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How Many Will Follow?
By: James Smith
Here is a question every leader of people asks himself/herself at one time or another.
When Jesus looked out over the masses who followed him, I wonder if He asked himself this same question. As He counted, in His mind, the healings and considered all who he helped, I wonder if he pondered how many would come after him.
Of course they would follow him to the next miracle. They would follow Him to the next free dinner. They would be there to hear him preach again, but would they follow him all the way to the cross.
People are fickle. Have you noticed this? It doesn't take much to turn their heads. You can spend all your energy helping them and teaching them, but when something/someone flashier comes along, off they go
It's no wonder we are likened to sheep in the scriptures. Sheep are wanderers. If the shepherd is not watchful, his sheep will simply wander off. They don't mean to leave the shepherd really. They just found a patch of grass that is greener and so off they go.
I look at the ministry of Jesus and I am dumfounded at the throngs of people he could gather. So many on the sea shore that he would have to launch out on a boat to talk to them. Thousands were there the day he multiplied the little boys lunch. They pressed against him. They cried out to him from the edges of the crowds. They climbed into trees to see him. They tore the roof off of houses to get to where He was at. Yet I believe he had one question in His mind every time he saw them press in. "How many will follow?"
Each time you get in front of the group you minister to, do you ask yourself this question? How many will follow me? How many will live the way I teach? How many will stay strong to the faith? How many will be saved?
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All too often the people who lead the service mislead it. These good people whom the Pastor has asked to help out in the service many times serve to cause frustration and confusion in a church service.
Leading a service properly can bring about a move of God that can break every yoke in the service. Leading it improperly can cause people to go home more bound than they were when they came.
Every element of the service should prepare the way for the next. The end result of the service is the move of God in the alter. When you get in the way of the progression, you kill the potential of what could happen.
Here are a few things to consider when asked to “Lead the service”.
Keep it moving. Don’t allow for delays or “dead air” places in the services. In radio, “dead air” is when you hear silence. It is also when the producer did his job wrong and did not prepare for those seconds of the day. It is during this time that many people will change the channel or turn off their radio. You don’t want this happening in the church service. “No Dead Air!”
Do not continually comment. If you are introducing the various singers and elements of the service don’t comment each time on the last person who sang or spoke. Just introduce the next part of the service.
Be prepared. Have a written outline of how the service will run. This way you will not forget any part or aspect of the service. (Forgetting to have the children’s choir sing when they have practiced all week will get a lot of people upset at you.)
Don’t ramble. Recently I attended a service where the person who led the service in the Pastor’s leave, killed it with his constant rambling. He actually spoke more than the preacher did. He thought he was funny with his jokes and spiritual with his “little messages”. Needless to say, the congregation did not pay much attention to the preacher when he was finally introduced, since they already heard plenty of oratory from the person leading the service. I love preaching, but I have to admit, the guy leading this service wore me out.[ read more...]
An alarming trend in the 21st Century church is the accepted absence of signs, wonders, miracles and healing. Many people believe in but simply have not seen the spiritual manifestations of God. The result is an uncertainty and a lack of confidence in the operation of spiritual gifts and faith. The absence of manifestation makes it difficult to have absolute trust in God’s present ability to do anything. Men and women are hesitant to step out and “take chances” on God because they have never seen or experienced God under such circumstances.
This weakens the effect of the Word because the one speaking does not have true faith in its ability. The same Jesus who did not many mighty works in His home country due to their unbelief (Matthew 13:58) will not do many works in your life and church for the same reason.
The more unfamiliar we become with spiritual and miraculous manifestations of God the more humanistic we become in our understanding of Him. I am astounded as I listen to preachers who have little to no understanding or experience in spiritual things. They make excuses and deny the power and authority of God without realizing it. They belittle as weird those who have experiences. His Word becomes a lifeless book that has no power.
It is time for this to change! The weakening of God’s Word cannot be acceptable under any circumstances. He is a miraculous and unlimited God right now!
