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Some things to consider when planning church activities.
By: James Smith
People are very busy, don’t burden them with mere activities.
- Many full time church leaders do not understand the time constraints of the working saint and their family.
- Many homes are two income homes where families seldom have time for one another.
- God and church should be at the center of our lives, however church leadership needs to realize that people need a break once in a while as well.
- We live in a different world than we did 30 years ago and the family unit is suffering as a result.
- It would be a good exercise for church leadership to see how they can cut the church calendar 20% by removing unproductive activities.
- Often a meeting can be held shortly after church rather than have people set aside another evening of the week to attend.
Church activities should have a purpose.
- Just because you did it last year is not a good reason to do it this year.
- Kill the sacred cow!
- Does the event promote evangelism?
- Will souls be won as a result of it?
- Will the body be strengthened because of this event?
- If not, consider something that will or give them a break by deleting that event and moving on to the next one.
Don’t have a meeting just to have a meeting.
- If you have no clear direction for the meeting or there is not immediate need for one, don’t have it.
- Wait until you have the agenda thoroughly thought and planned out and then announce a meeting.
- Accomplish something at every meeting and your people will feel like coming to the meeting was worth their sacrifice of time.
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Every so often while reading the Bible, I get flashbacks to my years in Sunday School. Most of those flashbacks come from the 'memory verses' I had to memorize each week for Sunday School. It never ceases to amaze me that thirty years later those verses are still stored somewhere in my memory.
Recently, while reading the book of Jeremiah, I had one of those flashbacks and it led to a deeper study of this story.
You will probably recognize these words just as I did;
11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.
12 Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you.
13 And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.
What a powerful verse this has been to me and to many others over the years.
Imagine comforting and powerful this must have been for Judah to hear. Judah had been taken captive by Babylon. They had no future. Their land, their possessions and their children had been stripped from them. They thought God had abandoned them. They thought God was done with them. Then, the prophet Jeremiah brings this promise of hope and deliverance.
As comforting as this was to Judah, most of us overlook an important detail of this prophecy found in the previous verse;
10 For thus saith the Lord, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place.
The promise of deliverance was given, but it would take seventy years for deliverance to come. An entire lifetime for most. That meant almost every person who was taken captive would die in captivity. Imagine receiving a promise that your answer has come but then discovering you would have to wait seventy years to receive it. That is like receiving no answer at all.
During Jeremiah's time there were many prophets sharing many messages. In this particular story, there was another prophet named Hananiah. Hananiah shared what sounded like a similar message to Jeremiah's, except for one slight variation;
2 Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, saying, I have broken the yoke of the king of Babylon.
3 Within two full years will I bring again into this place all the vessels of the Lord's house, that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon took away from this place, and carried them to Babylon:
4 And I will bring again to this place Jeconiah the son of Jehoiakim king of Judah, with all the captives of Judah, that went into Babylon, saith the Lord: for I will break the yoke of the king of Babylon.[ read more...]
The carpenter relies upon his tools to be correct for whatever job is being done and, also, that his saw is sharp and the proper cutting type. No real builder of various items would even think about doing quality work without the best of tools to aid his efforts. Consider what type of music would come to the ear, if the wrong instruments were played for certain parts, or worse; the instruments were out of tune or broken down - guitars missing strings, a drum with a hole in the skin, violins with loose strings, a trumpet clogged, and so on. Without the instrument being correct and in good shape, the person working or playing could not be able to perform at peak. Now, consider the same truth with regard to God and His saved vessels.
We are the instruments that God plays upon, works through and, if we are in terrible condition, or out of tune with His purposes, what can we ever accomplish for Him?[ 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...]
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...]
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...]
Every pastor, preacher, and minister should memorize these words that Paul shared with Timothy;
2 Tim 4:1-5 New Living Translation
1 I solemnly urge you in the presence of God and Christ Jesus, who will someday judge the living and the dead when he appears to set up his Kingdom:
2 Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching.
3 For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear.
4 They will reject the truth and chase after myths.
5 But you should keep a clear mind in every situation. Don't be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at telling others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you.
Each time I read this letter I find myself asking these questions:
1. Am I prepared to preach; whether the time is favorable or not?
2. Am I able to correct and encourage my congregation with good teaching?[ read more...]
It is so important that we recognize our need for close friends.
38 Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house.
