Some Advice from a Student at the School of Hard Knocks

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Maybe some information about me would be appropriate to “set up” what is to follow. It might help in knowing where I’m coming from.

I entered my adult professional life as a high school teacher. The idea of preaching the gospel had, at that time, never entered my mind. When I started preaching, I did just that. I just started preaching. 

I started preaching without the benefit of having gone to a Christian university, a preacher training school, or even an older preacher to mentor me. About all I had was a supportive wife, a Bible, a few books, and a desire to preach. Along the way I did take some classes and bought more books, but I was never formally taught how to preach or how to be an effective minister.

Most of what I’ve learned in the past thirty-eight years has been the result of trial and error – with a heavy emphasis on error. I am hoping that these next few words will be viewed as helpful to those who choose to serve the Lord as a minister of the gospel. They might also be helpful for elders and others. At least that is my prayer.

What is prompting these words is an experience that is fresh on my mind. As I type this, I have just returned home from a visit I’ve made today. I just got back from a visit with a man who lost his wife of fifty-four years last evening. As he told me while we were talking, “These past four years have been rough.” That was due to her declining health and his constant “hands on” care for her. 

When I started preaching for the congregation I now serve over fifteen years ago, this man and his wife were not members. At least they were not faithful members. Over the years we developed a relationship. Also during those years, they both renewed their relationship with the Lord and with His people.

When I showed up at this man’s door a little while ago, I showed up as a friend and brother in Christ. Yes, it is supposed to be my “day off” (whatever that is for a preacher). Yes, I had other things I could have been doing and needed to be doing, but I went. I did not go because it is my job as a preacher (and elder). I went because I thought he would like to know I cared. Judging from the hug he insisted on giving me as I prepared to leave, I think I was right about that.

I’ve listened to a lot of sermons and lectures delivered by men I have never met. I have benefited a great deal from a lot of what I’ve heard them say.

I’ve benefited much more from those who have taken the time and made the effort to invest in me. They may not be a big name in the brotherhood, but they care about me. Those are the men to whom I would turn when I am grieving, and at other difficult times in my life.

So – I’ve written all of that to say what is really on my mind. I have some advice for my fellow preachers and elders (and others, for that matter). Again, you may or may not read this in some textbook on preaching or have it taught in a class on ministry. I just hope it will be accepted in the way it is intended. It is intended to help all of us to help others in their relationship with the Lord.

Here it is –

Please do not let your first visit to a person be when they have just lost a loved one. Let people know you truly care for them before that time. Do your best to not come across as a professional who is just there “doing his job.”

It is an old adage. I’ve even heard it ridiculed. I still believe it to be true that –

People do not care how much you know until they know how much you care.


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Episode 61 : 5 Foundational Financial Principles for Families (with Westley Hazel) [Podcast]

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Following up on our last podcast discussion about family finances, Adam is joined by Wes Hazel to discuss five foundational principles every family needs to keep constantly in mind in order to be pleasing to God and wise in this area of life.

LOFpodcast

The Five Foundational Principles

  1. God is the One Who gave what we have to us.
  2. We need to honor God in our giving.
  3. We need to be generous to others, and willing to share.
  4. Avoid debt (like the plague!).
  5. Live on less than you make.

Resources and Links

Beyond the Tithe [Amazon]

Forrest Park Church of Christ (Valdosta, GA)

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To subscribe to A Legacy of Faith by email for free click here.

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A Legacy of Faith at Polishing the Pulpit

 

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Today, Polishing the Pulpit begins in Sevierville, Tennessee. This annual event is one of the highlights of our year, as around 4000 Christians will gather to study God’s Word and grow closer together.

Throughout the week, several members of A Legacy of Faith will be speaking or leading singing. Below is a list of where we’ll be. If you’re going to PtP, make sure you say hello! We always love to meet new folks.

