Check Out The Free Inspirational Articles Below
Five Things you must do to get Unstuck!
Has your church replaced truth with tradition? Have you done the same things for so long that neither God nor man could change things at your church? Do committees and programs substitute for the moving of the Holy Ghost? Has your church become boring and predictable? If so, your church may be stuck in a rut and may be unable to see a way out.
In his book, Rut, Rot or Revival, A.W. Tozer states,
"The treacherous enemy facing the church of Jesus Christ today is the dictatorship of the routine, when the routine becomes "lord" in the life of the church. Programs are organized and the prevailing conditions are accepted as normal. Anyone can predict next Sunday's service and what will happen. This seems to be the most deadly threat in the church today. When we come to the place where everything can be predicted and nobody expects anything unusual from God, we are in a rut.
The routine dictates, and we can tell not only what will happen next Sunday, but what will occur next month and, if things do not improve, what will take place next year. Then we have reached the place where what has been, determines what is, and what is, determines what will be. That would be perfectly all right and proper for a cemetery. Nobody expects a cemetery to do anything but conform. The greatest conformists in the world today are those who sleep out in the community cemetery. They do not bother anyone. They just lie there, and it is perfectly all right for them to do so.
You can predict what everyone will do in a cemetery from the deceased right down to the people who attend a funeral there. Everyone and everything in a cemetery has accepted the routine. Nobody expects anything out of those buried in the cemetery. But the church is not a cemetery and we should expect much from it, because what has been should not be lord to tell us what is, and what is should not be ruler to tell us what will be. God's people are supposed to grow. As long as there is growth, there is an air of unpredictability. Certainly we cannot predict exactly, but in many churches you just about can. Everybody knows just what will happen, and this has become our deadliest enemy."
Here are five steps you must take to pull you or your church out of your rut:
1. You must first recognize that you are in a rut.
This may seem elementary to you, but for some a rut is no more than a, routine, habit, tradition or comfort zone. When people get comfortable where they are, they don't think of it as being stuck. They don't want to change, they have actually learned to like their routines and traditions (as boring as they are). In effect, they have become spiritually stagnate and blind.
A psychologist was making a presentation to the leadership team of a large corporation. He began by describing his experiments with rats. He would put a rat at one end of a maze and a piece of food at the other end. Then he would watch the rat stumble around until he finally found the food. The next time he put the rat in the maze, the rat would stumble around less and find the food faster. After several more times in the maze, the rat would rush through the maze and grab the tidbit of food within a few seconds. Then, the psychologist explained to the group of leaders, he would take the food away. The rat, as before, would make a beeline for the end of the maze, only to discover no food waiting for him. The rat would continue doing this several more times. Eventually, however, the rat would figure out the food was not going to be there and would stop looking for it. At that point in his discussion, when the psychologist had the attention of the entire seminar group, he presented this dramatic conclusion: “That’s the difference between rats and people. The rats stop!”
This illustration is true of most people, and to a greater extent, people in the church. We allow our methods to become like doctrine, and we sometimes forget the reason we chose the method. We have used the same methods for so long that we become blinded to the fact that the method is not working anymore, and we just continue plodding on because that is what we have always done. If that is the case in your church, you as the pastor must be the one who gets the people to recognize that your church is stuck in a rut.
2. You must have the desire and willingness to get out.
The problem with being stuck in a rut is that you are plowing down the same row over and over again. You are not making any progress at all. To top it off, the rut you are in is only getting deeper and deeper. The longer you are in your present rut, the harder it will be to get out. The process of getting out will vary depending on the depth of the rut you are in.
Nobody wants to be stuck in a rut. Once people truly recognize that they are stuck, most of them will want to get out. If not, it is up to you as pastor, to birth that desire in them. Once the desire is there, you must be willing to stick to your decision. It can be hard work breaking free from the pattern of predictability, you must stick to your decision as a leader and lead by example.
3. Start changing your thinking and attitude.
Breaking free from the mundane requires a change of thinking and a change of attitude. Everything begins as a thought and grows from there. Big thoughts make big people. Shallow thinking forms shallow people. The bible states;
7 For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee.
We become what we think! At first, a man is a master of his thought, but eventually the thought can become the master of the man. Does your thinking control you, or do you control your thinking? You must cause your thinking to change to break free from your present situation. That will probably require much more time in prayer, more time fasting, more time reading the word and studying. You need to surround yourself with people who are thinking out of the box. Spend time with them, and glean from their experience.
When your thinking changes, your attitude changes! When your attitude changes, your action changes! Ultimately it is going to take action to break free from your rut.
4. Take a risk, and step out of your comfort zone.
When your car is stuck in a deep rut, a gentle turn will not break your wheels free, you have to turn the wheel sharply as you accelerate the engine before your car will break itself free. The same is true in a spiritual sense, you must do something drastically different than what you are presently doing to get your church unstuck.
