by Robert Earl Houston
Where art thou? . . . (Genesis )
I’ve been “blogging” off and on for several years. Recently, I discovered a way to combine several of my enterprises, namely “Homegoing of the Saints” which puts a spotlight on those African-American pastors who go home to be with the Lord; the “Vacant Church List” which was the first listing for African-American Baptist pulpits online (and I’ve done it without charge or entry fee for years); and then I’ve put out several notices, etc. and developed a fairly strong following. Since being on WordPress since late last year, I’m approaching 250,000 visits. God be praised.
In recent years other pastors have been regularly blogging – H.B. Charles, Jr. has an excellent blog and leans heavily on preaching themes. Dwight McKissic has an excellent blog as well and he “gets after” Southern Baptist Convention issues and is one of the leading SBC bloggers. Kip Banks, General Secretary of the Progressive National Baptist Convention recently started a blog and there are other brothers out there blogging – but to my knowledge, that number is less than 25. Shaun King’s Shaun in the City is one of those mind-stretching blogs and he is very transparent in his church planting saga.
Where are the Black Pastoral Bloggers?
The purpose of this blog today is to encourage African-American Pastors to blog. Blogging is to participate in a form of social media that is more probative than a 140 word tweet or a quick flash on Facebook. It’s not expensive – there are free sites available and many internet providers are available so you can personalize the site even more with your own name (which I recommend).
The diaspora of African-American pastors should be reflected in the blogosphere. Pastors who are in the rural parts of the nation, I believe, are just as significant in their struggles, triumphs, etc. as those who pastor mega-churches. Those pastors who came before us carried to the grave pieces of wit, wisdom and experience that I know would have been a blessing to this generation. You can participate.
I would love to post and re-post articles that I’ve discovered from those of African-American hue. I think that our experiences are just as real and profound as MacArthur, Stanley, Piper, Stetzer and others. Matter of fact, I ran a search for “best pastor blogs” and maybe 1 or 2 blogs of people of color were even mentioned.
It’s because we have a story to tell that we’re not telling. We have great minds, great talents, great experiences that should and need to be heard.
I’m not a mega pastor. My congregation (on roll) is around 700 members or so. We don’t have one church in multiple locations. We have our issues like everyone else. But blogging for the pastor gives you a discipline in word construction, sentence structure, and analytical thinking that enhances your pulpit presentation. Trust me on that.
Just a word of warning – blog but don’t vent. Never take to the national stage your local church issues. If “Sister Sally” is kicking your tail in business meeting, don’t make her a national issue. If “Brother John” just cussed you out last week, don’t make him a national celebrity. In other words, be careful what you blog about – if it’s murky to you – it may leave room for a church member to misinterpret what you were trying to say.
I will make this promise to you – if you have a blog or know of a blog that will be helpful – I will make a link to it from my site – and if you have one, I hope you will do the same.
One final word – this is not to demean other races – that’s not my purpose. My purpose in this fast-changing African-American led church, is to encourage pastors (not laypersons, not associates) but pastors to share their views.
YOUR COMMENTS ARE WELCOMED
by Robert Earl Houston
This was one of the best Sundays I’ve ever experienced as Pastor of First Baptist Church here in Frankfort, Kentucky.
Before I discuss the service, I’m a worship leader. No doubt about it. I love to worship the Lord, but today, I re-introduced a song to the church and I believe they fell in love with the song as well. It’s an old Andraé Crouch hit, “Jesus Is The Answer.” The lyrics are simple yet profound:
“Jesus is the answer | For the world today | Above Him there’s no other | Jesus is the Way!
Jesus is the answer | For the world today | Above Him there’s no other | Jesus is the way!”
I’ve been dropping tears all day about that song. I don’t know why but that song has really moved me today – not with sadness, but with an awesome joy.
We had one of the largest crowds today that I’ve seen at the 8 a.m. service. 11 a.m. service was very well attended. The Magnificent Mass Choir sang and we recognized birthdays as we normally do on the first Sundays. Today is the start of Loyalty Month, where we ask every member to “check in” during the month of January.
By the way, I love me some FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH!
The word was the beginning of our new sermon series, “Construction Zone” which coincides with the remodeling of the church. Today’s sermon was from Philippians 3:12-13, where Paul emphasis is on his pursuit of relationship with Christ and that he must now put things behind him and press toward the mark.” God was kind to the preaching moments.
We received two adults into the fellowship of First Baptist Church.
I met with our Associate Ministers this evening at 5 p.m.
- The Baltimore Ravens looked playoff-ready and took out the Indianapolis Colts, 24-9.
- The Houston Texas (as expected) defeated the Cincinnati Bengals, 19-13.
- Seattle Seahawks beat Washington and RG3 (knee injury), 24-14.
- Green Bay Packers easily handled the Minnesota Vikings, 24-10.
