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Most pastors would sacrifice everything they have to know a sure way of winning people long term. The truth is, most of us have personally won very few people that are still with us to this day. I have looked around my church recently, and I could find only two men in our church that I have been personally involved in winning to the Lord.
Winning these men actually began about four years ago. When I say long term, I am talking about a period of time of at least two years, preferably more. During that time I have been a witness to many more people than these two. I have baptized many more than that. I have taught bible studies to dozens of people. Many have received the Holy Ghost. Yet there are only two that have stayed in the church long term. Why only two? Why not more? Is there something wrong with me and my approach? How can I improve in this area? They say that hindsight is 20/20. During this article I want to go back in time to see what it was that worked, and what it was that didn't work.
The first thing that I can say without a doubt is that you must have a passion and a love for people. If you don't, they are going to sense that within a very short amount of time, and they will be gone. We must understand that it can be a very lonely time when somebody comes into the church. They are often leaving behind most of everything that they know and love. The Bible says...
26 "Anyone who comes to me but refuses to let go of father, mother, spouse, children, brothers, sisters — yes, even one's own self! — can't be my disciple.
33 So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.
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Too often people are afraid to budget because it seems to be more trouble than it is worth. However, a budget is not a nervous breakdown on paper. It is an organized and systematic manner of controlling income and expenses so a person can recognize danger areas in their financial life before they happen.
Too many Christians find themselves in financial hardship. Why? We belong to the body of Christ and we have God on our side. If heaven is his throne, the earth his footstool; if He owns the cattle on a thousand hills, then why are his children struggling and finding it difficult to “get by” in this affluent society?
The secret to getting ahead is not from “have luck in the stock market” or “making that once in a life time investment” or even in “receiving an inheritance from a wealthy family member”. It is defined as time!
All the investments and inheritances one can attain will not be the solution if you don’t take the time to plan and protect. People must take the time to discipline themselves to have a written plan that will provide the guidelines of scheduling money in and out of the home, thus providing a means of protection from financial disaster.
A Christian should expect their finances to be in better shape than that of the average person in the world. Christians have the backing of the God of glory and His Word! One of the first things a Christian should do is take the time to investigate the scriptures concerning their financial situation. Notice some scriptures that give us guidelines for planning, preparation, and protection of finances.[ read more...]
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.
Haven’t you always wanted to be a part of a winning team?
Isn’t it time to let God use your life for His glory?
I Sam 17: 19 Now Saul, and they, and all the men of Israel, were in the valley of Elah, fighting with the Philistines. 20 And David rose up early in the morning, and left the sheep with a keeper, and took, and went, as Jesse had commanded him; and he came to the trench, as the host was going forth to the fight, and shouted for the battle.
Can you imagine all the hundreds or even thousands of warriors that were in the field that day? There were both Israeli and also the Philistine seasoned men of combat. Archers. Chariot riders. Foot soldiers. Champions of wars past. Huge, scarred, muscular men of combat.
And along comes this ruddy, stubbly faced, nosy kid who upon hearing the Philistine champion's challenge, calls out…. “Is It My Turn Yet?”
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There are two essential elements of community. 1) interpersonal commitments and 2) a sense of belonging. True community needs both of these elements in operation. Without interpersonal commitments, a sense of belonging would soon be lost as a sense of belonging is derived from and is a result of the interpersonal commitments. Did I loose you there? Ok, let me break it down.
Bob joins a new church. He is warmly welcomed. He soon receives salvation. Bob likes the people and enjoys what he feels in the church. However, as time goes on, Bob soon realizes that since his only real commitment is to come to church, worship and give in the offerings, his commitment level is not very deep. In fact, if Bob only develops a deep relationship with the pastor there, then the Pastor is Bob’s only real reason for staying there. What happens however, when Bob gets upset at the pastor? What happens if the pastor resigns? You and I know what happens, Bob soon leaves. However, what would happen if Bob were was interconnected in a deep level of community or fellowship with 10-12 other people within the church? (Small Group) What if it were possible that Bob could get upset with the Pastor, yet his love for and interconnectedness with these other 10-12 were so deep that he would stay?
Relationships are powerful. A good relationship will build a person up and a bad relationship has the potential to destroy someone. We often fail to realize the value of relationships within the church. We exhaust ourselves with evangelistic efforts and get so excited over the sudden growth or influx of visitors. Yet we then often fail to get those new people into bonding relationships within the church and soon lose them. What we end up with is a person who is easily offended and will have nothing or nobody to stand in their way of an exodus.[ read more...]
