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Fourteen years ago I began a career as an investment advisor. After spending weeks studying for the state and federal securities exams, I began a very successful, though brief, career. Successful, because I was landing sales of which most security brokers only dream.
After spending years as a house painter, I felt that I had found my calling. I loved the idea of helping people find ways to invest their money to achieve the greatest amount of profit for the least amount of investment risk. The idea of making money with money thrilled me. Imagine, making money not only during the 9-to-5 work day, but also making money while asleep.
After only a few months in my new career, I attended a securities symposium in Indianapolis, Indiana. For a full week, investment firms presented their funds, boasting their returns as far back as 20 years. For several days, I sat thru presentation after presentation from some of the largest and most prominent investment firms in the world.
Using Power Point presentations, each firm showed annual returns that all seemed to point upward when it came to opportunities for investment. With a room full of some of the most successful sales advisors, these firms worked to convince us that their funds were the best investment for our clients.
By the time I headed home from the symposium, my head spun with excitement. I knew that some of these investments were exactly what many of my clients wanted and needed. That night I went to bed still excited about what I learned and the potential to help my clients increase their savings.
After I slept several hours, a loud booming voice awakened me saying, “The kingdom of God is the best investment!” The voice frightened me. I looked over at my wife, expecting her to be fully awake and as startled as I was. But she was sound asleep. “Did you hear that? I said, nudging her awake. “Hear what?” she mumbled. I realized it was the voice of God, reminding me that His kingdom was the best place to invest. It pays the highest dividends and interest and, best of all, there are no penalties or risks of investment loss.
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Home Friendship Groups (Cell ministry), are gaining greater and greater interest as we hear the success stories from those who have ventured into this ministry. The largest and fastest growing churches in the world are churches with HFG's.
10 years ago, the Lord began to speak to me about a model of ministry that to my knowledge, no one was doing at that time. (little did I know) Often, I would look over the congregation and notice people who were faithful to church services, but because of a lack of available positions in the church or their inability to find their own personal ministry, they weren't doing much for the Lord. I also noticed that many visitors and new converts were coming into the church and going right back out since they had no one to befriend or disciple them. As much as these churches had great evangelistic efforts, there was no clear cut program or ministry that was designed for the purpose of retaining new converts.
A short time later, my wife and I began a new church in Chesterton, IN. Within a year, I became very frustrated. I was attempting to model this young church's government and ministry after the larger well established, management driven churches I had been a part of. About that time, I began to hear about Cell ministry. I even found some books which told of the tremendous success of Yonggi Cho's church in Seoul, Korea and Rick Warren's church in Saddleback, CA, as well as several others.
It wasn't long before the Lord directed me to Pastor Anthony Tamel's church in Oak Creek WI. I attended their New Wineskins seminar and wept as they showed me that God was changing my paradigm for church evangelism and discipleship.
With their help and training, we soon brought HFG's to our small church in Chesterton and watched as the Lord transformed peoples lives to both disciple and become discipled through HFG's.
After 6 years of pastoring the church in Chesterton, I began to feel the Lord direct me to turn the church over to the man who assisted me. With that, I heard God tell me to not take another church right away. I felt that the Lord was directing me to make myself available to help teach and train other churches, in the area of Home Friendship Groups.
After discussing this burden with two area Pastors of larger churches, they both asked me to come there and help them train their leaders and raise up HFG's in their church. Both churches now have young, successful HFG ministries.
I have spoken at several churches on the subject of HFG's and have worked very closely with other pastors who have or are in the process of raising up HFG's in their local church.
Home Friendship Groups are very much like early Apostolic evangelism. It's entirely more reflective of true Apostolic ministry than most of today's church structure that is management driven at best.[ read more...]
C – collect & categorize
- Eccl. 12:9 (NLT) Because the Teacher was wise … He collected proverbs and classified them …
- Collect Bible verses, quotes, articles, books, sermon tapes, illustrations, etc. – even years in advance!
- Categorize them in a filing system – put something away each day
R – research & reflect
- Eccl. 12: 9 (NASB) The Preacher … pondered and searched out …
- Research is studying with my mind; reflection is listening with my heart (meditation).
A – apply & arrange
- Eccl. 12:11 (NLT) A wise teacher’s words spur students to action and emphasize important truths.
- Each sermon should answer three important questions:
o So what?
o Now what?
- Arrange your sermon in an outline:
- Keep it SIMPLE.
