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Just Don't Quit!
By: James Smith
The story goes like this...
The guy wakes up on Sunday morning and say's, "I'm not going to church today!" "Why not?" The good wife asks. "I just don't feel like it and besides, I'm not sure everyone there likes me. In fact, I'm sure that Sister Jones outright hates me!" The man retorts. "Well you have to go." Responds his wife. "Why's that?" He asks. "Because", she says, "You're the Pastor!"
Ever been there? Don't answer that. I can't find much scripture on this, but I honestly feel a spirit of Defeat attack me at least one day out of the week. This little guy must keep a tight schedule, since he always comes on the exact same day. Hardly ever does he come around on an off day. It's always the same day, Monday!
You may not understand this unless you've Pastored or been in ministry for a while. I've heard other ministers say this Imp who I will call Defeat, attacks them on Mondays too. So I suppose I am not alone on this one.
I'm not much of a quitter. Quitting is just not in me. Sometimes I wonder if I'm too stubborn to quit, or too stupid to realize it's time to quit. Like old Shammah. Defending a field of lintels against a whole troop of Philistines. Just him and an dead donkey's jawbone.
Was that guy tough or just not smart enough to get out of the way? We've preached him tough, but I really worry for the man. He didn't have much to work with there. Why didn't he just fall back (quit) and regroup? You know, get some help. I believe I have the answer...He was neither stubborn or dumb. He knew his purpose!
[ read more...]
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Are you about to crash and burn because your personal life doesn't measure up to the expectations of the ministry? Here are three warning signals to watch for.
1. Anger. Anger usually results when we feel that we have lost control of a situation or circumstance. Many times we instinctively know that some area of our lives is out of control. That is when we become less tolerant of those around us.
Outward bursts of wrath are easy to detect. Another expression of anger is harder to recognize, but it needs to be viewed as a "red flag" of a troubled heart: sarcasm.
Anger turned inward often comes out in the form of sarcasm. This form of anger is veiled in humor and it may seem harmless, but it has a detectable "edge" to it. It subtly fires darts of hidden criticism.
In Ephesians 4:26-27 we read, "Be angry, and do not sin: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil" (NKJV). This scripture is not giving us a license to entertain the emotion of anger. Rather, it is saying that we must deal with this damaging emotion before the day ends. If we don't, we will give place to Satan.
2. The Elijah Syndrome. A second symptom of spiritual bankruptcy is what I call the "Elijah Syndrome". We first see it demonstrated in the life of Elijah himself. The syndrome is displayed in the infamous church service described in I Kings 18:21-40.
But in I Kings 19:9, we see that in not time at all, Elijah went from basking in the blinding light of God's glory to cowering in the corner of a dark cave. He became imprisoned by despair. When we are facing any kind of difficulty, one of the most effective lies Satan feeds us is that no one can understand what we are going through. "No one else has it as bad as I do," we think.
As a result, we begin to cut ourselves off from those who can offer us wise counsel. We are then left to our own distorted reasonings and perceptions.[ read more...]
This series of articles are dedicated to those individuals who would struggle to maintain the momentum of God's workings in the church.
Latin centum, movement, from *movimentum, from mov re, to move. See meu - in Indo-European Roots
a property of a moving body that the body has by virtue of its mass and motion and that is equal to the product of the body's mass and velocity; broadly : a property of a moving body that determines the length of time required to bring it to rest when under the action of a constant force
n 1: an impelling force or strength; "the car's momentum carried it off the road" [syn: impulse] 2: the product of a body's mass and its velocity; "the momentum of the particles was deduced from meteoritic velocities"
Momentum is very hard to create. The larger the object, the harder it is to move. Depending on how much energy is needed to move it and the amount of time that energy can be applied decides how much momentum can be generated.
Building momentum in the church is not easy.
- A constant Investment Of Time
- An Endless Amount Of Energy
C – collect & categorize
- Eccl. 12:9 (NLT) Because the Teacher was wise … He collected proverbs and classified them …
- Collect Bible verses, quotes, articles, books, sermon tapes, illustrations, etc. – even years in advance!
- Categorize them in a filing system – put something away each day
R – research & reflect
- Eccl. 12: 9 (NASB) The Preacher … pondered and searched out …
- Research is studying with my mind; reflection is listening with my heart (meditation).
A – apply & arrange
- Eccl. 12:11 (NLT) A wise teacher’s words spur students to action and emphasize important truths.