As the attack of Mansoul continued by Prince Emmanuel’s troops, the second captain came to the Ear Gate. The first attack had come from Captain Boanerges who was absolutely confident in what he had to say. Captain Conviction, whose main assistant was Mr. Sorrow, was just as confident but his attack on the Ear Gate came in a bit different manner. Their uniforms they wore were pale and their insignia was the book of the Law that issued a flame of fire. He said to the inhabitants:
‘Hear, O Mansoul! Thou, O Mansoul, wast once famous for innocency, but now thou art degenerated into lies and deceit. Thou hast heard what my brother, the Captain Boanerges, hath said; and it is your wisdom, and will be your happiness, to stoop to, and accept of conditions of peace and mercy when offered, especially when offered by one against whom thou hast rebelled, and one who is of power to tear thee in pieces, for so is Shaddai, our King; nor, when he is angry can anything stand before him. If you say you have not sinned, or acted rebellion against our King, the whole of your doings since the day that you cast off his service (and there was the beginning of your sin) will sufficiently testify against you. What else means your hearkening to the tyrant, and you’re receiving him for your king? What means else your rejecting of the laws of Shaddai, and your obeying of Diabolus? Yea, what means this you’re taking up of arms against, and the shutting of your gates upon us, the faithful servants of your King? Be ruled, then, and accept of my brother’s invitation, and over-stand not the time of mercy, but agree with thine adversary quickly. Ah! Mansoul, suffer not thyself to be kept from mercy, and to be run into a thousand miseries, by the flattering wiles of Diabolus. Perhaps that piece of deceit may attempt to make you believe that we seek our own profit in this our service; but know it is obedience to our King, and love to your happiness, that is the cause of this undertaking of ours.
‘Again I say to thee, O Mansoul, consider if it be not amazing grace that Shaddai should so humble himself as he doth: now he, by us, reasons with you, in a way of entreaty and sweet persuasions, that you would subject yourselves to him. Has he that need of you that we are sure you have of him? No, no; but he is merciful, and will not that Mansoul should die, but turn to him and live.’
Captain Conviction comes in and takes a different but just as effective method of preaching to Mansoul. Where Captain Boanerges relied on authority, Captain Conviction relies on passion and fervor. Notice how that he confronts them with their sin and their rebellion against God. He also establishes the fact that they have sold out their allegiances to a king who is far less superior to what King Shaddai had been toward them. He tells them that their actions are going to cause them increasing misery as time passes on if they do not respond to the gospel call. He tells them that they are to humble themselves before God because this is their only way of escape.
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I frequently converse with ministers and business leaders who are overwhelmed. They need help and I have solutions. I am good at what I do. However, all too often my attempts to help prove futile because leaders are notorious for not allowing themselves to see beyond assumed responsibilities and circumstances. They have problems focusing. For some it might be their Attention Deficit Disorder kicking in, and for others it is simply personal neglect. Just as a mechanic’s car often needs the most repair, and a plumber’s house needs a leaky faucet fixed, leaders seem to avoid personal changes of routine and lifestyle.
Sadly this is all too common. Many leaders assume roles and responsibilities they should not assume and therefore settle for a constant state of chaos and mediocrity. Numerous potential problems arise when a leader reaches a saturation point but refuses assistance and is unwilling to change habits.
I want to highlight a five of the potential problems and emphasize a few solutions for each.
The first potential problem: Addiction to adrenaline. Workaholics get used to the adrenaline they feel when meeting certain goals or deadlines. Many leaders develop a sense of pride at being busy; often boasting whenever their schedule hits overload because it feeds their false ego of self-importance. They have a hard time saying “no” to new responsibilities.
The intensity one feels when overwhelmed develops stress. This affects the quality of their relationships. Stressed leaders can become very controlling, territorial, moody, and sharp with their reactions to others. Stress also has negative affects on health in the long term.
Depression often sets in when someone who is addicted to adrenaline attempts to slow down or relax. Time with God, loved ones, and for personal development tends to be neglected or placed on the backburner. Those things simply aren’t the leader’s priority, and that is a big part of the problem.
Suggested solutions include:
- Establish a maximum number of hours to focus on work each day.
- Refuse to take work home with you.
- If an extra request for you to do something means you cannot accomplish it without adding to your maximum allotted workday hours then say “no” to the request.
- Schedule time off on a regular basis.
The second potential problem: Burnout. The body, mind and emotions are designed for a balance of work and rest. Time must be made for both. Burnout sneaks up on you, and when it comes it can be very difficult to conquer.
Burnout produces a cacophony of emotions. One might develop a sense of guilt, anger or regret. These are hard to overcome when one is in a state of burnout.[ read more...]
Continuing this series on Guarding the Gates, which in concept really speaks of guarding the mind, we come to the third thing that can help you. In review, the first thing to do to guard the gates is to be given to study and the second thing is a minister has to be given to prayer. The third guard that you can put at the gate is a quest for personal holiness and godliness.
In the first message on this study, I mentioned the fact that when a man gives himself to disciplined and sanctified study, the stretching of the mind will directly affect the growth of the soul. Simply by nature of the study, the exposure to things in the Scriptures and the accompanying books the minister has available to him, we begin to understand how holy God is and how important it is for us to have acclimate it into our lives.
