28 January 2009

Not from my own bleak & meager experience

by Frank Turk

Lite fare today, and then we get to the meat and potatoes tomorrow and for the rest of 2009.

About two years ago, I started a series here at TeamPyro about "my poor church" -- why you should not leave your church, because let's face it: many of you are either just about to leave your church, or have just left your church, or are thinking about leaving your church, and I think that you have missed a lot of practical theology by being like that. Go read that series under the tag "household chores" here at this blog if you missed it.

Anyway, I gave you a year off to think about it, and now that you have fully digested who you ought to be -- you, the goer-to-church, the member of the body, the part of the family of God -- I want to carefully and circumspectly talk about the other side of the coin.

Yes pastor: it is your turn.

Now, I am not a pastor, nor am I a trainer of pastors. I am a friend to my pastor, and I have a friend who is a pastor, and I have another friend who used to be a pastor and wants to again pastor if God will so ordain it. But me? Let me admit that I am not qualified to be a pastor. Timmy Brister and Tom Ascol are qualified to be pastors. I barely qualify to be a readable blogger.

So my observations on this subject need to come from someplace other than my own tawdry opinions, and not from my own bleak & meager experience. We're going to spend a year walking through Titus and both letters to Timothy, and we're going to talk about what Paul charged the men whom he called his "true sons in the faith" to do with their poor, pathetic churches.

Nobody will enjoy this, and there will be great wailing and gnashing of teeth. But this stuff needs to be said, and who else is going to say it?


Ed de Blieck said...

Erm, me! That's who...


Corrections of my stupidity welcome, and power to your pens!


Bryan said...

Ligonier's TableTalk magazine is studying those books (after Galatians) too!

Rick Frueh said...

I love the can of worms. I think the fixation on the pastor is an unfortunate, risidual effect from living in a western culture that is consumed with personalities, communication techniques, and the exercise of everyone's right to be the judge of everything.

And as a pastor we are subliminally and overtly taught that numbers, buildings, and weekly offerings consitute church growth and the pastor's success. Whose opinions get read and have more weight in the pastoral community? large church pastors usually, which theory has it is how the papacy came to reside in Rome. Again, the scope of influence many times translates into truth. As in the culture, he who controls the dissemination of information controls the minds.

We pastors can be, unfortunately, followers of our "favorite" pastor as well. We are also victims of a western, business like structure of the local church.

In the end, our culture is built to breed discontent and the homo-centric mindset. In normal circumstances the pastor should be content with his flock and the sheep should be content with their pastor. The grass is not greener on...well, you get it. :)

Matt said...

Looking forward to the rest of 2009!

The Blainemonster said...

RICK - Excellently put.

FRANK - Looking forward to it!

WV: afacklem - An unidentified and troublesome bit of debris that becomes lodged in the throat and elicits a nagging cough, usually in the middle of some important event.

"Are you choking?"
"No, just trying to loosen this doggone afacklem."

James Scott Bell said...

"Nobody will enjoy this..."

Terrible marketing hook. Do not go looking for a job designing church bulletins. "The Seven Days of Sex" of an Ed Young, now THAT'S marketing, dude.

Dr. Paul W. Foltz said...

I Believe God calls a man to a place to labor there until he dies,
or poor health forces him to retire. He should be training preacher boys all along in his ministry.

Marie said...

LOL @ Johnny D!

Hey, I'm looking forward to this, too.

Brad Williams said...

@Dr. Foltz,

I Believe God calls a man to a place to labor there until he dies.

What passage/s of Scripture leads you to this sort of commitment?

Chris said...

Appreciate your tone of genuine humility Frank--not some sort of emerg**** faux humility, but the real deal. Nice.

Now, as for the post, I want to agree with you if it simply boiled-down to an issues of disagreement over something that really shouldn't divide, or possibly even sticking it out over a larger doctrinal disagreement that may be a justifiable reason to part ways, but, as a member of TeamPyro especially, you are as aware as any Christian of just how different the landscape is today than it was a few decades ago. Once a church buys into the postmodern emergent downgrade, then the first only thing for any member to do is determine just how actively or igornantly/passively such a compromise happened. As Phil (and Dan as well, I think) has made clear on other posts, when a church/pastor begins the emergent plummet, it is usually the result of a long string of compromise indicators that finally culminate in his finding some odd interest in heresy. Hence, it is really the capstone of compromise, not a sudden departure.