Monty Roberts was a famous cowboy who could break the wildest horses into functional partners. A movie was made about his life entitled “The Horse Whisperer.” Roberts was invited to be on the television show “60 Minutes” to tell the world about the secret of horse whispering, whispering into the ear of a wild mustang. It involved his getting into the corral with the untamed mustangs and staying as far away from the animal as possible, without leaving the corral. He also refuses to allow any eye contact between him and the horse. By moving slowly, but surely, away from the horse, and by keeping his eyes averted from the animal’s gaze, Monty slowly draws the horse to himself. Even though the beast is pounding the earth with his foot, and snorting and circling with great speed, Monty keeps steadily moving away from the horse. He won’t look at it. He won’t approach it. As astounding as it sounds, Monty can have a wild mustang saddled and carrying a rider quite happily in no time at all. When asked his secret, he says, “The animals need to be with others so much, they would rather befriend the enemy than be left alone.”
That can't be an easy thing to do, stepping into a corral with a wild mustang. Stepping out of your comfort zone is never easy. Yet , there are a lot of challenges you and your church could conquer if you would only take a risk and step into the ring with the enemy. You don't realize how much this world wants to be part of the church. Jesus stated;
23 And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.
The church must come out from behind its four walls and get rid of its 'captive' mentality. God has called us to reach our world, if we are not doing it, the Mormons will, the Muslims will and the philosophies of this world will. Step out of your comfort zone, do something bold, do something different.
Don't wait until you think you are ready, step out now. You will never be 100 percent ready for the risk and challenges of life. You will never have enough money or training or experience to do all that God wants you to do. Yet God is still calling you to do more, and accomplish more both as an individual and as a church. If we only do what we know we can do, then we will never do what God can enable us to do. You may say, “I’m not ready.” Well, was Moses ready when he met Pharaoh with only a staff and a word from the Lord? Was David ready when he went to meet Goliath with only a few stones and slingshot? Was Abraham ready when God called him to go to a country that did not yet exist?
If you want to get out your rut, take a risk, and step out in faith. Extend yourself beyond what you know you can do. When you do, I promise you that God will stand up and take notice, and He will bless your efforts like never before.
5. Understand that rescue isn't always an option, but sometimes it is a necessity.
I stated earlier that the longer you are stuck in a rut, the deeper it gets. Going back and forth in that same rut causes you to get stuck so deep that eventually you have no chance of pulling yourself out. If you have been stuck in tradition or routine for a long time, chances are good that you or your church cannot get out on their own or even see a way out.
It makes me think of the Grand Canyon. The Grand Canyon is one of the largest ruts in the world. It was formed by the Colorado River wearing away through the millennia at the rock strata underneath until the vast canyon was formed. If you were to get stranded in the Grand Canyon, there is no way you could get yourself out on your own. It is so long and so deep you could not even see a way out. You would need the help of experienced guides. You could try to go through the Canyon on your own, but it is 277 miles long. It is only a one day hike down into the Canyon, but the shortest way out is a full three day hike that should only be attempted by an experienced hiker who is in great physical shape. You could try to climb the Canyon walls, but they are over 5000 feet tall, and straight up. Only an experienced mountain climber would attempt such a climb. You could try to float out on the Colorado River, but it has extreme rapids throughout that should only be entered when accompanied by an experienced rafter. My point is, there are times in the life of a church or the life of a person, where you need to depend upon the experience and expertise of others to get you where you need to be.
I have always been one who feels like I can do whatever is needed to make things happen. That is how I have been raised. "Fend for yourself. Don't depend on anybody else. If you can't make it happen, it is not going to happen." It has taken me a long time, but I have learned that I don't have all the answers, I can't do it all by myself. I can't afford to think that way anymore. Now it is not just me I am caring for, but my whole family, and an entire congregation of people who need their own direction and encouragement. I need God's help, and I need the help of others in ministry who have more experience and expertise in certain areas than I have. Our churches need the voices of others of like faith to speak into our lives! That is why the five-fold ministry is so important. Don't be afraid to ask for help. Don't be afraid to call up an elder or more experienced minister in your area. He can pray with you and for you, but most importantly he can see your situation from a perspective that you do not have. His experience can be a vital key in moving your church to the next level. No matter how hard it is to ask for help, sometimes it is a necessity.
Other articles you might like
This is the third installment in a series on spiritual abuse. The whole idea of spiritual abuse is a very troubling at best. The church was intended to be a place of redemptive recovery facilitated by the grace of God. When manipulative control moves to the forefront it can have a very harmful effect on the people who gather to worship. It also has to be established that spiritual abuse can take place in a reverse order. It can originate from the congregation in the form of a board of elders or a single influential member who controls the pastor through financial means or sometimes through psychological and physical intimidation. Increasingly one will find the reverse order in churches that once had to deal with a pastor who was spiritually abusive.
