Tis Heaven to Serve Jesus: Why Equipping in Revitalizing Churches Matters

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When it comes to pastoring small churches, I always think of Daniel Im’s differentiation between the “sage on the stage” and the “guide on the side.” The former is the resident expert on all things–and sadly can be the doer of all things. He is on every committee. Every idea is his. Every strategy and mobilization effect begins with him. It is not sustainable and is one of the reasons why so many pastors last so little time.

The “guide on the side” is an equipper. He knows what he knows–and what he doesn’t know. He also knows that others in the church have a spiritual gifting and passion for a ministry in their readiness to serve Jesus. These dear saints need equipping. It matters. It’s crucial for the future of the church and gives joy in the present.

Why does it matter?

First, it’s biblical. Ephesians 4:11-12 calls those whom God has gifted to lead the church to “equip the saints for the work of the ministry, for the building up of the body of Christ.” There is a unifying trajectory for a church when everyone is equipped toward the Great Commission.

Second, we are equipped doctrinally and practically. In Ephesians, the first three chapters lay down a doctrinal framework, whereas the last three chapters apply that doctrine and put it into practice. So when Paul in Ephesians 4 (the start of the practical section) that we need equipping, we are not merely equipped on techniques to reach more people but equipped to know all about Christ and His teaching. I’ve noticed of late that when we get together as pastors at a denominational convention, we spend less time on understanding key doctrinal points than we do finding ways get more people into our churches. A balance is needed to mirror that of the Scriptures.

Third, it provides engagement. In his last sermon, Charles Spurgeon made the remark, “‘Tis heaven to serve Jesus.” Being engaged in Kingdom work is indeed a heaven on earth, for we are serving Jesus and His people here just as we will be in heaven. And we are not merely engaging to keep a preferred infrastructure going–we are engaged in helping all know Jesus and Christians grow deep in Jesus.

Lastly, a mission field is seen as your community. One church planting catalyst noted that for most established churches, the further away a mission field is, the easier it is to support. But what about the mission field around us? Homes, jobs, schools, communities–even the environments we occupy every day. This will mean a desire to be equipped to reach your marketplace. This may mean partnering with other churches to accomplish this task (for every faithful church has their unique role to play in the Kingdom).

All healthy churches continue to evaluate how they are accomplishing the Great Commission. What are some areas you see in which churches need equipping?

Jesus is Willing to Forgive

All-Around Spurgeon

If I were to see a needle running across the table all by itself, I should know that under-the-table a magnet was at work out of sight. When I see a sinner running after Christ, I feel certain that divine love is drawing him: the cords may be invisible, but we are quite sure that they are there. If you are seeking Christ, it is because he is seeking you. The desire for grace is caused by the very grace which we desire. You must not dare to charge the Lord Jesus with unwillingness to save, seeing he has laid down his life to prove his eagerness to redeem. No, it is not possible that there can be any backwardness with the Saviour; the backwardness lies with you. Get rid of the unbelieving in dishonouring notion that Jesus is unwilling to forgive, and at once throw yourself into his arms…

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The Grossness of Gossip

Gossip has an initial thrill. Dispensing gossip provides a rush due to the information you have that others do not, thus you feel empowered with that knowledge. It’s a great temptation to “be in the know.” Hearing gossip makes you feel empowered, believing that you are better off and somehow giving you a sense of superiority.

The detrimental aspect is the lack of love demonstrated on the gossip dispenser and recipient. You are leveraging someone’s situation not for prayer but for power. That power you crave slowly crumbles trust. Any community, especially a community of believers, that succumbs to rampant gossip fosters a culture of distrust.

The solution: love your sibling in Christ. Pray for and with them. Let them know you have their back and thus foster that trust.

The Great Commission is For Us All

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The Great Commission does not merely apply to missionaries who have been commissioned and sent to their mission field as a vocation.

The Great Commission does not merely apply to those with the gift of evangelism.

The Great Commission does not apply merely to gifted celebrity preachers with a burgeoning platform.

The Great Commission does not apply to just those who have a blossoming tract ministry.

The Great Commission does not apply merely to those who have lots of followers of their blogs.

The Great Commission does not apply merely to those who have the gift of hospitality, ready to open their home to anyone and everyone.

The Great Commission is for everyone. Whatever your personality or gifting. God will use whatever He gives you for His glory.

Pastors and their Need to Hear the Word–Not Just Preach

I serve as a pastor of a local congregation in South Denver who gladly preaches 42-45 Sundays per year. It is a joy and, yes, a calling. This week, I had the privilege of preaching four times in five days (Midweek study, funeral, Good Friday, and then Easter Sunday). That’s more than usual, obviously. Yet, seeing people change and respond to the Word never gets old.

We must beware as pastors and teachers. We can spend so much time pouring out that we miss the need for others to pour in. That is a long-term recipe for disaster. All of us must intentionally have a daily intake of Scripture, read and preached.

How? Here are some ideas for us pastors:

  1. Listen to faithful preachers on podcasts. By “faithful,” I mean ones committed to the Scriptures rather than a mere motivational talk laced some with Scriptures for support.
  2. Go to pastor’s conferences geared around the Word and not the latest church growth technique. The later may have their place but we need the former most.
  3. Bring in a guest speaker, or give your associate or intern an opportunity to preach. No, they may not be as seasoned, but from my experience, I have always benefited someway from their preparation and message.
  4. Gather fellow pastors together to share/preach His Word to each other. I’ve heard of pastors sharing papers on academic topics for sharpening. All well and good. But sharing God’s precious Word is better, I believe.

These are just some ideas. What ideas do you have?

The Resurrection of our Lord is the Cornerstone of Christian Doctrine: Spurgeon Short for April 16, 2022

All-Around Spurgeon

THE resurrection of our divine Lord from the dead is the cornerstone of Christian doctrine. Perhaps I might more accurately call it the keystone of the arch of Christianity, for if that fact could be disproved the whole fabric of the gospel would fall to the ground. If Jesus Christ be not risen then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain; ye are yet in your sins. If Christ be not risen, then they which have fallen asleep in Christ have perished, and we ourselves, in missing so glorious a hope as that of resurrection, are of all men the most miserable.

Because of the great importance of his resurrection, our Lord was pleased to give many infallible proofs of it, by appearing again and again m the midst of his followers. It would be interesting to search out how many times he appeared; I think we…

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