Now...what about Laity priorities?

Discussion in 'Pastoral Ministries' started by Jonathan, Jan 3, 2003.

  1. Jonathan

    Jonathan
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    From the pastoral perspective:

    How do you instruct (and expect) your lay people to follow the priorities of God, family, church?
     
  2. Karen

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    Now, THAT'S a good question, Jonathan, and I will be interested in the replies. In the modern trend for pastors to verbally acknowledge in front of the congregation that their first priority is to their families, not the church, the net result sometimes is that deacons have less family time.

    Eg., the pastor has a sacredly held day off while the deacon's one day off is spent doing church duties. Or the pastor who is a member of a committee does not attend because of a family commitment, while the deacon has not even been home for supper, rushing to the meeting from work.

    You can tell, I'm sure, where I'm going with this one. Pastors, rightly, need to take care of their families. But they often, therefore, do not realize that their expectations of deacons and others are as unrealistic as others' expectations of the pastor.

    Karen
     
  3. Pastor Larry

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    I have yet to meet a church member for whom this was a problem. A church member that spends too much time ministering? What kind of world are you living in? In most cases, it is hard to get minimal ministry out of people.
     
  4. Jonathan

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    Let's go ahead and make sure that all of the pastors reading this thread understand that I (and I am assuming that Karen agrees) am not interested in pastor bashing on this issue.

    What I am looking for is how you guys communicate the concept of proper priorities and then execute your programs (for lack of a better word) accordingly.

    Karen's example is a good one. Many lay leaders can identify with my own schedule:

    </font>
    • 50-60 hours/week at work (with some business travel 2-6 times per year)
      10-20 hours/week in preparation to teach a Sunday school class
      ?? hours/week church committee work
      ?? hours/week involvement in a church evangelistic program</font>
    Somewhere in there, I need to be spending some consistent time alone with God to maintain personal intimacy with Him, as well as spending some consistent time being a husband and father (attending to the spiritual role in my own home).
    In my opinion, when time with God and time with wife and children consistently suffer as a result of church involvement, there is a problem of misplaced priorities...and I confess that this describes me at times.
    My question, and I understand that it is a difficult one, is 'How do you teach your lay people to establish and maintain proper priorities?'

    [ January 03, 2003, 03:56 PM: Message edited by: Jonathan ]
     
  5. Pastor Larry

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    My question would be, why do you work 50-60 hours a week and then take it out of God's time? Is not that in and of itself showing a priority? Please understand, that is a question to provoke thought; not to put you down or your schedule. My point is that most often, jobs and families are so high on the list that God gets what's left over at the end, which is usually nothing.

    I teach my people that their God given responsibility is to be involved in the ministry in worship, evangelism, teaching, and fellowship. Those things must take place in the family structure and in the church. I cannot see any place in Scripture where the family is given priority over the church. In all my challenges to people, not one person has provided a place where God said that priority structure exists. It is much talked about because of what some have called "the idolatry of the family."

    Before you fly off the handle (proverbially speaking:) ) and call me unreasonable, consider the biblical evidence. Families were given by God for spiritual purposes: training them to follow God in all areas of their lives. Most areas of ministry, such as witnessing and the like can be carried on as a family. In most cases, people aren't doing it at all. Consider the impact on your children if your family time was a Saturday aftenoon spending two hours calling followed by two hours at the park throwing a ball or a frisbee? Of course, that means that you have to plan your time well, something that most people, including pastors are not willing to do. They will allow their job to demand an extra 10-12 hours a week but will not allow God to demand the same. My advice is to raise your family in ministry. I encourage our families, when we have something, to minister as a family. Father, mothers, and children passing out flyers together; helping at the church work day to clean up and spruce up the physical plant; teen children involved with their parents in the children's church ministry; etc. It can be done but choices have to be made. Turn the TV and have family time at night. Play games together from after dinner and homework until bedtime at 9 or 9:30 or whatever. After the kids are in bed, don't turn the TV on, study for your lesson. Remember, your standard of living is not most important. Your preparation (laying up treasure) for the next life is most important. Don't sacrifice your family or you church for a second car, some time watching TV, or whatever.

    Remember that you are not raising only your children, but your children's children. The great drop off in the church today is not first generation; it is second generation -- kids whose parents dropped out and now they don't go. Their failure to serve God has affected a generation after them.

    The family only lasts for a few years on this earth; The church will last forever. The best way to raise a family is in active involvement in ministry. That is why a great number of missionary kids return to the mission field. It is the only life they know and they love it.

