- Where do you stand on social issues? Specifically drinking, smoking, living with someone before marriage.
I personally don’t believe that the Bible tells us that we can’t drink alcohol. Ecclesiastes 9:7 “Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved what you do.”Psalm 104:14-15 “You cause the grass to grow for the livestock and plants for man to cultivate, that he may bring forth food from the earth and wine to gladden the heart of man, oil to make his face shine and bread to strengthen man’s heart”John chapter 2 Jesus turns water to wine. I know it’s debated if it’s actually wine or juice, but I believe that the Bible says what it says and it’s alcoholic wine.
There are verses that say specific people or groups should not drink, such as in Leviticus speaking to a group of men and their sons.
That being said I do believe the Bible speaks on having too much alcohol or being an addict. For instance – qualifications for being a deacon or elder include not be given to much wine.
I also believe this falls into the category of Christian liberties. 1 Corinthians 6:12 says “‘All things are lawful for me,’ but not all things are helpful. ‘All things are lawful for me,’ but I will not be enslaved by anything.” Basically if you believe it is acceptable for a Christian to drink, don’t do it in the company of those who disagree for their sake.
Finally there are many verses that just say it is wrong to be drunk and unwise to drink. All in all I feel that it is acceptable to have a small amount of alcohol on occasion. Moderation and maturity in your choices. Don’t do it around people it will offend or cause to stumble. Don’t let it come between you and God.
As far as my thoughts on drinking from a pastoral point of view, I’d recommend not trying it. I’ve seen several people get involved too heavily without intending to and it causing major issues in their lives. I’ve thought about personal application for me recently if I am to be voted in as a pastor here. I rarely drink, couldn’t even tell you last time I did. One reason the Bible gives to not drink alcohol is so we don’t cause our brothers to stumble. I understand that some of our members would have issues knowing their pastors drink and while I can’t promise I will never have alcohol again I would lean more heavily towards avoiding it. Again, it isn’t something important to me anyway and I generally avoid it, and if I you would like me as you pastor I will try to do the best I can for the best of our church.
As for smoking, I think it’s yucky.
My pastoral view is that I don’t necessarily see it as a sin but don’t see any benefit to it either. It harms the body, is a waste of money and is very addictive.
Living with someone before marriage is not specifically addressed in the Bible but I believe the concern isn’t a living arrangement specifically but sex before marriage. God is very clear that sex is to be saved for your spouse. In most circumstances, I am against living with someone of the opposite sex because we are to avoid temptation. For a couple that is dating I would say it isn’t something that ought to do. There are certain circumstances that it may be ok, such as someone living with a person they take care of who is unable to care for themselves. But I believe to answer the spirit of the question I’m going to say it’s not something I’d be ok with.
- Are you looking for a percentage of votes to know you are called? Simple majority? 50%? What will you do if not voted in?
I’ve put a lot of thought into this and still don’t have an answer. Mostly it depends on why so many would want to say “no” to me being a pastor here. If 49% of our congregation don’t believe that I am not qualified to be a pastor then I would not accept because it wouldn’t be wise to cause that kind of division in the church. If the no votes were because we don’t like the thought of multiple pastors then I would have to pray and think on it some more.Several years ago I told God that I will serve Him in any way He wants me to serve. If I am not voted in then I will take it as God telling me that this isn’t what He wants from me at this time. I will pray and evaluate what I currently am doing that falls into pastoral work to decide if I am going to continue doing that. But I do certainly intend on continuing my service to God in any way that I feel He will have me.
- What is the role of women in the church?Jesus broke many social barriers in His day, including how women were treated. At the time women were little more than possessions, but Jesus treated them as equals to men. Several times in the NT women are serving in the church and spreading the gospel. The only restriction I have found is in 1 Timothy 2:12 where we are told a woman should not teach or have authority over a man. With these things in mind I believe a woman should be able to do all things a man in church can do aside from preach or teach adult men in a class setting. We have women in deacon-like roles here serving the church members and in various positions throughout the church which I think is great. The book of Romans talks about Phoebe, Prisca and Aquila. We don’t know exactly what they did but Paul spoke of the service they did very highly. God created Eve as a helper to Adam, and nowhere do we read that women can’t serve in the church.
