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Do I Have a Ministry?
When God fills us with His Spirit and we become a member of the body of Christ (Romans 12:5) we automatically have a ministry. What is that ministry? Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:
17Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 18And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; 19To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.
We have a ministry of reconciliation. Reconcile is a verb that means to reconsecrate (devote or dedicate to some purpose). Our responsibility to our world is one that requires us to reach out and "minister" to those in need. There are various ministries that we can take on. Whether one is a greeter as David desired in Psalm 84:
10 For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.
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Early on in my days as an RN, I greatly enjoyed working with patients who had come through multiple trauma situations. Even when I was in nursing school, I would frequently spend my evenings at work as a patient care tech, in the Emergency Department or in the Surgical Intensive Care Unit. The reason was because these areas were generally the hubs for patients who had multiple trauma insults to contend with. Then when I graduated from nursing school, I went to work in the SICU and it was there that I found a niche specifically with neuro-trauma and the other injuries associated with the brain and the spinal cord.
There have been numerous times that I have seen patients that hardly had a mark on their body but had been dealt a massive blow to the head to the extent that they never recovered. In fact, far more than I would like to have liked, we would send them to long-term care facilities basically in a very obtunded or comatose state. Never again would they function normally and be able to assume even the most basic of daily functions of living. A perfectly healthy body but with horrific brain injury that disabled them.
John Bunyan wrote another classic besides Pilgrim’s Progress. It was a book called The Holy War. The focus of the story was the capture of a city called Mansoul. In it Diabolus (the devil) has taken it and the battle rages as the Prince Emmanuel works to recapture it. The way it was overcome was because the gates of the city had been compromised. Diabolus and his wicked imps had traversed it by taking advantage of the Eye Gate and Eye Gate which are symbolic of the use of the senses to cause the capture of the city.
It is imperative that a minister guards the gates of his mind. He is constantly under the assault and duress of the devil and because of this, our mind must be worked on very diligently to prevent the capture of it. Don’t be surprised at the tares, which may loom among the wheat because this is the way it has to be. In fact Paul cautioned the ever-vigilant servant when he expressed the fact that there must be heresies to grow like clover in a pasture. The reason is for the church to be approved by God (1 Cor. 11:19).[ read more...]
In the past, I have written on church trouble from the angle of people in the congregation who found great enthusiasm for tormenting pastors until they finally ran them off. The religious landscape is littered with men who no longer pastor churches and gave up the calling of a ministry because of a situation where they found themselves in great contention with the hidden powers that ran the church. If you are interested you may read those old Barnabas Blog posts from a couple of years ago (Part 1 & Part 2). Since writing those posts, I have observed a few more of these unfortunate situations as they unfolded.
On the other hand, there are also churches that have had endure terrible abuses at the hands of heavy-handed, manipulative, and dark pastors who fall into the category of being a spiritual abuser.
I must say from the outset that this kind of activity to me is totally foreign because of the environment that I grew up in with my own pastor (and now father-in-law) Joe Patterson. Because of his spiritual leadership, I grew up with the idea that the church was the most incredible, warm, and safe place on the earth. It was only after I begin to travel around a bit and grew up some spiritually and mentally that I was exposed to the dark side of the church and ministry. To be quite frank with you, it was a bit unnerving and initially faith-jarring.[ 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...]
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...]
To give a little history as to how some of the heavy-handed authoritative traits came into play among pastors you have to trace back to the charismatic movement. Out of the charismatic movement there was the evolving of a concept called “shepherding.”
The Latter Rain movement actually had its earliest beginnings in the late 1800’s and was born out of the Methodist and Holiness camp-meeting environment. It would continue to generate momentum and experience growth during the post-World War II years and be much encouraged by the Charismatic movement in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Marked by extreme excess and abuse of the gifts of the Spirit, this activity led to the production of “prophets” who had little use for personal holiness and consecration. After a while it appeared that they only had a desire for their own personal kingdoms to grow.
As time went by these intruders became susceptible to moral and ethical failures. The subsequent fallout from their failures caused many who followed them to be led astray by their repulsive actions. In an effort to recover from these shenanigans a group of leaders came together and formed what was called “The Shepherding Movement.” Bob Mumford, Derek Prince, Charles Simpson, and Don Basham were the primary founders of this loosely formed organization who determined that its sole purpose would be to form a system of personal accountability. Later a fifth leader, Ern Baxter would be added to make up what was referred to as the “Fort Lauderdale Five.”
They decided that their work would be modeled after the pattern of Paul mentoring his sons in the faith, Timothy and Titus. They would work toward building a system of accountability that would form deeper relationships among pastors, ministry development at all levels, and ethical standards with emphasis on moral and financial dealings.
