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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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What Does a God-Centered Stewardship Look Like?

God-centered stewardship, church stewardship, leadership
God-centered stewardship, church stewardship, leadership

What Does a God-Centered Stewardship Look Like?

This is an excerpt from Joe’s book, The Life of the Vine in the Soul of the Church. If you would like to read more, you can purchase his book through the Paradigm One webstore.

And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them. According to all that I shew thee after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it. – Exodus 25:8,9

The instructions given to Moses by God in the building of the tabernacle are a flawless model of how we can allow God to build the church and still be humanly responsible for our leadership.

First of all, Moses was an amazing, God-centered prophet (Israel’s greatest) because God chose to meet with him face to face. God came to Moses’ defense when Aaron and Miriam spoke against him. Note God’s witness of Moses.
“Hear now My words; if there is a prophet among you, I the Lord will make Myself known unto him in a vision and will speak unto him in a dream. My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all Mine house. With him will I speak mouth to mouth, (face to face) even apparently (plainly) and not in dark speeches; wherefore then were ye not afraid to speak against my servant Moses? And the anger of the Lord was kindled against them;” – Numbers 12:6-9

Similar statements are made in Exodus 33:11 and Deuteronomy 34:10. Such a stellar, God-authored commendation of leadership demands our observation. God spoke with Moses without mediation. Also, the Lord did not speak to Moses through visions and dreams but plainly. It was not that Moses saw the full glory of God, but rather that he had the most explicit, intimate encounters, above those of any other prophet. In response to these encounters, God said, he is faithful in all My house. That’s what we are after in our leadership: 1) Intimate in our communication, 2) Immaculate in our obedience.

Secondly, the tabernacle was a God-centered project strategic to Israel’s health, safety, and progress as a nation. The tabernacle was the way Israel could be camping out with God on their pilgrimage. Through this tent of meeting, God gave Israel seven messages from His heart.

1. I want to be with you.
2. I want to cleanse you.
3. I want to protect you.
4. I want to move with you.
5. I want things done My way.
6. I have an end in mind.
7. I have another prophet like Moses (Jesus).

Our churches and the tabernacle are not the same, but the integrity of their construction is. Both should start with God and end with God. Here are God’s divine instructions to this genuinely meek prophet for the erection of this physical prototype of Jesus. Observe carefully.

Through the finished tabernacle, God gives us His message (heart), but in the building of the tabernacle, He demonstrates His method (hand). Here they are in order. We:

1. Start with God’s glory (Ex. 24:16, 17). Moses and company were pilgrims. They had no glory of their own and neither do we. Which leads us to…

2. Seek God’s presence (Ex. 24:12-, 13, 18). God said come up to Me into the mount, and be there. The idea here is that of an unending appointment. Direction for holy leadership cannot be rushed. We know now that it was a forty-day visit, but Moses didn’t know that at the time. When we are building reflections of Jesus, we need time to get them right. We all have had first-hand experience in how these first appointments have to be fought for and kept with all diligence both privately and corporately. The way of a healthy church is to have strategic sessions with the Master-Builder. There we…

3. Receive God’s project (Ex. 24:12b; 25:8). “And I will give thee tables of stone and a law, and commandments which I have written; that thou mayest teach them . . . And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them.”

Notice, these projects were received by Moses—given by God. They were not the products of a brainstorming session. Good ideas are not always God’s ideas. John the Baptist securely reported that his ministry was falling in behind Jesus. “A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven,” (John 3:27).

It is comforting to observe God’s desire to give Israel both His Word and His presence. The means of bringing that to our people will be birthed in God’s presence through His projects. After which we…

4. Wait on God’s provision (Ex. 25:1-7; 36:5-7). The specific needs were outlined by God, and the supply came from willing, generous hearts. Not everyone gave, and those who did, gave from the spoils they gleaned from their exit from Egypt. Remember, they were pilgrims. Their hearts embraced the project so much that Moses had to restrain the giving. The people brought much more than enough! When God’s heart is in the project, He will raise up people with the same heart. We can’t be in a hurry. The process is as important to God as the end-product. Be patient, and the invisible supply will appear in God’s time. In the meantime, we…

