Outreach Conference 2017

Outreach Conference Picture

Our Goal is to become mature and equipped followers of Jesus Christ who worship and serve God in fellowship with one another. Our Mission is to bring the people of Grenada County into a life-transforming encounter with Jesus Christ.

Friday, October 13

6:00 PM Pizza Dinner

Dewayne Williams.jpg
Dewayne Williams

7:00 PM Building Bridges to the African-American Community

Speaker: Dewayne Williams

Dewayne Williams is the Executive Director of Restoration Now of Desoto County & West End Ministries of Hernando. He is also the Director of Parks & Recreation for Hernando, Mississippi.

Saturday, October 14

 

Dave Veldhorst
Dave Veldhorst

10:00 AM Sharing Jesus Cross-Culturally

Presented by Dave Veldhorst

Dave Veldhorst is the Director of Mobilization for Mission to the World. He has been a Mission Team Leader in Thailand and Missionary to Japan.

 

 

Jaime Loayza
Jaime Loayza

11:00 AM Concrete Steps to Build Racially Integrated Ministries

Presented by Jaime Loayza & Dewayne Williams

Jaime Loayza is a native of Peru. He is Director of Discipleship and Mission at Christ Fellowship in Horn Lake.

 

 

 

12:00 PM Lunch Emerging Global Mission Opportunities

With Dave Veldhorst

6:00 PM Dinner

7:00 PM Building Bridges to the Immigrant Community

Speaker: Dave Veldhorst

Sunday, October 15

9:45 AM Cultivating a Heart for the Unchurched

Speaker: Dewayne Williams

11:00 AM Building Bridges to the Culturally Christian Community

Speaker: Dave Veldhorst

 

 

Hannah and Beth Accardy
Beth & Hannah Accardy

 

12:30 PM Fellowship Lunch

Short-Term Missionaries to Tanzania

Beth & Hannah Accardy are students at Mississippi State University and active in Reformed University Fellowship.

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Grace Presbyterian Grenada Worship

At Grace Presbyterian Church in Grenada our worship is centered on the Bible. We bel17522699_10155158577405489_4865085028863968792_nieve that God comes to meet us through Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit. We respond to God by offer him our praise and worship as well as dedicating our lives to Him.

If you are looking for a church family that is alive and growing Grace is the place to be. Many of us have pasts we are not proud of, but by God’s grace we are experiencing life transformation in the present.

See an outline of our worship service below….

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Gathering in God’s Presence

†God’s Call to Worship                                                                                                Psalm 98:4-6

Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises!
Sing praises to the LORD with the lyre, with the lyre and the sound of melody!
With trumpets and the sound of the horn make a joyful noise before the King, the LORD!

†Hymn of Praise                                                                     “Come, Thou Almighty King” #101

†Responding to God’s Call                                                                                   Ephesians 5:1-4

Pastor: Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Congregation: But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.

†Invocation

Celebrating the Gospel

†The Gospel

Pastor: How is it that we may be saved?

Congregation: We are saved by God’s grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ according to the teaching of the Bible to the praise and glory of God.

†Confessing Our Faith                                                                                                Nicene Creed

We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made.

Who, for us and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man.

He was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures.

He ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again, with glory, to judge the living and the dead; and His kingdom shall have no end.

And we believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceeds from the Father and the Son; who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; who spoke by the prophets.

And we believe in one holy, catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; and we look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.

Call to Repentance                                                                                              Ephesians 5:15-21

Pastor: Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

Congregation: Be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Song of Confession                                                    “May the Mind of Christ My Savior” #644
Silent Prayer of Confession

†Assurance of Salvation                                                                                      Ephesians 2:8-10

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

†Song of Celebration                                                   “Jesus! What a Friend of Sinners!” #497

The Ministries of Giving, Prayer & Proclamation

Tithes & Offerings                                                                                                2 Corinthians 9:6

Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully

Intercessory Prayer

Sermon Text                                                                                                                  Acts 19:21-41
Sermon                                                     “The Church in Ephesus in Four Stories: Demetrius”

Prayer of Dedication

†Departing Song                                                                            “It is Well With My Soul” #691

†Benediction                                                                                                         Ephesians 3:20-21

 

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 the only stuff you care about is politics. Those that don’t agree with you are mocked and belittled. 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 pastor 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.

