Category Archives: practical ministry
There is this pretty cool verse over in James 4:2. It says this…
…you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it.
Could life really be that simple? Could it be that so much of our struggle in life is because we simply try to do it on our own and we don’t ask God to intervene?
I was thinking about this in the context of ministry and church life. Instead of complaining that I don’t have enough volunteers, I’m starting to ask people to volunteer. It’s an amazing concept, I know. As a staff at New Life, we are asking God to change people’s lives and that He would lead people to baptism. I know, crazy huh? Ask God to intervene in “our” work. The best part, seeing so many changes in people’s lives the minute we start asking for it. We have seen God do some very cool things. I’ll save some of those stories for another post.
I love how simple this concept really is. My oldest son, Grant, was at a friend’s to hang out. He is nine years old and started a very interesting conversation with the mother of his friend. He simply said, “What religion are you?” She said, “I was raised Buddhist, but my parents never pushed it on me.” So Grant said, “Then what are you?” She replied, “Well, my husband was raised Christian, so I guess we’re just floating right now.” Grant simply said, “Oh, well you should come to my church sometime.”
I don’t know if she will take him up on the offer, but I think sometimes we don’t have, because we simply don’t ask. Are you as a minister taking time to ask God to intervene in people’s lives? Are you as a minister taking time to ask people to get more involved? Are you simply asking the question?
I am striving harder to ask both of these questions. I am asking God to change people’s hearts because I know I can’t. I am also starting to simply ask people to get more involved. It’s amazing how much you can accomplish with a simple ask.
So who do you need to ask?
Do you need to ask God to do the hard work of changing people’s lives?
Do you need to ask a neighbor to come to church?
Do you need to ask someone in your ministry to step it up?
It is God who is able to do more than we can possibly ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20). But, at the very least…
It’s time to ask!
I really enjoy going to conferences. There are so many amazing stories to hear and it’s great to see God at work across the nation and world. I almost always leave refreshed and excited to go and chase all kinds of crazy ideas. That’s what I love about conferences!
However, there is something that I have been waiting to hear. It is overlooked at almost every conference (at least the ones I have been to). It is a topic that goes beyond missional, attractional, traditional, denominational, non-denominational, small-group driven, purpose driven (should I continue?), etc.
My point is this; there is an issue that goes well beyond all of these methods and styles of doing church. I have been waiting to hear someone at a major conference say, “It’s not about any of this stuff. It’s more about whether or not you’re Godly.”
Well, I finally got what I was waiting for.
His message was this…
Why are you trying to be Francis Chan? Why do you want to be the next Rick Warren? Why are you striving to be Matt Carter or Dave Ferguson? God loves you for who you are right now! God doesn’t love the future you more because ten years down the road, you will have a big church like some other guy. God loves you right where you are, right now. Stop trying to be everyone else!
He basically asked us, “How well do you understand and apply the Gospel to your own life?” And you know the answer to that question by asking five others (I don’t have all five unfortunately). Questions like; are you violent towards sin? Are you utmost in your own affections? When you screw up, do you run away from or toward God?
The questions were pointed and direct. He was passionate and animated. He got off track at times in order to do more than stick with notes and fit into a conference workshop box. He was preaching. He was preaching the Word of God and he was bringing the Gospel to a room full of pastors. And I was so excited that someone was finally saying what I had been wanting to hear. The difference was that Matt Chandler says it far better than I ever could.
My goal in life should not be to become the next big-church pastor.
My goal in life should not be to be the next main session speaker at a conference.
My goal in life should be to become Godly, holy and more like Christ.
I was so excited to hear someone release me from the pressure of being like one of those guys on the stage. That’s not what I’m here to do or become. I am here to do the will of the Father who has given me a task to do and has given me exactly what I need in terms of gifts, talents, background and education to accomplish just that.
Thank you Mr. Chandler, for saying what I have been wanting to hear so desperately.
Thank you for allowing God to use you to preach!
If you haven’t heard Matt yet, I would encourage you to do so. Beyond a God-given talent to preach, he has such an inspiring story of strength and faith. God is using him in a big way!
It was the final session at Exponential Conference 2011. Matt Chandler was the main speaker (I’ll have more to say about him in a later post). Exponential ends with a bang each year. This year was no different. The plan was to have a prayer and anointing time with church planters and teams that wanted to be prayed with before leaving the conference. The New Life staff team was asked to help with the prayer and anointing.