Spiritual abuse is defined as “the mistreatment of a person who is in need of help, support, or greater spiritual empowerment, with the result of weakening, undermining or decreasing that person’s spiritual empowerment.” It can be defined another way as “destructive and dangerous involvement in a religion that allows the religion, not a relationship with God, to control a person’s life. He also goes on to say, “People broken by various experiences, people from dysfunctional families, people with unrealistic expectations, and people out for their own gain or comfort seem especially prone to it.”Spiritual leaders who resort to this kind of activity may or may not immediately recognize the control they are exerting. The trend usually isn’t immediately recognized but as time passes the cycle of behavior manifests in a manner that has a horrific effect on people’s lives. Even worse is the leader who acclimates himself to a state of denial of his own personal responsibility. To compensate for the increasingly unsettled environment, he may begin to assign all of the spiritual shipwrecks of the past as those who were “wolves” or “rebellious.”
As I filtered through all of the material concerning spiritual abuse, I jotted down a series of questions concerning not just the church but the leader too. They were based more on a rhetorical nature that did not so much require an answer but rather an evaluation of the spiritual health of the place where this activity is taking place.
• What does spiritual abuse do to those who worship there? How does it affect their sense of worship and understanding of God?
• Can God have freedom to transform and can grace really do an adequate work in this atmosphere where fear, intimidation, and manipulation prevail?
• Can true spiritual growth and discipleship take place in this setting?
• What do the actions of the pastor have on his soul in the long term? This was a very troubling question to me personally. What dark things begin to take place in the soul of the pastor who exerts force in such a way that he is never challenged and held to a standard of accountability himself?
• Are his actions motivated by pride of place or position?
• Has he moved from being an under-shepherd to a lord over God’s heritage? Such spiritual abuse literally takes the place of God in the working of the church.
• Is there a sense of the grace of God reflected in any of the public ministry of the Word?
• Is there an attempt to place heavy weights on the people he is called to shepherd?
• Does he empower people to live in a venue of spiritual growth in a public setting as well as within the private confines of the heart?[ 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...]
Why is it that in some churches, meeting with the creator of the universe is often a boring showcase for bad music, inept preaching and poor taste? Listed are 9 perspectives that can enhance the effectiveness of your services.
- Put yourself in the congregation’s shoes. Pastor, how long has it been since you just sat in the congregation? How often do you really try to identify with the needs, hopes and dreams of those in your congregation?
- Tell stories. Storytelling was Jesus’ primary method of teaching. He put the most profound concepts into simple and compelling stores that captivated people and changed their lives. Never telling a story is a prescription for putting people to sleep.
- Question everything. Why do you take up the offering the same way each week? Why do you always sing the same hymn of invitation?
- Find some fresh jokes-or don’t use any. How many of you would rather be here in church than in the finest hospital in town? Please discard your moth-eaten jokes. Otherwise your congregation will start laughing out of pity, not humor.
- Go beyond your trusty old sermons of the past. Yes it’s nice to have some standby messages you can rely on. But the danger is that the more you preach the same sermon, the more difficult it is to present it with conviction, originality and excitement.
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.[ read more...]
Failure – In the business world, this word isn’t an option. But in the church, it almost seems like a requirement. Look at the heroes of the faith in Hebrews 11. While the Bible lauds their faithful successes here, check out their Old Testament stories, and you’ll find that God used people who repeatedly failed and doubted him.
So the next time you feel like a failure or even a hypocrite – encouraging your congregation to live one way when you’re failing in that very same area yourself – remember God’s amazing penchant for using seemingly imperfect, irresponsible, and faithless people to further His kingdom. In fact, here are some specific places where you might be feeling like a failure, along with promises for you to claim.
Correcting and confronting people about sin when you know the pitiful condition of your own heart. Remember that God detests sin, but he already knows that you’ll fail Him. Victory doesn’t come through any power of our own, but only from God’s strength over evil. Approach God and admit your weaknesses. “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:8-9)
Preaching on quiet time when you don’t have one. Change the terminology if you need to. A quiet time is just a means of recharging your own spiritual batteries on a semi-regular basis – even if it’s not a daily quiet time. “Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10) Being still is hard to do if you’re running in the opposite direction. What will happen if you stop and listen to God? “You’ll be made new in the attitude of your minds; and you’ll put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:23- 24)
Speaking on bringing people to the Lord when you haven’t led anyone to Him in years. Double-check your source and motivation. Jesus said that only people plugged into Him could be fruitful. “Remain in Me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. I am the vine; you are the branches. If[ read more...]
