Archives For Scott Attebery

Growth

Does God desire for your church to grow?

The short and simple answer is “yes.” We can make this deduction from the fact that God has called us to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:18-20) and that ultimately; disciples from all nations will be gathered together in heaven (Revelation 7:9). In the mean time, God is working through His body, the Church, to gather His children (Matthew 16:18). Therefore, as the Church grows, God’s global kingdom grows. –and that’s not just God’s goal, its promise.

But there is another answer and its slightly more complicated.

Imagine you have a friend with two wild, unruly children. When his kids spend the night with your kids, you hide every breakable item in the house and never let them out of your sight! Although you love your friend immensely, you are really concerned about his lack of parenting skills.

One day, over lunch, your friend tells you that he and his wife are praying for another child. He explains how they are confident that God wants their family to grow and he even quotes Psalm 127:3, “Behold, children are a heritage…

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Singles

“I don’t belong here.” That was the first thought that entered my mind when I walked into the room labeled, “singles.”

I had recently relocated and was interested in building relationships in my new church home. On that particular Sunday morning, I was greeted in the Church entrance and asked what kind of class I would like to attend. After a short discussion, the greeter led me to a small classroom upstairs.

To be honest, I felt like I had been dropped off in the “lost and found” box for Christians. Other than being single, “What else could I possibly have in common with these people?” I thought.

You see, the term, “single” has multiple meanings. It can refer to a 26-year old graduate student who has never been married, a 43-year old divorcee and mother of three, or a 74-year old widower, or a million different other combinations!

I sat down and waited for the lesson to begin. My mind was filled with curiosity as I scanned the room. “I wonder what his story is?” “What brought her to this class?”

The lesson was great. But what was even better was the discussion. It was during that…

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Choices

The following is an excerpt from my book, “Navigate: Understanding & Pursuing God’s Will.”

The Tight Rope Theory

This teaching declares God’s will is like a tight rope where one wrong move will ruin your life and require you to start all over again -or worse, be eternally out of God’s will.  This view assumes God is powerless to work through the faults of man.

The tight rope theory has a difficult time explaining how Moses could lead the children of Israel out of Egypt with first-degree murder on his record (Exodus 2:11-12) or how Peter could preach powerfully at Pentecost (Acts 2:14-41) when months earlier Jesus rebuked him and called Him Satan. (Matthew 16:23)   It seems God is not wringing His hands worried that imperfect men will mess up His will.

The Perfect Will of God Theory

Another theory describes a state of being where everything magically lines up to put you in God’s perfect will.  (Of course this implies that God also has an imperfect will -which sounds really strange for God.)  “Those who acceptable to God,…

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Not HiringIn most cases, your church’s hiring practices will have major ramifications that reach beyond your awareness. It’s not just a matter of whether a candidate can do the job or not. The real impact of your hiring decision will be seen in:

  • How they interact with your church members
  • Whether they make the people around them better or bitter
  • The amount they “buy into” the overall mission of your church
  • How passionate and loyal they are toward the people they serve

There are plenty of basic “measurable” by which to judge a potential staff member such as education, experience, and skills. But those sort of issues only deal with the science of hiring –not the art.

The art of hiring requires more observation and interaction. It is hard work to be sure –but well worth it.

Some key questions that a church should ask when hiring staff are:

Will this person fit in our church’s culture? It has been said that culture trumps strategy every time. This doesn’t mean that the new hire must come from the same culture (He doesn’t have to be a city slicker to minister in NYC), but instead that he can fit in that…

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Churches DisciplingThe church where I formerly pastored, Wyatt Baptist Church of El Dorado, Arkansas, is one of the most mission-minded churches I know of. Every year they send a large percentage of church members around the world in partnership with various missionaries. One of the missionary families they partner with is Oscar and Tamy Gaitan of Centro De Vida Church in Catarina, Masaya, Nicaragua.

Centro De Vida naturally became Wyatt’s sister church. In fact, over the years, several of the members of Wyatt have moved to Catarina for periods of time and likewise, several members of Centro De Vida have moved to El Dorado for periods of time. We even had a Wyatt girl and a Centro De Vida boy get married!

But Centro De Vida became more than a sister church to Wyatt while I was there. Centro De Vida became a mentor to Wyatt.

Did you know it is possible for churches to disciple other churches? While the Bible doesn’t explicitly use that terminology, it is evident that churches have the privilege of influencing and edifying one another for kingdom work.

One great example is in I Thessalonians 2:14 where Paul writes to the church in…

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UofA vs LSU

“We’ve always done it that way.”

There is a certain stereotype in the minds of pastors and church leaders when they hear that phrase. The stereotype I am referring to is of an out-of-touch, die-hard, traditional, older member who can’t see the ridiculous nature of basing decisions mindlessly upon patterns of behavior in the past.

Well, if that’s the case, I’ve become that out-of-touch stereotypical non-change agent.

For the past 20-something years, the Arkansas Razorbacks (my favorite team) has played LSU the day after thanksgiving. I have so many great memories of traveling with special friends to watch that game over the years. As silly as it sounds, that game –on that day- has a special place in my heart.

The other day, I read in the newspaper that the game has been moved to another date and a new team has been placed on our schedule for Thanksgiving weekend. Before I could realize what was happening, the thought was echoing in my mind, “But we’ve always done it that way.”

My next thought was, “I can’t believe I just said that!”