May 28 2017 Joint Worship: Grace Presbyterian Church & Christian Life Church

The May 28, 2017 joint worship service gathering with Grace Presbyterian Church & Christian Life Church in Grenada, Mississippi. Pastors Jonathan Moore and Chris Accardy will be leading the service together.

Gathering in God’s Presence

†Songs of Praise – 10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord) 

Bless the Lord oh my soul, Oh my soul Worship His Holy name Sing like never before, Oh my soul I’ll worship Your Holy name

The sun comes up, It’s a new day dawning It’s time to sing Your song again Whatever may pass, And whatever lies before me Let me be singing, When the evening comes

You’re rich in love, And You’re slow to anger Your name is great,  And Your heart is kind, For all Your goodness, I will keep on singing Ten thousand reasons, For my heart to find

 And on that day, When my strength is failing The end draws near, And my time has come Still my soul will, Sing Your praise unending Ten thousand years, And then forevermore

Stand Up and Bless the Lord (#15)

†Our Scriptural Response                                                                                      Isaiah 65:17-19

Pastor: Thus says the Lord our God: “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in that which I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem to be a joy, and her people to be a gladness.”

Congregation: “I will rejoice in Jerusalem and be glad in my people; no more shall be heard in it the sound of weeping and the cry of distress.”

†Invocation

†Greet One Another                                                                                                                 

Celebrating the Gospel

Call to Repentance                                                                                                         1 John 1:8-9

Pastor: I we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.

Congregation: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Song of Confession – My Chains are Gone (Amazing Grace) 

 Amazing grace, How sweet the sound That saved a wretch like me, I once was lost, but now I’m found Was blind, but now I see

‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, And grace my fears relieved How precious did that grace appear, The hour I first believed

My chains are gone, I’ve been set free My God, my Savior has ransomed me And like a flood His mercy rains, Unending love, Amazing grace

The Lord has promised good to me, His word my hope secures He will my shield and portion be, As long as life endures

My chains are gone, I’ve been set free My God, my Savior has ransomed me And like a flood His mercy rains, Unending love, Amazing grace

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow, The sun forbear to shine But God, Who called me here below, Will be forever mine Will be forever mine, You are forever mine

Silent Prayer of Confession

†Assurance of Pardon                                                                                          Ephesians 2:4-10

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.  For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

†Song of Celebration – Praise to the Lord, the Almighty (#53)

The Ministries of Giving, Prayer & Proclamation

Offeratory                                                                     A Heart for this City (Jonathan Moore)

Give us a heart for this City, Its people its pain Restoring its birthright, proclaiming Your name, Taking back territory, street after street, Blessing the lives of the faces we meet, Declaring salvation and Your Kingdom come, Reclaiming Your vision, we’re ready to run, For Your Spirit is on us to set captives free, In the heart, in the heart of this city!

We cast down the pride of power And call forth the gifts of grace So all that is not Holy, Will swiftly be replaced. As we cry out for this City, First we pray for us….

 Tithes & Offerings                                                                                               2 Corinthians 9:6

Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully

 Intercessory Prayer

Sermon Text                                                                                                           Revelation 21:1-4

Sermon                                                                   “Walking the Streets of Gold: Home at Last!

†Prayer of Dedication

†Confessing Faith                                                                                                     Apostle’s Creed

I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.

 I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, and born of the virgin Mary.

He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended into hell. The third day he rose again from the dead.

He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.

From there he will come to judge the living and the dead.

 I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins,  the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

 Celebrating the Lord’s Supper

Words of Institution                                                                                           Matthew 26:26-30

Communion Prayer                                                                                    Hippolytus (c. 215 AD)

We give thanks to you God, through your beloved son Jesus Christ, whom you sent to us in former times as Savior, Redeemer, and Messenger of your Will, who is your inseparable Word, through whom you made all, and in whom you were well-pleased, whom you sent from heaven into the womb of a virgin, who, being conceived within her, was made flesh, and appeared as your Son, born of the Holy Spirit and the virgin.

It is he who, fulfilling your will and acquiring for you a holy people, extended his hands in suffering, in order to liberate from sufferings those who believe in you.

Who, when he was delivered to voluntary suffering, in order to dissolve death, and break the chains of the devil, and tread down hell, and bring the just to the light, and set the limit, and manifest the resurrection, taking the bread, and giving thanks to you, said, “Take, eat, for this is my body which is broken for you.”

