All posts by Clint Ritchie

About Clint Ritchie

Clint Ritchie was blessed to be raised in a Christian home, the son of a Baptist deacon, and was saved at the age of nine while attending Vacation Bible School. He surrendered to the ministry at the age of thirteen and has been serving on church staff since a sophomore in high school and sixteen years old. His entire life has been spent in various parts of Arkansas. Clint met Jennifer Warren on a blind date in August 2002, and they married on May 22, 2004. Clint and Jennifer have been blessed with two daughters: Addison and Whitley. Clint is a graduate of Williams Baptist College with a Bachelor of Arts in Christian Ministry. He also holds a Master of Divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Clint is the author of "Rebuilding the Family Altar," a book that originated from his doctoral work on family worship disciplines. After six years in student ministry, Clint has spent the past twelve years in pastoral ministry. He served as pastor of Swifton Baptist Church in Swifton, Arkansas, from November 2001 to May 2007. For the past seven years, Clint has served as pastor of First Baptist Church in Hampton, Arkansas. Missions, evangelism, discipleship, and community ministries characterize Clint’s pastoral ministry. The churches he has pastored have sponsored new church starts in North America, and he has lead a network of Arkansas churches to adopt a people group in Chile, where Clint has lead a group each of the past five years. Clint has been active in Southern Baptist life, serving on the Executive Board of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention, the Nominating Committee of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention, the Credentials Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention, as well as numerous association leadership positions. He has also served actively in the community as a police chaplain and as president of the local ministerial alliance. Clint enjoys fishing and hunting, but most of his spare time is spent with his family, often following the girls to their latest beauty pageant or dance recital. He does find time to cheer for the Arkansas Razorbacks, as well as suffer through seasons with the Dallas Cowboys and Chicago Cubs.

Reclaiming Father’s Day

Father's Day

Sunday is Father’s Day, which is traditionally one of the least attended Sundays at church all year. Churches are full on Mother’s Day, as the kids flock to church to sit with mom and make her happy. But on Father’s Day, it is normal to head to the lake with dad or enjoy some other activity, while some simply go help dad on the grill so that the food is ready when mom comes home from church.

While this issue is reflective of today’s culture, it is an indictment against fathers. When a family’s plan for Father’s Day conflicts with worship, it shows that dad has not given the spiritual leadership God expects and that corporate worship is not a priority. This probably did not start recently, but in many cases, it was mom who always took the kids to church while dad stayed home or did his own thing. So the kids think nothing of not going to church with dad on Sunday.

I am sure there are some who will respond that attending worship is not the sole marker for spiritual leadership, and I agree. However, I have never found a man be the spiritual leader of his family that did not prioritize Sunday worship with his family.

Much has been made of the fact that men hate going to church, as well as why men do not sing in church. While there are some valid points in both arguments, we must admit that the issue is one of the heart. I have experienced my share of frustration by watching men sit at church like a knot on a log, only to reproduce sons who act the same way. It is no wonder, then, that the kids have no problem not worshiping with dad Sunday morning.

My wife and I were both fortunate to be raised by men who attended church and always participated in the service, not to mention other ways they served at church. Because of ministry commitments and distance, we will not be with either one Sunday, but we will not hear any complaints. This, too, is a matter of the heart.

What are your plans for Father’s Day? They will speak to the spiritual leadership of dad. Isn’t it time we “man up” and be the spiritual leaders of our families? It is never too late to start. Let’s reclaim Father’s Day.

Oops!

oops
“Oops!” There are several people in life that you do not want to hear say “Oops!” Your barber, your mechanic, and your surgeon come to mind. Each time I go to the barber, I pray that I do not hear those words from him! One of the first “words” a kid learns is “uh oh,” usually said when they drop or spill something, whether accidentally or purposefully.

As we get older, we may replace the expression with more forceful (and sinful) words, but the idea is still the same: I messed up!

I am sure there are numerous areas where we can look at our lives and say “oops,” but one of the greatest, I believe, is in the area of influence. There are numerous relationships in our lives that give us great opportunities to influence people for the Lord. These are people that look up to us, respect us, and might even have a hunger to have what we have in Christ. Are these relationships characterized by oops?

