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The Titus Roundtable: The Stewardship of Faith

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The Church Shall Live by Faith

If we are going to let Jesus lead by acts of grace, then we need to embrace His activity by faith. Here’s the main point of this discussion: The life and authority of Christ is embraced by definite acts of faith.

Our Stewardship: To mix faith with everything—the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Every one of you reading this believes in the sovereignty of God. Therefore, we rest in knowing that nothing is introduced into our ministries that hasn’t passed across God’s desk first. With that being said, our ministry moves forward when we respond in faith at both triumph and trials.

From the day of our salvation, grace has always taken the lead, and faith responded unto an effectual saving. By grace we are saved through faith . . . (Ephesians 2:8). So early on we learn that faith comes by grace, and through faith, God’s grace takes up residence in our lives. So it is in our churches. When God shows up with some display or challenge of grace, it is faith in His movements of grace that become a birth place of ministry functions.

Some practical examples could be like this:

  • The grace of a new convert calls for discipleship of some kind.
  • An influx of people is a call to clarify philosophy of ministry, core values, and visitor awareness.
  • A divisive person is a call to confront according to Matthew 18.

Clearly the scenarios of opportunity are endless. The Bible is full of examples of heroes who moved by faith as well as others who missed God’s gospel movements because of unbelief.

For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it (Hebrews 4:2).

Remember the idea here is for us to steward the movements of God’s grace by embracing them by faith and obeying Scripture in every one of them. I think it’s okay for us to say we ought to become excellent in all ministries that shepherd our sheep from the cradle to grace. And Jesus, our lead pastor, knows exactly what our next step should be.
Let me emphasize here: Every movement of grace is always a call to make much of Christ, pray together, and believe to complete obedience. A ministry that turns every movement and challenge into a treasure hunt for God will experience God’s reward (Jeremiah 29:11-13). Also, it must be said that sometimes the best movement of faith is not to move at all but rather stand still and see the salvation of the Lord (Exodus 14:13).

There is an amazing encouragement that comes to our people when we can point out how God fought and won the battle (II Chronicles 20:17). These moments are great faith builders.

So, after some great movements of grace when expectations soar, don’t be surprised if the landscape looks bleak. Remember, if God can’t be understood, He can be embraced by faith. And if you will lay down any pride and believe the best is yet to come because the Lord is in His holy temple, you too may sing a new song and tell a new story of faith which only brings more grace.

Finally, Jesus Himself gives us instruction to let faith in Him be our first primary work. In John 6, we find Jesus being pursued by the multitudes. He knew they were only “bread and fish” followers and told them so when He said, “Ye seek Me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled” (v. 26). He then challenged their values by saying, “Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life…” (v. 27). They responded with this question, “What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?” (v. 28) Jesus answered, “This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom he hath sent” (v. 29).

Jesus considers our faith in Him to be our greatest calling and priority work. Everything flows from that. He loves it when we really believe that what we believe is really real. In ministry, if we are going to live with God, we are going to live by faith. Paul said, “For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love” (Galatians 5:6). When the stewardship of faith becomes the lifestyle of our church, there will be a growing core of believers who discover Him to not only be their salvation but also their sufficiency and satisfaction.

I have at times made things way too hard by trying to make things happen. As I learned to watch for God, I found that He was always at work, and when we joined Him, the ride was both exciting and productive.

Let’s finish this installment with some delightful insight from Alec Motyer in Psalms by the Day.

Referencing Psalm 77 he says this, “Now the main point is this: the solution to every problem is the way of simple faith. It may not prove to be a simple thing to place faith and to hold on to the way of faith, but faith itself is essentially simple—childlike trust. It was in this way that the eternal problem of getting right with God was solved, was it not—simple faith in Jesus? If the greatest problem yielded to faith, how much more lesser problems, however testing? It is the way to greet each new day, to face every new problem, and rise to every new challenge. Faith however, must rest on a sure foundation. Faith is not a leap in the dark; it is a leap from light into light. Faith is conviction leading to action on the basis of evidence—and the only sufficient evidence is what God has done, objectively, historically. Here’s the conclusion: the mind stored with, assured of, resting on the great facts of God’s salvation is a mind at rest.”

