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It's Not The Size of The Church, But Its Health That Counts!
By: Donald Bryan
I’ve heard many people say over the last year that, as we enter into the 21st century, it will not be the size of the church that matters, but its health that will ensure its survival. So, what about the health of the church? May I suggest a few guidelines for assessing the health of a congregation of any size?
- Biblically based. Do your congregation members have a clear understanding of what they believe and substantial information to assist them in defending their faith? Is there a discipleship- training program?
- Mutually concerned. Do your people genuinely care for one another? Is there a system in operation that easily allows your congregation to know when people have needs and a prayer chain to respond to those needs?
- Socially concerned. If you do not have a small group ministry, do you have a Sunday School program that provides adequate time for your people to break bread together? Church is fellowship as much as it is a formal worship service.
- Community saturated. Are you aware of the day-to-day decisions that are made in your community that affect the school system, the social programs, and the overall moral climate of the city you serve?
- Financially stable. The church that is fiscally responsible will be able to weather any situation. Every pastor and board should insist on maintaining a certain dollar reserve, and do everything possible to avoid paralyzation of ministry through an unrealistic building or property debt. People must be taught by example to give and to give cheerfully.
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Probably the worst thing that can happen to a God-called minister of the Gospel is that they would be confused about their calling. Confusion in the ministry thwarts the positive impact of the church. No congregation or ministry can move forward when the leadership of that organization is confused about their calling.
Whether we are talking about an individual’s or an organization's calling, confusion can kill their potential. Some men/women spend their entire lives confused about their calling. Hearing a call from God, but listening for direction from other people.
It’s important to understand that every Calling is not a call to preach. Some would argue this. Countless young men and women have felt a call on their life, but got their direction from good-meaning people who put Preaching on them. “You’re going to be a great preacher.” “I feel you are called to preach!” Prophecies are spoken over these people by many misguided folks who believe or have been taught that only a preacher can have an effect on the work of God. Some would have every worker in the harvest to be Great Preachers.
Stop! The world does not just need more preachers. It needs more people who are concerned about souls. It needs compassionate people who care enough about their fellow man to pray for them and invite them to church. It needs not preachers, but teachers. Teachers who will take Bible in hand and sit in someone’s home and teach them a Bible study. Truth is hard to come by, yet it is right at our fingertips. Our generation is lost for a lack of understanding of the Bible.
What is the calling you are called to? Share truth with someone who does not know the truth. Jesus said, “I share with you a truth”. Long before Peter was preaching on the day of Pentecost, Jesus (our example,” was teaching in the synagogue.
What is it about our human nature that desires to be “The one up front.” The one doing the talking. What is it about our human nature that desires not a teacher, but a preacher. Midweek Bible studies have only a slice of the attendance that Sunday preaching services have. Why is that? We are still coming together to worship and share the Word. Yet on Sunday there is preaching and on the midweek service there is teaching. And the church would rather hear a preacher than a teacher.
It’s in our nature. We want an icon. We want someone to idealize. We want a spokesman for our church. We want preachers. So every person who feels a call on their life gets “pushed’ into the preacher mold.[ read more...]
There are a number of great ways to preach the Word of God, but one of the most effective is expository preaching.
Stephen Olford defines expository preaching this way;
"Expository preaching is the Spirit-empowered explanation and proclamation of the text of God's Word with due regard to the historical, contextual, grammatical and doctrinal significance of the given message or given passage, with the specific object of invoking a Christ transforming response."
That is a pretty heavy definition, let me simplify; "The text does the talking, the preaching, the teaching and the transforming." The message is already there, you just have to open it up and discover it for yourself. Expository preaching forces the man of God to open his own heart first and allow the scripture to change him before it ever changes his audience.
An expository sermon comes from a portion of text that is usually at least one paragraph in length, and where at least a good portion of the story is told in its context. For an expository sermon to have impact, the story of the text must be opened up to your audience. A casual reading and retelling of the scripture is not quite what it is about. Nor is it a step by step outline of each verse. There is a message in the story of the text that must be shared in a meaningful way.
