Change or die!

I was at a Christian leadership conference earlier this week. The speaker was Tod Bolsinger, author of ‘Canoeing the Mountains’. I highly recommend the book. However, that is not what I am writing about today.

One point spoke loudly and freed me from a common leadership trap. When people are told by a Doctor that they must change or die. That is to say if you have one more cigarette, if you eat one more cake, if you have one more alcoholic beverage, you will die. 90% of people that face this kind of dilemma will not change. Think about this, for 90% of people facing a certain death is easier than radical change to survive. The same holds true when an institution needs radical change to survive. The resistance from the people of the organization is great.

Another truth about leadership that was taught is that lasting change can not happen through facts, fear, or force.

Why is this so freeing? Because I now know it is not always a lack of leadership ability that causes organizations to fail. I also realize that as a Pastor of a small church it may not be possible to radically change how we operate.

It is a fact that we are in the last generation of church as we have always known it. Just getting more people in the church seats will not change that fact. If somehow every church in town, that is holding onto traditional “church” methods,  formed one big church congregation the doors would still close in the next fifteen years. Why? Because the world changed. Using a variation of the same tactics that worked forty years ago will not work today.

The Church will continue because it is the will of God. However many church buildings will become empty. Congregations will continue to decline in many places. But if you look around many new churches are being planted every year. The older churches that are growing and thriving have made radical adjustments without losing their core values.

I am at last at peace with the events of the past few years. I have a greater understanding of how God has used some painful events for my good. Today I can truly say it is well with my soul.

Change is not that scary to me. Failure is not an overwhelming concern either. Because of this I will seek radical, out of the box ways to reach a lost and dying world with the gospel. But it comes with a loss of traditional church methods.

Not everyone is comfortable with change It is likely that a day is coming when the church I serve at asks me to resign. This is okay. If possible, it should be with mutual care and respect. If it is best that the doors close in the future I would prefer it to be on another person’s watch.

Between now and the New Year I am focusing and praying for a new vision. To be a bit corny, think of it as “fresh vision for 2020”.

Rev. Burt Schwab


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The Security of the Believer


A sermon based on Romans 8:28-39.

From studying the Bible and contemplating the issue of salvation it is easy to conclude two things;

  • Every true believer (one who is abiding in Christ) is eternally secure.
  • Every nonbeliever (one who is not abiding in Christ) is eternally lost.


Rev. Burt Schwab

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Freedom from Condemnation

This message is based on Romans 8:1-4.

There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Rev. Burt Schwab

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Any Lunch Account


Did you know it costs an average of $50 a month for school lunches per student? That is a burden on many working families, especially those with multiple students. Watch this video to see how you can help.

You might be thinking “I don’t have two nickles to rub together.” Been there done that. You can press ‘Share’ to inspire others!


Rev. Burt Schwab

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Rule-Based Religion Does Not Work!

A sermon based on Romans 7:14-25. Apologies for the dark screen. I am not a real techy, I just pretend to be sometimes…

Sigourney First Baptist Church  October 20, 2019

Rev. Burt Schwab

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Hanging on by a silver thread

Life has taught me that leaders are held in place by other peoples trust or fear. When a leader is in place by trust they know the position is hanging by a silver thread. There are a thousand reasons that thread can be broken and the leader will be gone. That is why every leader should constantly look for their successor.

Sometimes the fear of failure can paralyze a person in leadership. For others, myself included, the realization that failure is a possibility is a cause to be more determined. The thought of losing position, status, or employment doesn’t scare godly leaders. Truth is it energizes them to take bold steps when it is in God’s will.

Looking at the foreseeable challenges ahead is a cause for much prayer. Seeing just a glimpse, as if through a fog, of what God wants to do in the community I serve in breaks my heart for the lack of leaders willing to step out in faith. Maybe the changes that need to be made will cause the church I serve at to dismiss me as Pastor. But just maybe it will help usher in a spiritual revival, and that possibility is worth taking the risk!

Someday, maybe by calling or coffin, it will be time for me to be replaced as a leader. Until then I’ll let God lead and try to enjoy the ride and trust that He will make all things work out for His glory!

