Michael Young has spent 30 years in ministry. Since 1987 he has created courses, written books, taught online, in pulpits, on broadcasts and at speaking engagements…even on a cruise ship! Michael is a fabulous storyteller. He will make you laugh while making you think. His engaging style of the message of God’s incredible grace has resonated with people from camps to conferences. He has loves to preach and teach his motto of “Think Biblically!"
The Bible is the infallible Word of God, the supreme rule for faith and practice, given to us as revelation and truth, authoritative and sufficient as our guide to faith and life, through the witness of the Holy Spirit working within our hearts. The sixty-six books of the Old and New Testament came from the very mouth of God and are without error in the originals. Scripture is therefore the unique and supreme guide for all it affirms, including both belief and behavior. The teachings of the Bible are sufficient for salvation and sanctification and for every aspect of living. While there are questions of meaning and application over which we may or may not agree, there is nothing for which we are responsible to God in terms of our salvation and sanctification that is not expressed in Scripture, either in precept or principle. There can be no work or man above scripture. I desire to think Biblically in all and every matter. Not looking to science or psychology or philosophy but to the Holy Living Word of God for every answer for life and righteousness.
The Bible is God Breathed, that is from His Holy Spirit. He used men to reveal His Word. He empowered them to transpose His truth from Heaven to earth and protected the process to ensure every letter is exactly as He wanted us to receive. The Bible therefore is the inspired, infallible, inerrant Word of God. As expressed in 2 Timothy 3:16, “All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness, in order that the person of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.”
Matthew 28 is the often used verse about the Great Commission specifically verses 16-20. Eleven disciples hear the command and take the message to make disciples everywhere, baptize them, and show them how to do everything that Christ taught awaiting His return. While this has implication in an individuals response to evangelize, it carries a deeper, fuller implication to build churches. This comes from Christ’s design of His Bride and His creation. That is His Church and His people. It is the strength of the church where discipleship (teaching through example), fellowship (connectedness, unity, charity), and worship (prayer, praise, intercession) leads to a maturity in Christ. It affects every aspect of our being from which springs the craving for more community and more life for everyone, everywhere, everyday. This is to be the heart condition of every believer expressed as the heart and mind of Christ to spread His church throughout the world. The church is method, the mechanism, the organism through which the maturing of believers and this connectedness occurs by Christ’s design.
I like how the Anglo-Saxon word is derived from the concept of being one. The idea of At-one-ment. How God and man are brought together in a personal relationship. Atonement has the concept of an estranged relationship being brought back into unity. This reconciliation of man and God is brought about through Christ’s sacrificial death in Atonement for cancelling the debt of man’s sins. Christ’s Atonement is actual and definite, that is, complete in its effect and extent.
Is it required for salvation? Baptism is an outward expression of an inward act. Baptism is the God-ordained, symbolic experience of a call to God. A pledge to God - either in the form of repentance or in the form of commitment in the company of witnesses. It is an act of obedience that bears witness to the world that we are Christ’s. It is an ordinance by which those who have repented and come to faith express their union with Christ in His death and resurrection, by being immersed in water in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Baptism is not required for salvation. Scripture tells us that salvation is from Christ’s work at the cross. It is not from something that you do. It is by grace that you are saved. It is a gift from God, not by your own efforts so you cannot boast. It is by Christ’s magnificent work of salvation in dying for our sins that we are justified by His rising again. The act of being baptized gives witness to and opportunity for talking about our faith in His great salvation.