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The Titus Roundtable: The Stewardship of Grace

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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:

  1. New people He sends

  2. Open door opportunities

  3. Heart changes

  4. New converts

  5. Natural and supernatural giftedness

  6. Physical resources

  7. Hardships

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.

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The Titus Roundtable: The Stewardship of Prayer

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Prayer as a Way Forward

In our first episode of The Titus Roundtable, treating Jesus as “Lead Pastor” meant truly believing who He was, what He did, and what He said. We are then ready to advance as a congregation through prayer. If a congregation is to be led by Jesus, they must meet with Jesus. Truly successful families and ministries eagerly meet with Jesus as a community. No leader expects to move his cause forward without some kind of team meeting. Whether an executive business leader or middle school football coach, practice, films, and TED talks are all a part of the way forward.

Is it wrong or somehow disrespectful to engage prayer as a way forward? I might say here that if prayer is to be a way of advance, we must get it out of the graveyard and put it in its rightful place. I have a friend named Harold Vaughan with Christ-Life Ministries who titles his large prayer meetings as a “Prayer Advance.” Previously I had mostly heard meetings like that called “Prayer Retreats.” Just recently I spoke at what was called a “Prayer Encounter.” We don’t want to get stuck on the name, but we do want to build on the biblical truth that God alone advances His kingdom and has ordained dependent praying as a way of taking the next right step even if it is to “Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord,” (Exodus 14:13-14). In this scenario when Moses was at his wits end between Pharaoh and the Red Sea and was leading a million and a half people, he moved forward by standing still, holding his peace, watching the LORD fight for him. God was his way forward, but hearing from God let him know what to do!

Prayer is God’s way forward because:

It brings us to where He is. Are we in awe of the truth that God calls us to fellowship with Him? That should be a wow factor for us.

“God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord,” (I Corinthians 1:9).

“…by which He made us accepted in the Beloved,” (Ephesians 1:6)

It is the first step in revitalizing a shattered church.

Again, where did Paul start in correcting the problems of the Corinthian church? He reminded them of this call to prayer right up front.

It serves to restore our first love. To the Ephesian church who had left their first love and was in danger of extinction, Jesus said, “Remember . . . Repent . . . Return,” (Revelation 2:5) That was more than progress; it was survival!

It moves us out of lukewarmness. Is it amazing to you that Jesus would invite the nauseating church at Laodicea to meet Him for dinner—indicating that moving forward out of this putrid condition could be resolved by an intimate conversation (Revelation 3:20).?

It transforms us. As we gaze at Jesus in the Word as a group, we are changed! Don’t we need to be changed? Is not our own pride and self-centeredness at the heart of all church roadblocks? Actually, testimonies of transformation become the fuel of corporate revival.

“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord,” (2 Corinthians 3:18).

It gives us wisdom for the next right step during times of trials. We can ask, believe, and wait until we here from Jesus.

“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given him,” (James 1:5).

It releases God to show His approval at strategic times. “And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the Word of God with boldness,” (Acts 4:31). While most of us will not experience a physical shaking of our church building as we pray, it’s not unusual for God in some unique way to show He’s on the scene and is okay with what’s going on. It truly is a fun-loving thing for us when He lets us know He’s working with us. Everybody talks about that stuff and God gets glory in our midst.

It launches us into the mission field. Prayer moves the missionary hand of God through us. When Jesus saw a plentiful harvest but only a few laborers what did He say? “Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest,” (Matthew 9:38).

I’m sure you can think of some more, but these 8 will get us started. So, whether it’s the transformation of our souls toward Godlikeness or the launching of our lives into a mission—prayer is a great place to start and a great way to continue.

On a real practical note, here are a couple of ways a leader can put “praying Forward” into practice.

    1. Build your prayer meetings around identifying the real needs of the church, choosing Scripture that relates to that need then praying it up to the Lord in agreement that we want our church to live like this Scripture truth.

