Pastor, Please Be An Example

Dear Pastor,

I have been meaning to say this for a while. On Sunday you tell us that we need to share our Christian faith with family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers. I’d really like them to come to know Jesus. But your political posts show up in my news feed. And you aren’t really a good example on social media of what you preach on Sunday.

You tell us that through faith in Jesus we become children of God and citizens of His Kingdom. We are ambassadors of Jesus Christ. Because we are Christians we are to live as strangers and aliens in this land.

But from all the stuff you post it seems like your world is wrapped up in politics. The memes you post belittle the friends I’m trying to reach with the Gospel. Those that don’t agree with you are treated with condescension. You make comments and share posts filled with sarcasm that demean other people.

You show us the Bible passages at church like Ephesians 4:29, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths” and Colossians 4:6, “Let your speech always be gracious,” but you are so busy fighting your culture war that you seem to forget what the Bible teaches about how we are supposed to talk to others.

I understand that you need to speak up for what is good and against sin. You certainly need to speak to issues of morality. And I expect you to be passionate at times.

But could you do it without reposting mean, sarcastic memes that mock people who have different beliefs? Can’t you be just a little different than my others friends on social media by showing just a little more wisdom and maturity? Would it hurt to ask yourself if what you are posting will bring glory to God before posting it?

You tell us that people who do not know Jesus are spiritually dead. You show us in the Bible that all sin and fall short of God’s glory and that apart from His work in their lives they are headed down the wrong path. But on social media you seem to expect people who don’t believe in Jesus to live like they are Christians. You post all this conspiracy stuff and posts that express shock that, well, non-Christians are doing things that dishonor God.

I thought we were paying you to be a minister of the Word, to shepherd us, and to bring Jesus to our community. It feels like we are paying you to spend all day trolling obscure websites to repost shocking accusations about what’s wrong with society. We already know things out there are messed up.

I’m confused. I thought the Gospel was about repenting of sin and experiencing a new life through faith in Jesus Christ. But your posts seem to make the Gospel about embracing the Republican Party. My friends are confused too. They think becoming a Christian means they have to support the GOP platform.  I keep saying it’s about Jesus but your posts keep making them think it’s about politics.

I guess I’m just asking you to be a wise, mature adult that represents Jesus well when you post. It would be nice if my friends on social media could see you care more about God’s Kingdom than earthly kingdoms. Please, please don’t mock and belittle the very people you are telling us to share Jesus with. Your activity on social media can either help us or hurt us as we live as ambassadors of Jesus Christ.

Your Truly,

Your Congregation

Here’s To You Average Pastor

I like to write about the ministry here at Grace Presbyterian Church here in Grenada, Mississippi and my amazement of how God works to bring renewal and reform to places least expected.

Social media can be a very discouraging place for average pastors to spend much time. It seems like in so many places pastors are throwing out these provocative political and social grenades. Then the battle ensues between those with a lust for battle. But for most of us pastors, fighting political and social battles on Facebook does not drive our ministry.

It seems to me that the bond that holds all biblically faithful pastors together is the common call to serve our triune God together for His praise and glory. The bulk of that service is shepherding God’s people that He has placed in our care and being missionaries to the communities where we are planted.

I spend most of my time thinking about how I can lead this church here in Grenada, Mississippi to become more mature and equipped followers of Jesus Christ who worship and serve God in fellowship with one another in such a way that we bring the people of Grenada County into a life-transforming encounter with Jesus Christ. Most of the time I am pleading with God to work in me to make me a faithful servant in this great task because I feel like I don’t have a clue. “Apart from me you can do nothing” rings over and over in my heart. I cry out over and over, “Jesus help me!”

Sometimes I wonder if it all is worth it. 2 Thessalonians 3:13 tells me not to grow weary in doing good. I hear that but at the same time its a struggle. I pour my heart and soul into ministry here. With great zeal I urge this congregation to be faithful to the Scriptures and to reach out to the community. I need to be reminded that we just plant and water but God causes growth. Sometimes that growth is much delayed. Success is being a faithful servant. Any harvest I am reaping now is not about me but about the God who causes growth.

Most of us are in this boat. We are not going to be invited to speak on the national stage. Frankly, nobody cares what we have to say. Nobody wants us to write a book. Nobody will subscribe to our sermon podcast. Our seminary isn’t going to invite us to teach a course or speak in the chapel. We aren’t the “beautiful people” of the Christian world. We are just the average faithful servants that comprise the vast majority pastors throughout the world.

Our society despises average, everyday faithfulness and promotes this idolatry of success that can stir up discontent within us. I believe the American Church is being corrupted with this idolatrous view of success that focuses on fame, power and money. This idol tries to crush faithful service. It’s in my heart to push back against this. It isn’t about us, it’s about God and His glory. So I tip my hat to all you who faithfully serve receiving little pay, no fame, and no prestigious role in our denomination and give God the glory for the things He has done through your ministry.

“The Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.” Revelation 22:17

Thank You Pastor Matt Schilling

 

In 2000 a young seminary graduate named Matt Schilling became pastor of Grenada PCA in Mississippi (Now Grace PCA). At the time the majority of the Session was determined to keep the congregation “lily white” (their words). Racist jokes were commonplace. The previous pastor was known for making racist slurs from the pulpit. Poor white people were called “white trash” to their faces and made to feel unwelcome.

It wasn’t as if all the members were running around as racists or snobs. In fact, most of them were good people who didn’t look down on anybody. Sometimes church relationships can be hard. Some spoke out and quietly tried to change things. Others were just quietly sad at the conduct of a few. Still others just weren’t paying close enough attention to know.

For 9 1/2 years (2000-2009) Pastor Matt labored to bring about biblical faithfulness. He was wounded and weary from battle. But the Holy Spirit gave him power and he fought for Jesus. The congregation continued to decline in numbers. But the seeds of righteousness and repentance were sown. I think he left feeling a little defeated.

Today (July 30th), we enjoyed being musically led in worship by two young African-American men. One has come about 7-8 times and the other 2 times. The congregation loves these guys and there is a push to make them our permanent music team.

In attendance was the young Asian immigrant who just became a member. We are paying for her to get her Green Card so we can hire her as our part-time office manager.

Also in attendance were two people who were called “white trash” and asked to leave because they visibly lived in poverty many years ago. But God has brought them back.

At a community pastor’s meeting this week the most prominent African-American pastor in town said that he was pleased to hear rumblings in the black community that Grace has finally left its racist past behind and is becoming known for loving minorities. He actually gave me his number and asked to meet with me one on one to discuss ways our churches could minister together. If you knew this man you’d know just how shocked I am. But he also mentioned Matt Schilling by name and said that he was the one who labored so hard years ago at racial reconciliation and that this is what Matt had hoped for Grace PCA.

Matt Schilling just became a Navy Chaplain. I admire him and praise God for his faithfulness. God used Matt to sow the seeds that are being harvested now.

At our Session meeting today we officially embraced Matt Schilling as our missionary to the military and voted to begin funding the PCA chaplain support ministry of MNA at his request.

If you are discouraged right now. If you feel like you are fighting a losing battle for biblical reform and renewal, think of Matt. Your labor is not in vain. Faithful ministry is successful ministry even when it leads to hardship and suffering.

If you have left a church feeling wounded and broken, remember that our God is the Father of all mercy, compassion and grace. Your service made a difference and Jesus loves you more than you can imagine. God will bring benefits from your labor years after you are gone.

If you ever run into Matt know that he is a spiritual Giant here in Grenada, Mississippi. To the praise and glory of God.

And know that the current members of Grace Presbyterian Church have hearts for all people and do not think themselves superior to anyone.