From Ken: Pastors and Bullet Points

As I continue to come alongside pastors to encourage and try to give some practical advice, I am constantly reminded how hard many of these men are working. Barna informs us in one of his recent market studies that 45% of pastors under the age of 45 have considered quitting full-time ministry. He points out that pastors say “stress in the ministry” is their number one challenge.

I’m sure there are many reasons for the stress. But here is one simple consideration:

When our young, dedicated, hard-working pastors are preparing their expository sermons, are they wearing themselves out trying to come up with new and catchy “bullet points” every week for their powerpoint graphics and handouts? ….Instead of just preaching the Word of God verse-by-verse?….Letting the Word of God do the work?

From Kathleen: Let’s Tell Our Stories!

For wherever you go, I will go;

And wherever you lodge, I will lodge;

Your people shall be my people,

And your God, my God…”   – Ruth 1:16

It didn’t make sense.  She knew there was no logical way a Jewish man back in Bethlehem would want a “used” Moabite woman for a wife!  And no husband meant no future – there would be no children to care for her someday.    

How did Ruth, a non-Jewish girl who grew up worshipping idols, turn into a young woman who would choose to face certain life-long poverty and widowhood with an aging mother-in-law, worshiping the Jewish God in a foreign land?   

Where did that passion for the God of Israel come from?  How did she ever get the courage to take that step of… yes…faith?  Ruth staked her life on the God of Israel, and walked  away from the idols she had grown up with.  Why?   What made her choose to believe in the One, True God?

Could we actually come to the conclusion that becoming a part of a Jewish family who had left their home because they had no food to eat, and then lived through the agony of the father of the family dying, but somehow making it through that, and then lived through the added pain and anguish of both grown sons dying also, and ending up staring across the kitchen table at a grief-stricken mother-in-law, and a grief-stricken sister-in-law, and feeling like your own insides had just been ripped out by the death of your own husband….are we concluding that going through all of that actually prompted Ruth to trust in the God of Israel…who, if He was as powerful as this family said He was, could have protected this sweet family from all this grief…do we actually think Ruth put her trust in this God after that?  

Yes.  We can.  That was Ruth’s story.  

Ruth didn’t see wonderful, sweet and problem-free living.  No, she didn’t see that at all.  She saw a small Jewish family trusting in their God no matter what happened;  Jewish people serving their God no matter how horrible their life looked compared to the idol-worshiping lives around them;  Jewish people knowing that their God had a plan for the salvation of not just the Jews, but of the whole world, and being willing to trust Him forever.  

She lived life with plain and simple people of faith; she saw and heard their stories; and that convinced her of the reality of the One, True, God.  She believed in Him – not to keep her life from trouble – but to bow before Him, thanking Him for loving her.  She realized He was the only God and she put the rest of her life in His hands.

When I read Ruth’s story my faith is strengthened. When I get a chance to tell my own story, I hope someone else’s faith is strengthened, too. Ruth had a story, I have a story, you have a story.

When we tell our stories we touch lives.  Because they are not primarily our stories, they are Jesus’ stories.  They are stories of what brought us to faith in Jesus – the One, True God.

So, let’s tell our stories!  Let’s look for opportunities to tell them.  Plan to tell them.  Ask to tell them.  Irritate people by telling them over and over and over.  Speak of our love for Jesus, and how we came to believe in Him.  Sing it.  Write it.  Post it.  Wear ourselves out telling our stories.  

Want to get started?  Do this:  

  1. Write out your story.
  2. The next time you are talking with someone…anyone…just take a deep breath and say:  “Have I ever told you my story?  Can I tell you?”  And then jump in.  

Let’s give someone a chance to hear about Jesus by telling them our stories.  Then, when they believe in Jesus, let’s take them to church, where they can grow in their faith, learn to write out their story, and the next time they are talking with someone…anyone…they can just take a deep breath and say: “Have I ever told you my story?  Can I tell you?”

I’d love for you to read my story.

Four Things We think Might Be Making a Negative Impact on Pastors and Local Churches:

I am no expert but I believe there are trends. Local churches and pastors appear to struggle when they embrace the following four practices:

  • Live Streaming.

This seems odd, right?  Live-steaming kept many churches alive during the pandemic.  But we have noticed that since then, streaming church services may be actually hurting those same churches, for two reasons:

  1. The temptation is to exaggerate the number of people who are really benefitting from the live streams.
  2. Pastors begin to communicate with the camera at the expense of connecting with the people right in front of them.

And that can lead to lack of authentic community.  Superficial relationships begin to take the place of authenticity.

  • Lack of focus on the Main Purpose of the Church.

Churches don’t appear to be asking themselves often enough, “What are we doing?”  “What is our Main Purpose?”  Are we focused on “Making disciples who in turn make other disciples?”

  • Love of the Church Building and Traditions

Church members can feel guilt – thinking they are being traitors to previous generations – when something has to change in order to continue to fulfill the purpose of the church.  Before long the building and traditions can become “the tail wagging the dog.”

  •  Emphasis on attendance.

The Sunday attendance often becomes an obsession for pastors and also church members. It can become the emotional barometer for everyone each Sunday.  Are there not as many people here this week?  What’s wrong?  Who is failing? A whole Sunday can feel discouraging. 

Real-Life Stories

Below you will see some real-life stories of people who have tried to fulfill their calling to be “fishers of men”…risking reputations, jobs, family acceptance, even safety…for the privilege of sharing Good News  of Jesus with the people in their lives.  

An older man can’t drive to church anymore, but he did start a Bible study in the nearby park, and taught a friend to prep and lead the study, too.  Every Friday as he teaches, people who are just walking by stop and listen. He says: “It is amazing, but even now there is an appetite out there for the Lord.”  

A waitress hosted a breakfast at her apartment for her co-workers.  She told them her pastor was going to be there, too, and they could freely ask any questions they may have about God  They came and asked many questions.  

I have known so many Public School Teachers who quietly pray for all their students. They pray that the students who genuinely believe in Jesus will recognize open doors to share their faith  They realize with a great sense of responsibility that they may be the only one praying for some of their students.

A retired Pastor teaches a Bible study at his local Senior Center. The Senior Center is glad to be able to have a Bible Study as part of their service to the community.

A young single career woman offered rooms in her home to a friend in need.  She lived the Gospel in front of her friend day by day.  They spoke often together of Christ.  They prayed together before meals.  Her friend came to believe that Jesus is God, and gratefully gave her life to Him.

As a second career, one woman opened up a business..a Scrapbook store – where people linger and talk – and sometimes scrapbook in order to recover from serious loss – and they want to talk about it to someone. She had many, many chances to recommend Jesus, who can meet all needs.

A young newspaper writer had lunch every week with a co-worker – and began to present the claims of Christ to someone who otherwise would never even have considered them.  That co-worker came to know Christ as Savior and today teaches Bible classes himself.

Others have not had the words to speak eloquently of Christ…they have simply told someone about the church they go to…and offered to meet them there. 

A Child-care giver talked about the Lord with the parents of the kids she provided child-care for.  She was able to talk along the way to their parents about the things she was learning from Jesus, her Lord.

A young mom started a Bible Study in her home with old friends from High School.  They talked about common memories and new common interests – and talked about the difference a relationship to Jesus has made since High School.

Living in a neighborhood with a few elderly residents, a woman offers to help an elderly neighbor with cooking or finances or trips to the doctor.  Every day conversations become a natural time to talk together about the peace anyone of any age can have knowing they are going to see Jesus when they die.

A worker gets into conversations with co-workers about how to have a relationship to God…and the fact that most people don’t have any idea that God wants to have a relationship with them.  At that point it’s a great time to look at Psalm 139 – an awesome Psalm about the intimate knowledge our God has of each one of us.

A young college student had a roommate who didn’t  know the Lord, but she didn’t  know how to begin a conversation.  They arranged a discussion get-together with other people in the same boat, telling them to invite their roommates, and let people know they would be discussing how to have a relationship to God.  It worked.  People came.  It gave many of them courage to pursue those conversations over the weeks and months to come.

A Pastor’s wife invites other women to lunch – and makes it a point to ask hard questions – like: “Do you know for sure you are going to heaven when you die?”  or…”Would it be OK if I tell you my story of how I came to believe in Jesus?” Does it seem like it would be hard to get those questions out?  It is.  But as soon as we do, we get the chance to have a conversation that may never be forgotten.

A neighbor brings food and prays with other neighbors when illness, tragedy, or unexpected news strikes.

A cancer doctor offers to pray with her patients in the office, and in the hospital. And when she prays, she boldly prays in the name of Jesus.

An older woman had a stroke.  She went through therapy, and then moved temporarily to her daughter’s home and there she was a living witness to people even when she was at her weakest.

A man faithfully visited his Mom in the nursing home, making friends with the other people there, too.  He continued to visit those new friends long after his Mom was home with Jesus.

Restaurant owners we knew started a lending library for their employees.  They stocked it with great books about the Bible and about the Lord, and with tapes from the Sunday sermons at church.  The library was well-used.

A friend of mine got a job sitting with patients at a hospital.  Many patients have no family or friend to sit with them during long hospital stays. She sometimes reads the paper to them, sometimes a good book, sometimes she prays silently for them while sitting quietly in the hospital room, and sometimes she brings along a Bible and asks patients if they would like her to read aloud..

A Jewish believer in Jesus lovingly invited his Jewish family to attend his Jewish/Christian wedding – to give them the unparalleled opportunity to see the fulfillment of the Jewish Messiah in the person of Jesus.

An architect took a Mission trip and as he washed the feet of young Nicaraguans, he spoke of his own heartache over not having a chance yet to pass on the good news of Jesus to his own children.    

We have a story to tell. What are we doing with it?

From Ken: One of the Hardest Things to Do: Sharing Your Faith in Christ with Your Family

Someone recently asked me how to share his faith in Christ with his family. I asked him if he had thought of writing a letter. If you have ever wondered the same thing, tweak the following letter idea – it might be a good starting point for you:

Hi _______________

This is your brother/sister/etc, _________. I wish I could sit with you right now and share with you what is currently so heavy on my heart. Years go by so fast and then all of a sudden we realize that all of us are near the end of  this journey called life. We have already lost some of our family, and as your brother I am troubled and ashamed that I have not taken more time to tell you my story.

As all of you know, my life has included many ups and downs. Many blessings and many mistakes. And unfortunately many decisions and steps that I have taken over the years that I am not proud of. Using a religious word, over the years I have  “sinned” often.

A number of years ago, God made clear to me that I am a lost sinner not deserving  anything good from God. At the same time He opened my eyes to an incredible promise. All of a sudden I understood that even while I have been a rebellious sinner, all along the way He has loved me, and that 2,000 years ago He offered me a wonderful gift.  He offered me forgiveness for not only all of the sins I have committed in the past but sins committed today and even in the future.  I began to see clearly that my sins could not just be ignored but that God loved me,___________ so much that He had His own Son, Jesus Christ take responsibility for all the sins in my life and actually pay the penalty for them.

When Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died on the cross, He was taking ownership of my wicked sins and paying the price for them. My sins could not be just overlooked. Just like a “speeding ticket”, they had to be paid for.  Every single one of them.  You see, Jesus Christ took my place. He traded places with me. He was judged and  He paid what I owed for my sins.  The price was His death on the cross.  He was condemned and died in my place.

Then out of love for me, He offered me full forgiveness, if I would admit my guilt and invite Him to be my savior.  In a sense, He offered to trade places with me. He took my guilt. He suffered. He paid the price that I owed.

Guys. You know that I am no great religious person.  I am not writing this letter to look down at you or to condemn you. I am writing to you because I love you and I want more then anything else in the world to share with you this wonderful promise from God for you and me.

I am not urging you to go to church. I am not telling you to be a religious person . I am not encouraging you to get baptized or join some church.  I just know personally how wonderful it is to have peace with God.  I am not afraid to die. I have not earned salvation, forgiveness or heaven.  But I have confessed my guilt before God and I have invited Jesus Christ to take my place – to wipe out the guilt of my sin with His  own death and resurrection on my behalf.

I have real peace with God.  I love Him. I am incredibly grateful for what Jesus Christ did for me when He died for me. When I die, I will not die as a religious person, but I will die as a person who has been forgiven. I look forward to heaven. I look forward to eternity.  And I can’t think of anything greater than to spend eternity with you.

Please forgive me, even now, if you think I am being a preacher. That’s not my goal.  I am just your brother who loves you very much and wants the very best for you for eternity.

I wish I could explain all of this better. Just remember, God loves you.  Jesus died in your place.  Pray and thank God for His love for you. Pray and ask Jesus Christ to forgive you and to be your personal savior. Don’t worry about fancy words.

I love you.  I will be praying for God’s very best in your life.

I bet if you want to know more about this, just ask the Lord to bring someone into your life who can talk about it with you, and bingo…. He will answer that prayer.

Your brother.

_____________________

Ken Preaching this Sunday, September 11

Ken and Kathleen will be at Fairland Baptist Church this Sunday morning, September 11th. Ken is preaching at the 10:45am morning service. 102 Meridian St., Fairland, IN 46126.

Adult Bible Class: Sundays @ 9.30 A.M.
Sunday Worship: Sundays @ 10.45 A.M.
Bible Study: Wednesdays @ 7.00 P.M.

