The Time Of Power is Now!
Watchword for 2017: "Turn us back to You, O Lord, and we will be restored;
Renew our days as of old." (Lamentations 5:21)

Pastor

Articles for people in leadership

By Fred Childs

Risk taking is an essential ingredient in ministry in the Kingdom of God. Most Bible heroes were risk takers. Jesus was a risk taker.

Risk taking at times needs to be bold and calculated. Other times require spontaneity.

The paradox is that in the realm of organized religion, institutional thinking, and even in many local churches risk-taking is non-existent. It is frowned upon.

Most American Christians have never taken a risk. Most of them stay within familiar boundaries their whole lifetime. Most of the men worked one or two jobs, lived in the same home, retired, and attended the same church their whole lifetime. They were/are stable, solid, dependable people.

The pastor before me was here 49 years. The church is 94 years old. I am the 4th pastor.

  • That is stability
  • But stability can make it hard to take risks

So here I am . . . a risk taker.

I have taken bold, very bold risks in life and ministry as I have stepped out on faith to follow God’s will. I have given away a fortune, literally. My wife has given all of her furniture away 3 times. We have moved over 20 times. We have wept as we have left family, friends, and security time and again to do the will of God. God knew we would do it, so He called us to do it, and we did it. We will do it again. I have a history of bold risk-taking decisions. I am willing.

I only mention those things to validate that I am one of those who is willing to take risks in order to advance the Kingdom of God.

In environments where conformity and uniformity are stressed so highly those among us who take risk become easy prey. You will be misunderstood, mislabelled, misrepresented, ostracized, and so forth. You will be targeted by the non-risk taker . . . the settler.

Risk takers are needed . . . perhaps more than ever. You won’t be comfortable running with the pack or settling in walled environments. You will always be looking ahead over the horizon. Pioneers are needed in this environment of today just as they were in the early days of our nation.

There are many differences between pioneers and settlers. Settlers wait until the pioneers have blazed the trails and fought the battles. The voice crying, "Is it safe out there?" is the settler. The voice calling back, "Sure, it is safe now" is the pioneer.

God is shaking this world. Uncertainty and fear is in the air. If God challenges you in the future to do something abnormal . . . take the risk. Be true to whom you are and don’t compromise your integrity. Non-risk takers will strip your integrity away and if you let them they will never let you be who God wants you to be. I once taught a seminar in Detroit to a group of business people. The CEO’s, Presidents, and Vice-Presidents of 27 major companies were there. Ford Motor Company hosted the event, and their top officials were there. I took a risk. As I was concluding my session on "How to do Administrative Continuous Improvement," I told them that their greatest challenge was their own intestinal fortitude to continue the process once all the present improvements and dollar savings were accomplished. Three CEO’s told me later that was the clincher for them that let them know I was real. On another occasion, I fired my pastor’s son-in-law because I knew it had to be done and nobody else would do it.

These were risk. I would do each again. I will take risks again when I know it is the right thing to do. I am admonishing you to do the same.

Risk taking will be required to transition the Church to meet the challenges of tomorrow. None of us know those challenges, but they are coming rapidly. I encourage you when the time comes to rise up, do it, don’t fear it, be willing and take risks as necessary. Don’t force God to have to go around you to find someone who is willing to take risks for Him that He has positioned you to take.

After all, is there really even a real risk involved when stepping out on faith to fulfill the will of God? No . . . there is no risk. The risk is when you do not step out on faith and you refuse to do something God has asked you to do. It could be because of:

  • Little faith
  • Fear
  • Being too settled
  • Being influenced by non-risk taking peers.

Examples of risk-taking:

  • Abraham willing to sacrifice Isaac
  • Noah
  • Elijah against Ahab and Jezebel’s 850 false prophets
  • Elijah with the cloud the size of a man’s hand
  • David against Goliath
  • Jonah
  • Queen Esther
  • Peter with the lame man at the Gate Beautiful

Faith and foolishness looks similar at a glance. We see some take bold steps and succeed. Others, and the result is a bust. What is the difference? It can not be judged in a window of time. Often the longer the dry period, development… The greater result. We get frustrated when we judge our result by others. Some are faith driven, others are just restless souls. No doubt movement brings things to the surface, however restless is more a product of flesh than faith. It is easy for us to spiritualize our steps. The test of time will reveal our work. Look at a church full of solid, dependable people and judge the end result and you know faith was involved. Apostolic churches with solid people is not a work of flesh. Time has a way, like wind, of removing the details.