Likewise the cup, saying, “This is my blood which is shed for you. Whenever you do this, do this in memory of me.”

Therefore, remembering his death and resurrection, we offer to you the bread and the cup, giving thanks to you, who has made us worthy to stand before you and to serve as your priests.

And we pray that you would send your Holy Spirit to this offering of your Holy Church.

In our gathering together, give to all those who partake of your holy mysteries the fullness of the Holy Spirit, toward the strengthening of the faith in truth, that we may praise you and glorify you, through your son Jesus Christ, through whom to you be glory and honor, Father and Son, with the Holy Spirit, in your Holy Church, now and throughout the ages of the ages. Amen.

The Lord’s Supper

†Departing Song                                                             ‘Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus (#679)

 †Commissioning                                                                                                  Matthew 28:18-20

 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

 

Getting to Know Pastor Chris

 

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Pastor Chris Accardy

So Who Is Pastor Chris?

I’m just a regular guy with an awesome family and a heart to serve Jesus by caring for His people.  If you are like me you want to know a little about the pastor before visiting a church. I’d love to meet you at Grace Presbyterian Church in Grenada, Mississippi. Here’s the basics of my story.

I believe the Bible is God’s inspired and authoritative Word and that Jesus Christ is the only Savior and Lord of humanity. I embrace the historic and biblical Christian faith.

My main areas of strength are preaching & teaching, outreach & discipleship, pastoral counseling, and ministering to kids in crisis & mentoring young families. I lead by training and equipping people to use their giftedness for God’s glory. People grow best in a positive and encouraging environment that provides loving and honest feedback combined with a lot of compassion, mercy and patience.

Of course, I’ve got my weaknesses. I’ve got legit ADD which leads people to view me as the lovable absent minded professor. When I’m under stress I eat too much. When I’m too busy I exercise too little. So you guessed it, weight is a thing with me. I try not to take myself too seriously.  I’ve learned that my shortcomings give me an opportunity to give praise & glory to God.

My dad is a Baptist minister (now retired) and I grew up as that stereotypical pastor’s kid. I didn’t embrace Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord until I was 24 years old. Before that I was pretty wild & rebellious and a general embarrassment to my family. But God in His mercy & grace totally changed the trajectory of my life.

I love being outdoors. I enjoy coaching baseball & soccer. I’m a life-long fan of the Boston Red Sox and the Green Bay Packers. Since moving to Mississippi I’ve become a fan of Mississippi State athletics….Hail State! Y’all have to forgive me for following the Alabama Crimson Tide for about 40 years before that.

People have called me a blue collar guy with a white collar mind. I think that means that I work hard and think deep thoughts. I’ve held a number of blue collar jobs in my life:  fuels specialist in the United States Air Force, custodian & campus security officer at Gordon College, hardware & garden equipment sales for Sears, waiter at Denny’s, and grocery replenishment specialist & stocking team leader for Publix.

I’ve got two bachelor’s degrees:  One in medieval studies and the other in nursing. I’m a registered nurse (RN) who works in a hospital setting. I believe working outside of the church keeps me living in the real world and helps me understand the real lives of people. I don’t live in a preacher bubble.

Along my path in life I earned a graduate certificate in human resource management with concentrations in leadership of non-profit organizations and marketing. I used to work professionally as a consultant to ministry organizations and larger churches.

I graduated from Covenant Theological Seminary with a master’s degree in pastoral ministry. I also did additional study in church history & theology at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. The main focus of my extra study was the Protestant Reformation and the Christian interaction with the modern world (contemporary theology, world religions, and science & faith).

I had two research projects published in Reformation & Revival Journal back in the day and even appeared as a guest on talk radio. I even made it into an issue of Current Thoughts & Trends. But I prefer to be a regular guy rather than some intellectual that nobody can relate to. So I gave up my pursuit of an academic career.

Major issues that are close to my heart are serving the poor and the immigrant, single mothers, and children whose parents can’t care for them.  I also believe strongly in promoting healthy marriages and strong families. In the past I’ve done work for an organization that serves the separated in divorced.

I started out in Christian ministry working with children and high school & college students way back in 1991 at a Christian camp & conference center. As a pastor I’ve served congregations in Georgia, Missouri, South Dakota, New Hampshire and Vermont.