From Kathleen: Small Groups

5:37am. It’s just a quiet, darkened dining table and a few empty chairs. But last night…last night it was voices and laughter and ideas and conversation. Believers in Jesus. Questioners about Jesus. No two are alike. The come wondering if they can learn, contribute, make a difference, pray, encounter Jesus. Perhaps they are an unlikely circle of friends, but the gathering together is good. The Bible is open…..

“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on the earth.” Colossians 3:2

No Greater Honor

There is no greater honor then to be invited to teach the Word of God.

On June 18, 2022, I will be teaching the Word of God at a Memorial Service for Bruce Henson. Bruce’s wife, Jan was the manager of the Panera in Greenwood in September of 2002.  I went into Panera often and we became friends. Jan and her husband, Bruce asked if I would conduct their wedding on September 8, 2002. Jan and Bruce invited many of their friends to their home for this special day. And I had the privilege of teaching  the Good News concerning Christ that day. Now, twenty years later, Bruce lost his battle with cancer and Jan has once again given me the privilege of talking about Jesus Christ with Jan and Bruce’s friends.

On Sunday, June 26th at 10:30, I have been invited to teach the Word of God at Lebanon First Baptist Church in Lebanon, Indiana.

And to top it off, Village Bible Church has invited me to teach the Word of God at the 10:00am service for their Tenth Anniversary Celebration on Sunday, July 17th.

No greater honor. – Ken

From Ken – Great Stuff!!

Today we champion Pastor David Wright, Senior Pastor of Lebanon First Baptist Church. Pastor Dave recognized the tendency for the Local Church to be pulled into many directions. In an  attempt to clarify God’s Purpose and Plan for the Local Church he has recently launched a verse-by-verse sermon series on Sunday mornings at 10:30,  going through the Book of Acts. “God’s Manual for the Local Church.”

Last Sunday three young men asked if he would baptize them in order to demonstrate their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. This is Great Stuff !

Ken

Who We Are

One More Church is a Christian Non-Profit Ministry which exists to glorify God by means of providing assistance and consulting to pastors and churches who are struggling to exist.  Due to cultural changes, and a pandemic,  thousands of churches and pastors are on the edge of dissolving or quitting their ministries.  

Assistance and consulting includes developing church organizational and growth strategies, mentoring church leaders, training, developing church vision statements,  church and church leaders’ assessments, and providing  equipping tools for church ministries. 

One More Church seeks to define its mission, focus and  activities by referring to:

A Two Fold Focus

1. A focus on local church Revitalizations and church Restarts.

2. A focus on Assisting and Encouraging Pastors.

The Initiative and Launch of “One More Church”:  On February 27, 2022, Village Bible Church, Inc. located at 695 E. Pushville Road, Greenwood, Indiana, 46143, held a Commissioning Service to send their  founding pastor, Pastor Ken H. Dalton, out in order to launch and  lead the One More Church Non-Profit Ministry.  

Pastor Dalton had planted the Village Bible Church nine years earlier.  The Church and Reverend Dalton agreed unanimously to hand the Senior Pastor position at Village Bible Church over  to a new pastor, Pastor Travis Burkett, who would be able to provide ongoing leadership for the church for many future  years. 

Prior to Village Bible Church, Pastor Dalton had planted six other churches and at the same time trained and mentored many young pastors, and served in consulting with other new church plants. 

The Barna Church Research Group gives us the following current statistics:

  1. Currently 38% of pastors in our country are considering leaving full-time ministry.  This number is up 9% since the beginning of 2021.

2. Over 1,700 pastors in America left the ministry every month last year. 

3. Over 3,500 individuals left churches in America every day last year.

4. Over 4,500 churches in America closed last year. 

In the pursuit of improving some of these current dismal church and pastoral statistics, Pastor Dalton, as an employee of One More Church, is focusing on the following activities and others as needs arise:

  • Reach out to pastors and churches who are requesting help.
  • Provide one-on-one mentoring for pastors, both in person and also through training materials.
  • Provide assistance with church leadership boards and committees.
  • As needed, provide strategy, organizational and outreach help with comprehensive, written reports. 
  • Consult with both pastors and churches in the area of leadership recruiting. 
  • As the One More Church Ministry Responsibilities and Opportunities grow, develop ways to recruit and train volunteer help and additional  paid consulting staff. 
  • Oversee research needs as needed for pastors or specific local churches. 
  • Assist Churches that require a “restart” with required organizational exhibits and filings. 
  • Meet regularly with the One More Church Board of Directors for accountability, decision making , and vision. 

One More Church’s income derives solely from contributions from individuals, foundations, trust accounts and churches.  Tax-deductible Donations can be sent to: One More Church, 955 Monteray Rd., Greenwood, Indiana, 46143.