It is easy for us to spiritualize our journey. It is easy for someone who never exercises faith to discount the actions of those that do over time. Be encouraged . . . others will discount the actions of someone exercising faith. We cannot over analyze what God is asking of us. Obedience is just following direction.

By David Church

 

Acts 2:42-47 KJV
And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.43 And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common; 45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

1. A Praying Church

The first century church continued in prayer. The fact that it continued means that it had previously started. These people had been praying long before the outpouring of the Holy Ghost in the book of Acts.

Acts 1:14 KJV14 These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.

Before the church ever experienced growth there was prayer. Corporate and unified prayer. This was the foundation of what happened in Acts chapter two. Prayer is the most basic and necessary requirement of any church. Prayer is the foundation upon which everything else is built. A praying church is a church that is ready and waiting to do whatever God desires to do amongst them.

2 Chron 7:14-15 KJV14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.15 Now mine eyes shall be open, and mine ears attent unto the prayer that is made in this place.
Show me a praying church, and I will show you a growing church.

2. A Church that Preaches Truth.

John 8:31 KJV31 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; 32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

The first century church continued in the doctrine. Only by continuing in the doctrine of Christ and the Apostles do we become disciples of Christ. The truth is what saves us, the truth is what sets us free from sin. The truth must be preached at all costs. When anything other than the truth of God’s Word is preached it is impossible for true growth to occur. These kinds of churches may draw large crowds, but the people cannot become disciples because they have not continued in the Word. True growth can only occur where Truth is preached.

3. A Church that Fellowships.

The first century church continued in fellowship. People need fellowship. People know when others really care about them. A church that is truly reaching out to others is a growing church. Don’t wait for fellowship to happen on its own. Fellowship must happen intentionally. Every church must have some type of fellowship or care ministry that is intentionally reaching out to others for the purpose of friendship and unity in the body.Jesus fellowshipped with publicans, sinners, harlots and many others. Jesus did so intentionally, He went out of his way to do so. When He did, it often caused a revival in that city or town.
Fellowship will bring growth.

4. A Church that Serves the Needy in the Community.

Serving the needy in your community accomplishes three important things:

  • It meets the need of hurting people
  • It shows the Love of God to your community. (this is the second greatest commandment)
  • It brings name recognition and exposure to your church

God requires that we reach out to the hurting of our communities;

 

Matt 25:40 KJV40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

5. Unity of Worship and Praise

We can worship and praise God all day long on our own, but there is something different about corporate praise. Something amazing that happens when a group of believers gather together to honour God with their praise and worship.

Matt 18:20 KJV20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.
Ps 22:3 KJV3 But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitant the praises of Israel.

God inhabits the praises of His people. It is as if the presence of God is multiplied. His Spirit comes down to dwell amongst us, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. Guests can sense that liberty and anointing in your service, and it will draw them back to your church.

2 Cor 3:17 KJV17 Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.

6. A Church that has Anointed one Able Leadership

The Bible states, "they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine." It was through the anointed and able leadership of the Apostles that the first century church grew. The Apostles had been with Jesus. They had learned the doctrine directly from Him. They had a vision of what Jesus desired for His church, and they imparted that vision to the people.
Prov 29:18 KJV18 Where there is no vision, the people perish:

7. A Church that is Happy.

The first century church had "gladness and singleness of heart."

One thing people always notice when they visit a church is the countenance of the people. Are they happy? Are they sad? Are they friendly? Ask any person who has visited numerous churches and they can tell you if a church has it going on or not by how happy the people are. During the reign of King Solomon, many of the Kings of surrounding kingdoms desired to sit down with Solomon to investigate what brought so much success to His Kingdom. One such monarch, the Queen of Sheba, came to prove Solomon with hard questions. She had heard how great the Kingdom of Solomon was, but she wanted to see it for herself. This is what she found out;

1 Kings 10:6-8 KJV6 And she said to the king, It was a true report that I heard in mine own land of thy acts and of thy wisdom. 7 Howbeit I believed not the words, until I came, and mine eyes had seen it: and, behold, the half was not told me: thy wisdom and prosperity exceedeth the fame which I heard. 8 Happy are thy men, happy are these thy servants, which stand continually before thee, and that hear thy wisdom.

What convinced the Queen of Sheba more than the wisdom, more than the wealth and more than the fame of Solomon, was the happiness of his men and his servants. There was joy in the kingdom of Israel. She did not believe any of the reports until she saw the happiness of the people. The same is true in your church. People will come and check it out for themselves, but until they see the happiness of the people in your church, they will not believe. They need to see the joy of the Lord on your people’s faces.

