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Good Is The Enemy Of Great!
By: James Smith
I love adventure. I like eating at restaurants that I’ve never eaten at before. I like going places I’ve never been before. I will often take a wrong road intentionally just to see what is there that I’ve been missing. I want to see countries, I’ve never seen before. I want to enjoy what is just ahead.
I want to enjoy some things in the spirit realm too. I look into the Bible and I see the Christians in the New Testament having an all night prayer meeting for Peter. The miracle to me was not Peter getting loosed from prison. The miracle to me was a body of believers putting their agendas, and personal motives aside long enough to agree that something had to be done about Peter’s condition.
In his book Good to Great, Jim Collins states "Good to Great companies do not focus on what to do to become great; they focus equally on what not to do and what to stop doing." We are too often seeking the next gimmick or program that will take us to where we’re desiring to go in terms of church growth or revival. The problem with that, is we start new things constantly but never do perfect them, only to go on to start something else without burying what we just gave up on.
As a result of that, we have our interests and labors so divided that many of our churches are dysfunctional with regards to evangelism, instead of being the driving evangelistic force that our Lord desires us to be.
There are a few things we can stop doing that would bring us closer to having Great evangelistic moves instead of simply good moves. I believe we would go from having good church to having Great church if we would stop trying to entertain one another. Are we hung up on trying to entertain the crowd instead of entertaining the presence of the Lord.
We have it all backwards. We think if we sing good enough. We think if the choir ever gets it all together we will really have great church. We think if we hit the right note. We think if we gesture correctly as we sing. We think that somehow the crowd will be impressed enough to give their hearts and lives to Jesus Christ.
We can’t sing good enough to give someone salvation. You can’t sing good enough to heal a broken body. You can’t sing good enough to give deliverance to a drug addict. You can’t sing or play or act good enough to save even one person’s soul, so why don’t we just entertain the Lord with our worship? It might be that we could draw his presence closer with our sincerity and hunger to worship him. If He came closer, there is no telling what could happen.
We don’t have Great church because we have been satisfied with good church. We don’t have Great worship services, because we are satisfied with good worship services. We don’t have Great results from our evangelist labors, because we are satisfied with good results.
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Are you struggling to get things done? Are you the one who is usually completing the projects of your church and overseeing every ministry? Does it seem like there is never enough time to get all that you need done, even though you are not doing nearly what your vision would require? Are you feeling used up and exhausted?
You are not alone! Many Pastors and ministry leaders feel this same way. One of the reasons is because we are not very good at utilizing the talents and strengths of others. Here are 10 ways you can begin utilizing the people in your ministry to create a more resourceful and accomplished ministry team.
Cast a vision - The next time you get up to announce a new ministry in your church or the direction you feel the church should be taking, cast a vision. Share with your ministry team the end result. You don't have to tell them all of what it is going to take to get there, just tell them the end result. "I believe our church can be running 200 by next Easter!" Now there will be many facets of ministry that are going to be needed to cause your congregation to run 200 by Easter, but for now all you want to do is give the leadership team a goal. "200 by Easter!"
Ask for help - Acknowledging you need help is liberating for the leader! it is also a grand opportunity for the team to feel like they are coming alongside their pastor. Asking for help is not becoming vulnerable, it is being honest. It is also being responsible. God gave you your ministry team for a reason. That reason is so that you can utilize their talents, knowledge and energy to accomplish the work of ministry God has envisioned you with. "Would you consider working together and with me to cause our church to be running 200 by Easter?"
Allow the Genius of the group to be found - The smartest person in the room is not you. Nor is it any one other person in the group. The Genius in the room is always the sum of all of those who are on your ministry team. If allowed to be heard, there are people on your team who have ideas and experiences that can advance your vision much better than you can by yourself. "What are some things that we could do to cause our church to be running 200 by Easter?"[ read more...]
Here are a few things to remember when taking up the offering.
Don’t be timid or embarrassed to ask people for money. It takes money to make ministry happen.
Teach your people to give financially to the church. You are robbing them of a tremendous blessing if you are not teaching them to give tithes and offerings. It is the job of the ministry to instruct people how to give financially to God’s work.
Be the first to give. Instruct your ushers to take the offering from the platform first. The Pastor should be the first to give and then anyone who is seated on the platform. Preachers, musicians, singers, everybody should be instructed to be an example in giving in every service. Rule number 1 – If you are on the platform, you must give in every offering. (This serves as an example to the rest of the congregation. You will be amazed at the increase in offerings when your congregation begins to notice the leadership of the church being the first to give.
Tell the ushers to slow down – Recently I visited a church where the ushers went so fast collecting the offering that people did not even have time to get their wallets out before the ushers were finished. Slow them down. People need time to dig deep.[ read more...]
Though God gets all the credit for growth in any ministry, there are practical steps pastors can follow to make their cities their congregations and enlarge their ministries for Christ:
1. Know your call and catch the vision. If a pastor has the vision, the mind-set, to break out of traditionalism, great things can happen. Don’t lock yourself in a box. Find a need and determine to fill it.
