Sunday is Relentless

Sunday is relentless.  It never fails to either sneak up on the small church pastor or arrive just in time.  Either way a pastor has to be, is supposed to be, . . .okay, is rarely adequately prepared for Sunday.  Its not that pastors don’t try to prepare, its just that every Sunday seems filled with shock and awe after six days of shock and awe.   How does a pastor prepare himself to preach, administrate the surprise air conditioning problem, deal with someone’s “brand new idea” about how to reach more people for Sunday School, teach in place of the missing Sunday School teacher, counsel with a wayward teen (with Biblical accuracy), and listen to five different complaints that range from dissatisfaction over the bulletin cover to some sister’s outrage over the kid who colored the front of the hymn book red?

Sunday is relentless!  By the time many small church pastors stand in the pulpit to do the job God called them to do they have also been the church counselor, youth minister, outreach director, complaint department, administrator, children’s minister, and education director.  Before they step foot in the church these men have also been daddies, husbands, and fix-it-up men.

While the pastor tries to be all things to all people, he knows Sunday is coming.  It looms over his head as he is pulled away from the study of God’s Word again and again to take care of this, that, and the other.  The truth of the matter is that, unless the pastor pulls all that stuff off with a smile on his face, he jeopardizes the success and tenure of his pastorate.

Sunday is relentless!  It comes. . . ready or not.  Even more relentless than the coming of Sunday is the relentlessness of the call of God to “Preach the Word”.  Pastors will continue to wear all the hats people put on their heads because they can’t wait to stand behind that pulpit and say. . . “Thus saith the Lord”.   They will continue to be 10 people rolled up into one, live on the edge of poverty, and pay the high price of ministry because they are called to preach the Word and love God’s people.

Published in: on August 25, 2009 at 12:40 pm  Comments (10)  

List of approved Doctors Under a Rural Health Plan

1.  Doctor Hiram Baker: (from Little House on the Prairie)  He is the only doctor I know that takes chickens as payment.

2.  Dr. Pepper: The only doctor that can provide 16 oz of pure thirst cure!

3.  Dr. Thunder: The cheaper generic version of Dr. Pepper for those of you on a budget.

4.   Galen “Doc”  Adams: He was the Doctor on Gun Smoke.  I think this alone qualifies him.

5.  Dr. Suess: You could, you should, set the date. . . . the appointment line is open late.

6.  Dr. Cliff Huxtable: (Better known as Cosby)  An OBGYN that could deliver a baby, fix whatever was going on in his family, and make us laugh so hard we blew Dr. Pepper out our noses. . . . all of this in 1/2 hour.

7.  Dr. “Bones” McCoy: (Star Trek) Just in case you want to go where no man has gone before.

8.  Dr. Doogie Howser: Because kids work cheap!

9.  Dr. Jekyll and Dr. Frankenstein: One visit is usually enough.

10.  Rug Doctor: This is the only Dr. we could find that still made house calls.

Published in: on August 21, 2009 at 2:16 pm  Comments (2)  

The Rural Pastor and Debt

Debt is killing pastors.   Rural small church pastors are especially at risk because of the small pay packages that most rural churches can afford.  Lets just say that pastor Billy is just graduating Seminary.  Billy accepts a call to a small rural church.  Billy is excited about his first pastorate but struggles EVERY day because the financial struggle takes a heavy toll on his family.  Billy has consumer debt, student loan debt, and the every day bills we all have.  Oh yeah. .  . Billy also has two kids and a wife to take care of.  Billy’s wife is taking care of the kids at home because the cost of day care would exceed her income.  Here is what Billy’s  income to debt ratio might look like.

1.  Billy, like many of his church members, has more credit card debt than he should.  $200.00 per month

2. Billy has a mortgage b/c the church doesn’t have a parsonage and even if they did have a parsonage Billy and his wife prefer to live in their own home.  (Pastors like privacy and equity as much as the next guy.)  $850.00 per month.

3.  Billy, like most of his church members, has two car payments.  $400.00 per month

4.  Billy’s utilities shake out like this:

A.  Electricity = $110.00 per month

B.  Gas = $45.00 per month

C.  Phone / Internet = $75.00 per month

D.  T.V. = $60 per month

E.  Cell Phones = $70.00 per month

5.  Billy is still paying for his and his wife’s student loans:  $300.00 per month

6.  Since Billy and his family like to eat they go to the grocery every week:  $600.00 per month

7.  Fuel for the cars:  $240.00 per month

8.  Car Insurance:  $70 per month

Total Expenses:  $3,020.00 per month or $36,240 per year

Pay package for a Tennessee Church running 50 -100 people in Sunday School:   $41,785 per year

$41,785.00 – $36,240.00 = $5,545.00

$5,545.00 represents what is left out of Billy’s pay package to purchase health insurance, ministry reimbursement, ministry tools, and continued education costs.

Billy’s options: 1.  Billy’s wife reluctantly works two jobs.  One to pay for day care and one to pay bills.  2.  Billy works another job (if his church will let him) but this takes time away from ministry.  3.  Billy is forced to resign and go to a suburban church with a suburban pay package.

Published in: on August 19, 2009 at 1:41 pm  Comments (12)  

Three Digits

High attendance Sunday at Cottage Grove met and exceeded our goals and expectations.  Sunday School is one of those non-abstract entities that pastors, churches, and denominations use to chart how well we are doing. . . numerically speaking.  It is a pretty straight forward process.  People show up, we count them, and then we display the results on the tote board in the vestibule.   Cottage Grove’s tote board has not had three digits on it in a long time.  101 people came to Sunday School at Cottage Grove Baptist Church yesterday which is pretty good considering our town has 96 inhabitants.  It was GREAT to see the classrooms full.  It was encouraging to see the parking lot fill up and the people file into church.

I wonder what it would be like to see three digits on the board on a Sunday that wasn’t high attendance day, Easter, or Christmas?  I wonder what it would be like if God’s people were as intent on inviting people to church next Sunday as we were for the “big day”?  Every Sunday is a “big day” in my book.  Every Sunday is an opportunity to learn, grow, and worship.  It is important for all of us to recognize that those digits on the tote board represent real people.  I’ll be prepared to preach to one or 100, but three didgits was nice for a change.

Published in: on August 17, 2009 at 11:44 am  Comments (3)