Monday, October 31, 2011

Leadership for Today's Church

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)



    Too many of today's churches are filled with stiff-necked and stubborn nitpickers, naysayers, and negatives.

    Isaiah: "We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way."

    Especially in America, anybody's word is lauded as good as anybody else's word on any subject.

    Radio and television talk shows - not to mention where two or three are not gathered together in His name - come to mind.

    Of course, rejecting God's plan for order/authority is why our world, country, churches, and families are going to...

    Click on the last KD for more on that ("Four Things Missing in Dying Churches").


    This is especially true in mainline churches that, more than less, have connectional polities: confessional/constitutional democracy in which order/authority is vested in ordered groups rather than individuals.

    Hierarchical polities don't have this problem.  They have other problems; like leaders being a little too full of themselves and acting like no one knows Jesus like they know Him.  They haven't read Romans 12 or 1 Corinthians 12.

    Congregational polities don't have this problem.  They have other problems; like the one mentioned in the third sentence of the previous section.  They haven't read Romans 13 or 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13.

    Ah, maybe they read 'em but, obviously, blew 'em off in favor of their egology.

    Be that as it is, how can someone called/gifted to lead, uh, lead in today's church?

    Specifically for those of us in connectional or even congregational polities, how can we pastor or undershepherd or guide/protect the sheep who prefer to wander around according to their own impulses with little thought of how they're matching up to His intentions?


    More than less, though I know some would dispute this claim, I've always been more of the moderatorial type with ordered groups like trustees, deacons, and elders; cheerleading good ideas and refereeing so people don't kill each other for Christ's sake (a literal reality rather than profane blurt).

    While I've always had staff members, officers, and members who'd like me to be a bit more directive as long as I'm directing according to their dictates, I've resisted that temptation; even when I coulda gotten away with it.

    Yeah, I've had staff members, officers, and members who'd like a nanny; but I haven't been feminized yet.  Besides, when I've inherited staff/officers/members, I've figured they musta been appreciated/affirmed by, uh, somebody; so I hang with 'em even if I wouldn't have been a part of calling/ordaining/membering 'em.  And when I'm a part of calling/ordaining/membering 'em, I don't look over their shoulders because I've got my own job to do and wouldn't have been a part of calling/ordaining/membering 'em if I was gonna have to take time from my job to do/dictate theirs.

    I was just trained to undershepherd in a franchise/denomination that lets laos - check out that word in a Greek dictionary sometime with special attention to synonyms for clues to the inherent problems in connectional/congregational polities - do their thing for better or worse, richer or poorer, as long as we both shall...


    After spending almost four decades undershepherding like that, I was kinda tickled/relieved to get some confirmation from the really famous guy that four of us met with in Montana a few weeks ago.

    He said he led by preaching and prayer; and only offered direction when asked.

    He only attended committee meetings if asked to, uh, lead.

    When he moderated boards, he never interfered/commented with/on decisions.

    He said he did not feel called to fix the church: "I did not try to get people to do anything.  I preached and prayed with the intention of nurturing our identity as God's people so that we could model Someone better."

    Personally, he prayed and labored to model Someone better for the staff, officers, and members: "It's not what you are doing that's important; but who you are in doing it."

    He does not believe in motivational speaking for two reasons: "It's often a sly way of manipulating people...You don't have to motivate Christians."

    He talked a lot about trusting each other as trusting God and expressing that trust by submitting to Godly authority through Godly officers, staff, boards, denominations, and so on.

    He had no problems letting the church fail without his help.


    Knowing he knew how to do it better than laos by Godly call/gifting, why didn't he insist, direct, fix, and the like?

    His answer was simple: "People are stubborn and like to do it their way.  They can be stiff-necked.  You know the saying.  You can lead a horse to water...  But when they trust and are humble enough to ask for help, that's when you can be most effective as a pastor.  Only when people are trusting and humble can you lead them."

    Recently, I told some elders how I was confirmed in my leadership style by all of the above; and pledged to ratchet it up to my Montana friend's modeling.

    We'll, uh, see.


    Dennis, a new deacon in our family of faith, gave Kyle Idelman's Not a Fan to me.

    A few lines remind me of our friend in Montana who has done a much better job of modeling Someone better than me/most: "I was struck by the fact that Jesus doesn't chase...[after people]...He doesn't soften His message to make it more appealing.  He doesn't send disciples chasing after them with a creative handout inviting them to come back for a 'build your own sundae' ice cream social.  He seems okay with the fact that his popularity has plummeted...It wasn't the size of the crowd Jesus cared about; it was their level of commitment...I think over the years my intentions were good; I wanted to make Jesus look as attractive as possible so that people would come to find eternal life in Him.  I was offering the people Jesus, but I was handing out a lot of free bread.  In the process I cheapened the gospel."

