There’s a Modern Day Bullhorn in Town

A grandmother yelling into a bullhorn.

I remember the first time I saw someone standing on a sidewalk with a bullhorn in their hands, shouting to the crowds, “Repent or Perish”.

They meant well. They had a passion for their work — they wanted people to come to realize the amazing Gospel of grace. I get that. And, I applaud the desire. And the effort. 

But, I never thought it was an effective method of evangelism.

I always wondered if anyone ever came any closer to the gospel because the one shouting on the street corner frightened them into repentance. Maybe someone did, but somehow I doubt it’s a large number.

It doesn’t seem to me a bullhorn on a street — or a sign saying “God hates ______” is the best way to share a message of love. And, isn’t that the message? “For God so loved the world…”

Well, there’s a new bullhorn in town.

It’s loud and it’s on every street corner – figuratively speaking.

It’s called social media. It goes by names such as Facebook. Twitter. Blog.

It’s where the bullhorn holder posts or shares a condemning statement towards someone with whom they don’t agree — sinners we call them. They make a proclamation against them. They complain. They bash. They condemn. They attempt to frighten. 

They are loud. 

Don’t misunderstand, the person with a bullhorn almost always means well. They have strong passion and intent. I applaud them for believing what they believe. (Personally I think we each hold that right.)

But, my head is spinning about this new bullhorn. With all its good intent, I simply don’t think it’s working. At least not in my opinion.

Certainly it makes the person holding the bullhorn feel better. Like they did their part. It’s a release of bent up a motion.  

And, frankly, we even celebrate the practice. It’s how a post goes viral. You’ll get the most shares and likes the more divisive you are. The more controversial the subject the more it gets shared. If simply getting attention is the goal – – the bullhorn works.  

Here’s the problem – again, my perception. 

The only people an angry online discourse appeals to is other people just as angry about the same issue as the person making the rant. 

And, the other side — it makes the people who don’t agree angrier and more firm in their own position.

The online bullhorn forces people to choose sides. It backs them in the proverbial corner where they feel they have no option other than to come back fighting with their own bullhorn. 

And, both sides get louder. 

The bullhorn approach comes across as having very little grace. And, in the bullhorn shouter’s heart, the grace may be there, but it’s covered over by the loudness of what they view as truth. (And, that’s key, because it’s usually “their view”.  The loudest bullhorns are many times subjective — an opinion — often based on truth but full of their own spin or interpretation.

And, this is just my opinion — and go ahead and say it — I’m doing in this post what I’m criticizing others for doing, and maybe I am, but it needs to be said. We shouldn’t use our platform to provoke people. Especially as believers, we should use it to make the world a better place with the ultimate goal of showing the world the love of Christ.

Without love we are clanging gongs. Semi-useless. Bullhorns

That certainly doesn’t seem to be Christ-like.

If we want to do things like Christ then, rather than blasting sinners on the street corner we will have to meet the woman at the well. We will have to dine with Zacchaeus and his tax collector friends. We have to value the poor widow and not ignore an opportunity to love the little children.

To my believer friends I have a suggestion – maybe a plea – let’s drop the bullhorn. Let’s build some relationships, genuinely love people so we can have any hope of sharing truth.

And, that’s the end of my rant. 

(Pre-post thought. In some occasions God may call us to the “repent or perish” type message – He did Jonah — but in the days of grace and with Jesus example, the relational approach appears to work better, again, in my opinion.)

I loved this post from Desiring God recently: I shared earlier this post on how Christians can be less mean online.

We Need A Labor Day – Frequently


The title of the day has always confused me. It’s called Labor Day and yet it’s supposed to be a break from our labor.

And, of course, some will work today. When I was in retail this was a busy day. Thank you to our emergency personnel and hospital workers and those that keep our commerce and lifestyles going today.

But, something tells me you need the day off — or a day off — as much as I do. If there is anything Americans are not good at its rest. It might be the one command of the 10 commandments we dishonor the most.

I wonder if that’s one reason we are so tense with each other all the time — but, I’ll save that thought for another post.