The foremost area of influence is the home. As long as I have breath, I will proclaim that parents are ordained by God to be the spiritual leaders of their homes. The principles found in Deuteronomy 6 are still valid today. Many parents are afraid to accept this responsibility, or have feelings of inadequacy, but it is key to use the influence a parent has to direct their child toward the Lord. In the book It Starts at Home, the following statement is made: “Many people in our era were raised by parents who found church boring while growing up, so they decided not to put their own kids through the same experience. ‘After all,’ went the rationale, ‘they can decide for themselves when they grow up.’ Well, we are grown up now. And rather than saying ‘Thank you,’ many of us are asking, ‘How could you?'” Oops!

Many times I find parents are not willing to make the necessary decisions for their children and teenagers from a spiritual perspective. For instance, this weekend is DiscipleNow at the church I pastor. We will have students not attend because they “don’t want to.” I always want to respond, “Why do you have a choice?!?!” I am grateful for the mother who told me today, “I am making him go to DNow this weekend even though he doesn’t want to go.” I don’t think this mother will have an “Oops” when she looks back at this weekend. We need other parents to step up and provide spiritual leadership to their children.

Another area of influence is at work, the place were most people spend the majority of their time. I know that things have changed in the workforce and many people are warned not to discuss their faith. However, the influence you have with someone can extend beyond the work day. As you see people with spiritual (and other) needs, you can use your influence on them outside of the work day. While your employer may invoke fear within the workplace in regards to you sharing spiritual matters, he does not control you when you leave work! A text message, phone call, or face-to-face conversation outside the work hours with someone you work with will keep you from saying “Oops” when it comes to using your influence at work to impact people with the Gospel.

For students, the same can be said about the school day as I said about the work day. There are probably more opportunities during the school day to have spiritual conversations than there are at work, and I am regularly amazed at the number of students who are having those conversations with their classmates. One of the things that bothers me is when I think about my school days and the relationships I had, I often say “Oops!”

Home and work/school are probably the two greatest areas of influence due to the amount of time we spend with each and the investment that is made in other areas beside spiritually. Think about your neighbors that notice your faith and the way you live. Reflect on those people that you once were closer to that you are now due to changes in your life stage, but you still have influence on them. Ponder the parents of your children’s friends who wonder why your kids talk about God and sing goofy songs from church when they are playing with their kids.

Your influence is great, whether you want to admit it or not. May we not find an “Oops!” in our relationships.

A Pastor’s Best Friend

Last Friday, I returned to my previous pastorate to preach the funeral of L.D. Becton, who I called on facebook “one of the greatest friends a pastor could ever have.” People who did not know L.D. asked me if he was a young man, near my age, since that is logical to think that we are friends with people near our age. L.D. was 78 years old, so in today’s world, he could have been my grandfather.

L.D. was a pastor’s best friend because he supported his pastor. The day I was called to pastor First Baptist Church in Hampton, he told me, “As long as you are our pastor, you will have my support.” He would instruct prospective deacons that their main responsibility was to support their pastor as long as he was following the Lord and His Word. These were more than words to L.D., as many say those same words but back down from that commitment when they disagree with a decision or a sermon. L.D. lived this commitment.

I have been blessed with a couple of other men just like L.D., and as I think about them, this is what a pastor’s best friend looks like:

They are physically present. It is hard to support your pastor when your attendance is sporadic. Other than the Sunday following Thanksgiving and Easter, L.D. was always at church. He was in Alabama for a family gathering those two Sundays. When we had business meetings, L.D. would skip out on the meal part due to being a diabetic, but he was there by the time they business session started.

They do not rubber stamp every decision. I don’t want you to think that a pastor’s best friend is a “yes man.” L.D. asked hard questions and raised caution, but ultimately he supported my decision. There were times that he would tell me, after the fact, that he thought something would never work, but you would have never known that by his actions.

They do not tolerate murmuring. It is common in the church for leaders to listen to murmuring and then report to the pastor. A pastor’s best friend realizes that listening to such complaints gives validation. L.D. would stop people in their tracks, reminding them of the Lord’s work, and “nip it in the bud” as Barney Fife would say. There were a few times he would report his actions, but there was no action for me to take because it had been handled.

They laugh with you. L.D. would stop by the office and the house at times for the sole purpose of laughing with (or at) me. Like the time he (as a Alabama fan) left a role of toilet paper and an empty bottle of Tide on my desk. When he stopped by, it was not always serious, which was refreshing many days.

I owe much of the success of my pastoral ministry to the “pastor’s best friends” I have been blessed with. Much like Aaron and Hur held Moses’ arms in support in Exodus 17, these men have allowed me to experience victory.

These traits can be in anyone’s life. Anyone can be their pastor’s best friend. He needs you.

