Discipline: The Bible’s answer to Three Questions every parent asks in one way or another.
This weekend, our church took on the topic of Discipline, looking at the passive, compromising, no discipline approach of the Old Testament Priest Eli (1 Samuel 2:12-36). The result of Eli’s parenting was the tragic loss of his sons lives and his family’s ministry as Priests of Israel. The Bible is full of promises for the parent who lives godly and does the hard thing to discipline their children. Three questions every parent asked that are answered by discipline:
1. How do I show my love to my children?
- Proverbs 3:12 – for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.
- Proverbs 13:24 – Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.
2. How do I assure the success of my children?
- Proverbs 19:18 – Discipline your son, for there is hope; do not set your heart on putting him to death.
- Proverbs 22:15 – Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him.
3. How do I assure a peaceful relationship with my children?
- Proverbs 29:17 – Discipline your son, and he will give you rest; he will give delight to your heart.
Discipline is a parent’s duty. A duty that is best administered by a parent, because no one loves and graces a child like a parent can (when they are healthy). Parents must give up the desire to be liked and overlook behavior in a child for the sake of peace. Behavior comes from the heart. If unaddressed, the behavior could bring about future harm for the one you love. Parenting means committing to do the hard thing: Discipline our children because we love them, because we want them to be successful, because we want them to know peace and bring us delight. It’s not easy, but it does produce what we desire for our kids.
- Hebrews 12:11 – No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
Last year, I attended a seminar with Dr. Bill Day on evangelistic church growth. Dr. Day, defines a Healthy, Growing Church as a church that has had:
- 10% growth over a 5 year period.
- At least one baptism per year in that period.
- An attender to baptism ratio of 15:1.
I like this formula, because it helps us see that not every church that is a healthy church is a growing church. And not every church that is growing, grows by evangelistic growth. This formula cuts through the pack to get to the healthy, evangelistic, growing churches.
2017 Data is in, so here’s the latest look at Healthy and Growing Churches among Louisiana Baptists:
- 182 Louisiana Baptist churches, or 10%, grew by 10% growth between 2013 and 2017.
- Only 75 Louisiana Baptist churches, or 5%, were healthy and growing churches between 2013 and 2017; with 10% growth, 1 baptism per year, and a 15:1 attender to baptism ratio.
Where are these churches?
- 27 are in south Louisiana, 48 are in north Louisiana.
- 25 along I-20, 26 in Central LA, 9 in SWLA, 15 in SELA, 1 in New Orleans, 1 in Baton Rouge.
How old are these churches?
- 3 are less than 10 years old
- 8 are 11-25 years old
- 11 are 26-50 years old
- 23 are 50-100 years old
- 30 are 100+ years old
What’s the size of these churches?
- 5,000+ – 1
- 1,000-4,999 – 4
- 500-999 – 7
- 250-499 – 9
- 100-249 – 30
- 1-99 – 24
Who are theses Churches?
Top 25 Churches with the largest % growth between 2013 and 2017
- Christ’s Community, Denham Springs, Pastor Willis Easley, grew 211%, from 225 to 700 with 348 baptisms.
- Journey Church, Pineville, Pastor James Greer, grew 136%, from 360 to 489
- Summerville, Olla, grew by 105% from 20 to 41 with 526 baptisms.
- Unity, Oak Grove, Pastor J. Kelly Coleman, grew by 100%, from 90 to 180 with 27 baptisms
- Heflin, Pastor Ronnie Osborne, grew by 100% from 75 to 150
- New Hope, Jennings, Pastor Eric B Crochet, grew by 100% from 20 to 40
- First, Moss Bluff, Pastor Steve Bennett grew by 91% from 643 to 1,229.
- Memorial, Monroe, Pastor Roger Stoffer, grew by 90% from 30 to 57
- Open Door Fellowship, Coushatta, Pastor Steven W. McAbee, grew by 87% from 75 to 140
- Mt Gilead, Vivian, Pastor William H Treadway, grew by 80% from 50 to 90
- Calvary, Bayou Chicot, Pastor Wayne Holston, grew by 80% from 50 to 90
- Main Street, Pineville, Pastor Samuel H West, grew by 78% from 45 to 80
- Union Hill, Montgomery, Pastor Chuck Lacroix, grew by73% from 52 to 90
- New Beginnings, Castor, Pastor David H Bolyer, grew by 73% from 55 to 95
- St James, Madisonville, Pastor George Burris, grew by 67% from 150 to 250
- The New Beginnings, Walker, Pastor Charles R Smith, grew by 63% from 43 to 70
- Bethany, Bethany, Pastor Marvin Cooper, grew by 61% from 56 to 90
- Oak Forest, Leesville, Pastor Joe Call grew by 57% from 54 to 85
- Antioch, Farmerville, Pastor Rubin Weaver, grew by 52% from 186 to 283
- First, Robeline, Pastor Brian Ray, grew by 50% from 163 to 245
- First, Golden Meadow, Pastor Matthew Chouest, grew by 50% from 70 to 105
- First, Sterlington, Pastor Ben Hackler, grew by 48% from 100 to 148
- First Mt Nebo, Jena, grew by 47% from 95 to 140
- Newton, Delhi, Pastor Buddy McGurk, grew by 46% from 65 to 95
- Bogue Falaya, Folsom grew by 45% from 120 to 174
Churches that Added the Most People between 2013 and 2017:
- Celebration Church (SBC), Metairie, Dennis Watson. Added 2,073 people
- First, Moss Bluff, Steve Bennett, Added 586 people.
