THE NEW PASTOR
Our church was in need of a new pastor. The old pastor had died, and there was no one to take his place. So the church leaders spread the word in the community that there was a postion for a pastor open. We all waited and wondered who the new pastor would turn out to be.
Well, in no time at all we got a response to the call for a new pastor. The first man to apply was a somewhat humble fellow. He was a plain dresser; no fancy duds for him. And when asked of his experience, he said that he was simply a voice of one crying in the wilderness. He stated that he didn't have much formal training and that his preaching was based primarily on three things: Jesus Christ, the repentance of sins, and baptism. The church elders thought it over and figured we should give him a try. They asked the man what he wanted to be called. He said, "Just call me Pastor John."
Pastor John was a no-frills kind of pastor, and he wanted to keep the church service simple. For example, he liked the congregation to sing those wonderful hymns of old -- songs like "Nothing but the Blood" and "Pass me not, O gentle Savior," with just the pianist playing and the hymn books open. He said that he preferred the old classics to the new so-called contemporary Christian music that is out now. He would often comment that the new gospel songs don't have any power or meaning because they feed the senses but not the soul.
And when Pastor John preached, he cut right to the chase. He spoke of the wages of sin, the immorality that is flourishing in the land, and the reality of hell. He taught that people have lost their fear of the Lord and that a time of reckoning was near. His sermons could last anywhere from 55 minutes and up, and he never tried to candy coat what he was saying. Yes, Pastor John was a "thus saith the Lord" straight talker if ever there were one.
As a matter of fact, Pastor John's boldness and frankness made some people in the congregation a bit uncomfortable. I personally liked his style, and he caused me to see some areas of my life where I needed to straighten out my Christian walk. But, unfortunately, the majority of the congregation began to murmur about the Pastor. They complained that he was too harsh and that he would scare new people away with his hellfire and brimstone style. And ultimately the majority voted John out. They said they felt that he was a just man, but just not quite what the church was looking for. So the elders fired Pastor John. They gave him the axe.
The next man who applied for the position was very outgoing. He was a world traveler and was well versed in the ancient languages. He at one time held a position of prominence in a very large assembly, but he said he left because he wanted to branch out on his own. He was a sharp dresser and was quite an impressive figure. He had a mellifluous voice that was really something to hear.
This man said that he had a vision for the church, one of grandness, power, and a "coming together." He stated that his motto for the church would be "strive to be like the Most High God." He spoke of all of the programs he wanted the church to be involved with -- music ministries, sports ministries, substance abuse groups, singles groups, you name it. He said he wanted something for everybody. He promised that our little church would experience growth like never before.
Well, the church elders liked what they heard. They were excited for this new fellow to start. They asked the man what he would like to be called. He replied, "Oh, you can call me Pastor Lou for short."
Right away the congregation loved Pastor Lou. He always preached about God's love and God's blessings. He taught about prosperity and stepping into God's promises. He would tell visitors that our church is "a church that feels like home." And to show how friendly and home-like we were, Pastor Lou made sure we had plenty get-acquainted type functions: dinners, concerts. We would pass out coffee mugs or pens to all the new visitors. And in no time at all, the church's attendance tripled. This seeker-sensitive, kinder, gentler approach seemed to be working. Yes, the church was just one big happy family.
But you know what? I didn't really care for what I saw happening. Church began to feel like one big production of entertainment, activity, and hoopla. I noticed that so much time was devoted to announcements and entertainment and extra-curricular stuff that the sermons were barely 15 minutes long. (I guess Pastor thought we all had a short attention span). I always brought my Bible, but barely had reason to crack it open. Pastor Lou would usually quote one small verse and would then spend the rest of his 15-minute sermon expounding on it. And I don't recall ever once hearing him talk about hell or sin or the blood of Jesus Christ. Personally, I worried that if an unsaved person came to our church, they would leave never even realizing their sinful condition. Sure, plenty of people went up at the altar calls, but were they coming forward for the Lord or for the loaves? Were they convicted of their sin or just caught up in the scene? Well, eventually it just got to be a bit too much for me, so I left that church with its new Pastor.
All of this happened about a year ago. From what I hear, that little church is now up to four services on Sunday, and they are about to move into their newly built cathedral. Pastor Lou now even writes books and holds seminars teaching others how to use his methods to grow their churches. Also, he can be seen twice a week on your local cable station. Maybe you've caught him on the air. His show is called "Roaring Lion." And his full name? It is Lou C. Ferr. Yes, Pastor Lou has really captured the masses.
Oh, by the way, I bumped into Pastor John the other day. He was doing some street preaching, still as fired up as ever! I told him I missed him, and I asked if he still had any interest in leading a congregation. He said that he would like to, but that people nowadays have itchy ears and don't like his style of preaching. I promised him that I would let him know if I heard of a church that had an opening for a good solid preacher. So, hey, if any of you reading this are interested, John is available and is listed in the white pages. And if you are wondering, his full name is John T. Baptiste.
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This is a "story" that illustrates what I have seen and experienced happening in churches today. People do not want to hear right preaching. Instead they want to hear smooth words and be entertained. What kind of man is heading your church? Is he more along the lines of Pastor Lou (Lucifer) or Pastor John (John the Baptist)?
2 Timothy 4:3-4, For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
Mathew 24:24, For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.
1 Peter 5:8, Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.
1 Timothy 4:1, Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.
Jeremiah 7:28, But thou shalt say unto them, This is a nation that obeyeth not the voice of the LORD their God, nor receiveth correction: truth is perished, and is cut off from their mouth.
Colossians 2:8, Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
Proverbs 14:12, There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.