As our church ramps up to plant a church a year for the next several years, I’ve had conversations with five of my key guys about becoming church planters. Church planting is one of the most challenging sub-categories of pastoral ministry.
One of my guys confessed recently, “I’m struggling with this potential call. I don’t know if I’m willing for my son to grow up hating the church.”
His statement took me back to dozens of pastoral nightmare stories of pastors' kids (PKs) who have walked away from God and the church because they felt forgotten and forsaken by parents who loved the church more than they loved their children.
I was out for a run for the first time in months. A “runner’s injury" to my right foot has been slow in healing. It was great to be off the exercise bike and back outside!
While I was out, another runner passed by me in the other direction and greeted me with a cheery “Hey, keep going!” and a big smile. It was a lifting moment and brought a smile to my face. The next runner passed by within inches of me. I offered a cheerful “Hey!” and he never looked up. The difference was staggering.
That moment was a fresh reminder of how much I appreciate people with a positive and cheerful spirit. They bring life! Others steal life. Both options can take place in a moment.
I spent three days recently at a cabin with five other pastors, holding what we call a roundtable.
I’m from California. We met in Illinois, where there was a blizzard one day and the temperature hit minus 7 degrees one night. I didn’t care. What we were doing was so important, we didn’t need to go outside. We do this every year. We plan to continue doing it until our last days of ministry.
Here’s why I’m involved in a roundtable:
1. These guys inspire me. They’re my friends, all are pastors, and seeing how they live out their commitment to God inspires me. There aren’t too many people who do what we do. One of the guys lost his wife and best friend to cancer in the same year. Another adopted and is raising four high-risk children. A third runs triathlons. All of them are devoted to their wives and to walking in close quarters with Christ. During dark seasons in my ministry, I think of them and it boosts my determination to keep going.
This past weekend, thousands of youth ministers participated in the Simply Youth Ministry Conference. As a participant in the past few, I know that feelings of empowerment and encouragement are flowing through this year's attendees' minds and souls.
The reason these conferences can be such a powerful experience is because of the camaraderie and the opportunity to take a youth ministry “time out”.
The problem with a conference like Simply Youth Ministry is that it’s only a weekend. After a weekend of euphoria you are forced to go home and face:
Our church was in the middle of a building project, and the new sanctuary was almost done. On Sunday morning I overheard a board member: “We should never have given her (the pastor’s wife) the authority to pick out the color. That isn’t white. It’s pink!”
This was my first building project, but it wasn’t my last. There is something about aesthetics that brings out the best and the worst in us. Whether it is the color of the carpet, the style of the pew, the genre of the artwork or angle of the lighting; for every decision there is a myriad of opinions. How can you stay positive when people are lined up on all sides, ready to shoot?
Paul exhorted the Philippians to rejoice in the Lord. When trials, troubles and disagreements come, we have to make a choice to focus on the positive. Disagreement isn’t the problem.
God has given you a fantastic team at work. Your team might be small—family members, or a few volunteers. Maybe you are blessed to serve at a church large enough to afford a full staff. Regardless, God has given you a team. Even if you have to search to find them, they are there.
People are unique. If they were all the same, we could just give each one a function and expect amazing results. Instead, personalities get in the way. This person brings the fun, that person is very concerned about details … and each thinks the other is … annoying.
Your job is to help these people become who God created them to be and to help them gel as a team. How can you make the most of this fantastic resource and help these dedicated people reach their full potential?
“To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen” (Revelation 1:5-6, NKJV).
Over the years I have sought to teach people both why we worship and how to worship. Worship has often been misunderstood as the musical prelude to the sermon, rather than the means by which we, as the people of God, invite the dominion of His kingdom to be established on earth.
Psalm 22:3 says that the King of kings is literally “enthroned” in our praises. Wherever God’s people come together to worship, and where that happens, all the weight of His glory, His rulership, and His dominion are present.
Life in the Spirit is anything but dull. Learn how obedience to the voice of God is your passport to a vibrant Christian experience.
