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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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What are some of the principles that greatly impact our lives and help us become mature, growing, productive people? Listed are principles to guide your life:
- Your attitude determines your altitude.
- It’s not what happens to a person, but what happens in a person that makes the difference.
- Every problem has a hidden possibility and a seed of victory in it.
- Failure is not final. Learn from it and go on.
- Limitations are guidelines, not stop signs.
- Expect the best and express the best.
- There is not much difference between success and failure. The successful usually gave just a little bit more.
- Each person can increase a little. You can improve your attitude, relationships, priorities, determination and credibility a little each day.
- Helping others succeed helps you to succeed.
- Be yourself – that’s who God made.
- People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
- Live what you teach.
- Pay now and play later.
HE GOT UP AND OUT, NOW WE CAN GET THROUGH
I want to tell everyone; “Because He lives, I am able to overcome whatever.” I am so grateful for the Cross where my sins were nailed and wrath was endured by Jesus, but without the Resurrection all would be for nothing. His rising tells all loud and clear: He was right, His teachings are correct, His sacrifice was enough, divine justice has been satisfied, the blessing of the Holy Ghost would be coming as planned, and anybody who will believe will receive.
Oh, just to think how Jesus defeated the devil in three places: on Earth, on the cross, and through the tomb. I just can't even describe just how I feel. We who have been redeemed and born again know the empty tomb is far more than a story: He lives and lives within us…. The total history that has been accomplished by that empty tomb should inspire each of us to become better Praisers, Givers, and Livers. To think that God, Himself, designed the entire episode so that we could be set free from our sins and become fit vessels for His Spirit to indwell. The raising of Jesus from the dead has revealed the great power of God Himself, for in doing this, the defeat of sin and Satan is now totally obvious. Jesus is alive, making this thing called Christianity a living demonstration of glory and power.[ read more...]
An alarming trend in the 21st Century church is the accepted absence of signs, wonders, miracles and healing. Many people believe in but simply have not seen the spiritual manifestations of God. The result is an uncertainty and a lack of confidence in the operation of spiritual gifts and faith. The absence of manifestation makes it difficult to have absolute trust in God’s present ability to do anything. Men and women are hesitant to step out and “take chances” on God because they have never seen or experienced God under such circumstances.
This weakens the effect of the Word because the one speaking does not have true faith in its ability. The same Jesus who did not many mighty works in His home country due to their unbelief (Matthew 13:58) will not do many works in your life and church for the same reason.
The more unfamiliar we become with spiritual and miraculous manifestations of God the more humanistic we become in our understanding of Him. I am astounded as I listen to preachers who have little to no understanding or experience in spiritual things. They make excuses and deny the power and authority of God without realizing it. They belittle as weird those who have experiences. His Word becomes a lifeless book that has no power.
It is time for this to change! The weakening of God’s Word cannot be acceptable under any circumstances. He is a miraculous and unlimited God right now!
Jesus said in Mark 16:17 that, “these signs shall follow them that believe”. This has never changed. The signs still follow. If the signs are not following you need to examine your walk with God. Signs do still follow believers.
Mark 16:20 tells us,
20 And they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.
I want to accentuate the “amen” by declaring that these things still occur in abundance. They still follow true believers. A true believer is not merely someone who believes true doctrine, but one who practices true Christian behavior and faith. Faith without works is dead according to James 2:20, 26.
Many Christians limit their relationship to God to their time at church. However, in Mark 16:15 Jesus tells us to go throughout the world preaching the gospel to every one everywhere. Those who do that will see things happen. They will have testimonies. I have my thousands. You can also if you want them. Signs follow our actions of faith. They do not lead the way, but they follow after us.
My brother Alan is an evangelist from San Antonio, Texas. He is an example of someone who has had signs and wonders follow him. The following is one of many such true stories.
Rain at 2:30
As teenagers, Alan and I both worked Murrell’s Corner. It was a full service gas station on the corner of Kenneth and Elgie Streets in Beaumont, Texas. An amazing series of events took place there over the course of three days during the drought of a hot summer.
Alan’s born-again experience was very real. In his zeal he had witnessed to Murrell, who promptly dismissed Alan as a certified idiot. Murrell was a deacon in his church, and evidently he felt like he had God all figured out. He mocked Alan and told him that tongues were only for the apostles and that it didn’t happen any more.[ read more...]
From the earliest messages of the Gospel that were preached by Jesus, until today, preachers have wanted their message to be heard by the masses. We have done everything we could to ensure that our preaching can be heard.
1And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Gennesaret,
2And saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets.
3And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon's, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship.