The whole system worked with the idea that anyone who came into the church needed a“shepherd.” After witnessing the moral collapse of several prominent men, this seemed to be a good and necessary thing. Who could object to the need for spiritual leadership and accountability? It became very heavy on authority and control in a manner that even simple decisions of daily living had to be monitored and approved by the pastor/leader of local congregations.
As an example, the leader would have to make the final decisions on car purchases, home mortgages, and job opportunities. In some cases, the “shepherd” would designate who young men and young women would marry to the degree that the marriages were arranged and carried through. The “shepherd” would have almost complete control over the personal finances. The parishioners would bring their paychecks to him and he would cash them and take his cut which was oftentimes more than 10% and give them the remainder. So as you can see the role of the pastor changed into an extreme form of authoritative control.
Some of the characteristics of the Shepherding system are as follow:
• Discipleship only takes place when one is committed to the group, cell ministry, and its leader.
• The only hope of salvation is extreme devotion to the shepherd of the group. This indicates the leader has more power to save than does Jesus Christ.
• Jesus Christ does not work directly in the life of the follower but rather He works through a system of delegated authority that flows down from the shepherd. You are to submit to this man as you would submit to God.
• Our relationship with God is not primary but rather it works in tandem with the power of a shepherd who has total control over the present, material world we live in.
• Our obedience[ read more...]
Most of us know how valuable momentum is. When you have it, things happen almost without effort. Without it, things come to a grinding halt. Where does momentum come from? Momentum comes from God, and it begins in your personal devotion to Him. Many leaders struggle because their devotional life is not what it should be. If you do not have momentum in your personal life, those you lead will not experience it.
Bi-vocational pastors face many challenges in life. One of their biggest challenges is time. Time is critical. Approximately sixty hours a week are spent working and getting to and from work. Another sixty hours are taken up sleeping. Church services and functions take up another twelve hours. That leaves only thirty-six hours a week to eat, exercise, spend time with family, train leaders, prepare sermons, teach Bible studies, counsel people and have personal devotion. Personal devotion is one of the areas that gets pushed off until the very last, and usually one does not have sufficient time or energy to have meaningful devotion with God.
That is a problem because devotion is a focused and faithful commitment of one's time and energy. Without personal time with God, spiritual momentum comes to a grinding halt. One begins to depend on their own power and abilities instead of God's power. It isn't long before the entire church and its ministries feel the effects.[ read more...]
Put It In Writing
The written word is persuasive. A spoken word is quickly forgotten, but put the same words in writing and the phrase is instantly given new credence and respect. For that reason, putting it in writing is a wise practice. When everything is written out, you're able to see clearly what needs to be accomplished, how it will be done, and what your responsibility is. By putting it in writing, you're making a commitment.
Putting it in writing will also motivate you and keep you on track. By writing down your goals you make a commitment to them. Written goals urge us to action and determine direction.
Decide for yourself what your goals are and when and how you wish to reach them. Then after you have written them down, keep them in a place that is in plain view throughout each day. As you accomplish each one, cross it off! As you do, allow yourself some personal gratification. There is therapy in seeing a long list of goals accomplished.
A things to do list will ease the mental stress of the day. Often our minds are more on thinking of what needs to be done rather than on what do do to get something done. It is easier to set a pace for the day when you have a written list. Plan your day by allowing yourself an allotted amount of time for each item. Write that time next to each item. Don't let other people or situations keep you from accomplishing each task.[ read more...]
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.[ read more...]
It is so important that we recognize our need for close friends.
38 Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house.
39 And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word.
40 But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.
41 And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things:
42 But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.
During His ministry, Jesus had many friends and many people that He was friendly to. Yet Jesus was only very close to a few people. Mary, Martha, and Lazarus were three of Jesus' closest friends on this earth. This family of brother and sisters lived just outside of Jerusalem in the town of Bethany. Jesus would often stay with them on His journeys into the city. He became very close to them. You may all remember the story in this scripture...Mary and Martha heard that Jesus was coming. Martha immediately dropped everything that she was doing and began to prepare the house and the food and all of the things that are necessary to host a guest. Instead of helping her sister, Mary chose to sit at the feet of Jesus to hear His word and to fellowship with Him. This so upset Martha that she went to Jesus and vented her feelings on Him. Jesus responded and said, "Martha, you are so upset about this, don't you understand that what your sister has chosen to do is a needful thing!" What was this needful thing that Jesus was referring to? It was the communing together of close friends!
Jesus needed this and so did Martha. In fact what stands out to me about his story is what Martha was doing was also a needful thing. What host would not clean the house, prepare the food and make sure everything was in order? That was important. Yet Jesus made it very clear that a special time of sharing between friends was much more important than hosting a guest! You must find time, you must make time to spend with your closest friends. Even at the cost of neglecting something important! I call this 'planned neglect'. Make plans to neglect some things so you can spend some quality time with friends. It has to happen, it is of outmost importance![ read more...]