As many of you know, I have begun classes for my Doctor of Ministry. This past week, I was given the opportunity to interview Don Guthrie, the pastor of First Baptist Church of San Antonio, Texas. I asked Pastor Don for this opportunity since he has accomplished what I am studying: giving new life to a once declining church. His insights were wise and beneficial enough that I wanted to share them with you. Enjoy!
Jun 4, 2016
May 24, 2016
May 13, 2016
I will be up front with this. President Obama’s plan to connect federal funds to public school compliance of transgender bathrooms infuriates me. The thought that the government of the United States will be stepping in and teaching my children sexual ethics screams of tyranny. My children should not be the lab rats to test out a new morality. Russell Moore shares this point far better than I could on his blog. I would like to take a different approach.
My children attend a Title One school. To clarify, this means that my children’s school district receives part of the 14 billion dollars allocated for impoverished areas. This money is used to provide every child in our district with a free breakfast. It provides the overwhelming majority of students in the district with either a discounted or free lunch. This is good. Many students in our districts would not receive breakfast or lunch at all if not for this program. Title One schools also use their funds to provide quality curriculum and educational tools for the students. This program gives students whose parents work hard but for low wages the opportunity to go to college and have a reasonable chance of career success.
When the President of the United States connects the LGBT agenda to school funding, he is in essence telling low income school districts that children’s meals and education are a carrot to carry out his moral crusade. We need to be clear -- Title One schools are being held hostage in this cultural mandate. Stating it another way, President Obama is pressing his agenda on the backs of impoverished Americans. Schools on the north and west side of Houston whose football stadiums rival the local colleges will be able to survive this funding threat. Pasadena ISD cannot survive the removal of federal funds.
How do we respond? In Pasadena, a majority evangelical and Catholic district, we have to stand up against the push to indoctrinate our children to the latest cultural edict. If the federal government so chooses to remove our funding, we must step up to provide the meals, equipment, salaries, and curriculum our schools need. If this means our schools need to pass a bond to pay for the governmental deficiencies, we must vote yes. If this means we choose to volunteer in the schools, we step forward. We cannot say no to the government without willingly stepping up to cover what it takes away.
Taking a stand in our culture will cost you. I’m in. Are you?
Feb 9, 2016
I caused quite a stir this past Sunday. I showed up dressed so different that a few people hardly recognized me. I wore a tie this week.
To set the record straight this is not the first time I have tied up for church. In my previous pastorate in Oklahoma, I served in a much more traditional church. At that church I wore a suit and tie every week. At my current pastorate in Pasadena, we are very casual church. As a Pastor I have always attempted to dress to match the culture of my church.
I have seen both sides of the casual/traditional church dress debate. I love that a casual church opens its doors so any person can come as they are. I have seen in the traditional church how the way you dress can become an obstacle for non believers.
So, why did I wear a tie?
I believe that the way you dress at church will affect the way you approach God when you are there. Here are 6 ideas to chew on in regards to putting on your Sunday best.
The way you dress prepares your heart for worship.
When I go out to eat with my wife, I can tell you it becomes a special occasion when I dress up for her. My attitude and attention are different when I choose to dress up for a special occasion.
When I come to church dressed down my encounter with God in worship becomes a normal commonplace experience. I never want worship to be normal. I want my attitude and attention to be pointed upward to make worship with my church the most important part of my week.
The way you dress establishes (for teachers and pastors) the authority of your message.
The simple truth is people who dress well are taken seriously. When you dress poorly you loose credibility. When you are teaching and preaching the Word of God do you really want people to doubt your credibility?
The way you dress builds the environment for corporate worship.
If the whole of a church enters casually then the whole of your church will worship casually. When the whole of the church comes ready to meet the king it will be reflected in their worship.
The way you dress will either draw attention to you or to God.
There is a temptation in dressing up and dressing down of doing it disruptively. When you dress immodestly people will be looking at your business and not towards worship. If you make dressing a competition, who are you trying to impress?
The way you dress should be relevant to the church you attend.
I have said that we need to dress up for worship. I have not said we need to wear suits, ties or ball gowns. For a farmer dressing up might be putting on his best pair of jeans. In my community, few wear suits. That is not our Sunday best. In Pasadena it may be a golf shirt and jeans.
The way you dress communicates to outsiders the value of your faith.
I wouldn’t trust a banker wearing sweatpants with my money. I wouldn’t trust a doctor in cargo shorts and flip flops with my health. Why? Their clothes speak to the value of their work. What we wear to worship communicates how much we value worship.
The way you dress doesn’t matter as much as who you are inside.
So after spending a whole blog talking about looking your best for Sunday morning let me conclude by telling you that God cares far more about your heart than he does your clothes. You can dress up as much as you want, but if your heart is not right all your work is in vain.
For me, putting on a set of dress slacks and button down shirt helps to get my attitude focused on meeting Jesus. That said, in church every one is welcome. If you have on flip flops and shorts you are welcome. If you wear a sports jersey and sagging pants you are welcome. I’m going to dress up simply because it helps me to worship. I’m not going to judge what you wear.
Do you agree with me? Do you disagree with me? I would love your thoughts.
