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Developing A Growing Church
By: Ray Johnson
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.
[ read more...]
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One of the challenges all pastors face is leading those who have the same vision you have but don't have the same idea's about accomplishing that vision. I call these people 'thinkers'. Thinkers are good and bad. Every pastor loves to have a group of leaders that agree with everything he says. But there comes a point when that starts working against the pastor.
It is not always healthy to have a ministry team full of 'yes-men.' Most "yes-men" cannot think for themselves. What good are leaders who cannot work situations out? They need instruction for just about everything they do. Some even like to be micro-managed. Pastors cannot afford to be micro-managers, it steals ones time and produces people who cannot make it on their own.
As a builder of homes I have worked with hundreds of different carpenters from around the country. While working with these different tradesmen there were a few things I learned very quickly about people. Some of these carpenters would come to me and ask me how I liked things done. They wanted to be sure they built the house the way I wanted it to be built. At first I really appreciated this, but soon I realized that most of my time was taken up showing them my method when their method would have worked just as well.
Other carpenters would jump right in and do their own thing. This frustrated me even more because they didn't even have the courtesy to ask for my plan or opinion. But then there were those very few carpenters who would ask a few questions about the blueprint, get dialed in on my plan of attack, and then proceed to carry out that plan. If they ran into a problem, they could "think" it out for themselves. They didn't have to come to me about every little thing, but if something major came up they wouldn't hesitate to consult me. Sometimes they even offered suggestions that increased the productivity of my crew. In twenty plus years of building homes, I found only a handful of carpenters with these qualities. These were valuable men. These were the men who helped me achieve my goals. These were the carpenters that made my company money.
We need leaders like this in our churches. We need men and women who can work through problems and think things through on their own. It is important as a leader that you develop leaders who can think. It is also important that you are confident enough to lead leaders who may have a better idea or plan than you have. I am not talking about those who disagree with everything you have to say. I am talking about those who are dialed in to your vision, but may have better ideas than you about how to accomplish that vision.
In the Old Testament, the Kings surrounded themselves with people who were dialed into their mission. There are many accounts where this team of leaders did not agree with their King. They had different ideas of how to accomplish the mission. They were not "yes-men". What kind of value would they have to the King if they agreed with everything the King asked? The king though, would have to be humble and confident enough in himself to act on their advice. Their advice was oftentimes critical to the success or failure of that nation.[ read more...]
In this unpredictable and changing world, the one thing we can always control is the way we think. While we have little control over circumstances or the actions of others, we can control our reactions to them. And anyone can learn how to think more positively and operate with a better attitude, regardless of circumstances, temperament, or intellect. To begin thinking more positively and leading your people to do the same, follow these guidelines: Act like the person you wish to become. Cultivate a Consistent Positive Attitude.
To start thinking positively, begin by acting positively. Most of us wait until we feel like taking action, but that’s going about it backwards. Instead, by putting our desires into action, we can establish a habit of thinking positively – and this results in a positive attitude.
To reap a successful harvest, a farmer doesn’t plant seeds and then just expect them to grow on their own. He must continually water, weed, fertilize and nurture the growing plants if he wants them to reach maturity. Likewise, if we want a successful life, we need to spend time everyday nurturing our attitude. Focus on the positive and successful. Don’t feed the weeds.
In this unpredictable and changing world, the one thing we can always control is the way we think. While we have little control over circumstances or the actions of others, we can control our reactions to them. And anyone can learn how to think more positively and operate with a better attitude, regardless of circumstances, temperament, or intellect. To begin thinking more positively and leading your people to do the same, follow these guidelines:
Act like the person you wish to become.
Cultivate a Consistent Positive Attitude.
Orphanages were already an important part of the everyday social landscape in the United States 100 years ago. As shocking as it may sound, statistics validate that 99 out of 100 babies in orphanages died before reaching the age of seven months!
The institutions themselves were not the problem. They had adequate food, clean environments, and modern antiseptic procedures. Everything to give these unwanted or otherwise orphaned children a safe and secure environment was in place, and yet 99% of the infants died within months after birth. These babies were given a healthy chance at life and yet they died anyway. The cause of these deaths was an illusive mystery for many years.
Research studies have long since revealed that these babies did not die from malnutrition or infectious diseases, but instead they wasted away in a human condition known as “marasmus”.
Marasmus claimed these countless little lives in spite of clean and sterile environments and adequate food, shelter and clothing. Marasmus can be caused by the deprivation of human touch. Babies without adequate human touch can simply waste away and die regardless of their surroundings and environment.