By David Church

 

You have probably seen articles with titles like this before. Every leader has a few good thoughts about increasing the attendance of their church on a given Sunday or about growing the overall attendance of their church. If you happen to lack for idea’s there are all kinds great idea’s in books and magazines, on blogs and on websites, but I will leave that to you. I want to take you back to the book of Acts and investigate what caused such tremendous growth amongst the first century church.
The Bible says in;

Acts 2:42-47
42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.
43 And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.
44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common;45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.
46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,
47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

The final verse of Acts, chapter two, ends with two phrases that really catch my attention:

  • Having favor with all the people.
  • The Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

The last phrase ,"added daily to the church", is our goal, yet it cannot be accomplished without first having, " favor with people." You will never grow your church unless you have favor with people. You will never win people to Christ unless you first win peoples favor. One of the reasons that Jesus was so successful and had so many people following Him was because He had favor with man.

Luke 2:52
52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.

Jesus had favor with God and with man. The Greek word for favor is ‘charis’, which simply means gratitude. To have favor with people is for people to feel grateful to you for something you have done. In the simplest of terms, you gain favor with people by the way you treat them and the way that you love them. If you love people, you will win them!

People were grateful to Jesus because He cared for them, loved them, fed them and healed them. In order for your church to grow, people must feel grateful for what you are doing for them through the ministries of your church.

In this text there are five things that these very first Christians did that give us a clear and concise blueprint for consistent growth in our churches. In each of these efforts, I believe that the church gained favor with the people.

1. They Continued in the Apostles Doctrine.

The scripture is abundantly clear that there is only one truth. The Apostles had that truth. As the church progressed, there were many false prophets that began to rise up and teach other doctrines. Paul wrote of this in;

Gal 1:6-9
6 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:
7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.
8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
9 As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.

One of the things that caused tremendous growth in the early church is, "they continued steadfastly in the Apostle’s doctrine." The Apostles and the early leaders of the church did not go running after other doctrines. The loved this truth and eventually died for it. They guarded this truth, yet they shared this truth. The lived this truth and they preached this truth. Although we live in a different time, I believe that people still want to know the truth. People do not like to be lied to. Programs are great, but what people really need is the Truth.

When people understand that you hold nothing back, when they understand that you will tell them the whole Truth, they will see that you really do care for their souls. People will drive for miles to hear a preacher who feeds them with Truth. Ultimately it is the Truth that saves people, when people begin to see and understand that, there is nothing that will stop them from coming to your church. Paul stated in;

Acts 20:27-31
27 For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.
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.
29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.
30 Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.
31 Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.

People will be grateful for a pastor and a church that does not shun to declare the whole counsel of God to them. People will be grateful for a pastor who compassionately warns them of following false prophets. You will gain their favor, and ultimately you will grow your church by continuing in the Apostles doctrine.

2. They fellowshipped and broke bread together.

How do you feel when you are invited to dinner at somebody’s home? Are you grateful for their friendship? Do you want to return the favor? Of course you do. So I could say then, that they have gained your gratitude or favor.

One of the easiest ways to gain favor with somebody is to invite them over for dinner, or take them out for dinner. Break bread with them. Fellowship with them. You can grow your church by simply having more fellowship together. It is as easy as that, yet because we are so busy, we fail in this effort over and over again. Don’t let that happen in your church, make time for fellowship. Jesus gained favor with publicans and sinners when he sat down to eat dinner with them.

Mark 2:15
15 And it came to pass, that, as Jesus sat at meat in his house, many publicans and sinners sat also together with Jesus and his disciples: for there were many, and they followed him.

The scripture states that many began to follow Jesus because he sat down and ate dinner with them. It can’t get much easier than that. Fellowship, Fellowship, Fellowship, you can’t have too much. It is a key to growth. Show me a church that is fellowshipping together and I will show you a church that is growing.

As a pastor, you must find ways to keep the fellowship going. Care groups, friendship groups, prayer groups, youth functions….whatever causes fellowship to happen is great. Be the example and lead your church in fellowship with one another. People will follow you if you do.

3. They Prayed together.

It goes without saying that there is nothing that can replace prayer. We all need our alone time in prayer with God, but we must also pray corporately. There is nothing like a good old fashioned prayer meeting. Getting together with one another and interceding for their needs. When you bind together and truly pray for someone’s needs, that person becomes so grateful to you. You will win that person’s favor in no time at all if you continue to show them that kind of compassion.

I had the privilege of attending one of the Tuesday night prayer meetings at Brooklyn Tabernacle back in 1990. Since that time their prayer meetings have become legendary. Many have heard of the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir, but what really built that church was their Tuesday night prayer meetings.