    Several centuries earlier, a novice recorded this experience with Brother Lawrence: "...[He said]...God would give light concerning those passions to those who truly desire to serve Him.  That if this was my design, sincerely to serve God, I might come to him (Brother Lawrence) as often as I pleased, without any fear of being troublesome; but if not, that I ought no more to visit him."

    Those lines sum up a lot of what I/we re-learned in Montana.

    It's a choice to drink deeply from the living waters.

    Jesus asked the ill man, "Do you want to be well?"

    Asking precedes receiving.


    Jesus said a lot about that; and if we're gonna model...



Blessings and Love!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Four Things Missing in Dying Churches

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)



    Many years ago as a rookie, I complained to my dad about a fart in the elevator; recalling JP: "When it comes to church, it takes just one.  Everyone suffers.  No one can escape."

    Shrink to our doctoral study group not long after that: "Problem people are usually constipated.  That's why they dump on you."

    Executive Director of CFP just before joining with PUBC to form PFR: "Just one flea can make a big dog itch."


    My dad asked, "How old is he?"

    I said, "He's older than mom's dad" (80+).

    Dad: "That's your problem.  He's just trying to catch your attention; and doesn't know how to do it appropriately.  Just sit with him, pretend to pay attention, think about golf or something, and he'll be fine.  Some people have too much time on their hands and just need someone to listen to them.  He doesn't mean to be a pain; but that's the only way he can get people to pay attention to him anymore."


    But I'm reminded of the woman who made an appointment to complain about the doxology being in the wrong part of the service according to her liturgical ignorance.

    It made no sense to me; until my secretary said, "Can't you see?  She's hot for you!  She's just trying to catch your attention so you'll pay attention to her."


    I met with her and she hit on me.


    But I'm reminded of pastor search committee members and the common experience of many of 'em leaving their churches after discovering their choices wouldn't champion their agenda, be their best friend, go to bed with 'em (gender not important anymore), or...




    Nobody asked.

    But my personal prejudices for President have no chance of beating the incumbent.

    Because I try not to hide anything - read John 3:19-21 again for a reminder of what this is all about - I like the African-American and former physician.

    No way.

    The GOP ain't gonna nominate a black man or Libertarian to run against BBPBHO.

    Any party that picks guys like Dole, McClain, and...

    If I have to explain that to you...

    The Governor of Texas is a stiff in public and the others, well, uh,...if I have to explain that to you...

    So it looks like it's gonna be the former Governor of Massachusetts against the former rapper from Illinois.


    Sorry, that's unfair.

    We have no idea about the incumbent's theology.

    And as far as the fears spreading in the "Christian Right" about the Mormon, I've concluded he's about as close to authentic Mormonism as too many pewsitters/pulpiteers/mainliners are to authentic Christianity.

    What, me worry?


    2 Chronicles 7:14.

    It's a lot bigger than next November.



    So what does this have to do with the four things missing in dying churches?


    Well, God has established order/authority to keep countries, communities, churches, and families from falling into anarchy, mobocracy, decay, decline, and the like.

    Read Romans 13, 1 Thessalonians 5, and parallel texts juxtaposed to Acts 5 which summarizes our primary allegiance/affection.

    In short, God predestines leaders over us in the country, community, church, and family; and as long as those leaders acknowledge/affirm God as their ultimate Leader and the focus/filter of their leadership according to Holy Scripture, we must submit to their authority as submitting to His authority.

    We disobey 'em only when leaders contradict God as He has revealed Himself.

    That's the Biblical way of keeping countries, communities, churches, and families from falling apart.

    Conversely, when anybody's word is as good as anybody else's word on any subject and the inmates start running the..., countries, communities, churches, and families fall apart.

    Simply, rebellion/defiance against Godly authority brings ruin to countries, communities, churches, and families.

    That's the preface to identifying the four things missing in dying churches: trust, humility, guts, and Jesus.


    Proverbs 3:5-6.

    Dying churches don't trust God through their members, staffs, boards, undershepherding leadership, and denominational/franchise hierarchies.

    They grumble, banter and moan, undermine, conspire, bark, bite, and...


    Living like Father knows best.

    Knowing our limitations (check out Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12).