One of the most exciting aspects of the Spirit-filled life is the fact that we can have adventures in God that reveal to those around us His supernatural nature. In the coming days, I believe many of you are going to begin to flow in signs and great and mighty wonders.
Some of you will be stirred to do even greater things than others have accomplished in the past through the name of Jesus. Often God works this way—doing greater things as each new generation comes along.
During the late 1970s and 1980s, I pored over books written about the great men and women of faith. As I read, I prayed, "Lord, I want to do these things and greater." Often I would get down on my knees and weep, crying out to the Lord for revival and the harvest among the nations.
For many youth workers, a big part of their job description seems to include “Think outside the box on a regular basis”… constantly coming up with new ideas and innovative programs that are bigger and better than last year, last week, and last night.
And while there is certainly a place for risk-taking and improvement in each new season, sometimes what you really need is tried-and-true, solid stuff. Stuff that is actually totally inside the box!”
Ask yourself these questions as you look at planning the season ahead:
My much-loved father, Dr. T.L. Osborn, the man known around the world as "The Father of the Gospel" entered his eternal rest on Thursday, Feb. 14. He was in no pain and had no sickness. The Lord simply took away his breath.
My father was wrapped in love, his family surrounding him as he stepped through the veil into eternity. He is now in the presence of Jesus, whom he had served faithfully for 77 years. We can only imagine the sweet reunion between him and his beloved Daisy, three of his children, a granddaughter and a celebrating host of believers who are among the redeemed because of my father's ministry during more than 65 years to every corner of the earth. He was in his 90th year, having passed his 89th birthday on Dec. 23.
Last Monday I walked by this secluded beach in Ko Olina in Hawaii. Without the clean soft breeze, the chirping birds, the sound of waves splashing on the rocks, and the scent of the blue ocean … pictures like these are … well … just pictures.
No matter how beautiful this spot was it is of little value because I had no one to share it with. The Bible is indeed correct when it declares, “it is not good for man to be alone.”
It’s funny how we work ourselves to death and take for granted what actually matters, our closest relationships. I could only wish Marie was with me at that particular moment. Life is meant for sharing.
Life is composed of multiple moments that are here for a while and then are gone. Makes you think of how important each moment we have with the people we love have to be maximized and taken advantage of. Life is meant for sharing.
“All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.” (1 Cor. 12:27, NLT)
A church family moves you out of self-centered isolation. The local church is the classroom for learning how to get along in God’s family. It is a lab for practicing unselfish love.
As a participating member, you learn to care about others and share the experiences of others: “If one part of the body suffers, all the other parts suffer with it. Or if one part of our body is honored, all the other parts share its honor” (1 Cor. 12:26 NCV).
Only in regular contact with ordinary, imperfect believers can we learn real fellowship and experience the New Testament truth of being connected with and dependent on each other.
Yep, it happened again. You are in the doghouse, and this time, you really messed up.
The worst part is that you were trying! There are days (and sometimes weeks) when we seem to offend people with surprising regularity. Sometimes, it is because we didn’t have enough information or the skills to handle a situation.
Sometimes we mess up because we genuinely sinned. Sometimes, our “mess-up” is really someone else’s sensitivity. Relationships are important to us, and when we mess up, it is important to deal with it properly.
Remember high school science? Even in the most controlled environment, every scientific experiment result must take into account a plus or minus three percent for human error. This means that, even in the most controlled environment, you are going to mess up at least three percent of the time. Since life isn’t controlled, that number is sure to be much higher.
So, given the fact that you can’t get through life without making a mistake, what do you do when you really mess up?
Whenever I officiate at weddings I make sure I come early. With traffic unpredictable in Manila, it’s just not worth the stress of being stuck not knowing if you will be late. That’s why I came one hour early for a recent wedding ceremony.
The banquet hall was empty except for one table where a few early guests sat. At the table, our friends Junjun and Mae Perez were excitedly recounting a recent sighting of brightly colored rainbow. Junjun posted the picture shown here in Facebook. As Christians, we believe that a rainbow is a sign of promise from God, a promise that He will never harm us or destroy us as it was in the days of Noah.
As Mae and Junjun spoke, I was reminded of the number of times these colorful appearances have been a source of encouragement for me. One in particular stood out.
Statistics show that 34 percent of American children live apart from their fathers, and half of all children will be fatherless at some point during childhood.
I grew up without a father figure, but at a young age God took me under His wing. By His power, I escaped many negative effects of fatherlessness but still bore some scars. I never heard, “That’s good, son. Nice catch. Nice throw. Nice anything.”
God created us in His image to be His children. In the garden, Adam and Eve enjoyed intimate fellowship with their Father and lived under His care. Then the deceiver enticed them. The children bought the lie and forfeited the relationship. They were suddenly afraid of their Father and foolishly tried to cover their shame with mere fig leaves. This was the first futile attempt on the part of fallen man to deal with the sinful, adverse effect of being deceived by the father of lies.
God the Father immediately put a plan in motion to restore mankind to intimate fellowship with Himself. He set out to establish a family of faith through whom He could bless the nations of the world. These chosen children of God would reveal the heavenly Father to fallen humanity.
In the historical narrative of the global Hispanic community, the Latino church has just recently experienced its own Protestant Reformation.
Although the Roman Catholic Church had prevented for centuries any significant penetration of the Reformation initiated by Martin Luther in the 1500s, the first serious Protestant impact in Latino America has come via the evangelical wing of the church—particularly the Pentecostal movement. But the trajectory of this new reformation is anything but predictable, and, as Dallas pastor David Sandoval predicts, its effects will reverberate within the walls of the church at large.
“Hispanic Evangelicals 1.0, or the first century of Latino evangelicalism, was focused on personal piety and experiential Christianity,” he notes. “Hispanic Evangelicals 2.0 will continue to do such, however they will expand their reach to include corporate piety and holiness. We focused for too long on the length of a dress, jewelry, hairstyles and physical appearance—all while our teens were getting pregnant, dropping out of school and totally disconnected from the church.
Does having a ‘tight’ worship team really matter to God?
All of us have had moments when one person’s simple, passionate worship touched us at the core of our being. Likewise, we’ve all been in services when the best musicians and the most polished worship team didn’t even begin to bring us into worship. I believe that blending anointing with musical excellence should always be our quest. In the everyday world, however, passionate and skillful worship leaders are not always in abundance, and at times we find ourselves having to choose between one and the other.
Most pastors agree that powerful worship should be high on the priority list of any service. Moreover, I believe every leader desires the atmosphere that pure worship creates. We’ve all experienced those moments during a meeting when no one knows what to do because God has made Himself known and you hear the whispers of His people responding to Him.
To have an effective quiet time, you must pick a specific time to meet with the Lord each day and decide how long it should be. The general rule is this: The best time is when you are at your best!
Give God the best part of your day, when you are the freshest and most alert. Don’t try to serve God with your leftover time. Remember, too, that your best time may be different from someone else’s.
For most of us, however, early in the morning seems to be the best time. It was Jesus’ own practice to rise early to pray and meet with the Father: “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed” (Mark 1:35, NIV).
As leaders with a passion to be a part of God’s kingdom coming here on earth as it is in heaven, it is vital that we see the kingdom of God that is within us (Luke 17:21) coming as well. This happens as we come into His presence.
It’s one of the things I love about the tabernacle of David; that place where we come into His presence in worship and intercession; the flowing of harp and bowl (Rev. 5:8).
We must become a house of prayer if we desire to see the house of prayer raised up in our generation—His kingdom coming on the earth and His kingdom coming in us.
Daily, we can and must come into that place of His presence. In worship, we are able to see Him more and more as He really is. We turn our hearts to hear His Word.
We bow down and receive mercy, grace, power and instruction. We can’t help but then pray and call out those things that He has just shown us, those things that are filled with His purpose and pleasure.
We are overflowing with faith and His greater truths for all that we are praying. We can’t help but then worship as we, too, are filled with His purpose and pleasure. Oh to know Him more. But as His church there is a corporate element for us in the tabernacle of David as well, especially as leaders and especially in the day in which we are living.