      For example, if you sense the need in your congregation is more love, then systematically pray I Corinthians 13 and other related passages up to the Lord. It could be anything—marriages, missions, evangelism, unity, etc. Develop the mindset of the church to pray strategically and biblically.

    2. Depending on how your services are structured, turn our sermon outlines into prayer lists. In one service the sermon could be presented, but in a following service it could be prayed into the flock by the flock. Don’t be afraid of repetition. Give everyone a chance to prayerfully process truth.

    3. Develop a core group who regularly meet with you to pray and discern what God is doing and then research Scriptures that apply to each situation. We must realize that only Jesus really knows what is needed and He will inform us as we seek Him.

    Be creative in your application, but at the heart you will be moving people along by focusing on Scripture praying on specific topics. Keep it simple, make it fun, build a team.

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The Titus Roundtable: The Stewardship of Christ Himself

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The Stewardship of Christ Himself

In order to move our thought processes into the leadership mode, I would like to approach each blog from the standpoint of really treating Jesus like the “Lead Pastor.”

What must our thoughts and actions reveal if we are really going to let Jesus build His church as He promised? Here is #1. We must really believe who He is as revealed in Scripture, what He did, what He said, and then act upon it. I might add, as leaders, we must talk about it over and over again with our sheep to encourage their faith, inform their minds, and move them along in life and ministry. We must make Jesus large, present, and active to them. He must be treated as an active Head and not just a beloved symbol.

In my personal ministry, I have found strong personalities that hold tightly to personal preferences humbled with a practice of Christ’s presence on the part of an under-shepherd.

My pastor, Andy Harkleroad says, “We must think biblically if we are going to live godly.” I agree with him and might add, “We must think biblically about Jesus if we are going to lead effectively under His authority.”

Food for Thought

Who is He?

What is the potential of His life being released in our congregations? What are the possibilities of this God-man living His life out with us and in us? We must bring our congregation up close and help them see it—see Him. Just for starters, take the “I ams” of John’s gospel. Go to the majesty and mystery of Jesus in Colossians 1. Then check out the letters to the churches in Revelation 2 & 3. Every challenge in every church can be overwhelmed by the character of Christ applied by the prayer of faith.

We try to “handle” too many things. These issues of darkness, shadows, and divisions need to be exposed to the Light for overpowering and expulsion! (John 1:5) There is much more, of course, but these few thoughts can get us started.

What did He do?

Was there not a celebration of His birth? A prophetic message from a forerunner John the Baptizer? How about a perfect life? An obedience into death? A profound power of resurrection? Is His ascension and seated-ness noteworthy (Ephesians 1)?

You see all these are one-time historical events that have ongoing eternal results in our churches. Is He not still interceding for us (Hebrews 7:25)? Is His activity dormant? I don’t think so. Paul prayed for the Ephesians believers to know “the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion . . .,” (Ephesians 1:9-21). With all that power and authority available to use, surely, we can appropriate in prayer what is needed to make some real disciples! Are we getting the idea?

What did He say?

With that being said, let’s walk through the New Testament with Jesus as our tour guide and let Him point to the qualities of the church He works with us to build. Here they are in the first person.

Matthew 16:13-19

  • I will build My church.

  • I will build My church upon My own person and work.

Matthew 18:15-20

  • I will give to My church My presence for conflict resolution.

Matthew 28:18-20

  • I will give the church My authority to make disciples.

  • I will work with My church and remain in them.

Acts 13:1-3

  • I will call ministers from My church and give them ministries that I have ordained for them.

Ephesians 2:19-22

  • My church is the dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

Ephesians 3:14-21

  • My church is limited only by My sovereignty.

Ephesians 4:11-16

  • I give leaders to My church who will equip the saints who will then work in ministry to edify the body.

  • Through this process, I will build the spiritual health of My body.

Ephesians 5:23-33

  • I am the head of My church (v. 23).

  • I am her Savior (v. 23).

  • My church is subject to Me (v. 24).

  • I love My church (v. 25).

  • I gave Myself for My church (v. 25) (to sanctify, to cleanse to present to Myself glorious, no spots, no wrinkles, holy, without blemish).

