Sermons: Address Congregational Care Issues

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Sermons: Address Congregational Care Issues

I hopped onto www.churchleaders.com and was intrigued by an article entitled, “How to Preach Like Andy Stanley” written by Michael Lukaszewski.

Of course Mike’s title caused quite a stir.

Actually, it was quite clever. The title alone enticed us to read the article which really addressed why he felt Andy Stanley was one of the top communicators of our time.  Andy Stanley is the senior pastor of North Point Community Church in Georgia and is also son to the well known tel-evangelist, Charles Stanley.

Congregational Care: One of the Keys to Success

I would like to address two of the six reasons Michael highlighted in his blog because I think pastoral and congregational care are extremely important to the success of any church.

Mike wrote in his article that Andy Stanley understands people and tackles the tough topics with grace.

As pastors, it’s extremely important to stay connected with the real issues facing our congregations.

Pastoral and Congregational Care issues may look like this:

  • Depression or anxiety disorders
  • Marital unfaithfulness [infidelity]
  • Divorce
  • Loss of job
  • Debt
  • Alcohol or drug addiction
  • Rebellious children
  • Unwanted pregnancy or abortion
  • Infertility
  • Rape or molestation
  • Illness

At Least 25% Need Pastoral Care

Adam Hamilton, author of Leading Beyond the Walls stated that at any given time he counts on the fact that 25% of people coming to worship are in NEED of pastoral care.

Depending upon how large your church is or your personal work load, it may be simply impossible to devote sufficient time one on one to these individuals.

What Mike was saying in his article about Andy Stanley is that Andy is very much aware that there are people sitting in his congregation who are battling issues everyday and need help.

Andy bravely takes on some of these issues in his sermons or sermon series and does so with grace and not condemnation.  Andy often cites that you may not always agree with him, but regardless, he is committed to sharing God’s truth. A prime examples of this is his video series on “Guardrails.”

Adam Hamilton states from his book that pastors have to address these real issues.  He gives a couple of examples and the first is when he preached a funeral of a man who committed suicide.

Pastor Adam sensing that there was a need, devoted a whole sermon on the topic of suicide.  A number of people told him that the sermon alone convinced them not to take their own lives.

Pastor Adam’s sermon was taped and copies remain in their bookstore weekly for anyone who wishes to pick up a copy for themselves or for a friend who is contemplating suicide.

Added BONUS: It Can be Evangelistic

Another example of meeting congregational care is the area of dealing with relationships and marriage. Pastor Adam devoted an entire sermon series on the “Biblical Perspective of Love, Sex & Marriage.”

This was as a result of a lot of pastoral visits of couples on the brink of divorce.

The goal of the series was to help the congregation understand the Biblical perspective on marriage and relationships between a man and a woman. By the way, everyone that is married at his church gets a DVD of this series.

Although the goal was to help relationships and marriages, members of the congregation invited friends and other family members.  By the time the series concluded, their church took in nearly 200 new families.

Pastoral care sermons are important.  As Adam Hamiliton quotes, “…help us offer real hope and help to those who are broken.”

Do you take time to assess the real needs of the congregation and intentionally study and create sermons to address congregational care issues?  If not, are you motivated now to?

 

 

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Bible Teaching Pastors are Cursed!

add_toon_info.phpBible Teaching Pastors are Cursed!

Charles Stanley, a very well known televangelist, author and Bible teacher once said that Bible teaching pastors are cursed. Of course he was joking. He merely pointed out how we love to learn.  We are like sponges.  We absorb as much information as we can and get excited about SHARING new facts and information with others.

Do you want to know what the curse is?

It’s wanting to tell the congregation EVERYTHING we know about a subject all at once. We naturally assume because new information get us excited that it will ‘naturally’ get others just as excited.  But the truth is not everyone can endure as much as we can endure. If we are not careful we will short-circuit our members with information overload!

I teach classes weekly and do you know what the most challenging thing for me is?  What information gets CUT and what information will have to WAIT until NEXT week or what information gets TRASHED. When you only have an hour and a half, sifting information becomes a required skill you MUST master.

In particular, televangelists (like the Charles Stanley types) must always be time conscience as they only have, at most, 26 minutes of solid air time for their deliveries, otherwise the network will cut them off in mid-sentence.

Here are some helpful hints to keep in mind.

Be prepared.

The more prepared you are, the more focused you are on staying on point.   You already know the passage, the stories and examples you will be citing AND you will be less likely to ramble.

You can’t give it to them – ALL at once.

Remember the average person will not be able to endure what we can endure.  It may not be that they don’t find the information interesting or exciting;  they just can’t take it in – all in at once.  So it’s a good point to always ‘SAVE SOME for LATER.’  Remember bite size amounts, never try to force feed.

Leave them wanting more.

We learned this fact in Toastmasters, a professional speaking organization where speeches are planned, timed and controlled. We will be tempted to share everything we know on the subject, but we must fight against our ‘curse’ to share it all. If our sermon was really engaging, a short message will, most likely, get us invited back to speak again or get them in their seats to hear our part two.

Speak to the masses, not just the few.

We will always have cheerleaders in the crowd.  These are individuals who will always speak back to you, laugh with you and encourage you to go on.  However, as pastors, we must always pan the room to pick up the mood from the average crowd – “Are we holding their interest?”

There’s always some truth in a joke about our time.

No one, respectful, wants to criticize their pastor. I’ve heard comments masked in laughter like, ‘Wow, pastor you sure gave us a lot this morning, or I guess we know all there is to know about ABC subject’ all the while glancing down at their watch.

Don’t get it twisted, they are not complimenting us. That is their most subtle way in saying, “Our sermon was too long.”

 A little more planning sermons and our classes will go a long way in keeping people interested in what we have to say.

Keep in mind – One of the top 3 reasons why people don’t go to church is that the Sermons are too long.  Hop online to see post entitled, “Sermons: How Long is Too Long.”

How long do you preach? Do you know pastors who preach too long?

 

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Local Pastors and TV Pastors & Green Eyed Monster

I recently attended a revival where the guest preacher spoke against ‘those’ “TV” preachers. Further saying, “You all sending your money to them.”   It really caused me to roll my eyes as I heard the people yell out in confirmation, “AMEN!” I thought to myself, “Y’all don’t know nothin!

appleSure, there are pastors out there on the television network that have taken advantage of people.However, “One bad apple don’t spoil the whole bunch…”  Like the lyrics of this song – ONE don’t mean ALL and frankly I wonder where I would be if it weren’t for the TV preachers.

In addition, it seems to me that the real motivation behind some of these comments made from our pulpits is nothing more than JEALOUSY.

A many Sundays I have come home still hungry for a Word where I felt like I only was served an appetizer. I am grateful to be able to turn on the TV to feast on an entrée every now and then.

I guess my other point is this, what is the real benefit of making these types of statements to those who are ‘in’ church?

Is it to get us suspect ALL TV preachers? Is it to get us to only listen to them as if they have some monopoly on the Word?  Or is it because they would like to be on TV and can not?

Pastors need to appear confident in front of their congregations.  Nothing is worse than a pastor demeaning others to validate his or her ministry.  You are already validated if God called you in ministry.

I believe confident pastors should rather see TV preachers not as a threat but assistants in helping their flock get more into the Word.

Allow me to address the money issue this way.  Being on TV is expensive.  Some 10 years ago we explored being on one of the major networks.  We were quoted $8000 per half hour which in TV time is 26 minutes for ONLY ONE week.  That’s $32,000 per month.

What does this really mean?  In order to stay on TV you have to be clear, prepared and intentional in delivering God’s Word. No ‘okeedoke’offering preaching here.Only ENTREE meals served here, otherwise people will not partner and will not send in their funds to keep their broadcast on the air.

How well do you think the average pastor would preach if their personal payroll check REALLY  depended upon how well they delivered their message?