5. Follow God’s pattern (Ex. 25:9; 40; 26:30; 27:8). God has a way He wants things done. His insistence about this with Moses is notable. Strategy matters to God. Wood, hay, and stubble are real and will be burned. Moses inspected all the work to make sure it was done just the way the LORD had commanded (Ex. 39:43). With this willingness to be given to detail, he received a good report from God that he was faithful in all His house. We are also ministers (servants) of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required in stewards that a man be found faithful (I Cor. 4:2). We must then…

6. Employ God’s personnel (Ex. 31:1-6). I’ve got to believe when God was giving those precise instructions for the tabernacle to Moses with all of the “Thou shalt makes,” he could have been thinking “And who is going to do this?”  Growing up in the palace and then caring for sheep didn’t necessarily equip Moses in the trades.  But God, as always, had a plan to provide His leaders with gifted, passionate partners.  These words from God must have brought great relief to Moses.  Listen to them carefully.

“See, I have called by name Bezaleel—and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship, to devise cunning works, to work in gold, and silver, and in brass, and in cutting of stones, to set them, and in carving of timber, to work in all manner of workmanship.  And I, behold, I have given with him Aholiab–: and in the hearts of all that are wise hearted I have put wisdom, that they may make all that I have commanded thee.”

I am choking up as I write this because I have experienced firsthand how the God who ordained the message and the manner in which it was presented also raised up the materials for the project and the men to put it together.  It’s fantastic!  There needs to be an integrity about our waiting on God that allows us to realize who He is calling.  They are

7. Motivated by God’s power (Ex. 31:3). My mentors in revival encouraged me to learn the difference between good men, church men, and Spirit-appointed men.  These kinds are not always found amongst the seminary grads or shrewd business executives.  Note also that competence and character can come in the same package.  Be assured that bad staff is worse than no staff at all.  Wait on God.  He has someone in mind, and he may be nestled in your own congregation.

There came a time in our ministry when we discovered that the best ministers for us were those who were growing up with us.  They often came from the faithful who weathered well the storms we had gone through.  Your attitude as a leader will make a great difference in whether or not your men and women even want to join the team.  It is so invigorating to watch God put in the heart of your own flock a desire to join the cause.  Note the words God used here:  Spirit of God, wisdom, understanding, knowledge, all manner of workmanship, devise cunning works.  And God repeatedly said that He would put all this in them!  We need to wait and look for the Bezaleels and the Aholiabs who lead the wise-hearted to build all that God has commanded.  Those who then…

8. Serve for God’s glory (Ex. 39:30, 32). The following words describe final movements of the hands of the craftsmen. “And they made the plate of the holy crown of pure gold, and wrote upon it a writing, like to the engravings of a signet, HOLINESS TO THE LORD,” (v.30).

The artists did not inscribe the piece with their own name; they signed God’s name.  They credited the real artist.  How different our ministries when the staff and laborers intentionally serve for God’s glory.  You know what happens when we live like this?  God signs His name to us.  Notice, “Thus was all the work of the tabernacle of the tent of the congregation finished: and the children of Israel did according to all that the LORD commanded Moses, so did they” (v. 32). “And Moses did look upon all the work, and, behold, they had done it as the LORD had commanded, even so had they done it: and Moses blessed them,” (v. 43).

Knowing neither the full reason behind all the details, nor the end of the story, these pilgrims simply obeyed and received a well done from God and Moses.

The crowning moment of this endeavor is described in Exodus 40:34, 35.

“Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.”

God was obviously present and actively in charge.  God chose to dwell with them, to be seen by them, and to go with them throughout all their journeys.  God always finishes what He sets out to do, and God always does it right the first time.  This is that any ministry can expect when we start with God’s glory and end with God’s glory.

Without elaboration from me, take time to compare this glory with the tragedy that comes when people decide to operate independently from God and mold their own calf (Ex. 32).

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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Issues or Jesus?

paradigm one - revelation 2 - church at ephesus - first love
paradigm one - revelation 2 - church at ephesus - first love

Issues or Jesus?

