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Feed My Sheep
By: James Smith
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.
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One of the challenges all pastors face is leading those who have the same vision you have but don't have the same idea's about accomplishing that vision. I call these people 'thinkers'. Thinkers are good and bad. Every pastor loves to have a group of leaders that agree with everything he says. But there comes a point when that starts working against the pastor.
It is not always healthy to have a ministry team full of 'yes-men.' Most "yes-men" cannot think for themselves. What good are leaders who cannot work situations out? They need instruction for just about everything they do. Some even like to be micro-managed. Pastors cannot afford to be micro-managers, it steals ones time and produces people who cannot make it on their own.
As a builder of homes I have worked with hundreds of different carpenters from around the country. While working with these different tradesmen there were a few things I learned very quickly about people. Some of these carpenters would come to me and ask me how I liked things done. They wanted to be sure they built the house the way I wanted it to be built. At first I really appreciated this, but soon I realized that most of my time was taken up showing them my method when their method would have worked just as well.
Other carpenters would jump right in and do their own thing. This frustrated me even more because they didn't even have the courtesy to ask for my plan or opinion. But then there were those very few carpenters who would ask a few questions about the blueprint, get dialed in on my plan of attack, and then proceed to carry out that plan. If they ran into a problem, they could "think" it out for themselves. They didn't have to come to me about every little thing, but if something major came up they wouldn't hesitate to consult me. Sometimes they even offered suggestions that increased the productivity of my crew. In twenty plus years of building homes, I found only a handful of carpenters with these qualities. These were valuable men. These were the men who helped me achieve my goals. These were the carpenters that made my company money.
We need leaders like this in our churches. We need men and women who can work through problems and think things through on their own. It is important as a leader that you develop leaders who can think. It is also important that you are confident enough to lead leaders who may have a better idea or plan than you have. I am not talking about those who disagree with everything you have to say. I am talking about those who are dialed in to your vision, but may have better ideas than you about how to accomplish that vision.
In the Old Testament, the Kings surrounded themselves with people who were dialed into their mission. There are many accounts where this team of leaders did not agree with their King. They had different ideas of how to accomplish the mission. They were not "yes-men". What kind of value would they have to the King if they agreed with everything the King asked? The king though, would have to be humble and confident enough in himself to act on their advice. Their advice was oftentimes critical to the success or failure of that nation.[ read more...]
Mentoring Christian Leaders
Leadership is a complex issue in the 21st Century. The Christian leader faces constant challenges whether at home, at work, or in the church. An increasing number of Christian leaders, business owners, and pastors are turning to mentors and coaches for development and assistance . . . and they are wise to do so. The advantages are many.
The word “mentor” is derived from the original Mentor in Homer’s epic poem The Odyssey. When Odysseus, King of Ithaca went to fight in the Trojan War, he entrusted the care of his kingdom to Mentor. Mentor served as the teacher and overseer of Odysseus’ son, Telemachus.
The Merriam-Webster WWWebster Dictionary defines a mentor as "a trusted counselor or guide." A common definition of a mentor is "a wise, loyal advisor or coach."
A mentor is an individual with special gifts or knowledge that helps and guides another individual’s development. Mentoring is used in many settings. One of the most valuable assets your ministry can have is a good mentor.
Christian leaders are besieged with challenges. Who then do they turn to for counsel, verification, and guidance? Quite often confidentiality is a problem among peers. A seasoned and professional mentor or coach is invaluable in helping guide and validate a leader’s choices and decisions.
Many leaders and even pastors do not have a wise or seasoned elder pastor or confidential authority figure to turn to. Quite often finding solace among peers or elected leaders has proven disappointing.
Many have spent fortunes attending conferences and seminars that seldom have long-term results and lasting impact. Most simply offer motivation that quickly fades away as reality rears it head again.[ read more...]
Over the holiday season, I took my family shopping in Chicago. As we were heading home to Indiana, it was dark and you could see the lights of the city. As we topped the Skyway (a very high bridge), I looked out and viewed a sea of rows of lights from the street lights below. Thousands and thousands of illuminating beams of light in every direction. As I drove along viewing the endless rows of lights that make up the Chicago skyline, I couldn't help think about a man by the name of Thomas Edison. He's the guy who thought up the light bulb. Without him, we would still be in the stone age with regards to much of the technological breakthroughs of this century. As I thought about Mr. Edison, I couldn't help wishing he was there with me right then to see the spectacle of light that came from his dream.
Over 10,000 failed experiments went into the first light bulb being created. People all around him, inventors and investors alike said he was mad, even insane.
- He believed in something no one else believed in.
- He saw something no one else saw.
- The light bulb!
You can buy them for around a quarter today. Imagine, a world without the light bulb. I could go on and on telling of all the inventions and advancement which came as a result of that one human hair dipped in carbon and encased in vacuumed glass.
It's hard for us to imagine a world without cars, computers, airplanes, Palm Pilots or light bulbs. However think with me for a minute. For thousands of years, the best mode of transportation was the horse. From the beginning of time the very best thing the human mind could come up with was a saddle to put on that poor beast of burden. They thought they really came up with something when a guy from England came up with something called the stirrup to keep a rider from falling off.
This last century has been filled with incredible advancements which we credit to the superior minds of our century. However, I'm not so sure we should give the credit so vainly to our selves. Yes, the Wright brothers really had something with that small glider. Yes, Henry Ford had a great idea with that assembly line. But, let's not be so foolish as to think that the medical, technological, manufacturing, farming, space exploration advancements have come from the human mind.[ read more...]