There is a pressure in our culture today for preachers to be 'relevant' to their audience. In doing so, expository preaching has become less and less popular. Many insist that it is no longer effective. Most of today's mainline preachers have adopted the 'topical' style of preaching in their attempt to become relevant. In this style of preaching they choose a topic and then go to the Word to see what the scripture says about it. The danger in this is that they become so topical in their preaching that there is very little of the Word of God left. The one or two scriptures they do use are often taken out of context and used in ways that alter their intended meaning. I would like to say that there is nothing more relevant for our culture today than the Word of God. The Word of God transcends time, tradition and culture. The writer of Hebrews declares that the Word of God is quick enough, sharp enough and has enough power to pierce into the thoughts and hearts of every person.[ read more...]
Often times in ministry we feel that the problems we face in the church are usually people problems. After all we are in the business of ministering to people. So when a problem arises it must be a people problem - right? Not always. Too often, but thankfully, a problem is not as it seems. It's not ALWAYS a people problem. Let's face it. People problems are a hassle. Dealing with personalities and character flaws is exhausting. Sadly, many Pastors and Ministers simply stop trying to improve the ministry capacity of their congregation simply because they have grown tired of trying to change the behaviors of people to create positive change. Do you feel that people are most often the problem in your ministry? If so, you are among the majority of pastors and ministers. Would you be interested to find that not all problems are people problems? In fact, many of the situations that we believe are people problems are simply situation problems. Here's an example of a situation problem: The person who is the lead minister over your churches Greeters ministry is growing frustrated. Too often, the people they employ to greet guests are calling at the last minute to say they cannot be a "greeter" that Sunday morning. This is very frustrating for the lead minister as they thought they had everything under control. Their work was done...everyone was in place. But now at the last minute, there is confusion and worse yet, disappointment in people. This all creates another host of problems, as now the faithful few who the lead minister is about to call upon to "fill in" for the absentee are about to become burdened with the constant chore of being a greeter. These gracious people have limited patients too. If constantly obliged upon, they are going to begin to experience resentment at those who are "calling off" all the time. Worse yet, they are going to begin to feel frustration at their fearless leader who is once again asking them to fill in for someone else.
Often times in ministry we feel that the problems we face in the church are usually people problems. After all we are in the business of ministering to people. So when a problem arises it must be a people problem - right? Not always.
Too often, but thankfully, a problem is not as it seems. It's not ALWAYS a people problem. Let's face it. People problems are a hassle. Dealing with personalities and character flaws is exhausting. Sadly, many Pastors and Ministers simply stop trying to improve the ministry capacity of their congregation simply because they have grown tired of trying to change the behaviors of people to create positive change.
Do you feel that people are most often the problem in your ministry? If so, you are among the majority of pastors and ministers. Would you be interested to find that not all problems are people problems? In fact, many of the situations that we believe are people problems are simply situation problems.
Here's an example of a situation problem: The person who is the lead minister over your churches Greeters ministry is growing frustrated. Too often, the people they employ to greet guests are calling at the last minute to say they cannot be a "greeter" that Sunday morning. This is very frustrating for the lead minister as they thought they had everything under control. Their work was done...everyone was in place. But now at the last minute, there is confusion and worse yet, disappointment in people.
This all creates another host of problems, as now the faithful few who the lead minister is about to call upon to "fill in" for the absentee are about to become burdened with the constant chore of being a greeter. These gracious people have limited patients too. If constantly obliged upon, they are going to begin to experience resentment at those who are "calling off" all the time. Worse yet, they are going to begin to feel frustration at their fearless leader who is once again asking them to fill in for someone else.[ read more...]
Most of us worry unnecessarily about too many things.
It's almost as though we search for problems to give ourselves stress. The amazing news is that much of what we worry about doesn't matter at all! Take a look at these statistics about worry:
- 40% of all things that we worry about never come to pass.
- 30% of all our worries involve past decisions that cannot be changed.
- 12% focus on criticism from others who spoke because they felt inferior.
- 10% are related to our health, which gets worse when we worry.
- 8% of our worries could be described as "legitimate" causes for concern.
Leadership is a complex issue in the 21st Century. Christian leaders at every level in business, church, school, and at home are faced with numerous challenges. A common feeling is that of being overwhelmed.
Christian leaders face difficulty and uncertainty every day. The world is changing rapidly. The political, economical, and social pressures are encroaching more and more into everyone’s daily lives. Although leaders face the same challenges as everyone else, they have the added burden of trying to have answers for others as well.
Ask Yourself a Few Simple Questions
As a leader:
· Who do you turn to for guidance, advice, and instruction?
