Take Heart, Pastors! Christ Will Build His Church!

Christ is moving and working in His church even now.  He has promised this.  He is the one to build His church.  Men may believe it’s ultimately up to them, but Christ builds His church.  Book after book is written that can, at best, serve as supplements–only the Bible carries the substance of how Christ personally and intimately builds His church.

How though, does Christ build it?  For now, let’s just see two ways that parallel the original creation.  By the Word of God, creation came into being in general; and by the Word of God the church (meaning, His organization and His people).  In 2 Corinthians 4:6, Paul writes: “For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

Hearts and minds are changes and galvanized by His glory that shines in us and by His Word that transforms. When Jesus told His disciples, “All that the Father gives to me shall come to me” (John 6:37) and all through the first part of Acts that, through the preaching of the gospel to all who would listen, that “The Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:39).  When we realize that the word ‘church’ comes from the Greek word ‘ekklesia,’ which means ‘called out ones,’ it is Christ who is calling out those whom God has chosen unto Himself.  It will happen.  He’s building His church.

MacArthur rightly said,

By human reason, persuasiveness, and diligence it is possible to win converts to an organization, a cause, a personality, and to many other things.  But it is totally impossible to win a convert to the spiritual church of Jesus Christ apart from the sovereign God’s own Word and Spirit.  Human effort can produce only human results. God alone can produce divine results.

It’s His church.  We are not simply projects, but are people, souls that Christ is intimately personal with. Recently, I watched an interview with Brett Favre, former Green Bay quarterback.  He holds most every QB record in the book when he retired.  His father was a football coach–and His Father never told him how proud he was of him.  He told others, but never Brett.  Brett understood his father loved him in his own way, but never saw it demonstrated.

Daily, Christ is showing us how much He loves His church, which we will see in a bit.  But He loves you.  Not your religious activities, but your relationship with him, from which those activities arise.

Christ will build His church. And we know that when Christ makes a promise, He never fails to follow through. In Titus, Paul by the Spirit says that God cannot lie (your versions may say does not lie, as if he had a choice to lie or not, but the Word is an absolute–He cannot lie).

Do we truly believe He will build His church? Do we really take God at His Word as to what He wants His church to be?  What would happen if God moved in our hearts and spirits by His Spirit and we said, “Lord, I trust you to build your church your way, not mine.” The way we would know where we stood is if He told us to move something that’s a favorite away. It could well expose some idols that need toppling.


How to Pray for Our Missions Team to Trinidad

map-trinidad_and_tobagoAt the end of September, I and eight others from my church will fly through Houston to Port of Spain, Trinidad, then drive two hours to Point Fortin to our headquarters at the Mount Beulah Evangelical Baptist Church.

Here’s what we will do and how you can pray.

God opened a door for me to speak to pastors the Saturday after our arrival from 10:00 a.m. until 3:00 pm at the new seminary they’ve built in Gran Couva. I’ll spend the morning dealing with how Christ is enough in our preaching, with the evening dealing more with the practical matters in executing their sermons, and how to rely on the Holy Spirit all through it. Pray that God would help us all learn from each other in becoming more faithful pastors and preachers of the Word!

The following day, we get to be a part of an ordination service at Mt. Beulah, where I’ll preach on 1 Corinthians 1:26-2:5 on “Is Jesus Enough in Your Calling?”  Pray for the two men who will be ordained: one youth pastor and one deacon. Pray they would hang on to their calling in the midst of ministry.

Monday and Tuesday, another door opened in allowing us to get into a local school for teaching, testimonies, and others fun (likely, they will teach us how to play cricket, along with other fun times). In those evenings, we’ll drive about an hour east to Moruga to provide some helpful things for the residents there, along with services in the evening to try to help them plant a church. Wednesday and Thursday, we will spend all day at Moruga, being in the schools as well as continuing on with the services at night.  Pray God would help us make gospel connections in the schools and that many would come to the services at night. And that many would see that Jesus is enough and surrender their lives to Him!

Friday will be our ‘off’ day before leaving on Saturday, where we will head to Maracas Beach in the NW part of Trinidad. It’ll give us a chance to decompress but also assess all we’ve accomplished and all we’ve learned. Pray we would take time to enjoy God’s creation and take the principles we learned there and transfer them to our mission field here in Denver. 

How Seeing Weakness in Your Church May Show Your Strengths

In their book How People Change, Tim Lane and Paul Tripp give us a wonderful insight into those in our churches who, as well meaning as they are, tend to point out weaknesses in the church.  Granted, some may just enjoy finding weaknesses for weaknesses’ sake. But others may see weaknesses out of love for their church. This will help the pastors and leaders see their strengths.