  • I nourish and cherish My church (v. 29).

  • My church is My body on earth (v. 30).

  • My church is a mystery (v. 32).

I Timothy 3:15

  • My church is the pillar and ground of the truth in society.

Revelation 1:16

  • I hold the pastors for My church in My hand.

Revelation 2 & 3

  • I know My church intimately.

  • I have the answers for My church.

  • I have My church’s best interest in mind.

  • I have the right and ability to remove the witness of My church.

  • I know the conditions around My church.

Revelation 22:16

  • The unveiling of who I am is to be testified in My church.

As a steward, feel free to add your insights to these qualities. Anything we can do to encourage our affections for this “Elect Lady” and her builder will affect the ages. The fact that Jesus nourishes and cherishes His church should be a call on our lives to do the same.

Let me respectfully say, as someone who has had the privilege and responsibility of pastoring for a long time, church ministry can be messy. In the trenches we are dealing with many varied personalities at different stages of maturity with baggage, bondage, plurality of worldviews, budgets, meetings and details galore. It’s very easy to be swamped. I might add, our people also get overwhelmed and need to be gently and constantly brought to the “Light of Life.” That’s what shepherds do. Good shepherds keep reintroducing their people to the Great Shepherd (Hebrews 13:2).

May this short treatment of Christ present and in charge be food for thought on your part.

I do a lot of driving; therefore, as a driver, I do a lot of things instinctively when situations arise on the road. Slowing down, speeding up, merging left and right, anticipating and respecting the needs of other drivers just come naturally as I drive. Recently I traveled with one of my grandsons who now has his permit. He, of course, wanted to get some hours. As he drove and I rode shotgun, I noticed he had not developed those instincts, so I did a lot of coaching! Needless to say, I could not really relax during some dangerous moments. But I know he will learn like the rest of us.

So it is with our leadership. Continue to walk with Him closely. Have your leaders walk with you especially in the Word and prayer, and you will develop a church that at the core will intuitively know if Jesus is not only leading but feels very at home in your midst (Ephesians 3:17). We are then ready to advance through.

About the Author

Joe Humrichous

Joe Humrichous is the executive director of Paradigm One and Bible Prayer Fellowship. The message of the sufficiency of Christ for both the pastor and the local church was birthed during a time of brokenness in his early ministry. Now after 50 years in ministry, Joe is passionate to share this reality as it applies to corporate prayer and church leadership. He recently served as a pastor at First Baptist Church in Covington, Indiana. He and his wife Teresa have 5 children and 13 grandchildren.

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Trip of a Lifetime

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You see, ministry is something much more than just getting the job done. It’s growing deeper in love with the ONE and the ones you are traveling with. When that happens, your ministry will really be a trip of a lifetime.

Trip of a Lifetime

Recently my daughter invited me to go with her and her two sons to Washington D.C. to walk in the 46th annual March for Life. I agreed to go.

While getting ready the evening before, she said to me, “Wow, Dad—trip of a lifetime—you and me going to Washington together—taking the boys.” Her sweet comment instantly removed all dread! Just knowing that someone wants you to come along makes the trip worth all the effort and transforms mere logistics into a meaningful and enjoyable pilgrimage.

This situation reminded me of a time in Moses’ ministry. God said to him about his leadership, “My Presence will go with you and I will give you rest.” Then Moses responded, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here,” (Exodus 33:14,15). Moses knew they were helpless against the enemy and the elements without God.

The early church was exactly the same way. Statements like, “Lo, I am with you always” (Matthew 28:20), “The Lord working with them,” (Mark 16:20), and “Tarry in the city of Jerusalem,” (Luke 24:49) all speak to the idea that the Lord wants to be with us in our ministries and that we most definitely need to be with Him.

Do we ever really stop to think that the Lord likes to be with us? What a price He paid just to be with us now and forever! Do we ever wonder how He feels when we launch our plans and ride off into the sunset, leaving Him in the dust and without really checking His heart about things?

