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Person over Program
By: David Church
As leaders and pastors, many of us are involved in growth programs in our various ministries. Whether you pastor a church or lead a small group, it is critically important to have a plan of action for the growth of your ministry. However, it is a serious error to place the program above the person. You, as the person, must take priority over the program. Your program will only be as successful as you are. Your program will only be as successful as your relationship with Christ. If you make personal growth your priority, church growth will happen out of the excess of what is happening in your own life. Your life will be the example to the people you lead. You will be a living testimony. You will have a story to tell.
It is so much easier to lead people if there is a surplus of energy, ideas and anointing in your own life. Take the time to make personal growth a priority. A Plan of action for personal growth is just as important as a plan of action for church growth.
Three must do's for Personal Growth:
1. Get in God's Presence.
When the Old Testament priest went beyond the veil into the Holy of Holies he was literally stepping into the presence of God. It was there that God communed with him and spoke to him everything he needed to hear.
22 And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel.
It is a good thing to talk to God every day, but it sure is a lot better when God talks back to me. That is what happens every time I get in His presence. God speaks to me. God communes with me. God tells me everything I need to hear. I must have the voice of God in my life. If I have God's voice in my life, people hear God's voice from me.
In God's presence we grow our person. The presence of God is where we find God's will, God's anointing and God's voice. If you have those three things in your life, people will follow you. Make the time to get in God's presence every day.
2. Get a life.
Every person in ministry needs a life outside of church. We need to get outside of the walls of the church. There are a couple of reasons for this; First of all, you can't personally win anybody to Christ if you have no life outside of church.
Jesus was very good at building relationships with unbelievers;
11 And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners?
12 But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.
The reason Jesus built relationships with publicans and sinners was because they needed Him. The people outside of our walls need us more than the people inside our walls. We need to build relationships with the unsaved in our communities. This is how we win the lost.
Secondly, your life needs to be interesting. The reason our messages or ministries lack impact is because they are not interesting and the reason they are not interesting is because we are not interesting. Take the time to get a life outside of church. Do something different. Get a new hobby. Join a softball league. Go build an orphanage in Africa. Start a soup kitchen for the homeless. Get a life.
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A popular saying states, "A church that fails to plan is a church that plans to fail." I would like to rephrase that, "A church that fails to train its leaders is a church that trains its leaders to fail."
Since the pastor cannot do it all alone, training leaders is a must. It is imperative that every church have a plan to train existing and future leaders. Leaders are not born, they are developed through mentoring, training and hands on experience.
Leaders must have a clear mental and spiritual picture of their goals. The Bible calls this vision.
18 Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.
Without vision, people have no direction or focus and are easily confused and distracted. Without vision, ministries will fail and people will become discouraged and move on. Your leaders must know the vision, see the vision, understand the vision and believe in the vision. They must be trained in how to accomplish the vision. Then they must be consistently encouraged to fulfill the vision.[ 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...]
1. Tells you the truth – even when it hurts.
One man who has been one of my mentors for almost 18 years especially stands out because of his honesty with me. Early in my ministry and marriage, he pulled me aside and explained to me that I was not very respectful to my wife in public. He explained that the ladies of the church would not honor me as a minister for this reason. At the time I was offended that he would tell me this as I thought I was very good to my wife. However, years later, I see where he was coming from. I’m grateful that he was bold enough and honest enough to talk to me about a sensitive subject. Honoring my wife and publicly showing her affection has not only given me respect among the other ladies of the church, but has also been a blessing to our marriage.
2. Shows a good example for you to follow.
The old cliché “Do as I say, not as I do.” Does not work in mentoring. A lifelong mentor should be someone who is a model of who you want to become. Everyone is a little bit like the people who have parented them. Part of a mentor’s role is to let the protégé watch them closely in the work that they do. One of my mentors would often times invite me to sit in on important meetings that I had no experience in. I would never say a word unless asked my input. I understood that I was there to observe and to learn. I watched my mentor closely to see how he handled fragile situations that I had no experience in. I would often ask myself how I would handle these often sensitive meetings, but would then watch my mentor expertly handle delicate subjects with Godly wisdom.