- You have limited time to invest in your work at CBC? How will that change as pastor?
How are you going to balance being a pastor with being a father and a husband and a full-time employee and care for your home and your extended family?
Is it wise to be a pastor, family man and have a full-time secular job with demanding hours? Is that best for CBC? God’s kingdom?
I think it’s safe to answer all of these together given the same general concerns in them all. First, I’d like to point out that a lot of what I have been doing with Pastor Mark and Brian is what I would consider pastoral work. Every Wednesday, we meet to pick what passages we will read for the Sunday School Bible study, tweak the questions and answer them. I’ve been heavily involved in what is taught in the youth group and Sunday school classes for a few years, have built a personal relationship with Pastor Mark where we can speak freely, encourage one another, and hold each other accountable for sins we struggle with. All of these things are very pastoral in nature and I don’t see me doing them any less if I am voted in as a pastor here.
A few weeks ago I had Wednesday set aside for meetings here, and worked both Thursday and Friday nights. Something that may shift is focusing less on what is taught and moving more toward how to reach our community, discipleship of our members and counseling for those in need of guidance. In practice, this would mean I join mission committee meetings and spend some more time with individuals as needed. If Brian takes a step in the direction of what is taught in the church then that would free me up from the Christian Education meetings. I’ve recently dropped an evening shift at work to make up some time that would be lost with my family to make up for some more church activity. So what it looks like from a time perspective in the first few months of this change is that I shift from one meeting to a different one, and instead of working two nights a week I work one and have a night for either family or church as needed.
My work is actually not as demanding with time as most. For the past several years I have basically been able to pick the shifts I want. Currently I work Monday thru Friday until 3 and 1 evening a week, generally Friday. For the most part I am able to switch shifts from week to week if something comes up, and I am able to change what my set schedule is if something more permanent changes.
I’m not afraid to let someone know when something comes up that I need to take care of. Extended family was specifically brought up in this question so I’ll address that now. The day before Pastor Mark’s Q&A I found out one of my cousins had a need that we were able to help with. They live far enough that it isn’t a simple trip but not so far it couldn’t be done in a day, so after church we took a trip. With multiple men capable of working together, it wasn’t an issue for me to not be here that evening, just a slight shuffle in classes. I’m a creature of habit, I like things to generally be the same week to week, but I’m learning when I need to shift priority and how to do that. Sometimes it requires calling on others to fill a gap, sometimes it is asking for a raincheck on plans, sometimes it’s putting my own desires on hold for the sake of someone else. I’ve certainly not perfected this yet but after a few years of teaching Sunday school and youth group at the same time while working with a wife and young child at home I’m figuring it out.
My wife supports me in this 100%. Layla has concerns about what it means for me and our time together but after explaining to her that Pastor Mark does this for his job and I won’t be expected to put those kinds of hours in she is much happier about it. If I thought this was unwise I wouldn’t be pursuing this. I honestly believe that a church should have multiple elders, and if this is what God would have me do then I am happy and blessed to serve in this way.
You didn’t address sex before marriage. Do you condone it?
I do believe I answered this one in my response to my thoughts on living together, but it was brief and it was easily missed. God says sex is a gift for a husband and wife and not intended outside of marriage. I don’t condone sex before marriage and would advise against it, much like I would any other sin.
Where do you stand on social issues and how would you deal with them?
BLM, transgender, gays and lesbians and the marriage of them, teen pregnancy, divorce and remarriage, abortion, others you have strong convictions on.
This is more of what I was expecting the last time when I started reading the question about social issues. Harder to answer some of these without causing some strong feelings in people so I’m going to base this heavily in the BIble. God tells us pretty clearly in the book of Genesis about creation, and while we don’t have a lot of information about the world pre-fall there is definitely a lot that can be seen in what God created and what He intended. He made Adam from the dust of the earth and Eve from Adam’s rib. The first few chapters tell us we were made one race in God’s own image, to be husband and wife. That alone answers many of these questions but I’ll dive in deeper.
