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It Doesn’t Work Like That

It Doesn’t Work Like That

One night into the “KD project” and the Golden State Warriors have lost more games than they did last season through December 12, 2015 when they lost to the Milwaukee Bucks. Is it safe to say that the “KD project” didn’t work?

Maybe the Warriors should look into shopping Durant to a team willing to pay the highest price, or maybe they should look to trade Klay Thompson. Whatever they choose, the truth still remains: The “KD project” failed.

This is crazy; it’s foolish. The NBA season is less than 2 percent complete, and time will tell how the Golden State Warriors will finish this season. But honestly, we only care about what Russ and the Thunder do tonight, right?

Though the example is drastic, often we think in similar terms as it pertains to the church. Something doesn’t work the way we want, so we try something new and innovative. Based on its performance (usually numerical growth) we’ll drop the program if it doesn’t bring the desired result.

Though events and programs can cultivate a desired outcome, they more often than not result in a “firework effect” where the outward appearance is phenomenal, for a moment, yet the tune changes rather quickly and the impact wears off.

In my time as an Oklahoma youth minister, I had a wise staff member tell me, “What you win them with is what you win them to.” He was right on. What is it that we’re winning people to, and does it have a long term impact on the life of the church?

Here are four ways to develop a long term plan for your church:

Preach the Word as the all-sufficient power of God.

Though this seems like an easy thing to say, many times I can forget about the power of God’s word. Paul says in Romans 1:16 that the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation for those who are perishing. If we are being honest, that is our aim in preaching, and what we want to see happen in our churches is people being saved by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Bible is all sufficient in the ministry of the church. If we are not focused on this aspect we will settle for “firework effect” programs and will cycle through at a rapid pace.

Cultivate a love for the people of whom God has entrusted you.

Many times I think we want to go through program after program to avoid having to do the hard work of ministry. Jesus said in Mark 4, there are different kinds of soil, and one is extremely hard. The others aren’t necessarily pleasant. In fact, only one of the kinds of soil was desirable. Do the work of loving the people through their weakness, specifically by developing a habit of taking them before God in prayer. This will allow you to weather the storms and the hard seasons of ministry.

Don’t neglect the day of small things

In our reading of the Scripture, it doesn’t take long to see that what God sees is not what we see. This is most rightly seen in the coming of the humble King Jesus. Born in a barn, a son of a carpenter, and riding into Jerusalem on a donkey. Needless to say, He was not what the Jews had looked for or hoped for. But Jesus was obedient. Perfectly so. Pastor, Church member, small acts of obedience trump “firework effects” with seemingly big results. Be faithful in the small things, for out of a stump comes the prophesied seed of God.

Take your time

Like with the Warriors, some things take longer to develop. Discipling is one of those things. It is a long process and takes a lot of hard work. You’ll cry together, and laugh together, but in the end, you are helping them, instructing them with the Word of God, that they might grow into the image of Christ. But it is a work of the Spirit, and He works on His timing and in His methods. Scripture has shown us that this happens through God’s word and through his people, so take a long term approach, devote your time to a few men or women and watch God do a work in them, and you through his Spirit.

3 Things To Look For In A Pastor

3 Things To Look For In A Pastor

It seems like every other week a notable megachurch pastor is either removed from his position or steps down due to burnout or the like. It reminds us that we live in a fallen world and that we must look to the chief-shepherd, Jesus Christ. With the incredible pressure placed on these men, not to mention the spiritual attacks they go through, what are some things that we as members, deacons, or those on a pastor search committee should discerningly and carefully consider? Though this list is not extensive, here are three things I believe we should look for in a pastor:

1. Qualified by the Word

Though it may be easy to notice a pastor’s preaching and personality, we must be reminded that all the charisma in the world is not sufficient for ministry qualification. Paul’s letters to Timothy and Titus lay out some qualifications: above reproach; the husband of one wife; sober-minded; self-controlled; respectable; hospitable; able to teach; not a drunkard; not violent but gentle; not quarrelsome; not a lover of money; leads his family well; must not be a recent convert; must be well thought of by outsiders (1 Tim 3). These, above all else, are God’s standards for a pastor and should be the things we seek in our leaders. But not only should they be qualified by the Word, they must be trained by the Word.

2. Trained by the Word

When I broke a tooth in middle school I did not seek a football coach to help fix my tooth, I sought out a dentist. So we should similarly seek one with adequate training. Though I am an advocate of formal theological training (for a later post), I have seen many men gifted by God who know their Bible inside and out without having a theological education (Think Matt Chandler and Louie Giglio).

Paul says, again to Timothy, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth” (2 Tim 2:15). So we should seek men who know their Bible, stand on its inerrancy and infallibility and see the unfolding of God’s revelation culminating in Christ; his death, burial and resurrection. But we not only should look for men qualified by the Word and trained by the Word, thirdly and finally, we should look for men who are shaped by the Word.

3. Shaped by the Word

We could turn to many passages of Scripture, look at many men who were shaped by the Word, but one stands out above the rest. Jesus was shaped by the Word. As John says, He is the Word. In Jesus’ life, we see that He was shaped by the Word in that He has a shepherd’s heart, is a humble servant, and lives with a Biblical vision. We should look for men like that when we look for a pastor to lead.

By shape, I clearly don’t mean physique, nor does Scripture. When God chose Israel’s second king (David), Samuel thinks that he must have a stature worthy of a king, yet God’s man was little scrawny David. What was significant was David’s heart; a heart that was after God’s.

A pastor can be shaped by many things, but we must be more concerned with the state of their heart. Some questions to ask yourself might be, “Does he model humility like Jesus did? “Does he lead the church with a biblical God glorifying vision?” Does he serve the least of these?” And, ultimately, it all boils down to, “Does he remind me of Jesus?”

As church members who elect men to this high calling, we must, along the way, understand that Jesus is perfect, but our pastor will not be. Though we look for these qualities we do not berate these men when they fall short. We should be fostering a community that shows grace, honor and Godly accountability and encouragement for our pastors.

Have you prayed for or thanked your pastor today?