- Each sermon should answer three important questions:
o So what?
o Now what?
- Arrange your sermon in an outline:
- Keep it SIMPLE.
Haddon Robinson: “Television has destroyed linear thinking”
Knowing some answers to this question can not only keep a church from losing some great people, but will also bring a church into revival as the back door is closed to a large degree.
It’s kind of like money. It’s not how much you make, it’s how much you save. Some count their new converts by the hundreds, but few of these converts are still in the church a year later.
People leave the church because of boring sermons. Some people can tell when a preacher is shooting from the hip or preaching to the choir. “Study to show yourself approved.” You are not going to keep some people unless your messages are getting into their heart and mind. They have come to hear a Word from God. Get one from the Lord for yourself and then give it to the congregation.
People leave the church because they feel the ministry does not care about them. Greet them, shake their hands, phone them, write them a letter, smile at them, visit them when they are sick, send them a card when you can’t. Let them know you care. One kind word spoken at the right moment in a person’s life can cause them to be devoted to you for the rest of their life.
People leave the church because they have no relationships there. Develop ways for new converts to develop relationships within the church. Small Groups are a great place for new people to gain those necessary relationships.[ read more...]
We live in a world that needs healing. We are surrounded by people who need healing. The pain of this healing is manifold. It comes from the past. It comes from the present. It is physical. It is emotional. It is spiritual. It is mental. Some of these people have received a bad report from the doctor and are desperate for a miracle. Physical injuries of every kind have left others maimed or crippled to the point that they struggle to accomplish even the smallest of tasks. Many others are victims of childhood abuses and neglect that have crippled them emotionally and mentally as adults.
These people encircle our churches. They are our members. They are our neighbors. They are the people we bump into at the grocery store and places where we do business. We speak to them on our jobs. We speak to them on the streets. Every day of our lives we are in constant contact with individuals who desperately need a healing of some sort in their life.
But healing does not come. The pain does not subside. The inner and outer suffering is constant and there is oftentimes no help from doctors, psychologists, counselors or even the ministry.
This is very sad, especially when you consider that many people spend their entire lives and fortunes seeking the healing they need.
Just because a person is a member of a church and filled with God’s Spirit does not mean they are not still suffering as the world does. Oftentimes, a person can sit in a church pew their entire lives, and many of them never do completely open up and let God heal the wounds of their heart and mind. Others still are struggling with the news they just received from the doctors. Panic, fear and despair all attack these sweet people as the realization sets into their minds that they may not have long to live or that their malady is something that cannot be healed by the doctors.
For many, the doctors and specialist have done all they can do. Help is not eminent. The suffering is going to continue. Pain, of the heart and mind and throughout the body, is all they have to look forward to. Fear, panic, worry, and anxiety of every kind is constant and is not promised to end.
But God asks the question, “Are You Ready For Your Healing?”
Why does it seem that God heals some and not others?[ read more...]
Failure – In the business world, this word isn’t an option. But in the church, it almost seems like a requirement. Look at the heroes of the faith in Hebrews 11. While the Bible lauds their faithful successes here, check out their Old Testament stories, and you’ll find that God used people who repeatedly failed and doubted him.
So the next time you feel like a failure or even a hypocrite – encouraging your congregation to live one way when you’re failing in that very same area yourself – remember God’s amazing penchant for using seemingly imperfect, irresponsible, and faithless people to further His kingdom. In fact, here are some specific places where you might be feeling like a failure, along with promises for you to claim.
Correcting and confronting people about sin when you know the pitiful condition of your own heart. Remember that God detests sin, but he already knows that you’ll fail Him. Victory doesn’t come through any power of our own, but only from God’s strength over evil. Approach God and admit your weaknesses. “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:8-9)
Preaching on quiet time when you don’t have one. Change the terminology if you need to. A quiet time is just a means of recharging your own spiritual batteries on a semi-regular basis – even if it’s not a daily quiet time. “Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10) Being still is hard to do if you’re running in the opposite direction. What will happen if you stop and listen to God? “You’ll be made new in the attitude of your minds; and you’ll put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:23- 24)
Speaking on bringing people to the Lord when you haven’t led anyone to Him in years. Double-check your source and motivation. Jesus said that only people plugged into Him could be fruitful. “Remain in Me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. I am the vine; you are the branches. If[ read more...]
All too often the people who lead the service mislead it. These good people whom the Pastor has asked to help out in the service many times serve to cause frustration and confusion in a church service.
