Saturday, December 2, 2017

The Difference Between Being Emotional and Being Spiritual

Colossians 2:8-10 See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.  For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority.

It is common today for people to say they are spiritual but not religious. Most often what people mean when they say this is that they feel a connection to something spiritual without engaging in any specific religious activity.

I've had several great conversations with people who put themselves in this category. One young man said that when he looks at a lovely scenic view it moves him far more emotionally than sitting in a dry church service. One middle aged lady told me that when she sees a well designed garden, she feels more peaceful than when she is listening to a sermon. An older couple shared how it makes them feel happy when they engage in a good deed, and since they volunteer a lot at various community organizations, they are happy most of the time. Therefore, they don't see the need to go to church to find happiness. This sense of being spiritual, but not religious, is one of the prevailing philosophies in our post-Christian culture. It is one of many factors leading to the decline in church attendance and formal church affiliation.

This is a challenging issue to work through. After all, people need to enjoy scenic views, well designed gardens and do good deeds. All of these things have intrinsic value in our lives and can help us find emotional well being. But such activities do not necessarily make a person spiritual. There is a difference between being emotional and being spiritual. Emotions are important, and finding activities that help us experience positive emotions are worth seeking out. I sure have had days that were so stressful that sitting in a garden and gaining a sense of peace, was exactly what I needed on that day. But that is not the same thing as connected to God, who is the ultimate author of peace and has the spiritual power to actually change the situation. Knowing Christ brings a deeper level of peace and a deeper sense of happiness than any garden or scenic view ever could. And more importantly, having a connection to Christ helps us deal with issues and not just temporarily cover them up with an emotional high.

So enjoy a scenic view, but also get to know the One who made the view.

Lord, help us remember that we need You in our lives more than anything else. Amen.
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Dr. Terry W. Dorsett has been a pastor, church planter, denominational leader and author in New England for more than 20 years. He is a happy husband, a proud father and adoring grandfather. He is a cancer survivor and believes that God works powerfully through times of suffering. He writes extensively and you can find all of his books at:




Monday, November 27, 2017

Nine Steps to End Your Ministry Prematurely

When I graduated from seminary I was looking forward to a long and happy life as a minister of the Gospel. God has been very gracious to me and has granted my desire and given me three decades of wonderful ministry. I’m looking forward to another two (maybe three???) decades of ministry. For me, ministry has been a wonderful and positive experience. Regretfully, this is not true for some ministers.

Though they may have started out with the same enthusiasm and sense of calling as their peers, far too many pastors are dropping out of the ministry. Others remain in the ministry, but their passion is gone and privately they confess they are just marking time until retirement.

There are many reasons for this. Some of it has to do with the brokenness of society that just wears pastors out emotionally. Some of it has to churches not treating pastors well, and we have all heard horror stories about that. But some of it has to do pastors themselves. Somewhere along the way these once excited and passionate pastors lost their zeal, lost their edge, got distracted from their calling, or were swayed by a host of other things, and as a result, either lost their ministry entirely or lost their effectiveness in ministry but remained in the role, because they needed a job, but were miserable. Some friends and I came up with this list of reasons why a pastor's ministry either ends earlier than it should or loses its effectiveness even though he stays in a ministry position. Let this list be a warning to those of us who are ministry.

1. The pastor refuses to depend on the power and leading of the Holy Spirit and instead depends mostly on his education or experience. We can do NOTHING apart from the Spirit of God. When we start trusting in our training or our experience instead of the Spirit, we quickly lose our edge.

2. The pastor refuses to change his methods, even when they clearly are not working. While the message of the Gospel is unchanging, the way we share that message changes with every generation. As hard as it is to "teach an old dog new tricks," those of us who are ministers of the Gospel MUST keep up with the changing ministry methods in order to keep our ministry effective.

3. The pastor refuses to listen to younger leaders, worse yet, he openly attacks them for not wanting to do things “his” way. This often follows closely on the heels of refusing to change methodology. When I was a younger leader, I was often frustrated that no one would listen to my ideas. Now that I am a middle aged leader, I am working hard to remember to listen to the younger voices around me. I need their ideas just as much as they need my maturity. Pastors who fail to listen to younger leaders will find their own effectiveness greatly diminished. In a growing number of situations, ministries are closing down because all the young people are gone. While we tend to blame younger leaders for leaving the church, in discussions with some of those leaders I learned one reason they left was because they did not feel the older church leaders wanted them there. The pastor must lead the way in engaging younger leaders in the overall life of the church, and that includes listening to their ideas and trying some of those ideas.

