Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Bishop Eugene Weakley

Bishop Eugene Weakley, 83 years, of Murfreesboro, TN, died on March 28, 2011 at Alive Hospice Residence, Nashville, TN after a short illness.

He was born in Nashville, TN on July 11, 1927 to Marshall E. and Althea Sensing Weakley. He was married to Juanita Faye Cowan Weakley on November 19, 1955. He has one daughter, Regina Faye Weakley Cassidy of Murfreesboro, son-in-law, Jeff Cassidy and one sister, Eleanor Weakley Wilson of Cleveland, TN. In addition, he is survived by his beloved pekingese, Buttons. He has several nieces and nephews, sisters-in-law and one brother-in-law. He has a large “extended family” who affectionately calls him, “pawpaw”, “pop” and “dad”. He is preceded in death by brothers, Thomas, Zelbert, and Glen Weakley, and sister, Lucille Weakley.

He attended Trevecca College, Nashville, TN and Cleveland State Community College and Lee University, Cleveland, TN to further his education. He was a veteran of the United States Army and served in WWII.

He started his ministry in 1948. He served in various capacities in The Church of God of Prophecy. He was a Pastor’s “pastor” and served in both Alabama and Tennessee for nineteen years. He served as a Full-Time District Overseer of Middle Tennessee and National Director of the Small Group Ministries for nine years, and State Overseer (Bishop) for Tennessee for fourteen years. After retirement, he continued to minister in various capacities until his death and served a total of 63 years in Ministry.

He has traveled extensively in 49 states as well as various countries for the Ministry. He was vital in organizing various churches in the State of Tennessee, initiating the Couple’s Retreat for Marriage Enrichment, enhancing “Ministers-In-Training”, and vital in “raising the bar” for ministers to further their ministerial education. He was the visionary and founder of the Tennessee Center for Biblical Leadership. He has authored two books including: God Keeps Good Books and Part II: Now, The Rest of The Story! He was a beloved husband, father, friend, mentor, and respected minister of the Gospel.

Visitation with the family will be Thursday, March 31, 2011 from 6:00pm-9:00pm at Murfreesboro Funeral Home.

Funeral service will be Friday, April 1, 2011 at 1:00pm at Murfreesboro Funeral Home. Burial to follow at Roselawn Memorial Gardens with Military Honors.

The family would like to thank the many friends, relatives, and church members for their kindness during this difficult time. God Keep Good Books!


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Bishop Eugene Weakley

Yesterday, around 2:00 PM, one of the people who has impacted my life the most in this world, went to be with the Lord. (He has been on my Wall of Gratitude on this Blog from the beginning. Look below in the left column.)

When I was a young man, he pastored in Alabama with my parents. They respected him highly, and so did I. He was later appointed as a denominational official and moved to Cleveland, TN. My parents did also, and Bishop Weakley allowed me to cut his grass at his home a few times when he lived near where the Keith Street church is now. He went on to serve in many capacities as a great minister and finally as Tennessee State Bishop. Few people have impacted my life as much nor as positively as Bishop Weakley. He encouraged one of my first ministry assignments in Tennessee when Buford Johnson and myself worked on a church planting and mentoring program in the Cleveland area in 1985. Bishop Weakley was a powerful man of God.

Yesterday, he went home to a place called Heaven. This is a place he has preached about for 63 years. He was a good man, faithful man, and genuinely caring man - a true leader. He never actually retired. This July would have been 13 years since he supposedly retired. But, he spoke at the Columbia TN Church the first Sunday in January, planned to go to Tucson AZ in April, Texas in September, Tennessee churches throughout the year, etc.

For about one and one half hours yesterday many ministers, family, and friends sang to him. His wife, Wonnie, keep telling him how much she loved him. She finally whispered in his ear and said, "Gene it is OK for you to go on." He immediately departed.

The family will be making funeral arrangements Wednesday and we will announce them here as soon as they are known. The funeral will perhaps be Friday at the Mufreesboro (TN) Funeral Home.

Please keep the family in your prayers.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Importance of Pastors With Vision

Yes, there are some people that quickly pick up on the lack of vision and leave the church to find another more vibrant church, but how many people keep coming back week after week secretly hoping things will get better? Hoping and praying that the pastor will get a word from God, lead with passion, conviction and purpose. I wonder how many gifted, capable, passionate lay leaders are sitting untapped in congregations around the country. I wonder.