· Who can you trust not only in their advice, but also in confidentiality?
· Who already knows what you need to know and is willing to share their knowledge with you?
· Who equips you to meet challenges when you do not yet know what tomorrow’s challenges even are yet?
· How do you know if you are lacking the skills required to lead and succeed in the 21st Century?
· Are other leaders outpacing you?
· Are you facing new and more complex challenges that you never faced before?
· Are you struggling with the challenge of developing leaders around you?
If so you need a mentor.[ read more...]
I remember my first romantic heartbreak. I actually recall crying myself to sleep on multiple nights because I was moving away from my girlfriend. I didn’t want to do it, but my parent’s decision to move was above my pay grade and I had no choice in the matter. She was the girl of my dreams and I was head over heels in love but I had no choice but to leave her.
I was only in the second grade when that particular family move seemingly destroyed my romantic life. Although it was difficult I eventually got over it and learned to move on with life. Yes, I am being facetious, but in reality this early event taught me that times of transition are sometimes very difficult for everyone involved.[ read more...]
Developing and maintaining a budget is a FAMILY AFFAIR. If you are married, you must work together. If you have children, this is the proper time to teach them how to operate within their means.
To make a budget work, there are some things that must be attended to prior to spending.
Together you should:
- Decide on needed items and plan how much can be spent before going shopping.
- Always use a shopping list that has been approved by both spouses.
- Buy only the planned items.
- Compare prices and quality before buying.
- Use credit only when necessary for necessary items.
- Do not use credit for items that are not realistically needed.
- Decide together on a vacation spending
- Encourage each other of the benefits of saving
- Make realistic goals of being debt free
- Start gift shopping early and stay within a prescribed means
- Don’t over spend just to make someone in the family feel good.
- Decide how much to save on a regular basis.
Set down together and discuss the family budget and include in the discussion the benefits of becoming debt free for the future.[ 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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One definition of insanity is to believe that you can keep doing what you’ve been doing and get different results. We want revival. We want growth in our churches and we think that it is somehow going to miraculously happen by the methods and programs we have used unsuccessfully for the past 20 years. We think that because we did have “some” growth using manmade antiquated methods, that we are definitely on the right track.
Someone once said , “It takes all the running you can do to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that.” I’m not so sure you have to run twice as fast to get somewhere else. All you have to do is change the direction you are heading. Many of us are “running as fast as we can and yet, we find ourselves stuck in the same place”. Some of us are trying as hard as we can try. We are working very very hard and yet at the end of the day, our efforts for the Kingdom are rewarded only minimally. Why is that?
Peter and his co-workers had labored all night. Using techniques and skills they had learned over a lifetime of working on fishing boats, they toiled fruitlessly in dangerous seas. Their response to the Lord was, “We’ve caught nothing!”
Jesus who probably never spent a single day fishing on a boat tells them, “Cast your nets on the other side.” Peter must have inwardly thought, “What does this carpenter know about fishing?” “What can he tell me that I don’t already know?” “I’ve been doing this all my life!”
You know what happened. They caught a ton of fish, simply by changing the side of the boat they were casting their nets on. Now you may also say, “Well, Jesus did a miracle for them”. He may well have, however, notice that He did require them to do something they had never done before, to get the miracle. Had Peter cast his net one more time from the same side of the boat he had been casting on, he would have again, pulled in empty nets.
Too many of us have worked all the night also and caught little or nothing. We may brag that we’ve had a 10% or even 20% increase of growth to our church in the last year, but is that truthfully the kind of revival our Lord would want to give? Considering the tens of thousands of people in your city, is 10% growth in our church really what He would want to give.
The early Apostolics turned all of Asia upside-down in just 2 years. What have we honestly accomplished in our city in the last 20 years? Too many of us have only held onto the status quo. While many churches have folded up (We don’t like to talk about these.) and others have barely grown at all.
We call ourselves Apostolic. We identify ourselves and our movement with the people of the book of acts. We speak as if we have arrived at the same conclusions and understanding as those who turned Asia upside down in two years, but this preacher believes we have sadly fooled only ourselves.
Let's be honest … 20 years ago, didn’t God give you a much greater vision than what you’ve realized. Didn’t you step into this boat thinking, “I’m going to win my city!”. “I’m going to have a great drought.” “We’re going to have a great revival!”[ read more...]