Quit Treating Symptoms

Unfortunately, Yazoo City has been in the news recently. The latest was a quadruple murder that occurred in the early hours Monday outside of a local club. The previous news was centered around three overdose deaths that occurred within a six-week period. No one likes their city to be highlighted for these reasons. But what do you do?

In response to these events, one group of pastors wants to have a prayer march. Another pastor called for a day of prayer and fasting. And another group of pastors is meeting to determine what are the greatest issues to address in Yazoo: unemployment, education, drug abuse, etc.

I have chosen not to participate in any of these in the past because I see them as a way to attempt to treat symptoms and ignore the sickness. The Bible is clear: “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). The problem is that we are all sin-sick. As a result of this sickness, people turn to drugs to fill a void. Adults are at a nightclub “enjoying” the night away rather than being at home in the bed, preparing for a day of work the next morning. Sin-sickness leads to us living for ourselves, without any concern for others and the pain our actions will cause.

The cure to this sickness is a personal relationship with Jesus, where one surrenders their life to Him and aligns their lives according to His Word. We have told people they need to change their ways and we have pointed out finger at them long enough. All we are doing is addressing the symptoms.

While I would never speak against the importance of prayer, I am afraid we use it so excuse ourselves from calling people to surrender to Jesus. We sound spiritual when we tell others we are going to a prayer march for our city. I think we need to remember Jesus’ instructions that “when you pray, go into your private room, shut your door, and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (Matthew 6:6). The prayers offered in secret stir the heart of God.

If we want to see true change in our community, we will spend time in prayer, but we must put action to our prayers and proclaim the Good News of Jesus, calling people to turn from their sin and surrender their life to the Lord. “All who call on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13, emphasis mine).

If you have questions about this relationship with Jesus, check out this page for a simple explanation. If you have made this decision, tell someone what Jesus has done for you!

Why We Still Have Revivals

revivalA lady once asked Billy Sunday, “Why do you keep having revivals when they don’t last?” Instead of answering her question directly, he asked her a question, “Why do you keep taking baths?”

I am a proponent of revival services and have scheduled one each year I have been a pastor. But I am not talking about just some extra services for a few days. Rather, I am a firm believer in a season of revival, which I begin with a focused time of pray and personal preparation for what the Lord wants to do in our lives and within our church. For the past few years, I have put together a 40 Day revival preparation devotional. The past two years, I have asked our staff to write some of the devotionals and the response to the devotional has been very positive- and humbling.

When we spend time preparing for revival, the actual revival services are the climax and revival continues after the services are over. As the lady told Billy Sunday, revivals do not last, so why do I keep doing them?

First, we need revival. When I speak of revival, I am not referring to the services but to the fresh awakening from the Lord upon areas of our life that have grown cold. Like Jesus’ parable of the soils in Matthew 13, the worries of life and other troubles cause us to ignore God’s Word. Sin that we once despised becomes comfortable. We quit serving. We become numb to the conviction of the Holy Spirit. We need revival.

Second, revival services cause us to focus spiritually. Attending revival services results in us attending church more than we do in a normal week. In a busy world, revival services are the few times when we attend church more than Sunday and Wednesday, although the average church member attends only Sunday morning.

I always tell my church that Satan will attack relentlessly during revival services. You will have a bad day at work. The children will be completely defiant between getting home from school and leaving for the service. You will have to rush homework and supper. Many other excuses are readily available for not attending revival, but when you are willing to push through and attend, you are able to focus spiritually more than normal.

Third, you get to hear another preacher during revival. As a pastor it is tough to admit, but I know that my church gets tired of hearing from me. Or they are least get used to hearing from me and think they know what to expect. When I prayerfully invite someone to preach a revival at the pastor where I pastor, it is always someone that I want to hear. To not beat around the bush: they are going to be good. And it is refreshing for the preacher to be in a new place and get to speak to new people.

Lastly, I have revivals because God works in revival services. Because we know the need for a fresh encounter with the Lord and we are focused spiritually, God uses the revival preacher to challenge His people. I have seen people make decisions in revival services that they have been needing to make for a long time, but for whatever reason they did not answer God’s call until attending the revival. And this is the main reason why I continue to have an annual revival service.

If you are in the Yazoo City area, I invite you to join us February 12-15. If you attend a church that has not held a revival recently, I hope you will consider its benefits.