[from MMI Weblog

Academic Paper Presented on Women Ministers in Pentecostalism

(For the recent centennial celebration of the IPHC several historic papers were presented.)

"The Monday morning session of January 31, 2011 in Falcon, North Carolina celebrating the IPHC Merger Centennial gave way to putting this unique event in historical perspective." Papers presented that morning include "Dr. Dan Woods, "Meet Sam Page"; Dr. Kristen Welch,"Women Preachers in the IPHC"; Dr. Vinson Synan, "The Spirit of Falcon - 1911 Merger".


Saturday, March 12, 2011

How to Start a House Church

There are two steps.
  1. Gather people.
  2. Make disciples.
Both are bathed in prayer day and night.

Gather people. It is much easier to gather people and win them to Christ than to win people and then try to gather them. The best way we know to gather people is to use food (yes, the real stuff!).

Invite friends, family, and neighbors to eat. The idea of the gatherings is to get to know one another. In knowing one another better, we build trust. Eating together is a natural way to begin relating we want to be church with. There is no planned devotional. No Bible under the table that we pull out as people are finishing their dessert. If a spiritual topic arises in the natural flow of conversation, follow the Spirit’s lead. Share openly as a Christian, but not dominating the dialog.

If things seem to go well, encourage everybody to bring one or two others with them next time. Ask who might be able to bring sandwiches, drinks, empanadas, fruit, etc. to the next gathering.

Make disciples. Continue meeting with food being the drawing card. As the servant-leader senses the Lord’s leading (remember we are praying day and night about all this) begin introducing participative group activities to encourage spiritual dialog.

Which elements are utilized depends upon the group, their spiritual receptivity, etc. Some of the more common and widely used are:
  • Short general-interest downloaded YouTube videos burned to DVDs that help generate dialog
  • Listening to one another’s stories, spiritual journeys, testimonies
  • Singing Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual songs from songbooks or CDs
  • Ice-breakers (some fun, others of a more serious nature)
  • Simple group sharing and praying for one another
Again, elements are introduced as the Spirit leads. The goal is to make disciples, not converts. We don’t want to drag our feet, but neither do we want to rush ahead of the Spirit. After 3 or 4 weeks you will have a pretty good idea of who all is shaping up as the core group. These will be at various stages along the discipleship path. Several will have made public professions of faith.

While continuing to encourage everyone to bring their guests to the “eating meetings” prayerfully ask them a key question, “HOW MANY OF US WOULD SAY WE LOVE GOD?” After a show of hands share Jesus’ words, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” What are the Ten Commandments of Jesus Christ? To be a disciple of Jesus we must obey those things He said were important. No one can be a disciple unless he keeps Jesus commandments.

At that point start with #1, the Great Commandment. We ask three people to read aloud Matthew 22:36-40. Then ask three questions:
  1. What does Jesus say? (Tell it in your own words what you understood.)
  2. What did He mean? (What do the words mean?)
  3. How are we going to obey this commandment? (What specific actions can we take to obey?)
This becomes the pattern for the rest of Jesus’ Commandments that will be studied over the coming weeks. Once this pattern of self-feeding is learned, it can be used with any passage of Scripture and is easily reproducible even with new believers starting new groups.

At this point introduce the second major discipleship tool which is to get everyone into a “GRUPO DE TRES” (Group of Three) discipleship group. These are very similar to Neil Cole’s LIFE TRANSFORMATION GROUPS. Try to encourage everyone to be in a group of three. Everyone receives a bookmark card which serves three purposes, 1) Bible reading plan, 2) accountability questions, 3) praying for one another and the lost.

The final element phased in for the “eating meeting” is a time of “one another” ministry where prayer, exhortation, encouragement, counsel, sharing, etc. are openly shared amongst those gathering week by week (1 Cor.14:26.)

There are a few more “nuts and bolts” but this is the gist of how to train house church leaders to start.

[from The M Blog

Monday, March 7, 2011

Loneliness in Pastoring

I write this with a heavy heart. It's been so for the last several weeks. A fine pastor who lived near me took his own life, leaving behind a grieving church and a devastated family.

