Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Shepastor: “Know What You’ve Got…Excerpts from the ‘Beyond the Stained Glass Ceiling Event’ Ashland Theological Seminary”

Last Wednesday, I was blessed to serve as the lecturer/workshop leader for an event sponsored by Ashland Theological Seminary. The event was titled for my book, Beyond the Stained Glass Ceiling: Equipping and Encouraging Female Pastors (Judson Press, 2013)I was joined in the presentation by my friend and brother, The Rev. Dr. Marvin A. McMickle, President of Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School. Together we addressed the persistent struggles women pastors face as they, by faith, pursue the role of senior/solo pastors.
A recent Duke University study (December, 2015) revealed the following in the article, "How Thick is the Stained Glass Ceiling?" It states:

Even as U.S. congregations become more ethnically diverse, a new analysis of Duke University’s National Congregations Study shows that women hold only a small minority of those faith communities’ top leadership positions. Women serve as senior or solo pastoral leaders of just 11 percent of U.S. congregations — indicating essentially no overall increase from when the study was first done in 1998. These women-led communities contain only about 6 percent of the people who attend the nation’s religious services.

(Click here to read article, Duke University)
In light of these statistics, many women pastors have difficulty remaining hopeful and even sure of their calling and “merchandise.” With these experiences in mind, I was drawn to Proverbs 31:18, KJV which declares,

“She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night.”

Below are excerpts from the sermon I preached during the event, “Know What You’ve Got.”

A young music artist by the name of Rachel Platten recently came out with a hit song called, “Fight Song.” Getting her first hit was no easy journey. She’d been writing and striving for 15 years to be heard. Song after song was rejected. During an interview on the Today Show, Hoda Kotb asked Rachel, “While you were going through all of this, did you ever think that maybe this was the wrong direction for your life and that maybe you should give up?” Rachel responded, “No, the voice inside me was too loud saying, ‘You’ve got something…don’t quit!’”

In order to push past adversity, past rejection, past inner voices of doubt, past fear, past taunts debasing and denying your giftedness and calling, you’ve got to KNOW what you’ve got! This simple verse of scripture, couched between lines of a passage traditionally used as a theme for “Women’s Days,” is often lost and over looked. The fact that the woman described in this passage is an industrious, business savvy, creative, well rounded, “got it going on, self-confident” woman is often swept under the rug and instead side lined for the emphasis, that “charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised…”

As if, fearing the Lord and knowing how to take care of your business are some how antithetical to one another. But that is another topic, another sermon for another day. Tonight, I would like to focus upon this concept of knowing, perceiving, in tune with, understand what you’ve got…what God has strategically placed within you…your worth, your skill, your vision, your giftedness, your reason…your purpose.

Although the King James Version is frowned upon because of its antiquated and formal language, I like it’s rendering of this verse…Proverbs 31:18:

“She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night.”

She perceives…
Perception is a powerful thing.
Perception, in other words how you visually, experientially (through the senses) and psychologically take in information, process information and then form a view based upon how you have interpreted that information serves as the basis for how we see ourselves, others and the world around us.

But God has placed down within us something that can super cede that which our natural senses and perceptions dictate. It is a divine sense of knowing who you are and to what God is calling you to be/become. It is to use Rachel Platten’s words, that “loud voice saying, “you’ve got something!” To use the Queen’s descriptor in our text as she counseled her son on what to look for in a good woman, “she perceives that her merchandise is good…” But how do you hear that loud voice and perceive that your merchandise is good when all around you is denying your internal reality?

Before you were shaped and formed in your mother’s womb, the Lord called you and anointed you to be a prophet, a pastor, a preacher yet the world and the church declares, God does not use women in that capacity… Well, somebody might be saying, “That was a long time ago. Women are now serving as preachers and pastors. Doors are opening. We are holding prominent positions in the world and the church. This conversation is old and over with. Let’s move on!” Mentalities like that may not realize that they are caught up in smoke and mirrors! It is tantamount to thinking that racism is over in America because we have elected our first African American President and we have a number of African American millionaires, billionaires and CEO’s! But how many know that racism and sexism is alive and well in America?

