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Staying Focused in Your Area of Ministry
By: James Smith
(This is an excellent article for Pastors to share with anyone involved in leadership or ministry in their church.)
Sometimes you just have to say it like it is. This is one of those times. I offer this to you in a gentle spirit and pray that if you share it with others on your team, that you would do so in a spirit of gentleness and meekness.
John Maxwell says “Only do what only you can do.” This is important in the various areas of ministry of the local church. One thing that stops the momentum of a church is various leaders trying to run someone else’s ministry. When God has placed you in an area of ministry within the church, he did not put you there so you could judge other lay ministers of the church. Do your job and let others do theirs.
Focus on your own ministry. What can you do to cause your own ministry to make a greater impact in your church and community? Anytime you spend even a few minutes judging the way another person is running their own department or area of ministry within the church, you are wasting valuable time, energy and emotion that if better used, could be applied perfecting your own.
Too often people criticize the work of others in order to make their own ministry look good. Lazy people usually find time to do this. These people are jealous of other people’s success and try to destroy them in order to preserve their rank or position in a church. This is not a Godly spirit and should be stopped immediately. There is no room in any church for division. If you do not like what other people are doing, mind your own business and do your own job and trust God to take care of the rest. It is His church and not yours after all.
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It is fair to say that Levi, or Matthew, was not a man of good character. He had accepted the office of tax-collector for the Romans. And being a Jew this did not go over too well. The Jews did not take too fondly to an office that put them in subject to the Romans. Therefore, they gave these tax-gatherers a bad name. They had a certain hatred for them.
But when Jesus went out looking for disciples to come and follow him, one of the first places he went was to this tax collecting booth and simply said to Levi (Matthew)"follow me." Levi, who was rejected by so many because of his occupation, was in disbelief that Jesus had sought him out and selected him on purpose. Luke writes that "he left all, rose up, and followed him. "
Jesus was used to hanging out with people who were down-trodden. First a leper, then a paralytic, and now a tax collector! If Jesus were running for public office he ought to be more careful about the company he is keeping. But Jesus has a higher mission than popularity: "to preach the gospel to the poor, to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind" (Luke 4:18), and the needy aren't always clean or respectable.[ read more...]
One church may be in a small rural community where it is easy to develop close personal relationships. Another may be in a big city where shallow impersonal relationships are the standard. (In the country they all wave to each other – even to strangers. In the metro areas, they don’t speak to one another even when they walk abreast on the streets.
One town may have a growing populating while another may have a shrinking population. Industry is brining people into one area and as a result the pews seem to fill up all by themselves. Factory shutdowns may be causing another town to be losing its population, hence it looks like the church is not doing a good job since it too is shrinking.
One town may have a wealthy populace while another may be in a poverty stricken area. There is not going to be much need for a food bank in a wealthy area, but it may bring many new contacts and converts to a church in an impoverished area. If a pastor of the wealthy community says, “Hey, we need a food bank.” since he sees the success of the struggling community church, he may be wasting church resources and time.
One church might be a new church and another very established. (Established doesn’t always mean it has arrived, it just means it’s been there for a while.) I have worked in 2 church start ups and in 4 established churches. It is much easier to get things started and rolling in a newer church than one that has been around for 50 years. I could get programs started in one day in that small baby church where it took me months to get the same program started in larger established churches. Because it works overnight in one town does not mean it will work over night in another.[ read more...]
They are not perfect. It’s true that if you wait for people to become perfect, you may be waiting a long time. There is nothing wrong with exercising your own faith and begin using people before they are 100% ready to be used.
They will need your help. Don’t expect them to know all that you know. Sit down with them and one on one, explain to them how to do what it is you want them to do. Give them details of what you expect and guidelines on how to do it.
They need someone to tell them they can do it. Most of the people who come into our churches have been beaten down by the world. They need someone to believe in them. The very fact that you believe in them will cause them to do things for God that they never thought they were capable of.
They will make mistakes. You’ve made yours, let them make theirs. Give them room for grace and forgiveness. Let them know that a mistake is not necessarily an end, but rather a place to learn.
They are not mind readers. Don’t expect them to just know what it is you want them to know. Talk to them. Communicate it to them. Send them memos, emails and leave messages.
They want to succeed. Nobody wants to fail. Give them every chance to succeed. Don’t give them a job that is way over their head. Give them small tasks at first and work them into the ministry you want them to have.[ read more...]
Anyone can become angry. That is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose and in the right way, that is not easy. - Aristotle
Some of you will not appreciate us quoting from Aristotle, but you have to admit, the guy has a good point. Anger can eat a person up. Your true potential as a minister of God can be thwarted by un-harnessed anger.
People who explode and express anger easily can cause great harm to those they are called to encourage. It’s important for us to understand anger and its potential to destroy.
Exploding because someone hurt you. When most people get hurt they cry out. This is natural. But it is not healthy to express anger every time someone hurts your feelings.