When babies suffering from marasmus receive physical nurturing while being fed their formula the marasmus reverses. They begin to gain weight and thrive. Human touch is vital for survival in the very young.
The System Was Changed
Although it is tragic that countless infants died from marasmus’ deadly consequences resulting from the absence of human touch, it fostered change. Today’s infants that are isolated in sterile environments are taken into the hands of caregivers who give them loving touch therapy three times a day for fifteen minutes. Taking these infants out of their cribs and holding and rocking them by volunteers has reversed the mortality rate. Research has validated that the infants receiving this personal touch grow faster, gain more weight, and leave the facility sooner that other untouched infants do.
The infants are not the only beneficiaries of this “touching” time. Those who volunteer as caregivers or “grandparents” to hold, rock, touch and massage these infants also experience measurable benefits. They reduce their coffee and caffeine intake and make less frequent visits to their doctor. They experience a reduction in anxiety levels, fewer symptoms of depression, and improved self-esteem.
Touch is powerful. When skin touches skin magical consequences occur. Human touch and contact is directly linked to every aspect of health and well-being.
Where Touch Begins
The sensation of touch actually begins in the womb.
The human skin is derived from the same cells as the nervous system and is a perfect instrument for collecting information about our surrounding environment long before birth. A fetus will withdraw from the touch of a probe at less than 8 weeks of gestation, showing that the link between touch and survival is one of the first and most important protective mechanisms to develop.[ read more...]
I Need Help!
I am a pastor just like you. It’s Monday morning again and we had a great Sunday service yesterday. The Lord moved in a special way; people's lives were touched and changed. We even baptized someone this week, yet it already seems so long ago and so far away.
There are so many things going through my mind today. I feel like the enemy is trying to sift me like wheat. I don't know where to start. I have meetings to organize; leaders to train; sermons to prepare; Bible studies to teach; sick saints to visit; visitors to follow up on; letters to write; calendars to schedule; calls to return; counseling to conduct; a baptismal to fix, along with many other things--not to mention my own personal prayer and devotion time. Needless to say, I am feeling overwhelmed.
Wait…maybe I can postpone some of these things until next week? Then again, I know that hell hasn’t postponed her plans; in fact, hell is enlarging her borders today. If I delay, hell is gaining ground in my city and my city still needs to hear the Gospel message. I need help in a bad way!
Do you feel under-accomplished and overwhelmed with your calling? You’re not alone. Most, if not all, pastors and leaders feel this way on a regular basis.
Now before going any further, let me clarify. This is not an article about organization and restructuring; nor is it about adjusting priorities or time management. Although all of these issues are important, you have probably already been there and done that. The kind of help that I am suggesting in this article is “people” help. We need our people to help us but we must reveal our needs to them first. We need help!
As pastors and leaders, that is our heart’s cry. We look at our brethren with larger churches and think: Our church would be just as successful as theirs if only I had the kind of help that they have. Sound familiar? I hear that kind of talk often and, in all honesty, it’s beginning to bother me. After all, is this not God's church? Are we not all laborers together? The large church needs help just as much as the small church and vice versa. The needs and challenges vary from congregation to congregation, yet we all need assistance.
2 Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.
No one is going to find help for you; you must find it yourself. It is the pastor's obligation to train up workers to assist. Most of the time, our help is already in our pews; yet, the reason the laborers are few is because we fail to make disciples of our people. The least likely helper to you might be the most likely helper in God’s eyes. “God uses the foolish things of this world to confound the wise.”
Every person in our pews can do something for the Kingdom. One thing more that they do is one thing less that you have to do. The challenge sometimes is just seeing people in a different light. I have tried to put blinders on my eyes when it comes to seeking help. God sees things that we can't see, and if we would simply trust God to transform the lives that He has already given us, we could accomplish a lot more for His Kingdom.
Let’s look at some real examples of effective preaching. Our text will be from Acts 2 where Peter preached on the day of Pentecost, and from Acts 3 where the lame man was healed while they were on their way to the temple. In both of these instances Peter ministered in such a way that thousands were saved. I think we can learn a lot from Peter (Acts 2:14-38 & 3:12-26).
Effective preachers must study. As you look at these two messages from Peter, you will see that he had studied the word. In both instances he was suddenly given the opportunity to preach, and he was “instant in season and out of season” (2 Timothy 4:2). There is no shortcut to “studying to show yourself approved, a workman that needs not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).