On the Same Page

This past Sunday included a Deacons Meeting and a Finance Team Meeting. At the end of the day, I was tired (which is normal for a Sunday) but very encouraged, as both meetings were very positive. I was not surprised, though, as this is normally the case for both of these meetings. While I was thankful for my day, my heart was with a couple of pastor friends that were each facing a very difficult day with similar meetings.

I posted the above feelings on Facebook Sunday evening, which brought personal responses from some other church leaders. Some were positive, others were negative. Then one individual posted about how he was not a deacon or on committees because “it is too much drama.” I talked to another friend today at another church who basically stated the same thing.

I know that my situation is fortunate, but it does not happen by accident. Teams function properly when everyone is on the same page. While my original application was to the church, I also realize it applies to the marriage relationship, parenting, the workforce, and any other setting that involves more than one person. How can everyone get on the same page?

Set aside personal preferences. One of my meetings included 14 other men, while the other involved 8 other individuals. Each person has a difficult personality, background, and preferences, yet the focus of the meeting was how could we be more effective in fulfilling the church’s mission. No one mentioned what they wanted. There were no unilateral decisions. The reason many homes are in chaos is that it is survival of the fittest, rather than everyone working together for the common good.

Focus on the team’s objective. One of the reasons that personal preferences take charge is due to the fact that no one knows what the team is supposed to be doing. Therefore, someone speaks up, “I think we should…” and the rest is history.

Demonstrate the fruits of the Spirit. There are going to be difficult team on every team. If you cannot think of who it is, then it is probably you! For a team to work together, your actions are important. As a believer, you should be demonstrating proof of the Spirit’s work in your life. Paul lists the fruits in Galatians 5:22-23. When you work with others, you will need patience, kindness is a must, and self-control can cause you from making a fool of yourself.

Remember why you are on the team in the first place. If you got on the team so you would have a position or prestige, then get off of it quickly or change your motivation. Most, though, in the church get on a team because of their desire to serve. In a marriage, you formed a team because of the love for the other person. You might have taken a job simply as a ways to make ends meet. When the stress picks up, it is easy to forget why you are on the team. Taking a trip down memory lane might help you out.

Not every meeting is as good as the ones that started these thoughts, but they all can be. Most of it is up to you.

Reminders from the Past Year

The past couple of weeks have given me the opportunity to think back over the past year as I prepared sermons, anticipate our annual meeting at church, and evaluate ministries with staff. I have also gotten to speak with some friends in the ministry over the past month, some of whom are struggling. These experiences and the memories of the past year have reminded me (or caused me to re-learn) some important principles:

The power of the tongue. The old saying “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” is a lie. We all have experiences of that, but in today’s world it does not have to be a spoken word. It can be a post on social media, an anonymous letter,  gossip, or something hollered out in a crowd — all of which are reminders that people do not have the guts to say to your face what they believe needs to be said.

The power of the tongue goes beyond saying something about someone. The Apostle Paul wrote, “Do everything without grumbling or complaining” (Philippians 2:14). Everything. While I have seen relationships and churches destroyed because of words, I regularly see God’s work hindered because of grumbling or complaining.

The requirement of forgiveness. When words hurt or frustrate us, forgiveness is required. Most are slow to give it, while some never come to that point. Let us remember that it is a matter of the heart, and when we are slow to forgive it shows the hardness of our heart.

The importance of supporters. One of my favorite passages in the Bible is found in Exodus 17. The Amalekites attacked Israel and when Moses raised his hands, the Israelites were winning, but when his hands were lowered, the Amalekites prevailed. If you have ever raised your arms up high for a length of time, you have experienced the difficulty that comes as the time builds. “When Moses’ hands grew heavy, they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat down on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up- one on one side, one on the other- so that his hands remained steady till sunset.” I am thankful for those through the years who have stood with me and supported me, and there is nothing more fulfilling to be that person for others. It is an opportunity to see the Lord work!

The priority of missions. Last January I took a group of 11 others to Chile. For most, it was their first international missions experience. And it set a fire in their hearts for the Mapuche people. In August, I went with a group to Crest Hill, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, to serve at a local school. Each of us left with a commitment to see a church planted in this community. Quarterly, I join with many others in our church to love on Yazoo. It reminds us of the need around us. Each of these missions opportunities ignite a passion for the people to encounter the Lord personally.

The brevity of life. We are all forced at some point to admit that life is short, but when we see someone we consider “young” to die, our perspective changes. This past year, I had several men close to my age (which I still consider young) die. I had multiple spiritual conversations with these men. They all struggled. They had various degrees of interest in living for Christ. But none of them knew they would die before the year ended. We often think that we have time to do what we want, including time to have a right standing with God. The writers of Hebrews reminds us that “Today” is the time. Do not put off til tomorrow what you need to do today.