Over the last three plus years, we have had to leave three churches (not that we spent exactly a year at each one, but rather about two at one and 6-8 months at the following two) because they were clearly taking an emerg*** departure from orthodox, biblical Christianity. Upon addressing the problem, and seeking to inform several pastors directly--and in love--of the significance of such a problem through the words of highly respected bible teachers and pastors, we were met with either a refusal to meet face-to-face or denials of the obvious or fanciful wordplay to distract the issue. Not only were they refusing to speak with me individually (perhaps because I did not have a seminary degree, they discarded what I had to say as having any significance), but they were essentially disregarding and rejecting all of what men (well-respected bible teachers and pastors such as Dr. MacArthur, Dr. Mohler, or Dr. Sproul)had to say in books or articles I gave them regarding the dangers of adopting postmodernism, or tolerating postmodern values and/or wordlview into their congegations.

All this to say that we had no other choice but to leave, painful as it was, because we were of course labled (and/or at least perceived silently) as divisive people who are merely looking for a "perfect" church--you know, that old saying by Vernon McGee (I think) which goes something like this: "if your out trying to find the perfect church and you eventually find it, don't go there because it won't be perfect any longer because you'll be there". But, leaving a church because of false teaching is not a superficial reason, and I believe the reason I've just described is why MANY Christians are leaving churches today. I am happy to report that we couldn't be happier to finally be at a solid, God-fearing, God-worshipping, Bible-centered, and non-postmodern congegation...although it takes nearly an hour each way to drive there. Oh well.

donsands said...

Love Titus. Short and packed with sweet truth. Can't wait. Looking to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Stefan Ewing said...


This should be a good, solid series, teaching through Timothy and Titus.

The sermon series at our church right now is on 1 Timothy. Needless to say, there is a lot of application not just to pastors, but to (a) all leaders in the church (elders, small group leaders, deacons, husbands, parents, etc.), (b) believers in general, (c) the Church as the corporate body of Christ, and even (d) non-believers (e.g., 1 Tim 1:12-17).

I'm looking forward to this, your own preemptive protestations notwithstanding.

Van said...

I plan on enjoying it, I have found the epistles to Titus and Timothy of tremendous value to me simply as instruction of what a mature Christian man is like. I am not a pastor, but studying Paul's instructions should give me better insight on how to encourage and strengthen my pastor. Have at it, step on toes and let us enjoy the gnashing of teeth and great wailing!

Mike the Bible Burgh Host said...

This should be an interesting discussion . . .

Frank, we'd love to interview you on Bible Burgh; the same show out of Pittsburgh (soon to be Super Bowl Champion Pittsburgh!) that interviewed Dan Phillips . . . in fact we are re-airing Dan this Sunday night at 9pm . . . all 3 interviews in one show. Figure he can compete with Super Bowl he's SO good! :-)

You can check out Bible Burgh on www.wordfm.com, click listen live this or any Sunday night at 9pm.
We have talked a good deal about Titus and will do more in 2009 . . . and hopefully with YOU!


FX Turk said...

Chris --

I don't buy it.

You'll find out why in my previous posts, and in the coming weeks.

FX Turk said...

Mike @ Bible Burgh:

I am too demure for radio -- just ask Paul Edwards and Joe Carter.

Use my blogger account to e-mail me if you're serious.

FX Turk said...


S T E E L E R S !

As a former citizen of Baden, PA, I have an obligation to HATE THE CARDINALS.

At least this week. After that, as you were.

Strong Tower said...

Though I spit all over myself and sound like Steve Martin, rothleburgfort, I'm guessin, if I've got to uphold tradition, Tevye, then its the iron guys.

But, its cool to be part of a new team and I like red.

So is the Super-Bowl like the reason why people switch churches... they just donna gotta play in this game?

I'm teaching through Timothy and Titus on Thursday nights here in my home now. It will be enlightening, I am sure, to hear more of what the Turk says.

Sir Brass said...

Frank, as a loyal Phoenician, I have to object and give this rebuttal:


Prepare for the hot place to be frozen over a third time (first, cards made it to the playoffs; second, they WON) :D.

And my church is rescheduling it's Hymn Sing after the evening service till the week after though :(. We are still having an evening service though.

Raymond Nearhood II said...

Prepare for the hot place to be frozen over

Arizona is a hot place, and I expect it will be frozen over.

*ZING* I'll be here all week... tip the waitresses.

VcdeChagn said...

Frank, I'd like to say that your series last year encouraged me to stay where I am now (I was thinking of leaving...).

I'm looking forward to hearing what you've got to say this year.

--rant on--
Though if my pastor says "bring the hay down out of the loft to where the sheep can get it" one more time... :)
--rant off--

Moon said...

Mr. Turk thanks for linking to the old series, I've been needing to read something like that for quite a while now. It helped a lot!
God bless!

Chris said...

Frank: No???

I'm really curious to hear your rationale for not buying my comments. Which previous posts should I consult?

PS: I'm afraid I commented and ran yesterday after posting my remarks, as I'm only now online again after more than 24 hours without web access. Sorry.