Sunday, November 22, 2015

Closing Our Minds to Reality

Matthew 21:33-41 - There was a master of a house who planted a vineyard and put a fence around it and dug a winepress in it and built a tower and leased it to tenants, and went into another country. When the season for fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the tenants to get his fruit. And the tenants took his servants and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. Again he sent other servants, more than the first. And they did the same to them. Finally he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and have his inheritance.’ And they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. When therefore the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?” They said to him, “He will put those wretches to a miserable death and let out the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the fruits in their seasons.”

In the scripture passage above, a group of tenants rent a vineyard and when it comes time to pay the rent, they not only refuse, they beat up several rent collectors, sending them away empty handed. Eventually the owner’s son comes to collect the rent. The tenants decide to kill him so they can have the vineyard for themselves. The problem with their line of reasoning is that it makes no sense whatsoever. Clearly they were not going to get away with murdering the son of the land owner. Not only would they not get away with it, they would pay a far worse price for their wrong deed than if they had just paid the rent to begin with. Their actions make no sense at all in the real world. But somehow, sitting around the table discussing it among themselves, they were able to close their minds to the reality of the situation. Around the table with only themselves to reinforce their ideas, their crazy plan sounded logical. They then made decisions based on that grossly illogical logic, which would eventually cause their destruction.

The actions of the tenants in the story are not that much different than how many people view the world today. Instead of looking at the reality of a situation, we tend to surround ourselves with those who already support our own previously held view point. Listening to our “advisers,” whom all already agree with us, only reinforces our false view of the issue. Once that happens, our viewpoint sounds perfectly logical to us even though it makes no sense in the real world.

This could be applied to an endless number of scenarios, but I happened to notice it quite clearly some time ago when the series of videos about Planned Parenthood came out. I refrained from writing about it when it first came out because people were too emotional to discuss the issue with an open mind. I hope people are a bit less emotional now and able to think through the issue a bit more critically. When considering that whole situation, regardless of how one feels about abortion itself, clearly the comments from Planned Parenthood officials were atrocious. Negotiating the price of various parts of an aborted baby’s body so one can buy an expensive sports car should be offensive to anyone, even the most ardent abortion supporter. Some of the other attitudes displayed in the videos were equally appalling. Yet when Time magazine reported on the issue, instead of pointing out the obviously flawed logic of Planned Parenthood’s position, they referred to the man who took the videos as a “spy” with a video camera who “infiltrated” Planned Parenthood, as if the man who was trying to point out the wrong behavior was actually at fault. Throughout the article Time’s bias was revealed again and again as it tried to make the hero of the story into the bad guy. That skewed viewpoint was repeated again and again across social media and clearly many abortion supporters missed the point of the videos, which was that some things happen inside those clinics that should not happen, regardless of how one views abortion itself. Everyone should have supported the idea that Planned Parenthood needed to change its policies and procedures. But few abortion supports said that publicly because they had already accepted too many falsehoods about the issue as truth. Building one’s views on a faulty logic makes normally clear thinking people willing to accept disastrous choices of others who agree with their viewpoint.

That same kind of thinking is what makes people from Westboro Baptist Church protest at funerals and think they are somehow helping the nation. Anyone who looks at the reality of the situation knows protesting at a funeral is inappropriate. Yet that cult does it again and again, and from their perspective, it makes perfect sense. Everyone in their group reinforces that faulty logic and so they hop on a bus, drive across the country, and ruin a funeral of someone’s loved one. It advances no one’s cause and makes no sense whatsoever in the real world. But a bus full of people is willing to do it repeatedly.

Perhaps it is time that we put all the rhetoric aside and actually start thinking about the issues facing our nation with open minds. Perhaps it is time to listen to someone with a different opinion and have a rational discussion with them instead of just a shouting match. Perhaps it is time to stop hitting the “share” button on social media and start sharing healthy conversations about real life with those we care about. If we fail to do this, our culture will continue to fragment and will eventually crumble. Will we let closed minds destroy us or will be start accepting the reality of the world we live in?


