Saturday, October 31, 2009

What Do You Think About During the Lord's Supper?

Several years ago, someone told me about a sermon he heard James Watkins preach about what to think about during the Lord’s Supper. I have used this many times since I heard it and have found it helpful.

The following is a poem my daughter, Christi Parsons, wrote after hearing the sermon:

In Remembrance of Me

When reflecting on the Lord’s Supper
There are some things to keep in mind.
So your mind doesn’t wander
These thoughts will keep you in line.

There are seven things to remember
About Jesus and the cross.
Thank you God for sending Jesus
So our souls won’t be lost.

Well there was one Lord – one Lord
His name is Jesus Christ.
Two thieves – two thieves
One went to Paradise (with Jesus).

Three crosses – three crosses
But only one saved our souls.
Four soldiers – four soldiers
Gambling for Jesus’ clothes.

Well there were five wounds – five wounds
His hands, His feet, and His side.
Six hours – six hours
Our Lord was crucified.

While hanging on the cross
There were words that Jesus breathed.
When you open your Bible to the gospels
These seven sayings you can read.

Well there was one Lord, two thieves,
Three crosses, and four men,
Five wounds, six hours,
Seven sayings, and amen.

– Christi Parsons

For the sermon outline: > In Remembrance of Me

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Thoughts on Moving for Preachers and Congregations

I resigned from the Central church of Christ in Dalton, Georgia, in March, 1988. I tried to be aware, study, record, and evaluate the process of moving. I wrote several of these observations in our bulletin under "Barber Clippings". I later compiled and wrote an article on the experience.

And a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with them, saying, "Come over to Macedonia and help us" (Acts 16:9). I‘m certain that I don‘t know everything that was involved, but it sure appears easier for Paul to decide to go to Macedonia than it has been for me to make the moves that I have made in preaching.

I have found little information available on this subject. I have one book and have attended no lectures or classes on being effective in making the decision to move or not to move and how to go about it once the decision has been made.

Since this process usually happens several times during the lifetime of a preacher and over a period of years in the congregation, I hope these observations will be helpful.

After having thoughts from time to time of the possibility of needing to move – beginning about a year before I actually made the change, and discussing these thoughts with my family and a few trusted counselors, I started making a list of people who knew me and my work that would be able to give suggestions and recommendations of places where I might fit.

When I came to the conclusion that I was ready to move from Dalton, Georgia, I began calling these thirty-eight people, asking for their help. After a period of time, I received calls from congregations who were looking for preachers. My decision was to investigate and cooperate with those who expressed an interest, regardless of size or location.

After about eight or nine appointments were made, I told the elderships involved that I would make a decision the last week in May. Some congregations decided that I was not the preacher for that place after I preached and/or interviewed with them. Time became a factor that eliminated some possibilities. I returned to four congregations for more detailed discussions. Stating what I believed to be my strong and weak points, asking and answering more questions, discussing how we thought that the Lord‘s work needed to be done, and how we would work together were the topics of these conversations.

The expenditure in time effort and money was great. I attempted to do all I could in my local work in Dalton in teaching, personal evangelism, counseling, and visiting as well as give honest and complete evaluation to the opportunities of each congregation. My schedule was eleven to twelve working hours per day, seven days a week during March, April, and May. Travel related to relocating totaled 6,691.8 miles in addition to the miles flown.

Expenses (some estimates) were: unreimbursed food and lodging: $63.50; phone calls (friends who could make recommendations of congregations needing preachers, preachers at each congregation for the past twenty years, other preachers and Christians in the same town or community of the church looking for a preacher, plus other references: $359.74; tapes and postage: $63.00; travel (at 20 cents per mile): $1,338.36. Total compensation: $1,195.78. The net cost to me was $628.82.

I am not complaining, just stating some facts that I have not seen in print. A preacher couldn’t make a living trying out. In fact, to do a good job and to be free to investigate, he needs to have some money saved to finance the process. Something that elders might consider is that the way a preacher and his family are treated on the "try out" weekend is loud communication about how it would be living and working with that congregation. We are usually on our best behavior when we are courting. Car doors are rarely opened after the first month of marriage.