As I reflect on our little trip to Washington, it was delightful because we wanted to be together. How different it would have been if we had ignored each other or only tolerated each other on the journey. Because of the love relationship we had, we actually worked through the logistical glitches together, learned to meet obstacles together, shared little trip treasures together, were amazed together, and grew deeper in love with each other.

You see, ministry is something much more than just getting the job done. It’s growing deeper in love with the ONE and the ones you are traveling with. When that happens, your ministry will really be a trip of a lifetime.

Our building programs, our search committees, our education committees, our missions teams can be much more than fleshly opinion pools where strong personalities “hammer it out.” They can be where Spirit-filled people pray together and wait together in order to see where God goes next. He is what makes it a trip of a lifetime.

Let me encourage every pastor or leader to shepherd their flock in such a way as to allow each one to learn about the ONE with whom they are traveling and enjoy Him. By the way, to travel without Him is not only dangerous and strenuous, it is worthless and fruitless no matter how successful we appear to others.

Lead with Jesus present and in charge. Then you can be like a tour guide simply pointing out to your congregation all of the grace sightings along the way. Now that’s a trip of a lifetime.

About the Author

Joe Humrichous

Joe Humrichous is the executive director of Paradigm One and Bible Prayer Fellowship. The message of the sufficiency of Christ for both the pastor and the local church was birthed during a time of brokenness in his early ministry. Now after 50 years in ministry, Joe is passionate to share this reality as it applies to corporate prayer and church leadership. He recently served as a pastor at First Baptist Church in Covington, Indiana. He and his wife Teresa have 5 children and 13 grandchildren.

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The Blessed Challenge of Embracing Servant Leadership

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Ministry can be messy, but for those in ministry, we have been called to serve, no matter the muck and mire.

The Blessed Challenge of Embracing Servant Leadership

In trying to explain the unique task of leadership, a well-known academic leader at Georgia Southern University once referred to a large billboard gracing the side of a major highway near Augusta. It is an advertisement for a local septic tank company that reads like this: “We’re #1 in the #2 business.”

If you have been in ministry any length of time, you know that it sometimes feels like you are in the #2 business. While ministry is an uniquely gratifying engagement, let’s face it; serving people in the local church can also be a little smelly. Since we lead by serving people – not by being served – we are certain to encounter a ministry mess now and then. It can be yucky, unpleasant, and downright foul.

This is when it is helpful to recall the model of leadership that our Savior both preached and practiced. After washing his disciples’ crusty feet, He said:

“If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you,” (John 13:14,15).

Washing the disciples’ feet was a truly an act of humility, but Jesus would take it further. He would go as far down the path of servant leadership as one can possibly go. He would take it all the way to the point of substitutionary death, “even the death of the cross,” (Philippians 2:8).

I don’t know about you, but I need to be reminded frequently that, by His grace, God has placed me in ministry to serve people. When I am reminded of this, it changes my approach. It positively affects the way I relate to the people I am serving and how I steward the platform I’ve been given.

Our church recently had the privilege of ordaining three men to the gospel ministry. In my charge to them, I told them I was gifting each of them with a new designated staff parking place. I told them they could take their pick of the parking spots furthest away from the church doors, so every time they arrive at church they have some extra time – between their vehicle and the door – to be reminded that they are but servants.

Blessings on you and your ministry,

Dave

About the Author

J. Dave Adams

J. Dave Adams has served the local church for over twenty years. After practicing law for a brief time, Dave followed a God-given desire to help people in their relationship with God by becoming a full-time pastor. He has joyfully served churches in Indiana and California. He is married to Tawnia and has five children. He is a graduate of Dallas Seminary and is currently pursuing his PhD at Talbot School of Theology at Biola.

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Set the Sail

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Set the sail and watch God do what only He can do.

Set the Sail

Our home sits on two acres in the middle of an 11-acre woods. We have 127 trees on our two acres alone. The seclusion is wonderful, but the leaf raking is a challenge to say the least. Last year my fall schedule and travels prevented me from getting the leaves off my yard in a timely fashion. I have been concerned because we are losing our grass! The canopy of shade blocks the sun and the abundance of leaves is keeping the light from the grass; thus, it is thinning. I have a plan in motion to remove some trees, but you can see the leaves must be dealt with.