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 19, 2015

The Throw Away Church - Guest Post by Bill Davis

In a culture of polarization, when we strongly disagree with someone, we often just end the relationship instead of trying to work through our differences and fix the relationship. This has created a lot of "throw away" relationships. Regretfully, we often treat our relationship with our church the same way. If we do not like the message they are preaching or if that message steps on our toes or makes us feel uncomfortable, we just want to throw away that church.

Timothy 4:3 (NIV); "For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear."

I have had a number of people say that they had been attending a particular church for a number of years and felt they really were not living that strong a Christian life. They chose to change churches rather than lifestyles and now feel they are living just fine as a "Christian".

I am afraid we often look for a church that fits our lifestyle rather than being willing to change our lifestyle.

Romans 12:2 (NIV); "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will."

Another issue I often hear is when people are visiting various churches. They frequently say they are looking for the church that has the most to offer them and where they feel comfortable. In itself, this is not necessarily bad. They want a good choir, an outstanding youth program or senior’s curriculum. They want the Pastor to preach long enough but not too long, loud enough but not too loud, etc. Perhaps as we look for a church home, we should take the lead from Scripture and find a church home where we can contribute and not just receive. Don’t merely take but give as well. Look for a church home where you can impact other’s lives and the outreach of that particular church.

1 Peter 4:10 (NIV); “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”

We need to realize, the church or Church does not owe us anything. Jesus Christ already gave the ultimate gift of His blood. It is time for us to give back.


Bill Davis lives in Anderson County, SC, where he speaks at churches and encourages evangelism and discipleship efforts across the region. He is the author of “The Revelation of Jesus.”

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Why Larger Churches Should Remain Engaged in their Denomination

Though many feel that we are living in a post-denomination age, I believe denominations still have a valuable role to play in God’s plan for the church (see my post here about why I joined a denomination). Denominations provide a way for local churches to work together on projects too big for any one church to handle on their own (see my article about denominations serving churches). But what about churches that have grown numerically to the point when they no longer need many of the services the denomination provides? Should they remain invested in a group that provides many services they may no longer need? With the rise of the mega-church this is a question that even many non-mega-churches are asking.

I think there are a number of reasons why larger churches need to remain involved in and actively support their denomination. Large churches have often learned something about reaching people that other churches need to learn. They often have developed specialized ministries that other churches need to know about. One might argue that those churches can host their own training conferences and seminars to promote these ideas without any connection to the denomination. While that might be the case, why recreate an information distribution system and spend money on mass advertising when the denomination already has all the channels needed to get that information out to hundreds, perhaps thousands of churches? It would be better for larger churches to partner with their denomination to provide those training experiences through the denominational system. Think about this from a local church perspective, if the most gifted church members decided to keep all their talents and abilities to themselves or to only use them for para-church groups and never use them in the local congregation, it would adversely impact the ministry of the local church. It would set the local church back and hinder its effectiveness greatly. The same thing is true when the largest churches in a denomination start doing their own thing outside the denominational system. It robs the group of the very thing they need to move to the next level. Large churches should work through the denominational system, instead of outside of it, to help raise the level of training and effectiveness in the entire group.

Then there is the issue of money. Larger churches almost always have more financial resources than smaller churches, yet as they grow, they often redirect their resources away from the denomination toward their own causes. That lowers the resources available to the denomination to offer high caliber services to the smaller churches that remain, which often need those services the most. When larger churches withdraw, or significantly lower, their financial support for the denomination, it has a negative impact on the smaller churches in the group. For example, I serve a denominational missionary organization that serves 337 churches, most of which average less than 85 in regular worship attendance. Twenty five of those 337 churches provide 61% of the financial support for our ministry. If any one of those 25 key churches withdrew their support, it would severely limit the services we could provide to the other 312 churches. Some might be tempted to disparage all of those smaller churches as “ineffective” and therefore not worthy of support. That is not always the case. In our situation, 40% of our churches are from 19 different ethnic groups we serve, some of which are economically disadvantaged. Nearly 50% of the churches in our network are new churches plants less than ten years old and are still in the process of becoming stable. Many churches in our family of faith are located in small villages and mountain towns or other out of the way places that will never be serviced by a larger church. For the sake of the gospel, we must have a strong denominational budget so these small churches can continue to be assisted. The only way we can have a strong budget is for our larger churches to continue to support the denomination.

Larger churches may no longer need someone from the denomination to come train their Sunday School teachers or deacons, but that does not relieve them of the obligation of assisting the denomination in training Sunday School teachers and deacons in other churches. Larger churches may no longer need financial assistance from the denomination, but many smaller churches do need it and larger churches should have a kingdom mindset and continue to invest the funds needed for the whole family of churches to be healthy. There may have been a day when denominations had bloated staffs and wasteful budgets, but those days are long gone. Denominations that are thriving today are lean and efficient and need their larger churches to remain engaged for the sake of the Kingdom. 


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:

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Should My Denomination Serve My Church?

As a denominational leader, I am often asked what our organization does to serve churches. I am pleased to be able to give those who ask a list of nearly 25 benefits churches affiliated with our missionary organization gain through their connection to us. But I confess, sometimes the question itself concerns me. Don't get me wrong, I do think that the denomination should serve the churches, not the other way around. But I wonder if the question says something about the hearts and motives of those who ask.

I did not grow up in denomination (read about my journey toward joining a denomination here). When I decided to join one, my choice was not driven by what the denomination could do for ME but how joining it would help me be more effective in REACHING THE WORLD for Christ. Isn't that really the question churches should be asking? Rarely does a church ask how the denomination can help their church reach their community, their region, the nation or the world with the gospel. This concerns me, and it should concern local church leaders too.

When churches only focus on what they get out of the denomination instead of how they can use their connection to the denomination to reach others, it indicates they have turned inward on themselves, caring more about meeting their own needs than reaching the lost. When churches focus on what they get out of the relationship, it is very similar to individual Christians who demand the church meet their needs or they will leave and go to a church down the street.

Regretfully, some denominations do not help their churches share the gospel more effectively. And it is legitimate for churches in those denominations to consider changing their denominational affiliation. Sometimes denominations have various agencies, regional offices, associations and connections that are less effective than other branches of the same denomination. In those situations, churches might consider if they can shift to a different organization or branch of the same denomination so their energy is focused on the most effective aspect of denominational life. But when a church is only connected to a denomination for what they can get out of the relationship, then something is wrong. Let us all examine our hearts and motives and ask how we can use the connections in the denomination we find ourselves in to advance the Kingdom of God, not just to increase the list of benefits available to us.


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:

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Why I Joined a Denomination

Baptist Convention of New England 2015 Church Planting Breakfast
I have many fond memories of two churches I grew up in, one in Illinois when I was a child and the other in Virginia, where my family moved when I was a teenager. Those two churches shaped my spiritual growth and helped me understand my call to ministry and missions. But neither were part of a denomination. In fact, on more than one occasion I recall passionate sermons on why denominations were bad and how we should avoid churches connected to them. (One of those churches has since changed  their position on that issue and is now loosely connected to a denomination, but that is a subject for a different post.)

Growing up with a skewed view of denominations, it was with skepticism that I listened to one particular college professor who was also a bivocational pastor of a small church connected to the Southern Baptist Convention. He often talked about how his denomination enabled his church to do more than he had ever dreamed of in reaching both his community and the world for Christ. Regardless of my initial skepticism, after three years of classes with that professor, I began to rethink the whole denominational issue.

After a lot of thought and scripture study, I came to realize that the concept of denominations was great, basically a denomination is simply a group of churches working together accomplishing more than each could on their own. But what I continued to struggle with in my college days was how denominations were structured. Due to my firm belief in the local church as the primary spiritual institution through which God works, the idea that denominations controlled their churches by owning the church property, ordaining and assigning the pastors and requiring pastors to make vows of obedience to church hierarchy, was more than I could accept as biblical.