What I experienced wasn’t a church service, it wasn’t a typical prayer meeting. It was something that I will never forget. From the first moment that I witnessed the crowd, I couldn’t believe there were so many there for prayer meeting. There were over two thousand people in attendance. When we call our prayer meetings, we are lucky if twenty percent of the church shows up. As I searched for a seat in the balcony area, (when was the last time you had to search for a seat at a prayer meeting) I noticed a very large group of people in the choir loft. I figured these were the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir. That would explain why so many people were present, they had come to hear this famous choir. Yet as I sat there and observed, the only people that sang where a group of praise singers. The people in the choir loft were not singing, they were praying. At one point, as Pastor Cymbala led in prayer, those in the choir loft came out and started praying over the lives of those in the sanctuary. They were weeping and crying and praying the will of God over every person in the building.

I wept and watched as the people in the balcony prayed individually, in pairs, in small groups, and also corporately. From about 5 pm when the doors first opened, to about 11 pm when the last person left there were people praying for the needs of their community. What an amazing experience it was. Is it any wonder that Brooklyn Tabernacle has gained favor with the people of New York City, and the entire world for that matter?

Our churches have to get back to praying together just like they did in the first century. God has always intended that His house be a house of prayer for all people. Brooklyn Tabernacle is a house of prayer. We need to turn our churches into houses of prayer.

Isa 56:7
7 Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people.

2 Chronicles 7:14-16
14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. 15 Now mine eyes shall be open, and mine ears attent unto the prayer that is made in this place. 16 For now have I chosen and sanctified this house, that my name may be there for ever: and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually.

Do people recognize your church as a church that prays? When people come into your church, do they immediately feel the presence of God? They should. They should always remember your church as the church that prays, and the church where God answers. There is nothing that will gain favor with people like answered prayers. Your prayer meetings will grow, your church will grow, and people will spread the word wherever they go.

4. They sold their possessions and goods for those in need.

Everyone who calls themselves a Christian is called to provide for those in need! That is what Jesus did when He walked amongst us, and that is what we should do. In fact, if we want to make it to heaven, it is a requirement. Jesus had to explain this to His disciples one day. The passage is found in;

Matt 25:42-46
42 For I was an hungry, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: 43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. 44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? 45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. 46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

The reason God requires this of us is because we are called to love our neighbors as we love ourselves and we are called to love one another as God has loved us!

Matt 22:39
39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

John 15:12-13
12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. 13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

There is an underlying principle of love and compassion at work in this part of ministry. Would you feed yourself if you were hungry? Of course you would. Would you sell a piece of your own property if you and your family were in need of finances? Of course you would. Would God do the same? Of course He would. So we can do no less for others than what we would do for ourselves or what God would do for us. The scripture also says;

John 13:35
35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

This is how all men will know we are Christians. This is how your community will recognize that your church is a "True Church". They will know by the love that you show to your community. A church that gives to the needy will be recognized in your city as a loving, caring, and compassionate church. The entire city will become grateful to you. When the time comes that they need a church, they will remember your church because your church was the church that helped one of their family members, your church was the church that visited their aunt in the hospital.

Every church must be involved in the ministry of benevolence. Start a food pantry. Offer free dinners to the homeless on a regular basis. Purchase shoes for those who need them. Start a prison ministry. Visit the sick. Have a block party in an inner city area where you can give gifts to those who might never receive any from their own families. Find some way to give back to the community. Let your city know that you are there to make a difference in the lives of those in need. Your city will be forever grateful to you for doing so.

5. They continued with one accord at the Temple every day.

There are two messages that I get out of this passage of scripture. The first is consistency. We all know that simply being consistent in our efforts will bring success. A little bit here and a little bit there. Don’t change when everyone else is changing. Keep at it every day. Take up your cross every day.

Acts 5:42
42 And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.

Luke 9:23
23 And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.

The second message that I get out of this passage is this; The fact that they went to the Temple every day, tells me that the Temple was open to the public every day. A church that has its doors open for guests and members every day is a church that has something going on. People will come to a church that has something going on.The bible states that we ought to gather ourselves together more and more as we see that day approaching;

Heb 10:25
25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

There is no doubt that the day of the Lord is quickly approaching, yet it seems that we are meeting fewer times a week than we ever have before. The first century church had success in part by meeting in one accord at the Temple every day. I know that is not feasible in our society. We all have jobs and commitments that pull us away every day. I am not saying that we have to have a service every day, we don’t need to have an organized event every day, but what we do need is a church that is available to our community every day.