There was a twofold purpose in Jesus using the ship as a preaching platform. The first reason was that as vs 1 mentions, the people were pressing against him. The crowd was getting too great. As with any size crowd of people, the natural voice can only go so far. The more people you add to the crowd the less His voice could travel as sound bounces off of obstacles which, in turn, hindered His ability to get His message across to everyone that was there.
This brings us to the second reason why Jesus launched out onto the ship to preach. Sound carries extremely well across water. From the ship, more people could line the shore of the lake and His voice would carry to them without being hindered. (Have you ever been on one side of the lake and heard the voices of people speaking on the other side which might be thousands of feet away? When the wind is still, you can literally hear a casual voice speaking from thousands of feet away as the sound travels across the surface of the lake without hindrance.)
Jesus took full advantage of this simple technique. However primitive Jesus’ sound system was on this day, it worked. It enabled him to get His message to many more people than His previous method of simply standing or sitting in a place on the beach as He taught.
Preachers today face the same dilemma most often. We struggle to get our voice out to more people. We purchase sound systems costing everywhere from hundreds, to literally tens of thousands, of dollars for the simple purpose of getting more people to hear our preaching. We oftentimes stop at nothing to get our message across to more people.[ read more...]
Although we put so much effort into preparing for our worship services with music practices and prayer meetings, there are some in our churches that we know are not going to worship. It doesn't matter how wonderful the music sounds or how exciting the service may be, some people just aren't going to be involved at all in worship. The Spirit can be so powerful and the anointing be so strong and there are people whose lives are clearly being changed, yet there will be that select few who are content sitting in their seats doing nothing. What do we do when people don't worship? How do we get those people to worship?
Teach on worship.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
Teach on worship in your bible studies. Have lessons on worship during Sunday School. Teach on worship during your mid-week services. Show what can happen when everyone is with one accord and in one place doing the same thing. (Acts 2) There are many passages in Scripture that teach on worship. Some people may not worship because they really don’t know how to worship. Maybe they are new to church and do not feel comfortable outwardly expressing themselves yet. Maybe they really don't know what worship is or how to demonstrate it. It is our responsibility to teach on these things. We can't expect these people to worship if we haven't first taught them what worship is and how to worship.[ read more...]
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...]
If you desire for people to follow you, you have to connect with them. The catalyst of your relationship with them at any level may very well have to be a result of your constant effort to associate with them. An unbeliever’s only basis for coming into the knowledge of truth may well be his relationship with his teacher/preacher.
Connect with them on a personal level. Find out what it is that interests them and try to find a common interest. Get to know them personally. Visit their home. Invite them to yours. Go places with them. Let them know you care for them on more than a Pastoral level. If they consider you to be their friend, they will support you much more than if you are only an authority to them.
Connect with them on a professional level. If he is a doctor, read a few books on the latest surgery procedures. If he coaches football, learn a bit about the game. If she is a teacher, talk education with her.
Connect with them in your preaching. Personalize your preaching. Major newspapers write their articles on the 6th grade educational level. Hence they are able to reach a broader audience than if they wrote them on the college level where most people may not understand certain wording. Bring bible stories and situations into present day circumstances. Touch home once in a while.[ read more...]
- Positiveness: The ability to work with and see people and situations in a positive way.
- Servanthood: The willingness to submit, play team ball and follow the leader.
- Growth Potential: A hunger for personal growth and development; the ability to keep growing as the job expands.
- Follow-Through: The determination to get the job done completely and with consistency.
- Loyalty: The willingness to always put the leader and the organization above personal desires.
"Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching." (Hebrews 10:25)
The writer of Hebrews clearly stresses that fellowship is very important. True Christian fellowship can accomplish so much in a person's life. Sometimes we feel that we don't need fellowship and that we can do things on our own. This individualistic way of thinking is not how Jesus intended for us to think and He shows us that throughout His Word. Also, a church will never grow to its full capacity if there is not a love for fellowship. Our English word, “fellowship” is the translation of the Greek word, “koinonia.”
"Koinonia": meaning "close association; communion; close relationship." It is the most frequently used word for fellowship, sharing, and communion. This speaks of the act of using a thing in common.
The word "fellowship" is found numerous times throughout the Bible. In the Greek New Testament, the word koinonia occurs nineteen times. This beautiful Greek word has become almost as popular in English-speaking congregations as the well-known agape (love). Fellowship groups and Bible classes are sometimes called "koinonias." Fellowship is one of the four staples of the New Testament church, along with the apostles' doctrine, prayer, and the breaking of bread (Acts 2:42). We are called unto the fellowship of Jesus Christ.
"God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord." (1 Corinthians 1:9)[ read more...]