Feb 2, 2016
If there is one thing baptist believe in it is the sacred potluck. You know the meal, the hodgepodge conglomeration of butter soaked goodness. Have you ever wondered what purpose this artery clogging meal for?
Church socials are a wonderful opportunity for both outsiders and insiders to build relationships through. They exist to create an informal time to spend time with each other outside of the structure of Bible study and worship. More often than not though, we fall into a few ruts that make socials seem like a waste of time. Here are 3 ways to make your next church social into an intentional event at your church.
- Invite your friends who don’t go to church. For many people the fear of church is coming to a place where they don’t know anybody. The church Super Bowl party, chili cook off, ladies tea or golf trip is a perfect place to introduce them to your church. It provides an informal place for them to get to know other people in your church.
- Find the newcomers to your church and sit with them. The greatest struggle of new members in any church is building relationships. Most churches have friendship circles that date back years. It is difficult to merge into a body where so many deep relationships exist. If a new family does not build meaningful relationships in your church, they won’t be there long. Use the time at a social to build relationships with new friends.
- Sit with people that you don’t know. We all fall into a rut. In any church whether big, small, young or old, everyone has “their seat”. At socials we all tend to spend time with those whom we already know (and normally sit in the same spot we have always sat). One of the great gifts of genuine church fellowship is that God has placed people in his church from every walk of life. There is nothing better than getting to know another person’s story for the first time. You can’t experience that fellowship unless you step outside your comfort zone.
If you are intentional, the next church social could be a great opportunity to grow, build fellowship and enrich your church. You have to choose to make the most of the opportunities given.
Excuse me now, there’s only one piece of pecan pie left and it has my name on it.
Feb 1, 2016
As I read through Scripture, I am captivated by the contagiousness of the Gospel. With very little organization, God's Gospel spread and people were won to faith. Today, churches spend billions of dollars on state of the art worship centers, programs, and outreach training with dwindling results. American Christians have lost their zeal and passion for evangelism.
I have watched this trend in my years as pastor and have struggled with why my church members lacked passion for seeing people turn to Christ. Here are a few obstacles that I have seen...
- Many believers don’t know non believers. We have adopted an idea that true godliness means only spending time with Christians. Our culture war has further isolated us as nonbelievers have become enemies to be defeated, not people to be loved. Because of this, we have retreated into our buildings, giving up any opportunity to spread the Gospel.
- Some believers invalidate their words though their actions. The greatest witness any person can have is a life lived in surrender to Jesus. Many people today are lackng hope in our broken world. When your life is no different than theirs, why would they want what you have?
- Some don’t share because faith is not a first passion. We as people tend to talk about what we care about. We talk about sports, kids, illness, and jobs easily. Why? We do so because those are the major passions of our lives. Our silence on faith outside the church building points to its lack of influence in our lives. When your faith takes first importance in your life it becomes a natural topic of conversation.
The mission of God should become the mission of every believer. The passion of God should become the passion of every believer. What is keeping you from sharing your faith. Will you tell somebody about what God has done in your life today?
Jan 5, 2016
I could feel the tension the moment I walked in to get my hair cut. Two hairdressers stood cutting and there wasn’t a similarity between them.
On one side stood the cheerful extravert. She chatted with her customers on any subject from jobs to legos. As each new customer walked in the door they were greeted by her boisterous welcome.
On the other side stood the extravert’s opposite. She talked enough with each customer to know the haircut they wanted but not much more. Where the extravert was clean cut, the introvert had multiple detailed tats and at least 4 different facial piercings.
Sitting in the waiting area you could see each customer lean forward as the extravert came calling and cower back as the introvert appeared.
After waiting for about 30 minutes my turn came. The introvert walked forward and said “Wes” in a voice just loud enough that I could hear. As I was walking past the station of the extravert she passively criticized the introvert. I could feel the tension.
In my seat, my hair stylist asked me what I wanted and then went about cutting my hair. There was no empty chatter, no discussion of work, hobbies or kids. She simply cut my hair. I am pretty good at reading people and I could tell on this visit that no small talk was happening.
As the haircut concluded I stopped, looked my stylist in the eyes (through the mirror) and said thank you. She looked at me as if I was speaking a foreign language.
My stylist took me to the register to finish my visit. Standing behind the cash register, out of the blue, the stylist looked at me and said “My name is Elizabeth”. I looked back at her and said, “It’s good to meet you Elizabeth. Thank you for the haircut, you did a good job.”
A genuine smile covered her face from ear to ear.
As I was driving home this odd encounter got me thinking. I did not see Elizabeth give her name, nor smile once at any customer that preceded me.
I wonder how many customers treated her poorly because of her image, how many people just moved through because she was quiet.
This past week I challenged our church to open their eyes to see the people and needs of our community. I challenged our church to show the love of Jesus to people who weren’t expecting it.
I wonder how many Elizabeths we write off or pass by on a regular basis.
I didn’t get the chance to share the gospel with words yesterday, but I hope I showed the love of Christ through my actions. This morning I prayed for Elizabeth and in a month I will go back to the tension filled discount hair shop, ask for Elizabeth to show the love of Christ to and possibly start a conversation with.