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Investing The Talents
The following is an article being shared with the Indiana Trumpet. You might want to place it in your weekly bulletin or in a place where your members can read it.
Mt 25 14-30
Mat 25:14 For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.
Mat 25:15 And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey...
This often misunderstood passage of scripture is a key parable for real revival. Revival and growth can only come when we understand and implement the simple factors spoken of here.
The man traveling into a far country is Jesus Christ. His servants are the Pastors of churches and the talents are the saints of the churches. When Jesus placed a shepherd in the church, he was doing more than placing someone there who would watch over the souls of the church. He was also placing someone there who would lead that group of people into personal and numerical growth (Revival).
This parable was not written to the saints, it was written to the Pastors of the churches. As a saint, this is important for me to understand as it allows me to comprehend the burden and psyche of my Pastor.
Every Pastor is under a great burden for the souls of not only those who attend the local church, but also for the souls of those people in the community who do not attend. This burden does not leave a Pastor day or night, the entire time he Pastor’s a particular church. Those who do not understand this burden will usually misunderstand the actions and decisions of their Pastor.
Notice in the parable the Lord gave us, the servant/Pastor pays a great price if he does not invest his Lord’s talents/saints wisely. Saints will wonder why their Pastor is pushing so hard to begin a new program or simply encourage the church to get involved in evangelism. They will grumble and complain because he has asked them to consider a new ministry the church is capable of implementing. Yet, regardless of their lack of cooperation, the Pastor is still under the directive to cause every talent/saint in the church to become involved.
Notice what happened to the servant who buried his talent in the ground. His labor was to hide his talents. This Pastor simply preached to the “Us 4 and no more crowd”. He was satisfied with a lack of growth and had grown weary of trying to get the church to become involved in soul winning. So he stopped trying. He just kept the same old crowd. His burden for the community died and his church had no increase. With this mindset, this servant purchased a harsh judgment.
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One of the perceived obstacles to winning people to Christ is that the convictions we hold are not attractive to the world. I beg to differ with that. If the convictions we hold are no different than those of the world then why would they want what they already have? Why would they be attracted to what we have? Attraction, by definition, means to draw an object away from one thing towards another. The law of attraction states that the force doing the attracting has to be greater than the force holding back.
What we have is much greater than what the world has;
1 John 4:4
4 Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.
Still, there is this perceived notion, that what we have is not what this world wants. Even though we know what we have is greater, the world doesn't know. They will not be attracted to what we have unless they can see it for themselves.
In 605 BC, the Babylonians invaded Jerusalem. Instead of destroying the nation, Babylon decided to destroy Israel's identity and culture. They turned Israel into a slave state. In the process of doing so, they selected the most promising children of Israel and shipped them off to be immersed into Babylonian culture.
At least four of these children were taken to the king's palace. Daniel was one of these four. He would be given and new name, a new wardrobe and taught a new language. Daniel did not protest these changes to his identity. Who could blame him? It seemed as if God had abandoned him.
Then the king asked one more thing of Daniel;
5 And the king appointed them a daily provision of the king's meat, and of the wine which he drank: so nourishing them three years, that at the end thereof they might stand before the king.
This is where Daniel drew the line. Consuming the king's meat and drink meant that Daniel would be eating meat offered to the false gods of Babylon. He would not have any part of it. So Daniel asked the chief of staff for permission not to eat the king's food. This presented a serious problem for the chief of staff. He was responsible to the king for these four boys. If he gave this permission and they became pale and thin, the king would have his head. This man was not attracted by Daniel's conviction. In fact, he wanted nothing to do with it.
Daniel responded to this in unique way. We can all learn from what he did;
Dan 1:11-15 NLT
11 Daniel spoke with the attendant who had been appointed by the chief of staff to look after Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.
12 "Please test us for ten days on a diet of vegetables and water," Daniel said.
13 "At the end of the ten days, see how we look compared to the other young men who are eating the king's food. Then make your decision in light of what you see."
14 The attendant agreed to Daniel's suggestion and tested them for ten days.
15 At the end of the ten days, Daniel and his three friends looked healthier and better nourished than the young men who had been eating the food assigned by the king.[ read more...]
In his book, The Turning Point, Malcolm Gladwell describes the work of the connector. The connectors he explains are important to social epidemics. The reason why a new restaurant would become the new hotspot in the community might well depend a great deal on the work of the connector. You see, a connector is the person in the market place who tells all their friends about the great deal they just got at Wall Mart. Or the fantastic food they ate at a new restaurant. Every church has connectors in them.
I have identified my wife as being a connector. Should Natalie find a bargain at say Wall Mart, she will immediately call her mother and sister on the phone and them about the great deal and why they should head over to Wall Mart as soon as they get off work. My wife is a connector. She loves telling people about everything from the newest restaurant, to the store who has a sale on paper napkins.
My life was changed by a connector. I was 17 years old when I came into contact with this person. 95% of the relationships I have today are a direct result of this one connector in my life. Mike was his name. Had this person never told me about and invited me to his church, I never would have met most of the people who I now know as my close friends and colleagues. He was not a preacher. He was a connector.
