Serve by Grace Not by Grudge
My ministry began in the mid-1960s, and certain ministries were trending in our circles as to how to grow a church. They were all good. My mistake was that I forgot to begin with Jesus. Instead, I began with a method. Because of my personality and work ethic, I just believed that if I put my hand to the plow everything would be great. So my hand was on the plow, but I didn’t know how to take His yoke. The plow without His yoke crushed me—and I needed to be crushed so I could learn a whole new way to minister.
The remaining videos summarize lessons I learned from then on. These are truths, when put into place, that allow Jesus to be in the lead. Again, we are answering the question, “How can I allow Christ to build His church as He promised and still maintain responsible leadership?”
These thoughts are meant to be timeless, not trendy. They fit any size congregation. They work in large cities, small towns, or country churches. They fit any culture. They are meant to be “good news” which comes from the life of Christ and the power of His gospel as opposed to “good advice” which may have applications only for a particular genre of church. They do also give us an idea of what our response should be as we yoke up with Jesus as He builds His church. In some ways they are simply learning how to abide in Christ on the corporate level. As undershepherds, we can lead our flock to green pastures of grace.
Here’s the main point:
The life and authority of Christ invades the church through divinely orchestrated acts of grace.
Our stewardship: To observe carefully and cherish what God initiates.
Let me start by saying that it is always good and fitting for a leader to apply all the common graces given to us in the written Word–things like continue steadfast in the apostles doctrine, fellowship, breaking of bread, prayers, and bold witnessing of the resurrection. The commission to make disciples, take heed to the flock, preach the Word, study, ordain elders and so forth are ours to employ. But how, what, when, and where to use them always needs some direction and enabling by the grace of God.
God, by grace, has always been the initiator of all kingdom activity. From Adam to the apostles, God is writing His story, and He still is. So when you observe His grace movements and alert your congregation to them, ministry begins to be an adventure and not just a duty. That’s when it gets to be fun for everybody. As I said in a previous blog, we must learn to set the sail and not just drop the oars.
As a reminder, Jesus never initiated anything on His own. He certainly had the ability but only applied His life to His Father’s work, His Father’s words, and His Father’s will (John 5:17-30).
On a practical note, we can look for the movements of grace in the following but not exhaustively:
New people He sends
Open door opportunities
Natural and supernatural giftedness
God loves for us to cherish and treasure every morsel of grace He gives. He gives us more when we do (Matthew 13:12). The reward for successful ministry is more ministry.
Always remember that humility always precedes grace. A proud church will find itself fighting against the Lord Himself (James 4:6). In the words of Del Fehsenfeld III, “Humility is the starting point for Life with God,” (Revive Magazine, August 2015).
Note: A fuller treatment of this stewardship may be found in The Life of the Vine in the Soul of the Church of which you can receive a free copy. To get a copy, click this link to go to the form.