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How Many Will Follow?
By: James Smith
Here is a question every leader of people asks himself/herself at one time or another.
When Jesus looked out over the masses who followed him, I wonder if He asked himself this same question. As He counted, in His mind, the healings and considered all who he helped, I wonder if he pondered how many would come after him.
Of course they would follow him to the next miracle. They would follow Him to the next free dinner. They would be there to hear him preach again, but would they follow him all the way to the cross.
People are fickle. Have you noticed this? It doesn't take much to turn their heads. You can spend all your energy helping them and teaching them, but when something/someone flashier comes along, off they go
It's no wonder we are likened to sheep in the scriptures. Sheep are wanderers. If the shepherd is not watchful, his sheep will simply wander off. They don't mean to leave the shepherd really. They just found a patch of grass that is greener and so off they go.
I look at the ministry of Jesus and I am dumfounded at the throngs of people he could gather. So many on the sea shore that he would have to launch out on a boat to talk to them. Thousands were there the day he multiplied the little boys lunch. They pressed against him. They cried out to him from the edges of the crowds. They climbed into trees to see him. They tore the roof off of houses to get to where He was at. Yet I believe he had one question in His mind every time he saw them press in. "How many will follow?"
Each time you get in front of the group you minister to, do you ask yourself this question? How many will follow me? How many will live the way I teach? How many will stay strong to the faith? How many will be saved?
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Making a change in pastoral ministry is challenging for any pastor and his family, even when they have chosen the time to make that transition. However, a staff pastor and family who are released from their present ministry and must make a transition to a new place of ministry face a different situation. Thus the question, “How should a minister respond, act, and live if he is asked to leave his pastoral ministry?”
Ministers have been released from staff ministry positions for various reasons: decreased church income, downsizing of pastoral staff, the phasing out of a particular ministry position or consolidating church ministries. Regardless of the reason(s) for ministry release, this type of transition can be traumatic to the pastor and his family. Because of the emotional, financial, spiritual, and family issues, this topic must be addressed to help ministers and their families who have been asked to transition from their church ministry. Having been through this type of transition myself as a staff pastor in the past due to pastoral change and staff downsizing, I share some insights that will help edify and support the minister and his family who are in transition.
The ministry family leaving a church may experience emotional stress, financial strain, grief, and a sense of frustration. The exiting staff pastor may question the effectiveness, value, usefulness, credibility, future, and potential of his ministry. Income may be an issue, especially if the staff pastor was the major wage earner in the family. There will also be the question of health insurance. Because health costs can be expensive, health insurance is a necessity. If a transitioning staff member lives in a church parsonage he may wonder, How long can we live here? These are just a few of the concerns that a transitioning staff pastor will be forced to address. What follows are a few suggestions that will help the transitioning pastor and family.
1. Affirm your personhood as a Christian.
God loves you. You, your ministry, and family are valuable to Him. He knew this change would take place before you were asked to make your transition. He has confidence that, with His help, you will make it and your future will still be bright. He knows this is a traumatic change that affects your life, finances, ministry, self-perceptions, spouse, and children.
2. Continue growing in your personal faith walk with God.
You will need to grow spiritually through this situation. Don’t become stuck on, Why is this happening to me? Instead ask,How can I grow through this situation and see glory brought to God?[ read more...]
Knowing what people need and want is the key to understanding them. And if you can understand them, you can influence them and impact their lives in a positive way. Listed are five things about understanding people:
How do you handle disagreements among brethren? The following article appeared in Brother T.F. Tenney’s book, “Advice to Pastors and Other Saints.” It gives excellent advice concerning how to get along.
Keep the disagreement in perspective. Don’t reject the person because he or she has a different opinion. A variety of opinions are the spices of life.
Do not transfer the disagreement to other areas. Do not generalize. A two- color piece of literature is more attractive to the world, not when we are monotonously uniform, but when we function as the body of Christ, where one is the eye, another the hand and another the foot. The world will be impressed by our agreement to cooperate and compliment each other, not by all of us being the same, acting the same, or even speaking the same.