I do believe God loves diversity, it’s obvious when we look at any group of people there is evidence of God’s creativity and the further you go the more diverse people, animals, plants and all of creation gets. However I don’t believe there are races as we generally speak about them. There is one race, human. The phrase ‘black lives matter’ I agree with because for God to send His Son to die for us He said that all lives matter, no matter if they were Jews, gentiles, Samaritans, black, white, asian, etc. I also understand the feeling of things being unfair in our country because they are. Life in a broken, sin cursed world is unfair. The phrase ‘black lives matter’ is something I can understand and get behind because people feel like there is prejudice against the black community from police and that the lives of those minorities don’t matter to some of them, which in too many cases is true. The organization ‘black lives matter’ is completely different from the phrase and it was quite smart of them to use that phrase that so many people can get behind for the name of their group. I’ve looked into what they stand for on other issues, have seen how their leaders conduct themselves and what they justify in the name of unity, and I think the organization of ‘black lives matter’ is corrupt and wicked. They are against the nuclear family, that is a father and mother raising children together, heavily supportive of the trans movement, use bullying tactics and are racists on the other end of the spectrum. God made us as a single human race, looking at how Jesus treated people I don’t understand how anyone who follows Christ can say that one skin color or nationality is better than another.
Since I mentioned transgender in that response I’ll move onto that next and discuss homosexuality with it. It is my belief that someone who is transgender feels like their physical body doesn’t match their view of theirself. I’ve heard it said that they want their outsides to match their insides. To believe this to be true someone would have had to have been made incorrectly, which says to me that God made a mistake. Since God is the one perfect being in existence I can’t follow that logic. What I do believe is that we are all born sinful, having desires that directly go against what God wants for us. Some people are attracted to the same sex, some people are violent and even murderous by nature, some people are habitual liars, or complainers, or lazy or whatever. All of us have desires innate to us that are wrong. In my opinion there are some people who are born gay or born believing they are in the wrong body, much like the more commonly acceptable sins that some are born with like womanizing, an addictive personality or a ruthless attitude to accomplish your goals. All of these are things that only Christ can help us overcome. I think rather than going out of our way to tell someone they are sinning we ought to lead them to Christ and let Him do that work. A gay man who is unsaved but stops hooking up with men is still unsaved and ultimately no better off. It is my goal to lead sinners to Christ, who can change them from the transformation only He can bring, not try and convince them to follow my morality. Since God is the one who created marriage and said very matter-of-factly that it is between a man and a woman, I am 100% against gay marriage. Jesus loved sinners and so will I but He didn’t condone their sin and neither will I. If I am voted in as a pastor and can conduct a marriage ceremony I will not ever marry a gay couple no matter what laws may come into place to try and force that upon me.
Teen pregnancy I’m going to assume in this question is referring to sex before marriage which I already talked about. Again, it’s a sin and again, our response should be to love those involved and treat them as Christ would. If they don’t recognize their sin and move on in life in that direction I would assume they are not a follower of Christ and therefore try to reach them with the gospel. If they are repentant and seeking redemption I will help them find it.
For divorce God has given 2 reasons that He allows for a divorce. One is infidelity in the marriage. In my opinion if a couple are Christians and one has an affair, confesses and repents, moving in the right direction then the spouse should, if able, forgive and work towards reconciliation. However if there is no genuine repentance, no honest attempt to change that behavior, then God Himself says that is a time that divorce is justified. The second reason is an unsaved spouse wishing a divorce from a Christian. For someone to not acknowledge their sin in abuse (physical or verbal), alcoholism, or anything else like that could be an indication that they aren’t truly a follower of Christ. In that case the proper steps should be taken. Confront them with their sin in love as their spouse. If that doesn’t work bring a trusted Christian friend or two. If that also has no effect then bring it to the church. If the church decides that the person is not showing any signs of salvation and votes that they should be removed from the church membership, and they are clearly acting in a way that demonstrates that they don’t desire to be in a marriage with someone who is, it is biblical to divorce on the grounds of a person who doesn’t know Christ not wanting to be with the spouse that does.