There are reasons that we have to work. Listed are some brief reasons that we are to work and the benefits we gain from it.
1. We work to provide for our Family. I Timothy 5:8 says, “but if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith and is worse than an infidel.”
- God expects a Christian to labor to provide for family needs. Providing for family necessities is a part of keeping the faith. Failure to do so makes that person equivalent to an unbeliever.
2. We work in order to help others. Ephesians 4:28 says, “Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.”
- Our generosity to help others is important to our Christian character. We must be concerned with the needs of other.
3. We work to render to God. Mark 12:17 says, “…render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
- God gives us the 100% so that we might in turn give him 10%. By doing so, he blesses the 90% that is remaining.
Home Friendship Groups (Cell ministry), are gaining greater and greater interest as we hear the success stories from those who have ventured into this ministry. The largest and fastest growing churches in the world are churches with HFG's.
10 years ago, the Lord began to speak to me about a model of ministry that to my knowledge, no one was doing at that time. (little did I know) Often, I would look over the congregation and notice people who were faithful to church services, but because of a lack of available positions in the church or their inability to find their own personal ministry, they weren't doing much for the Lord. I also noticed that many visitors and new converts were coming into the church and going right back out since they had no one to befriend or disciple them. As much as these churches had great evangelistic efforts, there was no clear cut program or ministry that was designed for the purpose of retaining new converts.
A short time later, my wife and I began a new church in Chesterton, IN. Within a year, I became very frustrated. I was attempting to model this young church's government and ministry after the larger well established, management driven churches I had been a part of. About that time, I began to hear about Cell ministry. I even found some books which told of the tremendous success of Yonggi Cho's church in Seoul, Korea and Rick Warren's church in Saddleback, CA, as well as several others.
It wasn't long before the Lord directed me to Pastor Anthony Tamel's church in Oak Creek WI. I attended their New Wineskins seminar and wept as they showed me that God was changing my paradigm for church evangelism and discipleship.
With their help and training, we soon brought HFG's to our small church in Chesterton and watched as the Lord transformed peoples lives to both disciple and become discipled through HFG's.
After 6 years of pastoring the church in Chesterton, I began to feel the Lord direct me to turn the church over to the man who assisted me. With that, I heard God tell me to not take another church right away. I felt that the Lord was directing me to make myself available to help teach and train other churches, in the area of Home Friendship Groups.
After discussing this burden with two area Pastors of larger churches, they both asked me to come there and help them train their leaders and raise up HFG's in their church. Both churches now have young, successful HFG ministries.
I have spoken at several churches on the subject of HFG's and have worked very closely with other pastors who have or are in the process of raising up HFG's in their local church.
Home Friendship Groups are very much like early Apostolic evangelism. It's entirely more reflective of true Apostolic ministry than most of today's church structure that is management driven at best.[ read more...]
As leaders, we have all been guilty of getting excited and all fired up to start a new project. In our excitement, we call our leadership teams together, plan it all out and set it in motion, without first answering all of the questions that need to be answered. This is great for creating momentum, but before you begin, ask yourself and your team of leaders if you will be able to sustain everything that you start.
· If you don't have the right people in place to make it happen, it may be that you need to refrain from starting until you have the right people trained to take on the new project.
Jesus was a great example to us in this.
Think of what God's ultimate plan was. God was bringing into existence the New Testament plan of Salvation. To institute this plan, He robed Himself in flesh and became the Supreme sacrifice for all sin for all of time! That was the first part of His plan. In order for this plan to continue, Jesus needed the right people to make it happen.
In three years time, Jesus needed to have the right people trained and in place, and ready to carry on His ministry by the day He ascended into Heaven. That is why Jesus so often said, "My hour is not yet come", or "It is not my time." Jesus wanted to be sure that He had His disciples ready and willing to carry on His work after Calvary. He wanted it to succeed. It had to continue. It must not fail![ read more...]
(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.
(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. (16) Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents. (17) And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two. (18) But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money. (19) After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them. (20) And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more. (21) His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. (22) He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them. (23) His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.(24) Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: (25) And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine. (26) His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: (27) Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. (28) Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. (29) For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. (30) And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Here we have one of the most improperly quoted scriptures in the Bible. In fact, of the 24 years I have been in the church and of the 3700 or so messages I have either preached or heard preached in those 24 years I have heard this verse of scripture referred to many times, but never in the context in which our Lord intended it to be quoted.
Nearly every time I heard this scripture recited, it was in a message in which the speaker was trying to inspire the saints of the church to become soul winners or to work harder for the kingdom. However, the parable of the servants and the talents was never intended as a message to the saints, but it was a message from our Lord to the Pastors/Leaders of the churches. And a warning of the consequences of burying the potential that is in the people whom our Lord would place within our grasp and ministry.[ read more...]