    My encouragement to people is, if you have to leave something out, cut back on the job hours. If you take a cut in pay, then so be it. Sell one of the cars; cut your vacation by a week; go somewhere local; buy a smaller house; eat out less. Do anything but allow your relationship and ministry to God to suffer. If we were as dedicated to the church as we are to our jobs, can you imagine how much different things would be? There are people who skip a service or a ministry opportunity for some health reason that they would never skip work for. It shows priorities. This is a sore spot with me because I was raised in a family where church came first. Dad was a deacon, assistant pastor for a time, SS teacher, went on visitation at least once a week, attended every service and took his family. My mother played the piano, went visiting, led the ladies fellowship for a long time, etc. We kids (all three of us) turned out very warped. We never miss church; we all have college degrees with advanced degrees (3 bachelor's and five masters between us); all are involved in some aspect of the teaching ministry at our respective churches, with much more that could be said? Why? Becuase our parents modelled the importance of the church, not through their words, but through their commitment. They showed us what was really important and lived it consistently.

    I am not denying that people have neglected their families for the sake of ministry. They most certainly have. But that was their own sinfulness; not the ministry's fault. Chance are, they wasted a lot of time in their lives and made bad choices that gave them no other option.

    Anyway, this has been long I know but I have tried to paint a big enough target to give everyone something to shoot at. So fire away :D
     
  6. Karen

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    Dear Pastor Larry,
    Jonathan's follow-up post clarified nicely.
    I'm not interested in bashing. Perhaps you and I do live in different Baptist circles. There are several dozen Baptist churches in my town, where I have lived for a long time.
    I am acquainted with a number of deacons and others who are hard-pressed, sometimes more so than their pastors, to find a proper balance.

    Just as one example, I know several deacons who never take family vacations because they volunteer all their time on mission trips and youth camps. Their pastors go on these activities too, but also have 3-4 weeks vacation every year.
    A number in my acquaintance fulfill their ministry roles very graciously in the evenings on top of a long workday. On Saturdays, they are often doing special projects. On Sundays,they run van routes and are at church most of the day. On Monday, they are back at work.
    And no one disturbs the pastor on Monday and Tuesday, his days off, unless the church is burning down.
    Not every pastor understands enough the real challenges on a deacon's or other church member's time.

    Karen
     
  7. Pastor Larry

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    Karen,

    May I challenge your thinking a bit? I am not intending to be confrontational though this may indeed sound that way. I want to challenge our thinking about how much of it is really biblical.

    This sounds like exactly what I am talking about, people who involved their families in the work of the ministry because it is their priority. Can you give me the biblical basis for a family vacation? Of course not. I am not saying they are wrong. But I am saying they don't deserve the kind of priority that most people give them today. Why should a family complain that they spend "their time" increasing the gospel of Jesus Christ? Why is that such a radical idea? 100 years ago people didn't take vacations. Why do we demand them today? Remember, I am not saying we shouldn't have them. I am questioning the priority that we give to it and the things that we choose to do with them.

    This sounds like exactly the thing the book of Acts talked about when it says that the church was meeting daily, breaking bread together, and going from house to house. Why is it that we think ministry is relegated to once or twice a week if we can fit it in around other priorities? The early church did it every day. Why don't you call on these men to cut back on their work schedules to give the pursuit of the kingdom of God a higher priority? Why not sacrifice something besides our time given to ministry? Do you see my point I was making above? We prioritize in such a way that God gets last consideration and then we complain about the amount of time ministry takes.

    My suspicion is that most pastors, like myself, work on their days off even though they are not in the office. My work week starts Monday morning aroudn 7:00 in my home study, translating the passage for the following week and beginning the exegetical process. Again, I can't speak for all so I don't know. I can speak for myself. I usually take about one whole day a month off, if that. I work at home. The pastor I used to work for was the same way. These pastors you are talking about may be lazy; I don't know.

    I would suggest, in light of the word of God, that perhaps the deacons or other members do not understand how to prioritize their own time so as not to give God what is left over. I know that what I am saying is radical here. But it is what I see in the NT. I do not see the kind of Christianity that you are talking about in the book of Acts. I don't see people demanding vacation from the ministry. Paul says he labored day and night with the people at Ephesus from house to house. Why should we do any less?
     
  8. Thankful

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    God founded the family 6000 years ago and the Church 2000 years ago.

    Priorities in a Christian's Life should be:

    God first, not the church
    Family second, not the church
    Church third.

    In my opinion, God does not want a
    person to make himself/herself sick by trying to meet the needs of the church.

    My mother was always at the church, ministering in every area, church office as a volunteer, sunday school, training union, VBS, Mid week services, WMU. I think she was at the church doing something every day. I felt neglected.

    We talk about stay at home moms. She didn't work. She would have been considered a stay at home Mom, but she wasn't at home.

    Did Paul have a family when he labored Day and Night?