“For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” – 1 Corinthians 2:2

“Nothing is so deadening to the divine as an habitual dealing with the outside of holy things.” – George MacDonald

The second church I pastored was more than wonderful. A great foundation had been laid. They were humble, loving, young, and smart. They were hard-working people with a servant spirit. It was 1976. I had just turned 30, and our nation turned 200. We had an exciting Christian school with a Bible-based, Christ-centered curriculum. Our congregation was made up of students, college graduates, seminary graduates, doctors, lawyers, other professional people, and veteran servants of God, common laborers, and many new babes in Christ. We worshiped as one, sang with gusto, studied the Word, and loved each other. Sadly, because of the weak leadership of their new pastor, something would creep in that would scatter this delightful flock – something that I deeply regret to this day. It was my entire fault. To talk to of this now brings me more pain than it did then. Perhaps this discussion will stop another young shepherd from making the same mistake.

Over the course of the first 18 months, we grew numerically. It was healthy growth, mixing town folks students, and new converts. We were a transient congregation; we gained 200 and lost 100 (for good reason). Our Christian school was growing. We had a gifted and handsome young teaching staff – a good mix of men and women. But in varied, inconspicuous ways, we were becoming an issue-oriented church.

We were a young church with energy for debate. We had students who were forming their convictions and loved to weigh all the pros and cons. We had academia who made their living with teaching and learning a new thing. We had legalists who had to defend their loyalty to the party line. We even entered into a class action lawsuit with other churches against the United States government and then Secretary of Labor, Ray Marshall, on the principle that Christ was the Head of the church and should not be taxed by the state. This was a conviction for us, and I was a pastor who wanted to please everybody, know all the answers, and do the most right thing.

Tragically, quietly, and subtly, Jesus went on back burner, and good issues took center stage. I let good-hearted, well-intentioned, intelligent people replace Jesus with subtle substitutions. We became a “Mars Hill” where “the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing,” (Acts 17:21).

If you were to ask me at the time, I would have been convinced that Jesus was the main focus. Philosophically, we were true to Scripture, but practically, the time, the light, and the heat was spent on secondary issues. Like the church at Ephesus (Revelation 2:1-7), we couldn’t bear those who were evil; we tested false teachers; we persevered; we were patient and labored for Jesus with vigor, but we were gradually drifting from our first love. While we were diligently taking a stand, we were losing power, compassion, joy, and outreach. The brush fires gave us no rest – discernment turned to judgment, and I ran out of grace for it all. One brother suggested that I was the problem and that the church could not be what it ought to be with me at the helm. He was a good man who had given much counsel to the church body. His suggestion, coupled with my exhaustion, led to my resignation the next day. I resigned in faith with no place to go. Interestingly, my wife (now with four little ones) was okay with it. I resigned on Wednesday, and the next day was Thanksgiving 1980. That next morning, I was alone reading the Word, and God gave me Psalm 37:23, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way.” The Lord assured me that He delighted in my way, and what would happen next would prove it.
Leaving this wonderful church in disarray because of my weak leadership has written on my heart the following valuable lessons:

1.     A church can be doing everything right and still be in      trouble with Jesus.
2.     Leaving our first love for Jesus is the first place where churches go wrong.
3.     Never let anything but the person and work of Jesus take center stage in a ministry. Good and very good can surely be the enemy of the best. I have learned to call these “subtle substitutes” for Jesus.

There is no life in anything if it is detached from the Vine, no matter how noble the cause.

**This is an excerpt from Joe’s book, The Life of the Vine in the Soul of the Church. If you would like to read more, you can purchase his book through the Paradigm One webstore.

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 Prayer Circle – Who Makes Church Happen?

paradigm one-headship-headship of Jesus

Thanks for meeting us at the prayer circle.

It can be easy to get caught up in the latest church trends and become exhausted, all in an effort to try and make church or ministry happen, to make it grow, to see it transform lives. With the active Headship of Christ, though, we have His life working through us which is what produces lasting fruit.

In this week’s session, we are inviting you to rest: to pray with a mindset that welcomes Jesus’s presence and intentionally lets Him take charge.

