Monday, November 3, 2014

Why Do You Run Without Shoes?



     Last week I completed 3,000 miles of running without shoes. People often ask, “Why do you run barefooted?”. Two answers top the list: 

  1. It brings back good childhood memories. In my childhood, I took off my shoes as soon as the weather was warm in the spring and I enjoyed it. 
  2. Running without shoes is a good parable for life.

     Here are a few of things I have observed from this experience: 
  • Life is painful. Often people ask, “Doesn’t it hurt to run without shoes?”. Yes. It often hurts to run with shoes. If I avoid everything in life that is uncomfortable, I will not accomplish many important things. According to Paul, our hope is in our pain. Romans 5:1–5 Edwin Friedman said, “A leader is one who increases his toleration for pain in himself and others.” Planned, chosen, and managed pain can bring growth. Philippians 3:7–15
  • Many big things can be accomplished by doing little things consistently. Hebrews 12:1–3 When I started running without shoes in the Spring of 2010, I began with walking a few minutes without shoes. The next week, I ran 1/4 mile shoeless; the next week, 1/2 mile; the next week, 3/4 mile; the next week, 1 mile. Then I added a mile each week until I was running without shoes all the time. My feet and leg muscles, as well as the bottom of my feet, adjusted to the new challenges and cooperated without injury. Bible study, saving money, becoming competent in any field of study or skill can often be achieved by persistent progress in small steps.
  • Important areas of life demand a commitment, not a trial. A lady came beside me to discuss my lack of shoes in the Franklin Classic 10K run and after some discussion said, “I’ve thought about trying barefoot running.” You don’t try it; you commit to it to see the benefits. Many things demand a commitment, not a trial, to receive the rewards: living for Jesus, marriage, life’s work.
  • Many people will think you are weird. I need to ask myself, “Are you doing what you are doing because you think it is best or to please other people and escape criticism?” Galatians 1:10 I should make decisions on what is best to glorify God and produce growth in my life.
     I don’t think everybody needs to run or run without shoes. I have been blessed by 45 years of running and the last four and a half years without shoes, have been enjoyable and beneficial.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

If You Need a Minister


     When you need to find a new preacher, how do you do it? “We’ve just always invited some men in, let them preach, listen to comments from the congregation — either written or by word — then hire the man we think is the best.” That is the answer I often hear.
     Could that be improved?
     Last week, I reread If You Need a Minister: practical advice for hiring your next minister, by Will Perkins. At Maury City, we are ready to begin the preacher search. There is a training session scheduled for Sunday afternoon for the men who will be leading the selection. I obtained a copy for each man on the team.
     Will, in a concise way, outlines and suggests an approach that involves beginning with thinking and planning rather than just doing what we have always done. I think he has some practical suggestions that would be good to consider by any congregation looking for any minister position.
Contents: 
     Introduction
     Before You Begin
     Who Are You?
     What Are You Looking For?
     The Search Process
     A Final Word
     Sample Job Posting
     Sample Interview Questions
     Sample Work Agreement
     You can buy this book by clicking this link: If You Need a Minister .
     What suggestions do you have for the selection process?

Friday, September 5, 2014

A Tuesday Wedding Has Lasted



     The past two weeks have been a great time of reflection and thanksgiving.

     August 18 was the 50th anniversary of our marriage.  Gail and I were married August 18, 1964 at the Tuscumbia Church of Christ in Tuscumbia, Alabama.  It was a Tuesday.  How many weddings have you attended on a Tuesday afternoon at 5:00?

     Why would anyone do that?  When we decided to get married, I was making $65.00 a month, preaching at four different churches.  I couldn't afford to miss a Sunday.  They told me we needed to practice for the wedding.  We practiced on Monday, got married Tuesday, returned from our honeymoon on Saturday so I could preach on the next Sunday.

     On our honeymoon, we had $150.00 in travelers checks for the trip.  We went to Rock City in Chattanooga, Gatlinburg, and Cherokee, North Carolina.  On the way from Chattanooga, we had to replace a fuel pump in South Pittsburg, Tennessee.  That was $20.00.

     We had a good time and returned home with a $10.00 travelers check.

