MONDAY MORNING DEVOTION – FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS

READING Exodus 7

Do what God tells you to do. Say what God tells you to say. Trust God with the outcome.

When facing an overwhelmingly difficult ministry responsibility, you can proceed with confidence by following the instructions God has given. If the Word of God gives steps to follow, you can just take those steps and trust God with the result.

For example, a church member persists in known sin. He or she may be part of an influential family in the church or community. What should you do? Carefully, patiently, prayerfully follow the steps laid out in Scripture (Galatians 6:1; Matthew 18:15-20). Or you believe you should develop disciple-makers in your church who can teach and mentor others in Christian growth, but volunteers are lacking. Select just one or two and follow Paul’s instruction in 2 Timothy 2:1-2. Or someone is infecting the church with discontent, gossip, and hostility toward the leadership. The instructions are clear in Titus 3:10-11.

Following instructions includes delivering the message God has given even when some people will not receive it. God told Moses, “Pharaoh will not listen to you” (v. 4) but instructed him to deliver the message anyway – “tell Pharaoh to let the people of Israel go out of his land” (v. 2).

There are certain people who will not listen to your message. Their minds are made up to resist and defy God. They may be in your church – the reluctant husband who attends because his wife nags him to, the surly teenager who comes to Sunday School and youth group because her parents make her. Their body language portrays the hardness of their hearts. In fact, it seems the more they hear, the harder they become. It is not your job, nor is it within your power, to make them listen. You cannot force conviction onto their hearts.

God made Moses’ responsibility clear: “You shall speak all that I command you” (2). He has made yours equally clear: “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom:preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” (2 Tim 4:1-5).

Deliver God’s Word faithfully and fully. That is your responsibility. How people respond is theirs.

PRAYER
Today I feel overwhelmed by some of my shepherding responsibilities, especially _____________________ . I am wrestling with what to do next and my willingness to do it. With your help, I will follow the instructions in your Word. With wisdom you provide, and with grace in my heart, I will deliver your message to those who need it. You are my Chief Shepherd, and I serve you. You are Sovereign God, and I am here to fulfill your purpose. I entrust the outcome of this difficult situation to you.

The True Measure of Church Growth

Facebook2The Thriving Church: The True Measure of Growth, will be released December 6. This interactive resource engages church members and leaders with the most detailed and complete biblical description of organic life in the church, Ephesians 4:1-16.

I invite you to work with me through this truth-packed passage of Scripture and find the answers to these questions:

      • What is church growth?
      • How is it defined?
      • Can it be measured?
      • How can you help your church thrive?

The first church I pastored experienced a steady increase in attendance, membership, financial resources, ministry pro­grams, pastoral staff, missionaries we supported, and facilities. People in the community were hearing the gospel, trusting Christ, and attending our church. Some who already knew the Lord were hungry for the Word and found their way to our fel­lowship.

Our auditorium was overflowing, so we started a sec­ond morning service, then a third. We rented classroom space in an office building across the street. Finally we relocated and moved into a newly constructed facility.

People in the commu­nity who knew about the church commented, “Your church is really growing!” Increase in the size and scope of ministry is one kind of growth. It’s the kind we usually desire, work for, and get excited about when it happens.

But is this the kind of growth Ephesians 4 is talking about?

The second church I pastored went through a period of in­creased attendance, financial abundance, and adding ministry initiatives. But the church also experienced periods of fluctu­ation in these usual markers of prosperity and growth.

If you were to look at the numbers from one year to the next during some of those times, you might not see tangible indicators of growth. Does this mean the church was not growing?

For our churches to fulfill God’s inten­tion, we must understand His template for growth and align our endeavors with it. In Ephesians 4:1-16, Paul tells us the areas in which the church should be growing and the standards by which growth should be measured.

Let’s dig in together and learn about the growing body and how you can help your church thrive.

The Thriving Church will be available at JourneyForth.com starting December 6 and soon after on Christianbooks.com and Amazon.com.

Adapted from The Thriving Church: The True Measure of Growth, by Dean H. Taylor, published by JourneyForth.

Podcast – 10 Best Practices for Solo Pastors

Today on Shepherdology I talked about 10 Best Practices for Solo Pastors. Here they are:

  1. Love your people.
  2. Be patient with people.
  3. Establish a schedule.
  4. Develop leaders.
  5. Develop procedures.
  6. Hire an administrative assistant.
  7. Do the best you can with what you have.
  8. Be who you are.
  9. Be where you are.
  10. Be a shepherd.

Listen to Shepherdology: A Pastor’s Friend, Episode 11