When I first started preaching I would minister on a different book of the bible every service – and we had three services each week! I used at least seven commentaries on each book. After researching them thoroughly, I would then seek the Lord as to how He wanted me to present the message and what kind of application He wanted for His people.
This took a lot of time and effort, but it was well worth it. It placed ample research under my belt to draw upon later when I wouldn’t have as much time. Taking shortcuts to in depth study will rob you of the rich jewels that the Lord desires to give you from His word and Spirit.
Effective preachers must memorize the Word. There is nothing more powerful than the Word of God. Peter, in his sermon on the day of Pentecost, quoted large and obscure passages of scripture. He didn’t pull out a scroll and start looking things up, he knew them by heart. We have the promise that His word will not return to Him void (Isaiah 55:10-11). It is sharper than any two edged sword (Hebrews 4:12). The word will do more in the hearts of people than I ever can. When I was first saved I made up my mind that I wanted to give people God’s answer to the problems of life and not only what I thought. My opinion is not worth much, but what God has to say is of eternal value.
Nothing has helped me in my preaching and teaching more than the memorization of scripture. Even if people have a hard time taking it all in, it will go on to work in their lives for years to come. Jesus said the Holy Spirit would “bring all things to your remembrance whatsoever he has said unto us” (John 14:26). His promise is that He will bring the appropriate scripture to us when it is needed the most. It was said of Jesus that when He was in a house in Capernaum, and there was so many people crowding into the house that there was no longer any room, that “He preached the word unto them” (Mark 2:2). It’s the word that makes our ministry truly effective as it did Jesus’.[ read more...]
Here's a question we would almost never ask somebody. And what an incredible question it is. "Are You Backsliding?" It's not a question to condemn. It's a question to ponder. As ministers of the gospel, some would never want to ask their congregations this question as it might offend. How many however, might still be saved today if only someone would have asked them this simple question while there was still time to correct their path?
We ask people all the time, "Are you ok?" "Is everything alright?" And why not? We are genuinely concerned about the welfare of the other person. True concern however, causes one to ask the deeper questions. It forces us to enter into a conversation on uneasy ground. Barbara Walters is renown because of her ability to ask interviewees the probing questions that often times bring those she interviews to tears. They never expected her to ask "That" question.
We oftentimes don't like to ask the hard questions. We rarely enter into conversation with someone where we don't feel comfortable. Yet, here is the place where a person is most vulnerable. Here is a place where they are searching for answers. Here is a place where they often times feel lost. Hard questions demand hard answers. Hard answers lead to a right way of living.
A person who is "off track" seldom realizes it before it is too late. Recently, the news has read like this...
Aug 6, 2011 - A hiker fell to his death from a cliff near a waterfall in the Angeles Forest in Eaton Canyon early Saturday, the second fatality in the...
Aug 1, 2011 - A 26 year old woman fell to her death Sunday while descending from the summit of Half Dome within Yosemite National Park.
July 27, 2011 - A Hiker fell to his death in Buckskin Gulch.
July 19, 2011 - A hiker died on Monday morning after sliding between 50 and 100 feet on a steep snow field along the Grinnell Glacier Trail.
June 25, 2011 - Officials say that a woman fell to her death while hiking on Mount Evans Saturday.[ read more...]
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...]
Children’s activities books often have these little exercises. They will display one picture with many items and characters, and when you turn the page, you see a very similar picture which almost looks identical. To the casual glance you would think that nothing is different about the two pictures. However the small instructions at the top of the second picture has a question which let’s you know immediately that even though these two pictures may look the same, they are not. The instructions say, “What’s different about these two pictures?” You then are given opportunity to find and list the items that are missing from the second picture that are evident in the first one.
My younger brother is very successful in law enforcement. I am amazed at his ability to pay attention to the slightest details. He has the ability to walk into a situation and tell you not what is present, but what is not present. What’s missing is often the clue that leads to a case being solved. Myself, I would probably end up exhausting myself studying the clues and items that were left at the scene of a crime rather than understanding what is different or missing from the scene.
Here is the problem many churches in our present day have. There is something missing and we haven’t figured out what it is yet. We are studying what is in front of us, but we can’t figure out why we are not having the kind of revival we know our Lord wants us to have.
We see people’s lack of involvement. We see the lack of dedication to the House of God. We know that the growth of our congregations are not keeping up with the population growth of our communities. People come to church with an “Entertain Me” attitude that lacks the fundamental hunger that is needful in a revival church.
We want to identify with the biblical New Testament church but the picture that was the Original Church is in many ways very different than the picture that is the modern day church.[ read more...]