- Journey Church, Pineville, James Greer, Added 489
- Christ’s Community, Denham Springs, Willis Easley. Added 475
- Cypress, Benton, John Fream. Added 389
- First, Bossier City, Brad Jurkovich. Added 246
- His Church, Pineville, Steven Speer. Added 161
- First, Franklinton, Paul B Watts. Added 138
- Addis, First Baton Rouge, Tom Shepard. Added 130
- St James, Madisonville, George Burris. Added 100
Top 10 Baptisms by these churches in 2017:
- Celebration Church (SBC), Metairie 602
- First, Bossier City 169
- Journey Church, Pineville 141
- First, Moss Bluff 100
- Cypress, Benton 95
- Christ’s Community, Denham Springs 74
- First, Robeline 62
- Addis, First 57
- His Church, Pineville 50
- Newton, Delhi 46
Email me for a copy of the full report – email@example.com.
We hear a lot about Helicopter Parenting and Free-Range Parenting. How about a new one? REFUGE PARENTING. It means, by the kind of life the parent lives in godliness, devotion to God, intentionality about faith; their children and future generations are promised a refuge, protection, and blessing.
In the fear of the LORD one has strong confidence and his children have a refuge.
the offspring of the righteous will escape.
A righteous person acts with integrity; his children who come after him will be happy.
Integrity, godliness, intentionality about faith comes with a promise for our future generations. Live it!
Life’s Healing Choices: Freedom from Your Hurts, Hang-ups, and Habits by John Baker. The textbook version of Celebrate Recovery. Great testimonies throughout the book of people that have overcome incredible hurts, hang-ups, and habits.
Fail: Finding Hope and Grace in the Midst of Ministry Failure by JR Briggs. Specifically addresses the causes of ministerial discouragement and depression.
Caring for People God’s Way: Personal and Emotional Issues, Addictions, Grief, and Trauma by Tim Clinton. Textbook for handling difficult issues as a counselor or pastoral care giver.
Five Keys to Dealing with Depression by Gregory Jantz. Great, to the point primer for understanding and dealing with depression.
Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Its Cure by Martin Lloyd-Jones. Oldie but goodie. So so Biblical. Lloyd Jones pulls his medical doctor card along with the theologian card.
Confessions of a Depressed Christian: How A Pastor Survived Depression and How You Can Too by Jason McNaughten. Louisiana Pastor catalogs his personal struggle. Very helpful!
Christians Get Depressed Too: Hope and Help for Depressed People by David Murray. Good primer.
Melissa: A Father’s Lessons After a Daughter’s Suicide by Frank Page. From a parents side of the struggle of mental illness. And dealing with losing the battle through suicide.
Piper, John. When the Darkness Will Not Lift: Doing What We Can While We Wait for God–and Joy. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2006. Classic. Theological primer on depression.
Suffering and the Sovereignty of God by John Piper and Justin Taylor. Great primer on suffering questions. Why? What now? etc.
Emotionally Healthy Spirituality: Unleash a Revolution in Your Life In Christ by Peter Scazzero. Must read for every Christian!
The Emotionally Healthy Leader: How Transforming Your Inner Life Will Deeply Transform Your Church, Team, and the World by Peter Scazzero
The Emotionally Healthy Church, Updated and Expanded Edition: A Strategy for Discipleship That Actually Changes Lives by Peter Scazzero
Troubled Minds: Mental Illness and the Church’s Mission by Amy Simpson. Deals with deep mental illness issues and how the church could help or at least not hurt.
Grace for the Afflicted: A Clinical and Biblical Perspective on Mental Illness by Matthew Stanford. Good academic primer.
Resurrecting the Person: Friendship and the Care of People with Mental Health Problems by John Swinton. Pastoral Care approach.
Depression: Looking Up from the Stubborn Darkness by Ed Welch. Short, to the point primer.
Depression: The Way Up When You Are Down by Ed Welch. Short, to the point primer.
Love Is Oxygen: How God Can Give You Life and Change Your World by Jarrid Wilson. My favorite! Will read this every year from now on! Great book for those needing hope!