Jesus said in Mark 16:17 that, “these signs shall follow them that believe”. This has never changed. The signs still follow. If the signs are not following you need to examine your walk with God. Signs do still follow believers.
Mark 16:20 tells us,
20 And they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.
I want to accentuate the “amen” by declaring that these things still occur in abundance. They still follow true believers. A true believer is not merely someone who believes true doctrine, but one who practices true Christian behavior and faith. Faith without works is dead according to James 2:20, 26.
Many Christians limit their relationship to God to their time at church. However, in Mark 16:15 Jesus tells us to go throughout the world preaching the gospel to every one everywhere. Those who do that will see things happen. They will have testimonies. I have my thousands. You can also if you want them. Signs follow our actions of faith. They do not lead the way, but they follow after us.
My brother Alan is an evangelist from San Antonio, Texas. He is an example of someone who has had signs and wonders follow him. The following is one of many such true stories.
Rain at 2:30
As teenagers, Alan and I both worked Murrell’s Corner. It was a full service gas station on the corner of Kenneth and Elgie Streets in Beaumont, Texas. An amazing series of events took place there over the course of three days during the drought of a hot summer.
Alan’s born-again experience was very real. In his zeal he had witnessed to Murrell, who promptly dismissed Alan as a certified idiot. Murrell was a deacon in his church, and evidently he felt like he had God all figured out. He mocked Alan and told him that tongues were only for the apostles and that it didn’t happen any more.[ read more...]
The word 'pastor', or any other form of it, occurs only nine times in the Bible, and once in the New Testament.
We find this reference in...
11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
The Greek word for pastor is, "poimen," which simply means a shepherd. The Hebrew word for pastor also means shepherd.
In modern day church culture, a pastor has also become much more than that. Unfortunately, the pastor has taken on every part of the five-fold ministry himself, thereby taking on offices not intended for him. This has led to much confusion and frustration for many who are pastors or feel led to become a pastor.
In modern vernacular, a pastor has become ' a one man, do it yourself, even though I am not really qualified to, kind of leader.' As Lee Stoneking stated, we have become a 'pastor driven organization.'
With that in mind, the very first thing that every pastor should consider is:
1. Is my office of pastor fulfilling God's role for a pastor?
A pastor is primarily a shepherd, somebody who cares for, protects and provides for every sheep in his flock.
· He is also the overseer of the flock.
· He is one who has experience.
· He must have a ready mind.
· He must manage the affairs of his flock.
1 Peter 5:2
2 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;
As the shepherd, the pastor can also serve the role of the teacher. The pastor feeds his sheep through the teaching and preaching of the word.
28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.
The Word of God is our 'bread of life', the pastor must be ready and able to teach and relate the scriptures to every member of his flock.
There isn't any one man who can fulfill the modern-day role of a "pastor." You can only fulfill the role of pastor as God designed -- as part of the five-fold ministry. Otherwise you will fail God, yourself, and most importantly, all of the people that you lead.
You need help, you can't do it all alone. If you want to succeed and grow your church you must operate as a pastor in the scope of the five-fold ministry.
11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
As a pastor in this era of the church, you will have to be the one to re-instate the offices of the five-fold ministry in your church, it is up to you, nobody else will do it.[ read more...]
"For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;" (Romans 3:23)
The colonel was trying to get a convoy of trucks out of the battle zone. The trucks had been under siege by the enemy and there had been terrible wounds and deaths that had occurred. They had to get out of there if they were going to survive. The colonel went to the lead truck where the driver had been killed and pulled the body out. Then he turned to a Sergeant and told him to drive the truck out of there. The sergeant responded that he had been shot and therefore wouldn't be able to drive, to which the colonel replied, "We've all been shot! Now drive the truck."
When I first heard this story told from the book Black Hawk Down, immediately I thought of the church and what happens there or, for the case of this article, what doesn't happen because we allow ourselves to make excuses.