    Remembering, as cited so often in Holy Scripture, "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble...God lifts up the humble and brings down the proud."


    Joshua 24:15; Matthew 5:10-12; 10:16-42; 16:24-28; Romans 1:16-17.

    It takes guts to be for Jesus when serving in government, teaching in schools, maneuvering through the marketplace, and all of the below.

    Being for Jesus in time means catching lots of hell before heavenly graduation.


    Matthew 7:24-27; John 3.

    When we're born again as His and directed by all of the above, our trust, humility, and guts grow.



    Knowing who to be and what to do as His is so easy.

    Practicing who to be and what to do as His is so hard.

    Oswald Chambers, better than most, addressed the paradox so clearly, concisely, crisply, and compellingly: "You do not know what you are going to do; the only thing you know is that God knows what He is doing...The Bible has been so many words to us - clouds and darkness - then all of a sudden the words become spirit and life because Jesus re-speaks them to us in a particular condition...When a man gets to God, it is by the most simple way of words."

    It all makes sense with increasing trust, humility, and guts because of increasing intimacy with Jesus.

    If I have to explain that to you, it's because you haven't...



Blessings and Love!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Deeper Discipleship

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)



    We talk a lot about modeling Someone better in the church that sometimes/kinda wants to be His Church.

    Blah, blah, blah.

    Aren't you tired of all the talk?

    How about Him?

    Look what we've done to His prayer for us (viz., John 17).

    churches not Churches are filled with naysayers, nitpickers, and negatives.

    Hey, I'm not being pejorative.

    I'm being positively truthful; and you know it!

    Stop pretending!

    Start practicing what He preached/personified!


    Self-convicting preceding section.


    Yeah, I've got a mirror.

    Do you?

    It's time to stop making excuses for our bad behaviors and start modeling Someone better.

    Parenthetically, that's why I think too many pulpiteers/pewsitters prefer self-designations like Baptist, Catholic, Episcopalian, Independent, Lutheran, Methodist, Non-denominational, Presbyterian, and so on.

    It takes a lotta guts to call yourself a...Christian.

    That's heavy as in the Greek word for glory.

    Get it/Him?

    Yeah, it's easier - more loopholes/rationalizations/self-deceptions/lies - to label yourself with a franchise tag than true belief in Jesus confirmed by behavior confirming that belief: Christianity.

    I believe that's what accounts for all of those emerging churches that can't stand the hypocrisies of the dying ones.

    Younger generations with a spicing of geezers who get it/Him don't want church anymore.

    They want Church.

    They want to worship and work and witness like He expects/directs.

    Hans Kung got it/Him: the agenda for the Church is "to discover what is permanent...originally meant, before it was covered with the dust and debris of two thousand years...This is not another gospel, but the same ancient gospel rediscovered for today!" (On Being a Christian, 1974).

    Do we get it/Him?


    We're gonna see if we get it/Him in our family of faith at First Presbyterian Church in Belvidere, Illinois; and maybe you'll join us as we pray and labor to love Him by loving like Him.

    Specifically, we're going deeper.

    We're tired of the blah, blah, blah and want to immerse ourselves into the beauty of His holy glory.

    Two staff members have been inspiring my prayers about this in our family of faith for over seven years; and yesterday, during our Sunday afternoon prayer meeting in the chapel where He showed up in a very heavy as in glorious way, a revelation was resurrected to guide our desire for deeper discipleship.


    Ron Rand: "There are many ways in which a church can experience renewal...[one way is through]...the development of a 'good report' system, whereby members of the body become accountable to only be a good report to others and give an upbuilding report about any other individual member."

    I remember Ron saying that sometime in the late 70s when I attended a HELPER (How to Equip Lay People to Evangelize Regularly) conference at Cincinnati, Ohio's College Hill Presbyterian Church.

    With deference to Ron and apologies if necessary, here's the amended version of "A Good Report Card" after the prayers of yesterday, this morning, and seven years:

    A Good Report Card

    In obedience to God's Word as exemplified in Jesus and explained in the Bible concerning my relationships with others as a reflection of my relationship with
Him (Matthew 22:34-40; 25:31-46), I promise to be a good report to others and to give a good report about others.

    When I discover I have been an offender, I will be obedient to God: (1) I will ask God to search my heart and lead me in His way of reconciliation (Psalm 139:23-24); and (2) I will take the initiative to go privately to the offended, confess my failure, ask forgiveness, and seek reconciliation (Matthew 5:23-24).