Leadership is a complex issue in the 21st Century. Christian leaders at every level in business, church, school, and at home are faced with numerous challenges. A common feeling is that of being overwhelmed.
Christian leaders face difficulty and uncertainty every day. The world is changing rapidly. The political, economical, and social pressures are encroaching more and more into everyone’s daily lives. Although leaders face the same challenges as everyone else, they have the added burden of trying to have answers for others as well.
Ask Yourself a Few Simple Questions
As a leader:
· Who do you turn to for guidance, advice, and instruction?
· Who can you trust not only in their advice, but also in confidentiality?
· Who already knows what you need to know and is willing to share their knowledge with you?
· Who equips you to meet challenges when you do not yet know what tomorrow’s challenges even are yet?
· How do you know if you are lacking the skills required to lead and succeed in the 21st Century?
· Are other leaders outpacing you?
· Are you facing new and more complex challenges that you never faced before?
· Are you struggling with the challenge of developing leaders around you?
If so you need a mentor.[ read more...]
What are Icebreakers?
As the name implies, an icebreaker session is designed to "break the ice" at an event or meeting. It is a technique that is best used with people who do not yet know one another very well. Ice breakers ease people through those uncomfortable moments that come with getting to know strangers.
Most people know us by our profession. We are known as a teacher, carpenter, doctor, housewife, etc. Some may know us from church, but they don't really know us in a meaningful way. Whether your group has known each other a long time, or has just recently gotten together, icebreaker sessions allow a group to get to know one another more intimately. A great icebreaker stirs us to talk about our hobbies, personal experiences or even our family backgrounds. A group that’s more in tune with each other makes better decisions. They feel a sense of trust and are able to work together more productively[ read more...]
Knowing what people need and want is the key to understanding them. And if you can understand them, you can influence them and impact their lives in a positive way. Listed are five things about understanding people:
Your life is not measured by your accomplishments, but rather by the people you’ve touched and the lives you changed.
Mentoring someone allows you the opportunity to affirm their ministry and change the direction of their life.
You don’t have to wait for someone to ask you to mentor them. Pull them aside and explain to them that you see potential in them and you believe they are ready to be mentored. You may be amazed to find that they have been waiting on SOMEONE to notice them.
Don’t judge – Critique. The difference between the two is one is done out of love and concern the other is not. Let your aspirant know that you care only for their growth and want to offer suggestions for them to become better.
Open up. Tell them of your early shortcomings. Let them know that all is not going to be easy. Confess a few faults and ways you have conquered them. There is nothing common to man. There is a great possibility that they may need to know how to get over a few things along the way.
Model it in front of them. They are going to do what you do - not what you say. Regardless of how well you explain things to them, they are going to model themselves after your actions. You speak to them when you are not speaking to them at all. Remember they are watching you and learning.
Meet with them. Choose definite times to meet together. Doing this tells them that you care about their growth and are concerned about them as a person.[ read more...]
Solipsism is the belief that nothing exists outside of your self. If you, while reading this article, believe that this article and everything around you are figments of your imagination, you are solipsistic.
Sounds strange? No, it is very real.
Engine Charlie Wilson, former CEO of GM, once said, “What is good for GM is good for America!” Engine Charlie was indulging in solipsistic thinking on behalf of GM.
Grades in school may be another example of solipsism. The purpose of school is learning. We create a surrogate indicator of learning: grades. Then we collude with each other to pretend that grades are an accurate indicator that learning has or has not taken place. We no longer even question the legitimacy of grades.
Another example is sweeps week. Twice a year there are weeklong surveys of TV viewership. The ratings during sweeps week are important because they determine what the networks charge for advertising. The solipsism is this: We pretend that the programs during the sweeps week are representative of the network’s regular fare and that the ratings during sweeps are indicative of something real.
Another example: The Discipline of Market Leaders, a book that made The New York Times list of best-selling books. This occurred because those behind the book were able to identify which stores around the country were used by The New York Times as their sample for calculating which books were best sellers. By buying up their book at these stores, they could artificially inflate the figures. The solipsism: pretending that The New York Times list accurately depicts the sales of books (and that the volume of sales of books is an accurate measure of what is worthwhile to read).[ read more...]
All too often, our church members don't feel comfortable asking someone if they would like to have a Bible study. One of the main reasons for this, is because they are afraid they won't have all of the answers to all of the questions that the person may ask about the Bible. Many people today want to teach Bible studies to their friends and families, but oftentimes, don't know how to teach a Bible study,what teaching materials to use or lack the experience to feel confident enough to teach one.
One idea to overcome this, is to use the mid-week service to teach your church how to teach a Bible study. In most cases, the people that show up for the mid-week service are the core of the church. They are usually the more "spiritually mature" of your saints. Also, when teaching on how to teach a Bible study, let them know which Bible studies you recommend for them to teach. This will give them confidence to teach a Bible study and when they find one that they feel comfortable sharing with someone, they will be more apt and better prepared to teach.
You can use this outline to teach them how to teach a Bible study:
Psalm 119:89 "Forever O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven."
Psalm 119:161:162 "..but my heart standeth in awe of thy word….as one that findeth great spoil (treasure)"
Psalm 119:11 "Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee."
· Establish at the beginning of the study the importance of the "whole" Bible.
1) 1 Tim. 3:16 "All scripture is given by inspiration of God…
2) The Word of God is true! From cover to cover!
A few things to remember when preparing for your study:
· Always bring two Bibles; one for you and one for your student. (Remember, this is a Bible study!)
· Be on time!
· Breath mints are good!
· Choose a Bible Study that teaches on one of these topics:
3) Church History[ read more...]