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Storm the Gates - Part 1
By: Philip Harrelson
Last week, time was spent on the Barnabas Blog with a series of posts called “Guard the Gates” and how important that our minds are in this spiritual battle that we are involved in. Late last night, I was mulling over the next series of things to write about that might bring a little inspiration to those hearty souls who are involved in ministry. During that time of productive meditation, I was drawn to another theme from Bunyan’s The Holy War that sort of lodged in my spirit.
Early on in the taking of Mansoul, Bunyan pulls us in with the majesty of his word pictures when he tells us that Captain Resistance was one of the chief men of the city who had great influence. As he tells us of the approach of Diabolus in attacking the Eye Gate and Ear Gate, Captain Resistance gets up on top of the walls of the city. From that high point, one of the deadly archers of Diabolus shoots him off of the wall with an arrow to the head. Obviously the word picture gives us the idea that Captain Resistance is a godly pastor who is preparing to shout his warning from the top of the wall. When he goes down, the whole city soon falls to the evil hordes of Diabolus and his minions.
After the capture of the city, Prince Emmanuel determines that he will attack the city in the same manner that Diabolus managed to breach the place. He will attack by the Eye-Gate and the Ear-Gate; however, Prince Emmanuel determines to put a huge amount of energy of his attack into the Ear-Gate. So begins the journey of recovery for Mansoul. The four captains are all preachers whose voices will assault the Ear-Gate so the citizens within will be able to turn the tables on Diabolus.
• Captain Boanerges—He was the leader of the others. He was the strongest of all of them and his first lieutenant was Mr. Thunder. They all wore black and the insignia on their uniforms was three lightning bolts. In all four companies were ten thousand men.
• Captain Conviction—His first lieutenant was Mr. Sorrow. Their uniforms were pale and their insignia was the book of the Law that issued a flame of fire.
• Captain Judgment—His first lieutenant was Mr. Terror. Their uniforms were red and their insignia was a burning fiery furnace.
• Captain Execution—His first lieutenant was Mr. Justice. Their uniforms were also red and the insignia had a fruitless tree with an ax lying at the root of the tree.
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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.[ 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...]
Why is it that so many Christians who are working are not doing well financially? Unfortunately too many Christians are not equipped with the scriptures and methods required to better manage their money. God has redeemed man from the curse of the law to give him liberty in all things. This includes money.
A person who calls himself a Christian must adhere to the scriptures in order to better prepare himself. Christians should not worry about money. They should not fret about their finances. But they should rely on the blessing of God to provide for them everything they need.
In the Chronicles, the young king Amaziah was entrusted with the army of Judah. He numbered them and prepared them for battle. However, with only three hundred thousand men ready for battle, the king felt that he needed more soldiers. So he contacted with Israel for one hundred thousand more men and paid one hundred talents of silver for their services.
The man of God came to King Amaziah and said that God did not want him to use the soldiers of Israel and if the king did so, God would not be with him. It was obvious what had to be done, however, the King questioned the man of God. “What then shall I do with the hundred talents of silver that has been paid for the service of Israel’s army.” The man of God replied, “God is able to give you much more than this!”
God is able…fully capable…ready and willing to give you much more if you will only learn to maintain his economic plan and manage what you have. You can have the blessings of God on you life by obedience.[ read more...]
Paradox - "A statement seemingly absurd or self- contradictory, but really founded in truth."
Being a Pastor or Christian leader is not easy. Whoever said it was, was lying. Being a Pastor or Minister is rewarding and satisfying, but it is not easy.
The part that is not easy for me is when I do good for someone and they turn against me. It knocks me back a step when someone who I have really bent over backwards to help, lies against me or without gratitude, throws "it" all in my face. If you've ministered for more than 1 year, I'm sure you will be able to relate. If you've ministered for 10 years, you could probably write a book on the subject.
One thing they never taught us in Bible College was how to take a direct hit in the chops and keep a smile. Don't you just love getting bawled out by someone in the office, 10 minutes before service. It's not easy getting up in front of your church to preach a positive message after an encounter like that. But we do it anyway! Why? Because that's who we are. That's what we do. We are Ministers. We do good when people hurt us. What a Paradox![ read more...]
Every pastor, preacher, and minister should memorize these words that Paul shared with Timothy;
2 Tim 4:1-5 New Living Translation
1 I solemnly urge you in the presence of God and Christ Jesus, who will someday judge the living and the dead when he appears to set up his Kingdom:
2 Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching.
3 For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear.
4 They will reject the truth and chase after myths.
5 But you should keep a clear mind in every situation. Don't be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at telling others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you.
Each time I read this letter I find myself asking these questions:
1. Am I prepared to preach; whether the time is favorable or not?
2. Am I able to correct and encourage my congregation with good teaching?[ read more...]
Today I yield the floor to one of my mentors. Dr. Fred Childs is a leading church consultant, organizational development expert, and leadership authority. He and Monica reside in Pearland, Texas. Dr. Childs ministry of leadership development within the church has transformed my ministry through the years.
His books and training material have revolutionized hundreds of churches and ministries. His personal testimony is one of many miracles with a very powerful pulpit ministry.
In the last decade, Microsoft introduced its Windows 95 operating system. As one of the many who utilized this software, I would routinely sit and wait the few minutes for my computer to boot up. I never pondered the immense importance of these wasted daily minutes until I participated in a corporate time management seminar in 1996. I was shocked to discover that the cumulative total of the time wasted as individuals waited the few minutes for Windows 95 to boot up exceeded ten thousand man years per day!
Time is valuable. In training and facilitating several thousand professional and corporate teams, I have documented millions of dollars in bottom-line savings and multiplied productivity simply by eliminating the wasted time from the operating processes used to manufacture goods and produce services. The root cause of the rise or fall of many organizations is their ability to manage time efficiently and effectively.
Time is life, and it is perhaps our most precious resource. It can be a tremendous friend or foe, and it is ours to do with as we please. Every moment should be cherished, for it is a commodity that can never be replenished. It is used once and then it is gone forever.
One of the greatest keys to effective leadership is the proper utilization of time resources. There is no greater example of time mastery than the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. Scriptural study cannot reveal a single wasted minute in the life, ministry and actions of Jesus! A tremendous example of His personal mastery over time and priorities was in the account of Lazarus. John 11:6 says, “When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was.”[ read more...]
"Being a young, next-gen leader is a difficult calling."
You think differently than your more conventional colleagues. YOU CHALLENGE, REINVENT, AND MIX IT UP. You buck traditional models of leadership and you're constantly on the hunt for new ones. Many of your peers and elders in the ministry may not understand your calling.
Keep in mind a few things...
- It's important to see where other men have been. It is easy to stand on the sidelines and critique other people’s ministries. Keep in mind, you have not walked in their shoes or been where they have been.
The mistake that too many young ministers makes is to assume to have superior knowledge over an elder in the ministry who has struggled to make something happen. If you honor those men and women who have tilled the ground before you, God will give you the fruit of their labors.
- Your greatest asset as a leader will be your mentors. Every Man or Woman of God is a product of the ministers who have invested themselves into their ministries. There is nothing new under the sun and you are not unique from those who have mentored your life. For good or bad, the Pastors and Mentors of your life have touched your ministry. You have been affected by each of them. You have learned things to do and things not to do in your ministry by observing them. Your love and honor to them will determine the level of respect and honor that will be given to your own ministry.
- Stay close to someone more experienced. We learn from those who are able to teach us. If you surround your ministry with people who are less experienced or knowledgeable than yourself, you will become “dumbed-down”. Find some ministers who are heavily involved in the areas of ministry that you feel called to work and begin to glean from them. These men and women are usually very open to teaching a younger minister the ropes.
Pastor Ray Johnson of the Denham Springs Pentecostal Church shares the characteristics of a growing church.
- There are specific, reasonable and attainable growth goals that have been developed. A pastor must see, believe it and work for it!
- There is powerful Bible-based preaching and teaching, anointed singing, vibrant worship, fervent praying, and generous giving.
- There is consistent visitation and follow-up on visitors.
- The pastor recognizes and releases the gifts and callings among the congregation. These gifts include the gifts of teachers, helpers, prophecy, exhortation, ruling, etc.
- The organization, coordination, and emphasis of the basic departments - Sunday School, Youth, Outreach, Music, New Convert Care - is always on soul-winning and discipleship.
The following was a excerpt from chapter 2 of the EBook intitled Where Your Treasure Is...
You can find out more about this incredible tool and related resources to help your church increase it's tithe and giving at http://www.pastoralhelps.com/leadership/where-your-treasure-is-teaching-set-edownload-w/cd
What are the possibilities if every Christian in America tithed ten percent of their increase to the Kingdom?
We can imagine those possibilities through a recent CNN article about tithing....
The churches of the U.S. last year received about $4 billion in donations. If the 112 million Americans who claim a religious affiliation had given one tenth— the traditional tithe—of their personal income to churches, that total could have topped $25 billion.
It takes money to advance the Kingdom of God in this world yet, according to this article, the average Christian in America gives only $35.71 to God’s work each year. And we wonder why America is straying so far from God.
Jesus said in...
Matthew 6:21 KJV
21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
Notice this verse reads the opposite of the way we think. We think that wherever our heart is, our treasure will be also. Or whatever our passion is, that is what we will support.
That is not what Jesus said...and His ways are above our ways.
Jesus said that our heart is the follower, not the leader.
For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
Our heart will follow our treasure...What a revelation!
This is what commitment is all about…[ read more...]