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Did you see this article last week by Bill Steeger on why Uncool People Need Jesus Too?  I don’t know Steeger but apparently he works with church planting in the Acts 29 Network (think Driscoll, Chandler, Patrick). And apparently all the proposals he sees for church planting look the same (though go here to read Steeger’s subsequent clarifying remarks):

It’s amazing how many young pastors feel that they are distinctly called to reach the upwardly-mobile, young, culture-shaping professionals and artists. Can we just be honest? Young, upper-middle-class urban professionals have become the new “Saddleback Sam”.

Seriously, this is literally the only group I see proposals for. I have yet to assess a church planter who wants to move to a declining, smaller city and reach out to blue collar factory workers, mechanics, or construction crews. Not one with an evangelsitic strategy to go after the 50-something administrative assistant who’s been working at the same low-paying insurance firm for three decades now.

Why is that? I can’t offer a definitive answer. It could be that God is legitimately calling an entire generation of young pastors to turn their focus to a small segment of the population that happens to look very much like they do.

Ouch. Understandably this piece has caused no little stirring of the blogosphere pot (go here for a similar piece that caused almost no stir). Before we are too hard on Steeger for making urban church planters feel bad we should remember these are the people he works with. If he’s lobbing grenades it’s toward his own side. But before the rural, suburban, or blue collar folks feel smug, we should remember evangelicals are still woefully under-represented in cities.

Urban advocates like Keller are right to trumpet the strategic importance of cities (see also Keller praising The Country Parson). On the other hand, we are probably overdue for a few reminders that artsy, culturally savvy, influential young urbans are not the only unreached people group on the planet.

Before I came to East Lansing I served as an associate pastor in Orange City, Iowa. If the Bible belt has a buckle, this was the logo on the buckle. This Dutch burg (pop. 5500) named after William of Orange, has, if I remember correctly, three RCA churches, three CRC churches, a PR church, a PCA church, an EFCA church, a CMA church, a Lutheran church, a Baptist church, and no Catholic church. The church I served had close to a 1000 people at the time. You could literally do Evangelism Explosion in a weekend and reach all the unchurched. Not the place that needs a lot of strategic church planting.

And yet I’m telling you those dear people need the gospel as much as anyone. They need good pastors and good churches. They need expositional teaching like anyone else. Sure, many things are easier in a town like Orange City. It’s safe. The public schools are practically Christian schools. You don’t have to fight traffic (only two stop lights). Everyone knows everyone and helps everyone. Pastors are put on a pedestal. I was honored more than I deserved. Life revolves around the church (ok, and marching band and sports and lawn-mowing not on Sundays). You aren’t going to win martyr of the church award for living in a friendly, prosperous town like Orange City.

But little towns have big problems too. There’s no anonymity. Everyone is into everyone else’s business. (As I like to remind idealistic twentysomethings, community is a wonderful ideal until you have it.) It’s easy for Christianity to be nothing but cultural wallpaper in the Bible belt. Sins go under cover for years and sometimes generations. The gospel can devolve into family values, moralism, or Republicanism. The idolatry of sports, children, ethnic heritage (if you ain’t Dutch, you ain’t much), and property up-keep are more respectable than the idols of sex, power, and liberalism.

Now I live in a town that feels like Gotham compared to Orange City and the boonies compared to Chicago or L.A. Lansing is a rustbelt town, kept afloat by state government, MSU, and GM. We are known for four things: the state capitol, the Spartans, the only GM plant in the country not to drop any of its three shifts, and being an hour and a half from everywhere in the state you want to be. They need good churches here too.

And we feel extremely blessed to be here, so please don’t think I’m a model for doing hard things. The OC was great. Lansing is great, most affordable housing in the country I’m told. Our church is mostly white collar, middle class, very educated, and full of some of the best Christians anywhere. There’s nothing heroic about ministering in the stix, the burbs, the university, the average city, or the cultural centers. We are all unworthy servants doing our duty (Luke 17:10).