Saturday

9:00AM: Donna Faughn (“A Lesson on Finding Grace”; ladies only): Ballroom B

10:00AM: Jeremiah Tatum (“Digging Deeper: The Lord’s Supper”): Hotel Cade’s Cove

5:30PM: Adam Faughn (congregational singing; new songs): Exhibit Hall A

Sunday

9:30AM: Donna Faughn (“Purses with Holes and Other Fine Things: Lessons for Women from Haggai”; ladies only): Ballroom B

9:30AM: Jeremiah Tatum (“Cross Words: A Series of Communion Talks”): Ballroom D

10:30AM: Adam Faughn (congregational singing during morning worship): Exhibit Hall A

9:00PM: Jeremiah Tatum (“Running with God: Some Lessons about God I’ve Learned in My Running Shoes”): Meeting Room C-D

Monday

8:00AM: Adam Faughn (congregational singing): Ballroom D

10:30AM: Jim Faughn (“Preachers Serving as Elders”): Ballroom D

2:30PM: Donna Faughn (“Discipline Determines Destiny: Child-Rearing”; ladies only): Ballroom B

3:30PM: Adam Faughn (“A 5×5 Approach to Ministry”; part of 7 minutes of wisdom for preachers): Ballroom C

Tuesday

8:30AM: Jim Faughn (“My Friend Says, ‘I’ll Take My Chances without Being a Christian.’ What Should I Say?”; part of 7 minutes of wisdom for scholars): Ballroom A

9:30AM: Donna Faughn (“Nuts and Bolts for Elders’ Wives”; ladies only): Ballroom A

9:30AM: Jim Faughn (“God Wants Us Not Only to Know the Right Thing and to Do the Right Thing, but to Be the Right Thing”; part of 7 minutes of wisdom for families): Exhibit Hall A

10:30AM: Jim Faughn (“A Non-Program Program”; part of two minutes, tops! for elders and preachers): Ballroom C

6:30PM: Adam Faughn (congregational singing; some new songs): Exhibit Hall A

Wednesday

10:30AM: Jim Faughn (“The Word is Parents…Plural”; part of 7 minutes of wisdom for parents): Exhibit Hall A

1:30PM: Leah Faughn (“Verses to Encourage a Young Mother’s Heart”; ladies only): Hotel Deep Creek

3:30PM: Donna Faughn (“The Strong-Willed Wife: Opportunities and Challenges”; ladies only): Ballroom A

For more information about Polishing the Pulpit, visit their website.

To look at the full schedule, follow this link [pdf]

Why Our Whole Family is Looking Forward to Polishing the Pulpit 2016 [Video]

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Tomorrow, our little family of four will be headed to the Smokey Mountains for Polishing the Pulpit 2016, where we will be joined by about 4000 other Christians for a week of Bible study.

Polishing the Pulpit has something for everyone so, in this video, our whole family shares what we are looking forward to. We hope you enjoy, and we hope to see you there!

5 Things Members Need to Hear from Elders Regularly

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Last Wednesday, I posted a short list of 5 things that elders need to hear regularly. But this helpful communication cannot be a one-way street.

There are many congregations where members feel as if they do not hear from the elders, except when (1) there is a change in the staff, (2) an elder is being appointed or resigning, or (3) there is a great need for money. While that may not be completely true, without intentional effort by the pastors, it can certainly seem that way.

Further, if elders just say, “If you’d ever like to attend one of our meetings, feel free,” they are going to get virtually no response, and members will still feel frustrated at the lack of communication.

This week, then, I’d like to share five things that every member needs to hear from each of the elders on a regular basis.

  1. Hello, [Name]. People need to know that their shepherds know them, by name! The larger a congregation gets, the more challenging it is, but shepherds need to at least know the names of the sheep. The more personal information a pastor knows, the more people feel at ease around him, and the more conversation can flow freely.
  2. How Can I Pray for You? I know that elders pray for the congregation, including individual needs. Still, it is reassuring when an elder specifically asks how he can take my concerns and my victories before the throne of God. Further, it helps him be a better shepherd, as he sees what is truly on the heart of individual members.
  3. How Can I be a Better Shepherd to Your Family? There may be a less awkward way to ask this question, but families need to know that their shepherds are not just a cold board of directors. Is there a ballgame I can visit? Is there a problem I can help you with? Is there something in Bible class your children have been studying that I can help them learn? These types of questions shepherd the souls of families.
  4. Would You Like to Visit? Instead of calling people into some formal meeting, ask if people would like to come to your house for a visit, or go out to eat together. And these times do not have to be filled with questions about church work. It provides people a chance to just get to know you and see your love for them. Elders cannot just meet in board rooms. They need to greet people in living rooms and around dinner tables, but they need to step up and make the invitation.
  5. Your Soul is the Most Valuable Thing in the World. Too often, elders are perceived to be more concerned about budgets, building projects, and staffing than about the highest calling in the world: helping the souls of men and women. People in the church need to see that, while air conditioning units and parking lots have to be discussed, their souls are where your top priorities are. They need to hear that from you regularly, so they can keep their focus on the most important thing, too.

