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Feed My Sheep
By: James Smith
Few people will deny the theory that a local church stops growing as the size of the church building reaches 80% capacity. The reason for this is purely human and not so spiritual. Most people simply will not tolerate feeling crowded in the pews. Using chairs instead of pews helps this problem somewhat, but eventually the congregants feel like their space is being invaded and they soon become uncomfortable. However this is not the biggest reason why churches plateau and stop growing.
We use the analogy that a fish will only grow to a certain size in a small fish bowl but in a larger pond for instance, the fish can grow much larger. I’m not so sure however that God’s church should so easily be compared to a fish. I suggest that the building is not necessarily the problem in most cases. In fact, we have all seen churches who were literally bursting out at the seams. In many parts of the world today, revival is happening at an unprecedented rate. Pews are packed and chairs are in the aisles. Some churches are utilizing 2-3 services per day to accommodate the crowds.
While it is true that most people don’t like to be in a crowded atmosphere, it is also true that people will come when they are being fed. Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me Peter?” Peter responded in the affirmative and when he did, our Lord told him to “Feed my sheep.” He did not tell Peter to house them or get them plenty of exercise. He told him to “Feed Them”.
People who are starving in the natural will do everything they can to get even the smallest amount of food or water. Something within them drives them on as they struggle to find something to fill their belly. It is very sad that much of our world’s population goes to bed hungry and starving every day.
We are also living in a day when people are starving spiritually. People are eating almost anything that comes along spiritually speaking. Truth is often ignored in the famished rush to simply fill the starving spiritual belly. People don’t care what you are preaching, just so it answers some of the gnawing that is in their heart and soul. An alcoholic will receive the five (or is it six) step program and ignore the friend who is telling him about the delivering power of the Holy Ghost. Why is that? He’s hungry. He wants whatever is going to fill his spiritual belly. Mentally he makes the decision to do what is simplest and easiest to fix his spiritual problem. That couple in the divorce court often don’t care if you say God is 3 or God is 1. They are looking for the thing that is going to keep their family together.
What’s the greatest church growth program you could have this year? Feed His sheep. People won’t mind sitting closer to one another when your ministry is holding their family together. When the Holy Spirit is the element that is behind every song and every sermon, people will crowd in to see and hear what is going on.
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Mentoring Christian Leaders
Leadership is a complex issue in the 21st Century. The Christian leader faces constant challenges whether at home, at work, or in the church. An increasing number of Christian leaders, business owners, and pastors are turning to mentors and coaches for development and assistance . . . and they are wise to do so. The advantages are many.
The word “mentor” is derived from the original Mentor in Homer’s epic poem The Odyssey. When Odysseus, King of Ithaca went to fight in the Trojan War, he entrusted the care of his kingdom to Mentor. Mentor served as the teacher and overseer of Odysseus’ son, Telemachus.
The Merriam-Webster WWWebster Dictionary defines a mentor as "a trusted counselor or guide." A common definition of a mentor is "a wise, loyal advisor or coach."
A mentor is an individual with special gifts or knowledge that helps and guides another individual’s development. Mentoring is used in many settings. One of the most valuable assets your ministry can have is a good mentor.
Christian leaders are besieged with challenges. Who then do they turn to for counsel, verification, and guidance? Quite often confidentiality is a problem among peers. A seasoned and professional mentor or coach is invaluable in helping guide and validate a leader’s choices and decisions.
Many leaders and even pastors do not have a wise or seasoned elder pastor or confidential authority figure to turn to. Quite often finding solace among peers or elected leaders has proven disappointing.
Many have spent fortunes attending conferences and seminars that seldom have long-term results and lasting impact. Most simply offer motivation that quickly fades away as reality rears it head again.[ read more...]
Most leaders must constantly work at making decisions simple. The implication of a decision will always be complex enough, and sometimes we try to solve or deal with all the implications - the how, who, why, how much and so on at the same time we make the decision.
What are the five to ten most relevant, proven facts in this situation?
- Right up front, distinguish proven facts from what are simply your assumptions. Assumptions are what we believe to be true. They can be very faulty foundations on which to build your decision. A proven fact is "Last month the house down the street sold for X dollars." An assumptions is "I think houses in this neighborhood will generally sell for about X dollars."
- The most frequent violation of sound decision making is trying to decide before all the facts are known. Somehow in our minds we have a need to decide now, a need to bring closure, a need to have things settled. Because an undecided situation often brings us stress, our minds compel us to make a decision too quickly before all the facts are in. "Once the facts are clear, the decisions jump out at you." Find out the facts!
How will this decision impact all the people involved?
- Who are the main players? Who else will be affected? People in other departments? You spouse and children?
What will be the long-term impact of this situation?
- What will be the long term impact of this decision?
- How would this decision affect people a year from now? Five or ten years from now? By the time the children leave home? By the time I retire?
- The more reversible the decision and it's consequences the freer you are to move faster in making it.
What legal, moral, or ethical concerns are involved in the decision?
- Be clear on these factors, especially if it's a big decision involving major commitments of money, time, and energy and affecting a number of lives.
- Understand the difference between these three categories. Legality is based on a coded law. Morality is based on a moral code or trust. Ethics are based on an accepted local or cultural standard.
- Sort out these terms and their application to your decision making process, since some decisions you make could be legal and yet immoral or ethical and yet illegal.
If you are like most Christian church and business leaders you have already discovered that "quick-fix" leadership solutions simply do not work.
At best they are Band-Aids that only temporarily mask the real problems. Perhaps you also have experienced the frustration experienced after spending precious dollars to attend conference after conference and realizing that the motivation received wore off shortly after returning to the real world at home. Or maybe you are one of the countless leaders who visit the bookstore for the latest catchy title, only to buy another book that never gets finished and simply winds up looking good on the bookshelf behind your desk. Impressive but ineffective.There is a solution to the leadership dilemma. For many pastors the real solution is less costly than hosting an evangelist, or for a business leader to hire a consultant. The real solution is one-on-one live mentoring with a gifted and seasoned professional who is focused on you and your needs.
Dr. Fred Childs is highly solicited by Christian church and business leaders for personal mentoring. He offers invaluable understanding, insights, and solutions to leaders on a wide range of topics.ChurchMentor.net has an inexpensive monthly membership fee that introduces its members to an abundance of relevant leadership materials in written, audio, and video formats. However, now the services being offered are expanding to include live mentoring as well.[ read more...]
Motivating yourself to get going and gain momentum is one thing, but inspiring others is another. It starts with your own motivation and continues with strategies that speak to your people. Use the following ideas to give those around you an extra boost of motivation:
• Communicate with Clarity. Before you try to motivate others to act, be sure you know exactly what to ask for. Then communicate it as simply and clearly as you can. After all, people cannot do what they do not understand.
• Be Committed to a Purpose. The one common denominator of all great people in history is that they believed in what they were doing. They were dedicated and committed to their vision and purpose. People will always be persuaded more by the depth of your convictions than by the height of your logic. So, to motivate others, always show them your commitment.
• Give People Recognition. Few things motivate us better than praise. When you tell others that they are doing a great job, it makes them want to work even harder to continue earning your praise. We all have a desire to feel needed and important. For that reason, recognition can be the most dynamic of all motivating factors.
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Pastor Philip Harrelson has contributed a fantastic sermon series titled, “The Little Foxes" to www.PreachIt.org.
We all have spiritual vineyards that we are to be the steward over. The first vineyard that Rev. Harrelson mentions is that of the soul. We also have the vineyard of our family and the church. These are vineyards that we have been chosen to watch over and maintain. However, there are little foxes that are working to destroy our vineyards.
In this encouraging and instructive series, Rev. Harrelson goes into detail and explains how to efficiently “improve the soil of these vineyards.” He describes how we need to meditate on God’s Word every day and pray throughout the week as just a couple of the ways to “water” our vineyards.
Every Pastor, ministry team member and saint of God would greatly benefit to read these messages and apply these life lessons. This is a series that needs to be taught to every church and every team member.