Specifically describe your thoughts on 1 Corinthians 12. Vance Havner said, “It is not what is done for God that counts, but rather what is done by Him, the work of His Spirit through our yielded wills.” This is for both the individual believer and the church. This must be for the church which is a body of believers. The primary purpose of every believer is to glorify God at every moment. The Holy Spirit dwells in every believer for the purpose of glorifying Jesus Christ through the believer. This is to be a lifestyle of living and walking in the power of the Holy Spirit to bring glory to God in every breath. The church as a result would be composed of spirit-filled believers (regardless of their degree of maturity) of one mind with the focus of showing the glory of Jesus Christ to the world. It has been said that, “It is one thing to have the Holy Spirit. It is another thing for the Holy Spirit to have you!” I find in my Biblical Counseling that when I have a couple come to me and I ask them if they could do just one thing that would solve their problems would they do it? “What is the one thing?” they ask. I pose to them, “What is the one thing you could do at this moment, in this situation, that would bring the most glory to God?” When the focus is on God and the work of the Holy Spirit, it is amazing how much of the problem just falls away in insignificance. Scripture tells us to fully mature, to have the mind of Christ, and to be filled with the Holy Spirit. There is a relationship between being filled with the Holy Spirit and the Holy Word. This relationship is the Spirit of Christ and the Word of Christ. Together a spirit-filled church will be filled with the Spirit of Truth accomplishing His work with one heart and one mind. When the individual is guided by the Holy Spirit and governed by the Word, then comes together with the other believers doing the same, the amazing power and purpose of God for them as a church can be realized. The Holy Spirit equips or gifts each believer with a unique ability or role that is needed to orchestrate God’s plan for the common good of the church. “When we rely on organization, we get what organization can do. When we rely upon education, we get what education can do. When we rely on eloquence, we get what eloquence can do. But when we rely on the Holy Spirit, we get what God can do.” - A.C. Dixion. Amazing things can happen with God’s people come together. When exercising their God-given Spirit-filled, Word-built manifestations for the common good of God’s purpose and kingdom amazing things will happen. 1 Corinthians 12:7.
In 1 Corinthians 1:12, 13, 17 Paul writes, “Now I mean this, that each of you is saying, “I am with Paul,” or “I am with Apollos,” or “I am with Cephas,” or “I am with Christ.” Is Christ divided? Paul wasn’t crucified for you, was he? Or were you in fact baptized in the name of Paul? … For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel – and not with clever speech, so that the cross of Christ would not become useless.” (NET)
I have never liked the idea of being a “Calvinist” or for that matter a “Paulist”, or an “Adrian Rogersist.” Let’s just be Biblical. In the Scriptures there are concepts and words that must be dealt with Biblically, regardless of your theological persuasion. Words like elect, predestination, chosen and concepts like “those given to me.” I know that people tend to focus on issues that are divisive causing Christians to fight with each other to the utter pleasure of Satan. If I believe in the redemptive work of Jesus Christ and His sacrificial death, His resurrection and His ultimate return, I get to be called a child of God and will receive eternal life with Him in heaven. If in order to explain that I have to wrestle with some difficult words and concepts, I would do my best to explain those mysteries of the Gospel and attempt to keep a very clear and simple Gospel story. I think that Kenneth Keathley in his book, Salvation and Sovereignty and Dr. Timothy George with his work, 2001 Doctrine Study for the Southern Baptist Convention, have done a tremendous job to articulate in graceful language the difficult theological concepts found in the Scriptures.