We’ve lived in the South since 2008 and Mississippi since 2011. We recognize we are “outsiders” to the Southern way of life and appreciate the welcome we have received in the Grenada community.

Both my wife Shelley and I have a long-held burden to minister to wounded and broken children as well as families in crisis, particularly single parent families. I’ve been a house parent in a group home for abused boys. My wife and I have been house parents together in a Christian children’s home. We’ve also served as court appointed guardians. Beyond that our home and lives have been open to the needs of many children and young adults.

 

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The Accardy family (left to right): Beth, Shelley, Hannah, Chris, Matthew, Carter Leigh-Anne, Elizabeth

Shelley and I have been married since June 1993. Someday we need to write a book “How to Thrive in a Dysfunctional Marriage.” We enjoy mentoring young couples who are in the process of learning how to thrive in their marriages.

 

We’ve got four young adult children – Elizabeth Anne, twins Hannah & Beth, and Matthew. We are also blessed with a granddaughter Carter Leigh-Anne. We are proud of our kids. Each one of them is on a journey to become mature and equipped followers of Jesus Christ who worship and serve God in fellowship with other Christians. Our book on parenting would be “How Defective Parents Raise Good Kids.”

So now you know me. I’d enjoy the chance to get to know you. Stop by Grace Presbyterian Church in Grenada and say hello. I’m always looking for more Facebook friends too!

Why I am a Bi-Vocational Pastor

I am a bi-vocational pastor. Hearing those words may bring certain thoughts to your mind:

He’s bi-vocational because he couldn’t get a full-time pastor job. He’s probably ignorant or a very poor preacher.

He’s bi-vocational because the church is small. Nobody would choose to get an outside job unless they had to. So the church must be close to death and going nowhere.

I’m guessing these and other thoughts have crossed your mind. In this post I want to explain why I have chosen bi-vocational ministry as a way of life. It is a conscious decision on my part. Here are my six reasons for being a bi-vocational pastor:

1.) It sends a clear message to the church about my motives. I’m not in ministry for money. I didn’t become a pastor to have a career. I became a pastor because I wanted to help develop others into mature and equipped followers of Jesus Christ who worship and serve God in fellowship with one another. I don’t minister to others because it’s my job, I do it because it’s my great joy and privilege as a pastor. The Apostle Paul in 1 Thessalonians 2 pointed out that his bi-vocational labor was a proof of the sincerity of his mission. He wasn’t selling religion.

2.) It helps me stay grounded in real life. Pastors run into the danger of living in a bubble. Their whole day can be easily taken up with church activities and family. The world that those they minister to live in can become nothing more than a distant memory. Pastors have a tendency to speak authoritatively on things they know nothing about. Many are totally disconnected from life as experienced by those around them. Bi-vocational ministry keeps me in tune with the world around me. I know what it’s like to balance work, family life, and church ministry. I have nearly daily experiences of being a follower of Jesus Christ in the workplace.

3.) It keeps me focused on biblical leadership priorities. My focus is on preaching God’s Word (2 Timothy 4:2), making disciples (Matthew 28:18-20), shepherding the congregation (1 Peter 5:2), and equipping members for ministry (Ephesians 4:11-12). It don’t have time to be a control freak and micromanage all the ministries of the church. My focus is on developing mature and equipped followers of Jesus Christ who worship and serve God in fellowship with one another. Any church where I am pastor will engage in member-driven ministry instead of pastor-driven ministry.

4.) It helps me stay focused on action. I just don’t have time for endless meetings where much is discussed but little accomplished. Meetings become more focused on action. I like to have meetings while I’m doing meaningful stuff with church members. That is, talking and doing at the same time instead of just talking.

5.) It frees up financial resources for the church. The cost of health insurance is skyrocketing. There are social security taxes. The cost of home ownership and operating a vehicle is going up. Nowadays the church may need to provide a total salary package of $100,000 just for their pastor to get by. The high cost of employing a full-time pastor takes away needed resources from others ministries in the church. I’d rather have more resources available to the church for ministry rather than more money from the church in my pocket.

6.) It takes the financial pressure off me and my family. The Bible tells me that if I don’t provide financially for my family I am worse than an unbeliever (1 Timothy 5:8). The need to provide for my family and the financial resources available to the church can be the source of a lot of unnecessary tension. My work in healthcare allows me to provide for my family as the Bible directs. The church is free to provide greater financial blessing as long as the resources are there. If the church goes through some tough times I’m in a better position to roll with it.