I read the following in this mornings Denison report:

Americans work too much. In the U.S., 85.8 percent of men and 66.5 percent of women work more than 40 hours per week. We work 100 more hours per year than the Japanese, and 250 more hours per year than the British. What about the work-obsessed Germans? We work 500 more hours per year than they do. We take less vacation time than other nations, work longer days, and retire later. If anyone needs a Labor Day;to cease from labor, it’s us.

(I highly recommend the Denison Report as a resource for pastors.)

Saddest of all — we often celebrate it as “the American Way”. We call it progress. Efficiency.

But, it may be causing more harm than good. Personally and collectively.

If I’m going to write a post like this I have to point four fingers back any direction I point one finger to others. I could easily be accused of being a workaholic.

Years ago, however, I learned a secret. It’s a secret about myself I believe is probably a secret about you. If I will shut down one day – and periodically shut down for several days – I am far more effective when I am working. It’s a key to long-term success.

When I go to long periods without resting I am more tempted towards burnout, anxiety, and even depression. I’m not as much fun to be around and I worry more than I pray. (Again, could this be a reason we are so tense with each other at times? — again, another post.)

It’s like God knew what He was doing when He issued the command.

Don’t misunderstand, I’m still very much American when it comes to my work ethic. I work far more than 40 hours a week. But, when I shut down – – I try to shut down. I’m not perfect at it (and I have to read this in case my wife still reads this blog), but I’m getting better with age.

Do you need a break? Do you need to invest in yourself?

I highly recommend the practice. Even if you have to work today – schedule your own “Labor Day” soon – and often. 

And, I can’t even take credit for the idea.

Happy Labor Day!

You may want to read how I protect my Sabbath.

Bro. Laida: My Interview with a 92 Year Old Pastor, Part 5

Bro Laida

This is part five of my interview with Dr. John David Laida.

If you missed the first four segments, click HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE.

In this final segment, Brother Laida addresses:

  • Word of advice to young pastors
  • Word of warning to young pastors
  • Future of the church
  • Advice on handling change and transition

Are you impressed, as I am, with the insight Brother Laida has shared? Share a word of encouragement to him in the comments. I’ll see that he gets them.

Bro. Laida: My Interview with a 92 Year Old Pastor, Part 4

Bro Laida

This is part four of my interview with Dr. John David Laida.

In this video, you’ll hear Dr. Laida address:

  • How he prepares for messages
  • Weaknesses in ministry
  • Dealing with controversy
  • 5 things pastors ought to do
  • The most important thing for a pastor to do.

Love The People from ron edmondson on Vimeo.

If you missed the first three segments, click HERE and HERE and HERE.

What did you find interesting in this segment? Have you enjoyed these so far?

Bro. Laida: My Interview with a 92 Year Old Pastor, Part 3

Bro Laida

This is part three of a five part interview with Dr. John David Laida. Brother Laida, as we called him. At the time of this filming, he is a 92 year old pastor  (about to turn 93), who was still doing interim pastorate positions in area churches — preaching every Sunday.

If you missed the first two segments, click HERE and HERE.

In this segment you’ll hear Bro. Laida address:

  • The way pastoring has changed
  • Protecting family in ministry
  • Being active in the community
  • Worship styles and adapting to culture


Are you enjoying this interview? What impresses you so far about Dr. Laida?

Two more segments of this interview…and they’re good! Stay tuned.

Bro. Laida: My Interview with a 92 Year Old Pastor, Part 2

Bro Laida

This is part two of my interview with Dr. John David Laida — or as I call him — Brother Laida. He has “supposedly” retired once, but never quit working. He’s still serving a church full-time today.

If you missed the introductory video, catch it HERE.

In this segment, Dr. Laida addresses:

  • Where he learned to lead a church
  • Delegation
  • How he handles church conflict

What do you think of Bro. Laida’s answers so far?

Bro. Laida: My Interview with a 92 Year Old Pastor, Part 1

Bro Laida

This is the introduction video to my interview with Dr. John David Laida. These were filmed over 3 years ago and I posted them earlier, but decided to bring them forward. I’ll share them over the next few days. They are good!