“There is a sense in which God’s grace is so simple that even a small child can grasp its meaning. And yet it is so profound that the most learned theologians cannot fully comprehend its wonder and beauty and power. For grace is not only amazing; it is also perplexing.” - Dr. Timothy George
Theologians have argued this topic at length over the years. The question has in its context the type of church government established for the local church. Congregationalists have their position and Presbyterians have theirs for example. The Scripture often cited is 1 Timothy 2:12, ““I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man.” Yet there are times when women will open their Bibles and instruct men, as Pricilla does with her husband Aquilla when instructing Apollos (Acts 18:26). Romans 16:7, “Greet Andronicus and Junia (feminine), my compatriots and my fellow prisoners, who are noted among the apostles.” Jesus has women learning at his feet as a rabbi. This is counter-culture in its day. Paul had many women assisting in ministry. Yet there are the verses in 1 Corinthians 14:33-36, “For God is not a God of disorder but of peace. As in all the churches of the saints, the women must be silent in the churches, for it is not permitted for them to speak, but they must be in submission, just as the law also says. But if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home, for it is shameful for a woman to speak in church. Or has the word of God gone out from you, or has it come to you only?” I want to be biblical so how can this be reconciled? From my experience and Biblical examination I have had to wrestle this issue. It occurs to me that while Jesus was counter-culture, He would often rail against the current religious leadership, but He did not choose a woman as an apostle. The Bible prescribes a gender role. Starting in Genesis and on through into the New Testament. I think John Piper hits the nail on the head with his comments on the issue as “It seems to me that, as men and women relate to each other in the church, men are to lead, on the analogy of the way a husband leads at home. (Ephesians 5:22–33). In all aspects of the church’s life, there is to be a spirit — an ethos, a culture — of humble, servant-hearted leadership (headship), and glad, thoughtful, willing support for that leadership (submission).” The question then is where can women “lead” in church. It seems that this question then is about the type of teaching and the setting of the teaching. 1 Timothy 3:1-7 establishes the role and criteria for church leadership. I do not believe Scripture allows for women to take a pastor/elder role in the church to set doctrine or policy for example. I do not think this would be in coherence with the rest of the Bible (Genesis 1-2, Ephesians 5, 1 Corinthians 11, and 1 Timothy 2). This is not to be taken that woman should not teach, train, speak, and exercise their gifts and talents in ministry with both men and women. C.S. Lewis illustrated it this way, “The greater the expertise of the female dancer, the greater her realization that the male needs to lead, even if he’s a lesser dancer than her. The greater the expertise of the male dancer, the greater is his realization that he must lead at the pace and style which the woman can follow.” So men, should not lead through dominance, and, women should not seek to grasp after their equality but rather enjoy the role in which God has placed them.
A Biblical marriage is a testimony to the relationship between Christ and His bride (the church). It is meant to display His glory in a way that no other event or institution does. It is by God’s design from Genesis 2:22 stating: “And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.” His directive for marriage continues from Genesis in verse 24: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” Paul quotes Genesis 2:24 in verse 31 and provides an explanation in verse 32: “This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.” So marriage is patterned after Christ’s covenant commitment to His church. There is a foundational pattern of love that Paul describes for marriage. Ephesians 5:22-33 is the go to verses on Biblical marriage. It is one of the most definitive outlines for marriage in the Bible. Speaking first to the wife, Paul establishes that the wife is to submit to her husband. This submission is not to imply a difference in essence or worth; but a willingness to submit in oneself. This voluntary response to God's will shown in her willingness to give up her rights to the ordained authority in her husband reflects the depth of intimacy and vitality in their relationship. While wives are pressed first to cope with the directives, the bulk of the exhortation is for the husband. Paul speaks pointedly about the husband’s attitude toward and responsibilities for his wife. Husbands are to exemplify sacrificial love (v. 25) in that Christ loved the church by giving "Himself up for her.” Most husbands act in this hero manner however it is the everyday putting aside their own likes, desires, opinions, preferences, and welfare to please their wife and meet her needs that demonstrate a dying to self to live for their wife. Husbands exhibit a purifying love (vs. 26, 27) when “He might sanctify her” by not exposing her to or letting her indulge in anything that would bring impurity into her life. For example, don’t tempt her to sin by inducing an argument out of her on a subject he knows is sensitive to her. The husband should express a caring love (vs. 28, 29) “just as Christ also does for the church” The husband will provide a secure, warm, safe haven for his wife. Whatever the wife needs, the husband should supply as best he can providing for his wife and protecting her. Nourishing and cherishing her as Christ does the church. The husband should ensure an unbreakable love (v. 31) “leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh,” a union that is permanent. The wife should be able to rest in the security of knowing that the husband belongs to her, for life. So a Biblical marriage means that husbands and wives should fastidiously mimic the relationship God intended for Christ and the church. One man, One wife, One design. God’s standard for marriage still hasn't changed. It is expressed in servant leadership for husbands and servant submission for wives - Colossians 3:18
I believe it is Biblical for churches to be autonomous. A local church should be independent and self-governing, separately submitting to the headship of Jesus and doing the mission given to her by God according to her ability and means to accomplish it. Autonomy is not having a central, controlling board to maintain the doctrinal and moral purity of each local church within that fellowship. I believe such a practice is emphatically in complete violation to the autonomy taught in the Scriptures. However, throughout the New Testament preachers are repeatedly seen exposing and challenging error in local churches where they were not a member (in the New Testament). So autonomy is meant to be protection against group alliance contamination (read: denomination), but this autonomy should not make it exempt from challenge and/or exposure of sin and false doctrine by other fellowship churches in an effort to restore that church to Biblical alignment!