    When I discover I have been offended, I will be obedient to God: (1) I will ask God to search my heart and lead me in His way of reconciliation (Psalm 139:23-24); (2) I will take the initiative to go privately to the offender, share my feelings about the offense, seek understanding, and pursue reconciliation (Matthew 18:15); or (3) When appropriate, I will totally release the offense to God for His care and remain silent so I do not become an offender; remembering, "Sometimes it's better to talk to God about someone than to talk to someone about God."

    Only if this process does not enable reconciliation - and only after I have been obedient to God and used this Biblical process reflecting God's will for my life - will I seek the counsel of others (Matthew 18:16-20).

    If I violate this process and covenant as disobedience to God, I will promptly ask forgiveness from both God and the person that I have offended.

    I sign this covenant because I love Jesus and want to love Him by loving like Him.



    It reminds me of the older preacher who urged me so many years ago when I asked what I should preach about: "Talk about Jesus and the Bible!  That'll shock 'em!"


    Salt stings to heal.

    Or as the old priest said to the young priest in Bernanos' The Diary of a Country Priest (1934), "Salt stings on an open wound, but saves you from gangrene."

    We're gonna post this on some doors at First with signatures; and update it weekly.

    It will be in keeping with John 3:19-21.

    It will be a very Biblically practical accountability instrument to measure our true desire for deeper discipleship.

    It will be used to guide our Nominating Committee, assist in identifying saints who are ready/called to serve, help focus our prayers, provide a framework for staff evaluations, and so on.

    It will help us to go from blah, blah, blah to modeling Someone better for ourselves and others.

    Talk about exposing the...


Blessings and Love!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Sabbaticals, Part 2

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)



    When I returned from Montana after a week with somebody who actually sells books that he's written, I was overwhelmed by the renovations to my study; transforming it from a cluttered mess of odds and ends that I'd created to a place extraordinarily conducive to prayer, study, and counsel.

    Though I did not ask for the renovations and did not consult about the renovations though asked, I trusted our Project Team when they insisted on the changes; and my trust was rewarded with a place so much better than I could have ever designed or dreamed.

    I am humbled by their care for me.

    Of course, change can be tough; especially for someone like me with roots in the Teutonic forests of Germany.

    I had to box everything before I left - being instructed to clean out my desk was unnerving if you know what I mean - and unbox everything when I got back.

    During the unboxing providential part, I found my old Willie Nelson disk, plugged it into the truck's player, and remembered how listening to him has always been more relaxing than Jim, Jimi, Jimmy,

    He always has a way of guiding us to what's best for us when we trust Him and His.


    Providentially speaking, how I got around to writing/talking about sabbaticals comes to mind (go to the 10/9/11 edition of KD).

    It started a few days before hitting Route 90.

    The other pastor in our family of faith came into my study and asked, "Have you ever taken a sabbatical?  You've been here over 7 years and I was wondering if you're going to take a sabbatical.  Aren't you supposed to take a sabbatical every 7 years?"

    I said, "No, I've never taken a sabbatical for two reasons: (1) I had too much energy and thought I already knew too much when I was younger and serving churches that actually took care of their pastors with stuff like sabbaticals, PAM, and...; and (2) I realize that I could probably use one now but it ain't gonna happen 'cause, well, uh, you know..."

    He nodded knowingly.

    I started to think/pray about it.


    Within the first few hours of meeting with the really famous guy in Montana, he recalled talking to someone: "I really need a sabbatical.  Would you fund it?"

    The man was wealthy.

    The man knew he was blessed to bless.

    So ___ went on a sabbatical.

    I started to think/pray about it a little more.


    A few days after getting back, I got an e-mail from my predecessor who is also a dear friend: "Hi!  I have been enjoying your 'epistles.'  It sounds like you had an awesome experience in Montana and came back to a 'transformed' office."

    He got to the point: "The purpose of this note is in regards to your thoughts about sabbaticals...Since that was something I was never able to make happen,...I thought I would find out what you had in mind in terms of length of time and when...This would enable me to first pray about it with you and possibly offer a suggestion."

    O.K., Yahweh, hit me over the head with your providence!

    Jeremy, ___, and Bill.

    Even someone as thick as moi can figure it/Him out on this one.

    I really started to think/pray about it.


    Parenthetically, the other pastor in our family of faith has been around a year longer; so I told him a few days ago to come up with an idea and financial plan for his sabbatical.

    I'm going to present it to our session/elders/deacons asap.

