Archive for March, 2011


SUNDAY MEETINGS are an exciting time for Christians.  It’s a time of adjustment from the weekly activities.  It’s a time of focussed worship and reflection.  It’s also a time of hearing the Word and a time of fellowship.
These ingredients are to not only bless the Christian but to impact and prepare the heart of a possibly unsaved person that may come through the doors.
Sunday meetings are a challenge in some aspects as they are designed for the Christian (Believers Service, growing and maturing the body) but also must be a place where the unsaved can find God.

Here are 3 aspects of a one and a half hour “Sunday Meeting”

1. Worship

Sadly, many Christians do not come to church in the right frame of mind.  There are numerous possibilities for this – from having a fight with the spouse to the kids playing up.  There are masses of distractions that have the ability to hinder a believer from walking into the facility with a heart full of worship and praise.
We, as the singers and musicians, assist people in coming into a meaningful dialogue and adoration for God.  To make it easy, we need the songs to be simple and to the point. Complicated songs and difficult phrasing sometimes work against the worship leader as the congregation is trying to get their lips around the tune and even the key of the song.  Worship lays out the “Red Carpet” for the communion message and the preaching of the word.  Worship softens the heart of those who do and even those who do not participate in the worship or singing.  Consider also Matthew 13:  “A wise man brings from his storehouse, treasures, little of the old and little of the new.”  Sing a new song to the Lord, but don’t discard the older songs.  You’ll keep the mature/older members of your congregation in harmony with your leadership.  It shows that you value them as important members of your congregation.  We must be generational.

A.  A scripture reading in a song service is very powerful, bringing the congregation to attention to the word of God.  A carefully chosen passage stirs faith and lifts the people’s hearts to worship God.  Getting their eyes on Jesus instead of their circumstances is the goal of every part of the service.

B.  A well thought out prayer brings the God factor into the mix of a service.  Our public praying needs to be powerful, fervent and Jesus centred.  Welcome the Holy Spirit!  Invite Him to be a part of the service.  Declare the Lordship of Jesus Christ.  Speak of His goodness and sovereignty. Proclaim the greatness and majesty of God.  Use the wonderful name of Jesus.  Always keep your heartfelt prayers based on the word of God. eg “It’s not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord.”  Be yourself and pray from your heart.

C.  Let there be a time of silence – don’t be afraid of allowing a time for reflection.  After a minute or two of silence, you may like to encourage the prophetic gifts to operate.  We must not lose our Pentecostal distinctives and prophecy is powerful.  Pastors need to bring instruction for each expression of worship for the least experienced member of the church – it’s important that visitors are able to understand what is happening in a service.  Bring a brief explanation to the people of what is occurring. eg “Be still and know that I am God” can invoke great peace over the congregation.  Speak peace or even sing it over them – we don’t always know what our church is going through on the inside.

D. Include the Children in some way.  Maybe get a little one to sing a verse of a song or read a small portion of scripture.  Interviews are well received and kids love a microphone.

E.  Testimonies lift people’s faith levels.  This needs to be a deliberate part of the meeting.  Good leadership pre-empts the one who is testifying, and encourages them to keep it short and sweet.

F.  If it is the beginning of a school term, exam time or graduation time, bring all the students and teachers out the front and lay hands on them.  Our teachers and students need to know they are special and we care about what they are doing in their lives.

G.  Pray for the sick!  The power of the laying on of Hands must not be underestimated. Remember you are imparting God’s healing virtue.

H.  Keep the service multicultural, bringing different aspects of the cultures our wonderful friends from other countries into the mix and including a variety of people throughout the up-front rosters.  Hold an International Day or various other events throughout the year that focus on inclusivity.

I.  The time for announcements and offerings is light hearted and up-beat.  Welcome your visitors and ensure that you have something to remind them of their visit – a welcome pack with information about the church including a contact form is a great start.
Tithes and offerings: Share an encouragement on the heart of generosity. (Don’t push tithing down people’s throats week in and week out).  Remind people that God loves a cheerful giver, it’s better to give than receive, He gives seed to the sower, etc.  Then leave it up to them and see God bless the ministry and the givers themselves.

J.  The Communion message is our central focus and needs to be placed in high priority in the meeting.  We don’t need ‘throw away’ communion messages.  Three to five minutes is sufficient to bring home the powerful message of the Cross – forgiveness of sin through His shed blood.

