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By: James Smith
How important is it? Consider this. Early in Jesus’ ministry, he chose out 12 men who would become his disciples. His purpose in choosing these 12 men went beyond their need for salvation. His vision was that he might “…make them fishers of men”. Jesus understood immediately upon starting his early ministry that his role was to not only bring salvation to this world, but to also raise up others who would do the same after He was gone.
What would happen to the church or ministry the Lord has given to you should you be removed from the picture today? Is there someone you have been training to do your job? Have you mentored anyone to take your place? Or have you like most ministers been so busy doing your fathers business that you don’t have time to train other leaders.
Jesus understood that this was paramount to all he did in this world. He realized that unless he mentored these 12 men, all he accomplished in this world was in vain as there would be no one to continue it after he left.
Many ministers don’t see the need to raise up other leaders in the church. In fact, many ministers view this as threatening to their own position in the church. Can I suggest to you that this is “small thinking”. Whose kingdom are we working for anyway? If it is ours, we will lose it. If it is God’s, we will gain it. Small thinking hinders revival.
We all so often can find fault in our congregations regarding the lack of growth in the church. We point out all the ways they fail in outreach and preach them into a level of guilt that kills their joy stymies their efforts to share Jesus. Yet, we need to ask ourselves honestly, how many people do we pull aside on a weekly basis to mentor and raise up?
It is a fact that our church will only grow to the level that it’s leadership is able to minister to. A single man or woman will never effectively pastor a church of 200 or more people. It is impossible. A single person can only effectively pastor 70-80 people “if” he is full time. Someone one would say, “But I don’t have time to train other leaders in the church”. Can I say to you, “This should be the first thing you are doing.” You might say , “but I am too busy teaching, preaching, praying for the sick and ministering to the needs of others.” Can I ask you something? What would be so wrong with raising up 5-10 men in your church to do most of these things or even do much of the teaching and some of the preaching for you?
Jesus took his focus off of the multitude on occasions to focus on his 12. He sent them out to do what he had been doing all along. Did they do it exactly like he would have done it every time? Doubtful, but they did get the job done and in greater measure than He alone was able to do it. Jesus understood that 12 was more than one. Do we really understand that? Or do we think “I” am the only one who can do this job. “I” am the only one called to do this job. “I” am the only one anointed to do this job.
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It is critically important who you surround yourself with. The men and women you choose to help you reach your goals will make or break you. Here's a few things to look for in potential leaders.
1. Look for people who can make things happen.
Most of the time, you have to take people at their word. The fortunate aspect to this is when you do hire them, you know within a few days, sometimes hours, if they can make things happen or not. At that time you can make the necessary decision.
This application is not always possible in ministry, but the advice is still the same; Watch what people do more than listening to what they say. Actions always speak louder than words. People that make things happen seldom make excuses. Instead they create their own opportunities when none might have existed.
2. Look for people who can influence others.
A person's ability to make things happen is directly related to their ability to lead people. This is called influence. Whether a church ministry leader or a construction crew leader, a leader must be able to influence and persuade people.
When you are selecting a potential leader, don't just look at the person, but look at all of the people that person influences. The more people they influence, the greater leadership potential they have.
Here is a good question to ask; What kind of people do they influence? Do they influence other leaders? Or do they influence followers? A person who can influence leaders has much greater potential than a person who can only influence followers.
Influence also includes how they treat people. Do they respect people? Do they have a genuine love for people? Do they treat people right?
3. Look for people who can equip others.
It is one thing to persuade and influence others. It is another thing to equip them with the necessary tools and training to succeed. Most of the people in your church will need to be trained and equipped in order to succeed. If the leaders you choose cannot equip and empower their followers, then they will ultimately be standing alone at the end of the day.[ read more...]
There are a number of great ways to preach the Word of God, but one of the most effective is expository preaching.
Stephen Olford defines expository preaching this way;
"Expository preaching is the Spirit-empowered explanation and proclamation of the text of God's Word with due regard to the historical, contextual, grammatical and doctrinal significance of the given message or given passage, with the specific object of invoking a Christ transforming response."
That is a pretty heavy definition, let me simplify; "The text does the talking, the preaching, the teaching and the transforming." The message is already there, you just have to open it up and discover it for yourself. Expository preaching forces the man of God to open his own heart first and allow the scripture to change him before it ever changes his audience.
An expository sermon comes from a portion of text that is usually at least one paragraph in length, and where at least a good portion of the story is told in its context. For an expository sermon to have impact, the story of the text must be opened up to your audience. A casual reading and retelling of the scripture is not quite what it is about. Nor is it a step by step outline of each verse. There is a message in the story of the text that must be shared in a meaningful way.
There is a pressure in our culture today for preachers to be 'relevant' to their audience. In doing so, expository preaching has become less and less popular. Many insist that it is no longer effective. Most of today's mainline preachers have adopted the 'topical' style of preaching in their attempt to become relevant. In this style of preaching they choose a topic and then go to the Word to see what the scripture says about it. The danger in this is that they become so topical in their preaching that there is very little of the Word of God left. The one or two scriptures they do use are often taken out of context and used in ways that alter their intended meaning. I would like to say that there is nothing more relevant for our culture today than the Word of God. The Word of God transcends time, tradition and culture. The writer of Hebrews declares that the Word of God is quick enough, sharp enough and has enough power to pierce into the thoughts and hearts of every person.[ 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...]
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...]
Balance in life does not come naturally. For many of us, our lives are lived in extremes. Incredible things happen when ministry and life are lived at their fullest. The problem however, is that when one area of our life is lived at an extreme, the others become out of balance.
Spending larger amounts of time in one area causes the other areas of our life to become anemic. Few vocations understand this more than the ministry. Our dedication to God and commitment to His church often cause us to have an imbalanced allocation of energy and time resources. Sadly, our families are too often the benefactors of the lessor of the imbalance.
Someone once said, “Time waits for no one!” How true! We really do only have one life and one chance at making the moments of every single day of that life count. Moments that are divided between our jobs, families and ministries. Moments that we will never get back. Moments that turn hours into days. Days into years and years into lifetimes.
- How do you manage all those moments?
- What are the priorities that you have set to budget those precious moments?
- What rules have you put into place to guard the distribution of those moments?
- Is your life so frenzied that you really have no idea who should get the best of “you”?
1. A vision begins as a concern.
As a pastor, you probably have a vision of great revival for your city. But it began as a concern for souls, then it grew into a burden for souls. It grew till it consumed your thoughts. This is the birthplace of vision. God has placed that vision there.
2. A vision does not necessarily require immediate action.
When God speaks to you, he may not be giving you a vision for the immediate. God’s timing is not our timing. When David was anointed king, he did not take the throne for many years. He went through many hardships before he finally became king.
3. Pray for opportunities and plan as if you expect God to answer your prayers.
The Bible says that the steps of the righteous are ordered by the Lord. Begin to pray for the right people and opportunities to be brought into your life...God will order your steps.
4. God is using your circumstances to position and prepare you to accomplish His vision for your life.
Don't let your situation blind your vision. God will use a situation that seems totally opposite of your vision to enable you to accomplish it.
Think of Joseph, he literally had a dream of his brothers bowing down to him, the sun, the moon, and the stars made obeisance to him...he was going to be a ruler of people. Of course that didn't happen for a long time, God used circumstance after circumstance to prepare him for that vision. Joseph could have easily become blinded by each of those, but instead God used each situation to advance him closer to His dream.
5. What God originates, he orchestrates.
If God started it, He will finish it. Many are the times when we can't see the way through, but nothing shall be impossible with God. The Red Sea crossing is a beautiful example of God orchestrating Moses' vision of deliverance for his people.
6. Walk before you talk; investigate before you initiate.
Remember a vision does not require immediate action, a lot of planning and preparation needs to be done in advance.
7. Communicate your vision as a solution to a problem that must be addressed immediately.
Jesus told his disciples, 'the harvest is great but the laborers are few.' Later in the book of John, Jesus said, "The fields are already white to harvest." Jesus was communicating His vision to His disciples in a way they could understand. Fields turn white after they turn golden, today we harvest golden fields of grain. In essence, Jesus was saying, It is almost too late for this harvest, I need laborers right now!
8. Cast your vision to the appropriate people at the appropriate time.
In Acts, chapter one, Jesus has some very important words for some very important people. He waited until this very critical time to cast His vision to them. The Holy Ghost would come after He ascended to heaven, and the Holy Ghost would give them power to be witnesses to all people.
It is very interesting to note that the number of people there was 120. This was the exact number which the Jewish people required to form a council in any city. There were others who had been followers of Jesus, but for one reason or another had departed from this group.
Jesus used these last words to cast His vision for mankind to the appropriate people at the perfect time. The result was life changing revival for millions of people around the world even to this day!
9. Don't expect others to take greater risks or make greater sacrifices than you have.[ read more...]
As a youngster in the church I recall a phrase that my parents and grandparents used to say on occasion. The phrase was, "God's Word will not return void." I knew it was Scripture, but it was one of those that I hadn't read in a long, long time. Recently, while reading in the book of Isaiah, I came across this phrase again. It really hit me hard and spoke to me. I encourage you to read Isaiah the 55th chapter, I guarantee it will encourage and uplift you.
The verses that really hit me are;
8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.
9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10 For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater:
11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.
It seems whenever I struggle or face a tough trial there are very few places I can find refuge and strength. Often a close friend or mentor can help. Sometimes it is my spouse or my kids. Just being around family is therapeutic to the soul. However, there is one thing that never fails me, and that is the Word of God. God's Word never ceases to amaze me. It truly is a book of life.
In this chapter, God said, "His Word will never to Him void." That simply means, It will never return empty handed or in vain. Most of us understand that everything in the Word of God is profitable. However, I draw your attention to the words, "goeth forth". The Word that doesn't return void is the Word that 'goeth forth'. The Word that is profitable is the Word that is 'spoken' out of our mouth.
God's Word doesn't help us if it stays on our bookshelves. God's Word doesn't accomplish what God wants it to if we don't speak it. I realize this article may be read by hundreds of preachers; however, I am not referring to preaching in this article. If the only spoken Word in our lives is the Word we preach, then we have miserably failed. Yes, we need to study, read, meditate, share and preach the Word. Yet, I am stating that we need to literally speak the Word out loud. We need to verbalize it over and over again. Not only from our pulpits, but over every situation in our own lives. If we can speak the Word to others, why can't we speak it unto ourselves? This is how our faith grows. This is how we make it through the fire.[ read more...]
What are some of the principles that greatly impact our lives and help us become mature, growing, productive people? Listed are principles to guide your life:
- Your attitude determines your altitude.
- It’s not what happens to a person, but what happens in a person that makes the difference.
- Every problem has a hidden possibility and a seed of victory in it.
- Failure is not final. Learn from it and go on.
- Limitations are guidelines, not stop signs.
- Expect the best and express the best.
- There is not much difference between success and failure. The successful usually gave just a little bit more.
- Each person can increase a little. You can improve your attitude, relationships, priorities, determination and credibility a little each day.
- Helping others succeed helps you to succeed.
- Be yourself – that’s who God made.
- People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
- Live what you teach.
- Pay now and play later.
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.