While it may seem that the struggle for women clergy is over, data proves otherwise. According to a 2015 Duke University study on the number of women serving as senior/solo pastors, the number still lingers at 11%...the same as in 1998! Yes, we have seen advancement in the number of women being called to and placed in senior/solo pastor positions, but the advancement is minimal and at a snail’s pace. The fact that we can name them indicates how few there are. The tendency is to suggest that women clergy who “don’t make it,” or whose small, fragmented, struggling congregations aren’t thriving, growing and excelling…the tendency is to blame the clergywoman… “She must be doing something wrong, she must not have what it takes…maybe that isn’t really her calling…”

All of these assertions can impact how a woman “perceives her merchandise.”
As mentioned earlier, there are great similarities between sexism and racism. Recently, both Dr. McMickle and I were involved in the Conference of National Black Churches Consultation held in Charleston, South Carolina. The purpose of the Consultation was to address the historic and ongoing racial tensions in America and to consider the role of the Church in bringing about racial healing and reconciliation. One of the lecturers, Dr. Camara Phyllis Jones gave a powerful illustration concerning the impact of institutional and internalized racism upon perspectives…an illustration that I found particularly relevant, also, to the plight of women pastors.

You have a copy of the article, “The Gardner’s Tale” in your notebook. But to highlight the relevancy of her discussion about racism to our discussion of sexism and women clergy, consider the “red flower pot” and the “pink flower pot…”

The two seeds are the same in terms of substance, potential and overall makeup. The only difference is that the color of one is red and the color of one is pink. The RED seeds, however, are planted in rich, dark, beautiful soil while the PINK is planted in old, rocky, sandy soil. The RED flowers grow tall and robust. Everyone admires and congratulates the RED flowers. They even look at each other and affirm, admire and congratulate one another!!!

The PINK flowers on the other hand struggle to make it out of the rocky, sandy dirt. The few that do are scraggly, and surrounded by weeds. The few that do gain some height are still short and frail, in comparison to the strong, tall RED flowers. They look at themselves and one another and think, “There must be something wrong with us. Why can’t we grow? Why are we so weak and thronged by weeds?”

Suddenly they look around and see a few PINK flowers in the RED pot. Somehow, the two or three pink seeds got mixed up in the RED flower pot. But when they look over at their pink brother and sister flowers, they too are looking upon the PINK flower pot with disdain, “Humph, look at us…we are PINK FLOWERS…we are growing and thriving…we are strong and robust…there must be something wrong with THOSE pink flowers. They just don’t have what it takes…they must not be trying hard enough…they don’t represent us!”

The PINK flowers who happened to get into the good soil don’t realize that given similar circumstances, they too might be thronged with weeds and scraggly! The PINK flowers in the rocky, sandy soil struggle to develop an awareness and internal affirmation that “their merchandise is good.”

While we need to celebrate the accomplishments and successes of our beautiful, strong, resilient clergywomen who have fought the good fight, pressed through rocky, sandy soil and also those who have been blessed to be planted in dark, rich, beautiful soil, we stand in danger of partying too long!

In my own denomination, American Baptist Churches, USA, along with Cooperative Baptists probably lead the way, in terms of calling women to serve in executive leadership roles and in senior/solo pastorates. The fact remains, however, that the numbers are still miniscule. Because we are so proud and excited for those who have broken through the stained glass ceiling, there is a lackadaisical spirit and even resistance to whole heartedly tackling this persistent, ongoing struggle among our churches to call women to serve as senior/solo pastors. Again, those churches that do call us are predominantly Euro, elderly, dying, very small congregations. We discussed earlier the cultural struggles, on top of a myriad of other issues this presents for women clergy in general and clergy women of color, in particular.

The argument and excuse used is that a majority of mainline Protestant churches in America are small and dying. But when I look around Cleveland, Ohio, for example, recently we had a major turnover of pastors… a “changing of the guard” if you will. NOT ONE of our Baptist congregations called a woman, although a plethora of women are seminary trained and WELL qualified to serve. At least SIX pastors of relatively healthy, stable, mid-sized to large congregations in our area over the last 5-7 years retired. Not ONE of those churches called or maybe even strongly considered calling a woman.

For those few women who were called to pastor congregations, most were small and dying and other denominations. One or two made it into small churches that were heavily endowed with financial resources that made ALL OF THE DIFFERENCE. Those are the EXCEPTIONS, not the rule. I am convinced that God raises the “exceptions” to change the rule. It is so easy to slip into the “Pink flower in the Red flower pot” mentality if you are one of the FEW who have made it out. It so easy to look upon others with disdain and assume that you are where you are because you are “all of that!”