Something excited him about his church and he could not help himself to share it with someone else. Mike is not an orator. He is not a teacher of God’s word. But he connected me to the people who would eventually change my life.
We all have had the work of a connector in our lives. They introduced us to the church. They introduced us to our spouse. They told us the kind of car we should buy. They work behind the scenes to promote projects, products and agendas and they do it every day without pay or recognition. You might say it’s their personality. I would say it’s more of an obsession with some people.
My wife can’t help herself. She has to share her good fortune. I have told her in the past to keep some bargains to herself. Like the beautiful new dress she just got off a clearance rack for a few bucks. I tell her let people think you paid a little something for it, but no, she has to tell the world where they can get the same deal. She loves to be the connector.[ read more...]
American society is in the midst of a communications explosion. All sorts of electronic and print media vie for people’s attention. Amid this cultural revolution, there you are, trying to communicate the most important message of all time – the good news of Jesus Christ. How can you possibly compete? Following these 10 principles will ensure greater impact for your preaching.
- Believe in what you say. Ferdinand Foch said, “The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire.” All the crafting in the world can’t save a message that has no passion in it. If you can’t get excited about a subject, don’t preach on it.
- Believe that people can change. Keep in mind that all great communicators have one thing in common: They expect their message to change lives.
- Live what you say. Unless you have credibility, even the best content will get you nowhere. If you don’t live it, your listeners won’t either.
- Know when to say it. Be observant of people’s reactions to your message. When you sense that people are receptive, it is time to ask for a response.
- Know how to say it. Creativity greatly enhances communication. Use all the tools you can to make the message interesting and memorable: plays on words, acrostics, humor, stories, skits, music – all can help increase your impact. Avoid being too predictable. If people always know what you are about to say or how you will say it, they will tune you out.
Based on surveys of more than 15,000 people, the following traits were selected as the key to effective leadership:
· Being honest – 87%
· Being forward-looking – 71%
· Being inspirational – 68%
· Being competent – 58%
- Honest people have credibility – and that’s what gives leaders the trust and confidence of their people. High credibility leaders foster such things as greater pride in the organization, a stronger spirit of cooperation and teamwork, and more feelings of ownership and personal responsibility. What are some of the other characteristics of credible leaders?
- They do what they say they will do. They keep their promises and follow through on their commitments.
- Their actions are consistent with the wishes of the people they lead. They have a clear idea of what others value and what they can do.
Often times in ministry we feel that the problems we face in the church are usually people problems. After all we are in the business of ministering to people. So when a problem arises it must be a people problem - right? Not always. Too often, but thankfully, a problem is not as it seems. It's not ALWAYS a people problem. Let's face it. People problems are a hassle. Dealing with personalities and character flaws is exhausting. Sadly, many Pastors and Ministers simply stop trying to improve the ministry capacity of their congregation simply because they have grown tired of trying to change the behaviors of people to create positive change. Do you feel that people are most often the problem in your ministry? If so, you are among the majority of pastors and ministers. Would you be interested to find that not all problems are people problems? In fact, many of the situations that we believe are people problems are simply situation problems. Here's an example of a situation problem: The person who is the lead minister over your churches Greeters ministry is growing frustrated. Too often, the people they employ to greet guests are calling at the last minute to say they cannot be a "greeter" that Sunday morning. This is very frustrating for the lead minister as they thought they had everything under control. Their work was done...everyone was in place. But now at the last minute, there is confusion and worse yet, disappointment in people. This all creates another host of problems, as now the faithful few who the lead minister is about to call upon to "fill in" for the absentee are about to become burdened with the constant chore of being a greeter. These gracious people have limited patients too. If constantly obliged upon, they are going to begin to experience resentment at those who are "calling off" all the time. Worse yet, they are going to begin to feel frustration at their fearless leader who is once again asking them to fill in for someone else.
Often times in ministry we feel that the problems we face in the church are usually people problems. After all we are in the business of ministering to people. So when a problem arises it must be a people problem - right? Not always.
Too often, but thankfully, a problem is not as it seems. It's not ALWAYS a people problem. Let's face it. People problems are a hassle. Dealing with personalities and character flaws is exhausting. Sadly, many Pastors and Ministers simply stop trying to improve the ministry capacity of their congregation simply because they have grown tired of trying to change the behaviors of people to create positive change.
Do you feel that people are most often the problem in your ministry? If so, you are among the majority of pastors and ministers. Would you be interested to find that not all problems are people problems? In fact, many of the situations that we believe are people problems are simply situation problems.
Here's an example of a situation problem: The person who is the lead minister over your churches Greeters ministry is growing frustrated. Too often, the people they employ to greet guests are calling at the last minute to say they cannot be a "greeter" that Sunday morning. This is very frustrating for the lead minister as they thought they had everything under control. Their work was done...everyone was in place. But now at the last minute, there is confusion and worse yet, disappointment in people.