    I'm going to ask 'em for $ and make a direct appeal to the congregation.

    I can't go on mine unless he's going first.


    As pour moi, I'm taking my new friend's/mentor's approach: "It cost the church nothing."

    I'm trusting that He used Jeremy, ___, and Bill to convince me; which means He will provide the means.

    Come to think of it, maybe you are...



    I'll be sending my idea and financial plan to Bill before next week is out.

    You won't read about that on this site; but if you'd like to know more about it or maybe..., I'll copy to you what I'll be sending to Bill if you ask.  You can forward, delete, or...






    I've got about 15 years left in Belvidere; unless, uh, my desk is cleaned out because I'm assassinated or something.

    Never know.

    I know I'm more excited about praying, preaching, and caring than ever...

    I know I'm more positively anticipatory about what He will...

    I know the idea for the sabbatical fits right into...

    I know His providence has just hit me over my stubborn Teutonically DNA'ed head to...

    I know it's all because of a deepening trust in Him, His, and...

    So I'm not worried at all about someone coughing up the...


    He always has a way of guiding us to what's best for us when we trust Him and His.


    I trust you know this is just a reminder for you as well as...



Blessings and Love!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Week That Didn't Change My Life

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)



    I just spent a week with "the J.B. Phillips of our time" and three of the most authentic and consistently Christocentric undershepherds to ever cross my path.

    If you'd like to know more about what happened, go to, click on Kopp Disclosure, and listen to the archive of the 10/19/11 edition that commenced at 6:00 p.m.

    While I studied under the guy who wrote the RSV, became a colleague and close friend of the guy who wrote the NIV, and was graced to listen to and only lately learn from so many of the great saints of the mid to late 20th century, last week didn't change my life in terms of faith; but definitely deepened how I will practice it as an undershepherd, husband, father, friend, and even presbyter.

    As I told Chuck, Jeff, and Ken, "I wish I had met him 35 years ago; but, of course, I knew everything back then and wouldn't have paid any attention to him."



    Tony, who will be joining Kathie, Bill, et moi every Tuesday at 11:30 a.m. on Kopp Disclosure via, observed during the broadcast on 10/19/11 which you can, uh, experience by going to the site, clicking on KD, and listening to the archive, "I've noticed the great saints of the church have always been kinda detached from the church, people, what's happening..."


    Let me explain.

    Detached doesn't connote a lack of interest, concern, sensitivity, or sympathy; and it certainly does not exclude/eliminate/diminish a saint's sadness over sheep who lose His way in favor of theirs that never satisfies.

    It means a saint's sanity - and remember the Biblical definition of saint is anyone who truly believes in Jesus as attested by behaving like Jesus more than less - is not captive to the whims and emotional/intellectual/spiritual dysfunctions of others because of increasing intimacy with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

    It means a saint's joy in, through, and for Jesus is not disturbed, distracted, derailed, detoured, or dissipated by the meanness, madness, and misery of life in the world.

    Read Psalm 1.

    Read Galatians 2:20; 5:16-26.



    Though my covenant brothers Chuck, Jeff, and Ken get it/Him, they are not immune to the attacks of those who witlessly or consciously cooperate with darkness.

    You know what I mean.

    As the sage's wife had to explain to him long ago, "There are farts in the elevator...It only takes one and everyone suffers and can't escape the..."

    Or as a shrink lectured my doctoral study group back in 1980, "Problem people in churches are usually constipated.  That's why they dump on you."

    Whoever said loving Jesus means escaping the attacks of the enemy and its witless or consciously cooperative accomplices never took a long look at the cross.

    We aren't immune.

    We overcome sooner or later, usually sooner than later, and definitely in the end.

    Sage's translation/paraphrase of some verses in Psalm 32: "These things add up.  Every one of us needs to pray; when all hell breaks loose and the dam bursts we'll be on high ground, untouched."

    Read Psalm 32.

    Read Matthew 7:24-27.



    You've probably heard this old saying: "You're damned if you do and damned if you don't."

    Here's how we talked about it last week: "You're damned if you do and damned if you don't; so you may as well be damned for trying to be righteous."

    Aside from the eternal consequences, which should be enough to persuade, here's another way of putting it, "People are gonna bitch and moan about whatever you say and do - it's their nature - so you may as well let 'em bitch and moan about you trying to be faithful as exemplified in Jesus and explained in the Bible."

    People who are in league, witlessly or otherwise, with darkness may put you through hell; but going through hell is a lot better than ending up there.

    Read Psalm 2

    Read Colossians 3.



    Now stop wondering why I haven't named the man/saint who took us deeper last week.


    Tune in to the archive as recommended in the first section of this edition for his name if you haven't already guessed.

    Besides, we know him as "a man of primary source."

    He would prefer we talk/concentrate on Him rather than him: "Worship God if you want the best; worship opens the doors to all His goodness."

    He likes to quote Baron Friedrich von Hugel who said this about approaching truth as revealed in Holy Scripture, "It is more like sucking on a lozenge than gulping a meal."

    Or as our newer mentor has written, "Chew on Scripture day and night."

    Or as he said during our last session, "Take a breath before..."

    What's that word to describe that spiritual discipline?



    It/he didn't change my life.

    Jesus did that.

    Our triune God used him to take us deeper as...

    Now take a breath and...



Blessings and Love!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Why I've Never Taken a Sabbatical

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)



    I went to a 9th grade volleyball tournament to watch my niece who's very good at it.

    It was a beautiful Indian Summer Saturday - Can I still say that without offending someone? - in one of the lushest suburbs of Chicago.

    When my wife went into a supermarket to buy a pumpkin after the tournament, I decided to soak up some unhealthy rays on the bench reserved for old guys waiting for their wives to...

    Anyway, three reincarnations of the 60s came strolling up to the store in their anachronistic attire with two going in and the other sitting down next to me on the bench.

    He asked, "Hey, you look familiar.  Aren't you a singer or lead something in one of those bands doing those retro shows these days?"

    Me: "If I was, you wouldn't know anyway."

    "Seriously, man," he went on, "I've seen lots of those salt and pepper bands that you're in and, man, I really dig on 'em."

    Me: "So why are you all dressed up, son?"

    He replied, "We're going downtown to occupy Chicago, man.  It's our generation's turn.  You know only 5% of this country's population got all the cash.  Corporate greed.  That's wrong, man.  You know the song, 'There's something happenin' here.  What it is ain't exactly clear.  Thousand people in the street.'  You know how it goes, man."

    Me: "Yes, I do."

    He said, "Yeah, that greed, man.  We gotta stop it.  It's not right, man.  Too few have too much."

    Me: "Where are you from, son?"

    "I'm from around here, man," he replied, "and been here all my life."

    Me: "Have you ever considered you are part of the 5%?"

    He got up and went into the store.


    It's important to take stock every now and then; unless, of course, you wanna go through life thinking there's no room for improvement and, ergo, miss out on the new and improved ways of the Lord that are only experienced by disciples willing to stretch and make room for His latest graces.

    That came to mind when the other pastor in our family of faith at First came into my study last week and asked, "Have you ever taken a sabbatical?  You've been here over 7 years and I was wondering if you're going to take a sabbatical.  Aren't you supposed to take a sabbatical every 7 years?"

    Parenthetically, he's been with us a year longer than me; so I'm hoping the members of our Personnel Committee read this and realize he should be going on a sabbatical sooner than later.

    Be that as I will press now that it's in my mind, I said, "No, I've never taken a sabbatical for two reasons: (1) I had too much energy and thought I already knew too much when I was younger and serving churches that actually took care of their pastors with stuff like sabbaticals, PAM, and...; and (2) I realize that I could probably use one now but it ain't gonna happen 'cause, well, uh, you know..."

    He nodded knowingly.

    Actually, I tried to get one funded through some foundation in Bobby Knight and Larry Bird's favorite state; but they didn't like my idea of spending a few months riding with outlaws to figure out why they don't like mainline churches.  Besides, it was such a hassle with all the paperwork and...  Besides/moreover, a friend who's been at a neighboring franchise church for almost 12 years and requested one just got...  Well, uh, you know... 

    It did get me thinking about what I'd do with a sabbatical if I ever got what ain't gonna happen to moi but which I will insist for our other pastor and will raise the $ to make it happen.

    I'd get an Electra Glide Ultra Limited from Woodstock HD with my PAM and 3/2/52/11 $ and take about two months to travel across America; visiting outlaws, inlaws, franchisers, independents, high/low churches, and asking, "What does it mean to be faithful in a country that doesn't give a damn about God anymore?"


    Then I'd write another book that no one would buy.


    1400 - 1500 pastors leave pastoral ministry every 30 days.

    85% of America's churches are declining.

    10+ American churches close their doors every day.

    Yeah, I think it's time to take stock and take a sabbatical.

    Please feel free to mail this to the folks in Indy.


Blessings and Love!