I tried to process what happened inside of me. I wasn’t necessarily clinging…

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Gooder

I overanalyze things. So, when my son told me the other day that nap time at school is “badder” than recess, I laughed –for a second. That is, until my mind raced twenty years into the future as Bryce is interviewing for a job and says, “Thank you for considering me for this position. I’ll do a gooder job than you could ever imagine.” So I quickly corrected him to use the word, “worse” as a comparative adjective instead of “badder.” I’m fairly certain he will use the incorrect word again.

So, I wondered, what is the best way to teach him? Should I quickly put together a chart on irregular comparative and superlative adjectives? Or, should we practice using “worse” in sentences for about ten minutes? Maybe I should just trust that in time, he will hear me use “worse” enough times in natural conversation that he will catch on. So, which way is the best way for my son to learn? I actually think it is all three.

There is a place for charts and chalkboard teaching (Classroom/Lecture). There is also much to be said for practicing scenarios (Practice/Mentor). And, there…

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Keep Out

Growing up, anytime guests were coming to visit, we would “clean house” to get ready. The more important the guest, the more we cleaned up.

Every church (no matter the size, median age, location, or resources) can quickly communicate a lack of concern for visitors by the way they keep their facilities. Here are three quick ways to display a lack of welcoming hospitality:

1)   Don’t change the message on your sign for weeks on end. This is a real pet-peeve of mine. If you are going to have a message-changing sign (or a website for that matter), keep it current. There’s nothing that screams “nobody cares” more than having your fall festival advertised in December.

2)   Leave up old concert posters doors and walls. Seriously, when the event is over, take them down. This is not your teenage daughter’s “brag wall.” When visitors see that you don’t pay attention to detail, they wonder if you will pay attention to them.

3)   Don’t keep-up your facilities and grounds. When someone in your neighborhood lets their yard go uncut and has UPS packages piled up on their front porch, you typically think they are out of town on vacation. Is…

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Baseball Play

I remember a few years ago when a major league baseball player was fined by his team for statements that he made in public. Radio talk shows discussed the matter for several days. Some callers ranted about the right to free speech while others pointed out the employer’s right to set rules for his employee’s behavior.

My favorite caller made a statement like this (paraphrase), “I’m not much of an athlete, but I’m pretty sure I could hold my tongue for the salary of a major league pitcher.” Listening to his comments on the radio that day, I remember saying to myself, “Exactly.”

Later, several of my pastor friends and I laughed at the thought of one of us making inappropriate statements from the pulpit under the guise of the “right to free speech.” However, much like the caller on the radio, we are more than happy to hold our tongue (and watch our lives) for the privilege of serving as pastors.

The pastorate has clearer qualifications and standards than any other profession imaginable.

I Timothy 3:2-7 and Titus 1:6-9 give details of these pastoral standards and qualifications. Here’s a breakdown:

Leadership Dictionary

What is a pastor? Three words in the New Testament are used interchangeable to describe this office in the church: Pastor, Elder, and Bishop. Is it strange that the Bible uses multiple words to describe this office? Not any more than for Americans to describe our leader as, “President,” “Commander in Chief,” and “Leader of the Free World.”

So why would the Bible use more than one term to describe one role? Perhaps to describe the multi-faceted nature of the job.

The Greek word for “Pastor” is poimen, meaning “shepherd.” This term emphasizes the care and protection a pastor provides for his congregation.

The Greek word for “Elder” is presbuteros, meaning “older, mature.” This term implies the wisdom and maturity exhibited by this position.

The Greek word for “Bishop” is episcopos, meaning “overseer.” This word suggests the authority and leadership expressed by this office.

Side note: some have questioned whether “elder” is a legitimate title for the office of pastor. These people contend that the word is merely referring to older people in the congregation. Clearly there are some texts in which the word is used this way (Luke 15:25Romans 9:121 Timothy 5:2, KVJ) just like there are some…

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“So, you’re going to be a pastor.” Have you heard that before? Perhaps from a co-worker, family member, or long-time friend. Even more, have you wondered what they mean? What is the underlying meaning of their question?

Before you get frustrated by everyone’s questions and concerns, take some time to understand why they are concerned. Pastoring is the greatest privilege with which a human could be called. The position is an humbling honor.

I think that’s why many people do a “double-take” when you announce your new role in life. People know that there is something special –even weighty- about the position of pastor. Naturally, they want to make sure you have considered the importance of the calling. Their reactions aren’t necessarily questioning your credentials as much as acknowledging the magnitude of the profession.

Either way –whether they are questioning your qualifications or acknowledging the gravity of the position –it begs the question:have you considered the responsibility required of a pastor? Here are a few questions to help you evaluate your readiness for the role. Before you say, “yes” to a pastorate, consider the following:

1) Do you love people? I mean really love people?…

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“Turf wars” can be brutal –especially within ministry.

As a young minister in the Eighteenth Century, John Wesley was chided by the Anglican Church for preaching across parish lines (invading another pastor’s turf).

When approached, Wesley famously explained, “The world is my parish.” In other words, Wesley did not draw boundaries for his ministry. He saw a world full of opportunities.

Usually when we think of ministry “turf wars,” we think about boundary disputes between two churches. However, I think we should be more worried about the boundary disputes pastors place upon their own churches!

Wesley was right –the world is (your church’s) parish. I can say that confidently, because the Bible states is clearly.

In the beginning, God gave Adam and Eve the task of multiplying and filling the earth (Genesis 1:28) with the people made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26). This was the first call to discipleship in history.

In the very same sentence, God gives Adam and Eve every resource they need to fulfill the task when he says, “fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the…

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