Is Your Church a Place of Mentoring?

Is Your Church a Place of Mentoring(Photo courtesy of Unsplash)

Jesus gave the church its marching orders in practical terms. You’re familiar with His words:

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. (Matthew 28:19–20)

Here, in Jesus’s Great Commission to His followers, we find no greater challenge . . . and no more comforting promise. This is what Jesus meant when He told them, “As the Father has sent Me, I also send you” (John 20:21).

But you probably have never considered the Great Commission as part of what makes a church contagious.

When Prayer Doesn’t Seem to Fix Worry

When Prayer Doesn't Seem to Fix Worry(Photo courtesy of Unsplash)

If prayer is the cure for worry, you might be tempted to think that your prayer was ineffective. Maybe you feel that you somehow failed because your anxiety returned—perhaps as soon as you said, “Amen.”

Happens to me from time to time. I take my persistent anxiety as a signal that I need more time before the Father, reviewing all the details of my situation, telling Him how much it plagues me, and sometimes even admitting that I’m afraid He won’t handle it soon enough.

Having a deep, persistent concern for a problem is not the same as worry. Not at all!

  • Worry is choosing to fret and churn instead of turning it completely over to God.
  • Worry is wrestling with anxiety on your own rather than releasing it to the Father.

Big difference.

Most people whom I consider to be men and women of prayer go before God because their hearts are heavy. They tell me that nothing but continual conversation with Him brings them relief.

So, if you tend to worry a lot, here’s a solution.

The Cure for Worry

Praying(Photo Courtesy of Pixabay.com)

May I get very personal? The pressures of our times have many of us pastors caught in the web of the most acceptable yet energy-draining sin in the Christian family: worry.

Hey . . . don’t look so pious!

Chances are good you awoke this morning, stepped out of bed, and before doing anything strapped on your well-worn backpack of anxiety. You started the day, not with a prayer on your mind but loaded down by worry. What a dreadful habit!

(It happens to me far too often.)

Rescuing Your Children

Father & Son(Photo Courtesy of Pixabay.com)

Sin has a ripple effect in families. Even in pastor’s families. Propensity to prolong one particular sin might be handed from father to son genetically. One day science may prove or disprove this notion. However, we know for sure sins are passed from one generation to the next by example.

We don’t have to look any further than the first book of the Bible to see it.

A Word about the Emerging Church

Areopagus6(The Acropolis in Athens, with Mars Hill in the foreground. By Χρήστης Templar52Templar52 at el.wikipedia, from Wikimedia Commons)

When Paul stood on Mars Hill in Athens and proclaimed the grace of God to the lost, he preached to a crowd of skeptics, critics, and those we might call “sophisticated eggheads.”

Rather than beginning with the Scriptures, Paul began with the created world in which these unbelievers lived in order to introduce Jesus to them. He began with their spiritual hunger and pointed them to Jesus as the satisfaction for their longings . . . and the payment for their sins. Paul even quoted a well-known pagan poet as a means of building a bridge between the lost and the Lord (see Acts 17:16–33).

A number of ministries have adopted for their churches what I call a “Mars Hill philosophy of ministry.” Modeled after Paul’s message on Mars Hill, their goal is to connect with the unbeliever, or the postmodern, or any person they would call a “seeker.” In recent years the emerging church movement has attempted to “do church” (or be the church) in a new way amidst our postmodern world. Their purpose is “missional living,” that is, to get involved in the world in hopes of transforming it. This style of ministry engages the culture in a “conversation” rather than preaching to people like a prophet. A wide range of theologies and strategies exist within this current movement. Some individuals hold to orthodox beliefs but have adopted very unorthodox ways of communication.

I have read of sermons that use language that would make most believers cringe . . . and cover their children’s ears.

Are we to minister as those in the world?

The Church’s Need to Look in the Mirror

Mirror(Photo Courtesy of Pixabay.com)

In late 2007, Pastor Bill Hybels and the leadership team of the Willow Creek Community Church shared the startling results of a study they conducted of their own church—as well as other so-called “seeker churches.”

The results, Hybels said, were “the greatest wake-up call of my adult life.” Among other findings, they discovered that their ministry to “seekers” was very effective for introducing Christ to those who were new to church.

No big surprise.

But they had not been as successful in fulfilling their mission statement to turn “irreligious people into fully devoted followers of Christ.” That is, they had not been as strong in developing the spiritual lives of those who had trusted Christ. As a result of a conversation Hybels had with his executive pastor, Greg Hawkins, they realized:

A Contagious Ministry Has an Absence of Legalism

Trusting God(Photo Courtesy of Unsplash.com)

A church that is strong in grace is attractive for many reasons, not the least of which is the absence of legalism.

Just as most non-Christians don’t understand the good news of Christ, most Christians do not understand the remarkable reality of grace. I know of no activities more exhausting and less rewarding than those of Christians attempting to please the people around them by maintaining impossible legalistic demands. What a tragic trap, and the majority of believers are caught in it.

When will we ever learn? Grace has set us free!

That message streams throughout the sermons and personal testimonies of the apostle Paul.

A Contagious Ministry Is a Place of Grace

Corporation(Photo Courtesy of Pixabay.com)

When considering church growth, we must think strategically . . . we must preach creatively . . . and our worship must connect. Absolutely. But we must also be careful.

A marketing mentality and a consumer mind-set have no business in the church of Jesus Christ. By that I mean, Jesus is NOT a brand . . . human thinking does NOT guide God’s work . . . and the church is NOT a corporation. The church of Jesus Christ is a spiritual entity, guided by the Lord through the precepts of His Word.

If we sacrifice the essentials of teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayer on the altar of strategy, creativity, entertainment, and “relevancy,” we have abandoned the main reasons the church exists.

We should build on those essentials, not attempt to replace them.

Marketing Jesus, Part 2

Preacher(Photo Courtesy of Pixabay.com)

Our world has lost its way. So it’s no surprise when the church takes its cues from the world that the church begins to drift as well.

But must we resort to gimmicks for people to come to church? Is biblical reinterpretation the new essential for church growth? Must we dumb down historic Christianity into shallow entertainment skits in order to pamper consumers?

Surely, not!

Marketing Jesus, Part 1

businessman(Photo Courtesy of Pixabay.com)

Our culture is driven by marketing. There’s no escaping it. Consumerism and materialism have wormed their way into our lives, and the germs of marketing spreads the disease.

For instance, how can I possibly know which of the eight hundred cereals in the store is most healthy? Which car should I purchase? What vacation should we take this summer? See the dilemma? Consumers must make decisions.

I’ve learned through the years that perception overshadows reality. I hate that . . . but it’s true. From political candidates to polyester carpet, how people perceive things is, to them, more convincing than a truckload of evidence. Unfortunately, most draw their opinions from the shallow stream of perception instead of the deep reservoir of truth. I find that strange and disappointing. Perception actually overshadows reality. Scary thought, isn’t it?

It’s even more frightening when we realize that our culture doesn’t market Christianity very well.