     God has been good to us these fifty years.  I am thankful for the Tuscumbia church for providing our wedding and reception.  They had been Gail's and Brenda's (Gail's sister) sponsors at Childhaven since they came there in 1950.

     Our children and grandchildren, Jerrie Wayne Barber, II, Terri, Elizabeth, Jackson, Jeffrey, Whitney, Nathan, Dalton, Wyatt Houston and Christi, Brian, Brittan, and Braden Parsons, have been and continue to be a joy and blessing to us.

     We have been encouraged by ten churches were we have worked full time (five) and as an interim with five.

     I appreciate our children and grandchildren arranging our celebration this past Saturday at the Berry's Chapel Church of Christ.  I am thankful to those who came, to those who wanted to come, to those who have contacted us through the U. S. mail, FaceBook, Twitter, and phone.

     Incidentally, on the Sunday before we were married, I tried out for a church to preach on Sundays and teach a class on Wednesday night.  They asked me if I thought I could make it on $75.00 A WEEK!  I told them I would do the best I could.

     That is what you call just-in-time delivery.  God has been good to us.  Brethren have encouraged us.  I look forward to the future with faith.

★          ★          ★

BE WATCHING FOR A CHANGE IN MY BLOG IN THE NEAR FUTURE!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Daddy’s Bible, Daddy’s Life



     Five years ago today I sat with my Dad, John T. Barber, in the emergency room at Vanderbilt.  At 4:00 p.m., his defibulator went off.  When nurses came in they asked, "Mr. Barber, what do you want us to do for you."  He replied, "Everything you can."

     They did.  But his heart was worn out.  I reflect on Hebrews 11:4 about Able, who has been dead for thousands of years, and is still talking.  Daddy has been dead five years and he continues to talk.

     Above is one of several Bibles he wore out reading and studying.  He had a third or fourth grade education.  He didn't know how far he got in school.  But he contributed to the happiness and well-being of his family, friends, and many others that he touched.

     I keep that Bible where I am working and see it every day I come to the office.  I am reminded of the way he helped many people and did the best he could, with what he had, where he was.

     Despite pain from worn out knees and, the last few years, a damaged heart, he kept a positive and bright outlook.  His favorite response to the question, "How are you doing?" was,  "Way above average.  The average person my age is dead."

     From my perspective, he lived a life that was "way above average.”



Wednesday, July 2, 2014

When Might an Interim Minister Be Helpful?



     The concept of having a preacher for a planned short time after a long ministry is foreign to many people.  To some members of the church, if we dont have a full-time preacher with a long-term commitment, we are spinning our wheels.” 

     Many churches have done well without an intentional interim. One the other hand, many preachers have been hurt and many congregations have suffered because the leaders hurriedly selected a man who became an unintentional interim  a preacher who was brought in after a long and successful ministry of a good faithful preacher or after a period of conflict in the congregation and was soon rejected through no fault of his own.

     When might it be good to bring in a trained preacher who will agree to stay for a limited time (six to eighteen months on average), who will give stability in the pulpit, and who will prepare the church for the next full-time preacher?

     Ronald G. Brown wrote this in an article on Intentional Interim:

     An Intentional Interim Minister is needed if a church finds itself in one or more of the following situations:

1. The minister served seven or more years before leaving,
2. The minister resigned under pressure (a forced termination),
3. The The ministers resignation was requested due to ethical or moral misconduct,
4. The minister departed in the midst of severe conflict within the church,
5. The church has not conducted a self-study of its structure, history, priorities, mission or vision in the last five years, or 
6.  The church has a pattern of the last two ministers leaving after having served the church for only 2-3 years (Ronald G. Brown, © Intentional Interim is copyrighted by Interim Ministry Network, Inc., Baltimore, MD).


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Friday, May 30, 2014

What Do You Do When They Don't Call Tuesday Night at 7:00?




     Last month I discussed one of the most disappointing and frustrating things in the search process for me as a preacher: a promise to call with information on the search committee's progress or of the elders' deliberation, usually preceded with, “We'll let you know something next Tuesday night at 7:00": followed by nothing.