Solid and regular communication from elders is not only important, it is vital. Members do not just need to hear “dictates from on high.” They need to be personally and warmly greeted by their shepherds over and over again.

I firmly believe that, if an eldership would make it a point to say things like we have just listed above, a congregation’s attitude and work ethic would change, virtually overnight. Elders, it is worth the effort.


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AUTHOR: Adam Faughn

The Peacemaker

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Telemachus was a monk who lived in the 4th century. He went to Rome and found chaos in the streets. The commotion was over the gladiators. He was amazed that four centuries after Christ had come people were still killing each other for sport.
When he arrived at the Coliseum the gladiators were shouting, “Hail Caesar, we will die for Caesar.” He jumped over the railing and went out into the middle of the field, got between two gladiators, held up his hands and said, “In the name of Christ, forbear.”
The crowd protested and began to shout, “Run him through, Run him through.” A gladiator came over and hit him in the stomach with the back of his sword. It sent him sprawling in the sand. He got up and ran back and again said, “In the name of Christ, forbear.” The crowd continued to chant, “Run him through.”
One gladiator came over and plunged his sword through the little monk’s stomach and he fell into the sand, which began to turn crimson with his blood. One last time he gasped out, “In the name of Christ forbear.” A hush came over the 80,000 people in the coliseum. Soon a man stood and left, then another and more, and within minutes all 80,000 had emptied out of the arena. It was the last known gladiatorial contest in the history of Rome.

What does it take for there to be peace? It takes sacrifice. It takes humility. It takes someone who will do what is right regardless of the cost.

Consider all the sources of conflict in life: There are wars over land and property. There are divorces over “irreconcilable differences.” Sometimes relationships become strained by pride. And most of all, there is the conflict between God and ourselves because of our own foolishness and sin.

What motivates us to peace? A man standing in the middle of the conflict. A man who loves us so much that he will not allow us to continue in our sin and death. A man who himself is willing to give his life to save our own. A man who will help us to see what we are doing to ourselves and to others. A man who took a sword and cried, “Father, forgive!”

God has called us to peace. He has called us to peace through the death of His own Son. Jesus is the Prince of Peace. Praise God for His love and compassion in the midst of our foolishness!

“Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God.” ~ Matthew 5:9
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Maintaining Balance

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Balance.

It’s one of those words we hear a lot in religious circles. Those of us who preach are encouraged to try to make sure that our preaching is balanced. Many times, our preaching is designed to encourage people to live a balanced life. 

I think I learned a technique that will help our balance when I was visiting with an elderly brother years ago. Somehow the subject of my fear of heights came into the discussion. My elderly brother informed me that he had no such fear. In fact, I think he thought it strange that I did.

Here was his logic. He asked me if I could walk on a board that was a foot wide if that board was on the ground. When I assured him that I could, he then wondered why I couldn’t walk on that same board if it was raised high in the air. 

The answer was pretty simple – at least to me. It had less to do with distance than support. I would much rather have the ground directly under me than to have the air as my “support.”

It seems to me that this has a spiritual application. A proper foundation makes maintaining balance a much easier task than would otherwise be the case if there is no foundation at all or a very poor foundation.

We sing the words that reflect this truth: “On Christ the solid rock I stand.” Are we singing the truth when we sing those words?

I need to make sure I am standing exactly where that song says that I am standing. If I do, I may be surprised at how easy it is for me to maintain my balance.


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Episode 60: Our Ups and Downs of Budgeting [Podcast]

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After a few weeks away, we are back with a new season of our podcast, which will be released every other Friday through the end of the year.

On this episode, Adam and Leah sit down to talk about budgeting in general. They share some of the things they do well with a family budget, but also some things they need to improve on.

We hope this episode encourages you to look at your family’s finances and take control of them, all for the glory of God.

LOFpodcast

Resources

EveryDollar [Free online budgeting software]

Dave Ramsey [homepage]

More from A Legacy of Faith

To subscribe to A Legacy of Faith by email for free click here.

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes

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Meet Me at the Mountain for a Feast

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One week from today Jim and I will begin our yearly journey to one of our favorite places – the Great Smoky Mountains. We go to attend Polishing the Pulpit, a conference for Christian people of all ages and areas of service in the church. I can’t say enough good about this gathering of people, so I won’t even attempt to do that. I would, however, like to share with you some of the feasts you can enjoy should you be able to attend.

