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Many churches have placed productivity over purpose, Fort Worth pastor says

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–An overemphasis on numbers and productivity has led churches away from their purpose, a Fort Worth pastor said during the Baptist Religious Education Association of the Southwest’s annual meeting in Fort Worth, Texas, Oct. 26 through 28.
“We hide behind numbers and buildings and budgets,” said Tommy Teague, pastor of North Richland Hills Baptist in Fort Worth during a chapel service at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. “It seems to me we’ve adopted the world’s success standards.”
By doing that, the former associate pastor at First Baptist Church, Dallas, added, it becomes easier to depend on the flesh for accomplishments instead of the Spirit. Churches need to turn away from the world’s yardstick of success and concentrate on obedience to the Lord and what their purpose is, he said, or problems will result. “Activity is increasing, while accomplishments are decreasing,” Teague said. “We’re on the treadmill of productivity rather than purpose.”
One of the consequences has been many ministers and their wives who are expressing discouragement and depression, he added.
Other problems Teague noted included a lack of genuine joy, where “ministry becomes a drudgery rather than a delight;” ever-present doubts about one’s competency, calling or even faith; and encounters with spiritual matters that don’t stir the soul.
Teague told the story of a priest in prerevolutionary Russia who encountered a soldier while traveling down a road. The soldier challenged the priest with these questions: “Who are you? Where are you going? Why are you going there?”
The priest considered the questions and then offered to pay the soldier 50 kopeks a month (twice the soldier’s monthly pay) to stop him every day and ask him those questions. Teague asked, “Do we have a soldier? Do we draw on the deep resources of our character, or do we lose ourselves in the situation?”
Teague said the problems ministers face today suggest that the questions the soldier asked aren’t being asked often enough.
Examining the Lord’s commissioning of Joshua, Teague told the audience of steps Christians can take to face the challenges of ministering in this generation.
One to remember, especially given the fast pace of today’s world, is “we need to learn to wait on the Lord,” he said.
When God doesn’t answer our prayers immediately, we tend to think he has abandoned us, but waiting for God’s leadership is a mark of faith, said Teague. “We’re not going to count the cost, but we’re going to be faithful and obedient,” he added.
Christians also have to be willing to accept God’s plan, as Joshua did, knowing they will receive God’s strength and power to accomplish the plan just as the Lord promised Joshua, Teague said.
“Be committed to obedience,” he said. “Make it the basis for daily living.”
Teague summarized his message with God’s statement to Joshua in Joshua 1:9 — “For the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” — saying that Christians need to take hold of that principle.
“We need to be released from fear and giants and worry and doubt. He cares. He’s reliable. He isn’t clumsy or working part time,” Teague said.

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  • Cory J. Hailey