2.  Sermons

The Pastor’s sermon must be seen as the key word of the Lord for the week.  Pastors must create this expectation in the people.  It’s Moses (the set man) going to the mountain and bringing that NOW WORD!  The altar call needs to be as powerful as the message itself.  We need to spend a lot more time on this aspect as it is a salvation, life and death moment.  Remember PASSION is the great persuader!

Make your sermons relevant and age appropriate – you might not be 25 years old, but your message doesn’t have to be 25 years old!  The Sons of Issacher knew the signs of the times and it’s important to be able to relate to your whole congregation.

Keep your sermons dynamic – utilise all the tools available to you.  Use media, sound, people and props if necessary to illustrate and bring home your message.  We live in a society that is visual and entrenched in media – let’s not miss the boat, but rather set the pace and lead the way.

3. Fellowship

Fellowship is as important as worship.  It is just as spiritual as any other part of what we do in our lives.  The greatest 2 commands that Jesus gave us are…”Love the Lord your God (Worship) and love your neighbour (Fellowship).
I believe that we need to be deliberate about this. Create an atmosphere of fellowship with light music playing, nice food, coffee brewing and strategically appointed people that have the gift of hospitality.  Additional extras – The room maybe dimly lit with a flat screen TV if possible showing a “Hillsong, Paradise, Edge or Planet Shakers” DVD.  If you don’t have access to this, have music playing in the background instead – it creates an atmosphere that fills an empty space in a room.

Conclude the meeting with a prayer of blessing!  Speak it over the people and send them on their way with an uplifted heart.  Let them know that you value them and that you value being able to bless them.
In Dueteronomy 28 talks about the abundant blessings of God; the prayer of Jabez says “Oh that You would bless me; Jacob wrestled with God -“I’m not going to let you go until you bless me”; Matthew 5 has the Beatitudes that talk about the blessings based on who we are.

All things considered, enjoy the journey.  In other words, “Serve the Lord with Gladness!”
Don’t take yourself too seriously.  Remember it’s a journey and it is God’s Church.  He said He will build it and He does.  We just need to be sincere, authentic and obedient to His call on our lives.

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Pastoring is a massive subject so here are some of my thoughts on “Pastoring Practically”.

First of all I want to establish the fact that “Pastoring” isn’t a job to be pursued as a career.  My dad used to advise me to run from “Pastoring” if I could.  If, for you, it becomes more and more obvious that the call of Pastoring is on your life, then realize there’s a massive price to pay.  You must be obedient to that call.  Prepare well.  Go to Bible College and get as educated as you can.  Pray continually for God’s guidance and His spirit to anoint you.  Without His anointing you will struggle and frustrate yourself and other people.

This calling is one of the 5 ascension gifts – Prophet, Pastor, Apostle, Teacher, and Evangelist.  It must be noted that our Heavenly Father doesn’t throw these gifts out to people like lollies.  Many have elements of these gifts on their life but few are “Ascension Gift” ministries.

I have found that when people stay within their calling, they enjoy what they do but also reap much fruit for the glory of God.  Pastoring is all about loving people.  Sometimes it requires tough love, but it is still loving people.  Shepherding people, nurturing people and leading people – these are all the roles of a pastor. Yes, there are times when we encourage, build up, strengthen and exhort but there are also times where we need to rebuke, correct and bring discipline. This is certainly not the most enjoyable part of our calling but necessary and always with the purpose of bringing restoration and glory to God.

The greatest gift you can give to yourself is that of being a “Listener”.  Be slow to speak.  Generally people just want to be heard.  Sometimes it is just to off load and get frustrations and hurts off their chest. Be quiet and allow the HolySpirit to give you a word of wisdom after they have shared their heart.

Practically speaking I have observed and found for myself that there are 3 elements to pastoring a healthy church.
1. Good, anointed worship.
2. Powerful preaching.  Not sharing.  Not conversational as this can’t be sustained week in and week out.  Dynamic preaching with a strong biblical content is essential.
3. Pastoral care.  This can be achieved through healthy small groups and great leaders.  The pastor himself/or herself may also do some visitation as required.

The Pastor’s role is to identify, empower and release people into their calling. This requires discernment and prayerful wisdom.  It is not to manipulate or control but to equip and release people. Their success will become your success.

I believe pastoring a church needs to be kept simple.  Over complicated structures and systems choke the life out of the church and its people.  Too many programs can become a problem.  You have to maintain these programs with the intensity and passion they require.  Leaders are hard to come by on a long term basis and this is a challenge for any pastor.

