Why Is It So Critical That We Sing Together? 

Justin Taylor: 20 Ways to Pray for the Seminaries

Joe Carter: Know Your Christianese: Prayer Edition

Derek Rishmawy: 12 Tips for Keeping It Clean In Your Dating Relationship 

Lina Abujamra: Ten Times It’s Wise to Hold Your Tongue 

Mike Cosper: Creation, Culture, Redemption, and Hip Hop

Every saved person this side of heaven owes the gospel to every lost person this side of hell. – David Platt

Do you have any shout-outs to share? Join the conversation in the comments section. 

Saturday Shout-Outs: Chicago, Armor Bearers, & Ministry Links

Saturday Shout-Outs is my weekly bulletin board of things I have found interesting and worth sharing. Enjoy!

A big shout-out to Pastor Charlie Dates for the opportunity to speak this week at the Church Institute at the Progressive Baptist Church of Chicago. I have high expectations for Charlie Dates. And the Lord is doing great things at the Progressive Church. Remember them in your prayers.

This week was my last revival of the year. Praise the Lord! Thanks to all the pastors who graciously allowed me to preach the word to your congregations this year.

I have blogged since 2005. But nothing I have written has kicked up as much dust as my recent post on armor bearers. I meant it for it be something shocking, controversial even. But I would have never thought that it would have stirred up as much fuss as it has, which may be the point I was trying to make. Why are so many pastors and churches so committed to establishing and protecting the role of armor bearers, and not, say, the New Testament offices of elders and deacons?

Bottom-line: After all the discussion and debate, I stand by my premise armor bearers are more about celebrity Christianity than Christian discipleship!

SAVE THE DATE: Cutting it Straight Expository Preaching Conference, September 24-26, 2014

Tim Challies: 10 Steps to Preach From Your iPad 

Brandon Hilgemann: 10 Guest Preaching Tips So They Want to Invite You Back

The ERLC: Bait with an Unshakeable Hook: A Biblical Response to Predatory Lending Practices

Mike Niebaer: Is it Actually Hard to Be a Pastor?

Tom Ascol: 35 Lessons from 35 Years as a Pastor

Thabiti Anyabwile: 5 Things to Do Before Leaving Your Church

Kevin Halloran: A Prayer for Those Battling Sin

Nathan Busenitz: Did Jesus Become a Sinner on the Cross?

Lisa Spence: Being in the Word Every Day 

Michael Hyatt: To Do or Not to Do, That is the Question 

Kate Tracy: The Top Five Reasons You Church Could Land in Court

If your favorite Christian blogger/writer/speaker never talks about the cursed Christ on a bloody cross, find a new favorite. – Kevin DeYoung

Do you have any shout-outs to share? Join the conversation in the comments section. 

Saturday Shout-Outs: Karen Waddles, Philadelphia, & Ministry Links

A big shout out to the pastors of the Pennsylvania Eastern Keystone Baptist Association for the opportunity to preach their annual session this past Thursday and Friday in Philadelphia.

SAVE THE DATE: The Cutting It Straight Exposition Preaching Conference will meet at the Shiloh Church in Jacksonville, September 24-26, 2014. 

Preaching Today: “A Psalm for Giving Thanks” (Psalm 100) by H.B. Charles Jr.

Men of Integrity: Prayer: Don’t Give Up! from It Happens After Prayer by H.B. Charles Jr.

Check out the Karen Waddles Interview.

Thabiti Anyabwile: What I Love About the People in Prosperity Gospel Churches

Scott Slayton: If I Were to Preach at a Pastors’ Conference

Thom Rainer: Thank You Pastor’s Wife 

Christopher Hemmerich: The Punches I Never Saw Coming

Sam Crabtree: 20 Verses for God-Centered Administrators

Brian Howard: How to be a Man at Home 

Trevin Wax: Churches, Conferences, and charges of Sexism

Colin Smith: 3 Ways Christ Can Be Outside Your Church

Jon Bloom: We Are Far Too Easily Displeased 

Carey Neiuwhof: 9 Great Ways for Leaders to use Social Media (+ 3 Mistakes) 

 Greatness is never the product of giftedness. Greatness is always the product of faithfulness. – Crawford Loritts

Do you have any shout-outs to share? Join the conversation in the comments section. 

Karen Waddles Interview

Mrs. Karen Waddles is the wife of Dr. George Waddles, Pastor of the Zion Hill Missionary Baptist Church in Chicago. Karen is also the assistant to the publisher at Moody Publishers, a conference speaker, and contributing author of Our Voices: Issues Facing Black Women in America and the Women of Color in the Bible. She and her husband are the parents of four adult children and nine grandchildren. Her greatest joy is seeing women experience the fruit of God’s blessings when they apply the biblical principles of womanhood to their lives.

Enjoy the following interview with this wise and gracious Christian sister.

Did you find this interview helpful? Join the conversation in the comments section. 

Related Resources

George Waddles Interview 

Shelia Bailey Interview