39 And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word.
40 But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.
41 And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things:
42 But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.
During His ministry, Jesus had many friends and many people that He was friendly to. Yet Jesus was only very close to a few people. Mary, Martha, and Lazarus were three of Jesus' closest friends on this earth. This family of brother and sisters lived just outside of Jerusalem in the town of Bethany. Jesus would often stay with them on His journeys into the city. He became very close to them. You may all remember the story in this scripture...Mary and Martha heard that Jesus was coming. Martha immediately dropped everything that she was doing and began to prepare the house and the food and all of the things that are necessary to host a guest. Instead of helping her sister, Mary chose to sit at the feet of Jesus to hear His word and to fellowship with Him. This so upset Martha that she went to Jesus and vented her feelings on Him. Jesus responded and said, "Martha, you are so upset about this, don't you understand that what your sister has chosen to do is a needful thing!" What was this needful thing that Jesus was referring to? It was the communing together of close friends!
Jesus needed this and so did Martha. In fact what stands out to me about his story is what Martha was doing was also a needful thing. What host would not clean the house, prepare the food and make sure everything was in order? That was important. Yet Jesus made it very clear that a special time of sharing between friends was much more important than hosting a guest! You must find time, you must make time to spend with your closest friends. Even at the cost of neglecting something important! I call this 'planned neglect'. Make plans to neglect some things so you can spend some quality time with friends. It has to happen, it is of outmost importance![ read more...]
They are not perfect. It’s true that if you wait for people to become perfect, you may be waiting a long time. There is nothing wrong with exercising your own faith and begin using people before they are 100% ready to be used.
They will need your help. Don’t expect them to know all that you know. Sit down with them and one on one, explain to them how to do what it is you want them to do. Give them details of what you expect and guidelines on how to do it.
They need someone to tell them they can do it. Most of the people who come into our churches have been beaten down by the world. They need someone to believe in them. The very fact that you believe in them will cause them to do things for God that they never thought they were capable of.
They will make mistakes. You’ve made yours, let them make theirs. Give them room for grace and forgiveness. Let them know that a mistake is not necessarily an end, but rather a place to learn.
They are not mind readers. Don’t expect them to just know what it is you want them to know. Talk to them. Communicate it to them. Send them memos, emails and leave messages.
They want to succeed. Nobody wants to fail. Give them every chance to succeed. Don’t give them a job that is way over their head. Give them small tasks at first and work them into the ministry you want them to have.[ read more...]
In the nightstand next to my bedside is a plastic baggie. Folded neatly inside is a small remnant of what remains of a little red shirt. The shirt was an integral part of two events that changed my life profoundly. One event was by tragedy, and the other by the delivering power of the Holy Ghost. Before this article is completed I hope to use that little red shirt to answer the following question for you, “What do you do with the things that the Holy Ghost hasn’t fixed?”
I must begin by exposing my soul to you the reader. My life has been deeply imprinted by a number of personal tragedies, only several of which I will mention herein. At the age of 19 months I was admitted to the hospital after a lengthy illness. The night I was admitted I died. My father fell across my bed weeping and calling upon the name of the Lord. God heard His prayer and restored life into my body, but I remained curled up in a fetal position, dark circles under my eyes, and the eyes were rolled back so that only the white was showing. My hands and feet were drawn and curled up. I lost 8 ½ pounds of body weight in a little over five hours! The transformation was remarkable and horrendous. My mother went home to rest that night because she was expecting her next child, leaving my father at my bedside. My death and transformation occurred after her departure. She could not recognize me when she returned to the hospital after going home for only a few hours. She actually thought I was someone else’s baby!
I spent much of that night in a bathtub full of ice because of the extreme fever that was destroying my brain by the minute. The next morning I was taken into surgery where four surgeons operated on me. The report to my parents was not good. My appendix had ruptured 3-4 days prior to the surgery. They were dislocated which required more extensive cutting. My body cavity, stomach, and intestines were filled with gangrene. My intestines were completely blocked by a growth necessitating the removal of much of my intestines. Eventually they gave up and simply sewed me together. The surgeons told my parents there was nothing they could do to help me, and that it was best for me to die. Their diagnosis was that my brain was completely devastated, I was a vegetable, and I never would recover. Even if I did, my organs would not work and body functions could not happen properly. The Catholic hospital administered last rights to me. I would soon just be another statistic.[ read more...]