We all have a person, or maybe even a few people, in our church that are ready and willing to do whatever it is that we ask of them. Whether it be cleaning the restrooms, mowing the lawn, greeting everyone that enters the church, teaching home bible studies, teaching Sunday School, etc., they will do it. You know who I'm talking about. They never stop asking you if you have something that they can do. They are always the first to greet you after service. They seem like they are always there. These people are great and wonderful to have in our congregation. When you ask them to do something you never have to worry about it getting done, because they have a desire to be used for the Kingdom. However, these people are usually few in number.[ read more...]
One of the top reasons that so many people, including Christians, fail at budgeting is simply attitude. It a person thinks of it as a penny-pinching sacrifice instead of a means for achieving one’s financial goals, then it is unlikely they will stay with it. To increase the chances of a successful budget, it is important to work on the attitude.
If ”budget” sounds too harsh…consider it as a “financial plan” for the home. The plan can help you get ahead; control spending, and save for future spending. Budgeting really does matter in the process to help one reach their goals and without some formal plan of working with the finances, goals and dreams can never be reached.
Money is a tool…and a tool that everyone needs in today’s society. This tool can enable a person to reach their goals in life, however, until a person knows where their money goes and how it is spent, a conscious decision about how to use this tool effectively is impossible.
So it is important to get the right attitude and not give up. Quitting too soon or tiring of the process is simply a means of failure in reaching the potential goals and dreams one has.
The following scriptures give spiritual guidance for the finances of the home. Take the time to read these and study God’s plan for financial survival.
- Prosperity: Genesis 39:3; Psalms 1:3; Joshua 1:6-8; Luke 6:38; John 10:10
- Provision: Genesis 41; Exodus 15; I Kings 17; John 21:2-6; Matthew 4:11
- Giving: Deuteronomy 14:23; Malachi 3:10; Matthew 23:23; Hebrews 7:1,2
- Budgeting: Proverbs 22:3; 24:3,4; 27:12; Luke 12:16-21; Luke 14:28-30
Are you struggling to get things done? Are you the one who is usually completing the projects of your church and overseeing every ministry? Does it seem like there is never enough time to get all that you need done, even though you are not doing nearly what your vision would require? Are you feeling used up and exhausted?
You are not alone! Many Pastors and ministry leaders feel this same way. One of the reasons is because we are not very good at utilizing the talents and strengths of others. Here are 10 ways you can begin utilizing the people in your ministry to create a more resourceful and accomplished ministry team.
Cast a vision - The next time you get up to announce a new ministry in your church or the direction you feel the church should be taking, cast a vision. Share with your ministry team the end result. You don't have to tell them all of what it is going to take to get there, just tell them the end result. "I believe our church can be running 200 by next Easter!" Now there will be many facets of ministry that are going to be needed to cause your congregation to run 200 by Easter, but for now all you want to do is give the leadership team a goal. "200 by Easter!"
Ask for help - Acknowledging you need help is liberating for the leader! it is also a grand opportunity for the team to feel like they are coming alongside their pastor. Asking for help is not becoming vulnerable, it is being honest. It is also being responsible. God gave you your ministry team for a reason. That reason is so that you can utilize their talents, knowledge and energy to accomplish the work of ministry God has envisioned you with. "Would you consider working together and with me to cause our church to be running 200 by Easter?"
Allow the Genius of the group to be found - The smartest person in the room is not you. Nor is it any one other person in the group. The Genius in the room is always the sum of all of those who are on your ministry team. If allowed to be heard, there are people on your team who have ideas and experiences that can advance your vision much better than you can by yourself. "What are some things that we could do to cause our church to be running 200 by Easter?"[ read more...]
At a Midwestern Fair, spectators gathered for an old fashioned horse pull. The Grand-champion horse pulled a sled with 4,500 pounds on it. The runner up was close, with a 4,400 pound pull. Some of the men wondered what the two horses would pull if hitched together. Separately they totaled nearly 9,000 pounds, but when hitched and working together as a team, they pulled a total weight of over 12,000 pounds.
Herein lies the value of team work. There is some kind of energy that is exchanged when someone feels that there is someone working with them.
I read somewhere a while back of a ward in a particular hospital for premature babies. In one case there was an infant who was several months premature. The mother and father had abandoned the baby at the hospital and it looked as though the child would die. The doctors and nurses did everything they could to care for it, but in all that they did, it grew weaker. In a last ditch effort, one nurse had the idea to place another healthier infant in the same bed as the weak infant. She made sure that the two children were close and touching at all times. Immediately upon feeling the touch of the stronger infant, the weaker one's heart rate began to get stronger and stronger. After several days of touching and being touched by the stronger infant, the preemie became stronger and soon was able to eat on it's own and became healthy.
As leaders, I believe it is paramount that we understand the value of the existent and potential leaders around us. Moses was a man who tried to do everything by himself. He was someone who felt that if God called him to a task, then God would give him the supernatural strength to complete the task. Moses also found out that he was wrong in his assumption.
Moses' father in-law on the other hand, was someone who saw untapped leadership resources everywhere he looked. So, he suggested that Moses find, recruit and train other leaders to assist him in his leadership responsibilities. Once Moses did this, he was not only able to sleep at night, but the needs of Israel were met.
Jesus hardly started His ministry before he chose out 12 men to train in leadership. He understood multiplication instead of addition. Rather than build the church on one man's shoulders, he chose to build it on 13. His and 12 others. As a result of this, when His own life and ministry was ending, 11 others were just beginning. The beauty of the situation was that not one of them detracted from his own ministry, but rather added to it.[ read more...]
“Have you been trained to fail?” You have been trained in ministry to fail if you have been taught to do the ministry rather than to train others for ministry. I am grateful to the teachers who taught me to perform the functions of ministry: visiting, counseling, marrying, burying, teaching, witnessing, and a host of other duties. All are needed. By themselves, however, they help us only to maintain, not to maximize ministry. We can never be effective ministers until we learn what it means to be a leader and how to function as a leader. The following are five common ingredients in growing churches:
- (1) The pastor and the congregation understand their God-given gifts and use them in ministry.
- (2) The pastor’s hands-on ministry decreases and the congregation’s increases.
- (3) Both the quality and the quantity of ministry increase.
- (4) The pastor’s ministry influence increases as he shares ministry responsibilities with the congregation.
- (5) A biblical philosophy of ministry is established. That is, leadership plus lay ministry equals growth.
How can you build a leadership team and maximize ministry in your church? The following six steps are proven and effective.
- Identify the leaders in the church. Who are the influencers? These persons may hold formal or informal positions of leadership. They are the ones to whom others look for decisions. Write down their names and rank them on a scale of 1 to 10 as to their leadership and influence within the church.
- Intentionally take time to build relationships with your current and future leaders. Do not ignore or exclude the others, but focus on developing leaders.
There was a woman who had been diagnosed with a terminal illness and had been given three months to live. As she was getting her things "in order," she contacted her Pastor and had him come to her house to discuss certain aspects of her final wishes. She told him which songs she wanted sung at the service, what scriptures she would like read, and what outfit she wanted to be buried in. The woman also requested to be buried with her favorite Bible.
Everything was in order and the Pastor was preparing to leave when the woman suddenly remembered something very important to her.
"There's one more thing," she said excitedly. "What's that?" came the Pastor's reply. "This is very important," the woman continued..."I want to be buried with a fork in my right hand." The Pastor stood looking at the woman, not knowing quite what to say... "That surprises you, doesn't it?" the woman asked. "Well, to be honest, I'm puzzled by the request," said the Pastor.
The woman explained. "In all my years of attending church socials and potluck dinners, I always remember that when the dishes of the main course were being cleared, someone would inevitably lean over and say, "keep your fork." It was my favorite part because I knew that something better was coming..like velvety chocolate cake or deep-dish apple pie. Something wonderful, and with substance! So, I just want people to see me there in that casket with a fork in my hand and I want them to wonder 'What's with the fork?' Then I want you to tell them: "Keep Your Fork...The best is yet to come!"[ read more...]