2. Be faithful in the little things and be consistent. “One thing about pastor is that he is very predictable,” says Jennifer Mallan, an outreach pastor at Church Without Walls. “He does the same things every day, so people know they can count on him. You know that on Wednesdays and Fridays our trucks will be out; on Saturday foods are prepared. It’s never hit-and-miss. Pastor has parented the city very well.”
3. Realize that it takes time to grow. You have to prove yourself. You want to show that what you are doing is not fly-by-night. Ask yourself, “Am I building my own kingdom or really helping my community?”
4. Put people around you who will catch your vision. Build a team that has diverse talents to accomplish the vision you are called to fulfill. Focus on a particular hurt and cure it; find an ill in society and figure out how to solve it. Realize that you and your team will need to put 100 percent into bringing a solution to the problem. Bridge the gap.
5. Work within all aspects of your community. Realize that the support of city council members, police chiefs and other leaders is necessary for the large-scale success of any growing ministry. Meet with city leaders when you first start and share your vision. Then get on a council agenda once or twice a year thereafter to give a progress report.
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I Need Help!
I am a pastor just like you. It’s Monday morning again and we had a great Sunday service yesterday. The Lord moved in a special way; people's lives were touched and changed. We even baptized someone this week, yet it already seems so long ago and so far away.
There are so many things going through my mind today. I feel like the enemy is trying to sift me like wheat. I don't know where to start. I have meetings to organize; leaders to train; sermons to prepare; Bible studies to teach; sick saints to visit; visitors to follow up on; letters to write; calendars to schedule; calls to return; counseling to conduct; a baptismal to fix, along with many other things--not to mention my own personal prayer and devotion time. Needless to say, I am feeling overwhelmed.
Wait…maybe I can postpone some of these things until next week? Then again, I know that hell hasn’t postponed her plans; in fact, hell is enlarging her borders today. If I delay, hell is gaining ground in my city and my city still needs to hear the Gospel message. I need help in a bad way!
Do you feel under-accomplished and overwhelmed with your calling? You’re not alone. Most, if not all, pastors and leaders feel this way on a regular basis.
Now before going any further, let me clarify. This is not an article about organization and restructuring; nor is it about adjusting priorities or time management. Although all of these issues are important, you have probably already been there and done that. The kind of help that I am suggesting in this article is “people” help. We need our people to help us but we must reveal our needs to them first. We need help!
As pastors and leaders, that is our heart’s cry. We look at our brethren with larger churches and think: Our church would be just as successful as theirs if only I had the kind of help that they have. Sound familiar? I hear that kind of talk often and, in all honesty, it’s beginning to bother me. After all, is this not God's church? Are we not all laborers together? The large church needs help just as much as the small church and vice versa. The needs and challenges vary from congregation to congregation, yet we all need assistance.
2 Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.
No one is going to find help for you; you must find it yourself. It is the pastor's obligation to train up workers to assist. Most of the time, our help is already in our pews; yet, the reason the laborers are few is because we fail to make disciples of our people. The least likely helper to you might be the most likely helper in God’s eyes. “God uses the foolish things of this world to confound the wise.”
Every person in our pews can do something for the Kingdom. One thing more that they do is one thing less that you have to do. The challenge sometimes is just seeing people in a different light. I have tried to put blinders on my eyes when it comes to seeking help. God sees things that we can't see, and if we would simply trust God to transform the lives that He has already given us, we could accomplish a lot more for His Kingdom.
I remember my first romantic heartbreak. I actually recall crying myself to sleep on multiple nights because I was moving away from my girlfriend. I didn’t want to do it, but my parent’s decision to move was above my pay grade and I had no choice in the matter. She was the girl of my dreams and I was head over heels in love but I had no choice but to leave her.
I was only in the second grade when that particular family move seemingly destroyed my romantic life. Although it was difficult I eventually got over it and learned to move on with life. Yes, I am being facetious, but in reality this early event taught me that times of transition are sometimes very difficult for everyone involved.[ read more...]
I’ve heard many people say over the last year that, as we enter into the 21st century, it will not be the size of the church that matters, but its health that will ensure its survival. So, what about the health of the church? May I suggest a few guidelines for assessing the health of a congregation of any size?
- Biblically based. Do your congregation members have a clear understanding of what they believe and substantial information to assist them in defending their faith? Is there a discipleship- training program?
- Mutually concerned. Do your people genuinely care for one another? Is there a system in operation that easily allows your congregation to know when people have needs and a prayer chain to respond to those needs?
- Socially concerned. If you do not have a small group ministry, do you have a Sunday School program that provides adequate time for your people to break bread together? Church is fellowship as much as it is a formal worship service.
- Community saturated. Are you aware of the day-to-day decisions that are made in your community that affect the school system, the social programs, and the overall moral climate of the city you serve?
- Financially stable. The church that is fiscally responsible will be able to weather any situation. Every pastor and board should insist on maintaining a certain dollar reserve, and do everything possible to avoid paralyzation of ministry through an unrealistic building or property debt. People must be taught by example to give and to give cheerfully.