For a church to break growth barriers, systems must be created to help maximize the giftedness of the people for the good of the community and the church. One of the areas that often becomes an issue as a church begins to grow and age is Pastoral Care. How does this happen?
- May be that the pastor takes all the weight upon himself and starts down the road to burnout stifling his leadership and the growth of the church,
- May be resentment and criticism began to divide because of the elusive ENOUGH – “the church isn’t doing enough for me.”
- May be there’s an Acts 6 moment where the church realizes that needs are being unmet, like those of the Helenistic Jewish widows in the story of the first New Testament church (Act 6:1-7).
Eventually, the need to systematize and scale pastoral care will become apparent in a congregation.
The Question is: Who is Responsible for Pastoral Care in the Church?
Here’s how my church has answered this important question:
1. The Body of Christ
We are actually all responsible to care for one another – See Philippians 2:3-4, Galatians 6:1-2. We are to be looking out for the needs of each other as members of a church. Churches should seek to have a culture of compassion and care that leads people to look beyond themselves to the needs of others.
I asked a pastor of a fast-growing church, how he scales pastoral care. He said, almost every week, I tell people to turn to the person next to them and say, “It’s not about me.”
2. Small Groups
Small Groups are a great place to foster compassion and care. The Small Group ministry is a household to household ministry. In smaller groups, the needs of individuals can be more easily identified than on Sunday mornings. Churches should teach small group leaders that they are shepherd/pastors to their group and the first place for care.
3. Pastors / Elders
The Bible also calls godly pastors / elders to the task of pastoral care – 1 Peter 5:2, Acts 20:28. Their care was to be more oversight though. It was these that appointed Stephen to care for the individual needs of widows. Their pastoral care role should be more in the refuting, holding accountable, prayer, and teaching/preaching. Most pastors want to be involved in every pastoral care case, but they can’t always in growing churches. Churches must recognize their equipping role and not set the expectation that they be the sole proprietor of care for everyone.
4. The Cares Team
A best practice in growing churches is to equip a team to be a part of pastoral care in the church. This is a recognition that the pastor can’t do it all and that God is equipping members of His body to be shepherds along side the pastor of the church. Much of the task of pastoral care is administrative. Others can and should take on some of the roles of setting up meals, scheduling visits, visiting the hospitals, ordering flowers, even sharing at funerals, praying with people, etc., etc. Find a way to identify and equip the churches shepherds for the work of ministry.
5. Outside Support
What happens when pastoral care needs are beyond the scope of the churches care? Churches should recognize the support they have outside of their own body. Other churches may have ministries that could help. There are solid Christian counselors in every community that would love to be available to individuals or the church at large.
How does your church scale pastoral care? What would you add to this list?
Last week, I posted about my journey of Becoming More Tech-Wise as a Parent and Leader. One of the best books I read in 2017, was in this regard – The Tech-Wise Family: Everyday Steps for Putting Technology In Its Place by Andy Crouch. The social experiment that is kids with constant social media and technology, continues to demonstrate extremely negative outcomes for families, mental health, faith development, etc. Crouch’s book was breath of fresh air to this parent who is trying to figure out how to guide our kids and families through these modern mine fields. The chapters build out the covenant or commitments of a tech-wise family. Families are encouraged to build out your own covenant or commitments as well. What would these commitments look like for your family?
The Ten Tech Wise Commitments:
We develop wisdom and courage together as a family.
We want to create more than we consume. So we fill the center of our home with things that reward skill and active engagement.
We are designed for a rhythm of work and rest. So one hour a day, one day a week, and one week a year, we turn off our devices and worship, feast, play and rest together.
We wake up before our devices do, and they “go to bed” before we do.
We aim for “no screens before double digits” (age of 10) at school and at home.
We use screens for a purpose, and we use them together, rather than using them aimlessly and alone.
Car time is conversation time.
Spouses have one another’s passwords, and parents have total access to children’s devices.
We learn to sing together, rather than letting recorded and amplified music take over our lives and worship.
We show up in person for the big events of life. We learn how to be human by being fully present at our moments of greatest vulnerability. We hope to die in one another’s arms.
This book, plus our own hard lessons have led our family to make some adjustments along the way with technology. What rules or guidelines or commitments, if any, do you or your family exercise regarding technology?
Recent Question from an honest member of a local church. “What’s the thinking of the Louisiana Baptist Convention (my employer), behind planting all these new churches? Why not just send more people to great churches like mine?”
Answer: There are Three Major Problems with this kind of thinking as I see it.