3. Sees you as family.
Mentoring someone is a life long commitment. Your best mentors are not people who are only a part of your life for a short amount of time. A mentor sees you as a son or daughter in the Gospel. Paul who mentored Timothy referred to him as his son. Anything less than a family level commitment may prove to be a surface only relationship between mentor and protégé. Often times, subjects discussed in a mentoring relationship are sensitive and personal. A protégé needs to know that he is going to someone who is a father figure who only has the protégé’s best interest in mind.
4. Shows himself/herself to be open and transparent with you.
A good mentor is someone who is not afraid to talk to those they mentor about their failures as well as their successes. My father would often say to me, “Don’t make the same mistakes that I have made.” This is a good reason for mentors to be open with their protégés. You may save that person a tremendous amount of pain and numerous mistakes by revealing to them the mistakes you yourself have made along the way.[ read more...]
Five ways to know whether or not your plan is working.
First let me establish what growth is; Growth takes place when a sinner is converted into God's Kingdom. Transferring members is recycled growth. Growth takes place when the church goes out into the harvest field (world/community) to gather the harvest (sinners).
The church is not of the world but we are the "'light of the world." We have been placed here to do the work of the Kingdom. Jesus called us a city set on a hill and the salt of the earth. We have been placed in this world to let Jesus Christ shine through us;
5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.
14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
14 I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
15 I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.
16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
18 As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.
19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.
Jesus is interested in Kingdom growth (converted sinners). His plan is that all would come to repentance, this is the will of God. True growth is not budgets and buildings, but it is souls added to the kingdom. Every church must have a plan to add souls to the kingdom. If you do not plan for this to happen then it is not going to happen. Some plans succeed, others fail. The question is, do you have a plan, and is your plan working?[ read more...]
Without fail, every time I fly, I am amazed at what I can see from the window of an airplane. Whether it is scenic mountains and lakes or large cities, I love to see the view from above the world.
I live about forty miles from Chicago and I drive the Chicago highways quite frequently. What a horrible mess they are. Often it takes two hours or more to get from one side of the city to the other. Many times I have sat in bumper-to-bumper traffic wondering what the problem is and promising myself that I will never drive that highway again. Yet, when I fly over the city I can see all of the highways at the same time. I can point out all of the trouble spots in just a few moments. I can see the bottlenecks, I can see the accidents. New perspective is gained.
If you have been through Chicago more than once, you have probably heard of the 'Hillside Strangler'. It is a notorious section of highway near the town of Hillside where two interstates and a road merge into a single lane to enter the Eisenhower Expressway. It has long been dubbed one of the worst traffic bottlenecks in the world. It will literally stop you dead in your tracks where you won't be able to move for a long, long time. A few years ago they spent over a 100 million dollars to fix the problem. They widened the entrance to three lanes. However, after all of the time and money they spent to fix this, the traffic flow is only slightly better. People are just as frustrated as before. When you see this area from above, you can see that the congestion has only been pushed further east. The problem is easily seen from the sky, three lanes are not enough for this traffic merger, and they need more lanes stretched out over more distance. The estimated cost to rebuild this section of highway is now well over one billion dollars.
It is amazing how crystal clear the answers are when seen from above. The perspective one can receive from the skies is like receiving new revelation.
During a time of terrible persecution and uncertainty, the Apostle John was banished to the Isle of Patmos. There was no way out. Facing the darkest hours of his life, John had many questions on his heart. He couldn't think his way out. He couldn't see his way out. Though he lived to an old age there, he didn't know he would do so at the time.
However, Jesus knew some things John didn't know. Jesus was about to invite John up into the heavens. Jesus wanted to give John some new perspective and some fresh insight.[ read more...]
A topical message is a sermon when a passage of scripture is used to support a single topic. You should be able to state what the topic is in a single sentence. This topic is then communicated to the hearers through the use of several different scriptures that all address the truth of this topic.
