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Not Too Far From Home
As pastors and spiritual leaders we have many things on our plates. We have schedules, deadlines and appointments to fulfill. Our calendars are filled up with church meetings and conferences before we even get a chance to plan a family vacation. We run out of room to write in our daily planners. We are busy with Kingdom work. We are constantly about our Father's business. It would be all too easy to just quit and justify our quitting with being "burnt out." However, if we could see with our spiritual eyes just how close we are to reaching our final destination. If we could know exactly how close we are to the coming of the Lord, we would work faster and harder than we have ever worked before. We would load up on Bible studies and go teach our whole neighborhood the Word of God. If we could only see!
In 1952, young Florence Chadwick stepped into the waters of the Pacific Ocean off of Catalina Island, determined to swim to the shore of mainland California. She'd already been the first woman to swim the English Channel both ways. The weather was foggy and chilly; she could hardly see the boats accompanying her. Still, she swam for fifteen hours. When she begged to be taken out of the water along the way, her mother, in a boat alongside, told her she was close and that she could make it. Finally, physically and emotionally exhausted, she stopped swimming and was pulled out. It wasn't until she was on the boat that she discovered the shore was less than half a mile away. At a news conference the next day she said, "All I could see was the fog... I think if I could have seen the shore, I would have made it."
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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.
Pass the plate. Don’t let the ushers simply walk around with the plate in hand – only putting it in front of those they feel will give. Tell them that each person in the congregation should have the plate passed to them. Let the congregation handle the plate as it passes through every row.
Worship during the giving. Don’t let the offering be the dead spot of the church service. Have the musicians play and the singers sing. The church should worship while they give.[ read more...]
Jesus died for the sins of the world. His mission was very broad. He did not die for most, several or some. He died for all. When He suffered on the cross, He did not have only a few hundred or a few thousand on His mind. What held Him to that tree was every single man, woman, boy and girl who would ever live on this planet. Is our own directive is the same? Are we quite satisfied with a few hundred and would we be very satisfied with a few thousand. Think about it. If your ministry directly affected 1,000 souls on a weekly basis, would you be satisfied?
We have to stop thinking small. Jesus did not think small. The scripture does not speak small. This gospel was given that every single person ever conceived could have a relationship with Him. For too long the Church’s growth has been limited by our small thinking.
Over 7 billion people on this planet today are missing out on Heaven. We have churches who run 50 and are Pastored by people who are quite satisfied with 50. We also have churches running 50 who are Pastored by people who are so bothered because they cannot get their church to grow, that they doubt they were truly called to the ministry. These people get so frustrated, that they give up and are defeated by their inability to reach their community.[ read more...]
A question haunts many conscientious leaders. Although many people receive the Holy Spirit, many do not remain. Their new birth often proves to be more of a stillbirth. How can we reduce the number of stillbirths and lead newborn Christians into meaningful relationships with the Lord and the church?
Statistics reveal that unless a new convert is able to develop six or seven new relationships in the church within 9 months, he will probably leave the church. To compensate for this, we need to develop a caring community to nurture and integrate these people into the life of the church. Such a program will include:
- A. A strong commitment from the leadership, not only to reap, but to keep the harvest;
- B. A method for nurturing new converts; and
- C. A way to help the new convert make friends in the church.
Here is a method that is working in several churches.
- Start with a new convert’s follow- up class to be taught by the pastor. He may later turn it over to someone else with the ability to care for, teach, and nurture new converts.
- Find one or two couples who are outreach oriented, motivated by love, and loyal to the pastor to work in the area of new convert follow- up.
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...]
John Bunyan’s book The Holy War describes the capture and re-taking of Mansoul. The gates were taken advantage of by Diabolus and his armies because they were not guarded properly. When King Shaddai decided that he was going to gain control of it again, he chose to assault the gates also. The Eye Gate and the Ear Gate were the primary ways of going back into the city. So he determined that he would have his best men to attack the Ear Gate. It literally shook while these men assaulted it. While the allegory is best understood as preaching that is being used to reason with the Ear Gate, Bunyan does an excellent job in describing the ways that it falls back to the control of King Shaddai.
