As great as soul-winning ‘power encounters’ are, there’s more to the story.
There’s nothing more exciting than leading someone to Christ through a “power encounter” hosted by the Holy Spirit. I’ve seen a waitress come to Christ because a group of us out for lunch simply showed Christ’s love and talked to her and gave her words of knowledge—even one about her cat! I’ve also experienced times in which the Spirit of God is so tangible during ministry or a personal interaction that people have asked me, “What is this, and how do I come to know this Jesus you are talking about?”
My friend Charles wanted a mentor. He was eager to learn the ropes of ministry, so he asked an older pastor for training. The pastor agreed—but Charles soon realized the man wanted a valet, not an apprentice. Charles became the man’s “armor bearer.”
The man never took Charles on hospital visits, involved him in ministry assignments or prayed with him. Instead, Charles was expected to carry the pastor’s briefcase, fetch coffee and take suits to the cleaners—with no salary offered. In this case, “armor bearer” was a spiritualized term for “slave.”
This bizarre trend became popular in churches 20 years ago, but it still thrives. It appeals to insecure leaders who need an entourage to make them feel important. Some pastors have even assigned trainees to serve as bodyguards—complete with dark glasses and concealed weapons. These young men are instructed to keep people away from the pastor so he doesn’t have to talk to anyone after a church service (because, after all, the poor preacher might be “drained of his anointing” if he fraternizes with common folks).
What every church can do about human sex trafficking—now
Can I be blunt and say that I’m sick and tired of churches and ministries that are committed to “raising awareness” about sex trafficking?
We’re living in a time in which the world has more modern-day slaves than ever before. The United Nations crime-fighting office estimates that at any given time, 2.4 million people are being trafficked—and of those, half are children. Nearly 80 percent of those 2.4 million are being exploited as sexual slaves.
Although it’s difficult to cite an exact figure, we know that no country is providing more girls per capita than Moldova, where I’ve worked for more than 20 years. Right now, 450,000 women and girls have simply and mysteriously vanished from the tiny country—more than 12 percent of the nation’s total population!
Taking the first step in leading others to share their faith
Willing men inspire fear.
The one thing Satan fears more than any other is a man of God who’s willing to say two little words each day: “Use me.” As leaders, we especially grab the enemy’s attention when God burdens us to begin inviting others to explore a relationship with Christ. Satan will stop at nothing to keep us from fusing these two little words in our prayers; he knows he needs to keep them separate in leaders’ lives. Using something else is much better, he’ll say to us—people, substances, credit cards, false motivations, feelings. Using these things now is optimal.
If the enemy can make us a dedicated user, distracting our lives and minds with other things, he knows we won’t be available for God to use us. So go on, he says, use, abuse and blow a fuse! Satan would love to decommission you, dishonorably discharge you and destroy your availability to lead and be used by God.
A friend of mine who pastors a church of 120 people in a town of 1,000 recently told me about a strange encounter he had with a megachurch pastor in another area about what constitutes a megachurch. The megachurch pastor led a church of 10,000 in a town of 600,000 and told my friend that if your church was reaching at least 1 percent of the population of your town, then you were leading a megachurch.
His assertion made my friend wonder if this was really true or was it just faulty logic. He asked this pastor how he would classify a church that was reaching 12 percent of the town’s population. The pastor was stunned.
“Who is doing that?” he asked.
“Our church is consistently running 120 people in a small town of 1,000!” my friend responded. To which the megachurch pastor quickly replied, “Yes, but that’s a different model .”
Two years ago I moved to southern New Hampshire with my family. Prior to that, we had been involved deeply in a church plant for almost a decade—serving in leadership, developing marketing tools, and loving the people in that community like family.
Losing that family was hard; trying to find a new church home was even harder. For more than two years, I visited approximately 20 churches within a half hour from my new home. These churches ranged from tiny (40 people) to huge (more than 3,000). They were evangelical, mainline, charismatic, denominational and independent. I heard hard rock gospel music, traditional hymns set to organ music and everything in between.