Before researching the subject adequately, I mistakenly thought that ALL denominations directly controlled their churches in these ways. After educating myself on the subject, I learned that there were a number of denominations who rejected such control mechanisms. In fact, I came to see that many denominations actually agreed with my position on local church autonomy, including the Southern Baptist Convention. When I graduated from seminary, weary of the isolationism that non-affiliated churches often immerse themselves in, I sought a position in churches connected to the Southern Baptist Convention. Not only did the SBC Baptist Faith and Message represent a conservative biblical view of theology, but their structure allows churches to be totally autonomous while also cooperating together to accomplish things they could not do on their own.

My connection to the Southern Baptist Convention has been a healthy one. After only three years of service to a SBC church in South Carolina, I was able to go to New England as a missionary. I now lead SBC work in New England through the Baptist Convention of New England. Who would have thought that a kid who grew up in "anti-denominational" churches would now be one of the leaders in a the largest evangelical denomination in America. Proof that God does have a sense of humor and can help us grow in understanding of biblical truth.

If your church is isolated and alone, instead of accepting the falsehood that all denominations are bad, do the research. You will learn that some denominations are indeed liberal. Some are indeed controlling. Some are not healthy. But there are a number that have remain faithful to the scriptures and have worked hard to balance local church autonomy with cooperative efforts. The Southern Baptist Convention is one of those. It is worthy of a second look. It is not perfect. No man-made organization is. But being isolated and alone as a non-affiliated church has its weaknesses too. For me, being connected to other churches of like faith and practice is vital to being part of God's plan for world redemption. I am proud to have become a Southern Baptist by choice, not tradition. I encourage others to do the research and make the same journey.


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 9, 2015


“I’m sorry!” is a short sentence that, properly spoken, can restrain confrontation and minimize the potential of relationship anxiety.  Through the years I have pondered these 2 simple words:
* With everyone, there seems to be a four step process in arriving at “I’m sorry!”:

Step 1. The Deed.   We hurt someone’s feelings with a poor choice of words.   We set someone in shock with a quick and thoughtless outrage.  We gossip.  We fall short in a commitment that we made.  Etc. 
Step 2.  The Denial.  We have a natural, almost effortless, first reaction to deny our ‘error’.   We become brain dead towards the existence of an ‘I’m sorry!’
Step 3.  The Delay.  After we awake from denial and face the certainty of our hurtful incident our 2nd action is to suspend our confession until we are ‘really sure’.
Step 4.  The Delivery.  We finally say, “I’m sorry.”
I have observed that both ‘The Denial’ and/or ‘The Delay’ steps can happen in 5 minutes, loiter for 5 days, or colonize our brains forever.    The longer the delay in getting to step four – the more the damage.
* We will have a choice of manner and tone in which we express our sorrow.
I think that the words ‘sincere’ and ‘heartfelt’ are important in relaying your regret.   False or insincere delivery usually means that you are still stuck in Step 2 or 3.
            * Avoid starting your apology with, “I’m sorry, but …”  Remember – It’s 2 words!!!
             * People either find it easy to say “I’m sorry!”, or … they don’t!   50/50?  It’s a weird kinda thing.  Some will fly through the steps.  And some will struggle. I usually find it easy to speak those words quickly and sincerely.  It may be due to the plentitude of my botches and the resulting need to implement the application.  J
Ephesians 4:29  Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.
* Helpful hint.   It does take 2 to tango.  In most incidents both parties partake in communicative errors.   Even though you are always ‘less bad’ (that was sarcasm) – Be first to say, “I’m sorry!”.   And, watch how quickly the other apologizes.
James 3:17 But the wisdom which is from heaven is first holy, then gentle, readily giving way in argument, full of peace and mercy and good works, not doubting, not seeming other than it is.
Just some thoughts … to Think About!

Chris Beltrami is one of New England's most award winning photographers. For decades he has used his position as a Christian businessman to influence others to consider the claims of Christ on their lives. He writes a monthly devotional called "Think About It." You can be put on that monthly email list by contacting him at This article first appeared in the October 2015 edition of "Think About it."