Daily Archives: September 17, 2006

Personality Driven Ministry

How dependent are today’s churches on a dynamic personality to lead the organization from the pulpit? Talking with a number of people recently about looking for good leadership. I have noticed how important someone’s sermon skills seem to be in today’s church world. When churches look for new pastors, they always want to see them preach more than anything. But I wonder if preaching is even in the top five, maybe top ten criteria for an effective pastor.

I believe the sermon has become a central part of many churches because these organizations have become personality driven more than Spirit led. The sermon is where people hear the heart of the leader. It is truly the bully pulpit. And if stuff is going to get done, it usually happens because people believe in the vision cast by the leader and the confidence he exudes in convincing others that he is right.

There are a lot of churches that have grown massively thanks to charismatic leaders. Thank God for these people. But I wonder if sometimes the growth is a bit hollow and superficial. Good leaders are great. But we have the best leader in Jesus Christ. There is no greater source of inspiration then Him. And there is no more powerful source of strength than the Holy Spirit.

Are we looking to man too much and not God? Of course, a good teacher can help point us to God. But this may not always be the case. Some churches grow because of the seemingly sheer will power of its few key leaders. If the masses are following a man and not God, what happens if the leader falls or decides he doesn’t want to be a “super” pastor any more?

By following men, are we setting ourselves up for disappointment?

I don’t think we set out to follow a person. But it just seems to happen because just like the people of
Israel, we want an earthly king.

When will we ever learn?

A Thinking Man of Faith

Why does reason and science have to be at odds with faith? Partially this is by design. Faith is believing what we cannot see. Science is about what we can measure, observe and explain. I believe that most science relies on a bit of faith even though most scientists would strongly object to my assertion.

Science seeks to explain many things that are virtually beyond our known experience. Much of science is based on theories that cannot be proven. Many scientific discovers raise more questions than provide answers.

I have recently been thinking about the similarities and differences between faith and science after watching a PBS documentary on the existence of God. The film contrasts the views of C.S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud. Both men were atheists at least for some portion of their lives. Lewis became a reluctant convert. Eventually, he wrote some of the greatest apologetic writings in modern times.

Freud tried to unlock the unconscious thoughts and dreams. He linked many things in life with desires that developed at a young age. He tried to explain everything within the realm of the mind and natural processes. Yet, as I listened to what Freud believed, I noticed it filled with faith. His faith just didn’t happen to be in God. He placed his faith in reason and hypothesis based on his own experiences and dreams.

I like what one of the panelists had to say about developing our own view of God. J. Douglas Holladay said, “We are all betting on something. We have incomplete information to place that bet. In light of what we think is the most reasonable bet, we are putting our life down on it…That is as much certainty as we are going to get. Everything is a bet, and the bet gets validated over time.”

I agree with his comment except for the fact that life is not about the end only. It is also about the journey to get there. This is especially true for the Christian. How we live our life here and now impacts our reality in eternity.