Brother Laida, as we always referred to him, was my pastor growing up. He served as senior pastor for 28 years at First Baptist Church, Clarksville, Tennessee and under his leadership the church grew every year. He served as president of the Tennessee Baptist Convention and was a respected man in the community.

After retirement, Bro. Laida has remained active. He has preached almost every week since and has helped dozens of churches in transition as an interim pastor. At the time of this filming, he was about to turn 93 — (now 96) years old and had just taken the interim job of my home church, First Baptist Clarksville. He’s respected highly in this region for his wit, wisdom and his faithful service.

In this video, you’ll get an introduction into the beginning days of Brother Laida. It’s fascinating to hear his perspective on his earlier days of life and ministry.

This is a five part interview and this is the longest. Most will be 5 or 6 minutes in length. I hope you’ll enjoy learning from one of my mentor’s and spiritual heroes.

What did you enjoy most about his story this far?

Who is the oldest pastor you know still serving today? Honor them here.

7 Ways To Be A Best Friend To A Pastor

Pair of male friends greeting each other with a handshake at school

Every pastor I know needs a best friend. Don’t we all?

Most likely the pastor has a best friend in a spouse. I hope so. I encourage it. My wife is that for me. My boys are also. 

But, I think there’s more. And, more these days than ever. 

And, if “best” is too strong a word, pick your own word. Good. Close. Trusted. Every pastor needs a friend, besides a spouse — of the same gender — who knows them well and can encourage and challenge like no one else can.

Yet, in working with pastors as I do regularly, I would say more pastors live paranoid of who they can trust than have someone they would consider a close confidant. Some pastors believe not having one simply comes with the job. I’ve heard pastors say we can’t expect to have those type relationships with people — that we are somehow, for some reason, “above that”.


That’s dangerous talk. And, many pastors have failed buying that lie — or never inviting people into a closer circle of friendship. 

I equally know some people who want to be that type friend to the pastor. And, the pastor has either been hard to get to know or the person doesn’t know how to relate to them. I appreciate those who have a sincere desire to befriend the pastor — which is the purpose of this post.

I can’t speak for all pastors — but I can speak for me and, I believe, I can speak for many pastors due to my coaching ministry among them. I’ve learned you can have “best” friends in the church, but certainly, if necessary because of the size church, outside the church where one pastors.

If you want to be this kind of friend to a pastor, I need to warn you the pastor may be skeptical at first. Every pastor has been burned a time or two. If your heart, however, is to be a friend — even a best friend — to your pastor here are some suggestions which have worked to endear my friends to me.

(I used the male pronoun for ease of writing, and because I’m speaking from experience, but this surely goes for all who are in ministry.)

Here are 7 ways to be a pastor’s “best” friend:

Let him be himself. Warts and all. Don’t expect more from the pastor than you would anyone else. There is likely a church holding him to a higher standard. And, they should. But, as a “best friend” you know he’s still a “work in progress” — just like you. Allow him to be human. And, his family too!

Don’t make him be the pastor in every situation. Let him be “off” occasionally. Don’t talk “church” all the time. If you’re best friend is a waitress you don’t talk food or customer service all the time, do you? A doctor’s best friend isn’t always looking for free medical advice. Talk sports. Or politics (that’s hard for most pastors to find a place to do). Or about your family. Talk about life. Also, he shouldn’t always have to be the one to pray just because he is in the room. Shoulder some of his burden when you are with him. 

Never talk about him behind his back. Let him know you will always protect him and have his best intentions in mind. Above all have integrity in the relationship — which should be true in every friendship. 

Never repeat anything he tells you in private without permission. Never. Ever. Ever. This may be the most important one. It’s amazing how people will repeat what you say if they think you are claiming to be a close friend. As soon as you do, it will be very difficult to trust you again. And, isn’t part of being a best friend the confidences you two keep between you?

Love him even when he makes mistakes. You’d want that from your best friends wouldn’t you? Why not give him one friend he knows he can always count on to be in his corner? Even on those days where his emotional state or his mindset make him seem not very pastoral — and maybe not even like a best friend.

Support him publicly. You won’t be much of a friend if you don’t challenge him when needed, but it should always be done in private. When in a crowd be on his side until you’ve had a chance to talk to him in person — and alone.