The Greek work for pastor is “poimen”. The literal meaning of the word poimen is shepherd. English translations of the Bible only translate poimen as “pastor” only one time in the entire New Testament in Ephesians 4:11: “And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers” (NAS) This word poimen is used “as shepherd” because God’s people are viewed as sheep of the flock. The word poimen when translated as “as shepherd” occurs 17 times to talk of a person who leads the church or pastor. Another Greek word derived directly from poimen is its verb form poimaino; poimaino is also used in the context of what a shepherd does when caring for the sheep. Poimaino literally means, “to act as a shepherd,” and is used 11 times in the New Testament. So a pastor is to lead as a shepherd leads sheep not like a cowboy who drives cattle. The pastor is a protector, herder, feeder, care-giver and guide. It’s the rest of the Ephesians verse that gives depth to the “pastor’s” role. “For the equipping of the saints for ministering work with a view to the building up of the Body of Christ” The pastors job is to mature the believers in Christ through teaching, preaching, and example. He is to enable and empower them to be successful in their mission of ministry. At times this can mean restraint and at other times this can mean release. It is obvious from this passage that the pastor is not doing all the ministry in the church but maturing believers to be leaders to carry out the mission of the church.
The Bible as in all of life gives the answer for the role of deacon. While churches have expanded the role of deacon I would hold the Biblical model in the highest regard as this is what the Lord intended in His Word. I believe Derek Gentle in his work, “The Biblical Role of Deacons” to be correct in that the Biblical account is quite clear on the founding of the deaconship and nowhere does Scripture repeal the original purpose:
The Bible, as in all of life, gives the answer for the role of deacon. While churches have expanded the role of deacon I would hold the Biblical model in the highest regard as this is what the Lord intended in His Word. I believe Derek Gentle in his work, “The Biblical Role of Deacons” to be correct in that the Biblical account is quite clear on the founding of the deaconship and nowhere does Scripture repeal the original purpose:
“Now about this time, when the number of the disciples was greatly increasing, complaint was made by the Hellenists (the Greek-speaking Jews) against the [native] Hebrews because their widows were being overlooked and neglected in the daily ministration (distribution of relief). So the Twelve [apostles] convened the multitude of the disciples and said, ‘It is not seemly or desirable or right that we should have to give up or neglect [preaching] the Word of God in order to attend to serving at tables and superintending the distribution of food. Therefore select out from among yourselves, brethren, seven men of good and attested character and repute, full of the [Holy] Spirit and wisdom, whom we may assign to look after this business and duty.’” Acts 6:1-3 (Amplified). Gentle also stated, “The office of deacon was established to free the apostles (who functioned as the first pastors) to pray and to prepare to minister the Word. The apostles, in dealing with the benevolence ministry problem at the Jerusalem church, told the congregation that,
"It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business; but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word." Acts 6:2-4 (NKJV).
This is generally a concern when there is a desire to have a personal preference in place of Biblical precedent. Some churches want to establish a structure or organize in what has varied from the Biblical foundation and in some cases have a historical legacy. Scripture being timeless and unchangeable gives the framework for roles in the church. Two distinct offices are prescribed in the New Testament. Here again I believe Gentle to have expressed it accurately, “The two New Testament offices are mentioned together in Philippians 1:1 and in 1st Timothy 3 — bishops and deacons. In 1st Timothy 3 the qualifications are spelled out for the two offices, bishops in verses 1-7, and deacons in verse 8-13. The qualifications are similar, but not identical. For example, the bishop is required to be “able to teach” whereas the deacon does not have that expectation. The differences in title and qualifications mean that the offices are distinct. The term “bishop” is translated overseer in some translations. It is the word from which we get our word “episcopal” which means, “to look upon, inspect, oversee, look after, care for” and refers to “the care of the church which rested upon the elders.” The term is used interchangeably with “elder” and “shepherd” (i.e. pastor) in Acts 20 and 1st Peter 5. There is no question about the authority of the office: “Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine” (1st Timothy 5:17 NKJV).
