4 Steps Churches & Pastors Should Take Now

Like me, you may be asking, “What steps should we take as a church and what steps should I take as a pastor in light of the Supreme Court’s ruling legalizing same-sex marriage?” Here are four steps every church should take to safeguard the church and the pastor.

  1. Update church wedding policy documents. It is very important for the church to develop a document that addresses the issues of marriage, human sexuality, & gender. Here is a Church Wedding Policy sample that you can use as a starting point.
  2. Update facility use policy. It is equally important for the church to develop a comprehensive policy that addresses the use of church facilities. It is not necessary for the church to eliminate all facility use by non-members, but it is important that a governing policy is in place. Even if the church eliminates facility use by non-members and only allows facility use by members, a policy is still needed. Some of the challenges in the area of facility use may come from those who are members or from family members of those who are members. Here’s a facility use sample.
  3. Update membership policies. It is important to have a document that clearly defines how a person becomes a church member; what the expectations are for a person to maintain church membership; and specific circumstances that lead to membership discipline and/or dismissal. Here’s a Church Membership Policy sample.
  4. Update Pastor’s Personal Wedding Policy. For added clarification and protection, it would be wise for every pastor to develop and adopt a personal pastoral wedding policy. In this policy the pastor should share his Biblical views on marriage giving Scriptural support, personal requirements for officiating a wedding, pre-marital counseling expectations, and a fee schedule. Here is a Pastor Wedding Policy sample.

For more information and help, please check out our Kentucky Baptist Convention resource page. Also, feel free to contact me personally at [email protected] or at 502-489-3434.

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A Legal Guide for Protecting Your Church & Ministry

Gavel.2I recently wrote a blog that detailed 4 steps that every church should take to safeguard the church and the pastor in light of the Supreme Court’s ruling legalizing same-sex marriage in all 50 states. I’m sure I will be updating that blog many times as new information and resources come forward.

Two organizations that can be extremely helpful as you wrestle through issues related to this topic are the Alliance Defending Freedom and the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. They recently teamed together to produce an extremely helpful document entitled, “Protecting Your Ministry from Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Lawsuits.” Dr. Russell Moore, President of the ERLC stated:

Considering just how fast culture is shifting on its views of sexuality and religious liberty, I am thrilled that the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission is partnering with our friends at Alliance Defending Freedom to produce a trusted resource sure to help equip Christians and churches. In it, you’ll find trusted resources on how churches, Christian schools, and Christian ministries should navigate and prepare themselves for the changing culture and all the attendant legal challenges that come with it.

The document includes three key checklists–a checklist for churches, a checklist Christian schools, and a checklist for Christian Ministries. For example, the church checklist provides help in the following areas:

  • Statement of Faith
  • Religious Employment Criteria
  • Facility Use Policy
  • Formal Membership Policy
  • Marriage Policy

One of the most helpful features of this document is the Appendix which includes numerous sample documents. You can download this document for free on the ELRC website.

For more information and help, please check out our Kentucky Baptist Convention resource page. Also, feel free to contact me personally at [email protected] or at 502-489-3434.

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3 Ways to Resolve Conflict

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Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:18 (NKJV)

According to Scripture, Christians are called to a higher standard when it comes resolving conflict. Because we are reconciled to God through Christ, God assigns every Christian to serve in the ministry of reconciliation. It is not optional and it is not up for discussion. Anything less is disobedience and disobedience is sin!

In my role I often talk to pastors and churches who are experiencing varying levels of conflict. The key to resolving conflict is to catch it early, in its infancy. A camp fire is much easier to extinguish than an inferno. This is especially true when it comes to conflict.

A camp fire is much easier to extinguish than an inferno!

Peacemaker Ministries has produced a number of good resources in this area. In their pamphlet Peacemaking Principles, they offer the following three biblical ways to resolve conflict early when it is still personal and private:

3 Way to Resolve Conflict

1.  Overlook an offense. Many disputes are so insignificant that they should be resolved by quietly overlooking an offense. “A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense” (Proverbs 19:11). Overlooking an offense is a form of forgiveness, and involves a deliberate decision not to talk about it, dwell on it, or let it grow into pent-up bitterness or anger.

2.  Reconciliation. If an offense is too serious to overlook or has damaged our relationship, we need to resolve personal or relational issues through confession, loving correction, and forgiveness. “If your brother has something against you…go and be reconciled” (Matthew 5:23-24). “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently” (Galatians 6:1). “Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Colossians 3:13).

3.  Negotiation. Even if we successfully resolve relational issues, we may still need to work through material issues related to money, property, or other rights. This should be done through a cooperative bargaining process in which you and the other person seek to reach a settlement that satisfies the legitimate needs of each side. “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:4).

I have not always known or practiced these principles in my personal life or in my ministry, but I am now committed to do so. May we all seek to live by the Apostle Paul’s charge to the Christians in the church at Rome.

If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Romans 12:18

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Birthdays Are Awesome

We just celebrated my dad’s 91st birthday! I can imagine what you’re thinking when you hear the number “91,” but you really need to picture “71.” Fortunately, my dad is in phenomenal shape. He works outside every day unless he’s fishing. He has the contract on some of the yards on his street because some of his neighbors are “too old to take care of their own place.”