I stood backstage awaiting instruction. Our team listened as the session was talked through and how everything would go. I left with a small tube of oil as did the rest of our team. As we sat through the service, something began to nag at me. I wasn’t sure I was ready for this. Who was I to pray with and anoint these people, these church planters and leaders. The more I thought about it, the more inadequate I began to feel. In fact, I sent a text message to one of our guys who was sitting behind me. It said…
I don’t feel qualified to anoint. God has much work to do on me still.
His reply was fantastic and really helped me to make one of the best decisions I have ever made.
Up to you. Question isn’t whether you have it all figured out, but whether you can be God’s agent in blessing these pastors. If you decide to pass, no worries.
I decided that I would go for it. I wanted to be up there with our team, praying for all these men and women who were getting ready to start a new church or had just gotten underway.
When the time came, I went to my spot with the rest of the people set aside for this role. People began to flow forward by the hundreds. I heard stories from church planters who were tired and worn out. I heard stories from those who were afraid and anxious about what was coming their way. I met teams of people who were working together to make an impact in places like Los Angeles, Denver and Orlando. I met one woman who was on a team trying to plant churches in Canada. I was able to pray with them and put some oil on their forehead.
I don’t know how everyone else felt. I can only speak for myself. What we did for those people, praying with and for them, maybe accomplished as much, if not more, for me than it did for them. I was blown away by the stories and by what God is up to in our world. I was given a fresh sense of the fact that, it’s not about me. It’s all about God and what He is doing.
I am so thankful that I went for it. I’m so thankful that the man I sent my text to, didn’t just give me an excuse to get out of it. Instead, he challenged me to bless others. God worked in my heart and soul through praying for others. It was an unbelievable experience and I wouldn’t have traded it for anything (except having my wife beside me when all this happened).
If you’re out there, working in ministry, church plants, leadership team, etc, I want to hear from you. I want to hear your story. I want to know how I can pray for and encourage you.
God is doing big things my friends. Sometimes it feels like we’re losing the battle, but I assure you, God is winning the war!
Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid!
Keep it up, church!
Keep it up!
I’m here at Exponential 2011 in Orlando, FL. Our New Life team is volunteering with a ton of cool stuff. We’re getting to see some pretty cool behind the scenes stuff at the coolest church planters conference on the planet (someone please pass that tid bit along to Todd Wilson for me). As we were preparing to volunteer today, we were going through some training. Our fearless leader stood up and inspired us to volunteer like it was our last day on earth. He was very excited and it was easy to get excited along with him. I wanted to share a little of what he said. If you’re a volunteer, apply what was said to your particular area of service.
In order to give this conference the “Wow” experience it deserves, volunteers have to own it like it’s their own. Our volunteer leader helped us with that. He told the story of Exponential and how it was the brainchild of so many great people. One of which he mentioned specifically was Dave Ferguson.
You are Dave Ferguson…
…he said. So I left and pretended to be Dave Ferguson today. That was fun.
The point was well taken though. If we want this conference to be as successful as it can be, we need to be as excited about it as Dave. We need to pretend we have invested as much in it as Dave has (and many others, I’m just using Dave because that was the name that was thrown out there today). I was inspired to, “Be Like Dave.” He’s cooler than Mike anyway.
Then our leader said, “Every moment is your moment of truth.” I loved that. I think that is a great, practical statement that all volunteers in any capacity can grab onto and believe in. Each moment is the only time you will have that moment. Your only moment to make a first impression. Your only moment to make the best impression for Christ that you can. Every moment is your moment of truth. I’ll be taking this one home to the volunteers at my Haymarket Campus.
If you are a volunteer at a church (or anywhere else for that matter), I want to encourage you.
Thank you so much for all you do.
I apologize for not telling you as often as I should.
I want to encourage you to view your role as a moment of truth. Put yourself in the shoes of “the boss” for a minute. Think about how much they invest in whatever it is you are doing. You are that person. Care for it as deeply as they do. Give it your all. Especially if you are volunteering in a ministry. There’s nothing more important than the work you are doing. View every moment as your moment of truth. It is your moment to make a huge impact on someone’s life and ultimately for the Kingdom of God.
Do you volunteer?
What do you do?
And, thank you. Thank you so much for volunteering!
Tomorrow, I’ll be Dave Ferguson again. Not a bad looking guy I guess. It could be worse. I could be….whoa! About got myself in trouble there.