This concludes with three Biblical facts:
In both churches and ministries I advocate a wise counsel. After all, it’s Biblical! I believe that as a leader I should have the input and counsel of mature Christians who are intimately familiar with the church and its work. These members should meet the qualifications to warrant that position. The council should use the lens of Scripture to provide input for consideration and the topics that need to be discussed and evaluated. The Church Council serves the congregation as a planning and advisory organization. It is important that the Council focuses on the total mission of the church and understand that it does not have authority over the organizations, committees or staff. Its principal function is to assist the church to fulfill its mission and to coordinate and evaluate its work. Customary the council members are the pastor (chairperson of the Team), staff members, church program directors, a deacon, committee chairpersons (which committees should be clarified in the Bylaws), and other key leaders deemed necessary. The council should be the model for the church cooperation as a basis of church ministry. My experience has been positive. The council has been my support group. I knew I could trust and depend on them and that they always sought God’s will and direction for the ministry.
Dr. Ronnie Floyd currently serving as the President of the Southern Baptist Convention said,
“If we were starting from scratch in 2016 with a mission to reach America with the Gospel, we would need a way to have local “boots on the ground” in order to assist our churches in reaching their mission. If we were starting with a clean slate today, state conventions and associations might look somewhat different, but the key reality for the future would place more importance on function than on structure.”
He goes on to say that the while the associations are geographically aligned they could also have affinity alignment. I would agreed. Just as there are differences in worship style there are differences in opinion on how to do church. His key point is that more emphasis should placed on function not structure. Whatever emphasis is placed the core take-away would be that amazing things can happen when God’s people come together. We can do more good together than apart. Look at the ministry of Lottie Moon, disaster relief, and Seafarers as examples. Biblically lets look at how the churches took up offerings to help one another. I like having wise counsel from others in ministry to look toward when I need help and offer the same to them. It has been wonderful to have the encouragement of other pastors and the benefits of training and resources from the conferences and convention.
Churches have separated the idea of evangelism and mission. But they are two sides of the same coin yet each has different focus. On one side is the endeavor of cross-cultural missions that can be a specific vocation. On the other side of the same coin is evangelism that every Christ-follower should be able to do as simply as telling the gospel story. Every believer should be looking for and creating opportunity to speak of God’s love and grace and should be living in a way that shows Christ’s love. This is being missional. How does a believer share the good news? I would say without a script giving God space in every conversation. There are many methods of evangelism technique. There is Evangelism Explosion, The Four Spiritual Laws, The Roman Road, Wordless Book and others. There are differing events like bus ministry, tent revivals, and evangelistic crusades along with many others. There are tools like Evangelcube, a rubric’s cube you fold and spin to show different pictures to lead a person through the process. Evangelism, like its counterpart missions, is not a program that you do. It is an outward expression of the Holy Spirit working in you to glorify God in His mission. You can gain skill by learning about more ways to have a conversation and through experience be more comfortable to facilitate the conversation. Understanding the Gospel message and what it means from a theological position will give you much greater depth to engage others in evangelistic conversation. Many individuals are gifted with conversation and passionate about sharing Christ. Some people are more introvert and shy. This does not mean that the introvert is exempt from the Gospel mission. The church can help by providing training and opportunities in a variety of settings. The church should set an expectation that its members will have these conversations as a normal part of maturing in Christ.
There is much heated debate today surrounding the word “missions” as a noun and “missional” as a verb. Typically when someone uses the word “missional or missions” today in a Christian context it means sent by God. So mission comes from God. God sent His Son, missio dei. The concept of missio then is by its nature an attribute of God not the church so therefore, Biblically, mission is not primarily from the church it is the nature of God. God is using the church as an instrument of mission. So the church exists because there is a mission, mission does not exist because there is a church. God’s mission for the church is to provide the gospel to ALL people. This is the mission from God for the church. The church is not a building but a body.