Here is the first paragraph of the first lesson in this series:
Every person has a vineyard. We may not perceive that we are keepers of vineyards but there are responsibilities that we all have for our vineyards. First, we have the personal vineyard of our own soul. It is perhaps the most important vineyard of all that we are to take the most care of. Our soul is the most valuable possession that we have according to the Word of the Lord (Matthew 16:26; 10:28; Ecclesiastes 12:7). The care of the soul is a very tedious and challenging process. It involves the careful work of plowing, planting, cultivating, weeding, watering, and harvesting. Just as a farmer is in a joint venture with God, to care for our soul will have to be a joint venture with God. We cannot do it all alone! We must have God to intervene with Spirit and Word to accomplish His will for us.[ read more...]
I don't want to be so presumptuous as to speak for everyone in ministry, so allow me to speak from my experience;
I often feel overwhelmed and under qualified at that task that God has set before me. I sometimes wonder if I will be able to communicate what I feel so strongly about in a fashion that would cause those who hear me to feel the same passion I feel. I wonder if I can motivate the Church to move in the direction I believe God wants it to move. I feel especially burdened with these thoughts when I am ministering in an outreach setting where the people have not yet heard the Apostolic Message. (with this group, I may have only one chance) No doubt you have felt the same way.
Early in my ministry, I figured this feeling would dissipate over time as my experience grew. But it hasn't. I still feel overwhelmed and under qualified, even more so than before. Yet, now, I have come to understand this is how God wants me to feel. When I lose this feeling, I am on my way down.
What I am describing is not so much a lack of confidence in one's self. I am not describing someone who is fearful or timid of people and pulpit ministry, but rather someone who is humble. God requires humility in every leader. Without humility you will never reach your people. The moment you feel like you have everything in control is the moment you lose control. The message that you just know is going to fill the altars is going to flop. Pride has no place in ministry. Pride will backfire every time. Yet, when you feel like you are in way over your head or when you feel like you don't have the words to say, God will always make up the difference.[ read more...]
The following are the results of a poll given by the Barna Research Group. It may shed some light as to why people give. Remember people give their time and talents for similar reasons they give their money to the church or other organizations.
They have a great reputation for being reliable and trustworthy.
Accuracy of this description. (continue for each question)
Very Somewhat Not too Not at all
66% 27% 2% 4%
You feel good about yourself when you know that you have helped others.
59% 31% 5% 6%
The organization is involved in a type of work that is of greatest interest to you.
54% 35% 4% 4%
You have seen or studied the work of the organization firsthand and know they’re trustworthy.
49% 36% 4% 9%[ read more...]
When you become a pastor you don't get past the need to hear the Word of God preached. In fact preaching is just as much for the saved and it is for the sinner.
1. Preaching saves preachers.
Since God chose preaching as His method to save mankind, one must continually hear the word of God preached in order to stay saved. Preaching saves sinners and saints alike. Hearing one's self preach is not enough to make that happen.
1 Cor 1:21
21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.
2. Preaching causes us to be accountable and to examine ourselves.
One of the dangers of only hearing yourself preach is never having anybody else correct you. You become in danger of being your only standard of right and wrong. Preachers need to hear the Truth just as much or more than anybody else.[ read more...]
All churches must learn to use their announcements as a tool to create anticipation and excitement for the future growth of the church, both short and long term.
Announcements are part of the 'marketing' campaign of the Church. Why is it that corporations will spend millions of dollars and months of planning on their 'announcing', yet we spend very little time and money concerning the marketing of our church and its events.
· Make sure to announce only those events that pertain to the entire body of the church.
· If you start announcing personal events, you are guaranteed to forget something or somebody along the way, and you will end up offending somebody.
· Personal events such as showers, weddings, etc. can be included in Church Bulletins, and Church Websites.
· Another easy way to announce personal events is to create a power point slide show of all of the upcoming events of the church including these personal events. This slide show can be shown before each service as part of a countdown, or simply as a media presentation before service.
· Announcements can also be used to create excitement for[ read more...]