A good leader has the ability to harness his anger and even displace it toward healthy and more productive avenues. Mistreating someone because they hurt you is not just. It is bullying.
It is entirely possible that the person who hurt you did it unintentionally and without malice. You would be wise to forgive them quickly and swallow that anger before you create a fissure in a relationship that cannot be mended.
Being addicted to anger. Some people love to be angry. They enjoy the feeling of superiority they get when they have told someone off. They actually look for opportunities to get after someone or give someone a hard time. Certain hormones even create a strong physical sensation when they really get mad.
These people are addicted to this hormone and the emotion of anger and have no place in church leadership. It is important to be a person of peace. If you find yourself constantly getting angry at others for little reasons, you might be addicted to anger. Just like any other addict, you can actually build up a tolerance for this drug. Once this happens, you will find it necessary to constantly become angrier in order to get the same euphoria. This could end in a terrible way if you do not get deliverance from this addiction.
Using anger to exploit. Most people learn to exploit by anger at a very early age. Babies learn quickly to cry out in anger when they are not getting what they want. They will use anger tantrums to control their parents who simply want to appease them.
These same people grow up believing that they can use anger to get their way all the time. On the job, they will use anger to cause others to cave into their demands. These people may not stomp their feet in the workplace or church office, but you know when they are mad and they will use this to control others.[ read more...]
Most pastors would sacrifice everything they have to know a sure way of winning people long term. The truth is, most of us have personally won very few people that are still with us to this day. I have looked around my church recently, and I could find only two men in our church that I have been personally involved in winning to the Lord.
Winning these men actually began about four years ago. When I say long term, I am talking about a period of time of at least two years, preferably more. During that time I have been a witness to many more people than these two. I have baptized many more than that. I have taught bible studies to dozens of people. Many have received the Holy Ghost. Yet there are only two that have stayed in the church long term. Why only two? Why not more? Is there something wrong with me and my approach? How can I improve in this area? They say that hindsight is 20/20. During this article I want to go back in time to see what it was that worked, and what it was that didn't work.
The first thing that I can say without a doubt is that you must have a passion and a love for people. If you don't, they are going to sense that within a very short amount of time, and they will be gone. We must understand that it can be a very lonely time when somebody comes into the church. They are often leaving behind most of everything that they know and love. The Bible says...
26 "Anyone who comes to me but refuses to let go of father, mother, spouse, children, brothers, sisters — yes, even one's own self! — can't be my disciple.
33 So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.[ read more...]
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life. I am that bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." (John 6:47-51)
At the beginning of this chapter in John we find Jesus feeding a multitude of people. This multitude of people had followed Jesus because they saw all of the miracles that He had been doing. He had been healing the sick everywhere he went. After a while, this group of people were getting hungry. Jesus asks Philip where they could buy bread, although Jesus already had a plan about what He was going to do. While they were talking, Peter's brother, Andrew, mentioned that there was a young boy who had brought his lunch of five loaves of bread and two small fish. Jesus told the disciples to sit the men down. When they sat them down there were about five thousand men. Jesus takes the loaves of bread, gives thanks and distributes it out to the disciples to give to the men. Afterwards, when all were full, they gathered up the leftovers and filled up twelve baskets. Jesus leaves from this place and crosses over to Capernaum. The people finally realize that Jesus and the disciples have left. They get in their ships and go to Capernaum and find Him there. Jesus turns and says to the multitude:
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled." (John 6:26)
Jesus was telling this multitude that they were seeking Him for the wrong reasons and ultimately, for the wrong bread. He then tells them that He is the bread of Life. And when you eat of that Bread you will never hunger again.[ 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...]
(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...]
Though God gets all the credit for growth in any ministry, there are practical steps pastors can follow to make their cities their congregations and enlarge their ministries for Christ:
1. Know your call and catch the vision. If a pastor has the vision, the mind-set, to break out of traditionalism, great things can happen. Don’t lock yourself in a box. Find a need and determine to fill it.
2. Be faithful in the little things and be consistent. “One thing about pastor is that he is very predictable,” says Jennifer Mallan, an outreach pastor at Church Without Walls. “He does the same things every day, so people know they can count on him. You know that on Wednesdays and Fridays our trucks will be out; on Saturday foods are prepared. It’s never hit-and-miss. Pastor has parented the city very well.”
3. Realize that it takes time to grow. You have to prove yourself. You want to show that what you are doing is not fly-by-night. Ask yourself, “Am I building my own kingdom or really helping my community?”
4. Put people around you who will catch your vision. Build a team that has diverse talents to accomplish the vision you are called to fulfill. Focus on a particular hurt and cure it; find an ill in society and figure out how to solve it. Realize that you and your team will need to put 100 percent into bringing a solution to the problem. Bridge the gap.
5. Work within all aspects of your community. Realize that the support of city council members, police chiefs and other leaders is necessary for the large-scale success of any growing ministry. Meet with city leaders when you first start and share your vision. Then get on a council agenda once or twice a year thereafter to give a progress report.
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