When the term missional is used, it generally has the meaning of intentionally doing the mission of God as a continual, habitual, ingrained, deliberate, indwelling, lifestyle. God’s mission is not something done as a project. It is a character of God expressed in everyday life of a believer. It is who they are in Christ dwelled with the Holy Spirit.
Missions should be taking place at every opportunity at any time God provides the appointment. Missions should be expressed by our actions and our words. Missions should be seen by our love for one another and showcased by our desire to be more like Jesus. Missions is not something we do, it is something we are. It should not be looked at as better in one way and something less in another. Foreign missions or overseas missions are a wonderful important thing and backyard or supermarket missions is just as important and maybe harder to do. While there maybe a special calling to be a full-time missionary overseas or cross- culturally, every believer is a full-time missionary over coffee. You don’t have to quit your job, sell your house, or raise support to be a missionary. You just need to love your neighbor and start a conversation. Should we be involved in overseas missions? Of course, it’s one way to be missional. Should you be involved in a local focused mission? Absolutely. Should you be a neighborhood missionary in your community... Just ask God.
Transformational/Visionary leadership would describe my leadership style. Empowering others to be successful and experience higher levels of ability and accomplishment excites me. Easum and Bandy, church growth consultants, describe typical church leadership as leadership holding onto a leash while at the other end are staff and volunteers doing the ministry. The leadership has control over the ministry and can tug the leash at any time. The staff or volunteer has limited freedom to do any more than the leash will allow. They further describe a better way would be more like rabbits in a pen. The staff or volunteers would have much more freedom to around as they needed but within definite boundaries. I want those working with me to be successful. So I want to keep them from getting into difficulty while having the latitude to function in their gift mix and ministry within the boundaries. The boundaries might be one of four questions.
If the answer to these are positive then go do that ministry. How can I help you be successful? I do not like micro- management. I want to encourage and train others to do the ministry and function well within their gifting. I read a book once on leadership and management. My gift mix is much more to the leadership side. I tend to motivate people with a shared vision and communicate that well. I endeavor to exemplify the traits of authenticity, empathy, and humbleness. I inspire those I work with and expect the best from them. I hold them accountable to their goals set and the results of their actions. I want them to step out in faith and expect to learn their from success and failure. A key strength in my leadership is team building. I have always been able to bring people together to accomplish ministry goals. This also has produced strong leaders who are able to expand and continue ministry on their own.
I have a teaching style. I want to have God speak through me in a message, and I seek to open Scripture in a way that is clear and understandable. I do not believe God’s Word needs me to yell or engage in emotional antics to reveal its truth. I tend toward expository preaching but will speak on topics as the Holy Spirit leads. I keep to a simple message and address the application of it to those in the pew. I have a good sense of humor and use humor at times to make a point. I am, if nothing else, Biblical! My experience teaching Bible in a university setting and my degree in education lends itself to handling the text with rigor and depth. I am a storyteller. I see in Scripture that was the method Jesus often used. I like to provide cultural context and historical background in a message. Most importantly, preaching should keep Christ in center focus to keep Christ in the center of a believer’s life. I desire to deliver the Word of God just as Paul spoke in 1 Corinthians 2, “When I came to you, brothers and sisters, I did not come with superior eloquence or wisdom as I proclaimed the testimony of God. For I decided to be concerned about nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and with much trembling. My conversation and my preaching were not with persuasive words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not be based on human wisdom but on the power of God.”
A church that is free from gossip and back-biting. A church that won’t complain about the music or the message. A church that is always able to make their budget and have surplus. A church that is not governed by pockets of power in the congregation. A church that is not so content with themselves that visitors are not sought. A church that is not so inwardly focused that they are reluctant to engage in outward mission. A church doesn’t profess Jesus on Sunday and live differently on Monday. A church that is Biblical, not religious. A church that is intentional filling a need not creating a program in search of people. A church that doesn’t think Christianity is a spectator sport. A church that gives the grace it sings about on Sunday. A church that doesn’t major on the minors. A church that is known in their community as the church that reached out and loved them. A church that loves the Lord with all its heart, all its strength, and all its mind and loves their neighbors as themselves. A church that seeks to be an Acts 2 church. What more could a pastor ask? Steve Brown, from Key Life Ministry once told me, “If I ever find the perfect church don’t join it. You’ll would just ruin it.”