Crash and Burn, the Turning Point

When I started pastoring, our genre of churches promoted the idea that church growth was all about big days, hard work, and hard preaching. There was also a lot of competition between the churches over attendance and baptisms. Everyone operated on their own level of awareness—so my thinking was:

If it’s hard work—a German farmer can handle it.

If it’s competition—an athletic competitor can handle it.

If it’s hard preaching—I have trained for this. I will do well.

If it’s big days—I will be fun and creative.

Let me pause here and say that it brings pain and grief to me now as I write this reflecting on my inner self. But this was all I knew. At the same time, I want to extend grace to all who read this that there is nothing intrinsically wrong with these tools if they are God-ordained for your situation. No guilt is intended here—only a heart that needed to learn a better way.

We hit the ground running. On the first Wednesday night after a “hard” message, “Ruth” was saved. She was our “first fruits.” Then, we had “picture” day. I was on the parking lot snapping pictures with my Polaroid camera as families got out of the car. After that we had “baby” day and so on. Working hard was no problem. Arising every weekday morning at 5:30—I was live on the radio at 6:05—I had a goal to make 50 visits a week while overseeing administrative duties and studying for preaching. I often arrived home at 10 p.m.

DiAnne, who was pregnant with our third child (Jewel), asked me one day, “Have you noticed how Jason laughs and plays with Bo (a man in our church) after the services?” I actually had seen my son enjoying the ride on Bo’s shoulders. Her question gave me pause—but there was no significant change. Hard work and sacrifice was my way. One severe blow to our marriage due to this attitude was when I personally borrowed money from the bank in order to give to a church building project. When the payment stubs came in the mail, it hurt her deeply. She had sacrificed and lived on a shoestring budget through college and seminary and was looking for better financial footing for us and the children. With a third baby on the way, this brought even further insecurity. All of this was in keeping with my learned paradigm of ministry though. “Ministry happens when we work hard, promote excitedly, and preach interestingly.”

All in all, we seemed to be doing well. Attendance grew, we were becoming family, and we called “Dave” to be pastor of music and youth. He was a dear servant. He and I are best friends yet today. He fell in love with our secretary, Connie, and I married them. Connie was in my original youth group. Several came to know the Lord. We even started proceedings to expand our K-5 program to a full-fledged Christian school. But inwardly, I was dying. The combination of exhaustion, ignorance, constant responsibility, and mild turbulence amongst the leaders rendered me powerless, and I crashed and burned. I found myself crippled with worry, fear, and depression.

Since then I have learned that Jesus Christ obviously present and actively in charge is our paradigm for success. Why? Because the natural by-product of His activity is lasting fruit. In one short verse, He both promises and warns us. “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing” (John 15:5). The fruitfulness of the church is determined by its intentional practice of abiding in the Vine. The barrenness of the church is most often found in its prayer-less busyness.

In the last 50 years, I have observed many trendy paradigms which have offered to build great churches or at least grow their attendance: bus ministries, big day events, church growth, visitation nights, seeker sensitive, emergent church, etc. Admittedly these all have some good ideas and good advice. But the good news of real church increase is found in her Head, Jesus. So, we must return to the original paradigm that Jesus left us, “And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). Jesus was saying, “Stay in touch, stay connected.” So, the disciples honored and obeyed His instructions and continued with one accord in prayer (Acts 1:14) and when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place (Acts 2:1). After Jesus sent the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, “they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:42). This precedent set by Jesus through those early believers becomes the template of Scripture-based corporate praying which enables the church to abide in the Vine and bring forth much fruit. This is the original paradigm for success.

Let’s notice the historical progression of the relationship of Jesus to the church as revealed in Scripture. In Matthew 16:18, Jesus promises to build His church upon who He is. At that time, Jesus was on the earth and the disciples were on the earth. Jesus was present and authoritatively in charge. After His ascension we find the disciples on earth and Jesus in heaven. After a period of ten days, on the day of Pentecost, Jesus sent forth the Holy Spirit in great power. “This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.” Again, Jesus was present and in charge (Acts 2:32-33). Jesus was birthing and building His church from heaven. In fact, in Mark 16:20, we read that after Jesus was received up into heaven and was sitting at the right hand of God, “And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following.” He was present and in charge from the Throne.

