Archive for category Personal Ministry
I love John 15:16 where Jesus says, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.” (NKJV).
The word “chosen” means “a select favorite.” Someone said that if God had a refrigerator your picture would be on it. God loves us so much that He has selected us and appointed us to go and bear fruit. Dear ones, we have churches that go an entire year and never lead a soul to Christ. Can you imagine that? One year—no one saved! What is going on in a church that can open its doors for 52 weeks and never see anyone saved? The truth is that God has chosen [selected] us to go and bring forth fruit for Him. I will share some ideas that I am working on that will help up to bring forth that fruit.
This is a simple plan to merge local church small groups with personal evangelism. The primary target group is couples. Other groups such as youth, singles, men or women will also work. The units can be merged if desired (some couples and some singles). We offer a simple equation:
Small Home Groups + Relationships + Ministry = Church Growth
The plan consists of five couples, which will meet in respective homes for five months. Each couple will target five unsaved/unchurched couples to reach for Christ during this time. This monthly couples event would include a fellowship meal, followed by a 20 minute video teaching followed by about 30 minutes of discussion. The evening would conclude with a time of prayer and intercession for the lost and especially the target couples. Take Five would allow for three vital elements: supper—breaking bread together in homes; soul winning—cutting edge teaching and small group interaction on up-to-date methods of reaching the lost; and supplication—sincere prayer for others that are unchurched or unsaved
We would do this in two semesters each year (January – May and August to December) allowing us the potential to reach up to fifty new couples each year. There would eventually be four separate study units: personal evangelism, apologetics, cults and Islam and discipleship
The Gospel in Three Stories: Reaching a post-modern culture
Here we are talking about evangelism training. The message never changes but the methods sure do. It is not longer “is it true?” but “is it real?” We are preparing all new, one-day “power” seminars that are H.O.T.—High on Touch and High on Technology! Our new conferences on training the laity are moving from illustration to animation. Did you hear about the sign of the glass door of a bankrupt bookstore? It said, “Words failed us.” We have to move with the times. We are teaching “relationship” evangelism. We are showing believers the vital importance of loving God and then letting that love spill over to their friends, relatives, associates and neighbors (someone has called this frangelism!). In this new teaching series we learn about three stories: THEIR story (everyone has one!), YOUR story (your testimony) and HIS story (the GOSPEL-God Offers Sinful People Eternal Life). We are taking a new look the challenge of the cults in our nation and world. We are now told that by the second decade of this new century, Islam is expected to replace Judaism as the second largest religious group in this country. We will show new and innovative methods of dealing with the cults and stemming their growth.
Let’s Win the Lost
Every child of God has been commissioned to be a part of a concerted effort to bring the good news of the Gospel to every creature. Once this good news is heard and received, the recipient of God’s free gift of salvation must be discipled so that he, too, is involved with God’s program for every Christian – intense cultivation and abounding fruitfulness. There is no way to escape the responsibility of being a bearer of these glad tidings. In order for this message to go into all the world to every creature, the full mobilization of God’s army is required. The tragedy of the Christian Church today is that the vast majority of Bible believing Christians are too concerned with amassing treasures on earth and padding their bank accounts that they have never taken God’s commission seriously. What is this commission? He has called us to be “ambassadors.”
So many believers today are very much anchored to this world. This fact is apparent when we consider the huge importance given to accumulate worldly treasures and enjoying earthly pleasures. Recently I read the book Radical by Dr. David Platt. This excellent work helps us to refocus our desire on Christ and His commission to reach the harvest. Dr. Platt issues a challenge to all believers who want to get more involved. Perhaps one reason for our lack of involvement in God’s great program of evangelism is that we feel we lack the ability. This can either be a genuine obstacle because we do not feel as talented or able as others, or it can be a cop-out to make us think that because we find it difficult to do certain things, God is going to excuse us.
We can remedy this situation by believing a very simple promise – “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Php. 4:13). This simply means that He has taken the responsibility of enabling you to do that which He has bidden. God will give you many things you cannot do in your own strength; if you could, they wouldn’t be worth much. However, God assures us that He will enable us to do all that He wants us to do – the obedience is our responsibility; the enablement is His!
