|Gleanings From My Readings
Rambling Thoughts I
Think I Have Thought???
by Dr. Glenn Mathews
If I were planning the order of service, I would have a
congregational song just before the message, instead of having
“special music”. Often, the “special” is not too special. Some-
times the song is a performance, rather than a time of worship.
The congregation may not be familiar with the song being sung,
or crooned, or yelled, or …being sung ½ note flat. Far better, I
think, to have the special music (good or bad) right after the
offering, and then have the congregation stand and sing an old
hymn they know very well. By having the congregation stand
and sing, it gives the choir an opportunity to come from the choir
section and to join the congregation and for everyone to stretch a
bit before the message. It is just a thought for those who plan
Most God-called preachers start their ministry as evangelists – at
least in spirit. If you would ask a preacher to tell you of his first
dozen sermons, the majority of them would be evangelistic
in nature. Most preachers become pastors. Pastors then tend to
refocus their ministry, not on evangelism, but on their congrega-
tion. That is understandable. What happens, however, is that too
often the preacher/pastor now begins to lose his compassion for,
or focus unsaved people. He is primarily concerned with his local
flock. If the church that he is serving experiences much growth,
then additional staff members are added. The pastor then be-
comes a Chief Executive Officer; administrating, planning,
delegating, overseeing - the list is quite long. All the duties that
he has are “pressing, important, vital to the ministry”…. (I have
heard them all) but the compassion for unsaved people becomes
less and less of a factor in his ministry. Can we not add the one
without subtracting the other?
We are becoming fewer in number at an alarming rate. Fewer
men are financially able to “stay on the road” while their ministry
slowly increases. It is extremely difficult to start in evangelism,
much less stay in it and earn a living for ones family. Sadly,
churches never seem to consider supporting a young evangelist in
the USA, but will readily support evangelists (church planters) in
other countries. Our ministry does support one such young man
(see MISSIONS on home page). Churches are scheduling fewer
meetings and shorter meetings. Workshops, Seminars, Camps,
Retreats, Advances, Conferences – and “our people are too busy
for me to schedule a meeting” are unknowingly contributing to
the lessening number of young evangelists. That is sad. I have
written along these lines in earlier articles (check ARTICLES).
Some evangelists have hurt, instead of helped, the creditability
and work of the evangelist. Coming into a church, preaching
hobbyhorses, pet peeves, divisive issues and endeavoring to
impose ones personal standards and preferences upon the
congregation does a disservice to the work of other evangelists.
Such men as Jimmie Johnson, Fred Brown, John Gamble, John
McCormick and my dad, R. R. Mathews, were men who
mentored me. Even when they were unaware of it, they were
setting an example for me and for many others. They saw their
role as underscoring the ministry of the pastor and the local
church. God blessed their ministry over the years because they
stuck to The Book. The evangelist who is not asked back to the
same churches again and again will not be able to stay full-time
in evangelism. For various reasons, that, too, is sad.
ON A MORE PERSONAL NOTE
At my age, I am not about to be contacted by any church to see if
I would be interested in serving as their pastor. Even if some
church expressed interest in that scenario, I would turn it down
immediately. I am doing what God wants me to do. I could not
handle the responsibilities of being a pastor, at almost 75 years.
But having said that, I hurry to say that I am surprised at what
churches are looking for in a pastor AND what pastors are looking
for in a church! I have had pulpit committee chairmen tell me
that the church is looking for (and this is a composite answer from
more than a few sources) a person who can motivate people to
give financially, someone who is good at visiting the older
members, a person who will love us, someone between 40 and 50
who has had seminary training, someone who is good with young
people, etc. When I question them as to what they expect in the
pulpit ministry of the pastor, I hear (almost verbatim) “we don’t
care whether he is a strong preacher or not, just so he can…(refer
again to the list above)”. Young men, desiring to become pastors,
now more than in earlier years, want to know the salary, the
benefit package, the housing arrangements, etc., before they will
even consider coming to preach in view of a call. I don’t enjoy
saying it, but some seem to me to have taken an Occupational
Interest Inventory Test and have scored well on Social Service …
having a choice of being a social case worker, a rehab counselor,
a school teacher or a Christian worker, they have chosen the
latter. Preaching should be based upon a call, not upon a choice.
ON PROFOUND SIMPLICITY
It still amazes me that (1) God loves me and (2) that He allows
me to love him.
ON THE CHANGING TIMES
Can anyone tell me what happened to “CONVICTION”? I
remember seeing sinners manifest conviction of sin by tears, even
sobs over their lost condition. I have talked with other pastors
and evangelists and they too have wondered about this question.
Where did “conviction” (an acute consciousness of ones spiritual
need) go? Where are the evidences of conviction? In reading
church history and biographies, one is struck by the powerful
conviction on unbelievers. That is not the case in today’s world.
Why does today’s preaching not bring evidences of conviction on
the part of the unsaved hearers?
Am I the only one who notices the absence of Holy Ghost
conviction? Is “becoming a Christian” to be merely a mental
decision? What has happened to the emotional aspect of being
saved? Can someone reading this give me some insight? More
specifically, what can we do to see “conviction” return to our
NONSENSE AND / OR NOT SENSE? (a brief note of humor)
Anyone with 2 or more cats is probably a masochist. J Sorry, cat
lovers, but you know I am speaking the truth… independent, aren’
One dog is OK. But when you get a second dog to provide com-
pany for the first dog, are you really needed?
In some cases, a rock may be the perfect pet. Remember that
Some of the music I am hearing in church services is about as ap-
propriate as steel toes on flip-flops.