Now keep in mind, it is now January. I actually have been praying about this because I want to be a good steward of our property and at the same time be a steward of kingdom mysteries.

Yesterday, I experienced an amazing provision from the Lord—a fairly warm day and a 40 mph northwest wind. It was incredible. So yesterday afternoon, after calling and meeting with pastors, I went home and in my dress clothes started my little leaf blower and blew leaves. All I had to do was use my “small wind” to lift the leaves a bit and God’s “big wind” sent them flying off my grass into the woods!

I know it sounds crazy, but this 72 year-old-grandpa was somewhere between laughing with the fun of it and crying in worship to God for His laser-beam provision, as I watched those leaves rise and fly—like a covey of quails from a gunshot.

As the leaves were blowing yesterday, I was reminded of my mentors who told me, “Joe, we need to set the sail to catch the wind rather than drop the oars trying to row up stream.” Of course, they were talking about cooperating with the Spirit in order for God do His work.

Like my leaf blowing, God wants to work with us. Notice, “So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them…” (Mark 16:19,20, emphasis added).

He did not leave us as orphans but rather sent us His Spirit to convince, comfort, teach, guide, bring to remembrance, enable, convert, etc.

So how do pastors and churches “set the sail?”

Be biblical—This is a given for some; for others, it is not. We cannot expect the Spirit of God to endorse what the Word of God does not say. “Preach the Word,” (II Tim. 4:2).

Be humble—We cannot expect God to promote anything of self-promotion. In fact, “God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6).

Be dependent—and talk amongst yourselves about total dependency. Be reminded always of Jesus’ words, “For without Me you can do nothing,” (John 15:5).

Be filled—Believe the Holy Spirit to enable each individual and the collective group to operate with their God-given capacity (Eph. 5:18). Ask and believe.

Stay together and stay accountable—Individualism will kill a church. God made us to function as a body with each one providing his or her part. (Rom. 12:5)

Set the sail and watch God do what only He can do. In doing so, we can rest, enjoy, and worship in awe—He gets the glory through Jesus.

About the Author

Joe Humrichous

Joe Humrichous is the executive director of Paradigm One and Bible Prayer Fellowship. The message of the sufficiency of Christ for both the pastor and the local church was birthed during a time of brokenness in his early ministry. Now after 50 years in ministry, Joe is passionate to share this reality as it applies to corporate prayer and church leadership. He recently served as a pastor at First Baptist Church in Covington, Indiana. He and his wife Teresa have 5 children and 13 grandchildren.

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Attraction or Attachment Part II

People want something that is real. We can never substitute anything in the place of the sufficiency of Christ.

Attraction or Attachment Part II

In my last deposit, we learned that our ultimate goal in being a God-honoring church is not to attract a crowd but attach people to Christ. I might add that a church that is loving, humble, and transparent while preaching and teaching absolute biblical truth makes Jesus very real. When Jesus is made real, your congregation will talk about Him and that in itself will bring people your way. People want something that is real. We can never substitute anything in the place of the sufficiency of Christ.

Let’s do some contrast and comparison. In the attraction model of church growth, we have a tendency to “use our people to build the church.” The goal would be production, the method would be promotion and often the result is frustration.

The attachment model actually uses the church ministry to build the people. The goal then is growth of believers. The method is feeding them with good spiritual food and the end result is joyful believers. Do you see and feel the difference?

Of course, the Bible speaks clearly to all of these issues. Ephesians 4:11, 12 instruct the pastor-teacher to equip the saints for the work of the ministry. “On the job” equipping in a local church is tops. To have people experience growth through hands on relationships brings a real sense of satisfaction to all parties.

Peter is clear about shepherding God’s flock in I Peter 5—with the idea of willing oversight, pure motives, and godly example. After all, Peter was taught by Jesus Himself to “Feed my sheep,” (John 21:15-17).

When considering our models for ministry, and mind you something new is always trending, we must keep in mind that everything we do will be tested by fire.