4. The pastor refuses to embrace emerging technologies and becomes less and less effective in how he communicates with others or how he accomplishes his day to day tasks. Just as methods change, so does technology. Email used to be a great way to communicate. But it is less effective today. Some researchers say only about one-third of emails get read. That means two thirds of the people we think we are communicating with through an email are not hearing the message. There was a day when a rotating slide projector was a valuable tool, but now digital projectors are popular. Radio programs used to be a great tool for community outreach, now podcasts seems to be more effective. Using various video applications such as Facebook live, have become a key way to communicate ideas. To be honest, I'm not very comfortable with all those video apps, but I'm trying to learn. Those of us who are on the mature side of the age bracket just have to take the time to learn how to embrace these technologies so we can keep the message of Christ going out loud and strong. Otherwise the message of the Gospel that we love so much will be getting to fewer and fewer people each year and that will cause our ministry to either end early or lose its effectiveness.

‪5. The pastor takes credit for everything and fails to give the glory to God or to give credit to other leaders on the team. It takes a Spirit-filled team to make anything of significance happen. Since it takes a team, that is Spirit focused and Spirit filled, why would the pastor take all the credit? That is both spiritually and practically unhealthy and can lead to the diminishing of a ministry quickly.

6. ‪ The pastor refuses to keep his soul clean and fit for service to the Lord through focused prayer, daily confession of sin, and healthy self-examination of motives and attitudes. Just because we are men of God does not mean we are perfect. All of us have some sin or issue that we struggle with. We must keep our soul clean before God. We must regularly seek the filling of His Holy Spirit. We might be able to fake it for a while, but eventually what is deep inside of us will work its way to the surface So let's make sure it is Jesus that is deep inside of us.

7. The pastor loses his love for people and begins to find service to them a burden instead of a joy. I think when we have not kept our soul clean and fit for God, it is easy to focus on the problems in our ministry. And since most problems start with people, a dirty soul leads to a lack of love for people. When that happens, our body language, our tone of voice, our facial expressions and our actions speak, both in our sermons and in our personal interactions with others. People know if we really love them or not. And if we don't really love them, our ministry will soon be over.

8. The pastor refuses to serve and love his community when it changes ethnically or economically. Pastors often accept a particular ministry position because they think they can relate to the people and make a real difference. But sometimes the situation changes. The people they related to so well when they first arrived are no longer the ones who are there. God has brought a different group of people to the community. If the pastor does not learn how to relate to that new people group, his ministry will slowly erode away and come to an end instead of remaining strong and vibrant.

9. The pastor fails to realize when the time comes to turn the reigns over to the next generation. We must remember that David had the vision of the temple, but Solomon was the one who actually built it. Moses was first given the mission to lead the people into the promise land, but Joshua was the one who completed the journey. ‪Knowing when it is time to move to a new ministry, or perhaps to retire, is important. Far too many pastors hang on to their position long past the time they should have brought it to a close. This actually ends their ministry sooner than it should. Why? Because people tend to sense when it is time for the pastor to leave, but when they realize he is not planning to leave, they begin to attend less and less, volunteer less and less and give less and less. Eventually this forces the pastor out, but often only after a long period of ineffectiveness. If the pastor had realized it was time to move on, he could have ended his ministry strong instead of watching it slowly erode away. This is not only true in regard to when it is time to move to a new ministry, but also when it is time to retire from full-time ministry. Most ministers I know do not want to really retire, they love serving too much. But there comes a time when full-time ministry is too much and shifting to a part-time ministry, or perhaps just doing pulpit supply, can extend a man's ministry many more years. But when a pastor refuses to retire, and instead clings to his full-time position, he will eventually burn out. And once that happens, it is harder for him to have a part-time ministry because no one wants to hire a burned out pastor who does not know when it is time to move on. In the words of the song writer, "Know when to hold 'em and know when to fold 'em."

There are no guarantees in ministry but thinking through these nine steps will help a pastor stay in ministry longer and keep that ministry more effective.

What ideas do you have to help a minister keep his ministry strong and healthy?



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Dr. Terry W. Dorsett has been a pastor, church planter, denominational leader and author in New England for more than 20 years. He is a happy husband, a proud father and adoring grandfather. He is a cancer survivor and believes that God works powerfully through times of suffering. He writes extensively and you can find all of his books at:

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Be Thankful!


Psalm 100
Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth! Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.

This passage reminds us of the need to be thankful to the Lord because He is good. Let's walk through this psalm one verse at a time.

Verse 1 - Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth!
David wrote this Psalm as a prayer of thanksgiving to God. David began by telling people they should make a joyful noise to the Lord. Most of us get far more excited at a football game than we do at sharing all the things God has done for us.