And yet, no matter where you live, what you do, or how you minister, faithfulness is heroic (see Hebrews 11). Preaching the gospel week after week is heroic. Loving influential people, in word and in deed, in grace and in truth, in your hugely influential city is heroic. Loving the “least of these” and the “lost of these,”  far from notoriety, family, and convenience, strikes me as especially heroic. But I can also spot heroes loving their podunk hamlet, strip mall suburb, underemployed manufacturing town, or urban ghetto.

Lord, save us from making locale the measure of Christian commitment. God gifts us, nurtures us, and calls us to different places and different kinds of ministry. All matter to God because all people matter to God.

Be willing to suffer, but don’t feel guilty for pleasure. Be strategic, but don’t think our strategies are always God’s strategies. Be willing to do anything, go anywhere, and minister to anyone. It matters more who you are than where you are. City, suburb, or country, if we are growing in godliness we will not be unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:8).


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49 thoughts on “They Need Good Pastors and Good Churches Everywhere”

  1. Jim Plagge says:

    Kevin-
    You’ll be glad to know we still don’t mow our lawns on Sunday ;-)
    All the best to you and Trisha

    Jim

  2. What an encouragement. For what its worth, I’m in SW Alabama’s version of Orange City. You couldn’t have said it better when you said that in smaller towns the “gospel can devolve into family values, moralism, or Republicanism.” Your perspective and whit is much appreciated—and your emphasis on everyone’s need for the gospel even more so.

  3. Kevin,

    I grew up in central Iowa and married into a 100% Dutch family, so I can readily identify many of the traits from Orange City you speak of. Funny and real.

    I have also been the senior/solo pastor of three EFCA churches over that past 20 years and relate well to the delight of a church that has community, a strong sense of being a larger family and all the accompanying struggles (and idols) that come along with that. There have been times in my ministry here in Rochester, MN (12+ years) that I’ve wondered if we’re “doing” the right things as a church. The answer usually comes back, from God, from the Word, and from some very wise elders God has given me to serve with: “Yes; continue being faithful, preach the Word in season and out of season (and in Minnesota, that means hunting season, fishing season and summer’s-here-at-last-and-I-can-get-outdoors-season), love these people from birth to death, and strive to model what love for God is all about.”

    Thanks for the encouragement.

  4. Kim K. says:

    Kevin,
    I grew up in Sioux Center (the sparkle in the logo in the buckle of the Bible belt!) and found your description of NW Iowa sooooo true – and funny. As usual your post contains deep truth. All locations and demographics need good solid preaching and teaching. Thanks for the reminder.

  5. Jay Sanders says:

    Very helpful and encouraging! Thanks Kevin.

  6. Ciera says:

    “It’s easy for Christianity to be nothing but cultural wallpaper in the Bible belt. Sins go under cover for years and sometimes generations. The gospel can devolve into family values, moralism, or Republicanism. The idolatry of sports, children, ethnic heritage, and property up-keep are more respectable than the idols of sex, power, and liberalism” – that could not be more true. Thanks for this awesome post.

  7. Chad says:

    I used to call on some banks in NW Iowa and remember my first visit to Orange City. I remember walking into the Pizza Ranch and feeling distinctly different since I had light brown hair and green eyes. I was glad later in the day when I found a couple of people that did not have blond hair and blue eyes. It really is a great little town.

  8. Rob Lombardi says:

    Did you notice that he wrote an update to his “ill advised” original post and mentioned that he plans to take it down and prefers people to read his update? He says the only reason he left the original up there is so that people will click to go to his update and read that instead.

    http://billstreger.com/?p=995

  9. DrewK says:

    Excellent. Balanced. Truthful. Irenic. We all get myopic at times and I think perhaps that was the heart of the original piece. Staying humble never goes out of style with God. Comming to Magnify Conference. Looking forward.