Problems. If you're going to work with or minister to people, you are going to have problems. Sometimes big problems. Moses was one person in the scripture who had people problems. Millions of them. Everywhere he looked - people problems. How to feed them. How to water their livestock. How to settle their petty problems. How to settle their big problems. Where do the tents go? How about the toilets. Everywhere problems.
Surely with all these problems, the solution must be complex. Big problems should mean big, intricate, thoroughly researched and analyzed solutions - right? Not necessarily. In fact, very often, the solution to one's problem is asymmetric to the problem itself. Big problem, small solution.
When our problem is large or complex, we too often feel that the solution has to be the same. Because of this we usually miss the obvious, simple answer. In Moses' case, it took his shepherd father-in-law's simple mind to figure it out. A shepherd understands that a flock can get too big. When it does, it can begin to overgraze the fields and ruin the good pastures. This simple sheepherder was not educated by the most learned teachers of Egypt as Moses was, but he did understand something about having too many sheep in one place. He knew that when you have more sheep in a field than what that field can contain, you have to hire an under-shepherd to take part of the flock to another field. With that elementary laymen's thinking Moses was able to correct very simply, the extremely complex dilemma the nation of Israel had found herself in. Jethro told Moses to break the number of people down into smaller segments and then place leaders over these small segments. How simple.
The biggest problems that your ministry is facing today probably could very well be corrected with a simple solution. Too often however, we go shopping for the big answer: The complex answer. The expensive answer. The time consuming answer. Here's why: We focus on the negative instead of the positive. Seriously, nearly everyone does. Did you know that in the English language, 62 percent of the "emotion" words are negative, vs 38 percent that are positive. A group of psychologists once reviewed over two hundred articles and concluded that for a wide range of human behavior and perception, a general principle holds true: "Bad is stronger than good." Ask yourself, do you remember more of the bad that you hear about others or do you remember more of the good. A vastly larger audience of people remembers the bad instead of the good.[ read more...]
1. Tells you the truth – even when it hurts.
One man who has been one of my mentors for almost 18 years especially stands out because of his honesty with me. Early in my ministry and marriage, he pulled me aside and explained to me that I was not very respectful to my wife in public. He explained that the ladies of the church would not honor me as a minister for this reason. At the time I was offended that he would tell me this as I thought I was very good to my wife. However, years later, I see where he was coming from. I’m grateful that he was bold enough and honest enough to talk to me about a sensitive subject. Honoring my wife and publicly showing her affection has not only given me respect among the other ladies of the church, but has also been a blessing to our marriage.
2. Shows a good example for you to follow.
The old cliché “Do as I say, not as I do.” Does not work in mentoring. A lifelong mentor should be someone who is a model of who you want to become. Everyone is a little bit like the people who have parented them. Part of a mentor’s role is to let the protégé watch them closely in the work that they do. One of my mentors would often times invite me to sit in on important meetings that I had no experience in. I would never say a word unless asked my input. I understood that I was there to observe and to learn. I watched my mentor closely to see how he handled fragile situations that I had no experience in. I would often ask myself how I would handle these often sensitive meetings, but would then watch my mentor expertly handle delicate subjects with Godly wisdom.
3. Sees you as family.
Mentoring someone is a life long commitment. Your best mentors are not people who are only a part of your life for a short amount of time. A mentor sees you as a son or daughter in the Gospel. Paul who mentored Timothy referred to him as his son. Anything less than a family level commitment may prove to be a surface only relationship between mentor and protégé. Often times, subjects discussed in a mentoring relationship are sensitive and personal. A protégé needs to know that he is going to someone who is a father figure who only has the protégé’s best interest in mind.
4. Shows himself/herself to be open and transparent with you.
A good mentor is someone who is not afraid to talk to those they mentor about their failures as well as their successes. My father would often say to me, “Don’t make the same mistakes that I have made.” This is a good reason for mentors to be open with their protégés. You may save that person a tremendous amount of pain and numerous mistakes by revealing to them the mistakes you yourself have made along the way.[ read more...]
It is fair to say that Levi, or Matthew, was not a man of good character. He had accepted the office of tax-collector for the Romans. And being a Jew this did not go over too well. The Jews did not take too fondly to an office that put them in subject to the Romans. Therefore, they gave these tax-gatherers a bad name. They had a certain hatred for them.
But when Jesus went out looking for disciples to come and follow him, one of the first places he went was to this tax collecting booth and simply said to Levi (Matthew)"follow me." Levi, who was rejected by so many because of his occupation, was in disbelief that Jesus had sought him out and selected him on purpose. Luke writes that "he left all, rose up, and followed him. "
Jesus was used to hanging out with people who were down-trodden. First a leper, then a paralytic, and now a tax collector! If Jesus were running for public office he ought to be more careful about the company he is keeping. But Jesus has a higher mission than popularity: "to preach the gospel to the poor, to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind" (Luke 4:18), and the needy aren't always clean or respectable.[ read more...]