Don’t hold him to unreasonable expectations. I’ve seen people who want to be a pastor’s friend get upset when the pastor didn’t tell them everything going on in the church. They get their feelings hurt. Every pastor walks on a certain amount of “eggshells” wondering who will respond and how to things the pastor does. We should never place this burden on a “best” friend. Have no hidden agenda to the relationship — no attempt to gain information or status — just friendship. 

Those are a few suggestions, but even with these, don’t be disappointed if the pastor doesn’t respond as you would want him to. Again, best friends don’t.  Plus, maybe — hopefully — your pastor has a best friend or two already. We need them. 

As I close, I’m thinking these are good suggestions in all friendships — pastor or not. And we all need them. 

Pastors, any suggestions you would add? 

5 Ways to Incentivize Church Revitalization

tug of war work life balance conflict concept

We need some sharp people to move from one Kingdom-building opportunity to another Kingdom-building opportunity.

We need some sharp church planters to become church revitalizers.

I’ve been in some conversations recently concerning the need to get younger leaders interested in church revitalization. The need is huge.

The fact is it is “cooler” to be in church planting. Having been in both worlds, (Just for clarity, I was cool in neither world) I could make the case that church planting is easier. You get to make the rules rather than wrestle through rules which make no sense or man-made traditions which have no clear Biblical basis but people will fight to keep. 

But, we need church revitalization. 

And, we need young, bright, the “best of the best” people to enter church revitalization just as much as we need them in church planting.

I have continually said there are more kingdom dollars in plateaued of declining churches than in all the church planting efforts we are making. We must restore or even close some of these established churches if we expect to be good stewards of the resources in which God has entrusted us

How do we get leaders to consider revitalization?

Here are 5 ways to incentivize church planters to do church revitalization:

Paint the need.

I don’t have the statistics, but I’m convinced there are far more Kingdom dollars tied up in plateaued or declining churches than is being invested in all the church plants combined. If we want to be good stewards of what God has given, then we must revitalize some established churches — and maybe even make some hard decisions to close some and spread the resources elsewhere. Denominations and church leaders will need to become passionate about church revitalization and cast vision to younger leaders as we have in church planting.

Coach them.

One of the concerns I have heard from those who consider revitalizing an established church is the fear of the unknown. It’s true in church planting too, but church planting is “all the buzz”. You can find lots of resources for a plant. There are fewer resources available for church revitalization — and fewer success stories. Partner the one entering revitalization with someone who has experienced church revitalization and been successful at it.

Provide care for them and their spouse.

Church revitalization is hard on a pastor’s family. Again, I’ve lived in both worlds. Church planting can be very difficult, but when you enter the role of trying to change an established church prepare for the onslaught of personal attacks, criticism and opposition. Church planting struggles typically come from external pressures. Church revitalization struggles are usually more personal — from inside pressures.There needs to be some plans to periodically care for the church revitalizer and the spouse.

Assure them the church is ready.

There should be some sort of assessment made before the pastor arrives which indicates the level or openness there will be to change. It’s not always a popular topic with established churches — most don’t want to admit there is a problem — but it is incredibly helpful in starting the revitalization process. This will never be foolproof, but you cannot revitalize without change. Change will always face resistance — it’s human nature — but some churches can and will adapt — some never will. The pastor can waste a lot of time “testing” the culture of the church only to find out some things will never change. The more a pastor knows about the church — it’s reaction to and history with change — on the front end the more strategic the pastor can be implementing change and the more successful revitalization will be.

Provide adequate resources.

There needs to be some better resources available for church revitalization. Every denomination and national church planting group has, for example, a church planter assessment. We need similar assessments in revitalization to help discern if the pastor’s temperament is suited for revitalization. Conferences do a great job focusing on the church planter — few focus as much on revitalization. Many established churches will not need the level of funding a church plant needs, but there are other resources needed to be successful. If we recognize the need for revitalization, then let’s develop and fund the resources.

It’s a work which must be done. Too much is at stake.