For remarriage I think one of the best views we can get is Jesus with the Samaritan woman at the well. He told her she had 5 husbands and the man she was with she was not married to. Something we often overlook is that He acknowledges that she had 5 husbands. With this and other passages talking about divorce and adultery I believe that even if you divorce for unbiblical reasons and then remarry, God holds you to that new marriage as a new promise. It’s assumed that the woman divorced and remarried. Jesus said she had another husband. Then again she divorced and remarried and he also was her husband, etc. It is considered adultery if the divorce is not condoned by God but the marriage is then legitimate. If you’ve left a marriage for a good reason or not, and are remarried, God wants you to keep that promise.
Abortion is the easiest one here. Horrible. Simply horrible that we can do that legally, brag about it, and applaud it. I can think of one reason that maybe it is acceptable. If the mothers life is in very real danger, then maybe it’s an option. Even then I won’t say without a doubt because we are supposed to give our lives for others. That’s a tough one and I would be much more worried about consoling a couple that would even have to make that kind of a choice than to condemn them for it. But to me abortion is among the most terrible things we as a society find so acceptable.
Where do you stand on dispensations?
What is your standing on new covenant theology?
I am hesitant to put myself into any box like this. I’ve seen it cause too much friction between believers, even to the point where they can’t worship or minister to others together. Even in my research of these and other theological views when I looked at 4 different websites about one of them I found 4 different things as to what someone would describe that as.
I set my beliefs on what God tells us in His word and would prefer to not limit that with a certain theology that we put together. Now there are certainly things I agree with from both sides and if anyone would like to sit down and discuss some specifics I’d be happy to do that.
Where do you stand on teaching about end times?
Honestly I’ve tried to talk Pastor Mark into letting me teach a Sunday School class on the book of Revelation a few times now. I find the imagery and supernatural aspects of it fascinating. However I realize the dangers of focusing on the wrong things and teaching parts of the end times matter-of-factly. I’ve also seen this cause division among God’s people when it is meant to unite us in knowing that Jesus is going to fulfil His promise to return and gather us up and bring us home. I’d like to see it taught when we are ready for it. There are some things I feel are more important to us as a church at this time but I am eager to get there.
How do you feel about holding a social event with no devotional or group type of presentation of the gospel?
I think it may depend on the purpose of that social event or the definition of a social event in this question. Everyone needs to hear the gospel, Christians and sinners alike, so let’s get that out there first. If the opportunity arises we should be sharing that not just with our words but with our lives. We should even be striving to make those opportunities when they don’t happen naturally.
That being said, I think that if we tell someone something they don’t believe, have no interest in and have no desire to listen to it, then it can do more harm than good in some cases. Jesus didn’t walk around telling everyone they were sinners even though they were, and that they were doomed to eternity in hell even though they were. He walked around loving people, then after that He told them about the kingdom. Our depression seminar was a fantastic way to reach people in the community and I know there were several people here and watching on-line that don’t attend this church. It was a time to show people what God says about depression and its causes and purposes. It also showed people that we care about them as a church, to reach out and do something with asking for nothing in return. Even though the gospel wasn’t the focus of the event, the speakers took that opportunity to give the gospel during that time. So in that case it was an event that wasn’t necessarily for the main purpose of giving the gospel, but it was an opportunity to do so while loving people so we should.
I can see that there may be times where it is enough to take the first step and just love people without giving the gospel presentation in some church events. Perhaps if we do a free meal for those in need. Or we could do work for people that are unable to do some things on their own, like doing yard work or simple construction for elderly people in our community. There doesn’t have to be a gospel message or even a devotion there and I’ll tell you why I think that’s ok. Because it shows people that we care, and if we really do care it is the start of a relationship. And if it’s the start of the relationship then it isn’t the pastor or a speaker giving the gospel, it’s us. We sometimes depend on pastors and missionaries to do that part of the job, we donate to the church so we are involved and feel ok with that. But we are all given that job and if an event of some sort can open doors to allow us to do that then I think that’s great. The new testament isn’t telling pastors to spread the gospel, it’s telling all of us to share the good news! If an event can give us an opportunity to do that we ought to look at that as a blessing that we can be a part of rather than something the church did wrong. So depending on what the definition is, what the purpose of the event might be, and how we can be intentional afterwards, I think that in some cases it would be ok to not do that, but let’s certainly not make that the normal way of doing things. All of it should at least be an intentional step in that direction.