Leading a service properly can bring about a move of God that can break every yoke in the service. Leading it improperly can cause people to go home more bound than they were when they came.
Every element of the service should prepare the way for the next. The end result of the service is the move of God in the alter. When you get in the way of the progression, you kill the potential of what could happen.
Here are a few things to consider when asked to “Lead the service”.
Keep it moving. Don’t allow for delays or “dead air” places in the services. In radio, “dead air” is when you hear silence. It is also when the producer did his job wrong and did not prepare for those seconds of the day. It is during this time that many people will change the channel or turn off their radio. You don’t want this happening in the church service. “No Dead Air!”
Do not continually comment. If you are introducing the various singers and elements of the service don’t comment each time on the last person who sang or spoke. Just introduce the next part of the service.
Be prepared. Have a written outline of how the service will run. This way you will not forget any part or aspect of the service. (Forgetting to have the children’s choir sing when they have practiced all week will get a lot of people upset at you.)
Don’t ramble. Recently I attended a service where the person who led the service in the Pastor’s leave, killed it with his constant rambling. He actually spoke more than the preacher did. He thought he was funny with his jokes and spiritual with his “little messages”. Needless to say, the congregation did not pay much attention to the preacher when he was finally introduced, since they already heard plenty of oratory from the person leading the service. I love preaching, but I have to admit, the guy leading this service wore me out.[ read more...]
Every Church needs to answer the following eight strategic questions:
1. Why do we exist as a church? (Biblical Purpose)
2. How has God worked in our past? (Ministry Milestones)
3. Whom has God called us to reach? (Ministry focus)
4. Who has God shaped us to be? (Core Values)
5. Where is God leading us in the future? (Vision)[ read more...]
To give a little history as to how some of the heavy-handed authoritative traits came into play among pastors you have to trace back to the charismatic movement. Out of the charismatic movement there was the evolving of a concept called “shepherding.”
The Latter Rain movement actually had its earliest beginnings in the late 1800’s and was born out of the Methodist and Holiness camp-meeting environment. It would continue to generate momentum and experience growth during the post-World War II years and be much encouraged by the Charismatic movement in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Marked by extreme excess and abuse of the gifts of the Spirit, this activity led to the production of “prophets” who had little use for personal holiness and consecration. After a while it appeared that they only had a desire for their own personal kingdoms to grow.
As time went by these intruders became susceptible to moral and ethical failures. The subsequent fallout from their failures caused many who followed them to be led astray by their repulsive actions. In an effort to recover from these shenanigans a group of leaders came together and formed what was called “The Shepherding Movement.” Bob Mumford, Derek Prince, Charles Simpson, and Don Basham were the primary founders of this loosely formed organization who determined that its sole purpose would be to form a system of personal accountability. Later a fifth leader, Ern Baxter would be added to make up what was referred to as the “Fort Lauderdale Five.”
They decided that their work would be modeled after the pattern of Paul mentoring his sons in the faith, Timothy and Titus. They would work toward building a system of accountability that would form deeper relationships among pastors, ministry development at all levels, and ethical standards with emphasis on moral and financial dealings.
The whole system worked with the idea that anyone who came into the church needed a“shepherd.” After witnessing the moral collapse of several prominent men, this seemed to be a good and necessary thing. Who could object to the need for spiritual leadership and accountability? It became very heavy on authority and control in a manner that even simple decisions of daily living had to be monitored and approved by the pastor/leader of local congregations.
As an example, the leader would have to make the final decisions on car purchases, home mortgages, and job opportunities. In some cases, the “shepherd” would designate who young men and young women would marry to the degree that the marriages were arranged and carried through. The “shepherd” would have almost complete control over the personal finances. The parishioners would bring their paychecks to him and he would cash them and take his cut which was oftentimes more than 10% and give them the remainder. So as you can see the role of the pastor changed into an extreme form of authoritative control.
Some of the characteristics of the Shepherding system are as follow:
• Discipleship only takes place when one is committed to the group, cell ministry, and its leader.
• The only hope of salvation is extreme devotion to the shepherd of the group. This indicates the leader has more power to save than does Jesus Christ.
• Jesus Christ does not work directly in the life of the follower but rather He works through a system of delegated authority that flows down from the shepherd. You are to submit to this man as you would submit to God.
• Our relationship with God is not primary but rather it works in tandem with the power of a shepherd who has total control over the present, material world we live in.
• Our obedience[ read more...]