Category Archives: Church

Pastor Visits

It is often expected for the pastor to visit his congregation, especially if that congregation is relatively small.  He is expected to go, chit chat, give advice, pray with, etc. with most or all members of his church throughout the year.  Whether or not this is a fair expectation depends on the size of the church and other demands on the pastor.  But I quickly want to deal with a different type of pastor visit.  While many are worried about making sure the pastor visits, very few if any are worried about who’s visiting the pastor.

I almost titled this article, “Who’s Visiting the Pastor?” but changed my mind.  Then I thought about the title, “Your Pastor is Not a Spiritual Giant,” but settled on “Pastor Visits.”  I would venture to say that most members/attenders of a church do not tend to think about their pastor’s need to be prayed with, encouraged, and advised.  According to churchleadership.org, 35% of pastors battle depression.  Thirty-five percent! That’s a little more than one out of three.  Honestly, I was shocked because nearly every pastor I know battles with “the black dog” (as Winston Churchill called it).  Twenty-eight percent feel spiritually undernourished.  Over the past few weeks, prominent men in ministry have admitted (or had admitted for them) to moral failure and/or adultery. How does that happen?  It’s not so hard to understand when according to Pastors.com 54% of pastors surveyed said they viewed pornography in the last year, and 30% in the last 30 days.

Please understand what I am not saying and what I am saying.  I am not saying that these statistics are a result of the people in the church and/or his work with them.  I am not blaming the member.  What I am saying is that your pastor needs you to visit him.  Not to chit chat (most pastors don’t have a lot of time to kill), but to love him, pray with him, and encourage him.  I am sure that many members pray for their pastor at home, and it is much needed and much appreciated.  However, your pastor (whether he knows it or not) needs you to come to him and say, “I want to pray for you right now.”  He needs your phone calls of encouragement and your texts that remind him to hope in the Lord.  Most phone calls, emails and texts to a pastor are because there is a crisis or problem that needs to be dealt with.  Very few times is there someone calling or texting to let the pastor know he’s being prayed for.

Just so you know that it’s not all bad news: the same report shows 79% of evangelical or reformed pastors are happier than they used to be.  I don’t know any pastors who are not happy with their calling or happy personally.  But I do know many who battle with those issues I’ve mentioned above.  Your pastor needs you as much as you need him (and maybe sometimes more).

Top 10 List: Hymns

How does one even figure out which hymns to include? I can’t guarantee the order is always the same for me, as it tends to depend on my circumstances. Let’s just say these are my most favorite, but in no particular order (even though I’m putting numbers by them).

10. A Mighty Fortress is Our God – (W & M) Martin Luther

Based on Psalm 46, Martin Luther composed this song that quickly became the battle cry of the Reformation.  The power and majesty that is this song always stirs something deep within me.  When I hear or sing this song, the timidity within me vanishes as I remember that  it is not my strength that wins the battle, but “one little word shall fell him.”  And that Word is above all earthly powers.

9. Behold Our God – (W & M) Ryan Baird, Jonathan Baird, Meghan Baird and Stephen Altrogge

I love this song.  It reminds me of the truth that Christ our God is on His throne and there need be no worries.  All we must do is behold Him, adore Him, and let His glory fill the earth.  The power and strength of resting in Christ’s rule is humbling and yet powerful, and I cannot help but sing the verses with heart lowered and sing the chorus with heart boasting in the Lord our God.

8. He Leadeth Me! O Blessed Thought! – (W) Joseph H. Gilmore, (M) William B. Bradbury

I have to admit, the first time I remember hearing this song was on a Gaither’s Homecoming video.  The Martins sang it in such perfect harmony, I listened to it over and over again.  So much of this song speaks truth to various parts of life and reminds that he never leaves nor forsakes, but always leads.  “Sometimes ‘mid scenes of deepest gloom, sometimes where Eden’s flowers bloom, content, whatever lot I see, since ’tis Thy hand that leadeth me.”

7. How Sweet and Aweful is the Place – (W) Isaac Watts, (M) Ancient Irish Melody

I sang this for the first time at a T4G conference and was struck by its words.  Most people, it seems, groan at this song. I have introduced it at two churches that I’ve pastored and few people find it as captivating as I.  That’s okay, though.  Watts outdid himself with these words presenting salvation as a feast and Christ as the Host.  All in one song, he presents the doctrines of grace in splendid fashion.  The last line rings upon my heart (not just because my church is not yet at full-capacity), but because it is the longing of every Christian: “We long to see Thy churches full, that all the chosen race may, with one voice, and heart and soul, sing Thy redeeming grace.”

6. Jesus, Lover of My Soul – (W) Charles Wesley, (M), Simeon B. Marsh

What a prayer Wesley has written!  Such a perfect song to Jesus.  This is a cry for help and refuge and comfort.  It’s a petition for grace and joy.  How could anyone not like this song?

5. All I Have is Christ – (W & M) Jordan Kauflin

Another that was introduced to me at T4G.  Describing how the Lord has transferred me out of darkness into the kingdom of His beloved Son, Kauflin magnificently reminds me that in the end, I have no work and no deed that allows me to stand before God.  All I have is Christ.  Hallelujah!

4. When I Survey the Wondrous Cross – (W) Isaac Watts, (M) Lowell Mason

This has always, as far back as I can remember, been one of my all time favorites.  It wasn’t until reading a biography of Watts, however that I found that a verse is missing.  I understand why this verse is left out, but I wish it wasn’t.  “His dying crimson, like a robe, spread o’r his body on the tree; then I am dead to all the globe, and all the globe is dead to me.”  By Christ’s death I am alive to God and dead to sin.

3. A Debtor to Mercy – (W) Augustus Toplady,* (M) Bob Kauflin

Again, it is all Christ.  It is by the mercy of God that I am saved, and it is by the blood of Christ that I have a righteousness not my own.  The very thought that Christ does not throw me away like some tattered garment brings such joy to my soul that when I sing the last verse I cannot help but hold my head higher knowing that I am His and He is mine.

*Bob Kauflin updated some of the language within this song.

2. In Christ Alone – (W & M) Keith Getty & Stuart Townend

Instant masterpiece and classic.  There are not many modern hymns (or praise and worship songs) that will stand the test of time, but this is one.  This is one of the all time greats as it once again reminds us that we have nothing to offer.  Here in the love of Christ we stand.  Here in the death of Christ we live.  Here in the power of Christ we stand.  Because we were “bought with the precious blood of Christ!”

1. How Great Thou Art – (W) Stuart K. Hine, (M)  Swedish Folk Melody (adapted by Hine)

I remember as an 18 year old young man, just graduated from high school, on a missions trip in the mountains of North Carolina, sitting on a log by a stream, looking at the moon, and being amazed at God’s creative works.  This song came into my mind and I began to sing it.  “When I look down from lofty mountains grandeur, and hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze…”  The peace and joy I felt at that moment is indescribable.  Less than 24 hours later, I would hear news that caused my world to fall apart.  My dad had stepped into glory. As I prayed, the words “Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee; how great Thou art.  How great Thou art,” burst forth from deep within.  The God who brought me to praise him the night before, was worthy of praise even at that moment, even in the midst of weeping.

So that’s it.  What are your favorite hymns?  Why?  Share with us.  Give us a comment.  We’d love to hear from you.