Haddon Robinson: “Television has destroyed linear thinking”
I remember as a young person, admiring the Pastors and Ministers of our movement. In my mind they were (and are) equal to the Apostles. I cannot explain in words my respect for them.
20 years later, I am one of those men. Often I find myself comparing my ministry to those men who I admire. Who I am as a leader, seems far short to that of many of the men around me. Now please don't think that I am wanting to be them. I realize that we are all unique and gifted according to His desire. But there is something in me that always wants to improve. I never want to become satisfied with who I am as a Man of God. I always want to do more for Him. I want to get closer to who He wants me to be. Like Paul of old. After all he did for the Lord, he said "Oh, that I might know Him..." As great a man as Paul was, he still looked to Jesus for a deeper walk.
I'm not sure we always realize the effect we have on the young people around us. Or for that matter, any saint. One thing that God consistently reminds me of, is that I am an example to those who look up to me. I feel that there is blood on my hands, if I lead an example, that would discourage them from living for God.[ read more...]
Orphanages were already an important part of the everyday social landscape in the United States 100 years ago. As shocking as it may sound, statistics validate that 99 out of 100 babies in orphanages died before reaching the age of seven months!
The institutions themselves were not the problem. They had adequate food, clean environments, and modern antiseptic procedures. Everything to give these unwanted or otherwise orphaned children a safe and secure environment was in place, and yet 99% of the infants died within months after birth. These babies were given a healthy chance at life and yet they died anyway. The cause of these deaths was an illusive mystery for many years.
Research studies have long since revealed that these babies did not die from malnutrition or infectious diseases, but instead they wasted away in a human condition known as “marasmus”.
Marasmus claimed these countless little lives in spite of clean and sterile environments and adequate food, shelter and clothing. Marasmus can be caused by the deprivation of human touch. Babies without adequate human touch can simply waste away and die regardless of their surroundings and environment.
When babies suffering from marasmus receive physical nurturing while being fed their formula the marasmus reverses. They begin to gain weight and thrive. Human touch is vital for survival in the very young.
The System Was Changed
Although it is tragic that countless infants died from marasmus’ deadly consequences resulting from the absence of human touch, it fostered change. Today’s infants that are isolated in sterile environments are taken into the hands of caregivers who give them loving touch therapy three times a day for fifteen minutes. Taking these infants out of their cribs and holding and rocking them by volunteers has reversed the mortality rate. Research has validated that the infants receiving this personal touch grow faster, gain more weight, and leave the facility sooner that other untouched infants do.
The infants are not the only beneficiaries of this “touching” time. Those who volunteer as caregivers or “grandparents” to hold, rock, touch and massage these infants also experience measurable benefits. They reduce their coffee and caffeine intake and make less frequent visits to their doctor. They experience a reduction in anxiety levels, fewer symptoms of depression, and improved self-esteem.
Touch is powerful. When skin touches skin magical consequences occur. Human touch and contact is directly linked to every aspect of health and well-being.
Where Touch Begins
The sensation of touch actually begins in the womb.
The human skin is derived from the same cells as the nervous system and is a perfect instrument for collecting information about our surrounding environment long before birth. A fetus will withdraw from the touch of a probe at less than 8 weeks of gestation, showing that the link between touch and survival is one of the first and most important protective mechanisms to develop.[ read more...]
Causing growth in a church and leading God’s people is a challenge. Looking through the scripture one quickly notices that no leader of God’s people found his role easy.
It often seems that our job as ministers is more reactive than proactive. It’s important to understand that while there will always be a needed degree of reactive management, there also needs to be a healthy measure of proactive leadership.
One doesn’t need to pastor long before he/she finds themselves becoming bogged down with the daily routine of managing a congregation. Your own list of duties preformed regularly would be very comparable to many other Pastors and church leaders. As I communicate more and more with church leaders around the globe, I am surprised to find that even though regions and languages may differ, there are often, very similar “People Problems” that Pastors have to deal with.
Managers organize. They report on what is. Their role is to assign and control people. Leaders on the other hand cast vision. They offer what could be. Their role is to align and motivate people. Notice the difference between these two leadership styles. One is managing what already exists and the other is moving the church forward into new growth and greater increase.
Nearly all pastors and church leaders perform both management and leadership roles. An imbalanced church is often one whose Pastor and leadership team has succumbed to one role or the other. It is the Pastor who has lost his zeal for growth so he simply manages what is already happening. Or it is the Pastor who constantly promotes growth and new programs, but does not provide constant management for the growth that happens.