  10. bill streger says:

    Kevin, thanks for this post. To be honest, your post about Grimmace and The Hamburgler (well, actually about contextualization) really stirred my thinking that preceded my post, along with the Keller article you linked to.

    Thanks for your ministry and for the important reminder that who we are in Christ is the most important thing to consider, whether our ministries are in NYC or Anytown, USA.

  11. Kevin DeYoung says:

    Bill, thanks for getting us all thinking about this issue. Thanks too for your humble clarification. May God bless you as you work with all the wonderful Acts 29 folks trying to preach Christ where he is not known.

  12. Clinton Hogrefe says:

    Thanks Kevin, great post. I am a Northwestern College (in Orange City) grad, and now pastor an E Free Church just 30 miles southeast of Orange City. I remember my days as a new Christian at Northwestern college, truly believing that campus evangelism was completely unnecessary (unfortunately the college did too). Yes there were a good number of godly believers, but most had much more love for the family friendly idols you listed. That is a period of my life I look back on as somewhat of a waste for not acting on the need to proclaim the Gospel to my fellow students. Yes they do need the Gospel, just as the folks in my 118 year old “country” church do.

  13. Peter Eddy says:

    You said, “Ouch. Understandably this piece has caused no little stirring of the blogosphere pot (go here for a similar piece that caused almost no stir).”

    I’m sure you know the reason for this. It’s because Justin Taylor linked to Mr. Streger’s post and didn’t post to yours from a year ago.

    I’m just saying.

  14. Mike Waddell says:

    Awesome post. We are in a rural town with a declining population and 22% unemployment, less than 15% of our pop. are college educated, but God is moving, lives are being transformed and the identity of the town is changing. There are 516 “churches” and yet less than 4% of young adults have any religious affiliation, let alone a gospel driven community. Deep in the heart of the Bible belt, the overchurched need Jesus too.

  15. Mike B says:

    We probably wouldn’t have to write such stories if we could only look in the mirror and realize there was no particularly good reason why God chose to save us.

  16. Kevin,

    This all flows from the conviction that the church is called to be a culture-shaping, society-transforming force. It follows that the missional priority is influencing those who have the most cultural influence… the ‘movers and shakers.’ I say this somewhat tongue in cheek, obviously, but this is the elephant in the room: influential people matter more. How does this square with Jesus’ ‘strategy’ of mission? Seems a lot more subversive and humble… countercultural for sure, but counterintuitive as well (we forget). That said, dense metropolitan areas are the least Christian areas in the U. S., although the rural areas are rapidly joining their ranks. And 85% of the nation’s population lives in metro areas.

    But hey, thanks for calling them/us out on this.

  17. Brooks says:

    I agree with Bill’s post and am sad he felt he should apologize. But that is his deal if he has offended and been rebuked.

    In Cedar Falls we have some great churches but not enough people are getting off their couches to give a listen to the gospel so we planted our church. I am not embarassed to say that it was me and another planter who heard Mark Driscoll give his fame-inducing lecture at Mt Hermon in 1997 that is the only reason I kept up with him and found courage to follow Jesus and plant here in the sleepy very uncool Cedar Valley in Iowa.

    So I give Jesus all the glory when I say 2 acts 29 bootcamps later, my new friends and support team includes great Acts 29 guys; but we are not exactly exponentially growing and are not a part of Acts 29. If anyone readin this loves Acts 29 and wants to join a 3 year old plant which literally copies and loves A29 gospel centrality to reach rural Iowa, let’s talk!

    It is more difficult to reach the rural areas because people are set in their ways and that is exactly why many are in a rural area. Jesus loves us all!

  18. Pat Park says:

    Thanks from Syracuse,IN. Good Churches and pastors are needed here too. And the Chruches and Pastors that are here need to remeber they are needed.

  19. Todd Z says:

    Thanks for some good words for a pastor of a less than “cutting-edge” church in a “bedroom community” of Orange City. I’m from Hull, which, while a great town with lots of good things going for it, serves often only a speed bump for semi-tractors on the long stretch of Highway 18.

  20. Dana Olson says:

    I have preached a number of times in the general area of Iowa you speak of, and it might be helpful to note: 1) nearby in the lake region all sorts of horrific sin takes place daily; 2) Iowa has many towns without a true gospel witness; 3) there is a whole lot of “dead religion” all over the so-called Bible belt; 4) I think the original post was absolutely true in this sense, that many church planting movements are more eager for “hip and cool” plants in growing suburban areas and aren’t that excited about planting churches in either urban America or the towns of 1,500 to 10,000. Thank you for your thoughts, Kevin.

  21. Abu Tulip says:

    OK, at the risk of being contrary…
    I live in a city of three million people. There are maybe a few more evangelical churches in this city than there are in Orange City (twenty or twenty-five I think), but they are mostly very small (30 or 40 people) and total worship attendance any given week would be much less than Orange City. I remember visiting Holland, Michigan and, on the way to a particular church randomly driving by more believers on a Sunday morning than there are in the ENTIRE COUNTRY where we live.
    What do we do about that? Do we really need to plant more churches in these over-churched places? Maybe the main thing (as you mentioned) to do is to wake up the ministries that are already there. Maybe a little scarcity would wake them up. Young people in some communities have figured out that churches are falling over themselves to have a few more young people in the congregation. So the churches spend all kinds of money for the best technology, building, etc. to attract them, and then when something better comes along, they move on. Let’s just be who we are, proclaim the gospel boldly and consistently, become a healthy community, and those who are called by God will come without a flashy presentation. And let’s focus more of our resources on places that have little.
    Please, response from anyone welcome. I want to start a discussion.

    Abu Tulip

  22. Brooks says:

    The problem with your theory Abu is that it does not work. Unless you live in a small town you will not realize the stubborn nature of traditionalist religious people. They are not here for cultural advancement or tech or arts but they are here in rural Midwest because they are satisfied with every aspect of their lives. They attend the Lutheran or catholic church because their great grandfather was in that exact same church. And reform from within is viewed as a rebellious attitude in many fundamentalist or mainline congregations here.

    A city of your size is different and new people move in all the time (here in the states). New people show up at churches all the time because they just moved into the city. Anyway that makes it different not necessarily easier to plant and most certainly not invalid. It is simply different to plant here and is still valid for gospel transformation of these rural areas.

    One of the reasons Hollywood has portrayed the Midwest as comfortable and slow is because it is true. No one wants anyone to ruffle feathers and when you do you are a marked man. It requires what Newbigin calls contextualization. Ed Stetzer also had a great sermon once about his plant in Buffalo NY a dying city at the time.

    City centers need Jesus but as citied require the gospel, rural towns need the gospel in a very different way. The idol is not (as Tim Keller put it) re-inventing yourself as it is in the big cities; rather the idol here in Iowa is keeping traditions. “we always did it this way and that is the way we will always do it.”

  23. Brad Williams says:

    Good thoughts! I pastor a small church in a small town (2000 people). I never wanted to pastor a small town church in a small town or live in FL. Now I do all 3. God does have a sense of humor. But the really funny thing is I love it here. Thanks for the article this morning, it was very encouraging.

  24. Dan says:

    I read this post a couple of days ago and loved it so much I came back to it. It wasn’t just the points you made, with which I agreed, it was also my familiarity with the places you speak of. I’ve been in NW Iowa, knew people from there (yes, Dutch), live near Grand Rapids (but possess Dutch blood only in trace amounts), spent 4 years in East Lansing for you-can-guess-what-reason-go-Spartans. I’m old enough to have celebrated on Grand River Ave. after the famous Magic vs. Bird NCAA championship, just prior to spring term. p.s. Some of us still call him Earvin.

  25. Abu Tulip says:

    Brooks,

    I’m not sure you got the point of my comment. There are places in the world that are incredibly unreached compared to the US. I’m not living in the US. Being a “marked man” means something different here. Where I live, if I “ruffle feathers” too much, I will get sent back to America before someone kills me. It happened to my best friend. For the local believers… they don’t have that option.

    If one church can share the gospel with all the unchurched in Orange City in one weekend, that’s great. A wonderful idea. Let them then send a few people somewhere where a person is lucky to hear the gospel once in his lifetime.

    I’m saying that overchurched people tend toward petty disagreements as they are defending their turf and have nothing higher to aspire to. I know. I’m from that type of town. We need to give them something worth aspiring to.

  26. Josh Dyvig says:

    Of course there’s no Catholic church in Orange City. You have to go to Alton for that.

  27. A. Amos Love says:

    Good Pastors? Good Churches?

    Maybe someone can help?

    Why are we calling “Corporations” the Church of God?
    Why are we calling “Corporations” good?
    And, Why are we calling “Pastors” good?
    Isn’t Jesus “the Good Shepherd?”

    Here in the USA, someone goes to the government, IRS,
    and asks permission to be called “Church.”
    They have to fill out a form called, a 501 (c) 3.

    If they qualify, by the governments standard, and are accepted, they become a…
    Government approved, Government inspected,
    501 (c) 3, non-profit, tax deductible, Religious $ Corporation. (the Church.)

    Should we call “a $ Corporation,” “The Church of God?” AAARRRGGGHHH!!!! :-(

    Did Jesus shed “His Blood” for a building, an institution, an organization,
    a denomination, or a $ Corporation? Called Church? Noooooo!!! Never!!! :-(

    Or, did He shed “His Blood” for people? His sons? His Bride? His Disciples?
    Jesus, the head of The Body, (the ekklesia, the called out one’s), the Church?

    And today’s “Pastor/Reverend.” Where is that in the Bible?

    In the Bible, How many people… have the title pastor?
    In the Bible, How many people are… referred to as pastor?
    In the Bible, How many people are… ordained as a pastor?
    In the Bible, How many congregations are… led by a pastor?

    Be blessed in your search for truth… Jesus

  28. Rob Lombardi says:

    Amos,

    Your post is a little confusing. Are you saying that because churches get non-profit status, they are corporations and therefore we are calling corporations the church of God?

    And what exactly is your problem with certain men being called pastors? The Bible does label some as deacons or elders. The idea of people having positions in the church goes back the OT but is also found in the New Testament. Jesus himself chose certain men to be his disciples and apostles.

  29. A. Amos Love says:

    Hi Rob

    Sorry for the confusing comment.

    You certainly answered the first part well.

    Today – Most folks think “501 (c) 3, $ Corporations” are “the Church of God.”

    Ask any 100 people to describe what a church is.
    Most will point to a building with a Cross owned by a “Corporation.”
    Or… A Pastor – in a pulpit – preaching – to people in pews.
    Is any of that in the Bible? ;-)

    In my understanding “Church” always refers to people. Yes?
    Never a denomination, an institution, a business, a corporation.

    And when the Church, the ekklesia, the called out one’s,
    assemble, every one can, and is expected to participate.
    Not just a special few.

    1Cor 14:26 KJV
    How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you
    hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation,
    hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.

    It’s NOT my problem if people want to take the “Title” Pastor/Reverend.
    I just can’t find one person in the Bible with the “Title” Pastor/Reverend. Can you?

    And I wonder; Hmmm? Why the fancy “Titles?”
    Could it be the extras that come with the “Titles” and “Positions?”
    Power, profit, prestige, honor, glory, recognition, reputation, etc.

    All those things Jesus spoke against. Yes? Humble, servant, anyone?

    My problem is the “Spiritual Abuse” that stems from “Pastor/Leaders.”

    In my experience…
    No matter how loving… eventually…
    No matter how humble… eventually…
    No matter how much a servant… eventually…

    “Pastor/Leader” = exercise authority = lord it over = abuse = always.

    And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold:
    them also I must bring, and they shall “hear my voice;”
    and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.
    John 10:16

    One Fold – One Shepherd – One Voice.
    If Not Now, When?

    In His Service. By His Grace.

  30. Denise DeGraaf says:

    Search for this book…”Journey to a Lonely Land” by Bernard Palmer. Don’t give up looking for it…if you can’t find it I will loan you mine. Honestly these people are a great inspiration to follow the call where ever it takes you. God grant us overwhelming callings, a huge faith to pursue the calling, and a vision of our God to fulfill all He has required of us.

  31. brooks says:

    A. Amos Love,

    You are confusing your antiestablishment views with Biblical views.

    There is a Chief Shepherd and this implies there are other shepherds, as well as many references to shepherds/pastors in letters to Timothy and Titus, to name only a couple. Call them what you want. I grew up Plymouth Brethren and I sinned against many people by thinking they were not Christians because they had a pastor. We had a FULL-TIME WORKER.

    (But that is not in the Bible either. In fact the Bible I read was originally mostly Greek and Aramaic, and men wore bed sheets, and did *not* speak in the King James’ English. And they didn’t drive cars. Or shower. See the end result of taking this argument?)

    //Ask any 100 people to describe what a church is.
    Most will point to a building with a Cross owned by a “Corporation.”
    Or… A Pastor – in a pulpit – preaching – to people in pews.
    Is any of that in the Bible? //

    It doesn’t matter what people think; it matters what God thinks a church is.

    But if we do not form a 501(c)(3) corporation with the state’s government, we cannot exist within the laws of our country, and we will be using people’s money to then pay taxes on money given to the people (honor to widows, and double honor to the elders/pastors who teach and manage well.) Also we will then be classified as a FOR PROFIT BUSINESS, of which we are not.

    Love His Bride by taking His advice on how She is to be organized, and that pastors will be held accountable before Jesus for the people you/I have led to Him or lead astray. That is a cold shower for your philosophy if you ask me.

  32. Rob Lombardi says:

    Amos,

    As Brooks pointed out, you have drawn unbiblical conclusions from something that perhaps started out as biblical concerns.

    Brooks has good advice. It’s better to strive for healthy Churches and qualified pastors. You are rightly concerned about unhealthy churches run by unqualified pastors. That’s what ministries like 9marks.org and the Gospel Coalition are about. They are about bringing about gospel-centered and healthy churches founded on biblical truths.

  33. A. Amos Love says:

    Hi brooks – Peace and blessings to you.

    You write…
    “There is a Chief Shepherd and this implies there are other shepherds…”

    Do you really believe we are to develope our beliefs on what might be “implied?”
    Aren’t we to develope our beliefs based of what the Bible “actually” says?
    Is anyone in the NT refered to as a “Shepherd?” Other then Jesus?
    I might have missed it?

    Now, in my research of shepherds… (And God forbid, my research could be wrong.);-)
    Shepherd is the Greek = poimen, Strongs # 4166. Yes?
    Poimen is 18 times in the NT. Once, Eph 4:11, as “Pastors” plural. Yea, only once. Huh?
    “NOT ONE” person is refered to as a “Shepherd” or has the “Title” “Shepherd.”
    Once again, I could have missed it?
    Is thee anyone in the NT with the “Title” or “Called” “Pastor/Shepherd?”
    Or, was it just a function of “The Body of Christ” to “edify” one another?

    You write…
    “as well as many references to shepherds/pastors in
    letters to Timothy and Titus, to name only a couple.”

    Don’t know when you last checked that statement out for yourself?
    I just checked out 1 Tim, 2 Tim, and Titus.
    There is NOT one reference to “shepherds/pastors” in either place.

    You might have learned that in seminary,
    or from a “Pastor” who was repeating what he was taught.
    But, it is NOT learned from the Bible.

    I believe that is why the Bible warns us about…
    False Apostles.
    Many False Prophets.
    False Teachers.
    False Christ’s. (False annointed one’s.)
    and
    The Doctrines of men.
    The Commandments of men.
    The Philosopy of men.
    The Precepts of men.
    The Traditions of men.

    Mark 7:13
    KJV – Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition…
    ASV – Making “void” the word of God by your tradition…
    NIV – Thus you “nullify” the word of God by your tradition…

    It ws a rude awakening for me when I realised much of what I believed
    was just the “Traditions of men” that I was taught and NOT Jesus. :-(

    Had to go to Jesus for myself and get it from Him. ;-)
    Jesus is the best teacher. Yes?

    John 6:45
    It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God.

    Deuteronomy 4:36
    Out of heaven he made thee to hear his voice,
    that he might instruct thee:

    Jesus loves me and forgives me all my sin…

  34. Rob Lombardi says:

    Amos,

    It’s quite amazing that you are missing these teachings from Scripture. It’s very basic. Do you have hatred and bitterness that might be blinding you to these things? I don’t have time now, but it’s very clearly taught throughout Scripture that there should be leaders “deacons” assigned in every town. The gathering of the saints for worship is the local church gathering. These principles run through the Old Testament too. Moses was told to assign leaders. The tabernacle was a local gathering. Certainly there are difference between the Old and New Convenant. But to say that it’s simply not taught in Scripture is to reveal more about yourself than about Scripture.

  35. brooks says:

    True, true, Rob.

    A. Amos Love, dwell more on “Jesus loves me and forgives me all my sin…” and your other signatures on this page. They are good and they are expressions that you do love Jesus and you want the best for the world as Jesus does.

    And, as you say, it is difficult to discern between the traditions of men and the precepts of God. But remember this: Jesus entered into the traditions of men in order to save men. He did not glorify them but he himself was glorified. And he did not destroy them but he himself was destroyed by them. He did not erupt in thunder about them but he himself was thunderously applauded by God.

    If we all note these techniques, we will more understand his grace and truth when engaging and explaining religious traditions.

    …sinner saved by grace in order to demonstrate said grace to more sinners…

  36. Kevin DeYoung says:

    A. Amos Love, I didn’t approve your long comment because it was, well, too long. It was more a post by itself. If you want to summarize this in shorter form it can go up. Thanks.

  37. A. Amos Love says:

    Rob – brooks – Thanks for your concern. The hatred and bitterness has passed.
    Left “The Religious System” in the early 90’s.
    Much pain, tears and “Spiritual Abuse.” :-(

    I’m not not new to “ministering healing” to those who have been “abused”
    by those who “thought they were pastor/leaders.”

    Folks who’ve been **burnt,** ** burnt out,** ** kicked out,**
    and **crawled out** of “the religious system” most call “church.”
    with it’s leaders, submission to authority, tithes and offerings,
    and other unbiblical “heavy weights” put on folks shoulders.

    I also spend time with pastors,
    “so called leaders,” who can’t do it anymore.

    Trying to please the denominational leaders,
    the congregation and it’s leaders, his family,
    and of course Jesus.
    Who is often relegated to last place. Hmmm?

    Searving so many masters, that’s tough; Yes?

    Preaching every week… and it better be good, being the CEO,
    the team leader, councilor, marrying, burying, smiley face. etc. etc.

    If “pastors/leaders” (as we see them today) are of God?
    He’s not taking very good care of His “pastors/leaders.” Is He?

    This is info from a website helping burned out Pastors.

    http://www.pastorcare.org/PastorCare/Healing___Health.html

    According to the Francis A. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership (2007)
    • 77% say they do “not” have a good marriage.
    • 71% have felt burned out or depressed.
    • 70% do not have someone they consider a close friend.
    • 38% are divorced or seriously considering divorce.

    According to the Ministering to Ministers Foundation…
    • Over 1600 pastors in the U.S. are forced out of their positions each month.
    • Nearly 1 in 4 pastors experience a forced termination at least once during their ministry.

