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Still Walking on Asphalt
"...and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass." (Rev. 21:21)
It's nice and relaxing to sit back and close our eyes and let the words of John come to life in our minds as he describes that great City. We look around and see the great and high wall which is made of jasper. In fact, the whole city is pure gold like unto clear glass. The foundations of the wall are garnished with all manner of precious stones. We notice that there are twelve gates and they are all pearls. What a beautiful, pure river that flows from the throne of God! And finally we look down and to our delight, the streets are pure gold. That's right, not just paved with gold, but they ARE pure gold. What a beautiful City that He has prepared for us! Heaven is going to be wonderful!
However, eventually we have to open our eyes again and realize that we are still here. The trumpet of the Lord has not sounded yet. We haven't been raptured away to be with Him. We aren't yet walking on streets of gold; no, we are still walking on asphalt.
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Accountability – “The quality or state of being accountable. – Webster’s dictionary
- Accountability is a binding relationship that develops growth, moral and ethical excellence.
- Accountability is not support therapy an opportunity to allow for excuses.
- When a person becomes accountable to another, they make themselves accountable to someone other than themselves.
Why should we consider becoming accountable to someone else?
- We cannot stand without accountability. 1 Cor 10:12
- Every man/woman should make themselves accountable to at least:
- Their spouse
- Their family
- Those they lead
- Those leaders above them
- At least one other person who could be considered their spiritual mentor.
We are all accountable whether we know it or not. People are watching us day and night. They are looking to see if we are who we say we are. They base their trust and confidence in us according to the level of truth they see in our lives. If they do not consider our lives to be worthy of their confidence or trust, then our ministry will have no effect on their lives.
Accountability keeps us from moral and spiritual failure.
Proverbs 27:17 Iron sharpeneth iron: so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.”
Having someone to be accountable to keeps us from ourselves. Realizing that someone else will judge our actions causes us to “consider our ways”.
“If you chase two rabbits, you will not catch either one.” I found this old Russian proverb in the early pages of a recent book written by Gary Keller. The title of this book, “The One Thing” jumped out at me above all the other titles on the shelf. This concept of One Thing is totally foreign to me. I have always thought myself quite adept at doing several things at one time. I have done it all my life. I learned this early in my working career. In fact, the manager of the McDonalds restaurant where I found my first job told me, “The one thing you will learn and take with you from this job is the ability to do many things at one time.” It was not long before I learned first hand what he was talking about. Since that day to this, I can rarely remember doing only one thing at a time.
There is in me a drive that feels like I am not being productive unless I am accomplishing several things at once. Rarely do I ever do “One Thing”. According to Keller’s book, doing more than One Thing is usually not the most productive or profitable way to conduct oneself. This book has some incredible insight as to how to stay on track and build momentum towards your goals, but for many of us preachers, doing more than one thing at a time is a way of life that we are unable to change.
Most Pastors and ministers of the Gospel have families and ministries as well as secular jobs or businesses. This creates a constant pulling in different directions that leaves us feeling tired, confused and even guilty that we are unable to accomplish all that we want to do in any of these areas. We endlessly wrestle with our time constraints as well as our energy levels for each of these.
It would be very nice to do only One Thing Mr. Keller, but for the average preacher out there, this prospect of staying focused, is probably going to be a challenge for us beyond the pages of your book.
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Why is it that in some churches, meeting with the creator of the universe is often a boring showcase for bad music, inept preaching and poor taste? Listed are 9 perspectives that can enhance the effectiveness of your services.
- Put yourself in the congregation’s shoes. Pastor, how long has it been since you just sat in the congregation? How often do you really try to identify with the needs, hopes and dreams of those in your congregation?
- Tell stories. Storytelling was Jesus’ primary method of teaching. He put the most profound concepts into simple and compelling stores that captivated people and changed their lives. Never telling a story is a prescription for putting people to sleep.
- Question everything. Why do you take up the offering the same way each week? Why do you always sing the same hymn of invitation?
- Find some fresh jokes-or don’t use any. How many of you would rather be here in church than in the finest hospital in town? Please discard your moth-eaten jokes. Otherwise your congregation will start laughing out of pity, not humor.
- Go beyond your trusty old sermons of the past. Yes it’s nice to have some standby messages you can rely on. But the danger is that the more you preach the same sermon, the more difficult it is to present it with conviction, originality and excitement.
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.[ read more...]
There are two essential elements of community. 1) interpersonal commitments and 2) a sense of belonging. True community needs both of these elements in operation. Without interpersonal commitments, a sense of belonging would soon be lost as a sense of belonging is derived from and is a result of the interpersonal commitments. Did I loose you there? Ok, let me break it down.
Bob joins a new church. He is warmly welcomed. He soon receives salvation. Bob likes the people and enjoys what he feels in the church. However, as time goes on, Bob soon realizes that since his only real commitment is to come to church, worship and give in the offerings, his commitment level is not very deep. In fact, if Bob only develops a deep relationship with the pastor there, then the Pastor is Bob’s only real reason for staying there. What happens however, when Bob gets upset at the pastor? What happens if the pastor resigns? You and I know what happens, Bob soon leaves. However, what would happen if Bob were was interconnected in a deep level of community or fellowship with 10-12 other people within the church? (Small Group) What if it were possible that Bob could get upset with the Pastor, yet his love for and interconnectedness with these other 10-12 were so deep that he would stay?
