One cannot help but laugh at the absurdity found in the Presbyterian Church (USA) over the last week. As has been the case for 10 years, they have shown another decline in membership and the number of churches. Since 2005, their membership has dropped by 36%.
Westminster Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church in America recently submitted an overture to the General Assembly for this coming summer. Westminster is opposing the study committee that was erected at the last GA to look into women’s ministry and women’s role in the church. The PCA has been quite clear on the role of women in the church for years. They have done studies on the issue. They have made it clear: women are not to have authority over men or be in leadership positions, which is according to Scripture.
What interested me is that Westminster points out the fact that this committee actually has women on it, putting men under the authority of women by default. Here is what they write:
“The ad interim committee on the Role of Women has placed women on the committee as members, thereby placing women in the position not only of potentially exercising authority over the men on the committee, but also over the members and churches of the denomination.”
I fully support their overture, but know just from that statement alone that their overture is dead on arrival. Just given the fact that women are on the committee, shows the denominations intent for women being ordained and placed into leadership roles. After all, are any of the men on that committee going to stand up to the women on the committee and run the risk of being labeled a bigot? I think not. That is how committees end up being run by women. So women in ministry in the PCA is a foregone conclusion. The best thing for Westminster to do is to learn to deal with the new PCA involving women in leadership, or to make other plans.
Sam Storms has an excellent piece on what he wished he had known 40 years ago when he entered the ministry. How many of us love this idea? To know… To know… O how wonderful it would have been to know before the crisis arrived, before the disappointment, before the heart ache.
But … we are not omniscient. Most of us struggle to be partially scient. Even when we do know, often act like we don’t.
This Top-10 List is from Thom S. Rainer, who is the CEO of Lifeway Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. He conducted an informal survey of pastors about what they didn’t like about the ministry and came up with the following ten items. I agree with some of them, and disagree with others of them. Out of a selfish sense of preservation, I will not comment on any of them or let you know which ones I agree with. However, if you come across one of the 10 that angers you, I don’t agree with that one.
10. Dealing with budgets and finance. “I have a pastor friend who has a finance major. He was in business before he went to seminary and he loves working with numbers. Not me. I get nauseas at the thought of working on the church budget.”
9. Weddings. “Emotions are usually high at weddings. Some people are difficult to handle. Plus the rehearsal, ceremony, and reception take away my whole weekend. I wish we could pass a law that no weddings can take place during college football season.”
8. Announcements in the worship service. “This past Sunday I was asked to announce that one of the older Sunday school classes was having a garage sale to raise money to repair the pipe organ. Their hearts were right, but I had to talk about a garage sale and a pipe organ right before I preached.”
7. Persistent critics. “You have to deal with critics if you are a pastor. I just struggle with those who are always on me about something. They never let up. It can be demoralizing.”
6. Anonymous critics. “I shouldn’t even let anonymous critics bother me. If they don’t have the courage to use their name, I have no reason to dwell on it. But, I’ve got to admit, it really bugs me. I find myself wondering throughout the day who it might be.”
5. Counseling. “I really envy those pastors who are counselors. They get energized by listening to people at their points of need and hurt. I have to admit that my mind wanders and I watch the clock. I don’t think I really help anybody when I counsel.”
4. Treating spouses like they are paid staff members. “I really hurt for my wife because we have one church member that expects her to put in the same amount of hours at church as I do. My wife is taking care of our three preschool children at home, but she feels guilty every time the church member talks to her.”
3. Supporters who don’t support pastors publicly. “One guy was ripping into me at our last business meeting. But he didn’t bother me as much as my so-called supporters who remained silent the whole time. They’ve told me that they are behind me, but they weren’t there for me when I needed them the most.”
2. Funerals of non-Christians. “I’ve been a pastor for nearly thirty years, and I still struggle when I’m asked to do the funeral of someone who never professed Christ. Most of the time my funeral message is directed at the family, and how God will comfort them. It’s still not easy.”
1. Business meetings. “Let me know if you come across a pastor that actually likes church business meetings. I want to find the secret to his moments of delusion.”
Taken from the Peace Maker Ministries newsletter:
Six of Satan’s Favorite Conflict Phrases
“Submit yourselves, then, to God.
Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7)
Satan promotes conflict in many ways. Among other things, he tempts us so we give in to greed and dishonesty (Acts 5:3), he deceives us and misleads us (2 Tim. 2:25-26), and he takes advantage of unresolved anger (Eph. 4:26-27). Worst of all, he uses false teachers to propagate values and philosophies that encourage selfishness and stimulate controversy (1 Tim. 4:1-3). Here are some of the expressions that often reflect the devil’s lies and influence:
“Look out for Number One.”
“God helps those who help themselves.”
“Surely God doesn’t expect me to stay in an unhappy situation.”
“I’ll forgive you, but I won’t forget.”
“Don’t get mad, get even.”
“I deserve better than this.”
Satan prefers that we do not recognize his role in our conflicts. As long as we see other people as our only adversaries and focus our attacks on them, we will give no thought to guarding against our most dangerous enemy.
Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict
by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 50-51
Food for Thought
Read Jesus’ responses to Satan’s temptations in Matthew 4:1-11. Note that in contrast to Satan’s favorite expressions noted above, none of Jesus’ responses contain the word, “I”. What’s more, none of Jesus’ responses to Satan even contain the word, “you”–usually our second favorite word in conflict! How do we prevent Satan from getting a foothold in our conflicts? We keep our conflict responses (and our words) God-centered, remembering that if God is not at the center of our thoughts during a conflict, Satan will be altogether too happy to quietly take God’s place.
Look at their website here.