Without a Shepherd

Without a Shepherd

A friend is over in Germany right now “following in the footsteps of Martin Luther.” He’s on a ten-day tour of the places that made the Lutheran Reformation the single greatest movement that changed the world forever. The Lutheran Reformation wasn’t just an act that changed the Christian Church by releasing the Gospel from its captivity, but it ended up being the impetus that reestablished the importance of nations instead of a vast Empire.

The Reformation celebrates its 500th anniversary this coming October, and plenty of Lutherans from around the globe are pilgrimaging to Germany to stand in the stead of Luther and the early Lutheran Church leaders. People who have taken one of these trips come back with a sense of awe in seeing the earthly foundations of the Lutheran Church. The inspiration they gather from walking the streets of Wittenburg is seen on their faces.

But I have a question:

What good is a trip to Germany to see the place where Luther walked and nailed the 95 Theses to the church door if when you come back and don’t want to do what Luther did five centuries ago? Luther’s actions freed the Gospel and made it relevant in the lives of Christians. He showed the importance of the active faith that trusts in God and the work of Jesus Christ for the salvation of our souls.

Today, many of our churches are struggling under the burdens of small numbers in the pews and lack of resources to expand ministries. Our Synod always seems to spend more time debating how to punish people than how to help local congregations develop their ideas and ministries so that the Gospel of Jesus can reach individuals who are without faith.

I have this belief that if Martin Luther were alive today, he would cry at the state of our churches and implore us to be better.

Look around – there are too many souls without a Good Shepherd. We, the Church, must do better.

The Happy Church vs. The Broken Church

The Happy Church vs. The Broken Church

What do you say to someone who hasn’t come to church in a while?

“Nice to see you,” is one of the more traditional responses that is usually followed up with remarks about the person’s lack of church attendance, unless the phrase is spoken snarkily, which is almost all of the time.

I think the story of the Prodigal Son is important when assessing one’s in-church ‘hellos’ to those who haven’t been in church for a while. Ask yourself: Who would you rather be? The father who is excited that his son has returned home or the brother who isn’t thrilled that his brother is home?

If you choose the brother, then you’re the snarky one. You are the one who speaks with acid and anger on your tongue. “Oh, it’s great to see you! Your kids have grown since the last time you were here!”

If you choose the father, then you are what Your Lord wants – one who is happy that someone has come home. You’re the one who makes things comfortable for the returning friend. Smiles abound rather than snark. You will be the one who sends a card to the family saying how it was wonderful to be with them in worship. And you’ll tell them that you are praying for them.

The happy church follows the path laid out by the father. The broken church follows the path of the brother.

Growing Weary

Growing Weary

Grant us wisdom when we are confounded and give to us strength to walk in Your ways when we grow weary.

Today as I prayed the Wednesday morning prayer in the Portals of Prayer, the line above really hit me. The weariness factor of living the Christian faith is very real. Standing up for Christian ideals and beliefs in this world can be downright draining because there are so many people who reject the teachings of God.

It is so easy for bouts of exhaustion to wash over us and leave us with a sense of just giving up.

Jesus tells us something different:

“Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take up my yoke and learn from me, because I am lowly and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30

Six Attitudes That Kill Evangelism in the Church: Thom Rainer

Six Attitudes That Kill Evangelism in the Church: Thom Rainer

The decline in evangelism in our churches comes down to just a few key issues. Too many believers see evangelism as the responsibility of someone else. Closely related to that issue is the matter of blame. It’s the pastor’s fault. It’s the church members’ fault. It’s the denomination’s fault.

I have seen churches make dramatic turnarounds when just one person decided to be radically obedient to the Great Commission.

Thom Rainer, June 5th – thomrainer.com

Read the entire article on Thom Rainer’s website here.