Ministry Leadership

Yes, Pastor, You Also Need a Sabbath Day

Kim Martinez photoPastor Jeff is at it again—this is his third week in a row without a break.

Monday is his day off, and he takes it. But most weeks, it looks like this:

1. Get up early to “enjoy” time with the kids (who are not morning people and therefore not very enjoyable).

2. Then, once the kids are off, he sits to have quiet time. Lately, whenever he opens the Scriptures, he sees options for his next sermon and starts jotting them down.

3. The morning quickly fades, and the “honey do” list needs attention. Jeff mows the lawn, fixes the gutter and trims the hedges.

4. To ease stress on the family and give his wife a break, Jeff decides to make dinner.

5. The kids need shepherding through chores and homework and, at long last, it is time for real rest.

6. But it is almost bedtime, and tomorrow morning is staff meeting. Jeff takes a few moments to collect his thoughts for Tuesday and finally falls asleep.

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10 Dangerous Church Paradigms

danger-church-320x320I’ve been in church all my life. Along the way, I’ve seen and learned a lot. Almost all the insight I have into church has come by experience.

I have observed, for example, that paradigms can often shape a church’s culture. A paradigm, in simple terms, is a mind-set—a way of thinking. In this case, it's a collective mind-set of the church, often programmed into the church’s culture.

If the church is unhealthy, part of the reason could be because it has some wrong paradigms. In that case, it will almost always need a paradigm shift in order to be a healthier church again.

Recently, I’ve been thinking of some of the paradigms that impact a church. I’ll look at some of the negative ones in this post, and in another post I'll share some of the positive paradigms that can impact a church.

Here are 10 dangerous church paradigms:

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Francis Frangipane: What It Means to Be Seated With Christ

holy-spirit-and-you-istock-petewillbigPsalm 2, perhaps more then any other Bible text, accurately portrays the spirit of our time. Indeed, it also proclaims our correct response to Satan’s bold advance. Although it was quoted by the early church (Acts 4:25-26), God has set its full realization for the end of this age.

"Why are the nations in an uproar, And the peoples devising a vain thing?
The kings of the earth take their stand, And the rulers take counsel together
Against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying, 'Let us tear their fetters apart
And cast away their cords from us!'" (Psalm 2:1-3, NASB)

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Steve Hill: Getting Back to the Amazingness of Grace

happy-woman-field-free-in-grace-stockfreeimagesFor some reason known only to the Lord I am reminded of a dear saint of God who would be spiritually crushed by the lack of depth in today’s Christian world. Of course, I can’t speak for him, but I can speak about him. He was radically saved by the grace and mercy of God. His encounter with Jesus has become known throughout the world. However, his name, his face and his story are almost insignificant. But not to me.

Probably one of the most recognized songs in English Christianity is “Amazing Grace,” published in 1779. Imagine its origin, scratched out with a quill pen on some type of crude parchment by John Newton, a slave trader who experienced the pure mercy and grace of God. Little did he know that his poetic personal prayer to Jesus would be recorded thousands of times and be adored by generations of grateful sinners who knew exactly what he was expressing. I would imagine the rendition of “Amazing Grace” delivered by a band of bagpipes has brought overwhelming inspiration to countless millions.

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Qualified

By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. — 2 Peter 1:3

"Sorry, you just don't have the experience we're looking for."

"Sorry, but we're looking for someone with a little more education."

"What were some major accomplishments (if any), while being a stay-at-home parent?"

"While working at your previous company, did you do any volunteer work at all?"

It can really be tough in the job market. After a few interviews and even more rejection letters, a person can feel completely inadequate. Fortunately, in God's economy, every believer is immediately qualified for Kingdom work. Peter reminds us that the Holy Spirit equips each believer with everything necessary to please our Father. That's great news.

But, even within the earthly church, it's easy to feel inadequate when surrounded by believers with long histories of ministry or the ability to memorize long passages of Scripture. We need to remember that nothing more special than the Holy Spirit is required to serve God effectively. We all have everything necessary to do our jobs within the Kingdom.

Still, Peter doesn't stop with this reassurance. He challenges every believer to add personal disciplines that will build character, mature us, and be used to encourage the church as a whole. He goes on to write, "Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone" (2 Peter 1:5-7).

The pursuit of these virtues is just one way of expressing our thanks and love to the God who rescued us from our complete inadequacy. Having the Holy Spirit with us at all times, we can depend on him to guide us through the stresses that are used to hone these virtues. All that is asked of us is that we continue on and not give up.

Being fully equipped by the Holy Spirit, let's heed his guidance and pursue spiritual maturity. May we ever strive to become all that God has called us to be, and may he ever grant us the ability to serve him faithfully.

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Quit Trying to Be Big … and Just Be Faithful

F-Gimenez-the-callOur culture says bigger is better. But in the kingdom of God, less is often more.

There’s nothing more disheartening to a preacher than to see empty seats in a church service. I’ll be honest—I like meetings where you have to pull out extra chairs and put people in the aisles. Why? Because I assume if God’s blessing is on a meeting it will be packed. I like numbers because, in my carnal thinking, crowds are more significant.

Our culture puts value on things depending on how popular they are, and we are guilty of applying this rule in the church. We like big. We even rate churches based on size. We know that the three largest churches in America in 2013 are (1) Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church, (2) Andy Stanley’s North Point Ministries and (3) Bill Hybels’ Willow Creek Community Church. The assumption is that these churches are leading the way in making spiritual impact.

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