Holiness is important because of the nature of the work that a preacher must do. Never will I forget the story that was told in the very first class when I begin RN school in March 1985 that was told of Lewis Semmelweis. He was the guy who was laughed at because he outrageously claimed that dirty physicians’ hands were responsible for the death of the mothers who were dying from childbed fever. He was certain that the germs that were unseen were the culprits that were literally killing these young mothers.
I would be so bold as to assert that if my hands, heart, soul, and mind are not clean it will have some measure of impact on the congregation that I serve. In my mind, this ought to place a greater sense of responsibility on all men who bear the vessels of the Lord and they must be clean (Isaiah 52:11)! I also believe that for those who are quibbling about standards of holiness and are attempting to accuse those who are ardent adherents of a separated life of living in a condition of holiness that perhaps your vision has been clouded by the mists of worldliness that are so prevalent in our generation. We wouldn’t dare want a surgeon to operate on us if he had just come in from working in his garden and therefore a minister who has no real cleanliness of holiness about him shouldn’t be operating in the pulpit.
Jude uses strong words when he tells us that we will have to contend for the faith, which was once delivered to the saints. The faith is that dogma of doctrine that defines how to get into the church, who the church is and where it is to go. All of these components of the faith, while intricate, are very simply carried out by a man whose gates (mind) have been guarded by holiness. Jude when he spoke of the nature of this faith he also clearly stated that we have no right to modify it but the risk of it being altered escalated when there was a unholy alliance with “certain men” who managed to creep in “unawares.” Doctrinal purity and commitment to holiness will require vigilance on the part of clean men who have allowed personal holiness to be a guard at the gate.The question may come about as to how are we giving ourselves to personal holiness? There are some points to remember in this quest for holiness. First, a man has to understand that he is only fit to preach if he has a clean life. I am drawn over and over to the writings of Paul to his sons in the faith, Timothy and Titus, and routinely he uses words to describe the character of those qualified to minister. I am going to give you a list of words that is not all inclusive from the ESV that Paul used and these are from 1 Timothy (you can glean many other nuggets if you browse through the other two P.E.’s):
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I recall the story of the most famous of all the prophets. Elijah was one of the most powerful prophets of God. Nobody doubted his calling, his prayers brought results. When Elijah prayed, fire fell from heaven. When Elijah prayed, rain fell from the sky. Through his prayers, Elijah altered the course of an entire nation. He was one of only two men in scripture who did not see death. There is no doubt that Elijah was in the perfect will of God.
Having said that, the book of 1 Kings reveals a time in Elijah's life when it seemed like the all of hell was rising up against him. Israel had forsaken the ways of God, the altars had been destroyed, the prophets of God had been slaughtered. Elijah found himself all alone and began to wonder if God was still with him. He decided to run for his life, in fact it got so bad, he asked the Lord to take his life.
1 Kings 19:1-4
1 And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and withal how he had slain all the prophets with the sword.
2 Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah, saying, So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by to morrow about this time.
3 And when he saw that, he arose, and went for his life, and came to Beer-sheba, which belongeth to Judah, and left his servant there.
4 But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.
The wicked queen Jezebel had been threatening Elijah's life for some time. Now it was heating up. Jezebel had just informed Elijah by way of messenger that he would be dead by the same time tomorrow! This was a man hunt, she had people looking for him everywhere, he was a wanted man, dead or alive. Elijah could feel the heat and he couldn't take it anymore.
It is hard to picture the most powerful of all of the prophets backed into a corner by the enemy and running for his life. Often times that is where we find ourselves. Yet, in the midst of running, God sends an angel to feed him. That ought to be enough to confirm that God is with you Elijah. I know if an angel visited me, I would be ready to do whatever God asked of me. Still, Elijah kept running.
The meat the angel brought to Elijah sustained his life for forty days and nights. That might be a hint that God is with you. Finally he finds a cave to hide in and the word of God came to him there, "What are you doing here, Elijah?"
God wasn't asking about Elijah's physical location, He was asking about Elijah's spiritual condition. God wanted to know why Elijah had given up. Listen to Elijah's response...
1 Kings 19:10
10 And he said, I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.[ read more...]
What is failure? Is it permanent? Is there a second chance? Complete the sentence by circling the right phrase “a person is a failure when…”
- He makes a mistake;
- He quits;
- Someone thinks he is.
Review - Failure should be a teacher, not an undertaker. It is a temporary detour, not a dead end street. A winner is big enough to admit his mistakes, smart enough to profit from them and strong enough to correct them.
Repress - Perhaps your own personal problems and hang-ups caused the failure. If so, begin to work immediately on self-discipline. If you were the problem, put yourself under control. Lord Nelson, England’s famous naval hero, suffered from seasickness throughout his entire life. Yet the man who had destroyed Napoleon’s fleet did not let illness interfere with his career.[ read more...]