Fast forward to Revelation chapter one and we see Jesus, the Son of Man, walking in the midst of the seven candlesticks which are the seven churches (Revelation 1:10-20). The glorified Christ is still walking in the midst of His church. He is still present and in charge. The potential of having Christ present and in charge fascinates my faith!

If we could grasp the possibilities of this cooperation with Christ in prayer that believes and practices His presence in the midst of our churches, it could revive and revolutionize our ministries. This thought has totally changed my life. I so want to pass it on. Let me encourage younger ministers to avoid getting caught up in the tools of the latest trend and miss the “Carpenter” Himself.

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 Prayer Circle – Who Owns the Church?

paradigm one - prayer circle - church ownership - acts 2028

Thanks for meeting us at the prayer circle.

Most of us likely have a story about a church or ministry that was run by a pastor who thought he owned the church or leadership who thought they held the keys.
When we are convinced of Christ’s ownership of the church and are willing to submit what’s rightfully His to Him, our churches and ministries will experience a fresh breath of life from the Lord Himself.

Who owns the church?

Any sincere student of the Bible would immediately report that Jesus is the owner of His church.Here’s the Scripture witness:

“Therefore, take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood” (Acts 20:28).


While this truth is easy to identify in Scripture, it seems to be difficult to implement in the life of the local church. We implement this truth through prayer. The owner’s manual calls us to pray before we do anything else. Paul’s instruction to young pastor Timothy, “Therefore, I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men. . .” (I Timothy 2:1). “First of all” means literally before all your doings.


The high price that Jesus paid for the church is a high call to prayer. An emphasis here should be made on the timing of prayer. Prayer is first—before everything else. The Owner should get our undivided attention first as a priority on our schedule.


Many a believer has felt the wrenching heartache and division caused by misplaced ownership. Pastors are shepherds, not CEOs. Deacons are servants, not shareholders. Congregations are sheep, not mobs that rule. Even strong and faithful families who have weathered the storms of a local body for a long time can assume some ownership that is not theirs. Even denominational real estate can become a point of pride and can usurp ownership from Jesus.


Here’s an example in my own ministry. After our first revival, the church entered a bit of a slump in attendance and offerings. However, we were also experiencing the expressions of new found life. People spoke openly of their struggles and their victories. The walls had come down, the roof had come off, and believers were learning to be transparent with God and the church body. This made the “establishment” uncomfortable. They called a meeting with me.

It was a cold, gray Illinois day in early spring. After some cordial greetings, the interrogation began.

“Can you tell us why the attendance is down?” I said “No.”
“Can you tell us why the offerings are down?” I said “No.”
“We know why you took the attendance board down. You didn’t want us to see everything dropping. Furthermore, you have turned our church in to a Catholic Holy-Roller church.” 

This was deduced from the open testimonies coupled with the new praise chorus we learned. People were now praising joyfully. I had taken the attendance board down because nearly every week I heard members of the choir making so many comments about the attendance. If we were up a little, they were elated. If we were down, they were deflated. I just really thought the focus should be on Jesus at least for the Sunday morning worship.


Everyone sat in awkward silence. Feeling like I should say something to account for the sagging attendance and offering, I began to query.


“Have I been immoral?” They said, “No, not that we know of.”
“Have I mishandled any money?” They said “No.”
“Have I preached the Word? “Yes.”
“Have I loved the people?” “Yes.”


After a long pause and silence, God game me these words. “I don’t know what the actual problem is. I don’t have the answers. All I can say is, it’s not my church. It belongs to Jesus.”


When I said that, it seemed like a gentle breeze blew into the room. We all seemed relieved that somehow we were beginning to recognize Jesus as the Owner and the Builder of His church. It was a definite turning point in our ministry. For the next 18 years, we became “underservants” together, cooperating with Jesus as He worked. At the core, we moved from being owners to being stewards. The strangle-hold of human pride is broken when Jesus alone is embraced as the Head of the church. It was a life-changing moment for our leadership. We never looked back from there.

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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