Relationships are powerful. A good relationship will build a person up and a bad relationship has the potential to destroy someone. We often fail to realize the value of relationships within the church. We exhaust ourselves with evangelistic efforts and get so excited over the sudden growth or influx of visitors. Yet we then often fail to get those new people into bonding relationships within the church and soon lose them. What we end up with is a person who is easily offended and will have nothing or nobody to stand in their way of an exodus.[ read more...]
There’s a difference between leadership and management. Management consists primarily of three things: analysis, problem solving and planning. If you go to any management course, you’ll find it revolves around those three things. But leadership consists of communicating your Vision and Values.
If you don’t clarify the purposes as the leader, who will?
Here are a few guidelines:
Believe it or not, the bigger your vision, the easier it is to reach. People are rarely motivated by small visions. They will follow a big vision easier than a little one. People need a purpose. Giving them a grand vision will enable them to connect as some level with that vision. If your vision is narrow, you may fail to interest some people. However, if your vision is large, it will leave plenty of room for others to get involved.
Don’t worry about solving the problem before casting the vision. A good example of visionary leadership would be the United States President, John F. Kennedy. Regardless of what you think about his politics, Kennedy stood up one day in the early 1960’s and said, “We will put a man on the moon by the end of the decade.” He was clear; he was precise; and the vision was something people could look to. Now, here’s the interesting thing – when he said it, the technology to put a man on the moon hadn’t even been developed. That’s visionary leadership! Just because you don't have all the pieces of the puzzle just yet, does not mean that you can't share the vision. Let others come along side you who will bring those pieces to the table.
Your God determines how big your goal is. So, how big do you think God is? The issue is not who do you think you are, but who do you think God is? In your dreams for ministry, don’t limit yourself by saying, “What can I do?” Instead ask, “What can God do? What can God do in this place?” Then, use every single tool and resource that God puts in front of you - no matter what it looks like. Judging whether or not a resource if "of God" will limit God's ability to bless you in your work for Him.[ read more...]
It would be foolish, or at best naive, for any of us to believe or even infer that what works for others will work for you as well. The Vision process, or Visioneering, is included in that statement. There is no cookie-cutter formula that works and produces for everyone. However, there is a common development route, or process, that can be modified to suit your environment, and it will work for everyone if allowed to. There are questions to ponder and ask at the inception of the Visioneering process.
Why is this important? It is important because every leader, church, or organization is not ready to undertake a successful Visioneering process. Before you waste your time and that of others you need to validate that this is the right thing for you to do.
To do this you will have to determine some things. Every church or business has its own unique and distinguishing traits and characteristics, including but not limited to:
· The number people and talents it has available
· The unity it either has or doesn’t have
· The spiritual maturity and understanding level of the people
· The level of commitment to excellence and continuous improvement
· The work ethic
· The corporate attitude
· Financial and resource strengths and/or weaknesses
What are yours? Write them down clearly and concisely. Do the necessary research. Thoroughness and honesty are absolutely essential.
Next, of course there are many other ingredients that must be considered as well, including but not limited to:
· The connection between the leader and the people
· The level of trust and confidence in leadership
· The size and commitment to and understanding of teamwork
· The organizational structure
· Area demographics (white or blue collar/wealthy or welfare/educated or non-educated/innovative or non-innovative/adaptability to change or resistance to any change, multicultural blend and ethnicity traits/ and etc.)
· The culture of the area and of the church
Once again, write these down clearly and concisely as well. Do the necessary research. Thoroughness and honesty are absolutely essential.[ 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...]
Here at PreachIt.org, we regularly receive email and phone calls from our kind members who take the time out of their busy schedules to tell us how much PreachIt.org helps their ministries.We are so thankful for these wonderful people as they help us to keep our bearing and focus as we endeavor to bring helps and resources to their ministries.
Here is a letter that was recently sent to us by a very busy Pastor of a Growing Revival Church.
Rev. Smith, I want to make sure you know how valuable your efforts are to me and to our church. I have been blessed to be using Preachit.org for several years. This site is the most valuable Pentecostal resource that I have found anywhere. As a bi-vocational pastor and a busy father of three young children I am always pressed for time. This site is often the difference between me being partially prepared to me being fully prepared. It also affords me valuable time to care for people and for prayer.
For those of you who may read this, let me share how this site has helped us; My favorite way to use this site is similar to that of using a Commentary. I type in the scripture that has been on my heart, the site does its own search and several sermons, outlines and idea's will pop up. I can read what other Pentecostal men are thinking and preaching in regards to that scripture reference and glean from their insight into the text. I have all kinds of commentaries that I can use, but I find it so inspirational and thought provoking to use this site as my own "Pentecostal Commentary." There is nothing comparable that I have found where you can find fresh and anointed "Pentecostal Commentary" that is so helpful in reaching this generation.[ read more...]