Have I lost you? Are you already saying, “Now wait a minute. I can’t do it all!” You are right. You can’t. As much as you are talented, gifted, anointed and blessed, you are not Solomon. Moses couldn’t do it all and neither can you. In fact, the church leader that attempts to do all the management themselves will be overridden with the load of caring for God’s people.
This is why our Lord brings us other people into the church. Many Pastors overlook the people resources in their congregation. Since they lack the ability to trust others to a task, many Pastors fail to allow the talents of their congregation to become invested.
Moses had his captains of fifties and thousands. You too have been given certain individuals who can come beside your ministry to assist you in maintaining the growth from the vision you cast.
Do you find yourself routinely doing the job of the church janitor? Did you fix or repair something around the church lately? Are you the office manager? Are you the one who adds ink to the printer? Are you the only one visiting and praying for the sick? Who does the computing and tallying of numbers to record progress?[ read more...]
- Maintain your confidence by being in right relationship with God. You can’t be objective or discerning if you’re not in good standing with God. A strong relationship with God gives you the grace and confidence to deal properly with difficult people.
- Remember over- reacting will only accentuate the conflict and confuse the issue.
- Hold realistic expectations. Make sure the difficult person can reach your expectations. You may be expecting him to do or be something that is impossible.
- Quit trying to change the difficult person. Give up your rights and expectations regarding this person. Accept the fact that you can’t change him, but you can change your reactions to him.
- Refuse to play his games. He may attempt to use you or make you feel guilty or obligated. Recognize the emotional games, and don’t participate.
- Don’t allow yourself to become the difficult person’s slave. Be honest with yourself and learn to say no.
- Keep a proper spirit and attitude. Maintaining credibility is the greatest struggle. Don’t let bitterness, anger, or resentment grow.
1. There are specific, reasonable and attainable growth goals that have been developed. A pastor must see, believe it and work for it!
2. There is powerful Bible-based preaching and teaching, anointed singing, vibrant worship, fervent praying, and generous giving.
3. There is consistent visitation and follow-up on visitors.
4. The pastor recognizes and releases the gifts and callings among the congregation. These gifts include the gifts of teachers, helpers, prophecy, exhortation, ruling, etc.
5. The organization, coordination, and emphasis of the basic departments - Sunday School, Youth, Outreach, Music, New Convert Care - is always on soul-winning and discipleship.[ read more...]
What are we talking about? The loss of ministry momentum. When the church starts and a pastor promotes a new ministry in the church, everyone gets excited. That excitement is the fuel that this ministry is going to need to get started and for success to quickly begin to happen. The labor and energy that goes into promoting new ministries within the church is great. The planning aspect alone often takes many, many hours of several people working together to cause this new ministry to be possible. However, once it starts, if constant encouragement and direction is not given, it could very possibly begin to lose its momentum within just a very short amount of time.
Simply placing somebody over a ministry is not enough. You have to work with that person, train them, encourage them, and let them know exactly what it is you hope to see accomplished in this new ministry. This mentoring of the new leader is absolutely necessary if you want this new ministry to succeed. However, oftentimes our own schedules don't allow us to properly train and equip the people that we placed over various ministries within the church. When this happens, the new ministry begins to lose momentum. Do your leaders consistently lose the encouragement that they need? Do they have questions that are not being answered? Do they lack the training and direction that they need, or are they too are simply losing interest?[ read more...]
One Snoopy cartoon depicts the famous beagle of Charley Brown lying on the roof of his dog house and complaining that everyone is constantly demanding something from him. He has so much more to do that he can possibly get accomplished. In the final frame of the cartoon, Snoopy sighs, “I hate being head beagle!”
Being head beagle is not always as glamorous as it appears to be. Amazingly, people struggle to become the top dog. There is some kind of allure to the top position in any given profession and the ministry is no different. An intoxication to be the one at the top of the ladder oftentimes blurs the true calling and divine purpose of too many people.
Few however, know the true cost of being the one with the title before his/her name. At the same time, those who are the One at the Top, overestimate their own true value. Any organization that only thrives because of the charisma of its sole leader is in trouble. In the day that the person whom the whole organization is revolving around falls away or steps aside, that organization is going to struggle to find direction for its immediate and future direction. Few churches/organizations who follow this pattern can survive completely with the loss of their fearless leader.[ read more...]