So as an imperfect pastor who knows he has been forgiven and received much grace, I want a church who knows the same.
First: Discipleship to mature believers to make disciples. If a church focuses on making disciples, the growth issue solves itself. Church programs tend to have an inward focus. Church programs tend to lean to attraction to come to the church. Most non-believers are not going to come to the church. Look at the Biblical example by God. All other world religions have the people attempting to reach their god. It is only Christianity that has God reaching the people. God came to the people. Shouldn’t the church be practicing the same?
Second: Keeping the people that come to church is another important factor. Having a clear plan to disciple those who are there. Each church member should be able to clearly articulate the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the path of discipleship in the church. There should be a complete pathway from a non-believer to a church leader. Bringing those in church to the rich depth of understanding of Biblically and theological truth. Providing a variety of learning experiences and engaging opportunity for practical application. These tracks should be complete and not piecemeal so that no gaps are left to maturing people in Christ. This would include worship, preaching, Sunday School, small groups, service projects, fellowship and education.
I have worked with children for over 15 years in the capacity of Children’s Director, Children’s Pastor, and Camp Director. I have also had oversight of daycares and a Christian school. I have written children’s books and developed several children’s programs. The wonderful thing about working with kids is that they have a curiosity and wonderment about spiritual things. It is a shame to bore them into the kingdom. Let’s excite them and show them that being a Christian and attending church is something they can be excited about and invite their friends to be part of too!
I have work with Seniors everyday teaching them how to use technology. My mother lives with my wife and me and she is over 90 years old. I have experienced the unique needs of seniors on a personal and professional level. Scripture tells us that they are to be honored and are rich in wisdom. Seniors are the legacy and foundation of most churches. They are prayer warriors and grew up in an era when helping was an expected way of life. They can remind us of our past and hopefully lead us into a better future. God Bless our seniors!
I have been working on my Ph.D in Biblical Counseling so pretty much all my reading is toward that end. Books like Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hand by Paul Tripp; Curing the Heart by Eyrich and Hines; Why Christians Can’t Trust Psychology by Ed Bulkley; The Myth of Mental Illness by Thomas Szasz; Love Your God With All Your Mind by J.P. Moreland; God Space, Where Spiritual Conversations Happen Naturally by Doug Pollock; PeaceMaker by Ken Sande; Simple Church and Simple Life by Rainer. I have picked up a book for pure reading fun called Shantyboat by Harland Hubbard.
As stated above I have been working on my Ph.D. I am all but dissertation (ABD). This work has been challenging and growing me professionally. The research and work going into the paper stretches and enriches me as it culminates to a final book. It affords me an opportunity to talk with others about God and how they do or do not reflect Him in their daily work. My research is about how a triune God created a triune man and if those three aspects of a person should be considered in prescribing and treating illness and issues that make up their life. Mary Beth and I have also attending conferences that further provide opportunity for networking and connections for the study being written.
I love helping people and telling stories so they learn and laugh. I really enjoy preaching, teaching, and discipleship along with the opportunity to work with staff, individuals, couples, families, and children. I am very good at building teams and energizing movement in the body toward our goals. I am a "fixer." I see the big picture and what is not accomplishing the goal and adjust to move the church to fulfill its mission. I like to offer a variety of educational/discipling experiences to evangelize and connect in the community while also building the body of believers. It is important to know what it means to "mature a person in Christ" and what that would look like while accomplishing it. The least attractive aspect is paperwork and meetings for meetings sake. I don't like putting programs together as a "field of dreams" meaning if we build it they will come. I prefer to approach it more organically. Fill a need by providing the necessary ingredients for it to be successful.
