My gifting is very, very narrow. When our church started, I had nothing but a calling to pastor. I can’t exaggerate the ignorance that I pastored with when we started the church, but I had a strong calling and a strong spirit of faith. What I lacked at the onset was a system to effectively carry out our vision and our passion.
Over the years, we far outgrew the system we had and were forced to develop a better one. It has since become a great framework that holds our vision, gives us clear direction, and help us identify the staff and volunteers necessary to manifest those “next steps.”
A lot of pastors feel like they have to become everything their church needs, but that’s not true. What you have to do is create the system your church needs and employ the right people who have the gifts you don’t to work the system. I’m grateful that I found my calling, and I’m staying in that narrowness of that gifting. I’m not a systems person. I’m not structured. I have ADD, and it’s no joke! The diversity of my team is what our church needs to thrive.
Sometimes systems can become the enemy of kingdom progress. I’m thankful for our system, but I’m careful not to put my faith solely in the system. A while back, God dealt with me about transitioning our church and ministry so that we could better hear the voice of the Holy Spirit. We didn’t want to lose the system or its wisdom; we just wanted to hone in on what He has to say. The way we do church has changed as a result. We’ve restructured our whole Sunday morning service. I’m preaching about 15 to 30 minutes now, and we do worship on the back end, getting into the presence of God, waiting in His presence… I’m seeing God’s Spirit move in such a relational and normal way that if an unbeliever were to come in, it would be hard not to be convinced of the presence of God!
The kingdom-first mentality of what are we called to do, to share the gospel in the earth, is not on the radar for most Christians. If you look at their Facebook pages, if you look at their Instagram feeds, if you listen to their conversations… they’re constantly talking about the vaccine and COVID and the US government and Afghanistan. None of these conversations or opinions are going to change the darkness. They won’t deliver the people trapped under its tyranny.
Not too long ago, I heard Bishop Joseph Garlington say, “Guys, I understand all your passion to pray against these things, but listen: It’s not going to be long before all the isms become “was-ms.” Socialism, racism. They’re going to become “was-ms,” and all that will remain is heaven and hell. If we win the ism battle but lose the eternal battle, if we pray out the isms and not for the people, we are wasting our energy. We’re being deceived.” What clarity he brought to the room! My hope today is that pastors like you will take time to diagnose the level of faith that exists in your life, in your congregation, and in your staff.
How are you speaking about your church and ministry? Does it agree with God’s Word or how you feel? Today, feelings have been made a god, and that idolatry has slipped into the church. I think about the twelve Israelite spies. Everything they saw in the Promised Land was real – and really overwhelming! I mean, imagine being asked to go take a city without an army. You were recently slaves for generations. It’s not surprising ten of the twelve spies brought back a negative report. Only two spoke upon the promises of God and not personal feelings.
What I find today, as I’m sure you do as well, is people rehearsing what the children of Israel said after the spies brought back the evil report. Joshua and Caleb said something different because they believed what God said. Can you imagine what they went through during those forty years in the wilderness? They watched everyone above twenty years old die off, but they were still quoting God’s promise that they would inherit the land. That’s faith!
Sometimes we have no control over the unbelief that lives around us. Joshua and Caleb couldn’t control that. But as a pastor, I can control it for myself. I can humble myself and walk by faith and not by sight. It’s humility to say what God says, not arrogance. It takes humility to say that a great awakening is upon our nation, that when an angel army is released upon earth, no fortified walls can stay up. Instead of seeing the LGBTQ… RSTUV community as our enemy, consider that behind those walls are people in prison that Jesus died for. They need to be rescued. The only difference between them and me is Jesus.
I believe God is going to manifest His power through the gospel in this generation in a way that is relational. I’m so excited to see it take place! But we must not say what they said in the wilderness. We must be people of faith, declaring what God says instead of what our human wisdom and intellect tell us to be true.