No, no…we are where we are and have become all that we have become because of the grace and mercy of Almighty God! God has blessed us to be so in order that God can use us to make a difference, bring about a change and help somebody else to see that yes, they too have “merchandise that is good!” God calls us to help raise up somebody else. God calls us to help open up some doors for somebody else. God calls us to make some waves, point out the disparity, raise the hard questions and yes, speak up and say, “Something is still wrong that in 2016 I am still one of a few!!!”

I am not suggesting that everyone has the same gifts and talents and abilities and wherewithal. I am not suggesting that we can ignore the giftedness and exceptionalism of some individuals that cause them to rise above many others. But what I am suggesting is that there are MANY MORE gifted, many more anointed, many more empowered…many more women clergy with wherewithal that are stuck in sandy, rocky, dry, weed filled pots and are dying without the help and concern of others. Dying, struggling, hungry and lonely…yes, because we’ve been engrained with the notion that we can’t trust one another, because of insecurity and fear, because of the “crab in the bucket” mentality that lives and thrives among those deprived of real opportunity, because of the jealousy and envy that swells up among the oppressed…because of these things, we lack the encouragement and support that we could have among each other. All of these things, I have termed, “the strange fruit of oppression.”

Yes, God can and will use you anywhere. Yes, God can still get the glory even in the sandy, broken, dry pot. But it is not acceptable to become resigned to the fact that we are all CALLED to the sandy rocky pots. There is a difference between being called and being relegated to a place. Was God glorified through the faithfulness of the slaves as they met in old, broken down shacks after they worked themselves almost to death and then still went out and prayed, and sang as the people of God? Absolutely! Was that God's plan and will for their lives…NO!

Is God honored as people work three jobs just to earn a living wage and yet tithe and serve in their local congregations? Yes, God is honored by the faithfulness of His servants, but I believe God is grieved by the system that keeps them in that oppressed condition! Is everyone called to pastor large, affluent, resource filled congregations? No, but should the door be open for those who are? YES! The point is not to say that all women clergy should be pastors, that all women clergy should be called to “plush” situations, that all women clergy should have mid-sized to large, resourceful congregations. This is to say, however, that clergywomen should be given REAL opportunities to pastor churches in every category, whether small, broken, dysfunctional or healthy, stable and resourceful.

Finally, no matter where you are called, no matter where you find yourself serving, no matter what doors have not come open and what ceilings have yet to be broken, you’ve got to know that your merchandise is good. You’ve got to recognize the reality of the “pot” in which you currently serve and understand that your situation does not define your substance! Understand that your predicament does not define your personhood. Realize that your valley does not define or dictate your value! Know that you are fearfully and wonderfully made. Know that with God, ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE, know that your gift will make room for you, know that God can and will use you, no matter your circumstance, know that you can make a difference for the Kingdom!

Keep on preaching, keep on teaching, keep on telling men, women boys and girls that the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life. Keep on lifting as you climb, keep on pressing towards the mark, keep on trusting in the true and living God, and no matter what doors human beings try to keep locked, God will open doors, no matter what ceilings human beings try to hold over your head, God will break through, keep believing that Greater is He that is within you, than he that is within the world.
God will lift you, God will keep you, God will sustain you, God will make a way for you God will carry you through!

Post a comment or send me an email at

Until next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Shepastor: "What Kind of House Are You Building?"

Psalm 127: 1-3, NLT

A song for pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem. A psalm of Solomon.

1Unless the Lord builds a house,
the work of the builders is wasted.
Unless the Lord protects a city,
guarding it with sentries will do no good.
2It is useless for you to work so hard
from early morning until late at night,
anxiously working for food to eat;
for God gives rest to his loved ones.

Shepastor: “What Kind of House Are You Building?”

We’ve heard the saying, “They just don’t build things like they used to!” The other day I was watching a news story about fires and the difference in how quickly houses burn today, verses 25-30 years ago. Representatives from the local fire department met with the news commentator, taking him to two rooms set up for the demonstration. In one room was furniture from the 80’s…a sturdy wooden table, a couch made with wood, cotton and other natural materials etc.