Do not question the motives of the person with whom you disagree. If you assume the right of questioning another’s motive, remember you must permit him or her the same privilege.
Do not assume that personal differences are sinful. They are usually due to different cultural, intellectual, and doctrinal positions. Remember this, a person does not necessarily have to be in fellowship with you to be in fellowship with Christ. Some people do not think it’s smoke unless it comes out of their stack.[ read more...]
Momentum is defined as “mass in motion.” All objects have mass; therefore, if an object of mass is moving, then it has momentum.
The amount of momentum an object has depends on two things:
1. The weight of the object that is moving.
2. The speed of the object that is moving.
In terms of an equation, the momentum of an object is equal to the mass of the object times the speed or velocity of the object.
Momentum can also be measured by its direction. This is called linear momentum because now it has direction as well as magnitude.
Momentum occurs when a force that is greater than the resistance to the object is applied.
Momentum is a conserved quantity, meaning that the total momentum of any closed system (one not affected by outside forces) cannot change. Here on Earth, gravity is the outside force that comes to mind for most of us. Gravity is the force that gives weight to objects and mass on Earth. The Earth's mass creates a gravitational pull on all objects near its surface. Anything on or near the surface of the Earth such as planes, trains, and automobiles, must use a force that is greater than gravity for them to begin to move, and to keep moving. Once they are moving, they have created their own momentum. In order to sustain this momentum, the forces that started that momentum must continue to operate, or momentum will decrease and eventually stop.
Momentum is a force more powerful than we realize and it greatly affects our lives. Yet, it’s not something that we consciously ponder or try to figure out.
As we address momentum in ministry, remember that it always takes an outside force for momentum to start, maintain, and to stop!
In these lessons, we will address and discuss the outside forces that constantly threaten the continuance of momentum in the Church.
The Force of Momentum
Momentum is a powerful force. Just as momentum works in the natural world, momentum works in our ministries and spiritual lives.
Yet, it is rarely talked about.
· The loss of momentum takes place in churches daily all around the world.
· This loss causes untold disappointment and frustration.
· A minister with great passion and vision will experience only so many disappointments and frustrations before they give in to discouragement, even doubting themselves and their calling.[ read more...]
1Thus saith the LORD unto me, Go and get thee a linen girdle, and put it upon thy loins, and put it not in water.
2So I got a girdle according to the word of the LORD, and put it on my loins.
3And the word of the LORD came unto me the second time, saying,
4Take the girdle that thou hast got, which is upon thy loins, and arise, go to Euphrates, and hide it there in a hole of the rock.
5So I went, and hid it by Euphrates, as the LORD commanded me.
6And it came to pass after many days, that the LORD said unto me, Arise, go to Euphrates, and take the girdle from thence, which I commanded thee to hide there.
7Then I went to Euphrates, and digged, and took the girdle from the place where I had hid it: and, behold, the girdle was marred, it was profitable for nothing.
In the passage above, we find the Lord telling Jeremiah to go and get a belt and wear it. He then tells him to take his belt and go to the Euphrates River and bury it among the rocks. The Lord comes back to Jeremiah sometime later and tells him to go and dig out the belt. Whenever Jeremiah does this, he finds the belt is now marred and useless.[ read more...]
John Bunyan’s book The Holy War describes the capture and re-taking of Mansoul. The gates were taken advantage of by Diabolus and his armies because they were not guarded properly. When King Shaddai decided that he was going to gain control of it again, he chose to assault the gates also. The Eye Gate and the Ear Gate were the primary ways of going back into the city. So he determined that he would have his best men to attack the Ear Gate. It literally shook while these men assaulted it. While the allegory is best understood as preaching that is being used to reason with the Ear Gate, Bunyan does an excellent job in describing the ways that it falls back to the control of King Shaddai.
