Today’s Reading: Matthew 7:16-20 (HCSB) You’ll recognize them by their fruit. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes or figs from thistles? In the same way, every good tree produces good fruit, but a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit; neither can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit
If spiritual gifts are the key to ministering within the will of God in the Body of Christ, then the Church is failing to teach and train believers to follow Christ in an effective way. According to George Barna, “Among born again adults, the percentage that say they have heard of spiritual gifts but do
No one leads by accident. The words intentionality, strategy, vision, and mentoring relationships are frequently used in the leadership realm. Likewise, few people “accidentally” fall into the right ministry position in a church. God has called church leaders to guide, encourage, and train His people for ministry. People want to be asked to serve. A
Family dynamics have changed the look of volunteer ministry. Churches that refuse to recognize this change will inevitably see a decline not only in ministry participation but also in the spiritual growth of the congregation. Families look different today than when I was a kid (BTW, I am only 37 years old). We did not
By definition, ministry leaves an impact on others. Bill Hybels states, “Each volunteer we add means that one more Christ follower is discovering the thrill of serving, and one more spiritual need is being met.” (The Church Leader’s Answer Book, 364) When conducted God’s way, ministry is a real joy.
I wonder how many pastors believe their job is to be “the minister.” If there is a death in the church, someone should call “the minister.” Pastors are ordained into “the ministry.” I have a piece of paper on my wall that says I am an ordained “minister.” I am not downplaying the seriousness of the call God has placed on my life. Yet, I am wondering: Should every believer have a recognized document? Is there a believer who does not have a calling from God?
What if God intended for every believer to be a minister of the Gospel of Christ? Examine this evidence: “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come. Now everything is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed the message of reconciliation to us.” (2 Corinthians 5:17-19, HCSB)
What if God has in mind a much bigger plan for the Body of Christ than the activities of a small percentage of people we call “clergy?” Do Christians have to possess an official title to tell people about Christ, serve, make disciples, or assist people in need?
What if God never intended for there to be two classifications: clergy and laity? The greater the divide between paid staff and those in the pews, the potential for life-changing ministry decreases exponentially.
What if (some) pastors are robbing the members of the opportunity to serve by doing the ministry for the congregation? There would be grave consequences if a congregation expected the paid clergy to single-handedly “do the work of ministry.” Few people would share the Gospel, believers would busy their lives with other activities, and many would become disengaged from the assembly of believers. Then I look at the stats on the church in America. In the words of Scooby Doo, “Ruh Roh, Raggy.”
Next Post- How The Cross Changed “The Ministry”
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Question for Today’s Discussion: Do you believe the clergy-laity divide exists? Is dangerous? Is destructive?
Jackie Robinson was the first black man to play major league baseball, but this pioneering came at a price. Jackie was criticized heavily for every single mistake. Once when he was playing on the team’s home field, he committed an error and the fans ridiculed him ruthlessly. That is until Pee Wee Reece, the shortstop, came over, put his arm around Robinson, and turned to the crowd. The crowd became instantly silent and Robinson believed that this moment saved his career. (sermonillustrations.com)
Jesus stated that the Holy Spirit is our Helper. (see John 14:16-17) The root of the Greek word comes from fortis, meaning to fortify or strengthen. The Holy Spirit in the life of a believer is like the steel beams that hold up a skyscraper. He is like the spine in a person’s back that keeps the Body standing. The Holy Spirit is not an accessory to the Christian life. He is absolutely essential. We could do nothing spiritually without His leading and teaching.
What “greater thing” does God have for you? What is the potential for your life and mine if we would simply yield to the work of the Holy Spirit? Only God knows the answer, but we do have the promise of Jesus. “I assure you: The one who believes in Me will also do the works that I do. And he will do even greater works than these…” (John 14:12)
This promise of Jesus extends much further than the original followers. Jesus said, “The one who believes in Me . . . he will do even greater works than these.” This announcement is intended for many more than the present small group of Jesus’ followers. Jesus establishes the fact that something greater will occur and the work will be accomplished by present and future followers.
In John Maxwell’s book, Everyone Communicates, Few Connect, the leadership expert gives the reader an attitude assessment. He states, “I see everyone as having the potential to be a ‘10’ on a scale of 1-10.” (206) He continues, “Everyone wants to be inspired. All people want someone to believe in them. They are waiting for someone to challenge, motivate, and encourage them to be all they can be.” (208)
Now I realize that we are all sinners and we fall short of God’s glory daily. Maxwell is not speaking of moral perfection but of ministry potential- that is the potential that every believer has due to the work and power of the Holy Spirit. Anything is possible for the believer who yields to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. In fact, when I read the Bible, I see a multitude of people used by God who could have been labeled “least likely to succeed” in their yearbook superlatives.
The question before us (ministry leaders) is simple: Do we see the potential in other believers of what the Holy Spirit can do in their lives? Are we willing to see them as a “10” and invest deeply into their lives?
In the next few days, I will post a review of the Maxwell book, one that has made it near the top of my “must-read” list. In fact, I just told my wife, Angela, last night that this is a book I should re-read every six months. I will tell you why later. (Be sure to subscribe to the blog on the sidebar so you don’t miss it)
This is the last post of the “Greater Works” series. If you missed a post, you can find the previous post links below:
At age fifteen, I had no choice. If I wanted to learn how to drive a vehicle and take the test to get my license, I had to learn to drive a “stick shift.” That extra pedal on the left and thing between the seats caused me more fear than the act of driving or the objects on the asphalt in front of me. Could I get the timing right? Could I get the shifter in the right gear? Would I put it into reverse at 35 m.p.h. instead of fourth? Most important, could I drive this truck to school and make the left hand turn into the parking lot filled with my peers without stalling? Fears of the unknown flooded my mind. But my Dad was patient. He took the time to help me understand the equipment and took me to practice on a remote backroad on many occasions.
Many Christians have a fear of the third person of God. The archaic language of the King James Version calls Him the Holy Ghost, and many seem to act like they have seen one when He is mentioned. Yet in the Bible, we have a clear explanation of who He is and what He is doing. His work is absolutely essential. And, He has been working in you all along (even if you did not recognize it).
The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Triune God. The benediction at the end of the Second Epistle to the Corinthians shows clear evidence for this doctrine by stating, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you” (2 Corinthians 13:13, HCSB). The Bible continually describes His deity, even though few self-described Christians believe He exists. According to a 2009 Barna Research Group survey, only one-third of the poll participants agreed that the Holy Spirit is a living entity. The Bible, however, affirms that He was present in creation, because He hovered over the surface of the water on the first day (Genesis 1:2). He is called God when Peter rebuked Ananias for lying to the Spirit (Acts 5:3) He is described many times in the Bible as possessing the attributes of God. He is omnipresent: “Where can I go to escape Your Spirit? Where can I flee from Your presence?” (Psalm 139:7) He is omniscient: “Now God has revealed them to us by the Spirit, for the Spirit searches everything, even the deep things of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:10) The work of the Spirit is not separate from that of the Father and the Son, but is complementary and cooperative. Henry Blackaby explains, “Apart from the active work of the Spirit in our lives, we would neither know God nor have the ability to respond to Him.” One role of the Holy Spirit is to produce a supernatural work in the people of God.
Those who lead volunteers need to comprehend this truth. We want people to serve, but not just because we have tasks to be done. We want people to serve, so that the Holy Spirit can do miraculous and supernatural works through His people. Ministry service become more than doing; it become a walk of faith in Christ. The Holy Spirit is the One who leads us into and equips us for Christ-honoring ministry service.
How can we help believers understand that the Holy Spirit wants to work within them? How has the Holy Spirit equipped you for ministry? Many people are reading this blog. Would someone be willing to share a story in the comment section below?
I praise God for you who are leading people to ministry service that is empowered by the Spirit of God. You are a blessing.
Follow One, Lead Others
Tomorrow- How the Holy Spirit guides us. Be sure to subscribe the blog (link on the sidebar) so you get this by email or RSS.
Link to Previous Posts in the “Greater Works Series:”
Objects that are misplaced can create a frustrating situation. I should know. My Mom was not kidding when she said, “You’d loose your head if it were not attached.” However, in the church, people that are misplaced constitute a tragedy. Every believer has the greatest power force in the world and has been gifted for a ministry that will be life-changing for all who are involved. Yet, a careless (or prayerless) decision by a church leader can limit (at best) the potential for a Christian to grow and experience the joy of ministry service. This is like the All Star football quarterback being assigned midseason to the duties of simply holding the ball for the kicker. You would empathize with his frustration.
When believers are haphazardly placed in church ministry, leaders are not following the lead of the Holy Spirit. When a leader chooses not to connect with a believer, but randomly asks the person to serve in a position, a recipe for disaster could be waiting. The effects of this laziness will go beyond the believer who has been misplaced. The church body will suffer, too. A local church that implores this method long enough will likely regress, stunting the spiritual growth of the believers therein.
I am absolutely convinced that God has provide for us a better way. This is too important to neglect. God’s Word gives us guidance on leading His people and equipping them to serve Him with joy and effectiveness. Every believer in our churches should have the opportunity to be a part of a vital ministry and experience the exhilaration of seeing the lives of others changed by the hand of God. God often uses leaders to facilitate this connection. It is a part of our calling!
In the next post, I will begin to explore the biblical basis for volunteer ministry. Until then, be sure to subscribe to this blog (so you know when it is updated), feel free to post your own comments or experiences, and consider sharing this with others through your social media outlets.
Until Later… Follow One and Lead Others.
What is the value of a brother or sister, mom or dad? What is the value of a faithful friend? Our society has a habit of placing value on that which is self-serving (cars, phones, houses, etc.) and downplaying relationships. Last night I was challenged with a thought, “How much value does our church leadership place on volunteers?” The measuring stick for this proposition is found in our attitude toward those we work with directly in ministry.
Allen Newell, author of a training ministry called “High Impact Volunteers,” suggests that too many church leaders see volunteers as second class ministers. We either look at others as “spectators” of our show or assistants that should serve us and help us reach our goals. Newell even coins a term, “the priesthood of SOME believers.”
This is a dangerous mentality for church leadership. First, it devalues the work of God within a believer. Second, it exalts oneself at the expense of others (people don’t typically like being “used” for someone else’s glory). Third, this method fails to make disciples. For a brief time, it may produce some workers, but people are less likely to excel when they fail to see the positive results of their labor.
Newell is right when he uses the word “partnerships” as a description of the relationship between believers. The work of God’s Kingdom is assigned to all who have trusted in Jesus for salvation. Each has a part to play. We are called to serve one another, not to enlist people to serve us.
Give me your thoughts and be sure to check out the Spirit-led Connecting page.
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