In the next room was a more modern room, outfitted with synthetic materials, “mixed wood” and less expensive materials. The more modern room looked GREAT…stylish, the latest fashions etc. The room from the 80’s looked outdated, old and just, “ok.” But when both were set on fire, the modern room went up into a blaze in 3-5 minutes. A family in a home such as this would literally have 3-5 minutes to exit before being totally consumed with heat, smoke and flames. The older room, however, took 20 minutes to be consumed. The flames smoldered around the cotton pillows for at least 3-5 minutes before expanding across the couch and then onto the heavy wooden table. A family in this home would have a least 20 minutes to get out before the house would go up in flames.

Both are short periods of time, but the point was that 20 minutes is a whole lot longer than 3-5 minutes! What made the difference? The newer home, though more expensive, sleek and attractive was made with cheap materials…easily burned up. The older home, though somewhat outdated used heavy, durable, more expensive materials that could withstand sudden flames.

King Solomon understood this concept, both in the natural and later in the spiritual. Concerning the physical structure of the temple, he spared no expense in building the strongest, the most valuable, the most beautiful materials he could find to build an edifice suited to the worship and glory of God. He came to understand in a greater way, however, that “unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it are doing so in vain.”

So many focus on the exterior building…how we look, how others look at us, our appearance, etc. So many spend the vast majority of their lives focused upon the external. If it were not so, the fashion, makeup, auto, housing and gymnasium industries would not be as lucrative! People want to look good…in their clothes, in their cars…in their homes…in their bodies…with their makeup…with their hair…folks want to look good! There is nothing wrong with looking good. All of our outer looks, however will be “burned up” rapidly if we have not done the hard internal work necessary to “build” a durable, resilient, “knowing” of who we are and who God is within our being.

So many are “burned up” by the circumstances of life. Life can be tough, painful, unfair, disappointing and cruel. If you have spent all of your time focused on the external and very little on the internal, your labor will be in vain. What good is it to work yourself to death to get all of the things you think you want, only to drop dead, over worked, stressed to the hilt, neglecting what really matters. That’s what Jesus said about the man who tore down his barns to build bigger barns…the man was so pleased with all that he had accomplished…so pleased with all of the wealth he had amassed…so thrilled that he was storing up more and more…building up his external house. Jesus said about the man, “thou fool, this night your soul shall be required of you.” Jesus went on to say, “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul? What shall a man give in exchange of his soul?” (Matthew 16:26)

Are you focused upon what really matters? Are you doing what is necessary to build up your spirit…your inner being? Are you spending specific, strategic time in prayer, talking and listening to the Lord? What are you doing to build up your inner spirit…your soul? Are you hiding the Word of God in your heart through reading and studying? Are you seeking God’s instruction for your life daily? Are you praying without ceasing? Do you spend any time in prayer and fasting?

Are you engaged in obeying the voice and the leading of God’s precious Holy Spirit? What are you teaching and showing your children, grandchildren, those around you? Are you building a life…a testimony…a legacy of strong, durable materials? Or are you using synthetic, inexpensive, easily burned products…praying every now and then when and if you think about it…only opening the Bible on Sunday if then…going through life just doing what you think is best…what will enrich you without regard to the work of the Kingdom…without concern for what God’s Holy Word says about holy and righteous living.

What kind of house are you building? Unless the Lord is building your house, your labor is in vain.

Post a comment or send me an email at

Until Next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Shepastor: "Speak Up!"

The Greatness of Mordecai
10 King Xerxes imposed tribute throughout the empire, to its distant shores. 2 And all his acts of power and might, together with a full account of the greatness of Mordecai, whom the king had promoted, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Media and Persia? 3 Mordecai the Jew was second in rank to King Xerxes, preeminent among the Jews, and held in high esteem by his many fellow Jews, because he worked for the good of his people and spoke up for the welfare of all the Jews. Esther 10: 1-3

The Book of Esther is a story of “divine reversals,” showing the activity of God behind the scenes, if you will, even though the name of God is not called or mentioned. Esther is the story of a people who were targeted to be destroyed, slain, annihilated through a plot devised by the 2nd in command of the Persian Kingdom, Haman. It all started when an average Jew by the name of Mordecai refused to bow and pay homage to Haman as he passed by.