There were other things in the past year that I learned, including the importance of perseverance as the Cubs won the World Series, but these are the ones that I needed to be reminded. What did you re-learn this year?

Open on Christmas

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Christmas is just 2 days away. For years, pastors and faithful church attenders have laughed at those that attend church on the Sunday before Christmas and on Easter. Church signs proudly displayed that they are open between these two holidays. But when Christmas falls on a Sunday, as it does this year, being open on Christmas isn’t such a sure thing as many churches have cancelled their services.

This will be the third time since I have been a pastor that Christmas has fallen on Sunday. I remember the first time that there were few people in church, then the second time the church was packed. I have no idea what Sunday will bring, but I have never considered not having church on this day.

I have read several debates about this issue: we do not have church on Christmas when it falls on another day of the week; Sunday is not the biblical Sabbath anyway; Christmas is not a day of rest anyway; and several other ways that church leaders have excused their decision.

My concern is that the heart of the decision to not have services since Christmas falls on Sunday is made out of convenience, not out of conviction.

I will be the first to admit that Christmas morning will be busy. We will open presents, we will cook and have breakfast that will not include cereal or something in the microwave (which only happens on Christmas), we will start getting stuff ready for lunch, and we will get dressed and be in church before 11:00 (one of us will be there before the others).  But what kind of lesson would I teach my kids to say, “We are celebrating the birth of Jesus today, but we will not go to church today like we do every other Sunday because Christmas is just too busy”?

You see, this issue is greater than Christmas being on Sunday because we have settled for convenience over conviction for a long time. I see families each week that decide not to gather for Bible study and worship because there is too much going on. Sunday is the only day they have to sleep in. The kids are tired. It was a rough week, blah, blah, blah. These parents would state that they are followers of Christ, but they choose regularly to skip the command to worship corporately because it is more convenient.

Yes, I believe you should be in church on Christmas this year, but I also believe you should be in church every Sunday. Even if I was not a pastor, I would hold this conviction, which was modeled by my parents and I consider it my responsibility to model the same to my children. When faced with conviction or convenience, maybe they will think of the busy Christmas morning and the priority of corporate worship.

I hope to see you Sunday morning!

Why I Promote the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering

It is one of my favorite times of the year: the Week of Prayer for International Missions and the time when we collect the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. I unapologetically promote the Lottie Moon Offering and challenge our church to give sacrificially. I enjoy promoting the offering each Sunday. Why do I support the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering (LMCO) to this degree?

Lottie Moon was a lady that sought God and worked wholeheartedly. “How many million more souls are to pass into eternity without having heard the name of Jesus?” That question, central in letters that she wrote, seared her heart as she planted her life in China more than a century ago. It compelled her to flee the safety of the Baptist missionary compound in order to live among those “heathen” to whom she felt called. It gave her the strength to place her 4-foot-3-inch body in the path of an anti-Christian mob intent on harming believers and saying, “You will have to kill me first.” She prospered, but it was not materially, as she had little. But the Lord used her to see people saved and to create a passion among Southern Baptists for missions support.

There is no doubt that God has called me to pastor, not to serve as a career missionary overseas. That does not, though, give me permission to turn a blind eye to missions, and in this case, international missions. I get to champion the work of our missionaries and lead people to financially support their work. While our church has been blessed with our partnership in Chile, most of the church will never go on an international trip. Financially and prayerfully supporting the work will be the extent of most church members’ involvement in international missions.

The need to give is great, as there are more than 6,000 people groups today with an evangelical Christian presence of less than 2 percent, making them unreached. Of these people groups, about 3,000 of them are also unengaged, meaning there is currently no evangelical church-planting strategy among them. At this point in time, hundreds of millions of people are likely to die without hearing the Gospel in a way they can understand. As we give sacrifically, more missionaries can be sent to reach these people. We often allow our setting of multiple churches in a small area to influence how we view the rest of the world, but there are billions of people that have never heard the Gospel for the first time!

I support the LMCO because it works! Last year, our missionaries reported 127,385 new believers and starting 3,842 new churches! A total of 1,993,368 people heard the Gospel last year! Thus, our gifts had an eternal impact on the lives of these new believers by helping to bring them to Christ. A result of our giving is more people in heaven and less people in hell!

