Saturday, January 4, 2014

9 WAYS TO SHOW YOUR CONGREGATION YOU CARE



Can I share some thoughts on to bring about change in your congregation? No, I'm not a divinity student, pastor or someone with a degree in church administration. My degree is my life experiences. My expertise on the subject is based on what I’ve been fortunate and unfortunate enough to witness and live. For this blog I will share personal experiences. Don't feel sad, angry, or dwell on what was done to me. This is a tool to hopefully help ministers everywhere. Maybe leaders don’t realize what they do to church members and I hope this will help shed some light on a few issues. Please don't push me away before giving me a chance to share my views. It just may be one of these ideas will bless you today.


1-Discover Talents and Gifts Sitting Before You.




Many times new believers are eager to serve. For some reason, they are sat down for a long time and not allowed to do anything but be an usher. Now, I know all the arguments for those reasons but I don’t want to dwell on that. I also know that there are believers that for one reason or another have come from another church and now joined yours. In their previous church, they have served in different levels and capacities of ministry. Week after week they sit there, ready and desiring, just like the new Christian, to give of themselves, to serve and be part of the church work and vision. They are placed in what I call a time out period, sometimes permanently.

Out of loyalty to members that have faithfully attended for generations, the same people remain in leadership, and other ministries. New members or future members quickly learn that they will only be able to be part of the church and nothing else. Teachers will never teach. Preachers will never preach. Musicians and singers will never be heard. Street Evangelists will end up going on their own to follow what the Lord is asking them to do and any other kind of ministry will never be allowed because those things just aren’t done here. Seniority rules.




What have you done to discover the ministry gifts in your congregation?







2-Be open to new Ideas



I remember as a new Christian, I was full of ideas, "crazy" ideas. I was often in a meeting being told I was wrong, again and again, because I had done something that was wrong. I put on dramas. I dressed up as a clown to minister God’s Message in church and on the streets. I purchased puppets, made a foldable puppet house, and went wherever I was invited with puppets that sang and preached. Leaders many times said I was out of control. 

The funny thing is many churches are open to using The Arts and Drama as a tool to reach the world for Christ. Part of being a great leader is listening and thinking about the ideas that will come your way. Of course, you probably will say no to belly dancing while juggling three birds. (just kidding) But, what if those ideas will capture those people that pass your church building every day and bring them indoors? What if those crazy ideas will get folks to stop walking by while you are sharing in a park or on the streets and they will actually listen and respond to the Message? His Message.




Are you ready to think a little before saying, “No.” to every idea this year?






3-Discover the Cultures within your walls




Growing up in Brooklyn, New York, I was exposed to different genres of music. In my home, there was every kind of music played from Salsa, Merengue and Plena to Motown, and more. When I became a Christian, all these wonderful flavors of music were engraved in me. I could worship in a Spanish church, an American church or a Gospel church. To me, it was and is all good! 

During my time in Music Ministry, I took the opportunity to be creative in the songs and music we chose.
For Sundays, we kept it old school Spanish favorites, adding new, contemporary worship and praise songs, one at a time, while keeping the hallowed hymns. Spanish only services became bilingual during worship as I would translate songs if they were not already translated. Children who otherwise hated singing, were soon clapping their hands and swaying to the songs as well.

Trying different genres of music, including more modern songs, opened the doors for visitors to connect and want to stay. Our youth group grew rapidly and although I went through some roadblocks for a while, in the end, the Lord prevailed and God was worshipped and praised in ways that represented all the cultures and ages in our congregation.

Have you looked around your church and noticed the different cultures and age levels in your congregation? Is there anything you can do in order to allow every group to bless the Lord in their own way?




4- Love God, Love People, Love God, Love People



People know genuine love when they see, hear and feel it. Don't look at the outward appearance of the folks that will walk through the doors. I wonder if God would ever make a big deal about what people look like? Yes, the hair, the tattoos, the piercings and the tattered jeans stand out. God will use them as they are because they have a heart that loves God, hates sin, hungers after God's will and want to show the world Christ is alive in them. If we love God whom we can't see....(that's all I'm saying)

Love because He first loved us. Forgive because God forgave us and as imperfect people, we might mess up again and have to ask God to forgive us many times again. Embrace people because He wraps His arms around us and comforts us. Encourage because those people will be the ones to help you in your ministry. Teach them to be who God has called them to be without trying to change or get them to change and hide their look. Their individual style is who they are. 

The truth is, I think the only thing offensive to God and that would keep God from using us is if there is sin. If we are still craving the things of the world, lusting after our own ways and sinful living, yes, that disqualifies us from being used of the Lord in ministry. God peers into the hearts of humanity and seeks hearts to worship and praise Him, to live for Him fearlessly and without shame.

Love God. Love people.

What areas in your life and ministry can you work on to show that you love them?  







5-Open Your Eyes




I’ve seen pastors live in denial. They have the same couple in Youth Ministry or Adult Ministry for ages. Evidence of little or no growth is evident. Still, training in not provided for those struggling in leadership and no new leaders are considered even though the poor boat is sinking, and going down fast. Families leave and pastors are okay with it, because hey, those faithful few remain, year after year. Or, believe it not, pastors even tell people to leave. (Since when can pastor's tell you to leave, right?)

Isn’t it time to open your eyes? Isn’t it time to go to the Lord in prayer and ask for the Lord to reveal His will to you? The church is empty year after year. You are laboring with all your might, dedicated and surrendered to this church and yet you have so little to show for it. Didn’t you become a pastor to take care of sheep? Then why do you let the sheep gate continue to be opened, unguarded and abandoned so that even the baby lambs escape, time and time again? Better yet, why do you show them the way out?

God has placed you here for a reason. He is not capable of mistakes. He knows your heart and knows you are human. We all make mistakes or miss the mark sometimes. The good news is we don’t have to stay the same and can make a U turn.

What will you do to observe, analyze, and plan in regards to helping current leaders or prepare and promote new leaders?









6-New Year, New Zeal and Passion




Have you ever wondered if pastors and teachers share notes? Sometimes it seems they all take turns sharing the same message, sounding like Ben Stein, robotic and monotonous.
We are living in the last days. We are experiencing prophetic times all around us. Science is advancing. Sin has become popular. And….you dear pastor are still preaching on what not to wear, how David playing the harp and how many years were spent wandering in circles in the dessert. Visitors fall asleep when you preach. There is no power when you teach. You are being followed religiously by members who are blindfolded and don’t even know it.

Isn’t it time for a change? Isn’t it time to seek God’s powerful message for this generation? Are we as Christians ready to go with the Lord when He comes or is this a touchy subject for you because people will become afraid and leave?
What will you do to prepare believers in your congregation to truly experience God’s power and presence? How will you prepare yourself to share God’s word with anointing and dunamis? Will you be a fearless pastor knowing we are at the very end of time and share from your heart or will you continue dormant, comfortable, and complacent in a barely filled church that holds on to tradition and false security? Will you invite the Holy Spirit of the Lord to have His way in your midst? I wonder what would happen if you did? Are you so happy with your group of ten worshiping you that the only no one else knows you're a pastor?



How will you work towards moving yourself and your congregation into deep times in the Word and in God's presence?







7-Share Your Vision




Once you get deep into knowing God’s heart, you will have a new plan, a vision and map to follow. Be ready to share this with your congregation. Remember this, just like you were close minded to new ideas, giving people opportunities to serve because they were new, and allowing different music or ministries to be part of the church, there will also be, most likely, opposition from the very leaders you helped and babied and the church in general. Most likely, the newer, let’s say, Crazy for Jesus folk, will be ready to align themselves with what the Lord had shown you. Be patient and pray. The Lord will equip you and guide you.

Move and work with those that believe in the vision and walk with you. Don’t push aside others but be willing to listen and keep praying and immersing yourself in God’s word because the Lord will back you up. If this is from Him, He won’t let you down. Also, God will bring new people into your congregation for such a time as this. Don’t shun them or treat them indifferently. Just because they’re a little too hype, don’t point the water hose their way to quench their fire.



What are you willing to in order to reach this generation with the gospel? What can you do to allow God’s power and glory to be a reality in your congregation?





8- Be Real in Ministry





Your actions or lack thereof keep people out of the kingdom. Your poor testimony or how you parade the sin in your life keeps people from believing in a God of truth and mercy. Your behavior and attitudes push people into the darkness and they're so confused and hurt that they don't want to ever go back into a church building. Either be genuine or get out, sit down, and let someone else lead.



As the world looks at you, who and what will they see?







9-Lastly, Don’t Open the Door to Sin




No one wants to acknowledge that pastors and leaders who are so close to God can sin. The key here is close to God. If we are seeking closeness to the Lord, we will be targets for attack, but it is how we respond to attack and temptation that will make all the difference. The moment we open a door to Satan, he will not take small steps to come in but he will advance with all his might and then not want to leave. 

I was part of a congregation where the pastor tried to destroy my marriage. I should have ran away immediately. Instead, my fear of losing the ministry and leadership positions froze me. Not knowing what to do I thought staying to myself and praying was the answer. Had I listened carefully, I'd have heard Heaven screaming, "RUN!"  It took me a few months to leave. Lies were spoken, hate email was sent to me and I ended up not being allowed to minister in many churches that were faithful to this leader. Still, God beautifully removed my family and I from this false prophet's house of shame and provided healing. God healed my heart and I was able to forgive the pastor, his wife, and congregation. You see, because I was seeking the Lord fervently, the Lord took care of me. He saw my heart, protected and covered my family and me.

If you are a man or woman of God, why is it so easy to play with fire? If you are not happy in your marriage, then get a divorce or find counseling. Leave others alone that are joyfully serving the Lord. Pastors, get your lives right with God. If you struggle with addictions, pornography, lying, or womanizing, step down and get help. 

There’s no shame in asking for help, taking time off and renewing yourself in the Lord. There is shame in giving in to the devil’s plan for you and dishonoring God. Your actions cause someone's life, family and ministry to be attacked and hurt.
 But many pastors end up falling with members in their congregation because if you, the leader are in sin, the members are not far from following. God will take care of His children that live for Him even in the midst of false prophets and sinful pastors.

Is there an area in your life where you need to close the doors to the enemy? Are you dealing with an area where you need counseling? Who will you reach out to in order to find the help you need? Find a mentor or ministry leader you can trust, get your life back on track and watch the Lord heal, restore and use you even more powerfully than ever before.           







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