Mordecai refused to bow down to Haman. This so infuriated Haman, and taunted his out of control ego that he felt he had to destroy Mordecai. Since he did not want it to be obvious that the only reason he wanted to destroy Mordecai was because he didn’t bow down to him, Haman convinced the king that ALL of the Jews should be destroyed. He made the king believe that they were a threat in the land – didn’t follow their laws, their customs or their gods…

The king agrees and the journey begins. Most frequently the focus now turns to Esther. But today, I’d like us to focus our attention upon Mordecai. Read again verse 3 of chapter 10…

3 Mordecai the Jew was second in rank to King Xerxes, preeminent among the Jews, and held in high esteem by his many fellow Jews, because he worked for the good of his people and spoke up for the welfare of all the Jews.

Shepastor: “Speak Up!”

In 1945, the anti-Nazi German pastor Martin Niemoller wrote the following:

"First they came for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn't speak up, because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time there was no one left to speak up for me."

There are many reasons and excuses why it runs against human nature to speak up…the main reason is fear…fear that we will bring attention to ourselves and the evil, the injustice, the taunts, the bullying, the unfair treatment, the abuse will be turned towards us. So we remain quiet, declare, “It’s none of my business,” “I’m not getting involved in that,” “I just thought it best to keep quiet…”

But if you remain silent when you see others being abused, discriminated against, mistreated, bullied, etc., it’s only a matter of time before those same experiences will come upon you. Martin King said it best when he declared, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” In essence, this is what Mordecai said to his niece Esther, whose identity as a Jew was unknown when she became Queen after Vashti.

When Mordecai told Esther about the plot of Haman to annihilate the Jews, Esther initially was reluctant to go and speak to the king about the matter. Going in to see the king uninvited could mean death! It is understandable that Esther did not want to risk her life to go and speak to the king on behalf of her people. But listen to what Mordecai said to Esther…

"Think not that in the king's palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. For if you keep silence at such a time as this, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another quarter, but you and your father's house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?"

In essence, Mordecai was saying, “Look, don’t think that because you are beautiful and pleasing to the King that you will be saved from the slaughter that’s coming. If you don’t speak up, God will raise up another person WHO WILL speak up, but you and your folks will get destroyed!”

Sometimes God strategically places us in situations and circumstances for the express purpose of speaking up, taking a stand, making a difference, bringing about a change…but it’s hard to do that when we fear man more than we fear God. We fear losing something…position, friends, income, security, being in the “in crowd,” etc.

What we don’t realize is that the Lord gives and the Lord takes away…Even if humans become angry and seek to strip you of what is yours, God can and will restore you if what you are doing is just and right. But who will restore you if God takes it from you? Who will protect you if God steps back and let’s your enemies have their way with you? Who can and will stand in the gap with you if God says, “it’s your time – your number is up!”

Sometimes God gives us the opportunity to rise to the occasion…to open our mouths…to say, “No, this is wrong…no we won’t accept the perks and the privileges of sin for a season. We will stand for what is right!”

Some pastors and preachers will not speak up about ungodly, sinful ways and lifestyles, injustice in the community, abusive people in the church, etc., because they do not want to offend parishioners…they don’t want to impact the offering plate, they do not want to empty their pews. But by remaining silent, they are jeopardizing the very souls and the health of the people God has entrusted to their care.

Silence is not always golden. Silence can be consent. Silence can mean devastation and destruction. Like Mordecai said to Esther, if you deliberately turn your head, close your eyes and behave as if nothing has happened or is happening while your sister or your brother suffers, that same pain will come back to haunt, afflict and ultimately destroy you.

God’s Word declares that Mordecai,

3 … was second in rank to King Xerxes, preeminent among the Jews, and held in high esteem by his many fellow Jews, because he worked for the good of his people and spoke up for the welfare of all the Jews.

When you with courage and by faith, according to God’s Holy Spirit and timing, speak up, the Lord Himself will raise you, the Lord Himself will fight for you, the Lord Himself will defeat your enemies, the Lord Himself will use you to bless and benefit many.

I’m so glad that somebody spoke up for me, stood in the gap for me, fought some fierce battles for me and His name is Jesus! Jesus spoke up for me. Jesus spoke up for you! Jesus defeated our accuser who stands before the throne day and night accusing us…JESUS SPOKE UP, JESUS MANNED UP AND HUNG ON THE CROSS AND JESUS GOT UP WITH ALL POWER IN HIS HANDS!

He calls us now to speak up for one another. Speak up for what is just and right…not joining together with people in their wrong, in their belligerence, in their mean spirited and divisive ways…there’s plenty of “speaking up” around those issues.

Instead, may we speak up when we see others being abused…speak up by getting out and voting and letting deceitful politicians know that they cannot buy our vote…speak up when we hear of clandestine plots and plans to get rid of people for unjust reasons…speak up when we hear others accusing and speaking falsely about people…speak up when we are around people who are tearing down the man, the woman of God…speak up and point out the good when others are constantly criticizing and ignoring the right…by GOD SPEAK UP!!!

Post a comment or send me an email at

Until next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Shepastor: "Reviving Our Passion for Prayer..."

Pray without ceasing. I Thessalonians 5:17, KJV

Priscilla Shirer in her most recent book, Fervent declares the following about prayer…

We pray because our own solutions don’t work and because prayer deploys, activates, and fortifies us against the attacks of the enemy. We pray because we’re serious about taking back the ground he has sought to take from us.
That’s what we do. And I hope it’s what you do…But make no mistake, this enemy will seek to discourage you from doing it. Dissuade you. Disarm you by putting a distaste for prayer in your mouth. He wants to see you passionless, powerless and prayerless. Quiet. And because prayer is the divinely ordained mechanism that leads you into the heart and the power and the victory of Christ, he knows you’ll remain defeated and undone without it. Tired and overwhelmed. Inching forward but mostly backward. Trying to figure out why the hope and enthusiasm you feel in church doesn’t follow you to the four walls you live within.
And If I were your enemy, that’s exactly what I’d want. I’d want to make you devalue the most potent weapons in your arsenal. I’d strategize against you, using carefully calculated methods to disorient and defeat you.
-Fervent p. 14

The church I pastor is in the process of rebuilding…not a physical structure, but a new, strong, vibrant, evangelistic and disciple making ministry. It is not easy. In fact, it can feel daunting. We have a small group of faithful, giving, loving individuals. However, the hard work of transitioning racially, culturally and location wise has been a struggle. In 2016, our congregation has covenanted to focus upon persistent, specific and strategic prayer. We have asked and answered the questions, “What do I want to see happen in my church in 2016? What am I willing to commit to doing to help bring this to pass?” Each member wrote their desire and commitment on a slip of paper, signed their name and placed it in a special prayer box in our sanctuary (our congregation is less than 50 so this was not a herculean task!).

As pastor of a small congregation that has gone through many transitions over time, I admit that keeping my “passion” for prayer and ministry focus is a challenge. Yet the Spirit of the Lord continues to move us onward, beckoning us to engage in fervent prayer and work through this ministry.

We are beginning the process of having “Cottage Prayers.” Throughout this year, individuals and families within our congregation signed up to host a Cottage Prayer Meeting. Cottage Prayer meetings will happen once monthly for a 12 month period (all months except one have been taken!) The pastor and associate ministers will go to our member homes for about 1 hour and 15 minutes to study scriptures concerning prayer and to pray, specifically and strategically with those in attendance. We will also pray about our desires and commitments for the church. Members have been encouraged to invite family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, etc.

Our hope is that we will help people to gain or revive a passion for prayer and seek a deeper relationship with the Lord. We also hope to increase “laborers for the Covenant Ministry Vineyard!” Beginning in February, we will together study the book, Fervent. We will engage in specific, strategic prayer, incorporating scriptures from God’s Holy Word as we go. As we move forward, we will revisit our special prayers written on slips of paper and placed in the prayer box to review our commitments and give praise for God’s answers.

I have intentionally chosen to share with a measure of transparency the “wrestlings” of our congregation as we pursue God’s vision for the ministry in which we are presently called to serve. Maybe others are struggling too. Know that you are not alone. Planting looks a lot like a burial…By faith, however, believe that “spring time” is coming!

There is power in persistent, strategic prayer. Our enemy is a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. At times, we become disillusioned and frustrated…wondering if our prayers are making a difference, if things will ever change, if things are getting better… But God is answering our prayers. Sometimes, before the beauty comes forth, the ugly has to be revealed, removed and life can then be restored.

Prayer unearths some things
Prayer shakes up some things
Prayer dismantles some things
Prayer replaces some things
Prayer restores some things
Prayer revitalizes some things
Prayer changes somethings!

Will you pray with us for passion filled, fervent, strategic prayer? Will you engage in fervent, strategic prayer in your own life? Let’s do this thing in 2016!!!

To read more about the Covenant Baptist Church Ministry and our 2016 Prayer focus, visit

Post a comment or send me an email at

Until next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris