Many pastors have asked, “Are there two or three key points that, when executed, will yield success in ministry?” Of course, there are many but I have found three that will yield a healthy, effective ministry.
1. Check your “Love Walk.” The Lord Jesus told us in John 13:35 that it is by the love we exhibit for one another that the world would know we are His disciples. Love is a choice and no one needs to choose love more than the man or woman of God called to lead a church body. Many people, when wounded while loving, tend to retreat and withdraw; this is a human response. However, the pastor cannot respond to hurt in this manner and hope to be successful. Know this, you will be hurt and there’s no hurt like church hurt but the leader must wear his or her emotions on their sleeve.
The pastor, while human, must have a supernatural response; he or she must respond to hurt by loving more! Why is this so important? You may be the most knowledgeable preacher in the world but no one cares how much you know until they know how much you care! You must love fervently, openly, and most of all, genuinely!
It’s important to love your congregation but you must first love God then love your spouse! Do not allow the church to become your “thang on the side!” Some pastors are so busy with church work that they have neither enough time for consecrated prayer nor for their families. We must understand that the institutions of marriage and family were ordained by God before the church!
2. Don’t worry about the numbers. People will distract you! If there are too few folks in your congregation, you may (often incorrectly) conclude that you are ineffective. If you have too many, you may start to believe it has something to do with you; that is, you may become conceited.
Throughout the Bible, God has done the miraculous with small numbers. He whittled Gideon’s army from 32000 to 300; this army defeated â€œan army without numberâ€ (Judges 7:12)! God used 12 men (actually 11, excluding the son of perdition) to spread the Gospel. Most of all, He used one man, Jesus, to redeem mankind and forever change the world. God is not concerned with numbers, He’s concerned with effectiveness. The Bible says one will chase a thousand and two will put ten-thousand to flight (Deuteronomy 32:30); that’s effectiveness!
It has been said that in any organization, twenty percent of the people do eighty percent of the work. This is especially true in the modern church nonetheless; it is a paradigm requiring change. Having a 30000-member church is impressive; less so when 6000 or less are bearing the brunt of the work. Effectiveness only comes from discipling and example. Pastors and leaders must be willing to roll up their sleeves; not only pitching in but leading the work effort!
The Holy Spirit once had me set up an empty chair in my living room and preach to it for a week. When I asked, “why,” He told me that before He’d trust me with His Word before a multitude; He had to show me how to preach when there is no one there to hear it! If you change the fervency of your preaching based on the number of people in attendance, you need to go and repent! This was a powerful lesson and I share it with virtually every pastor or preacher I have occasion to speak to.
While we’re here (nice segue, there), don’t get preoccupied with folks’ expressions while you’re preaching and teaching. I used to get uptight about some of the cross-eyed looks I’d get from those in the pews. The Lord corrected me of this insecurity by bringing to my remembrance Jeremiah 1:17, which says, “…be not dismayed at their faces, lest I confound thee before them.”
3. Check your stewardship. Is your car or home A LOT nicer than those in your congregation? If so, do you have streams of income (other than church salary) to substantiate having them? If you do, glory to God! I want to be like you when I grow up (cue laugh track)! If you do not, please take inventory of your stewardship.
You may be as clean-as-clean-can-be regarding material stewardship but if there is any hint of impropriety, this will appear as a red-flag to the world. Now, we are not to be men-pleasers but we need our stewardship to be above reproach. Folks in the world still operate under the premise that “all the preacher wants is my money.” While that notion is false more often than true, it is the little foxes that spoil the vine.
It is frequently easy to confuse good work with God work. We need to ask if it is necessary to embark upon a new building project when there is abject poverty in our neighborhood. How many computers, books, school supplies, winter coats, or shoes could be purchased for the outlay of most building projects? Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying we should not build; I am saying we need to operate in love, perceiving and fulfilling need, and discerning of season (i.e., is it time to build?).
Is there more to it than that? You better believe it! However, I think that if we begin with the simple and graduate to the complex, we will become more effective and efficient in our ministries. All ministry should be beacons of love and stewardship, rooted and grounded in the power of the risen Jesus. I don’t expect to hear a lot of Amens to this but, then, God has instructed me to preach and teach for result, not for effect! Nevertheless, I pray this message is a blessing to you.
© 2011 – Derrick Day (www.derrickday.com)