I am a visionary and team builder. I do not enjoy paperwork like accounting and budget reports, etc. I see them as a necessary evil. The "business" of church. However, they have to be done. I would want a person whose gift mix would allow them to serve and excel in those areas I am weak and release them to that ministry. I cannot and should not attempt to accomplish the ministry by myself. I am gifted in what the Lord has provided for me. I would surround myself with others who are expressing their gifts and talents in the ministry. As a big picture person I firmly believe that the role of the pastor is to empower others to do the ministry (Ephesians 4:11-13). I like to take both paid and volunteer staff and help them be successful. To support and disciple and encourage them to accomplish the dreams and goals of ministry where God has placed them.
The Lord has many times, put me in a ministry that needed to adjust its mission. Organizations can continue to function and keep doing the same thing over and over even if it does not bear fruit. Sometimes organizations are very busy doing things that make them feel good and accomplished yet in reality the intended purpose of the activity does hit the mark. The intended purpose isn't accomplished. This can be from a failure to accurately assess the need or have any metrics in place to determine its success. Often a ministry continues to do something it has done for years but is not relevant for the purpose today. This can sometimes be from lazy planning. What I mean is just redoing year after year what was done before with any measure of its effectiveness. Somethings done in the past were exactly what was need in that season of time but now they would not be as effective. So more energy is poured into keeping it going without examining it to see if it is what should be done moving forward. A better approach would be to determine what the goal is for the whole program and then put in place the activity needed to accomplish it. Have a way to measure its success and re-examine the outcome after the event or during the annual planning. This needs to be done prayerfully and guided by the Holy Spirit to determine if we are doing God's will or doing our will in God's name.
One of the greatest successes in my ministry has been the Key Shop program. I created an educational experience for K-4 that was very much loved by both the children and the leaders. This program was done as a performance with both live characters and puppets. It was kind of like Captain Kangaroo meets the Muppets. We developed the stage complete with opening and closing curtain that was easily set up and removed each week. An episode was performed each week from a script that I wrote based on a Biblical topic. The cast was able to keep up with the pace because it was done with two teams of live characters and puppets who only had to perform every other week with both teams off once a month for game night with the kids. The kids watched the three part show in huddle groups according to age with an adult huddle group leader. They would interact with the show and left each week with a challenge (from our MasterLock character) to do at home. I got reports from parents how their children had changed from the show and turned down other activities to be there for Key Shop. This also alleviated a staffing problem we would have had with a previous legacy program at that church. We could talk however about building Shiloh Adventure Camp a mobile resident camp here in Brevard County or Cafe Church a unique church plant we did. I think the tremendous love and learning from the kids toward Key Shop and the impact on their families from it make it one of my greatest successes. And it was FUN!
I address Shiloh Adventure Camp in my resume as a success but I think it was also a failure. This was started five years earlier by a board of people who wanted to see a Christian camp here. When I found out about it I was leading Camp Christian in Oregon. The Shiloh’s board asked me to come and help with the camp here. I found that they had been praying for a camp for the five years but had yet to actually have a camp it was just a dream. I arrived in the fall to an idea of having a camp. They were in the middle of some land acquisition that they wanted for the camp. This board had never done camp nor any type of fundraising. I cast an idea to them for a mobile camp and in January we set about to get some funds for it. I showed them how to begin raising money and we purchased a dozen office trailers that we turned into bunkhouses, office/first aid/store, restroom, a classroom, and a double wide commercial kitchen. We purchased a big top tent for dining and worship. We trained and recruited staffing and began registering kids for camp in June. We rented a portion of Manatee Hammock Campground. So we had a pool and the river to add to the offering for the kids. So our first summer we had 130 kids for 8 weeks of overnight camp. What’s the failure? I did not train the board. They were inexperienced. They were novices at resident camping. They had never raised money. They had the heart but lacked the knowledge and experience need to be an effective leaders. They therefore could not afford to pay me after the summer so I was let go. Upon reflection or hindsight spending a year to establish the board and provide them with a firm foundation might have proven to be more wise. Maybe it was just part of God’s plan… of course it was!