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Strategies For Discipleship
By: James Smith
Good leaders motivate, mobilize, direct and resource people to fulfill a vision. Our Lord knew well how to do all of these with His own disciples.
For too many years we have viewed the Pastor of the church as the sole supplier of edification in the church and as a result, he has little time to develop other leaders around him.
Whether you are the president of a corporation, the quarterback of a football team, a general in an army or a pastor of a church, it is important to realize the value of having a team around you who support and who work to carry out your vision. Without this, your desire to carry your church into a new dimension of revival may never take place. It will never become a reality as you alone do not have the resources or human ability to do it by yourself. God’s will for your ministry is bigger than you alone. You are going to need a team around you to help you get the job done.
Take the quarterback for instance. His goal is to get the ball from one end of the field to the other. He can run the ball. He can throw the ball. He can probably even kick the ball a bit, but he has a problem. There are several obstacles on the other side of the line of scrimmage who are just waiting for that ball to move so they can come and take it a way from him.
His problem is not that he does not know what to do. It’s not that he does not know how to do it. His problem is that he cannot do it alone. It’s impossible. He needs a team around him who will block for him. He needs people who he can hand the ball off to once in a while. There needs to be someone on his team who he can throw the ball to and trust that that person will do all he can to run it through a defensive line of huge, strong, mean, people who do not want the ball to get past them. Most importantly, he needs blockers. These fellas will systematically put themselves in harms way to protect the quarterback. Because if the quarterback is in any way hurt or removed from the game due to injury, the game is over for his team.
You see the quarterback is not the fastest. He is not the strongest. He is not the most agile. He is however, the one calling the plays. He is the one who knows what it’s going to take to get the ball to the other end of the field. The quarterback does not make the touchdowns, he puts the ball in the hands of the ones who will.
Many pastors have thought for too long that they alone are the quarterback, the running back, the blockers and the entire defensive line. For this reason, their churches are too often stuck at the line of scrimmage with no means of advancing toward the desired goal.
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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.
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...]
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...]
Children’s activities books often have these little exercises. They will display one picture with many items and characters, and when you turn the page, you see a very similar picture which almost looks identical. To the casual glance you would think that nothing is different about the two pictures. However the small instructions at the top of the second picture has a question which let’s you know immediately that even though these two pictures may look the same, they are not. The instructions say, “What’s different about these two pictures?” You then are given opportunity to find and list the items that are missing from the second picture that are evident in the first one.
My younger brother is very successful in law enforcement. I am amazed at his ability to pay attention to the slightest details. He has the ability to walk into a situation and tell you not what is present, but what is not present. What’s missing is often the clue that leads to a case being solved. Myself, I would probably end up exhausting myself studying the clues and items that were left at the scene of a crime rather than understanding what is different or missing from the scene.
Here is the problem many churches in our present day have. There is something missing and we haven’t figured out what it is yet. We are studying what is in front of us, but we can’t figure out why we are not having the kind of revival we know our Lord wants us to have.
We see people’s lack of involvement. We see the lack of dedication to the House of God. We know that the growth of our congregations are not keeping up with the population growth of our communities. People come to church with an “Entertain Me” attitude that lacks the fundamental hunger that is needful in a revival church.
We want to identify with the biblical New Testament church but the picture that was the Original Church is in many ways very different than the picture that is the modern day church.[ read more...]
In his book The Next Generation Leader, Andy Stanley offers 5 valid points to consider if you desire to be an effective leader. We highly recommend this book to anyone in a leadership position.
- Face it, you are not as good as you could be. So what are you going to do about it? The only way to go farther, faster, is to engage outside help. You can maximize your leadership potential by getting a coach...or two.
- Find someone to observe you in a variety of leadership settings. Outside input is critical. Even if you could watch yourself in a mirror twenty-four hours day, you would never see yourself as others see you.
- Select a coach who has no axe to grind and not reason to be anything except brutally honest. He need not be an expert in your field. What your coach must be able to do , however, is put himself in the shoes of those who are influenced by your leadership.
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.
- Get Rid of Stuff - Paper, publications and possessions require maintenance; maintenance costs time, energy, space and money. Dispose of seldom or never-used items. Ask yourself, “What will happen if I let this go?” If the answer is “nothing,” get rid of it.
- Limit Your Reading Material – Realize that you can’t read, know, or retain all the information you receive. Set up a reading folder for holding unread information. Pitch the oldest material (read or not) when that space is full.
- Touch it Once – Be decisive: Handle mail only once and move on. Don’t shuffle papers with the vague “I don’t know what to do with this so I’ll put it here for now” Syndrome. Use a simple DRAFT technique – Delegate, Read, Act, File or Toss – the first time you touch it.
- Think Before Acquiring More – Evaluate before accepting new items. Get off mailing/routing lists that serve no purpose. Ask yourself if you really NEED this item.
- Organize Before Increasing Space – The more space you have, the more inclined you are to be a saver. Keep things as simple as possible by retaining as few items as you absolutely need.
- Don’t Leave Things Out As Reminders – Leaving items out is a common mistake.
- Keep Frequently Used Items Handy – Keep within easy reach your current working papers and items you’ll need when you answer the phone.
- Don’t Crowd – Individual file folders over ¾ of an inch thick need to be first purged, then divided if necessary.
As you look through history, you find remnants of people who preached and believed the Apostolic doctrine. Whether in parts or in whole, the Acts 2:38 message has been found throughout history. Consider the countless, precious people who gave their lives in defense of the Apostolic message. People who suffered the death of martyrdom unnoticed. Praying saints who never did see their world come to Christ. Men and women who held on to the promises of God's Word, in a day and place when it would cost them their lives.
Being Pentecostal is popular today. Even a good Catholic friend of mine recently told me that their services are becoming more Charismatic. I'm not sure what he meant by that, but I guess he was trying to say, that they were embracing the Spirit of worshipfound in Pentecost.
However, time has a way of erasing things. The tide of generations coming and going, dull and even erase people, governments and religions. Why, if we didn't dig into the earth in the deserts, we wouldn't even know that some civilizations ever existed. Whole nations have been erased from the earth without anyone even noticing that they were there. People who were once proud and who ruled large kingdoms are only remembered in small bits of history if at all.
What will be said of our generation should the Lord tarry 500 more years? Now, I'm with most of you on this one. I believe the Lord is coming back very soon. However, we do not know this for sure. What will future generations remember about us? What will be in the history books of the future about us?
I don't believe there has ever been a brighter day for the Church. We are living on a planet with over 6 billion people living on it. If there ever was a day in which God wanted to give a great revival, I believe today is that day. However, we should ask ourselves, are we looking forward? Are we considering the effect of all that we are doing for the Lord, on future people. What will they say about us? Will they remember us?
Some time ago, I read a book about the Nazi concentration camps from World War II. The story was about a little Jewish girl who was too small to work for the Nazis, and had somehow escaped being shot for being too young. It was often their practice to kill someone if they could not work. So, this little girl lived her life through much of the war and many of the concentration camps.[ 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.
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...]