Sunday, October 3, 2010

Church-sitting lessons

I have been thinking a lot about what I have learned from my recent "botched" church-sitting exercise - botched only in the sense that what the pastor and I planned to happen was not achieved, not that God didn't have and fulfil His own plans. 

Although I have not come to any fixed-in-concrete resolutions yet, I feel I am coming to the following positions....

1.  I will not be a guest preacher for a church again, unless the leadership of that church already believes in God's ultimate plan for the world, as declared in the Bible, or is specifically wanting the church to be taught along those lines.

I see little value in allowing myself to be hauled over the coals and accused of teaching unBiblical stuff by the leadership of churches that worship a God of conditional love whose attempt at salvation at Calvary was too weak to overcome Adam's sin for most of His creation.

2.  I will be more focused and more purposeful in my efforts to spread the good news about the God of unconditional love and sovereign power, who is the Saviour of the whole world, that the Bible reveals.

I am getting too old (have too few productive years left) to think this can just happen whatever/whenever and I need to deliberately set time aside each week to write for the web and the printed publications I had just been hoping would eventuate some day.

3.  I am also wondering if my focus needs to be on the "world" rather than the organised church for sharing this message as the world and fringe church-goers seem to be more ready to embrace these Biblical truths than those who have been unthinkingly saturated by the theology of mainstream christianity, whose leaders don't want their flocks to be exposed to anything or anyone that might enlarge or challenge their thinking, even if it is Biblically supported.

It is so ironic that a "wonderful" church which preaches grace so often, and where God began to stretch my own understanding of His grace several years ago, axed me for preaching how extravagant and powerful God's grace really is.

As always, your thoughts and feedback are most welcome.
But please give them as comments below the post, rather than as reply emails to me (unless you have something private to share), so we can all benefit from the ideas and discussion.



  1. Hi Barry
    If you will not preach in churches who worship such a small God anymore, and most of the churches I know are like this, where are you going to worship from now on?

  2. Thanks for your question T.
    There's a big difference between the pulpit and the pew.

    When I am in the pew, I can worship the God I know and love without any restraint or without upsetting anyone, even the person sitting beside me. (Just like I do at the beach.)

    When I am in the pulpit, I cannot even mention the God I know without causing the ruckus that was created here.

    Most churches have God in a box. The size of the box is determined by their traditions and doctrines, which usually makes it pretty small. In the pew I can open the box and let Him be who He really is; in the pulpit I have to give the appearance that I am keeping him in his box.

    I can manage the pew and so benefit from the fellowship of my brothers and sisters in Christ. I can't manage other churches' pulpits without being unfaithful to my God and losing that close fellowship.

    I managed the pulpit in my years in Brisbane because the pulpit was "mine" and I could educate "my" people in small timely doses, both in the pulpit and in personal sharing along the way. That was my responsibility and joy. (And I have to say I do miss the lovely church there.)

    So I will still be "in the pew" in the church where we worship in Geelong, and will do my pulpit ministry via the web, in printed publications and through invitations that I might be given to share about the God of extravagant grace in small groups or in churches wanting to learn about Him.



All relevant comments are most welcome. However, please express any disagreement you might have without being disagreeable and with grace towards those who might not hold your point of view.