DJ Gorena

Life as I see it

Month: October, 2013

What Not To Say to Parishioners

My last post consisted of a few things not to say to your pastor. This article is going to deal with what pastors shouldn’t say to their congregations. Now, for those of you who are part of a church, understand that when your pastor says some of the following that he’s not perfect–but neither are you. Lest you forget, you and your pastor are all part of the Body, the Church. There is only One Head of the Church and His name is Jesus Christ.

So what should a pastor not say to his parishioners?

  1. You don’t know what you’re talking about. This sort of statement is usually made when a pastor thinks that the parishioner is being disagreeable with him about his preaching, pastoring or any other thing that might be going on in the life of the church. The problem with being so brash is that we as pastors may not know what we’re talking about! However, understand that as a parishioner you’re not always right either. Nonetheless, on the one hand, the pastor needs to show as much grace to his people as possible while on the other hand, the congregation needs to show as much grace to their pastor as possible. We need to show love one toward another. Showing grace one toward another is simply the culmination of the entire Law. Paul the apostle put it this way: For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Galatians 5:14).
  2. There’s plenty of other churches you can go to. This is one of those final last-ditch statements that a pastor will say whenever someone is coming against him rather strongly. The parishioner may be coming across strongly because the pastor is trying to run everything the way he desires as opposed to the way that God desires. On the other hand, the pastor may very well be doing exactly what it is that God desires for the church. Whenever a parishioner is wanting to leave because of not agreeing with his pastor, the best thing for that person to do is to pray for his attitude toward his pastor and then pray for his pastor to be blessed. Paul the apostle put it this way: With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak (Ephesians 6:18-20). Paul being a minister, was seeking the prayer support of his people. It is the responsibility of the parishioner to keep their pastor in front of the throne of Christ consistently, that he may speak boldly the gospel of Christ.
  3. I’m in charge here, not you. Most pastors believe that they are in charge of everything in the church. This really is not the case–although we pastors like to be in charge! Moreover, it is also true that the parishioners are not in charge–although some of them think they are! What we as pastors are responsible for is equipping the parishioners for the work of service. What the parishioners are responsible for is to follow the leading of their pastor when he is led by the Holy Spirit and to do the work of the ministry as trained. Peter the apostle put it this way: Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according tot he will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples tot he flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed tot he proud, but gives grace to the humble (1 Peter 5:1-5). Pastors, we are undershepherds; Jesus Christ is our Chief Shepherd. He’s the One who is in charge, not us. Church members do well when we recognize this and we lead them to the Chief Shepherd not lording our calling over them.
  4. I’m the qualified one here. Really? My thoughts have always been that if you have to tell someone your credentials, then you probably don’t really have them. Now I know that if you as a pastor have received your undergraduate and graduate degrees, and even your doctorate, you think that you’re fully qualified to be pastors. The reality is that the degrees are great to have, the education is great to have, but that is not what qualifies you as a pastor. What qualifies you as a pastor is 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9. Paul the apostle said: For this reason I left you in Crete, that you would set in order what remains and appoint elders in every city as I directed you, namely, if any man is above reproach, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion. For the overseer must be above reproach as God’s steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain, but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled, holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict (Titus 1:5-9). These are the qualifications. The education is great to have; it helps you to know of what you speak. The qualifications are essential as they are directed by God Himself.
  5. Yes, I’ll pray for you. Some of you may be thinking that this is ridiculous, but it really isn’t. Too often, with our busy schedules, we as pastors will say that we will be in prayer for those with whom we come into contact and we don’t keep our word. We forget to pray for whatever reason (and there are plenty of reasons depending on how many people are in your congregation). If I can make a suggestion, I began to put prayer requests in my telephone with alerts to remind me to pray for different people. When someone comes to me with a personal prayer request, this is what I do so I will keep my word. Only say that you will pray if you really are going to pray–and I encourage you to pray for your parishioners. Paul the apostle said it like this: First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time. For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying) as a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth (1 Timothy 2:1-7). The purpose of our praying for our parishioners is so that we may bring them to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who not only brings us faith and truth, but is our Faith and Truth.

I’m sure there are so many other things that I have said as a pastor that I shouldn’t have said. You may be thinking of some other things that you ought not say to parishioners. Let me know what your thoughts are whether you’re a pastor or a parishioner.


What Not To Say to Your Pastor

Too often there are many things said to pastors that really shouldn’t be said. This has occurred to me since I have been in ministry now for twenty-nine years. This of course is not the easiest of articles to write either, but I think something needs to be said for the many of us who prepare sermons and preach them on a weekly basis. After all, we are brothers in Christ, called of God to the task of pastoring, teaching and preaching, and we pour our hearts and souls into what we do–at least we ought to be pouring our hearts and souls into it. We are not the “head” of the church; that position belongs to our King, Jesus Christ. We are actually part of the body of believers, undershepherds to our Great Shepherd. So here is what not to say to your pastor:

  1. You stepped on my toes today, preacher. Now I know that sounds like a compliment, something that some preachers like to hear, and perhaps so. But it is not the intention of pastors to step on anyone’s toes. Nevertheless, when God’s Word is being preached it will inevitably step on someone’s toes and make them feel uncomfortable. This means that you should start examining yourself to see if there is something sinful in you. The psalmist said it like this: Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting (Psalm 139:23-24). Rather than saying that the pastor stepped on your toes, tell him of the conviction that God has placed upon your heart and mind because of the moving of the Holy Spirit through the message preached so he can pray with you and and minister to you in the Lord.
  2. I disagree with your message. You’re not expected to agree with absolutely everything that the preacher preaches. I get it. Every preacher gets it. We don’t have the corner market on complete absolute truth. But have you ever stopped and asked yourself, “Knowing that the pastor has studied all week-long for his sermon today, could it be that he actually knows more about this subject than I?” If the answer is ‘no,’ then maybe you need to consider what Paul the apostle said: All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Notice that the ‘Scriptures’ are what is necessary for correction, not your interpretation of a passage or your disagreement or whatever else you may be thinking. A pastor needs gentle correction from the Word of God just as much as you do. Consider how you may do this showing him the kindness and love that he needs. Remember this rule? “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Consider this better still, “Say unto others what you would have them say to you.”
  3. I really wish you would’ve said this in your message today. Have you ever stopped to consider that perhaps the pastor thought about saying that very thing but the Lord told him not to? There are always issues in the church that need to be addressed, but that doesn’t mean that they need to necessarily be addressed from the pulpit. Moreover, timing on certain things is of utmost importance. Perhaps the pastor knows that he needs to wait to say what it is that you think he needs to say at a different time in a different way than what you might be thinking. Micaiah the prophet said: As the Lord lives, whatever the Lord says to me, that I will speak (1 Kings 22:14). Stop and consider the time and preparation that your pastor puts into his sermons and lessons. His main goal is to say that which the Lord has said to him. We as pastors don’t want to say anymore or any less than what our Lord Jesus Christ desires. This means that you don’t have to tell him what he should and should not have said in his message. Moreover, it may be that you missed what the Lord was saying because you focused so much on what you thought he should’ve said.
  4. I don’t think that you should’ve preach that message here. Really? Refer to #3 above.
  5. Are you busy? I don’t mean to interrupt you. It’s a simple question. Most of the time the answer is just as simple: “Yes.” The pastor is always busy. He’s either preparing sermons or he’s visiting with people. He’s either driving to meet someone for lunch or he’s sharing the Good News of King Jesus to someone he just met. Or he’s actually takes a day off to be with his family and he needs that time as much as you do when you have your day off of work. And by the way, just be honest enough to say that you mean to interrupt him. It’s alright to be forthright with him. But by all means, don’t interrupt him after a service if he’s ministering to someone else. Either wait your turn, send him a text or email sometime that day or week, or call him when you know that he’s available. Give him a chance to think through what it is that you’re saying to him or what you’re asking of him. Moreover, don’t be surprised if he doesn’t have the time right then to answer. That’s what voicemail is for which means you don’t have to call, hangup, call again, hangup, and then call again and finally leave a message. Leave a message the first time. You might just be interrupting a witnessing opportunity or his prayer or study time. Don’t expect for him to have all the answers for you either. His main goal is this: And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness by which they lie in wait to deceive, but speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head–Christ–from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love (Ephesians 4:11-16). The pastor wants you to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ; and if he can be of help to you in this regard, he wants to be the one to help. Nevertheless, just be mindful of his time. He realizes that your time is just as valuable to you.

Now don’t mistake this post. This is not a gripe session or a complaint. It’s something for you to think about. It’s something for pastors and congregants to think about.

So here’s your assignment: 1) If you’re a pastor, what else do you think congregants shouldn’t say to pastors? Explain the reason(s) you think what your answer is. 2) If you’re a congregant, how can you encourage your pastor today or this week? Explain the reason(s) you think what your answer is.

There will be a forthcoming post on what pastors ought not say to their congregants.

My Grandfather’s Birthday


Dionicio Juan Gorena

Have you ever had that special someone in your life that just meant so much to you? I mean someone who really made an impact on you like no one else really has? That person for me was my Grandfather, Dionicio Juan Gorena. He was a father, grandfather, uncle, brother, and friend. He taught the Bible, picked people up weekly to attend church services with him, preached, taught, and even sang in the choir. (He used to say that he sang “bass” [like the fish]. People would look at him funny but I would sit there and laugh!) He took time to help people, provide for his family (he and my Grandmother had 17 children), and then he would even give money and stuff away to anyone who had need. This is who my Grandfather was.

But there was something even more important to me than all of the things mentioned above. The most important thing for me is that he taught my Father, David Juan Gorena, the Scriptures. Daily my Father would sit at my Grandfather’s table while he taught my Dad the Scriptures. I would go to my Grandparents home when I could and sit and listen to them talk to each other. It was mostly in Spanish, but I could catch here and there what they were talking about. I shall never forget the times that I would see my Grandfather reach for his Bible and he would read something to my Father then explain the passage to him. My Father would contemplate what his Dad taught him and would discuss with him what he was learning.

In turn, when I was in 6th or 7th grade, my Dad started to take me to Mr. Donut, a local donut shop where we lived, at 10:00 p.m. Now that was supposed to be my bedtime, but he thought it would be good take me there, buy me a chocolate donut with coconut sprinkles on it with a pint of chocolate milk, and he would buy himself a cup of coffee. (My Dad could drink coffee all day long; I used to think that is why he always looked so tanned!) After sitting down at the table, my Dad would pull out a pocket Bible and have me read a passage of Scripture to him. After reading the text, my Dad would then sit and explain to me what that passage meant. He took the time to teach me, to train me, just like his Dad, my Grandfather, did.

This is one of the most important times in all of my life. It all started with my Grandfather, Dionicio Juan Gorena, who taught my Father, David Juan Gorena, who in turn taught me. Both of these men have made the greatest impact on me.

Now let me tell you the reason that my Grandfather taught my Father and in turn the reason that my Father taught me:

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:5-9)

My Grandfather and my Father both took this to heart. They not only learned the what God said in His Word, the Bible, but then they lived it out by teaching me what it says. My prayer, now that I am a Dad, is that I will teach my two sons what it is that I learned from my Grandfather and Father.

In the meantime, happy birthday, Grandpa! I love you and miss you but know that you are having the time of your life in eternity with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

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