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

 

 

 

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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.