We can evangelize. We must evangelize.
God has chosen you and me to be partners with Him in this journey. He has “called” us. The word calling in the Bible means “invitation.” We have been invited by the Master to work with Him in ministry. The key to fulfilling this ministry in the church is empowerment. Business gurus have found that empowerment requires three gifts: decision-making power, adequate resources, and the knowledge base from which to work. Spiritually, we are empowered by the Holy Spirit to be priests. True empowerment means giving the person with the ministry vision the ARK (Authority, Resources and Knowledge) of empowerment. If there isn’t enough money, we can allow the person to raise funds. If the person doesn’t know where to begin we can facilitate training. Pastor and board committees become coach and coaching staff rather than impediments to be overcome. Trust is the key element to release individuals to empowered ministry. My personal philosophy is “Don’t worry about what’s ahead. Just go as far as you can go — from there you can see farther.” Let’s get busy!
And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days. I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth (Joel 2:28-30 NIV).
A Vision for Ministry
As Pentecostals, today is our time to see the visions, to dream the dreams and to prophesy as God’s Holy Spirit is poured out upon us. What is God’s vision for His church? I believe that as the “laos of God” (His people) we must move toward a ministry for every believer. From the time I accepted Christ I have had a personal desire to make my life count for Him. I want to make a difference in my neighborhood, my community and my world. As a layman, I face the reality that I am not “called to preach” in the traditional way but I am still to be God’s ambassadors and minister.
I think it is time to stop talking about what we ought to do and just go do it! We must open the doors of our churches and go out [instead of just gather in] for ministry and service. I’ve often thought of how great it would be if every church declared a moratorium on meetings and sent the people out equipped and prepared to offer Christ to the world. What do you think would happen? Just think about it! Spirit-filled believers dispersed for mission and ministry into the highways and byways of our world! This will never happen if we just sit in our churches waiting for the world to come to us. A pastor told me just recently that before year’s end he is gathering the people for the traditional Sunday morning worship service. But rather than the usual “in house” service, he is asking his church to take the “service” to the community by visiting the lonely, the hurting, the sick and the impoverished. He is going to take them all out visiting on Sunday morning. What an idea!
What I just described above is a good example of the cooperative effort that must take place between the pastor and the congregation. We must become partners in ministry. What does this mean? It means a place for service and ministry for everyone. It is more than just doing a few church tasks. It is an attitude, an ethos, something that flows out through all believers in the church. If the laity of the church become true partners in ministry with the clergy the result will be ministry that will be shared between them.
A Vision for the Local Church and Staff Leaders
The church can become a saving station—a place where love abides and all people can find salvation, healing, holiness and safety. Many times when I am doing a church ministry conference I will ask the question, “Are you willing to accept whomever God sends through the doors of your church?” Our local congregations must be a station of fellowship where all people feel included, loved, and valued.
Next, the church can become an empowering station—a place where vital and exciting opportunities for worship and learning are offered. The “empowering” church disciples and trains its members. It will have programs of ministry for the young, old, men, women, boys, girls, married, and singles—all God’s children.
Next, the church can become an equipping and sending station—a place where we equip people for ministry and send them out into the community and world for mission and ministry. Equipping the saints for ministry is one of our most challenging tasks. Every church should have an evangelism leadership team—people who are dedicated, who have caught the vision, and are capable of teaching others in evangelism.
Lastly, the church can become a community outreach station—a place where programs are offered for youth groups, men’s ministry, women’s groups, community agencies, recovery groups, and assistance for those with immediate survival needs. This “community outreach” church cares about the community in which it lives.
Habakkuk stood at his watch post and here is what God told him:
Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. (Habakkuk 2:2-3 NIV)
We are given this time and this vision—and we should write it in big bold letters. Lift it high for the entire world to see! Let us claim the vision and lift high the cross together, as partners in ministry.