PTP is a physical feast for our family. Not only do we get to visit with some of our immediate family daily, we also get to see many people we love and appreciate from our work in the Kingdom…and we get to do this in a beautiful setting. The joy of getting to eat together, have coffee together, sit and talk together, and attend classes together is a real physical feast.

An emotional feast always awaits me while at PTP. God blessed each one of us with an array of feelings and emotions – joy, love, laughter, sadness, tears, happiness. I have never come home from PTP without having felt and expressed many of these emotions. The beautiful singing brings tears of joy to my eyes. The smiles on almost every face lift my spirits. Seeing young couples who realize the importance of letting their children experience an event like PTP makes me happy. Being able to sit and talk with a sister who may be sad or uncertain about something going on in her life helps me to feel needed as an older Christian woman. The sheer number of people who believe as I do touches me in an emotional way. 

The spiritual feast at PTP is beyond comparison. Classes for every age and on many topics are available at nearly every hour of the day and evening. Teachers who have studied long hours and prepared relevant lessons are there to share their knowledge with us. Opportunities for private counseling are available for those who may need it. I have sat at the feet of some of the best teachers and preachers I have ever heard at this event. If a person could go away from PTP without feeling like they have been to a spiritual feast, I would be very concerned about them.

When I think of mountains in the Bible, I remember the words of God in the Old Testament through the prophets Isaiah and Micah: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, that He may teach us His ways and that we may walk in his paths” (Isaiah 2:3; Micah 4:2). In the New Testament, I think about Jesus in Matthew 5 going up on a mountain, sitting down, and beginning to teach the people what we call the “Sermon on the Mount.”

I never visit any mountain range without thinking about God’s power and majesty. His creation speaks to me and tells me that He is all knowing, all powerful, and with us at all times. When we attend PTP, surrounded by the beautiful creation of God, we enjoy a marvelous feast. 

I sure wish you could meet me at the mountain and enjoy the feast with me.

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To learn more about Polishing the Pulpit (and, hopefully, register to attend!), visit their webpage.

[Editor’s Note: On Friday, August 19, we will post a list of where members of A Legacy of Faith will be speaking or leading singing throughout the week of Polishing the Pulpit.]


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5 Things Elders Need to Hear Regularly

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If it were not tragic, it would be funny. That is this: often, the only thing elders ever hear from the congregation is complaining.

If things are going well, we just assume the elders know we appreciate it. But let things start going downhill–even just a little bit–and we have no problem talking to our shepherds.

Part of being in a position of leadership is understanding that you will hear complaints at times. It comes with the territory. But it really is tragic that too many elders only hear complaints, though they are striving to help people grow closer to the Lord and reach heaven.

Elders are not perfect men, but those who are in this position of leadership are worthy of our consideration and kindness. Additionally, they need to be built up through our words on a regular basis.

To that end, here are 5 things that elders need to hear from each member on a regular basis.

  1. I Pray for You. Carrying the weight of watching over the souls of a congregation is a very heavy task, indeed. Elders need to know that members are regularly bringing their names and concerns before the throne of God.
  2. I Trust You. Our society always leans toward distrust of anyone in any position of leadership. Yes, that bleeds over into the church. Elders need to hear that the members trust their wise judgment. Even if the elders make mistakes, their intent is not to be harmful or disruptive. They need to know that you know that!
  3. I Pray for Your Wife. One of the hardest roles in the church is that of being the wife of an elder. When something is heavy upon the heart of her husband but, due to confidence, he cannot share that with her, it weighs on her heart and mind, as well. She needs your prayers, too, and elders need to know that the members do not treat their wives as some group of “others,” but as ladies who need our prayers.
  4. I Think Our Future is Bright. Elders are constantly hearing from people about how things “used to be.” “Back when we were…” is a very common beginning to many conversations with elders. While that certainly has its place, elders need to know that you think the congregation has a bright and God-glorifying future. While they do not seek nor want the credit, it helps put wind in their sails to know that their vision of what–with God’s help–could be is being shared.
  5. Thank You. Those two words mean the world to anyone, but especially to those in positions of leadership. Long hours, heart-wrenching prayers, and sleepless nights are the parts of the work that most people do not see. All we see is the fruit of all those things. For those things we should be grateful, and that gratitude needs to be regularly expressed.

Elders hold an office that simply is unequaled in its importance. These pastors love souls, and want the church to grow in number, spirit, and unity. They understand the depth and breadth of their position, and they also know the pressures that come with it.

Just a few words, regularly and honestly spoken by the members, will help these men lighten their load and bring more joy to their lives.


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AUTHOR: Adam Faughn