Now you know my reasoning. I’m not saying that every pastor needs to be just like me. I’ve studied the Bible and have come to some of my own conclusions about ministry. I do recognize that the Apostle Paul opens the door to full-time paid ministry in 1 Corinthians 9 and 1 Timothy 5. But the right to expect a full-time salary is something I voluntarily give up.

If you are reading this post because you are curious about Grace Presbyterian Church and are considering a visit I’d like for you to consider two things in response to the doubts I listed above.

First, I’m not an uneducated fool. I have a fair amount of education. Sometime if we ever meet and it matters to you, I’ll be happy to go through my resume. I can also hold my own when it comes to preaching. I’m hoping to get sermons our church website soon so that you can hear for yourself.

Second, Grace Presbyterian Church is small right now. But we have big dreams of God using us to positively impact people living in Grenada County. Our desire is to be a church that people who have given up on church find to be a real blessing in their lives.

Honestly, I think it’s worth your time to check out Grace Presbyterian Church in Grenada, Mississippi. You just might find a great blessing from God there.

Commercially Sexually Exploited Children

Conservative estimates are that about 293,000 teenage prostitutes in the United States are being repeatedly raped by perverted predators who pay to have sex. Up to 17,500 children start working as child prostitutes each year in the United States. These kids, some as young as 5 or 6 years old, are forced into prostitution by ruthless men and women out to cash in on the lucrative pedophile market.

Many drug runners are discovering a new way of life in prison. In the prison libraries they read about pimping. Instead of selling drugs, which are always in short supply, and often lead to stiff jail times if the dealer is caught, they learn the life of a pimp, selling underage children with the knowledge that they will rarely go to jail if caught. Prostituting underage girls, generally between the ages of 12-14, is a very high demand business.

Until the United States government started prosecuting human trafficking about 5 years ago, is was a virtual cake walk for these monsters.

On April 9, 2013 I attended a training conducted by F.B.I. agents, a victim’s advocate, a former victim of human trafficking, and a therapist experienced in counseling children who have been victims of commercial sexual exploitation. I knew that sex tourism was present in the greater Memphis area. I just didn’t realize how pervasive child prostitution in our region was and how pervasive it is throughout the United States.

Probably the best way to communicate the depth of the problem is to tell a story. There are a thousand variations of this story occurring in every metropolitan area of the United States every day.

Kayla was about 9 years old when, Tyrone, one of her mother’s boyfriends, started molesting her. Her father had walked out of their lives when she was a toddler. Since then her mother had a string of live-in boyfriends who came and went. She has three younger siblings fathered by three different men. Tyrone started messing around with Kayla when her mother was pregnant with Tyrone’s child.

The sexual abuse was rare but the emotional abuse at the hands of her mother wasn’t. Her mother was always full of rage. She went from man to man trying to find a stable home and blamed the inevitable tension on her children. The men she was with would start out nice to the kids but almost always ended up either totally neglecting them or taking out his own rage and anger on them.

After Tyrone left the house, Kayla developed a relationship with her 17 year old boyfriend Walter. She was 11 at the time. It didn’t take too long for Kayla to realize that Walter was just using her for sex. He had no real interest in having a relationship with her. Her life was already on a course to paralleling her mother’s.

The schools had just passed Kayla along. Her grades were just high enough to get passed on from grade to grade. But academically she was where most middle class kids are at in the third grade despite being in the sixth grade. When she started middle school the demands were increasingly beyond her academic ability. She started displaying a lot of behavioral and emotional struggles.

The school counselor in her school had seen it a hundred times. Kayla had been in five different school districts since kindergarten. Her hygiene was poor and she didn’t have many clothes. She was underperforming academically. She also showed signs of living in an abusive home. The counselor’s duty was to refer Kayla to an already over-worked department of children’s services.

The social worker saw the signs of abuse almost immediately. In fact, her office had hundreds of cases like Kayla’s. The danger wasn’t immediate so she didn’t pull Kayla just then. But Kayla knew what was coming – foster care or a group home. So she ran away.

Kayla was now 12 years old. She was a runaway making her way through the streets of Memphis. At first she didn’t know where to go so she made her way to the mall.