    [ January 03, 2003, 10:05 PM: Message edited by: BettyE ]
     
  9. TheOliveBranch

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    I thought that the church is equivilent to God. It's His house where we worship Him. His ministry is placed there. People seek the Lord and seek to find answers there. The two cannot be separated.

    When a pastor is called to be the shephard of the church, his whole family is called. They are also given a special blessing by Him. They are His chosen, His annointed. Can they then turn away and tell Him that they need time for themselves? The congregation expects the Pastor and his family to see to their spiritual needs, and when there is more than one family, the burden grows. But the man of God is given that superhuman power. He is right with God, keeping short accounts. He is constantly in prayer and in His Word. This man is special in God's eyes. That is why they are in the Ministry. That is why only a few are called.
     
  10. Pastor Larry

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    But the family will end soon; the church will last for all eternity.

    Can you demonstrate this from Scripture? On what basis do you make a dichotomy between loving God and his church?

    Why is this your opinion? Do you have Scripture to back it up?

    As I said, I realize what I am saying is considered radical in this era of human life. But I am encouraging us to get back to what Scripture says rather than what modern times say. So let's get to Scripture and start offering some support for our opinions ... Whaddya say??? [​IMG]
     
  11. Thankful

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    We are probably getting away from the original intent of the thread.

    I will post more later as I am going out the door to take care of family business.

    I think the problem here is one's definition of church.

    You are correct that the church that makes up the body of Christ will last forever.

    When I separate God and the Church, I am talking about the individual church organization that has a building that I attend.

    I do not see the pastor as a superhuman being and I must determine if his advice for me is what God's wants me to do.

    More later...I know you want scripture. I'll be back.
     
  12. Pastor Larry

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    While you are looking, this is an assertion you will have to defend from Scripture as well. While I strongly believe in teh invisible church, that does not negate the reality or priority of the local church. I don't think the issue is as much the definition of "church" as it is the nature and priority of church in the NT. The doctrine of ecclesiology has, unfortunately, become a side issue for in modern theology. We desparately need to return to it.
     
  13. Thankful

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    A Christian marriage should be made up of three partners: the husband, wife, and the Lord. Jesus should be the head of every
    Christian home, the unseen guest at every meal, and the silent listener in every conversation.

    Children are placed into the parents care and keeping by the Lord. As parents, they not only have the moral and legal responsibility
    to raise their children to obey the laws of God and man, but they have the spiritual responsibility
    to pray for their children and to confess the Word over them daily.

    The biblical standard for marriage is a monogamous relationship in which a man and a woman share a lifetime commitment
    to each other, second only to their commitment to God. It is an unconditional, lifetime commitment.

    1 Corinthians 11:3, But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman,
    and God is the head of Christ.

    God established the family first and He made it clear that He is first and gives responsibilities to the man and woman.

    Matthew 4:10,Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

    Matthew 19:6, Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together,
    let not man put asunder.

    Matthew 22:27 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul,
    and with all thy mind.

    Matthew 22:37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart,
    and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

    Mark 10:6 But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female.

    Mark 10:9 What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

    Mark 10:14 But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me,
    and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.

    Mark 12:20 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul,
    and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.

    Luke 16:13 No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one,
    and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

    1 Titus 3:5 (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)

    Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself
    for it;

    Church is the term used in the New Testament most frequently to describe a group of persons professing trust in Jesus Christ, meeting
    together to worship Him, and seeking to enlist others to become His followers.

    He nowhere says to worship the church. If you think that you should worship the church, then perhaps you should subsitute Jesus for church.

    Then Jesus would come before family.

    I will continue to believe that God is first which of course, includes Jesus and the Holy Spirt,
    Family is second,
    and Church is third.
     
  14. Pastor Larry

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    Nor does he say to worship the family. In fact, he precludes the worship of the family by commanding to worship God alone. IMO, you have here precisely nailed the problem: People worship the family.

    However, nothing you have said here seems to be relevant to the discussion about the priority of the church. Some of these verses have nothing to do with families at all, much less the relationship of families to anything else. So I repeat my challenge: Show your priority structure from Scripture.

    But what is the Scriptural basis for this? You have not yet shown it.

    I do not mean to belabor this but I think your attempt proves my point: If there were a verse or verese from which your position could be defended, you would be very quick to point it out. As it is, you present a number of verses that have nothing to do with the topic at hand. I want this discussion to be about what Scripture says.
     
  15. Thankful

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    I disagree I do not think that people worship the family. I think that in many cases there is no family unit.

    I think that we are given ministries to do and fathers and mothers are to take care of their children. A woman's only ministry maybe to take care of her family. I do not believe that ministries are limited to the church.

    Now it is your turn. If you want to quote scriptures and you want it based on scriptures, then what are you basing your beliefs that one should spend all their time and energy working for the local church.

    I have been the only one who has listed scriptures.