There are many pros and cons to topical preaching. Many Bible scholars feel that expository preaching is the only way to preach. They point out that you must preach verse by verse through the text in order to keep the story in its context. This is correct and very true, but a good topical sermon can also be kept in context if prepared properly.
When you look at the New Testament examples, both Peter and Paul preached on topics and used scripture to support their points. They did this very well in the epistles. The most famous sermon in the entire Bible is a topical sermon. The Sermon on the Mount is considered by most Bible scholars to be the greatest sermon that Jesus ever preached. The beatitudes are in this sermon, the Lord's prayer is in this sermon, and The Golden Rule is in this sermon. Jesus spoke on topics and used Old Testament scripture to supports His teachings. He did not preach verse by verse through entire chapters or books. Even the Old Testament prophets were very topical in their messages. If we are using the Bible as our example on how to live, we should also use it as our example in how we preach.[ read more...]
The title of my article is borrowed from a book of great truth. Some books, although not biblical in origin, bear great truth nonetheless. Had I read this book several weeks ago, I may have saved myself a great deal of labor.
Because a Little Bug went Ka-Choo, is more than a child’s book of the Dr. Seuss series. It is in my opinion a manuscript of sacred truth often unrealized in the life of a leader.
Let me explain, in Because a Little Bug went Ka- Choo, Rosetta Stone describes the extreme chain of events that unfold as a result of a little bug sneezing. At first a seed is dropped. Of which a worm gets hit, who then gets mad and kicks a tree. Because he kicks the tree a coconut drops causing the turtle to get bopped… And so on until the final scene describes the entire town turned into utter chaos as fire trucks and town parades collide into a frenzied explosion of pandemonium.
A friend gave me this book the other night after I finished the complete renovation of her kitchen. The inscription she wrote inside the first page of the book says, “Jim, let this book be a reminder the next time someone calls you to help them install just a stove."
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Knowing some answers to this question can not only keep a church from losing some great people, but will also bring a church into revival as the back door is closed to a large degree.
It’s kind of like money. It’s not how much you make, it’s how much you save. Some count their new converts by the hundreds, but few of these converts are still in the church a year later.
People leave the church because of boring sermons. Some people can tell when a preacher is shooting from the hip or preaching to the choir. “Study to show yourself approved.” You are not going to keep some people unless your messages are getting into their heart and mind. They have come to hear a Word from God. Get one from the Lord for yourself and then give it to the congregation.
People leave the church because they feel the ministry does not care about them. Greet them, shake their hands, phone them, write them a letter, smile at them, visit them when they are sick, send them a card when you can’t. Let them know you care. One kind word spoken at the right moment in a person’s life can cause them to be devoted to you for the rest of their life.
People leave the church because they have no relationships there. Develop ways for new converts to develop relationships within the church. Small Groups are a great place for new people to gain those necessary relationships.[ read more...]
Jesus died for the sins of the world. He did not die for most, several or some. He died for all. When He suffered on the cross, He did not have only a few hundred or a few thousand on His mind. What held Him to that tree was every single man, woman, boy and girl who would ever live on this planet. Is our own directive the same?
How many churches would be quite satisfied if they could just reach a few hundred from their community. Think about it, if your church directly affected 300-500 souls on a weekly basis, would you be satisfied? I would. For a while any way.
We've got to stop thinking small. Jesus did not think small. The scripture does not speak small. This gospel was given that every single person ever conceived could have a relationship with Him. For too long the Church’s growth has been limited by our small thinking.
There are well over 6 billion people on this planet today. Some would say that God will add to the church in His time. That growth will happen when He wills it to happen. Jesus proved his commitment and desire to see every person in your city saved when he suffered that horrific beating and the cruel death of the cross.
Revival has nothing to do with God’s will for it to happen. He has proven His will. It has everything to do with our putting ourselves in a position to allow it to happen and to receive and maintain it when it comes.[ read more...]