Paul, the wise master builder, as he calls himself, holds his fellow workers in God to a pretty tight standard. Here’s what he says.

“For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is.” (I Corinthians 3:11-13)

You see, when we are interested in size, God is interested in sort. We may be interested in quantity when God is interested in quality. Dr. Warren Wiersbe said, “I do not fear the fires of hell, but I do fear the fires of heaven.”

God hates the smell of flesh, but He has saved us to be zealous of good works. Those works that we do according to the Word of God in the will of God, by the power of God, for the glory of God will stand the test of God’s evaluating fire. Everything else will be gone.

For us this should be both sobering and motivating at the same time. Take heart friends; keep planting and watering for God’s glory and trust Him with the increase. Each one of us will receive his own reward according to his own labor.

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Attraction or Attachment Part I

pastors-church leaders-church size
pastors-church leaders-church size

Few would ever brazenly try to steal the church from Jesus, but out of self-preservation over years and decades of hard work and ministry, we can become blind to our hearts and set in our ways.

Attraction or Attachment Part I

In the introduction to my book, The Life of the Vine in the Soul of the Church, I say, “At the expense of sounding too pious, I wrote this book for Jesus. For too long, I did not give Him his proper place in church building. I am sorry. He knew where I was in my understanding of things and was patient and intentional in performing His work in me. I’m sure He has more to teach me.”

I worked very hard at getting a crowd to church. We did many things to attract people. I felt a lot of pressure from my mentors to produce and compared myself with my colleagues a lot. As I said in my last deposit, I felt more like a competitor than a companion.

Why wouldn’t we? Often when going to pastors’ fellowships, the first and sometimes last question we asked was, “How many are you running in Sunday School, brother?” Whether your number was high or low (if you were honest), it seemed like the conversation was over.

Crowds also pay bills so that becomes a motivation to attract. I know financial pressures and having a “critical mass” are all factors in our concerns about church size. Many pastors are feeling pressure from the finance chairman who is watching the ever-decreasing numbers and wondering what should be done.

In his excellent book, Revitalize—Biblical Keys to Helping Your Church Come Alive Again, Pastor Andrew Davis strikes a clear note in where to begin in restoring a local church to its proper foundation. His first step to revitalization is “Embrace Christ’s Ownership of the Church.” You see, our goal never was to attract a crowd. Preach the gospel to every people group? Yes! Make disciples in every nation? Yes! Equip the saints to do the work of the ministry? Yes! Become a pillar and ground of the truth? Yes! But the size of the crowd is up to Jesus (Acts 2:47).

Our goal is not to attract a crowd but rather attach them to Christ. Here’s what Davis says.

“A passion for the exaltation of Christ as head over the church must enflame the heart of all church revitalizers. You must burn with a passion for the supremacy of Christ in your local church. Churches need revitalization precisely because they have become increasingly cold toward the glory of Christ and increasingly dominated by man’s glory, wisdom, efforts, agenda and power. If a church is to be revitalized, then the absolute ownership of the church by Christ must be central to everything you yearn for and do.”

His book is a great read for anyone interested in a healthy, revived church built on and around Christ. He offers many practical suggestions grounded in prayer and the scriptures to help local leaders in any congregation. Let me add that leadership is important in the move back to Christ.

The last two churches I pastored were in need of revitalization and there came a time in both churches where we formally recognized Jesus as the owner and gave each respective church back to Him.

I remember in our last church after I had given a message on Christ’s ownership and headship how we gathered at the altar, repented of our pride, and gave the church back to Jesus. It was a glorious, yet humble moment and a turning point for healing, growth, and lasting fruit.

Few would ever brazenly try to steal the church from Jesus, but out of self-preservation over years and decades of hard work and ministry, we can become blind to our hearts and set in our ways. Next thing you know Jesus is outside knocking (Rev. 3:20). Remember where you went wrong, repent, and return to the One who paid for the church with His own blood (Acts 20:28).