This morning I was thinking about my dad and the celebration we experienced. I believe that birthdays should serve as times of celebration, but they should also cause us to reflect, refocus, revision, and regroup.

4 Awesome Things to Do on Your Birthday

  1. Reflect. As we reflect back over our lives, we see God’s hand at work. He protected us and guided us along the way when we often were not aware that He was doing so. He helped us make decisions and connections that led us to where we are today.
  2. Refocus. A few years ago I began to refocus on my physical fitness. I am striving to be disciplined once again in the areas of exercise and eating. I am also striving to be more disciplined spiritually as well. Birthdays are a great time to refocus on the things that matter most.
  3. Revision. Today, as I write, I ask myself, “where I am going?” “What is my vision for the next 5-10 years of my life?” I believe we can all benefit from time-to-time by revisiting the visions God has given us.
  4. Regroup. Have you ever blown it? Although I am a pretty decent golfer, I once scored a “10” on one hole! I was even par on the round before hitting the ball out-of-bounds on hole 7. As a result of additional mistakes on the hole, I recorded a double-digit number on the card. Needless to say, I needed to regroup after that. Life is a lot like that. Invariably, there will be times when we need to stop and regroup. Birthdays can serve as great reminders along those lines.

I once scored a “10” on one hole……life is a lot like that!

Do you have a birthday soon? Eat some cake, blow out some candles, have a blast with your friends and family, but take a few minutes to consider the things I mentioned here as I near my 39th (wink, wink) birthday!

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4 Life Lessons from Hiking

The last few years, Laura and I have become interested in hiking. We don’t plan to thru-hike the Appalachian or the Pacific Crest trail anytime soon–we mainly focus on day hiking. As a result, we enjoy the trail with very little planning and minimal cost. I’ve noticed that there are a lot of similarities between hiking and everyday life.

4 Hiking Lessons

  1. Good equipment helps. Good hiking shoes, trekking poles, and backpacks make hiking more enjoyable and hikers more proficient. Likewise equipping ourselves as pastors, disciples, church members, and/or parents makes all the difference. We don’t know what we don’t know, so it helps to be equipped with new knowledge and abilities.
  2. Sometimes you hike uphill. We love trails that have lots of climbing. We seek them out when we plan. It’s great exercise to make your way up a long, challenging climb. It’s so rewarding when you reach the top. Life often seems like a long, challenging climb. Christians are not exempt from difficulty. Those difficult life moments often shape us into better people and mold us into more dedicated Christians.
  3. Sometimes you hike downhill. Trails that go up eventually come down. Going downhill is easier, but not without challenge. You can easily lose your footing because you are moving faster and with little resistance. Going downhill can lead to a lack of concentration and focus which usually ends poorly. Life is a lot like going downhill. When things are going well and success seems easy we often make quick and uninformed decisions that cause us to fall. “Downhill” makes us feel invincible which leads to decisions laced with arrogance. Solomon warned us that “Pride comes before destruction and an arrogant spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18, HCSB).
  4. You can do more than you think. Now that we are hikers, we’ve climbed hills we never imagined that we could. Slowly, steadily, step after step–eventually we reach the top! I’ve watched several YouTube channels of men and women who thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail. When they finished the 2,181-mile trek, they were amazed they covered the entire distance on foot. One guy said, “It blows my mind to think that I just walked from Georgia to Maine!” We should dream big and shoot high in life and in Christ! Through Him and over time we can do more than we could ever imagine (Phil 4:13).
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4 Ways to Help Busy Families

God created the family before He created the church.  Because of this, the church should be especially sensitive to the challenges and pressures families face today.  Here are a few ways the church can provide much-needed help to families.

1. Decrease the scheduling demands.  Many churches expect people to be at the church every night of the week, but this just isn’t possible or healthy for the family.  Churches should streamline Sunday activities to free up time for family outings.

2. Provide opportunities for families to serve together through the church. Family-oriented mission projects and service teams are great ways to allow families to serve together.

3. Provide opportunities for families to fellowship together. Family picnics, church fellowships, pizza parties, father/child outings, and mother/child outings are just a few ways to bring the family together.  When planning for the family, the church should be aware that many do not have “traditional” families. In response, churches should provide opportunities for single-parent and blended families as well.

4. Supplement costs. Often larger families cannot afford to send more than one child to camp or on a special trip. Providing scholarships or fund-raising opportunities for these families will meet an important need.

In some ways, the church becomes an extended family.  The Bible teaches that the bond between God’s children in this extended family should be strong, authentic, and transparent. Let’s do all that we can to strengthen the family in the home and in the church!

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Church Security Resources

Every church MUST think about church security in today’s world! Every church should have a comprehensive Church Security Plan and a Church Security Team in place! BUT, where do you begin and who can help?

We have six Kentucky Baptist Convention Regional Consultants prepared to make a presentation to your church or a group of leaders that will raise awareness for the need of a good security plan as well as cover some of the basics. They can provide first steps and help a church take next steps.

Here at the Kentucky Baptist Convention we have also created a Church Security page on our website where we will be making resources available for churches on an ongoing basis. Here are links to several Church Security training videos filmed at our recent Church Security Conference:

For additional assistance please contact a KBC Regional Consultant directly or contact me at the Kentucky Baptist Convention.

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