Is there a way to retire from your pulpit and effectively mentor the incoming pastor? Yes—and two pastors have the model plan.
Is it possible for a church with a large congregation to successfully transition from a pastor of 38 years to a new and younger leader—and experience church growth at the same time? Absolutely, say pastor emeritus Kemp C. Holden and pastor Marty Sloan of Harvest Time church in Fort Smith, Ark.
Ten years ago, during a lengthy stay in the hospital, Holden heard the Lord tell him to position his church for 20 years of growth. As a result, he created a plan to find and train his replacement and prepare his 3,000-member congregation for the change of leadership. Not long afterward, he met Sloan—who was half Kemp’s age—and knew he was to become his successor.
In this article, the pastors each tell how God helped them implement Kemp’s plan, which resulted not just in a successful pastoral transition at Harvest Time, but also in an increase of the church’s conversions, attendance and income.
Dr. Mark Rutland clearly knows how to save struggling organizations. But equally as impressive as his turnaround record is his passion to empower leaders like you for growth.
Anyone can lead when things are going great. Just show up and act like a leader! But when things are going down or there’s crisis, that’s when you find out who are the true leaders.
Dr. Mark Rutland is a true leader. He led a major turnaround in the 1990s at Calvary Assembly in Winter Park, Fla.—the church where Charisma started and where I served on staff for five years. He did it again at Southeastern College (now University) in Lakeland, Fla., where my dad was a professor when I was a teen. Now he’s doing it again at Oral Roberts University (ORU).
Calvary Assembly went through a painful scandal in 1981. And though the church survived, it went from 5,000 attendees to 1,800 within a nine-year period while taking on huge debt to build a 5,500-seat sanctuary. Rutland was able to stave off bankruptcy, heal a hurting congregation and build up attendance to 3,600 before he left.
Daily practices for reigniting spiritual passion
Saint John of the Cross described his relationship with Jesus as the “living flame of love.” The two men Jesus walked with on the road to Emmaus testified that their hearts burned within them as Jesus opened the Scriptures (see Luke 24:32). How do leaders feed this living flame so that the daily pressures of ministry do not smother the fire that should drive our service in the first place?
In my own life, I experienced renewed love for Jesus as I began to see in the Scripture that God relates to His church as His bride and burns with passion and zeal for her. From Genesis through Revelation, one of the themes of the Scriptures is God’s ravished heart for His people. We discover Him as the one who leaves the Father’s home in heaven to cling to His bride and be united to her as a husband becomes one flesh with his wife.
We find Him in the prophetic pictures of Isaac and Rebekah, of Boaz and Ruth, of Esther and the king. We are strengthened by the king’s declaration of love for the bride in the Song of Solomon. We feel the anguish of the Bridegroom’s heart in the prophetic writings as He grieves the spiritual adultery of His people, and we are continually moved by the constancy of His longing for intimacy and commitment to restoration.
Mike Bickle and IHOP-KC prove prayer is far from a boring chore
Two years ago I spent a week in the prayer room at the International House of Prayer (IHOP-KC), led by Mike Bickle. I’ve known Mike for more than 20 years; I’ve watched his vision for 24/7 prayer unfold. I’ve seen the consistency of his life. I’ve watched how his emphasis on prayer, his understanding of the Tabernacle of David and a type of prayer he calls “Harp and Bowl” has changed the lives of thousands—including mine.
God did some deep things in my life that week in Kansas City, Mo., as I spent hours in God’s presence and studying the Word. He also used Mike to surprise me with a lesson on prayer. One afternoon Mike invited me to sit in on a teaching for his leaders. He talked about the importance of systematic prayer using a written prayer list. With a written list, he said, you’ll pray 10 times more than you will without it. Then he handed out a sheet using an acronym for FELLOWSHIP as a model for intimate prayer. (Go to ministrytodaymag.com/fellowshipprayerlist to download a free copy.)
That week I began using a written prayer list and following Mike’s method of intimate prayer. I also began journaling and spending at least an hour in prayer most days. It’s a discipline I continue today.
Unity between the prayer and missions movements has Jesus’ name written all over it
God is arranging a glorious convergence in the earth between prayer ministry and missionary activity. One of our favorite parts of our story at the International House of Prayer of Kansas City, Mo., is the way He brought us into partnership with Youth With A Mission, one of the world’s largest missions agencies. Committing to pray for the ministry of YWAM is a privilege for us, because what God has joined together—missions and prayer ministry—must not be put asunder, and we get to participate in their union.
God’s love is only seen in fullness when the whole body of Christ functions together, and part of our inheritance at IHOP–KC is in the fruit of other ministries. Some speak of “the prayer movement” and “the missions movement” as though they are distinct—if not in conflict with each other. In identifying particular expressions of God’s work, we sometimes lose sight of their integrity. Each of these two movements has attracted some criticism—missions groups for not praying enough and prayer movements for not reaching out in missions enough.
However, missions is not the ultimate goal; worship is. As John Piper so eloquently writes, “Missions exists because worship doesn’t.” Worship is ultimate because Jesus