10 Expectations for Supporting the Senior Pastor

senior pastor

Several years ago, I was asked to speak to executive pastors about a senior pastor’s expectations for their role. Part of a healthy organization is recognizing the individual roles and responsibilities of the others on the team. I felt it was important that I first help them understand the pastor better, so I shared 10 Things You May Not Know about the Senior Pastor. You may want to read that post first.

I continued my talk by sharing how other staff members within the church can support the position of senior pastor. I realize none of the churches where I have served would have been successful without the creativity, diligence and leadership of the staff with whom I served.

The question I was asked — and echoed repeatedly was this:

What does my pastor really expect of me and the rest of the staff?

A healthy staff requires a team approach. It requires everyone working together. As I attempt to lead a team, there are certain expectations I have  for those who serve on a church staff in supporting the leadership of a senior pastor.

Here are 10 expectations I have for supporting a senior pastor:

Have a Kingdom perspective.

It’s not really about either one of you — it’s about God and we get to play a part in His Kingdom work. The less you concentrate on your own “needs” the more we can work together to help other know the surpassing greatness of our Lord.

Know yourself.

Some people are wired for a supporting role and some are not. Simply put.  This is why so many are planting churches these days. They wanted to be able to do things on their own — lead their own way. You may be able to serve in a supporting role for a short time, but not long term. There is nothing wrong with that. Being in the second (or third) position in an organizational sense doesn’t always get to make the final decision. Are you comfortable with that fact?

Support the pastor.

That’s an obvious for this list, but unless the senior pastor is doing something immoral, you should have his back. If you can’t, move on as soon as possible. You should make this decision early in your relationship, preferably before you start, but definitely soon into the process. Resisting the leadership of the senior pastor is usually not good for you or the church.

Realize you are in the second (or third) chair.

If you don’t want to be, then work your way into a number one seat, but while you are in this position, understand your role. It takes a great deal of humility to submit to someone else’s leadership. Know who you are and how God is calling you to serve Him.

Don’t pray for, wish or try to make your pastor something he is not.

Most likely, the basic personality of your leader is not going to change. Your staying should accept the fact that some things you hope will be different in years to come — won’t.

Add value to the pastor and the organization.

Do good work. Even if you are not 100% satisfied where you are at in your career at the current time, keep learning and continue to be exceptional in your position. Be a linchpin. The fact is you may learn more in these days which will help you in future days.

Be a friend.

This is a general principle when working with others, but especially true in this situation. If you aren’t likable to the pastor, he isn’t going to respond likewise. Have you ever heard, “Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you”? That works when working with a leader and on a team also.

Brand yourself in and out of the organization.

Don’t wait until you are in the number one position to make a difference in the church. This helps you, the pastor and the church. Do good work. In fact, do your best work — always.

Be a compliment to the pastor.

Most likely, you are needed for your abilities that are different from the senior pastor. Use your gifting to make the church better and improve the overall leadership of the pastor. Help fill the gaps the pastor can’t fill and may not even see. Take responsibilities off the pastor when you are able. Volunteer without being asked. This will serve you well also.

Pick your battles.

Even in the healthiest organizations, there will be conflict and disagreements. Don’t always be looking for a fight. Ask yourself if the battle is worth fighting for or if this in the hill on which to die. Be a supporter as often as you can.

Learn all you can.

Most likely, the pastor knows some things you don’t. Sometimes you will learn what not to do from your pastor. Let every experience — good and bad — teach you something you can use later to make you a better leader.

Leave when it’s time.

Be fair to the church, the pastor, and yourself and leave when your heart leaves the position, you can no longer support the pastor or the organization, or you begin to affect the health or morale of the church and staff.

Closing thoughts:

I personally understand the frustration of being part of a team, but not feeling you have the freedom to share your opinions or the opportunity to help shape the future of the organization. Real leaders never last long in that type environment. There are certainly leaders who will never be open to your input. Again, I recommend discovering this early and not wasting much time battling that type insecure leader.

The goal of this post is not to sound arrogant as a senior pastor, but to help the organization of the church by addressing issues, which will help improve the leadership of the church and the working relationship between staff members.

I’d love to hear from senior pastors and those who serve on a church staff. What would you add/or delete from my list?