I attended college and seminary with individuals who were called to the mission field and prepared themselves to go to unreached people groups, but they are still at home. Their calling has not changed, but the money to send them is not available. The reason the money is not available because Southern Baptists have not given it. I support the LMCO so that these individuals can fulfill their calling.

I support the LMCO because I have seen it work with my own eyes. When I first started going to Chile, there were three IMB missionaries among the Mapuche. I saw them loved by the people that they were reaching. I visited churches that they helped start and others that they helped strengthen. I heard the stories from pastors about the influence of the missionaries, and similar stories were told from church members. Two years into our partnership, all of the missionaries were gone. Many variables played into the IMB’s decision to remove them, but the bottom line was a financial issue.

I grew up in church but knew nothing of the LMCO until I was in college. I can vaguely remember a lady doing a skit dressed up as Lottie Moon when I was a kid (I was confused because I knew her name was not Lottie Moon), but there was little focus on the offering. I do not want anyone that is part of a church I pastor to be able to say the same thing. I want them to know about the sacrifice of Lottie Moon and why the offering that bears her name is essential.

The need is great, so I challenge you to give sacrificially to the LMCO. You may never know the impact of our gift, but you carry out Jesus’ words to “store up treasures in heaven.”

What I Love About the Church

Last week I read an article 20 Things I Wish I Knew Before Becoming a Pastor. I shared the article on Facebook, which lead to a discussion from a couple of college classmates about the failure of the Church. I will be the first to admit that there is no perfect church. Since the Church is made up of imperfect person, what do you expect?

Also last week, I read an article in my Rotarian magazine about what someone loved about Rotary. I am a Rotary member in the same way that many are church members: I go to most of the meetings and pay my dues. That is about my extent with the Rotary, but I would not say that I “love” Rotary. But I do “love” the church. For the same reasons that the people in the article loved Rotary, I love the church.

“There’s a real beauty to the underlying message of Service Above Self. I know there are going to be people in Rotary who are like-minded and like-hearted.” I hate that this person finds this in Rotary and it is not said about a local church. It is a not the natural inclination, but we are called to be people who serve, not people who want to be served. Every church struggles with this issue, but we must remember that Jesus did not come to be served but to serve, and commanded us to model His behavior. I love to serve others and serve alongside others.

The church is also a full of people who are like-minded and like-hearted. The church is comprised of people of different backgrounds, personalities, and every other marker you want to use. But we are united because we have been changed by the saving work of the Lord and given the common mission to make disciples. This looks different in each church, but when the leadership fulfills its role, each local church will work in the same direction. I love that about the church.

One Rotarian pointed out he loved “the opportunity to develop relationships with people who have more life experience than he does.” I get to experience this about every day – and I love it. While I am the pastor, most of the people in every church I have served are older than me. I am the spiritual leader, but I learn more than I teach. To sit down with the individual facing a third battle with cancer and hear, “I know this is God’s will,” and listen to the witnessing opportunities that he has been afforded due to his previous battles – I am challenged and encouraged. To watch the church member give out Bibles to other patients at each of his radiation treatments – I am the one who is learning! The tables will turn in a couple of weeks when I teach pre-teens at Vacation Bible School. I just pray they can learn half as much as I have from people with more life experience. I love that about the church!

Another Rotarian loved the “‘old school’ traditions.” I do not know what they are but maybe it is something like the one in Yazoo City when the President rings the bell with the gavel and everyone immediately stands for the pledge! The church is full of traditions. Let’s all admit that many of the traditions have lost their meaning and were started for a particular time and purpose but the purpose has been lost. There are times when I get frustrated with traditions, but we cannot wipe them all out. The churches that I have pastored have all been over 100 years old, and I would be stupid to not consider their rich heritage and honor the traditions that they have. I love (most) traditions!

A final Rotarian loves that she has an avenue to “give back to her community.” Every church should be impacting its community. There are lots of people in the community that think the church is there to meet their needs, so they come when their utilities are about to be disconnected or they face some other crisis. But we should consider that if our church left, would the community miss it. I love that I have been part of churches that have given back to its community, such as the “I Love Yazoo” Day recently where we spent a Sunday afternoon painting at the local sports complex, which has long been ignored. Or what about the local school that needed its playground cleaned or the school that needed its walls and bathrooms painted? Did I mention that I love the church?

I could write about some things that I do not like about the church, but that list would be small and most, if not all, would boil down to personal preference. I could go on and one about what I love about the church, but why don’t you get involved in one and experience it yourself. Or leave a comment below about what you love about the church.