    I respect your opinion but I learned a long time ago that the pastors and members of the church expect more from me than I believe God does.

    My personal experience was when my doctor told me to stop all church activities in order to keep from losing my unborn child and the pastor and his wife told me that I should not resign from my church duties that this was God's way of getting rid of undesirable babies.

    I did not follow their advice. I followed God's Will and the advice of the doctor and had a beautiful daughter who has been the sunshine of my life so I think you can see why I have a strong opinion about this.

    I do a lot of work for my church and will continue to do so, but if my family needs me, my family will come first because I believe that that is the most important ministry that God has given to me.
     
  16. Dr. Bob

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    Well, Pastor Larry, gotta say I disagree with a lot you've said on this thread. But that said, I still appreciate you! :rolleyes:

    Such a description is of a workaholic pastor who is neglecting or abusing his own body, his family and ultimately, his church. We have laymen in our church that use SERVICE FOR GOD to replace an intimate family responsibility. They are always at church doing something, while their kids run amok.

    Billy Sunday is a good (bad) example. On his death bed he lamented to Ma that "he had won the whole world and lost his own sons". He had left them while he was busy preaching, and they both were unregenerate drunkards.

    A vacation is not sinful
    A hobby is not sinful
    A day off is not sinful
    A time away from church is not sinful
    Moderation/limiting work or positions in the church is not sinful

     
  17. TheOliveBranch

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    I agree with Pastor Larry, that the Pastor has to put God and the church first. God has placed them in the position as the shepherd of the flock. IPet 5 tells the reward for that man of God who gives his life and heart for his people.
    The pastor that has this stand is blessed with a congregation of strong Christians, who are very willing to assist in the physical aspects of the church building. I came from a church where the Pastor gave 100 percent to oversee our congregation. In return he had faithful people that were there when the doors opened.

    The Bible also gives the example of Pastors that ignore or scatter the congregstion. Jer23
    There are also pastor's wives that can really push the saying of God, Family, church to a degree that anything that has to do with the church that interferes with the family plans is heresy. And hard feelings develope because those people are expected to respect those wishes, as they were taught.

    Ecclesiology is definitly a dieing doctrine.

    [ January 05, 2003, 06:16 PM: Message edited by: TheOliveBranch ]
     
  18. Pastor Larry

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    I think you misunderstand my position. My position is not that these things are sinful. In fact, I thought I had said that earlier. My position is that people see conflicts where there are no conflicts because of their lack of commitment to the body of Christ. When asked for the scriptural basis that family comes before church, none is offered. I have merely said that these do not conflict in the biblical position. I think vacations and time away from ministry or work are necessary and good. But ministry (whether lay or clergy) is to be a way of life, not an add-in to an already busy life.

    Earlier, someone was condemned because they took their family vacation to take their family on a mission trip. What's wrong with that? That is a great idea. You get away from the house to a place you would probably never go. You get to expose yourself and your family to a life setting that you will probably never experience. You get to further the gospel of Jesus Christ. You help to resist the materialistic worldview for you and your children. You give them opportunities to share the gospel with people. And it is condemned ... Why? All I am trying to do is get us to think biblically on this issue. What is the relationship of the local church to life. Or perhaps more importantly, what is the relationship of life to the local church.

    My concern is that when work, and family, and church are too much, church is the one that gets neglected. Why isn't it work that gets neglected? And what can a father do for his family that is better than having them in church? Why does the family have to be ignored for the church to get service? Why cannot the family be involved in that?

    Obviously there are a lot of factors. But my position is that these are not in conflict. The conflict we see is a conflict between the modern view of life with the biblical priority that the local church has in the believers life.

    I do think ecclesiology needs a revival, biblical ecclesiology, not covenant ecclesiology. :D

    [ January 06, 2003, 09:00 AM: Message edited by: Pastor Larry ]
     
  19. Ed Edwards

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    Pastor Larry: " do think ecclesiology needs a revival, biblical ecclesiology, not covenant ecclesiology."

    Here "ecclesiology" means what?
    My dictionary has "ecclesiology" meaning
    the study of church architecture.
    I thought that was the church building,
    but you seem to be speaking of the
    church people (which is the real church).
     
  20. Thankful

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    Pastor Larry, What is your scripture basis for the family not coming before the church?

    I think we are really talking about the same thing, but as you see it, the church suffers when a person becomes overwhelmed with activities and I see it as the family suffers when this happens.

    Actually, when a person takes on too much, work, family, and church, all three suffer, not just one.

    I don't see a lot of separation here for a Christian. Their work, family, and church should all intertwine and be of service to our Lord to glorify Him.

    (edited to correct typo)

    [ January 06, 2003, 10:26 AM: Message edited by: BettyE ]
     

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