This all creates another host of problems, as now the faithful few who the lead minister is about to call upon to "fill in" for the absentee are about to become burdened with the constant chore of being a greeter. These gracious people have limited patients too. If constantly obliged upon, they are going to begin to experience resentment at those who are "calling off" all the time. Worse yet, they are going to begin to feel frustration at their fearless leader who is once again asking them to fill in for someone else.[ read more...]
If your ministry is only one of your jobs, here are 12 tips to make the road a little smother.
In light of the fact that 50 percent of all North American churches have 75 people or fewer, many pastors do not receive full salary from the church they serve. This forces them to consider options such as finding other employment on the side or having a spouse work to help make ends meet.
- Guard your attitudes. Sometimes it is hard for those “called into the ministry” to accept the fact that they may have to work “secular” jobs at times. These are understandable feelings, but will lead to bitterness of heart and cripple our ministries unless we overcome them.
- Look primarily to God. It is easy to become resentful toward people if we look to them as our sources. God is our ultimate employer and provider, not the church.
- Beware of get- rich-quick schemes. A pastor desperate for additional sources of income may be vulnerable to the allure of multilevel marketing and other “easy money” systems.
- Assess the hidden costs of having a spouse that works. After the cost of travel, food on the road, child care, house cleaning etc, you may find that it is cheaper for them to stay home. A job or career is often times more of an outlet or escape. Check all the motives and the real cost involved.
- Make the most of the situation while you’re at it. Working a secular job can actually have many overlooked benefits other than just additional income: contact with unchurched people and experience with realities of work environments.
- Define your ministry. Bi-vocational pastors should beware of trying to have a “full- service” ministry. You need definite limits and boundaries. You cannot do everything, so you must have a clear focus for what you will handle.
Here are some foot- dragging steps that are sure to keep you buried in things to do.
Floundering - The failure to focus attention and efforts in a single direction. The cause is a lack of clear-cut goals. This trap can be avoided by crystallizing your goals. Try writing them down on paper. Make them as specific as possible. And Give Them Accomplishment Dates.
Wheel-Spinning - Trying to do something so you'll feel busy but accomplishing little or nothing. This usually happens when we let ourselves get behind in our work and try to assuage out guilty feelings by doing everything at once. You won't solve the problem by frantic activity. Survey your list and make a schedule to accomplish everything in a realistic time frame.
Fire-Fighting - Living in a state of perpetual crisis. We often end up like this due to a lack of planning and goals. It's important to include in your schedule planning time. Take the time to sit down and review your schedule and you goals on a daily and weekly basis.
Vacillation - Indecision. This happens when we fail to weigh the alternatives or consider the possibilities. Get tough with yourself. Weigh the pros and cons, write down all the possibilities and make decisions. Trying to do something and failing is better than trying to do nothing and succeeding.
Dawdling - Drifting, daydreaming, dilly-dallying. This is a failure to keep your goals clearly in mind and make them a priority. Give yourself a deadline and stick to it. Promise yourself a reward when you've done it.
Spraying - Diverting your efforts to many tasks instead of one; spreading yourself too thin. This is also the result of a failure to focus on your goals. After you've written down your goals, focus all your energy on accomplishing them one at a time.[ read more...]
"Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching." (Hebrews 10:25)
The writer of Hebrews clearly stresses that fellowship is very important. True Christian fellowship can accomplish so much in a person's life. Sometimes we feel that we don't need fellowship and that we can do things on our own. This individualistic way of thinking is not how Jesus intended for us to think and He shows us that throughout His Word. Also, a church will never grow to its full capacity if there is not a love for fellowship. Our English word, “fellowship” is the translation of the Greek word, “koinonia.”
"Koinonia": meaning "close association; communion; close relationship." It is the most frequently used word for fellowship, sharing, and communion. This speaks of the act of using a thing in common.
The word "fellowship" is found numerous times throughout the Bible. In the Greek New Testament, the word koinonia occurs nineteen times. This beautiful Greek word has become almost as popular in English-speaking congregations as the well-known agape (love). Fellowship groups and Bible classes are sometimes called "koinonias." Fellowship is one of the four staples of the New Testament church, along with the apostles' doctrine, prayer, and the breaking of bread (Acts 2:42). We are called unto the fellowship of Jesus Christ.
"God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord." (1 Corinthians 1:9)[ read more...]
Bi-vocational ministry is an essential weave in the fabric of the church today. It is a common and yet very misunderstood form of ministry, and often even by those involved in it.
The term “bi-vocational” infers that a person has two vocations. If a pastor or minister is bi-vocational it indicates he or she has another source of income beyond the church.
The term “bi-vocational” does not mean “part time”. One may be receiving a partial salary, but in reality he is still a full-time pastor or minister. Perhaps the best way to define a pastor who receives all of his income from a church is “fully funded”, not “full-time”.
In today’s challenging economy many individuals choose the role of bi-vocational ministry over a fully funded one. If you are one of those I assure you that you are not on an island alone. It is important that you accept your bi-vocational role, as a valid form of ministry, but also that you understand its potential limitations.