1. The problem of the numbers. How many does your church seat? “1,200”. Let’s say your church fills its building 4 times each week. That’ll be 4,800 people attending church. Praise God! I’ve studied your community, and there are actually 125,000 people that live there, and after much research, liberal estimates show that only 10% of them attend an evangelical church. Another 10% attend Roman Catholic churches based on research and liberal estimates. That still leaves 100,000 people that are not going to church anywhere. Where are we going to put that many people? If all the current evangelical churches in the community filled their facilities twice each Sunday, there would still be no room for the majority of these people.
2. The problem of the people. I’ve been to your church and I like it. Most of the people look a lot like me and dress like me and the music fits what I like to listen to. I feel very comfortable there. The preaching speaks to me, because I’ve been in church all my life and I like good Bible preaching. However, did you know that there are a lot of those 100,000 people who have never been to church. They don’t know who Noah or Abraham or Moses are, and they would be a little lost just opening a Bible for the first time. They also listen to different kind of music, their lives look a lot different than mine and yours because of race, upbringing, past mistakes, etc. So, we need to start ALL DIFFERENT KINDS OF CHURCHES, FOR ALL DIFFERENT KINDS OF PEOPLE along with making our churches more comfortable for everyone.
3. Saturation vs. Parish Strategy. Louisiana Baptists and most evangelicals have a saturation strategy of evangelism and church planting. Until EVERY PERSON has had the opportunity to hear and respond to the gospel, we keep doing EVERYTHING we can to deliver the gospel and disciple them. And the Evangelical community has found that church planting is one of the most effective means of doing that. Roman Catholics and other liturgical churches have a Parish Strategy, meaning, we’re going to plan to have one church for an area or part of town, and assume that everybody that needs the gospel will respond at or through that church. It doesn’t consider the number of people, or types of people in the strategy, limiting the number of people that can be reached through the church.
Does that make any sense?
Response: YES! I understand!
1. I was actually thinking about how many people in my neighborhood don’t go to church. Out of 70+ homes there is only 2 or 3 of us that go to church on Sunday.
2. And you know, you’re right, I wish they would, but they probably would not all feel comfortable in a church like mine.
3. And yes, we believe we should do everything we can to share the gospel with our community.
What are some ways that my church could help??!!
Parenting is hard. Much harder than you’ll ever imagine. Nobody can tell you how hard it is until you’ve experienced it. And each new generation has its challenges. One of my generations parenting challenges is definitely technology. We are learning more and more about the land minds that smart phones, social media, and gaming devices deposit before our kids every day. Parents must be vigilant to remain on top of this ever changing world. Some of the unexpected lessons we’ve learned over the last few years as parents and as a pastor:
- You can protect kids from internet searches and some harmful websites with filters, but filters have little affect on Social Media sites.
- Snap Chat is bad. Really bad. No child should have access to Snap Chat. Block it!!!
- From a local school principal: “Everything bad at this school – drugs, bullying, and sexting – can be traced back to Snap Chat or Instagram.”
- Instagram has grown more like Snap Chat, allowing anonymous sharing of pics. Monitor it or block it!
- Watch who your kids are following on Instagram. These people are discipling your children and shaping their worldview.
- Gaming devices are not just about playing games anymore. The unfiltered internet, Youtube, and many games offer views of the darkest parts of the fallen world to kids.
- Youtube is a great disciple making tool and mostly for bad. Figure out how to block access to it on gaming devices and smart phones.
- Kids and most adults are not capable of handling the emotional toll that constant connectivity offers us through smart phones and social media.
- Kids get up at night and reconnect with technology after their parents have gone to bed. They struggle to turn it off and stay disconnected. Turn off the internet! Place devices in a secure place. Model and teach the importance of rest from technology.
- Drug dealers are using Snap Chat and Instagram to entice your kids. Yes! Local drug dealers are on Snap Chat and Instagram advertising their services to your kids.
- Sexting is a huge problem for teens and many adults!!! Model and teach the importance of accountability with text messaging.
- Most parents are clueless of how their kids are being affected by technology.
I could probably go on, but we are learning more and more of the potential harmful effects of technology and how to shepherd our kids through these mind fields. I know, I know. There is good that can come from technology too. But parents, lets beware and be aware! And set limits and boundaries on technology use for your kids and for yourself.
Here are some good sources of info for parents that have been helpful to us along our journey of discovery:
- Book: The Tech Wise Family by Andy Crouch. This book helped us devise our own Technology guidelines for our home. Great resource.
- Blog: CovenantEyes.com/blog. Covenant Eyes is a great filtering and accountability tool. The blog offers regular articles that are informative for parents and leaders in setting limits and boundaries. The stories also share reminders of the potential danger of the internet and hope for redemption after inevitable mistakes occur.
- The Axis Culture Translator. This is a weekly email that deposits some good tidbits of info for parents trying to keep up with language and trends impacting our homes.
What are other good resources for families regarding technology? What are lessons you’ve learned so far?