I didn't know Pastor John very well. He attended a pastors' retreat a year ago. I shared meals with him and enjoyed his company. John was thoughtful, kind, and insightful. He spoke frankly of the challenges in the church he pastored. They were typical of most churches I know, and John didn't seem overly distressed. We commiserated and brainstormed.

I didn't hear from John again, though I sometimes wondered about him. Then I heard the gut-wrenching news of his self-inflicted death. It was shocking and deeply disturbing. Once I learned of his suicide, I was not surprised, however, to hear that he suffered from severe depression. Nothing else would explain his otherwise inexplicable behavior. Sometimes depression so debilitates a person and so corrupts his rationality that he does the unthinkable, even believing that his death will improve the lives of others.

How I wish I had been with him rather than him being alone in his deep depression. I wish that I had done more to encourage him. I don't know that this would have helped John, because the demons with which he wrestled were powerful. But it might have.

John's situation, of course, is extreme. But it speaks to the loneliness of pastoring. Having served as a parish pastor for over twenty years, and having listened to so many pastors describing the challenges of pastoring, I know the aloneness that haunts so many who have been ordained to ministry. No matter how close a pastor might be to folk in the church, no matter how much the pastor loves the congregation and how much they love the pastor, the requirements of the pastorate can be isolating.

I think, for example, of times when I was raked over the coals of complaining and criticism. I could share this with my lay leaders, but they couldn't really understand how it felt to open your heart to a congregation only to have it trampled upon by the very people you are seeking to love.

Or I think of how hard it was for me when I sought to discern whether God was calling me away from from one church to another. It just didn't seem wise to share my thought process, even with my dearest friends in the congregation.

Sometimes that feeling of aloneness as a pastor came in the middle of the night, when I awoke with worries about the church. Most of the time, these had to do with personnel or financial issues or a combination of both. I remember sitting in my dark living room, crying out to God and feeling as if even he had abandoned me. I knew better, but I felt so terribly alone.

Some who read this may conclude that a) John made a deeply selfish decision, and b) the author of this article is neither a good pastor nor a good Christian. Surely, one might think, I did not have to be so alone in my ministry. Surely, I could have made deeper friendships in the church. And surely I should have known that God was with me in the lonely nights.

This is both right and wrong. I am not a very good pastor or a very good Christian. But my experience is much more common among pastors than is often admitted. If you simply cannot relate to what I'm writing here, then give thanks to God for his grace in your life. But I am sure that some who read this will relate.

I do want to offer some words of advice and encouragement for pastors who struggle with loneliness. I believe God desires for pastors to know the comfort that comes from genuine Christian community. Serving the Lord in a pastoral role can be an intensely lonely journey.

Consider the Bible. I can think of no more powerful image of pastoral loneliness than the story of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. You know how it goes. Before his betrayal and death, Jesus went to the Garden to pray. He wanted the company of his closest friends and followers, Peter, James, and John, so he asked them to join him. He said, "I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and keep awake" (Mk. 14:34). Then Jesus threw himself on the ground, begging his Father to spare him from the cup of suffering and wrath he was about to drink. When Jesus rejoined his friends, he found them asleep. He asked them to stay awake with him and went again to pray. Returning from his agonized supplication, once again Jesus found that his best friends were sleeping. This happened three times.

I can only imagine how alone Jesus must have felt. Notice that the scriptures never indicate that Jesus was wrong to desire the company of friends. I've never heard anyone say of Jesus what some might say of a parish pastor: "He was too dependent on others. He should have been able to rely more on God." No, as the Good Shepherd, Jesus entered into a loneliness that culminated in the isolation of the cross. That was a part of the ministry to which he was called. And so it is for those of us who seek to feed his sheep even today.

If you feel alone as a pastor, you should know that you're not alone in your loneliness. Thousands of other pastors know what you are feeling. If you need someone to talk to, call Synergy. Your confidentiality is always protected. And, the Great Pastor understands you in full (Heb. 2:14-18, 13:20).

Prayer - A Core Value

Prayer from Granger Community Church on Vimeo.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Easter Planning

It's hard to believe, but Easter is only seven weeks away - coming up on Sunday, April 24th.

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