Verse 2 - Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!
David tells his readers that they should serve the Lord with gladness. While it possible to serve God without gladness  that is a terrible way to live one’s life. David tells his readers to come into God’s presence with singing. Music is an important part of our lives. Christian music makes us feel closer to God. One thing that can help our singing be more worshipful is singing songs that we can sing TO God, not just ones that we can sing ABOUT God.

Verse 3 -Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
God is the Lord of the universe. Lord means master, ruler, or controller. We live in a world that has worked very hard to tell us that God is either not real, or that He is weak and not really in charge of the universe. It is important to know that God is real and that He is Lord over all things because when we forget that, we tend to think we are in control of everything. Life has a way of reminding us again and again that we are not in control. So if we try to be, we will be constantly disappointed.  The Bible teaches both in this verse and in many other places that God made us. This is different than what most of us have been taught in school. We are the special creation of a mighty God not the accident of a muddy glob!!!!

Verse 4 - Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!
When we come before the Lord, we should come with thanksgiving and praise. There is a difference between thanksgiving and praise. Thanksgiving is being grateful for what God HAS DONE FOR US. Praise is being excited about WHO GOD IS. We should be thankful to God for the many things he has done for us. We should praise God just for being who he is.

Verse 5 - For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.
David wanted his readers to know that the Lord really is good. Sometimes we doubt the goodness of God when bad things happen to us that we do not understand. But God is always working for our good, even when it does not seem like it. We know God is always working for our good because God’s love is steadfast. Steadfast means it holds true no matter what. Sometimes our love for God goes up and down depending our how we feel or what may be going on in our lives. But God’s love for us NEVER waivers. God’s love endures forever.

Conclusion:
We should pray prayers of thanksgiving to God. To do that well, we must:
                  Serve the Lord with gladness
       •          Come into the Lord’s presence with singing.
       •          Remember that God is the Lord of all things.
       •          Give the Lord thanks and praise even when we do not understand what is happening to us.
       •      Never doubt God’s goodness, for His love for us endures even when our love for Him waivers.

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Dr. Terry W. Dorsett has been a pastor, church planter, denominational leader and author in New England for more than 20 years. He is a happy husband, a proud father and adoring grandfather. He is a cancer survivor and believes that God works powerfully through times of suffering. He writes extensively and you can find all of his books at:


Thursday, November 16, 2017

Don't Wait Until It is Too Late to Change

I arrived at the meeting early. I wanted time to collect my thoughts and to pray. I knew it was possible the meeting would go poorly, as the subject to be discussed was a very challenging one. The group was deciding if it was time for their ministry to come to an end.

I wish I could say I've only been in one or two such meetings, but in my role as a denominational leader, I've been in many of them. Sometimes the situation could be managed and was turned around in positive ways. Most often, the group had waited too long to change.

Many churches and ministry organizations across our nation are struggling to survive. There are many reasons for this struggle, but most often it happens because somewhere along the way the group declined to make the changes that were needed to remain vibrant. Because of the deep commitment level that most Christians have toward their church and other related ministries, a small group can keep a ministry going long after the ministry's peak effectiveness has passed. But they enter into a period of long slow decline, often expending greater and greater energy but seeing less and less results. They hope something will change, even though they do everything possible to keep change from happening. What they often look for is a young vibrant leader who will enthusiastically lead them to remain exactly the same. Rarely does that plan work and even when it does, it often only temporarily delays the inevitable. 

When churches, or other ministry organizations are in decline, but refuse to change, the rate of decline often accelerates at the same time that the number of viable options for change are reduced. Though there are many points along the way when they could have made the decision to change, those points become farther and father apart and the options available to them become fewer and fewer. There finally comes a point when nothing can be done to reverse the decline and closure is inevitable. That is always a sad point to arrive at for those who are left to clean up what little remains. 

How do we avoid seeing a once vibrant ministry end? The key is to change early enough in the process to actually improve the situation while there is still energy and resources available for an effective shift in direction. This requires leaders who are brave enough to do something different. This requires leaders willing to release control. Most of all, this requires leaders who are willing to ask Christ, the Master and Savior of All, to help them re-envision what it means to follow Him and help them return to their first love. When that happens, change comes quickly. It is not without pain or a sense of loss. But it is a necessary part of the process and will produce amazing results.


While many churches and other ministries are unable to make the shift, those that do experience a glorious rebirth. Churches can be revived. Ministries can refocus. But it will look different than it did in the past. And that's not necessarily a bad thing, if we are brave enough to try something different.

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Dr. Terry W. Dorsett has been a pastor, church planter, denominational leader and author in New England for more than 20 years. He is a happy husband, a proud father and adoring grandfather. He is a cancer survivor and believes that God works powerfully through times of suffering. He writes extensively and you can find all of his books at: