Archives For Scott Attebery

Few things are as difficult for churches as laying a ministry to rest. Just take a look at the weekly calendar for most churches. Nobody wants to admit defeat.

Sometimes a ministry has been fruitful for decades and has simply run its course. What an opportunity to rejoice (at a ministry funeral). Other ministries may have been doomed from the beginning –as if, from inception, they were placed on “ministry death watch.”

One cause for such impending demise may be an unwise approach to starting and sustaining ministries in the first place. Many churches make critical mistakes when introducing new ministries to the congregation. Usually, they happen in the following order (perhaps you are familiar with some, or all, of these):

One person gets excited about a ministry. This is a good thing, unless it remains that way.

The person excited about the ministry doesn’t take the time to make sure others are equally excited. There is a difference between informing people about a ministry and securing buy-in for a ministry. For instance, if a pastor wants to see his new evangelism ministry succeed, he needs to do more than share the idea. He also needs…

Continue Reading

You can learn a lot about a person by their conversation. Listen long enough and you will discover what they value most.

The same could be said about churches. In the recent past, such issues as music style, facility design and sermon length have dominated discussions and debate. While all of those topics have their place, if we treat them as the most important issues in the church, we reveal that our values are immature.

In my opinion, the day is fast approaching when the church will no longer have the luxury of treating lesser things as though they were of greater importance. The decreasing elements of Christian influence in pop culture will force churches to re-evaluate their values. Here are four value shifts that I believe will soon take place in American evangelical churches. In many congregations, the conversations are already transitioning.

  • From Style to Substance. As church members are forced to contemplate whether they should attend their niece’s same-sex marriage, or provide insurance coverage for life-terminating drugs, they will care less about whether the pastor is “easy on the ears” and more about whether he is able to apply faithful Bible proclamation to relevant…

    Continue Reading

I see a lot of church advertising these days. Many churches are utilizing billboards, print ads, and social media for the purpose of outreach. I love the concept of utilizing creative spaces to advance the kingdom. However, there is a something unsettling about public ads that advertise with slogans such as:

  • “In depth preaching,”
  • “Contemporary and traditional services,”
  • “Bible studies for the whole family.”

Don’t get me wrong. I love all of those things. Preaching, corporate worship, and Bible study are all high on my list. And no, I don’t think the church should hide what we are doing.

However, it strikes me odd when a church’s outreach efforts advertise elements that only believers would be interested in. That doesn’t mean unbelievers don’t need it –it just means they don’t know they need it –yet.

As I see it, this kind of advertising implies one of three things about the church:

  • The church assumes we live in culture familiar with Christianity. Churches must realize that we no longer have the luxury of living in a culture that is familiar and friendly to the church. Reaching unbelievers requires us to think like a missionary overseas attempting to reach a…

    Continue Reading

Preachers, have you ever noticed that some of your most well received messages are the ones for which you have studied the least? Don’t worry, I’m not advocating a lack of study. However, I think it is important to understand why this phenomenon occurs.

When an idea first enters your mind, it is simple to comprehend. Just consider the experience of reading Scripture and having a new insight, which revolutionizes your thinking. All of a sudden, you see everything through the lens of your new insight. At this stage, you don’t have a lot of information, which allows you to have amazing clarity. Let’s call this stage one.

Stage one preaching tends to flow brilliantly from your mouth because the insight is clear – there is no “extra information” to trip over in your presentation.

Of course, the beauty of stage one preaching is also the fault: lack of information. This leaves stage one preaching open to misleading statements, unbalanced presentation of Scripture, and misapplication of the text.

Perhaps you have preached a stage one sermon and received wonderful complements. Then, the next time you have an opportunity to preach to a different audience, you decide to…

Continue Reading


As a pastor, I hated the idea of evaluation. It sounded too much like a way to open myself up to needless criticism. After all, who really wants to invite an outsider to tell them what they are doing wrong, add more “to do’s” to their list, or make them feel guilty for what they are not doing? Pastoring is hard enough already. Why invite more frustration?

But what if I were to tell you that evaluation can be a positive experience? Don’t misunderstand. “Positive” does not always translate into “easy.” However, evaluation can be positive in the sense that it can clarify issues, reveal potential, and renew hope.

If you were to overhear a discussion from biblical church evaluation, you might here phrases such as:

  • “This church works hard and endures a lot to keep going, but in the process has lost their passion for people.”
  • “This church has stayed true to doctrinal teaching, yet they are allowing their people to trip over stumbling block
  • “This church looks busy on the outside, but they are dying on the inside.”
  • “This church is apathetic and needs to decide if they are going to be serious about ministry or not.”


Continue Reading


As a pastor, church members would occasionally ask, “Why don’t we have revivals?” To which I would sometimes answer, “I don’t know, but I wish God would send one soon –don’t you?”

Of course, I knew what they were really asking. “Why don’t we have a series of services set aside each year for preaching and singing?”

First, let me say that I love preaching and I love singing. And I don’t have a problem with setting aside a series of services. However, I do have a problem with getting the cart before the horse.

Revival is the supernatural moving of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of men drawing them to repent of their sins and follow Christ more vigorously. During revival, the backsliders become worshippers, the self-absorbed become Christ-infatuated, and the nominal become evangelizers. True revival is evidenced by vast changes in the way believers talk, serve, work, and live.

Over the history of Christianity, God has never sent revival because a church scheduled services, hired a preacher, arranged for musicians, or invited crowds. (This is where the cart gets before the horse) Instead, God has promised revival “if my people who are…

Continue Reading

Talking about the objective truth of Scripture is comfortable for me. I love a good discussion about how Jesus became the sacrifice for my sin or how my life should reflect the gospel.

But I have difficulty when the topic turns from objective truth to subjective experience. I tend to shy away from discussions about how close I am to God or how well I communicate in prayer.

I think my shyness regarding the subjective aspects of faith stem from a fear of being led by my feelings instead of being led by truth. This is a legitimate concern. After all, Scripture tells us, “The heart is deceitful above all things…” (Jer. 17:9)

But to say that because our feelings are unreliable, we must squelch any idea of a subjective relationship with God is a fallacy. In fact, to deny a subjective relationship with God is to deny the objective truth of Scripture.

That’s right; Scripture teaches that we are to have a relationship with God that goes beyond knowledge of truth. In John 14:23, Jesus states, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will…

Continue Reading

HatsJeff wears multiple hats. He pastors a church and works full-time in the medical field. After a long night shift, Jeff and I at a local coffee shop. Although I knew he must have been exhausted, the topic of local church ministry brought about an energy and passion in his voice.

In the midst of talking about current trends in ministry and the needs of churches, Jeff made an interesting comment that caught my attention. He said that he preferred bi-vocational ministry because of all of its advantages.

He went on to explain that even though many full-time pastors have given him the “bi-vocational pastoring is second-rate vibe,” he sees things differently.

The advantages to bi-vocational pastoring that he shared with me excited my heart and caused me to wonder if God might be preparing to raise up a new generation of pastors from men who already have careers in progress.

For years, older pastors have worried that there may not be a shortage of new pastors to carry on the ministry. However, taking bi-vocational pastoring into consideration immediately multiplies the pool of candidates. And, once you read about these advantages, I think you’ll see them as…

Continue Reading


Did Jesus battle depression? Seems like a strange question at first, but consider Isaiah’s prophesy of the coming Messiah: “He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3).

That certainly sounds like someone dealing with the symptoms of depression. So why do we immediately push back at the thought that Jesus might have dealt with symptoms of depression?

Perhaps it is because we have the false notion that depression is either 1) a sin or a 2) sign of weakness. But neither is the case.

In fact, depression is not something a person chooses. Rather it is something a person must choose how to deal with.  The real issue is not whether a person experiences depression, but instead, how the person reacts to depression.

For this reason I am of the opinion that Christ did indeed battle depression. And more importantly, He battled it perfectly. Hebrews 4:15 reminds us, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.”

Christ wasn’t the only person in Scripture who…

Continue Reading

WolfI’ve never stood in the midst of a large pasture-tending sheep (the kind that say “baa-baa”). However, I have served as a shepherd of a local church (the kind that say “amen,” “God bless,” and “what time is the pot-luck”).

The Bible’s word-picture of the pastor or church leader as a shepherd is powerful. A shepherd must guide, lead, protect, watch, and guard. It is a weighty responsibility not to be taken lightly.

In Ezekiel 34, God entrust a message to Ezekiel for the purpose of prophesying against the bad shepherds (people leaders) of Israel. In a stunning rebuke, he declares “Woe to the shepherds of Israel who only take care of themselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock?” (v. 2)

Next, the LORD proceeds to name these leaders’ laundry list of sins:

  • Demanding the choice animals for wool and food while neglecting the people.
  • Not strengthening the weak, healing the sick, or binding up the injured.
  • Not rescuing the strays or searching for the lost.
  • Ruling over the people harshly with brutality.

The result, God declares, is that the sheep were scattered and became prey to the wild animals and outside nations. Can you imagine being…

Continue Reading

Families Touched by Suicide

Yesterday I listened to callers on a local radio talk show discuss whether or not suicide was an unpardonable sin. (Whether or not a person can commit suicide and still go to heaven) Its always interesting to me how a subject like this can spark heated discussion among people who ordinarily wouldn’t discuss spiritual things.  Its also interesting to discover how diverse the range of opinions is on the subject.

The discussion left me feeling sad for families who have been touched by suicide. I can only imagine (as displayed by the call-in discussion) how many unresolved questions must linger in their minds.

Here are a few thoughts that will hopefully bring encouragement and add clarity to the conversation:

1)   The test of eternal life is not whether or not a person takes their life, but whether or not they have received Christ’s life. No person will enter Heaven because of a good life or great deeds. Rather, eternal life comes by grace through faith in Jesus (Eph. 2:8-9).

2)   The issue of suicide is serious because it deals with the sanctity of life (Genesis 1:26). Life is a precious gift of…

Continue Reading

Monster PastorIn a previous post, I wrote about “monster churches” in reference to congregations that chew up and spit out pastors on a regular basis. Monster churches are highly dysfunctional and rarely fruitful.

The congregation, however, is not always the problem. Just as monster churches are a factory of discord, monster pastors take trouble with them wherever they go.

Nicknames for monster pastors include: dictator, authoritarian, and control freak.

Biblically speaking, they may be false teachers, greedy for selfish gain, deceitful workmen, and ravenous wolves. They specialize in hijacking congregations then abusing power.

Monster pastors have little regard for the sheep (or the Chief Shepherd for that matter). Instead, their first priority is self, masked by other agendas. Such pastors may use pressure tactics, political maneuvering, and/or persuasive speech in order to manipulate a congregation into acting on their behalf. When they don’t get their way, monster pastors usually 1) move on to another church, 2) cause a stir in their current church, and/or 3) blame the congregation for not following their lead. Simply put, monster pastors are building their own kingdom rather than Christ’s kingdom.

As a general rule, monster pastors: