Remembering What Is Important

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In my spiritual journey there were things that
I thought, beliefs I embraced, and traditions I
practiced that have changed. These
changes have been the result of being
introduced to different ways of looking at
things, coming to understand the Word of
God in deeper ways, and being challenged to look at
traditions as a means to an end not an end. I truly hope and
pray that the changes I have made and will make in the
future will help me to bring glory to God and to finish well.

Today we are living in an era where change in how we do
church is on the minds of many. For my 87- year-old mother
it is extremely difficult. However, if I ask her to think about
changes that will help her great-grandchildren be involved in
the church, it helps her. Yet, she still desires the things that
were meaningful to her when she was young. There are
times when I, too, struggle with change. I hear the innovators
and see what appears to evidence of their success. Yet,
does that mean anything goes as long as the church is full
and everyone seems to be enjoying it?
Currently I am reading Praying: Finding Our Way Through
Duty to Delight, by J.I. Packer and Carolyn Nystrom. In the
early part of the book, Packer makes the statement that if we
are going to have a proper view of prayer we must have a
proper view of God. In line with this assertion Packer
declares, “We hear people say, ‘I like to think of God in suchin-
such a way . . .’ Let it be said, loud and clear, that this ‘I
like’ mindset guarantees that all concepts of God that we
form by speculation and wishful thinking will be seriously
This quote by Packer reminded me of something I read by
A.W. Tozer. I cannot remember the title, but there was a
statement that he made the essence of which has stayed
with me. It went something like this, “A study of history will
probably show that no nation is greater than its religion, and
it will absolutely show that no religion is greater than its view
of God.”
These two great men and their respective statements remind
me that there are certain things that must not change. They
also remind me that a new thought or different slant on
things does not mean something better is being introduced.
For me, their thoughts help me to keep my balance and
realize there are things that are constant for every church
generation. They remind me that sound theology is vitally
important; that we need good theology so that the gospel is
accurately proclaimed and believers properly discipled.
I am not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions. However it is
my prayer for those of us who make up North Central CBA
that we will resolve to have passion for sound doctrine as we
passionately seek innovations in doing church that will help
us to communicate to the unchurched.
Don Shaw, Regional Director
Pastor Care
“Know Your Limits”
For the second Fall in a row I have been spending a lot of Blackjack
time in the basement. My 88 year-old Father- in-law has
been helping me do some remodeling. Last year we put in a
bathroom prior to my daughter’s wedding in October. This
year we have been covering the poured cement walls with
insulation and drywall. With many years of experience as a
farmer, there is not much about fixing things that Dad
doesn’t know. Even if he doesn’t know for sure, he has done
enough things that are somewhat like the issue at hand that
he usually can figure something out that works very well. I
have learned a great deal from him during these weekly
sessions in the basement.
One of the most important things I have learned is a
renewed respect for limitations. I have become aware of the
limitations of my knowledge, skills and abilities pertaining to
building. I also have learned from Dad about accepting your
limitations. At 88 years old, he has to acknowledge that there
are some things he cannot do any longer. That
acknowledgement comes hard sometimes, but he says it
and hands me the necessary tool and coaches me in
accomplishing the task.
As Pastors, we sometimes, maybe even often, have a hard
time acknowledging our limitations. One way that this shows
up is that many pastors live their lives with no margins. Many
of us like the margins in our books, so that we can fill them
with interesting thoughts that come to us as we read. We are
glad that there is some room left so that we can connect our
thoughts with the things that stimulated them.
However, we often live in such a way that there are no
empty white spaces around the activities of our lives. There
are no margins. Therefore, when something happens that is
unplanned for, we are automatically in overload, we have
exceeded the limits of our knowledge, skills and abilities,
because there is no room to accommodate those new
I want to encourage you to very carefully examine your life,
as a man, as a husband, as a father, as a pastor, to see if
there are margins—empty white spaces –around the pages
of your life. If there are none, I encourage you to look for
things to let go of, to hand the tool to someone else. Then
you can adjust to new unplanned-for events and new
opportunities without overloading,
Pastor Nick Bell, LMFT
Interim Pastor, First Baptist Church, Streator IL
Lessons from An Illegitimate Child
I have been senior pastor for five or so years now, and it has
been a journey to find out how I can most effectively minister
to my church and to this generation. I must confess that I
never have the confidence that I am doing things 100%
correctly, or even 50%. Can you relate? Yet during this time I
have learned quite a few helpful ideas about how to try to
stop playing church. These ideas come from the Emergent
church movement (which, as many emergent types will tell
you, isn’t a movement or a church). Emergent is also seen
as the illegitimate child of evangelicalism and the
postmodern generation. To me, it’s simply re-thinking how
we do things in the evangelical world, questioning all
presuppositions, and changing things. You change things
not to be “relevant” (whatever that means), but to be better
representatives of Christ to our world. I certainly don’t agree
with everything some emergent authors say. My church, by
no means, can be called an emergent church. However, I
have learned some tips from this illegitimate child that has
helped me in my journey as a shepherd of the flock and a
sheep in the herd.
Leaders should try to be fellow travelers and not tour
guides – The typical “tour guide” image of a church leaders
is that they have “found the way” (spiritually speaking) and
they tell the group how to get there. The “traveler” image of
church leaders is that they collaborate more with people (yet
still have vision), they are “on the way”, and journeying with
everyone else. I have let it be known from the pulpit that I
don’t know it all, that I am always trying to appreciate the
mystery of God and I can’t relegate Him to three points per
Sunday. I share that I am just as messed up as anyone who
is in my church, probably more so. And guess what? It frees
people to open up about themselves.
Pastors should try to be facilitators and not only
teachers – The typical “teacher” image of pastors is that their
job is to be the fount of wisdom and the congregation’s job is
to absorb it and lock it away somewhere. The “facilitator”
image of a pastor is to make it so that God’s Truth flows not
from just one source, but from many sources in the
community of the church. For almost a year now I have been
opening up the Sunday morning sermon time to allow dialog
from the people in attendance. Most times it goes well, a few
times not so much. But the idea is that God works in
people’s lives, and these workings are just as important as
my work when putting together a sermon. This is a step in
establishing real community as you hear things that may
enlighten, enrage, or entertain you from fellow travelers. I am
open to their ideas & insights and it blesses me to no end.
I have also learned- *Worship at church can be about
silence, candle lighting, art, and ancient meditation styles as
well as three stately hymns or four peppy choruses. *Jesus
did not believe in the idea of target audiences in His ministry.
*Not everyone needs to be in an “intimate” small group, and
some people grow better in a more open, social
environment. *Evangelism isn’t a show- down with the
unbeliever. I can learn as much from them as they can from
me, and it’s important that I do. *Community full of
shallowness & small-talk is safe. Community of open and
honest talk is life- changing, but it has to start at the top–like
at elder meetings.
Thanks for reading my ramblings. I am learning as I go. If
you want to dialog about these and other things, e-mail me
at m. “All things I thought I knew, but
now I confess; the more I know I know, I know the less.” –
John Owen
Mike Klamecki is senior pastor of New Hope Community Church in Villa
Park, IL, and loves Jesus, his wife, his three daughters, his church,
smoothies, incense, books, and Macs.
Chaplaincy Report
It is exciting to stand back and watch God work in the lives of
people. Miki West is a retired Army Chaplain and is now
working as a chaplain in a VA Medical Center. In a recent
report from Miki he relates this story. “For several years I
have taught a restaurant Bible study that grew out of a
“spirituality class” at the VA Medical Center. It’s made up
primarily of Viet Nam veterans. It ranged from two to six
guys. Herald and Dale were the spark plugs for it. Herald
received Jesus through the study, and I was encouraging to
get him into a church. He did and made a public profession
of his new faith. The church changed pastors and the new
pastor is a Viet Nam veteran. He began participating in the
study and developing relations with the guys. Herald brought
a friend, Bob, and he got saved. Then they both were
baptized. Tom came to the baptism to make a video
recording for Herald and began attending church. At
Halloween, several of the guys helped the church put on an
event for the neighborhood kids and at the “adult part’ of the
event, Herald and Tom’s wives prayed to receive the Lord.
Pray for these new believers. They are reaching out through
their relationship networks and drawing others to the Lord.
Pray for Pastor Rich as he enfolds them into the church.”