     One year at the Eldership Retreat at Faulkner University, I was exhorting elders to communicate with prospective preachers – especially when you say you will. David Short, then director of Faulkner development and an elder of the University congregation, taught me a good lesson. He said, “Jerrie, we experience the same thing in raising money for the school. We present the opportunity to help Faulkner. The person needs some time to think about it and promises to call at a certain time. I also note it in my planner and confirm the date and time. Then I add, "I'll look forward to hearing from you next Tuesday night at 7:00 p.m. And if you are not able to call at that time, I'll check with you a day or two after that." That gives me permission to renew the conversation.”

     Thank you, David Short! That is an application of a principle that I have long believed and taught: I am 100% responsible for my communication. As I have reflected on that valuable suggestion, I wonder if I had not done that for the same reason that many have not called. Most people don't like to give and receive unpleasant news. And most of the news in the search process is not favorable – unless the church is considering only one preacher and the preacher is only talking to one congregation and they both could not envision any other being as good as the one now being considered.


     I would guess that most elders or search committee members don't enjoy delivering the message, “We have decided to look elsewhere.” I know that is not the most encouraging news for a preacher with three weeks to go on a ninety-day agreement. Therefore what I need to do as the preacher wanting to know what is happening is complete the conversation. Make the call. Ask for the information I want. Minutes are free on my cell after 9:00 p.m. and on weekends. If they are still considering me or if I am the preacher they want, I learn that and the call probably will not change that. If I am no longer being considered, I learn that and I am free from thinking about that possibility any longer. “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32, NKJV).  

Thursday, May 1, 2014

“We’ll Call You Next Tuesday Night at 7:00”



      One of the most frustrating experiences that I had several years ago when I was talking with congregations considering me as their next preacher was the statement of those looking for a preacher, “We’ll call you next Tuesday night at 7:00 and let you know something.” When this happened – and it happened more than a dozen times – I would confirm: “Is that Tuesday the 16th? Is that 7:00 Central time or Eastern time?” I was living in the Eastern time zone.

     I would confirm our appointment: “I’ll be waiting for your call next Tuesday night, February 16th, at 7:00, Eastern standard time.”

     I looked forward with great anticipation. Was I still being considered? Would they like me to come for an interview? Have they eliminated me from consideration? Am I their choice and are they ready to make final plans for us to locate to a new work?

     Time after time, I would prepare the family: “I have an important call coming at 7:00. No one is to use the phone after 6:30.” This was before call waiting and cell phones. “It is essential that I get this call. I need to talk with an elder calling me about the opportunity to work with a congregation.”

      7:00 p.m. EST would come and go. 7:30 would pass. I thought, “Surely I misunderstood. They said Central time. They will call in thirty minutes.” 8:00 passed. 9:00 and still no call. I assumed, “Maybe they meant Wednesday night. That’s when elders usually meet.”

     In anticipation, I would prepare my family the next night for clear phone lines. My experience was: no call that night, sometimes a week or two later than promised, and sometimes never.

     This was so frustrating and disappointing. That experience was so much the norm that I remember the name of an elder decades later who was different. Jimmy Vaughn from Amory, Mississippi, talked with me on the phone about their preacher search. He said, “We are talking with one preacher at a time. We would be interested in talking with you if we do not come to an agreement with the one now in consideration. I will call you either way.” He set a time and date to call. Now to my surprise, he called on the night and at the appointed time. It was so unusual, that when I see him now I refer to him as “the elder who tells the truth.”

     What am I saying about the selection process? If you are on a search committee or if you are an elder working on the search process:

  • Acknowledge each applicant. A form letter is better than ignoring the person as unimportant.
  • If you say you are going to call, make a note and call.
  • If you don’t have any new information at the appointed time, call at the appointed time and say you don’t have any new information and indicate when the preacher might learn more.
  • When a preacher is no longer under consideration, contact that man and tell him he is no longer under consideration. The rejection hurts. But it hurt me more to learn of it three months after the new preacher had moved and I still had received no communication.
  • Thank the person who applied and give a word of encouragement that God has a place in His kingdom for him to work.

     The principle Jesus taught was, “But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one” (Matthew 5:37, NKJV).

     Next month: What can the preacher do when they don’t call at 7:00 p.m., EST?