    That’s who is running the show. “Pastors/Leaders?”
    77% who say they don’t have a good marriage. Hmmm?
    That’s who is “abusing” God’s sheep. :-(

    1600 pastors a month, that’s 19,000 a year, leave or are pushed out. Wow!!!
    That’s a lot of broken hearts, disappointments, feelings of failure, pain, abuse.
    That’s 1600 families a month suffering “abuse” from a “Corrupt Religious System.”

    Why don’t the denominations and seminaries, who are training these “pastors/leaders”,
    tell these young wannabees, before they spend all that money for a degree,
    that they are entering a very dangerous profession? “Pastor/Leader”.
    Dangerous for the “Pastor/Leader” and family. Yes?

    Blessings.

  38. Rob Lombardi says:

    Amos,

    Certainly spiritual abuse is not a good thing. Leaders in the church are called to spend themselves for the flock and love sacrificially. I can’t comment from a pastor’s perspective because I am not one. But there are many good pastor’s and leaders throughout church history that have run the race and fulfilled their calling to the end. Jonathan Edwards, Calvin, and Spurgeon are popular examples, but there are also numerous others that have also persevered.

    Consider in the OT, Israel had many bad Kings, did God do away with the offices of Priest and Levites? No; not until Jesus work on the cross did He change things. The major difference being the doing away of the sacrificial system. But the leaders still have a role. It makes little-to-no sense to say that the role of pastor is unbiblical because there is corruption in churches and leaders are failing.

    The history of the church all the way back through the OT shows the same pattern: straying, corruption, repentance, redemption. Nothing has changed. Leaders are certainly more responsible for their actions than laypeople, but that doesn’t mean that the office of leader, pastor, elder or deacon is something that needs to be ended. If God used that sort of logic, he would have done away with us sinful creatures a long time ago.

    We need to pray that God raises up strong, compassionate, loving, shepherd leaders who persevere; leaders who have healthy families, marriages, and relationships with those in the church and outside the church.

  39. Have you heard of Connecting Us All – The Global Giving network? Well, this organization was designed out of necessity to structure a support system and allow people to help people no matter a person’s age, religion, gender or economic position. I am sure you’ve heard of all the situations with people losing their homes, jobs, savings and all the situations of violence here and around the world? Have you or anyone you know been effected by these situations?

    Well Connecting Us All is a Global community of like minded individuals who believe it’s time to support each other instead of counting on the Government and Corporations to solve these global issues. The intention of this community is abolish poverty and make sure every man, women and child globally has their basic needs like food, clothing, housing, health and wellness, in addition to creating abundance in their lives so they can help continue the movement throughout the world.

    Can you see why I have aligned myself in this community?

    The site has three core areas I would like to tell you about:

    Area 1: A Free Worldwide Social Media Site that connects the entire world under one global web site called http://blessingsn2010.connectingusall.com This is a great way of connecting people, identifying people in need and building a social network of like minded people.

    Area 2: The Giving Tree is our Worldwide Relief Center where anyone can post any want, need, dream, and prayer request or if they have items they can give away. Thousands have been helped with Food, Rent, Utilities, Clothing, Medical Treatments in addition to Non Profit Organizations, Churches and additional Projects around the world are also receiving from the abundance of our members. This is the way we can help those you know who are struggling and need some additional support.

    Area 3: The Giving Pool is the way our members create more abundance within our community by giving unconditionally to each other and the members on our Giving Tree. Our Community believes by giving we open up abundance in our lives.

    I would like to ask you to join Connecting Us All and become a part of this pay it forward community

  40. Thabani Mbhele says:

    I want to attend international conferences

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Kevin DeYoung


Kevin DeYoung is senior pastor of University Reformed Church (PCA) in East Lansing, Michigan, near Michigan State University. He and his wife Trisha have six young children. You can follow him on Twitter.

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