It wouldn’t be difficult for the church doors to be open every day for prayer, for fellowship, for bible study, for basic the needs of the community. Sometimes they just want to know that you are there, that is what causes favor in people. That makes a huge difference. A church that has its doors open every day is a church that has something happening. People will go where it is happening. People go where the action is.

Have you ever wondered why Catholic churches get so many members? A large part of their success is in their availability to the community every day. The priests are available every day. In fact, a Priest is required to perform at least one mass every day, even if no one else is there. It is one of the vows he takes upon his ordination. Their doors are open all the time. With the doors of the church open every day, it is easier for people to go in and talk to a priest on a weekday when the crowds are smaller. This gives the people are closer connection to their leader and causes them to feel grateful for the time that he spent with them.

Why can’t our doors be open more than they are? Why can’t we be available more than we are? It wouldn’t be that difficult. I believe that people would be very grateful for the effort. Remember gratefulness is favor, and favor will bring great growth to your church.

Acts 2:47
47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved

By Michael McFarland

 

If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. (John 15:19)

We are in this world but we are not of this world.  God has a place prepared for us.  John said he saw a new heaven and a new earth (Rev. 21:1).  There is coming a day when the trumpet shall sound and time will be no more and we will be caught up to be with Him.

We’ve all preached about Heaven.  We’ve heard songs sung about Heaven and saw dramas depicting what Heaven is going to be like.   It’s going to be a wonderful place where we will be with the One who saved us!  That great and marvellous day is soon approaching.  We are closer now than we have ever been.  Prophecy in Scripture is coming to pass and things are being fulfilled that let us know that we are definitely living in the End time.  The song says "I can almost hear the trumpet!" 

As pastors and spiritual leaders we have many things on our plates.  We have schedules, deadlines and appointments to fulfill.  Our calendars are filled up with church meetings and conferences before we even get a chance to plan a family vacation.  We run out of room to write in our daily planners.  We are busy with Kingdom work.  We are constantly about our Father’s business.  It would be all too easy to just quit and justify our quitting with being "burnt out."  However, if we could see with our spiritual eyes just how close we are to reaching our final destination.  If we could know exactly how close we are to the coming of the Lord, we would work faster and harder than we have ever worked before.  We would load up on Bible studies and go teach our whole neighborhood the Word of God.  If we could only see!

In 1952, young Florence Chadwick stepped into the waters of the Pacific Ocean off of Catalina Island, determined to swim to the shore of mainland California.  She’d already been the first woman to swim the English Channel both ways.  The weather was foggy and chilly; she could hardly see the boats accompanying her.  Still, she swam for fifteen hours.  When she begged to be taken out of the water along the way, her mother, in a boat alongside, told her she was close and that she could make it.  Finally, physically and emotionally exhausted, she stopped swimming and was pulled out.  It wasn’t until she was on the boat that she discovered the shore was less than half a mile away.  At a news conference the next day she said, "All I could see was the fog… I think if I could have seen the shore, I would have made it."

We are almost home.  We are almost to the shore.  Don’t let the "fog" of the world and Satan blind us from our destination.  Don’t let the duties that come along with being a pastor or spiritual leader get you burnt out and ready to give up everything.  God has called you to the kingdom for such a time as this (Esther 4:14).

Knowing that He could come any day now is exciting!  I definitely want to be ready and have oil in my lamp when the Bridegroom cometh (Matt. 25:6).  I don’t want to be caught sleeping and not living for God.  Now is not the time to lose out with God.  Now is not the time to walk away from everything we know is true and right.  It is not time to backslide and go back to what God saved us from.  Now more than ever we should be contending for the faith (Jude 3).  We should keep fighting the good fight and not give up!  Now is not the time to lay down our spiritual sword and throw in the towel.  We’ve come too far to turn back now!  Keep preaching!  Keep reaching!  Keep teaching Bible studies!  We are not too far from home!

 

By Michael McFarland

 

John 4:23
But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.
There are many worship services going on today but too many lack Holy Ghost (Holy Spirit) involvement.  The only way to lead a Spirit-filled worship service is if those doing the leading are filled with the Spirit.  Sounds basic I know, but it really is the answer to leading a true Holy Ghost inspired worship service.  Those who are involved need to have a true love for worshipping God and they need to express that while leading.  The musicians, singers and anyone on the platform leading worship should be full of the Holy Ghost themselves (John 20:22). 

Lead by example!  When you are singing songs about worship and you yourself are not worshipping, you are sending the wrong message.  As "worship leaders" we should be leaders of worship.  To lead someone is to show someone the way.  While leading worship, one should not feel constrained or bound by anything.  Outward demonstrative worship requires us doing just that…demonstrating worship!  Whatever the Lord impresses on your heart to do while leading, you should do without hesitation.

2 Corinthians 3:17 – Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. Liberty- freedom from control, interference, obligation, restriction, hampering conditions, etc.; power or right of doing, thinking, speaking, etc., according to choice.

Pray to be sensitive to the Lord’s leading.  The Lord knows in each and every service, where He wants to take the congregation.  If we limit Him by not leading the way we are supposed to lead, the service goes in the wrong direction.  We should pray every service to be sensitive to His voice and that He would show us what He would have us do in that service.  Worship is not something we do for anyone else but for our Creator.  Worship is something that does not require the attention or approval of anyone else but our Lord and Savior!  We were created to worship Him.  He doesn’t make or force us to do it, it is something He wants us to do from the bottom of our hearts.  He gives us the choice to worship Him or to not worship Him. 

Don’t force worship on anyone.  Because He doesn’t make us do it we are not allowed to make others do it either.  Urge it, press it, push it, encourage it and even insist on it, but never make someone do it if they don’t want to.  Worship is not something that can be forced upon people.  You can’t make people do something that they do not want to do.  If worship is not something that is in the heart of someone, they will not be involved and, in fact, will feel very uncomfortable around true worshippers. 

Luke 6:45 – A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.

If someone loves God with all of their heart, they will want to express this love for Him through their worship. 

Seek to please the Lord.  If we want to see the fruits of our labor we should seek to please Him with our worship services.  We are not on the platform in front of everyone to entertain others with our beautiful singing and talented musicians.  We are not to bring glory to ourselves (1 Corinthians 1:29) but to worship and praise our King.  For us to see results in our worship services and see people filled with the Holy Ghost, we have to learn to follow the leading of the Spirit.

Ezekiel 13:3 – Thus saith the Lord GOD; Woe unto the foolish prophets, that follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing!

To effectively lead a Spirit-filled worship service is to follow the Spirit.

 

By Unknown Author

A question haunts many conscientious leaders. Although many people receive the Holy Spirit, many do not remain. Their new birth often proves to be more of a stillbirth. How can we reduce the number of stillbirths and lead newborn Christians into meaningful relationships with the Lord and the church?

Statistics reveal that unless a new convert is able to develop six or seven new relationships in the church within 9 months, he will probably leave the church. To compensate for this, we need to develop a caring community to nurture and integrate these people into the life of the church. Such a program will include:

1.     A strong commitment from the leadership, not only to reap, but to keep the harvest;
2.     A method for nurturing new converts; and
3.     A way to help the new convert make friends in the church.

Here is a method that is working in several churches:
1. Start with a new convert’s follow- up class to be taught by the pastor. He may later turn it over to someone else with the ability to care for, teach, and nurture new converts.
2. Find one or two couples who are outreach oriented, motivated by love, and loyal to the pastor to work in the area of new convert follow-up.
3. Enroll new converts immediately in a new converts class, or assign them to a couple who will be nurturers.
4. Assimilate new converts into the mainstream of the church. They may feel comfortable in their new class and not want to leave, but it is important for them to become involved in the total life of the church.
Churches that develop an effective caring, nurturing ministry are retaining up to 60 percent of their new converts. You can keep those you reach by developing relationships and establishing spiritual foundations in new converts.
 

By Michael McFarland

 

"And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled"  (Luke 14:23)

Compel:  to drive or urge forcefully or irresistibly.

Most people are "nervous" when it comes to inviting guests to church.  In fact, most people are afraid to even talk to someone about Church or about God.  They are afraid that they won’t have all of the right answers. They are afraid of rejection and many other things that the devil will use to get them to dislike outreach. So, how do we get our people to buy into inviting people to church?  We must first ask the question "Are the leaders of the church soul-winners?"  Is winning souls something that drives us every day?  Remember, the sheep will follow their shepherd.

1.  You can’t sell something if you haven’t yourself bought into it first.  If soul-winning is your passion and what drives you, it will come out in every message and in everything you say and do.  It is a part of you.  It is who you are.  It’s not a chore or an inconvenience to you, but it is part of your make up.  You do it without thinking about it and it has become second nature to you.  If you passionately preach and teach on soul-winning long enough, the people will feel your excitement and buy into what you are selling.

2.  Teach on this Biblical fact:  Witnessing is a command.  Once we receive the Holy Spirit, we receive the Power to be a witness. Jesus instructs us that we SHALL be witnesses (Acts 1:8).   He doesn’t ask us if we want to or if we feel like it or if it fits into our schedule. He commands us to be witnesses.  When we invite people to our church we are displaying our witness.   We are showing them that going to church and learning more about God is what we enjoy doing and that it is part of our life.

