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“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.
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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.
Jesus died for the sins of the world. His mission was very broad. 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 is the same? Are we quite satisfied with a few hundred and would we be very satisfied with a few thousand. Think about it. If your ministry directly affected 1,000 souls on a weekly basis, would you be satisfied?
We have 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.
Over 7 billion people on this planet today are missing out on Heaven. We have churches who run 50 and are Pastored by people who are quite satisfied with 50. We also have churches running 50 who are Pastored by people who are so bothered because they cannot get their church to grow, that they doubt they were truly called to the ministry. These people get so frustrated, that they give up and are defeated by their inability to reach their community.[ read more...]
People are very busy, don’t burden them with mere activities.
- Many full time church leaders do not understand the time constraints of the working saint and their family.
- Many homes are two income homes where families seldom have time for one another.
- God and church should be at the center of our lives, however church leadership needs to realize that people need a break once in a while as well.
- We live in a different world than we did 30 years ago and the family unit is suffering as a result.
- It would be a good exercise for church leadership to see how they can cut the church calendar 20% by removing unproductive activities.
- Often a meeting can be held shortly after church rather than have people set aside another evening of the week to attend.
Church activities should have a purpose.
- Just because you did it last year is not a good reason to do it this year.
- Kill the sacred cow!
- Does the event promote evangelism?
- Will souls be won as a result of it?
- Will the body be strengthened because of this event?
- If not, consider something that will or give them a break by deleting that event and moving on to the next one.
Don’t have a meeting just to have a meeting.
- If you have no clear direction for the meeting or there is not immediate need for one, don’t have it.
- Wait until you have the agenda thoroughly thought and planned out and then announce a meeting.
- Accomplish something at every meeting and your people will feel like coming to the meeting was worth their sacrifice of time.
I recall the story of the most famous of all the prophets. Elijah was one of the most powerful prophets of God. Nobody doubted his calling, his prayers brought results. When Elijah prayed, fire fell from heaven. When Elijah prayed, rain fell from the sky. Through his prayers, Elijah altered the course of an entire nation. He was one of only two men in scripture who did not see death. There is no doubt that Elijah was in the perfect will of God.
Having said that, the book of 1 Kings reveals a time in Elijah's life when it seemed like the all of hell was rising up against him. Israel had forsaken the ways of God, the altars had been destroyed, the prophets of God had been slaughtered. Elijah found himself all alone and began to wonder if God was still with him. He decided to run for his life, in fact it got so bad, he asked the Lord to take his life.
1 Kings 19:1-4
1 And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and withal how he had slain all the prophets with the sword.
2 Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah, saying, So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by to morrow about this time.
3 And when he saw that, he arose, and went for his life, and came to Beer-sheba, which belongeth to Judah, and left his servant there.
4 But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.
The wicked queen Jezebel had been threatening Elijah's life for some time. Now it was heating up. Jezebel had just informed Elijah by way of messenger that he would be dead by the same time tomorrow! This was a man hunt, she had people looking for him everywhere, he was a wanted man, dead or alive. Elijah could feel the heat and he couldn't take it anymore.
It is hard to picture the most powerful of all of the prophets backed into a corner by the enemy and running for his life. Often times that is where we find ourselves. Yet, in the midst of running, God sends an angel to feed him. That ought to be enough to confirm that God is with you Elijah. I know if an angel visited me, I would be ready to do whatever God asked of me. Still, Elijah kept running.
The meat the angel brought to Elijah sustained his life for forty days and nights. That might be a hint that God is with you. Finally he finds a cave to hide in and the word of God came to him there, "What are you doing here, Elijah?"
God wasn't asking about Elijah's physical location, He was asking about Elijah's spiritual condition. God wanted to know why Elijah had given up. Listen to Elijah's response...
1 Kings 19:10
10 And he said, I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.[ 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...]
Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths. (Pro 3:5-6 AMP)
Our future well being depends largely on the decisions we make today. We are a world in transition; we change homes, cars, jobs, cities, and spouses as easily as changing clothes. Many of the problems in our lives are the direct result of decision that were not well thought out, not prayed over and are emotionally driven.
In many decisions the cost was not counted, the impact was not measured, and the long-term implications were not considered.
We feel right and justified about our decision, but only time can reveal the end results of our choices.
The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the LORD. All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the LORD weigheth the spirits. Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established. (Pro 16:1-3 KJV)
An important principle to remember is that, we will reap the results of our decisions, whether good or evil;
Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. (Gal 6:7-8 KJV)
You do not always reap immediately, some seeds take years to produce, and when they begin to bring forth it is in a larger quantity than the seed sewn. No one plants an apple seed expecting only one apple to be produced as a result. The hope of the grower is that the single seed that has been planted will eventually produce thousands of apples.
There are some questions we need to ask ourselves about our plans for the future.
Have I consulted God about my plans? – prayer is our way to communicate with Him. The wisdom to make a Godly decision is not found in our flesh.
If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. (Jas 1:5 KJV)
Have I consulted Godly counsel? – your choice of counsel may affect your decision.
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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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1. There are specific, reasonable and attainable growth goals that have been developed. A pastor must see, believe it and work for it!
2. There is powerful Bible-based preaching and teaching, anointed singing, vibrant worship, fervent praying, and generous giving.
3. There is consistent visitation and follow-up on visitors.
4. The pastor recognizes and releases the gifts and callings among the congregation. These gifts include the gifts of teachers, helpers, prophecy, exhortation, ruling, etc.
5. 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...]
1. Don’t live beyond your income.
2. Don’t be a stingy person.
3. Don’t preach your doubts.
4. Don’t preach so much against things but preach principles.
5. Don’t be tempted on any occasion not to preach your best.
6. Don’t be looking for a larger field or another call.
7. Don’t be a pessimist.
8. Don’t deal in off-color stories.
9. Don’t lose your temper in public.
10. Don’t overlook the Bible when looking for preaching texts.[ read more...]