I believe the most overlooked key to growing a church is this: We must love unbelievers the way Jesus did. Without His passion for the lost, we will be unwilling to make the sacrifices necessary to reach them.
Jesus loved lost people. He loved spending time with them. He went to their parties. From the Gospels, it is obvious that Jesus enjoyed being with seekers far more than being with religious leaders. He was called the “friend of sinners” (see Luke 7:34). How many people would call your church that?
Jesus loved being with people and they felt it. Even little children wanted to be around Jesus, which speaks volumes about what kind of person he was and what kind of pastor he’d be. Children instinctively seem to gravitate toward loving, accepting people.
I knew a man very well who went to work for a major ministry. He quickly worked his way into a position of leadership. Whenever he was in the presence of the president of the ministry, he was the picture of honor.
From serving the man water, juice, etc., to buckling him in his car, to displaying the most incredible outward show of honor and respect once could imagine. But when he was not in the presence of the mentor, he would second-guess his boss and make ever increasing disparaging remarks.
This man had a hidden agenda. He was operating under the deception that he would one day take this man’s ministry, which, sadly, he eventually attempted to do through a five-year series of frivolous and totally unsuccessful lawsuits against his mentor.
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.
Two paths. Robert Frost wrote about them, and Kid President pep talked about them. But what are the two paths?
All leaders have two options, two paths, two choices—faith or fear.
While reading the Book of Joshua recently, I noticed those two paths, and I prayed that I would never do what ten of the twelve leaders (spies) did to the people they were called to lead.
Why do you want to make disciples? Have you ever asked yourself that question?
As followers of Christ, we should be focused on making disciples. But if we don’t do it with the right motives, we are simply wasting our time. Worse yet, we could be doing more harm than good. If God cared only about outward appearances and our participation in religious activities, then any effort toward ministry would please Him. The Pharisees would have been heroes of the faith.
After all, they were continuously engaged in ministry: They vigorously pursued outward demonstrations of godliness; they made sure the people around them kept themselves holy; and they diligently taught the law of God. And yet Jesus’ harshest words in Scripture were always reserved for these religious overachievers.
But despite Jesus' instructions, the report of his power spread even faster, and vast crowds came to hear him preach and to be healed of their diseases. But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer. — Luke 5:15-16
Our society wants us to spend every waking second of our lives doing something. As a result, the pace of life can become quite daunting. There are clients to meet, deadlines to make, calls to return. We run at 10,000 RPM for the entire day, then make our way home and have to deal with cooking dinner, washing laundry, and getting the kids to bed.
We must learn to slow down in life. Racecars cannot be repaired while on the track, so why do we think we can "be still, and know" God (Psa. 46:10) when we cannot find the time to take a lunch break?
But there is a way to slow down when we're running full throttle all day and night. It's called margin. Put another way, it could be considered a reserve or simply breathing room. Jesus thought it was important enough that he made it a routine part of his life on earth--he recognized his earthly limits and took time to get recharged.
Consider this: When you don't have any margin in your life, you cannot fully accomplish the things God reveals for you to do.
There are numerous ways we can introduce breathing room into our lives. We can learn to say no when we're already overloaded with tasks. We can anticipate the unexpected and add some time to the front end of meetings. We can take opportunities to laugh, cry, and rest. We can also take time to help others in ways that allow them to experience breathing room in their lives.
Don't move so fast that God's voice is lost in the everyday. Take time to slow down and breathe so you can grow and get to know the Savior as a friend.
Are you choosing to be an empowered leader or an empowering one? The results for each one couldn’t be more opposite—or impacting. A leader whose focus is holding on to power will ultimately cause a ministry team to fall apart. A leader who centers on others will grow that team and ultimately develop more leaders who empower others to build the kingdom.
Teams don’t need empowered leaders but leaders who are truly empower-ing, who know that serving a church and ministry team is an honor and a privilege. They make their mark not by controlling the team but by challenging, facilitating and empowering the individuals on the team to realize their collective potential for God’s kingdom purposes.