Who do you see being a deacon when you are a pastor?
That is something that has been discussed with Pastor Mark and the current deacons. We’ve tossed some names around but without speaking to anyone beforehand I wouldn’t feel comfortable putting anyone’s name out there.
The Bible has pastor as a full-time position. How will you do that?
I’m going to say that we are all in the full-time ministry program. A follower of Christ is never off duty. That being said I don’t ever recall the Bible saying specifically that being a pastor is a full-time job. If I’m wrong I’d love to see the passage that question is referring to and perhaps give this some more thought.
Why do you have to be a pastor to help Pastor Mark with ministry? Are you doing that now?
As members of Calvary Baptist Church, we have all made an oath to do ministry together, so I don’t have to be a pastor to help Mark with that. It’s something we all ought to do. I’d like to think it’s fairly evident that I am currently helping with ministry, if not then I’m not doing it right. There are, however, things that fall squarely on the shoulders of a pastor and I think that we have seen enough Bible passages speaking to multiple elders in a church to warrant at the very least our consideration to give Pastor Mark that kind of assistance in the burden he carries for us. Most of us agree that one man shouldn’t be in control but since deacons aren’t called to lead or even teach I fear that sometimes we put requirements on them that are unbiblical. This is why so often in the New Testament a single church has more than one elder. Accountability from peers, encouragement from those who understand the job, different views and minds working towards the same goal. There are many reasons that having more than one pastor in a church is beneficial but honestly I have yet to see a downside as long as those men are set there by God and called by the church. Having discussions with various people I’ve yet to hear a good, biblical reason to not have more than one pastor. If we have men qualified and willing to fill that role it seems to me like the best thing to do for our current pastor and for our congregation.
In a practical/actual way of relieving the burden of Pastor Mark, explain what you will be doing.
Currently Pastor Mark is involved in most, if not all, meetings. Brian and I would be able to free up some of his time by being the pastoral figure in some of those. There is some training Mark would have to be involved with to help me be ready to fill some more roles, so initially it may be more work for him. But he knows this and is willing to invest in me and in fact he has already invested much time into my training on a number of levels. As far as specifics we have talked about more counseling training for me and I’ve already begun to sit in on sessions and also to be an accountability partner. I attend probably 2-3 seminars or conferences a year to help me in various ways, counciling, teaching, studying and understanding the Bible. I will continue to increase my knowledge and skills regardless of the outcome of this vote but will lean more heavily in certain things based on what this church will ask of me.
Do you see yourself doing more as pastor than you are now? Can you be specific?
Yes, that is part of the point of this. To help take some things Pastor Mark is involved in and either lessen his time there or nearly eliminate it if that’s how things work out. Counseling is something I’ve begun preparing for and would continue in that direction. As of now we haven’t talked about too much more because there isn’t a specific 10 year plan for what I’ll be doing, it could change depending on needs or how well I can do in aspects of things I am already doing or working towards. But I will continue to study, train and practice in many things I already do and new things that I believe will help me be a benefit to this church and the kingdom of God.
In the past 5 years I’ve taught various Sunday school classes from the juniors up to adults, started up the youth group here, tried my hand at being the treasurer, I am currently a deacon, the sunday school superintendent and youth leader for what little we do with the teens at the moment. I hope that by now people can see that I am willing to try anything I think I could do. I’ve made my share of mistakes and I will make more no matter what it is I will be doing here, but God doesn’t expect perfection, He expects followers that will do things that are uncomfortable and people willing to learn, grow and obey. It honestly excites me to think of what I could be doing in another 5 years from now.
Why do you want to be a pastor?
When I really turned back to God several years ago I told Him I’d do whatever He wanted me to. I wasted so many years that I have a lot to make up for as far as service to Him. Please don’t think I do any of this out of obligation alone because that isn’t it. I’d have burnt out long ago if that was my sole reasoning. Every step I take is hard, uncomfortable, awkward, scary, and riddled with doubts. But there are so many blessings along the way. I spent years being entertained. Ya know what? It was fun, I enjoyed it. But there is something so drastically different in true joy from God.
The first time someone told me I should be a pastor I laughed. I thought “I’m not cut out for that, I’m not worthy to do that”. That’s what I thought initially when someone first brought up me teaching a Sunday school class too. Turns out that God can make changes in us that we don’t expect, and that He gives us gifts to use for Him and His kingdom that go beyond what we are capable of. The next time someone brought it up I still didn’t take it too seriously but that caused me to think and pray about it. It’s probably been about 2 years now that I’ve been open to this being a possibility someday. I figured some of the classes, seminars and conferences I attended could lead me in that direction, and if not I’d be better equipped to teach, lead, encourage and council people in whatever role I would serve in.
Ultimately the answer to why I want to be a pastor is that I find joy that can’t be found anywhere else serving God. I told Him I’m willing to do anything and I meant it. I’m excited to serve God in any way that I can. He has given me some gifts that clearly need some more work and while it’s nerve wracking at times I am excited to practice them. When I teach a class or preach a sermon and someone tells me that they hadn’t thought of it that way, that there was a revelation in what I said, or that they want to take another step in their Christian walk because of what they heard, there is no way to describe the joy found in that moment. Not only that someone is growing spiritually but also because God used me, a worthless and unskilled man, to do something so good for His kingdom and His glory. Such a blessing.
What do you believe is the greatest hindrance to our growth as a church family right now?
In my opinion the greatest hindrance we face is that we don’t truly seek God enough. We love God, come to church Sunday mornings, pray and read our Bibles, even try to obey His commands. Where is everyone during the Sunday school hour? Or the evening prayer service? Where are all the people signing up to help in the nursery or to volunteer to do some cleaning? What about doing Bible studies with someone that could use some guidance? Are you that person in need of guidance that should seek someone out to help them? What is our thought when we hear people from the community will be entering our church building and possibly bringing in Covid? There are so many things I see and am a part of that show us where our thoughts are, and far too often I don’t think it’s good.
We often talk about things being a downward spiral. Be it drugs or depression or any number of other things. We try to fill a void with the wrong things, don’t find happiness there and feel worse, then do it again to mask that feeling. In depression you know getting up to do something will help but you can’t make yourself do it and you feel worse which makes it even harder. If these downward spirals exist then there must be an upward spiral right? I found it, it is amazing and life changing and brings joy like nothing else can and it’s because it leads to God.
I used to pray to God, “I want to want You, help me to want You”. Sometimes there was frustration because it was still hard to read my Bible or pray. There are some things that I learned. Just like any strong relationship it has to be intentional. I intentionally make time to spend with Layla. I intentionally make dates with my wife. I intentionally call my mom and see how she’s doing. Why don’t I intentionally read the Bible to hear from God? Why don’t I intentionally sit and pray like I should so I can talk to God? So I began to intentionally work on my relationship with God. If these church doors were open I was here. I get up early enough most days to spend time with God and I don’t assume that I got time with Him in the morning so I’m good for the day, it’s good to hang out with someone you love more than once a day sometimes. If something needs to be done here at church or someone has a need that I can help with I do it, because that’s what Christ did and that’s how we show His love to others and our love for Him.
What I’m saying is that all of us need to make choices throughout the day that will walk us up that spiral towards God. Because when we seek Him, He makes Himself known to us, and when we know God better we find a joy and peace that is unmatched which will make us want to seek Him, which leads to us knowing Him more which results in more joy and peace. This is my favorite spiral I’ve even been on. It changes the way you think, act and speak. I’m less concerned with getting my way or things being done how I think they should be. The state of our country or covid doesn’t worry me like it does many others. I am more generous and willing to share my time and possessions with people, not because I’m a super nice dude but because I understand better what God has done for me and He wants me to pay it forward. I’ve seen me being me, it’s not so great. I’ve done some lousy things in my life. Getting perspective on what is truly important means that I want to be at church, I want to serve in our church, I want to take a moment and help a random stranger, I want to share the good news with people.
That was the long way of saying that all of us need to get on that upward spiral and seek God. It changes everything, no matter what point you are at in your Christian life. You will never get to the point that you’ve got enough God and you can stop.