I only joke about this but follow my thinking for minute. Peter was a premier preacher in the New Testament. After Pentecost, he preached and 3,000 people got saved in one service. Now that’s preaching! Do you remember Stephen in Acts 7? He was a layman and when he preached, they stoned him! “And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” (Acts 7:59). Well, that’s some of my humor. I tell everybody that if I try to preach, I’ll get stoned! I know the real truth—I know that God is using both laity and clergy to fulfill the Great Commission. I know that He has given me a calling in life to join up with Him in the pursuit of winning the lost. But I am still scared! Why? It’s a big world out there and when I realize that God has called me, as a layman, to preach and minister it is frightening. Let’s talk about that call.
Who’s An Ordained Plumber?
All laity are called and this calling includes preaching. Probably the greatest coup d’état that the devil ever pulled upon the church could be titled, “But I’m just a layman.” When we look at the first century church we find that the laity preached. Stephen preached in Acts 7. Acts 8:4 says, “they [the laity] that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.” Philip (a layman) in Acts 8:35 “ … opened his mouth, and … preached unto him Jesus.” In the early church everyone was a minister. In just 300 years the church accomplished the most amazing results. The whole Roman Empire was undercut and overthrown by the power of the Gospel of Christ. In fact, the pagan Celsius wrote a book against Christians in the second century and admitted that it was the “wool-workers, cobblers, laundry workers and the most illiterate and bucolic yokels” who carried the gospel. Who was he referring to? The laity! The devil would make us believe that only preachers are called. But I would like to sink a dagger into that lie because our pulpits are everywhere—coffee tables, work tables, gas pumps, office desks. Every Christian occupies some kind of pulpit and preaches some kind of sermon every day. Someone asked one of our laymen if he was called and he replied, “Certainly, I’m an ordained plumber!”
We are ministers.
We are never told that Stephen ever did one thing his position as deacon demanded, but he did extremely well in what his mission demanded. Long before Stephen had a position, he had a mission. In fact, the word “minister” is the translation of the Greek word diakonia, which means “servant.” Thus, a minister can be a deacon who is a servant. Ananias (a layman) was a servant like this. He laid hands on Saul in Acts 9 both healing and commissioning him. Aquila and Priscilla were lay missionaries in Acts 18. The Bible clearly indicates that the work of the church is not solely the responsibility of the pastor—it is for all believers. Originally, the word “minister” was a function of the church. It was a verb—something we did. It was the assignment of all believers and each follower had his own ministry or ministries. Slowly, through the centuries, it has moved from being a function of the church to become a station in the church. Ministry is a function for all, not a station for a few.
We are gifted.
In Acts 6:8 we read, “And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.” For many years I have pondered this scripture. What were those “wonders and miracles” that he performed? Here is a layman performing “wonders and miracles.” I have asked God to help me do the same. I believe that every Christian is called of God as a minister and gifted for ministry. Peter says it best in 1 Peter 4:10, “As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” Stewards of His grace? Have you ever thought of that? Think it through. We (all of God’s people) have received a gift (or gifts) and we are to minister that gift! How do we find our gift? Ask these simple questions:
- What do you see? So many people are waiting for a mystical call from God while all around them work is to be done. If no call seems obvious, then do the obvious! Is there a class with no teacher, a jail with no volunteers, or a nursing home with no church service? Get busy!
- What do you do? Can you teach, sing, or play a musical instrument? If you are good at it, do it!
- What do you enjoy? There was a time when we thought that if we enjoyed doing something, it was wrong. What you love to do is a clue to your anointing.
- What do you feel? What burdens you? What hurts you when you see it? Help heal those hurts.
- What you do hear? What do others say about you? You can expect affirmation from the body of Christ as to the reality of the gift of God within you.
God has called us to do more than pray, pay and obey. There’s a new reformation coming. It is a second reformation—a reforming of the priesthood of all believers. This second reformation will take place when the ministry is in the hand of all of God’s people. If we understand, accept, and act on the doctrine of the laity, it will bring about a reformation such as the world has not seen since Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the door of the church at Wittenburg in 1517. My prayer is that the laity like me will realize that they too are called of God and begin to get more involved in personal evangelism.
Let’s get busy but keep an eye out for those stones!