While at the mall she met a man in his late 20’s. He was wearing nice clothes and was very friendly. He started telling Kayla how pretty she was. She felt relaxed around him and she started telling him about her horrible family life. He seemed so sympathetic and bought her some McDonald’s and a new outfit from the clearance rack at a clothing store.

He told her he had an extra bedroom in his apartment and offered to let her stay with him. Kayla didn’t have anywhere to go so she went with Smiley. Over the next several weeks she fell in love with Smiley. Like the other men she knew he was very interested in having sex with her. But in exchange for the sex Kayla was given food, shelter and life necessities. She was also subjected to beatings when she got out of line. But Kayla soon learned that as long as she did what Smiley wanted there wouldn’t be any beatings.

About six weeks after moving in with Smiley he announced to Kayla that she needed to do more to help the family financially. She wasn’t pulling her weight. Smiley told her that he knew of other men who would love to pay to have sex with her. He would set her up on “dates” so she could earn some money to help the “family.” Smiley told her that he was her “daddy” and that he would take very good care of her unless she betrayed him. If she did betray him he would hunt down her younger brothers and sister and would kill them. He knew exactly where they lived too.

Kayla was 12 years old when she started prostituting herself. Jasmine, another member of the family who was 19, took Kayla out on the street to show her the ropes. Soon Kayla was expected to have sex at least 3 times a night and bring home at least $500. She would take multiple showers a day and become obsessed with personal hygiene in order to make herself as attractive as possible to “customers”. If she ever hid any money from Smiley or failed to meet her quota she would be severely beaten. For Kayla every night was like being repeatedly raped. She learned to fly to a distant place in her mind.

Smiley provided Kayla with drugs. The drugs seemed to make what she endured bearable. But he controlled her life, including her drug supply. She was totally dependent upon him for everything.

Kayla was now 13 years old and a veteran of the streets. The thought of leaving “the Life” didn’t even cross her mind. It was just what it was. If she made enough money to make Smiley happy he would provide her with drugs and gifts that made her life bearable, at least in her mind. She had developed a strange attachment to her “daddy” and his “family” (his “family” being other prostitutes who work for him).

Most professionals would see this as an example of Stockholm syndrome, where, in the midst of severe trauma, the victims form a strong emotional attachment to their abusers as a means of coping with their emotional distress.

When Kayla is finally arrested she is charged with prostitution. Smiley bails her out of jail. She is brutally beaten for getting caught and starts having her work in a new precinct so the same police officers don’t see her continuing to work the streets.

Smiley has a good business going for himself. The three underage girls who work for him and his “bottom bitch”, Jasmine, the 19 year old girl who keeps the other girls in line, gross about $500,000 a year for him. After expenses he can afford a very nice lifestyle. It is a minimal risk lifestyle.

There is no public outrage over prostituting kids like Kayla as there is over dealing drugs. Dealing kids just isn’t at the top of anyone’s outrage list except for a few noisy child advocates here and there.

What would take a bite out of Smiley’s “business”? Instead of arresting Kayla for prostitution and putting her in jail, get her treatment for all the abuse she has endured. Arrest the guy she was with and charge him with statutory rape. Most men caught with underage prostitutes receive a slap on the wrist, if anything. Arrest Smiley and charge him with human trafficking. Put him in prison for a long time. Make the men who have exploited Kayla pay dearly for what they have done to her.

For some of you reading this, it’s a outrageous story that rarely happens here in the United States. What I learned from the F.B.I. agents is that this kind of story is very, very common. This is happening right under our middle class noses.

In fact, it is a lot of middle class men who provide business for Smiley while they are away from home on business. In fact, Smiley and his crowd love it when major conventions come to town. It provides a spike in business. Sadly, I discovered that a few men attending evangelical religious conventions have a taste for underage girls.

The seminar would have been totally depressing had I not heard the other part of the story. Treating girls rescued from this lifestyle. There was a common element to the healing of these girls that even the secular presenters had to acknowledge. The powerful transformational and healing power of Jesus Christ. That’s right, coming to Jesus is a predictor of successfully exiting the prostitution lifestyle for these girls.

Should we be surprised? Jesus had a soft spot in his heart for prostitutes and seemed to always be bringing healing into their lives and giving them hope when he walked the earth. Are we surprised that he is doing the same thing now through His Spirit as He reigns from heaven?