Rev. Burt Schwab

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Romans 7:1-13


The Law’s Relation to Sin – Romans 7:1-13

Sigourney First Baptist Church

October 13, 2019


I.    Dead to the Law, Married to Christ


Paul refers to law over seventy times in Romans, with various meanings.

  1. The Law God gave to Moses, which condemns (Romans 3:19).The Torah, or Pentateuch, including the Ten Commandments.
  2. The law in general. Usage may include any code of law, but Paul probably refers to the Mosaic Law.
  3. The Old Testament as a whole. Law refers to quotes from the Psalms, Ecclesiastes, and Isaiah in Romans 3:10-19.
  4. A principle. For example, the “law of gravity”, or a controlling power.
  5. Inner law of conscience.
  6. Rules made and enforced by government.



II.  Sin is the enemy within us.



Rev. Burt Schwab

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Tough week…

Okay, I’ll admit that a tough week for me doesn’t compare to many other people. But what can I say? I’m a classic American  whiner. 

So this last week started with being informed work will be mandatory overtime for all of October. How dare they?! After all we are in the lowest unemployment rate in fifty years. How could they possibly expect to find enough employees to get the work done. Hey another reason the Prez should be impeached… 

That overtime meant having to reschedule a Dentist appointment. I mean, seriously, do you know how hard it is to get a preferred Dentist appointment?!

Then on Wednesday it struck me that my wife has to be out of town for business again next week. Yes, it sucks that we are a two job working family. Actually three, but the Pastor job doesn’t count. 

Thursday I got a call that a long time friend passed away. No laughing matter about that. I will grieve for however long it takes. 

Friday was a pre-planned day off. I used eight hours of paid time off to spend sixteen hours cleaning and preparing for a party at the house. It was an outdoor party that included using the garage. 

Saturday it rained most of the day. The rain did stop in plenty of time for the party. But due to the weather only half the people showed up we were expecting.

So now you know how horrible life is for a modern man living in a great economy. Thank God I don’t actually have to live by faith! I mean, what would that look like?
Rev. Burt Schwab

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Psalm 1

If you have followed this site for any length of time you know I have preached from Psalm 1 before. However, this message is new to First Baptist Church of Sigourney, Iowa. Plus it wouldn’t matter to me if I just preached this message a month ago. When the Holy Spirit places a message on my heart it is best to be obedient. He knows what work is to be done in each persons heart.

Below is a copy of sermon note handouts. Preachers/Teachers are free to use this message. Give it your own “flavor” and preach ’em happy!

Planted by the river

Psalm 1

  • Bible reading is like planting seeds in your heart and mind.
  • Bible study is like the rain that causes the seeds to grow.

I. Finding delight in the law of the Lord.

Matthew 5:17, Galatians 3:24

The Law, which is the written word of God, points to our savior Jesus Christ.

John 1:1

Jesus is the living word of God.

John 14:26

The Holy Spirit is the teacher of God’s word.

II. Rooted in the Word of God




Commit to a Bible reading plan. As you go through your day think about a verse or passage that you read.

  • What does this verse/passage mean?
  • How does this apply to me?
  • Why should I behave differently because this verse or passage?
  • Who can I encourage others with this verse/passage?


Being rooted in the word of God and walking in its counsel will make you prosperous in your purpose as a Christian.

A challenge for Preachers;

If the congregation studied the Bible the way you do, would they grow spiritually? If the congregation studied the Bible the way you want them to, would you have to improve your preaching?

Rev. Burt Schwab

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One with Christ

Sermon based on Romans 6:1-14. First Baptist Church of Sigourney, Iowa. September 29, 2019.


  • Guide your eyes. May they always behold the glory of the Lord.
  • Monitor your hearing. Let your ears be tuned to hear His voice.
  • Control your tastes. Feed always on the manna above.
  • Watch your touch. Lay hold of the riches of God’s grace.
  • Train your smell. Crave only what is true and will enrich the soul.


Rev. Burt Schwab

P.S. Your feedback is helpful for future posts.

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