THANK YOU! For the first few weeks of this new blog on WordPress.com 56,000 people have viewed the blog in just that short period of time. I’m very humbled by your visitation and support. We also have been blessed by all of the new friends and fellow bloggers out there. I owe a debt to H.B. Charles, Jr., who inspired me to write – not just take up space – but write.
This year’s numbers as of 6 p.m. on December 30, 2012:
Visitors – 56,000
Posts (Articles) written – 155
Photos uploaded – 115
Busiest day of the year – December 27, 2012 with 935 views. Most popular page that day: Homegoing information for Dr. H. Devore Chapman.
Top 10 most popular posts of the year:
1. Home page
2. Homegoing of a Saint: Rev. Michael K. Wilson
3. About Robert Earl Houston
4. Homegoing of a Saint: Dr. Roy Jeffcoat
6. Vacant Church: Mt. Sinai Tabernacle (page closed)
7. Homegoing of a Saint: Dr. H. Devore Chapman
8. Vacant Church: First M.B.C., Monroe (page closed)
9. Hot Links
10. Homegoing of a Saint: Dr. Jerome Kirby
Most Popular REH Blog Posts (non-funeral, vacant church related):
1. Dear Angry Pastor
2. How to Apply for a Church (Friendly Advice)
3. The Ten Expository Preaching Commandments
4. Ten Things Pastors Will Face in the Future
5. Master, the Storm is Raging
6. Clergy Appreciation Month
7. Have You Lost Your Axe-Head?
8. The Cake of Preaching
9. Sheep Stealing
10. Every Preacher Needs a Friend
Top 10 Nations that view this site: 78 NATIONS viewed this site!
1. United States
3. United Kingdom
6. South Africa
Top Referrers to my site:
10. Pnbc.org (Progressive National Baptist Convention)
Top “clicks” that people utilized from my site:
Top Search Engine Terms (how you got here)
1. Robert Earl Houston (ministries, .org, vacant churches, the wire, etc.)
2. First Missionary Baptist Church Monroe, LA
3. Pastor Danny Kirk
4. Roy Jeffcoat
5. Jerome Kirby
6. H. Devore Chapman
7. Derek Witcher
8. Pastor Michael Wilson
9. Orchard Knob Baptist Church
10. Mt. Sinai Tabernacle
Shares of what people read on the site: (via Facebook, Email and Twitter)
1. Homegoing of a Saint: Michael K. Wilson
2. Homegoing of a Saint: Michael Burton
3. Homegoing of a Saint: Roy Jeffcoat
4. Homegoing of a Saint: Jerome Kirby
5. The Ten Expository Preaching Commandments
6. Homegoing of a Saint: James Rodgers
7. Homegoing of a Saint: Brenda Little
8. Dear Angry Pastor
9. Homegoing of a Saint: H. Devore Chapman
10. That Takes a Lot of Nerve
Most Comments to Posts:
1. Homegoing of a Saint: Michael K. Wilson
2. Homegoing of a Saint: Jerome Kirby
3. Homegoing of a Saint: Roy Jeffcoat
4. Vacant Church: New FBC Jefferson Gardens
5. About Robert Earl Houston
6. Every Preacher Needs a Friend
7. Dear Angry Pastor
8. 35 Years in the Making
9. The Obituary for Sunday School
10. Homegoing of a Saint: H. Devore Chapman
by Robert Earl Houston
SOMEWHERE OVER TENNESSEE – I’m in mid-flight preparing to land in Louisville in about 30 minutes. My body is really tired. My plane was delayed for two hours (it was coming from the west coast and was delayed from both Orange County, CA and San Francisco, CA.
But my heart is not tired, but excited about Sunday. If there was ever a time I need a good, solid word from The Lord, it’s tomorrow. God is providential. He knew everything this week and how everything would turn out and that I was not scheduled to preach in the morning – it’s Ushers Day and we have to capable speakers – Rev. Anna Jones and Dr. Cheryl Walker.
There is a time when the preacher who preaches needs to be preached to. My spiritual battery is admittedly very low – but not so low that it couldn’t receive a jump or a jolt. I come to the worship tomorrow weary, beat-down, and without going into a lot of detail, disappointed. But this is what Sundays in worship are for – to hear a word from The Lord.
I’m in need for a word badly. You won’t hear too many pastors say this, but i will – I couldn’t preach tomorrow if i could – i’m too pained, I’m too damaged, and I need to be ministered to. No pastor should show up just for the sake of preaching, when he’s troubled in spirit of his or her own self.
I’ve stood in times of divorce, church issues, death in my family, and other issues – but this week I just can’t do it. And I’m believing God that after hearing two dynamic sermons, I’ll be ready to get back to living again.
As of now, I just want to hear a preached word!
Permanently Healed – <— click to hear the audio
I wanted to share a response to a letter that I received from a young minister. It’s telling on a multiplicity of levels and I hope this will help someone who is in ministry and eager to get to the top.
“Hello anointed Leader and Mighty Man of God. Pastor Houston, Thank you so kindly for accepting my Linkedin connection. I trust that you’re being blessed more abundantly. After you peruse my ministerial experience, I’m humbly asking for an opportunity to minister at First Baptist Church. Please consider an SERVICE, Perhaps a WEDNESDAY MID-WEEK SERVICE! I’ll pay my airfare to Frankfort to lift the faith of the believers. You can view my ministry on: YOUTUBE. Pastor Houston, Please grant this sincere request, just 3 NIGHTS! Feel free to call me .”
In this age of social media it’s important for us to understand that pastors needs to be firm in how they approach this or any invitation. This is my response:
“Thank you for your letter, but I am terribly saddened by it. I joined LinkedIn to keep in contact with preaching and professional colleagues across the country and in some cases, around the world. However, to receive a chain letter from a minister frankly deeply disturbs me about not only the preacher but the role of LinkedIn/Social Ministry and the future of ministerial relationships.
First, I would never and let me underscore never invite myself, whether it was in person, by letter, or internet to another man or woman’s church or pulpit. I have been in ministry, preaching around the nation, and I have NEVER asked for a preaching engagement and I have NEVER allowed anyone who asked for a preaching engagement to stand for me. Your letter is disturbing for that reason alone.Secondly, it’s a form letter. Several pastors that I know on LinkedIn have received the exact same letter and frankly, how in the world would you know what my people, who the Holy Spirit have assigned me to, need a Wednesday Mid-Week Service when we don’t even have a Wednesday Mid-Week Service and we don’t even have an airport in Frankfort – which says to me, frankly, you don’t care about my people or this community, you care about making a name.
Also, I don’t know ONE THING ABOUT YOU. If you walked past me in DFW airport, I still wouldn’t know who you are. And in this era of sexual shenanigans, misuse of funds, etc., a YouTube clip does not equal an endorsement. Anybody can put a YouTube clip up and it does not mean MOST PASTORS would let you walk in the door and I’m further insulted because my church is not cheap and we always provide for OUR GUESTS.
Needless to say, this will be the last communication between us. I’m unfriending or de-linking us and I pray that you will at least consider this response in your future interaction and the form letter method needs to be reconsidered.”
I wish that preaching was akin to other professions. Where you serve 20, 25, 30 years and then live another 20, 25, 30 years after retirement. You get to see your children, your grandchildren and your great-grandchildren grow up. Unfortunately that is rarely the case.
The problem is that many pastors are in need of serious rest, retreat and revival. And no, I don’t mean going to a worship service – I mean making the time, taking the time and finding the time to make sure that the body and the mind rests.
My pastor, Minister Barton Elliott Harris, taught me something while at Westwood – the importance of the pastor getting rest. You cannot be fully used of God in the pulpit, when you bring to the pulpit a half-empty shell or a leaking vessel.
Scripture’s description, “come apart” is a great definition for what a pastor needs to do. I’ve learned that conventions, conferences, and learning experiences cannot be catalogued as rest. That’s labor. That’s intensive. That’s challenge. A pastor needs some time (every weekly) when the membership knows “this is my sacred day of rest and it must be honored.”
At my church where I serve it’s printed every week “Pastor’s Sabbatical Day of Rest” and it’s every Thursday. For the most part, I don’t take calls, I don’t do appointments, I don’t do meetings unless it is of life or death consequence. I’m a 24 hour a day on-call professional who needs at least one day to himself to get revived. The pressures of ministry are great and when you have a week of visitation, preaching, counseling, planning, denominational work, etc., you need some time alone.
I’m thankful for those who understand the necessity for this. I go to the movies. I go travel. I hang out. I find some water. I go to the country side. I go to the big city. I find a plan where I can unravel and relax.
My journeys on vacation have taken me to Gloucester, Mass., Orlando, Fl., Louisville, KY, Chattanooga, TN, the Smokey Mountains, Palm Springs, Cal., Napa Valley, Cal., Chicago, IL, Washington, DC., Baltimore, MD, Eastern Shore, Galveston, TX., New Orleans, LA, and other places.
When I come back, it’s always as a refreshed preacher, looking forward/can’t wait to hit the pulpit and proclaim after some much needed rest and reflection.
Brother or Sister Pastor who are reading this – make sure you take some time to rest before you find yourself going, going, and then gone.
I ran across this article on an emerging church in my hometown in Portland, Oregon. When I first was called to preach 34 years ago, Portland, Oregon was basically a Baptist/Presbyterian/Catholic/Methodist city. Since that time the area is seeing the birth of many emerging churches, especially charismatic churches that are ministering to the city’s residents – most of whom are un-churched. Imago Dei (Latin for the Image of God) is one of those churches and their pastor, Rick McKinley has a great quotation:
We stopped building the church and started being the church.
Awesome! Enjoy the video courtesy of TBN: