Mind the pressure points, Bisagno tells pastors

AUSTIN?John Bisagno, retired pastor of First Baptist Church of Houston, told the crowd at the President’s Luncheon during the SBTC annual meeting at Great Hills Baptist Church in Austin that there are ministry “pressure points” pastors must regularly monitor. Bisagno served at First Baptist Church from 1970-2000 and offered the crowd what he described as a primer course for pastor-leaders.

The first pressure point Bisagno cited was the “pressure over power,” which often manifests in struggles between deacons or other types of church leadership boards and the pastor over the church’s business or direction. “Truth of the matter is,” Bisagno said to pastors, “you’re not smart enough to make all the decisions.”

Regardless of what they are called?deacons, elders, laypastors?a senior pastor needs wise counsel to take the load off himself from every decision that arises. Bisagno said that under his pastorate, his deacons functioned as servants and “it just worked,” as most power struggles were avoided.

Also, “Leadership is not demanded. It is earned. ? When you have to start telling them, ‘I’m the pastor, you no longer are.'” “We as undershepherds, undergroomers, must relate to Christ’s bride in the same way.” Likewise, the deacons are to preserve the unity of the church, Bisagno insisted, noting their role in solving the contention over the serving of tables in Acts.

Also, Bisagno said, even though Christ is the head over self-governed congregations, “Help your people to understand: The New Testament way is not to vote on half the stuff we do. ? I have come to believe that the plague of smaller churches is micromanagement” by the congregation. In Scripture, Bisagno said, “the people did not make ultimate decisions on many matters” but “congregationally on a few important issues.”

“The problem is we don’t know where to begin and we don’t know where to stop.” Another contention, he said, is often over contemporary versus traditional music, with both styles having strong points. Younger people, Bisagno said, love the new music because “it’s sung to Jesus.” “It gives them a security and reality in a world of insecurity.”

Older people, on the other hand, love the hymns because it reflects the dignity and majesty of God, he said. “It’s important because many of us learned our theology from those old hymns,” he said. Nevertheless, endure one another with patience, he said. “What are you going to do if you get to heaven and you find out that God likes rap,” Bisagno quipped.

Finally, the “pressure point of purity” has ruined many gospel ministers, Bisagno said, because they lost their passion for God and for their wives. In the earthly realm, if a man is out of love with his wife, he should repent.

“Talk to your wife. Turn off the TV and spend time” getting to know her more intimately daily, Bisagno advised. “The only answer is early morning Bible study and prayer” and accountability with other trustworthy men.

Bisagno said King David got in trouble because he lost the discipline of turning his head.

“You can’t avoid birds flying over your head,” Bisagno said. “But you can keep them from nesting in your hair.”

Prioritizing one’s wife and family pays dividends, Bisagno said, even though “I missed a lot of meetings” because of little league baseball games or schoo

TEXAN Correspondent
Jerry Pierce
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