3.  Have a "PUSH" service every week or every month.  A very productive way to encourage people to invite their friends and family is to have a service that is designed just for them.  These "PUSH" services can be held every month.  In these services, every aspect of the service is tailored around the guests.  Every song, every message, and every word that is spoken is in an effort to reach out and connect with the guests.   You can hold contests and competitions to see who can bring the most guests or family members.  You can create charts and visual aids to help generate excitement to invite guests.  But everything and every effort you do for those services are geared towards outreach.  You can name these services Friend’s Day, Family Day, PUSH service, or any other creative name you can come up with.  These services are very important and should be at the top of our priority list. 

4.  Give the people an easy 5 steps plan to follow.

a. First of all, how is our relationship with God?  When everything is truly right with God in our lives, we will want to invite people to our church!

b. Keep a positive testimony before others.  We all have our own little "world" that we come in contact with everyday.  In our schools, on our jobs, in our neighbourhoods and in the everyday places we go, we should make sure that we keep a positive testimony.  This will greatly affect our outreach efforts!

c.  Pray that God gives us a deep burden for the lost.  We must love people to truly reach out to them.  Pray that God gives us hunger and desire to win the lost.  Pray that soul winning is something that will always stay on our minds throughout the day.  Every person we come in contact with has a soul.  That person will spend their eternity in Heaven or in Hell.  Their final destination is in your hands. That truth should motivate us to reach out to everyone we meet!

d.  Every day, pray that God would lead us to hungry souls and that we would have the opportunity to invite them to our church.  Before we leave our houses in the morning, pray that God would open doors for us to meet people who are hungry and desiring more for their lives.  God will lead you if you are willing to be led!  Also, pray to be sensitive to His leading.  God knows who is hungry and will order our steps to meet these people.  When that opportunity arises, make sure you listen to the person and pick up on "life clues" that you can use to ask them to come to church.  Life issues, traumas, sicknesses, or others can be key issues in getting that person to visit your church.  You can say something like this:  "My church is a place that will help you right now in your time of need.  Will you be my guest this Sunday?"

e.  Have faith that God will bless your efforts!  We can be assured that God will bless our efforts every time!  We can only plant and water, but it’s God that gives the increase (1 Cor. 3:6).  If we do our part, He will definitely do His!

 

By James Smith

Home Friendship Groups (Cell ministry), are gaining greater and greater interest as we hear the success stories from those who have ventured into this ministry. The largest and fastest growing churches in the world are churches with HFG’s.

10 years ago, the Lord began to speak to me about a model of ministry that to my knowledge, no one was doing at that time. (little did I know) Often, I would look over the congregation and notice people who were faithful to church services, but because of a lack of available positions in the church or their inability to find their own personal ministry, they weren’t doing much for the Lord. I also noticed that many visitors and new converts were coming into the church and going right back out since they had no one to befriend or disciple them. As much as these churches had great evangelistic efforts, there was no clear cut program or ministry that was designed for the purpose of retaining new converts.

A short time later, my wife and I began a new church in Chesterton, IN. Within a year, I became very frustrated. I was attempting to model this young church’s government and ministry after the larger well established, management driven churches I had been a part of. About that time, I began to hear about Cell ministry. I even found some books which told of the tremendous success of Yonggi Cho’s church in Seoul, Korea and Rick Warren’s church in Saddleback, CA, as well as several others.

It wasn’t long before the Lord directed me to Pastor Anthony Tamel’s church in Oak Creek WI. I attended their New Wineskins seminar and wept as they showed me that God was changing my paradigm for church evangelism and discipleship.

With their help and training, we soon brought HFG’s to our small church in Chesterton and watched as the Lord transformed peoples lives to both disciple and become discipled through HFG’s. After 6 years of pastoring the church in Chesterton, I began to feel the Lord direct me to turn the church over to the man who assisted me. With that, I heard God tell me to not take another church right away. I felt that the Lord was directing me to make myself available to help teach and train other churches, in the area of Home Friendship Groups.

After discussing this burden with two area Pastors of larger churches, they both asked me to come there and help them train their leaders and raise up HFG’s in their church. Both churches now have young, successful HFG ministries.

I have spoken at several churches on the subject of HFG’s and have worked very closely with other pastors who have or are in the process of raising up HFG’s in their local church. Home Friendship Groups are very much like early Apostolic evangelism. It’s entirely more reflective of true Apostolic ministry than most of today’s church structure that is management driven at best.

Consider that 1/3 of the churches in America don’t grow over 50. Another 1/3 don’t exceed 150. And 25% will stop growing at 350. Ask yourself, "Why is that?" Consider that the average church in America only has 80 members. Can I suggest that 80 is all one man or woman can effectively minister to. What would happen if we could turn every member into a minister? No, I did not say Pastor, I said minister. We are all called to minister, but in our current way of doing things, the ministering is left to one man – the Pastor! I’m sure you know that there are a few folks in your church that could (if asked to) help with many lesser areas of ministry that become burdensome to the Pastor. Hey, one person can only do so much!

A study was done on 50 people who were assimilated into a church and 50 who were not. 90% of those who remained had 6 or more people who they considered their friends in that church. 98% of the people who left had less than 6 friends. Of those who had 8 or more friends, all stayed and if their closest friends were in the church, they were more active (ministry) in the church. That’s amazing to me. For years, I thought it had to do with how good a preacher I was. Or how nice the building looked. If this study is reflective of most churches, it is showing that relationships are by far the most important part of the evangelism process.

If a person does not find 7 close friends in the church within the first 7 weeks, that person will soon leave. Think about that for a moment.
Aren’t you tired of counting baptisms all year, only to realize that few of these new converts are still in the Church the following year? Folks, God is not for abortion. Physical or spiritual. He does not entrust us with a great soul harvest simply because we are not capable of retaining it when it comes. Would you? Think about it – is your church currently capable of mentoring and discipleing 100 new people should the Lord give them to the Church this week?

What if the state came and shut your church doors. If Anti-Christ got a head start in America and was able to close down the churches, where would your saints worship? What if your church membership doubled this month? Would there be room for exponential growth? Probably not. In fact those people would leave as fast as they came, since there would be no room for them. With a HFG ministry, a congregation would immediately have a network of support and places to worship should the central church building not be available for any reason.
Home Friendship Group ministry makes immediate room for the new convert, giving them 6-12 new friends in the church who work together to mentor and disciple this person thus ensuring his/her success and effectiveness in the church.
 

By Michael McFarland

 

Yes.

When God fills us with His Spirit and we become a member of the body of Christ (Romans 12:5) we automatically have a ministry.  What is that ministry?  Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:17 –

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 18And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; 19To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.

We have a ministry of reconciliation.  Reconcile is a verb that means to reconsecrate (devote or dedicate to some purpose).  Our responsibility to our world is one that requires us to reach out and "minister" to those in need.  There are various ministries that we can take on.  Whether one is a greeter as David desired in Psalm 84:10 –

For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.

or one desires the office of a bishop as in 1 Timothy 3:1 –

This is a true saying, if a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.

There are many different but important forms of ministry. Sunday School departments are in dire need of people who have a passion to teach and encourage children.  Youth groups are in desperate need for someone who has compassion, patience and understanding for young people.  If you can sing or play an instrument that is an important form of ministry.  Being involved in an outreach program is using your ministry.As you can see, there are many avenues to fulfill your ministry.  The definition of the word minister is to give service, care, or aid; attend, as to wants or necessities.  When you fix a flat for someone, when you buy groceries for the person in line in front of you who can’t afford them, when you take your neighbors’ children to Sunday School, when you give money to the homeless you are ministering to the people of your world.  You are being Christ-like or a true Christian.

Matthew 25:34 –

Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: 36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. 37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? 38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? 39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? 40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

The answer to the question of "Do I have a Ministry?" is an emphatic YES!

By James Smith

 

If you desire for people to follow you, you have to connect with them.  The catalyst of your relationship with them at any level may very well have to be a result of your constant effort to associate with them. An unbeliever’s only basis for coming into the knowledge of truth may well be his relationship with his teacher/preacher.

Connect with them on a personal level.  Find out what it is that interests them and try to find a common interest.  Get to know them personally.  Visit their home.  Invite them to yours.  Go places with them. Let them know you care for them on more than a Pastoral level.  If they consider you to be their friend, they will support you much more than if you are only an authority to them.

Connect with them on a professional level.  If he is a doctor, read a few books on the latest surgery procedures.  If he coaches football, learn a bit about the game.  If she is a teacher, talk education with her.

Connect with them in your preaching.  Personalize your preaching.  Major newspapers write their articles on the 6th grade educational level.  Hence they are able to reach a broader audience than if they wrote them on the college level where most people may not understand certain wording.  Bring bible stories and situations into present day circumstances.  Touch home once in a while.

Connect them to others in the church.  Without good relationships in the church, new converts do not stay.  If a person has only a few people they are connected with in the church, their chances of staying are much higher than someone who does not find relationships within the church.  Create ministries to get them connected.