The first to assault the Ear Gate was Captain Boanerges and his first assistant, Mr. Thunder. The second man to assault the gate was Captain Conviction and his first assistant, Mr. Sorrow. The third man sent in is Captain Judgment and Mr. Terror. Obviously Bunyan is describing the most effective tones of evangelistic preaching. Although all of these techniques, authority, passion, conviction, godly sorrow, judgment, and a fear of the judgment awaiting every man, it appears that much of this kind of preaching has fallen by the wayside.
Captain Judgment and Mr. Terror (knowing the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; 2 Cor. 5:11) are dressed in red uniforms with an insignia of a burning furnace. When he stepped up to speak immediately after Captain Conviction, his words rang out.
‘O ye, the inhabitants of the town of Mansoul, that have lived so long in rebellion and acts of treason against the King Shaddai, know that we come not today to this place, in this manner, with our message of our own minds, or to revenge our own quarrel; it is the King, my Master, that hath sent us to reduce you to your obedience to him; the which if you refuse in a peaceable way to yield, we have commission to compel you thereto. And never think of yourselves, nor yet suffer the tyrant Diabolus to persuade you to think, that our King, by his power, is not able to bring you down, and to lay you under his feet; for he is the former of all things, and if he touches the mountains, they smoke. Nor will the gate of the King’s clemency stand always open; for the day that shall burn like an oven is before him; yea, it hasteth greatly, it slumbereth not.[ read more...]
Every pastor, preacher, and minister should memorize these words that Paul shared with Timothy;
2 Tim 4:1-5 New Living Translation
1 I solemnly urge you in the presence of God and Christ Jesus, who will someday judge the living and the dead when he appears to set up his Kingdom:
2 Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching.
3 For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear.
4 They will reject the truth and chase after myths.
5 But you should keep a clear mind in every situation. Don't be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at telling others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you.
Each time I read this letter I find myself asking these questions:
1. Am I prepared to preach; whether the time is favorable or not?
2. Am I able to correct and encourage my congregation with good teaching?[ read more...]
Without a doubt, interruptions in a day can kill your effectiveness. A "list of things to do" is hardly started before the first interruption sends you reeling toward another unproductive day.
It's important to know who can interrupt you when you are busy and who cannot. To reduce the number of interruptions you receive, draw up the following lists:
- People who may interrupt you at any time, such as your spouse or other church ministers.
- People who may interrupt you when you are not particularly busy, such as important members of the church.
- People who may not interrupt you at all.
These lists can save your day. Keep them in mind and give copies to your support staff and relevant ministers of the church. Ask them to follow these lists as much as possible.
A few good ideas to minimize interruptions:
- Ask your secretary or assistant to screen calls for you.
- Stand up and walk towards the door to indicate the end of a meeting.
- Do not sit down if you are followed into your office.
- Keep your office door closed when you do not want to be interrupted.
The Power of Mentoring
Mentor was the name of the advisor to Odysseus, King of Ithaca and victorious leader of the Greeks in the Trojan War. So respected was he and so valuable was his guidance that his name has been borrowed to mean any wise and trusted counselor.
Most of you have had a mentor in your life at one point or another. Most successful people have benefited from a relationship with an individual who served as a counselor. It is a process that we have all gone through, but what gives a mentor success? What is it that makes him or her someone you should or would listen to?
Lou Tice lists three things that gives a mentor their credibility:
1. Our mentor is like us in some significant way.
2. He or she has achieved a measure of personal success in a relevant field.
3. He or she has mentored or coached others to success in that field.
A mentor is somebody who sees more in you than you can see in yourself. Jesus was a mentor to the twelve in the truest sense of the word. Jesus saw greatness in each of them, but he didn't stop there, He began to lead, mold and shape them into the potential that He saw in them.
Jesus saw them as they could be. Jesus didn't focus on their mistakes and shortcomings. Jesus focused on their strength, their power, and their potential. Jesus told them things that reaffirmed their potential. He showed His confidence in them by building them up and reinforcing His belief that they would go on to do great things.
To Peter Jesus said;
18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.[ read more...]