Monday, May 11, 2009

Bob Russell, Part 3: How Do We Respond to Difficulties in Ministry?

Bob Russell This week I am reviewing a workshop I went to last Friday, featuring Bob Russell, formerly the preaching minister of the large mega-church Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, KY (attendance around 18,000 per weekend).

Russell gave five challenges that ministers face today:

  1. The economic downturn
  2. Stark generational differences
  3. Increased cultural wars
  4. Postmodern thinking
  5. Unrealistic expectations on the part of the people.

In response, he talked about how do we respond?

1. Rely on God.

    • Always remember: We preach to an audience of one.

Cal: I think this is the only way to do most of the rest of the list.

2. Maintain your composure and integrity even when you have a reason not to.

    • Kipling: If you can keep your head when all around you are losing theirs; you’ll be a man, my son.”
    • Don’t use temper, porn, etc. as an escape
    • Pain is God’s spotlight.
    • 1 Peter 2:23: When he was abused, he did not return abuse; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he entrusted himself to the one who judges justly.

Cal: this has been my struggle over the past five months.

3. Quit comparing & complaining & looking for greener pastures.

    • Ill of Russell’s book“When God Builds a Church” and “Purpose Driven Church”—both books came out at the same time. Hard not to compare.

Cal: ditto on what I said on #2

4. Get a life outside of the church.

    • Importance of shifting gears.
    • Too often our wives get the leftovers of our emotions & energies.
    • Cal: I think that this is one of my greatest weaknesses.  But I think that the failure to do this is a result, no a cause.  Identifying too closely with a congregation; forgetting that you “work” for God, not for a  board of elders or a congregation; believing that “if I just work a little bit harder/more/smarter that things will turn around.”

5. Either get happy or act happy!

    • I Thess. 5:18
    • Minirth & Meir: Happiness is a Choice.
    • You can choose to be happy in your present ministry.
    • Nobody wants to be around a whiner.
    • Congregation will take on the tone that you set.

Cal: This one caused the most controversy. One of the pastors consistently held out that this was simply justifying hypocrisy and two-facedness.  Russell conceded that on occasion, we can show people a non-happy side.  But, he said, make it very rare and very short.   I am not sure what I believe about this. I saw it an an internal attitude more than an external projection.  I have to work first on BEING happy, or “acting my way into happiness.”  What do you think about this??

6. Remember our primary calling & hold on to the power of preaching.

    • Many times we don’t even use the word preaching. “Our teaching pastor will now come and share a message.”
    • “Preaching doesn’t just matter but it is the most important thing that we do.”
    • “Preaching is indispensible to Christianity” John Stott’s opening to Between Two Worlds.
    • Words have power. Barak is President because he is a dynamic speaker. If that can happen with secular words, what can words do when they are ordained by God?
    • “If you teach the book & apply the book where people live, it comes alive.”
    • The preached word bridges the gaps between us and people who are very different from us.

Cal: more on preaching tomorrow.

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