The corporate nature of our growth in grace is highlighted in many places in Scripture. In Romans 12:1—8, 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4:7—16, and 1 Peter 4:10—11, Paul and Peter speak of the diversity of gifts. First Corinthians 12 is especially important, because Paul talks about the many different gifts while using the metaphor of the physical body. Each believer receives gifts from the Holy Spirit to be used “for the common good” (7). We are to live as unique and vital parts of Christ’s body, connected to serve, and be served by, the rest of the body (12, 14). No one part should think of itself as useless, especially when compared to more prominent or “glamorous” parts (15—27). Think about the gifts God has given you. How are they meant to serve other members of the body as they seek to honor Christ? What gifts do you need from others to help you do the same thing? When we don’t think about our gifts in this corporate way, the very gifts that are given to bless the community are used to divide it.

I remember a situation where a church was located near a trailer park. Over the years, the church had struggled to reach out to this community. In a congregational meeting, the pastor encouraged the congregation to make a new commitment to serve the people there. One person stood up and said that past efforts had failed because the church lacked organization. Another person said that the church had failed due to a lack of knowledge regarding the people’s practical needs. Still another said that the church lacked evangelistic zeal.

In each case, the person offering the criticism had the gifts to make the effort succeed! The person who saw a lack of organization had the gift of administration. The person who saw the lack of concern for practical needs had the gift of mercy. And the person who thought the church lacked evangelistic zeal had the gift of evangelism.

What should have been a very successful outreach was short-circuited because they had not been using their gifts, the very gifts that were needed most. Instead, they had lapsed into an unhealthy criticism of what others were not doing. About a month later, these three individuals got together and pooled their gifts of evangelism, mercy, and administration to spearhead a successful ministry to the residents of the trailer park.

The lesson is obvious: we are better when we are together. Without a combination of gifts expressing the grace of Christ, that very grace is shrouded in ineptitude and pride. Our gifts are for the common good, not self-aggrandizement. When we fail to see this, we find that our gifts actually create division within the body of Christ, instead of uniting us.

Are there places where your gifts are needed in the body of Christ? A better question is, Where are your gifts needed? One good way to determine your gifts is to ask yourself where you see weaknesses in the body. It is highly likely that you see these weaknesses because you are looking at the church through the lens of your gifts. Where you see weakness is probably the very place where God wants you to serve your brothers and sisters.

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What Happens When Pastors Love Their Vision More Than Their People

I love what’s happening with the replanting arm of our North American Missions Board. One of the great tenets of their ministry is that a replanter must be a visionary shepherd, finding a balance between having a God-entrenched vision for His church and a love for His people.

Sadly, those two aspects can be off-balance. You can love (or fear) your people so much that you do not lead; or you can love your vision so much that people get in the way.

Here’s what can happen:

  1. A growing misdirection of their love–it goes more toward self than those whom they are called to shepherd. If pastors love their vision more than the people they are called to serve, they may betray an attitude and their heart that shows they really love themselves more than they do they’re people.
  2. A growing disgruntlement against their people for not understanding the ‘rightness’ of their leader.Many pastors enter into the ministry with false expectations and ideals. They see themselves as the resident experts and rescuers of a problem church, rather than ones who are rolling up their sleeves to serve alongside people that they truly care about.
  3. A growing disillusionment to the ministry in general, and to their church in particular.  As a result, many question they’re calling in the ministry, or leave ministry all together.
  4. A growing division to the influencers and leaders in the church. Those influencers have been at those churches for longer than those pastors and could well be there when the pastor leaves. Pastors  need long, productive talks with their leadership to understand the culture of the church, then to provide a mutual sharpening. The vision then becomes a result of the collective rather than just the pastors. Plus, this shows they love those with whom they serve.
  5. A growing despair on the homefront–after all, no pastor ever lived who didn’t take all they carried (good and bad) into their homes. Sadly, pastors often talk about their issues in front of their children. As a result, PKs associate church with pain and trouble. 
  6. A growing disenchantment with Christ for putting the pastor with this condition in such a situation. Many pastors may ask, Lord, why did you send me to this church? They don’t get my vision, they don’t appreciate my gifts, etc. But again, the problem is a love of self over and against a love of the people to whom Christ sent them, which means they love self more than Jesus. 

Dear Church, pray for your pastors. Selfishness is a cardinal joy stealer. Pastors like anyone else are prone to the love of self. Pray that God would provide people in their lives to keep them humble and to invest in them as needed.

Dear pastors, shepherd the flock of God. Love your people as fellow pilgrims in this world. Treasure the value of the local church with all its warts and wrinkles. Believe me, your church may well treasure you with all your warts and wrinkles.


Should Churches Simply Gather, or Gather to Go?

This video demonstrates the difference between many established churches’ culture and philosophy, and the missional church that Christ calls us to be.