The first to assault the Ear Gate was Captain Boanerges and his first assistant, Mr. Thunder. The second man to assault the gate was Captain Conviction and his first assistant, Mr. Sorrow. The third man sent in is Captain Judgment and Mr. Terror. Obviously Bunyan is describing the most effective tones of evangelistic preaching. Although all of these techniques, authority, passion, conviction, godly sorrow, judgment, and a fear of the judgment awaiting every man, it appears that much of this kind of preaching has fallen by the wayside.
Captain Judgment and Mr. Terror (knowing the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; 2 Cor. 5:11) are dressed in red uniforms with an insignia of a burning furnace. When he stepped up to speak immediately after Captain Conviction, his words rang out.
‘O ye, the inhabitants of the town of Mansoul, that have lived so long in rebellion and acts of treason against the King Shaddai, know that we come not today to this place, in this manner, with our message of our own minds, or to revenge our own quarrel; it is the King, my Master, that hath sent us to reduce you to your obedience to him; the which if you refuse in a peaceable way to yield, we have commission to compel you thereto. And never think of yourselves, nor yet suffer the tyrant Diabolus to persuade you to think, that our King, by his power, is not able to bring you down, and to lay you under his feet; for he is the former of all things, and if he touches the mountains, they smoke. Nor will the gate of the King’s clemency stand always open; for the day that shall burn like an oven is before him; yea, it hasteth greatly, it slumbereth not.[ 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...]
Get up before they get up. If you are lazy and don’t get started on things until the last minute, your critics will have already accomplished an alternative less effective way of doing things.
Do your homework – Study the situation. Don’t take other peoples word for it. Research the problem and with God’s help, find the best solution.
You run the meetings – Never let anyone but you or someone you desire, to run a meeting. If they take the platform, shut them down. Don’t let them take over the meeting. Never walk into a meeting without knowing the direction and result that the meeting will bring.
Know the trouble makers past – Find out what makes that person tick. Why are they the way they are? Knowing more about them will enable you to understand why they feel the way they feel about things and enable you to change them.
Share your vision with others before your critic gets the opportunity to share theirs. These are busy little people and they work hard at spreading their opinions. Work harder! Have coffee meetings where you tell others your dreams and vision. Go to congregants homes unexpectedly (As your critics do.) and open your heart to them.
Be confident. No one wants a sissy for a Pastor. (Sorry if that sounds demeaning, but I’ve seen some.) Don’t be bullied. Be strong. Know your calling. Walk tall. Square your shoulders. Lead! People will follow. You may lose some critics along the way, (Let them go!) but you will gain a congregation who will follow you into revival.[ read more...]
As leaders, we have all been guilty of getting excited and all fired up to start a new project. In our excitement, we call our leadership teams together, plan it all out and set it in motion, without first answering all of the questions that need to be answered. This is great for creating momentum, but before you begin, ask yourself and your team of leaders if you will be able to sustain everything that you start.
· If you don't have the right people in place to make it happen, it may be that you need to refrain from starting until you have the right people trained to take on the new project.
Jesus was a great example to us in this.
Think of what God's ultimate plan was. God was bringing into existence the New Testament plan of Salvation. To institute this plan, He robed Himself in flesh and became the Supreme sacrifice for all sin for all of time! That was the first part of His plan. In order for this plan to continue, Jesus needed the right people to make it happen.
In three years time, Jesus needed to have the right people trained and in place, and ready to carry on His ministry by the day He ascended into Heaven. That is why Jesus so often said, "My hour is not yet come", or "It is not my time." Jesus wanted to be sure that He had His disciples ready and willing to carry on His work after Calvary. He wanted it to succeed. It had to continue. It must not fail![ read more...]
Here are five symptoms that indicate you need a church administrator to help with the load:
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1. More than 25% of your time is spent on church administration. Pastors often find themselves attending to administrative needs that are beyond the scope of a secretary’s authority. This may include tasks such as directing the volunteers who clean the church, reviewing the accounts payable and managing the building maintenance.
2. Your administrative tasks are increasing – with no relief on the horizon. A growing church will generate an ever-increasing amount of administrative tasks. Although the financial strength of the church is a key factor in determining the right time to hire an administrator, the problem of administrative overload will have to be faced and resolved sooner or later.
3. You can’t seem to find enough time for prayer and sermon preparation. Too many hours spent on administration can result in a starving flock because your times with the Lord and your personal study of the Scriptures have been neglected.