Joe Humrichous

Joe Humrichous is the executive director of Paradigm One and Bible Prayer Fellowship. The message of the sufficiency of Christ for both the pastor and the local church was birthed during a time of brokenness in his early ministry. Now after 50 years in ministry, Joe is passionate to share this reality as it applies to corporate prayer and church leadership. He recently served as a pastor at First Baptist Church in Covington, Indiana. He and his wife Teresa have 5 children and 13 grandchildren.

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Too Many Voices

pastors, pastoral resources, pastor burnout
pastors, pastoral resources, pastor burnout

While “box checking” can give believers a sense of security and completion, the sacrifices are chilling. We sacrifice His life, His love, His joy, His peace, . . . all the fruit of the Spirit, the hope of His glory. While we may hold to the cardinal doctrines of the gospel, we allow the power of the gospel, which is the resurrected life of Christ, to slip away unnoticed.

Too Many Voices

My eyes welled with tears recently when it was reported that a church that I loved very much had slipped away from Christ being their life. When Christ goes—everything of real life goes. All we then have left is framework, i.e. having services, singing songs, preaching sermons, taking offerings, printing bulletins, running programs—lifeless framework. We go from there to maintaining a framework, institutionalizing the framework, supporting a framework, and evaluating our lives by how well we function within the standards of the framework; status quo becomes the norm. I’m okay, you’re okay becomes our standard of comparison and “box checking” becomes mode of operation.

While “box checking” can give believers a sense of security and completion, the sacrifices are chilling. We sacrifice His life, His love, His joy, His peace, . . . all the fruit of the Spirit, the hope of His glory. While we may hold to the cardinal doctrines of the gospel, we allow the power of the gospel, which is the resurrected life of Christ, to slip away unnoticed. Jesus would identify this kind of church as one who had left her first love (Revelation 2:4). When this happens, we can easily gain an attitude of being rich and increased with goods and in need of nothing like the lukewarm church (Revelation 3:17). Jesus was on the outside and they were okay with themselves unaware of His absence.

How do these things happen? While many suggestions could be given here, there is one thing that seems clear to me. Churches are listening to too many voices.

At this point, I’m not talking about the voices from the world or false teachers. I’m talking about voices within the evangelical church. Pastors are bombarded with messages of all kinds, and if they are a young pastor, they are even more susceptible to conform to these voices.

There are the voices of peers, opinion, expectation, ambition, tradition, denomination, good-ole-days, strong personalities, current trends, theological frameworks, preference, styles, and brands of fellowship—plus the voice of urgency. All the while Jesus is knocking at the door saying, “Can I get a word in edgewise here?”

As leaders we must be very diligent, even vigilant, about slowing down, being still, waiting and listening for one voice—the voice of Jesus. Our congregations must be shepherded to do the same thing.

I love the idea of simplicity. “So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart,” (Acts 2:46).

The Jerusalem church was joyful because its single focus was on Jesus Christ.

The apostle Paul reminded the Corinthian church of his simplicity in leadership as he shepherded them out of their multiple issues.

“For our boasting is this: the testimony of our conscience that we conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God, and more abundantly toward you,” (II Corinthians 1:12). He was aware that in life and leadership even fleshly wisdom can become a substitute for Jesus if we aren’t careful. Duplicity always short circuits the power of God.

Of course, falling prey to Satanic lies is also another way we are moved from our simple devotion to Christ in favor of the sophisticated error of teachers who promote their own agendas with their truth out of balance. Here’s another word from Paul to the Corinthians. “But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ,” (II Corinthians 11:3).

The church must hear one clear message from her Head alone as given in the His word by the illumination of His Spirit in the context of her local setting.

Lord, make us deaf to every voice but Yours.

Joe Humrichous

Joe Humrichous is the executive director of Paradigm One and Bible Prayer Fellowship. The message of the sufficiency of Christ for both the pastor and the local church was birthed during a time of brokenness in his early ministry. Now after 50 years in ministry, Joe is passionate to share this reality as it applies to corporate prayer and church leadership. He recently served as a pastor at First Baptist Church in Covington, Indiana. He and his wife Teresa have 5 children and 13 grandchildren.

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