Keeping the ministry fresh with a guest speaker on a regular basis will inject a different perspective bringing life and excitement into the overall ministry.  The people require a balanced diet of Word and Worship.  It’s good not to be the same old same old every week.  Be creative!

The ‘shop front’ is Church on Sunday which is extremely important.  This is often the measure or value people put on the ministry.  Hospitable, warm people on the door and in the car park is a good start.  Today our society responds to different things.  The atmosphere of faith and God’s Spirit is what we hunger for.  Worship brings this great sense of God’s presence.  Faith statements from the word of God lift people’s spirit.  Powerful, well thought through prayers build people’s faith levels.  “Expectation is the breeding ground for miracles”.

Décor is important as well. A well-presented, clean auditorium is like your house when a special visitor is invited for dinner.  Get advice on this and do it well.  This can be achieved at little cost.

In my approach to pastoring, I like to address all 5 senses of the human being.

1.  Smell – coffee brewing and maybe some scented candles or plug in scents enhance dialog and fellowship.

2.  Feel/touch with a loving hand shake at the door or a warm arm around the shoulder in greeting is always nice to the recipient (being sensitive to the person on the receiving end). (The bible says to greet one another with a holy kiss!).

3.  Sight – it’s about first impressions.  It’s what people see when they drive in and walk into the facility.  Have good, strong signage out the front with a positive slogan.  Use PowerPoint presentations or worship videos before and after the service. A well-presented stage with appropriate lighting and no clutter is important.  A well-dressed pastor is a given but needs to be stated as there has been a sloppiness that has crept into the pulpit all in the name of “relevance”.

4.  Sound.  It can make or break a meeting.  Not too loud and not to soft.  It needs to punch through without ripping your head off.  Try different styles and genres but always consider the lyrics to be uplifting and God glorifying.  Have a happy atmosphere mixed with a sense of “God is in this place.”  People will leave your church and go to another church based on the music and sound.

5.  Taste – The N.T. church had food as an important part of their ministry.  We too can include this by either having nibbles after the service or once a month putting on a Fellowship lunch after church encouraging members to invite their friends.  Food is imperative, especially with children’s ministry and youth ministry.  A pizza order doesn’t go astray either.  You feed their stomachs and they be more open to be spiritually feed.

It’s important to have product to sell after or before the service as people will want to take home (value added) what they’ve heard, but also a copy to give to a friend who may have missed the service.

At the end of the day, it’s not by might, nor by power but by my Spirit, says the Lord.  We don’t come with eloquence and the wisdom of men, but we come in the power of His Spirit.  The greatest in the Kingdom are the servers.  We serve the people with a heart of integrity – always their best interest at heart.  I encourage people to be planted with their roots down deep and in this they will flourish and be blessed.

Joel 2:25 – “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten—the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts and the locust swarm my great army that I sent among you.”

The word of God promises to restore the years the enemy has stolen.  Each one of us has a significant destiny, a glorious future in God.  The devils only objective is to sabotage our purpose and meaning but we’ve got to dare to believe again.

We have God given dreams and aspirations.  I find that when we live in those things we are the happiest and most content.  When we are fulfilling God’s plans in our life we have a sense of wholeness.  It completes us.   “Restore” means to bring back to existence, to multiply, double, to increase to more than ever before.  He is a restoring God and He does it incredibly well if you trust Him.

When we are dealt a curve ball and our life is shattered by a particular event, person or circumstance then what do we do? We crumble and fall, but then we must pick ourselves up.  The restoring power of God is at our call.  It is the resources of heaven available to us as we reach out to Him.

1. God’s restoring power is in the pages of His word.

There’s no better blue print for living than God’s word.  His principles work every time and He encourages us as we read His word every day.  Galatians 1:6 – “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should RESTORE him gently… “carry each other’s burdens and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ.”

2. God’s restoring power is in your belief.  It’s faith.

Trusting in God requires faith.   “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things yet unseen.”  It’s a grind and sometimes just plain difficult, but as you take little steps, day by day moving forward, you can begin to achieve what was thought to be impossible.

3. People can help you restore your life.

Some people are not interested and would be happier if you didn’t rise up to anything.  Some people are too busy and others don’t know how to or what to do.  Movements, leaders, pastors are called to restore,  but usually just ordinary people are the restorers.

It’s nice when someone puts their arm around one who is struggling and says, come on let’s do this journey together.   I believe it is our responsibility, our mandate to come along side broken, smashed up people and lift them up to a new day, a new way.  We must restore people!  It takes time and effort, but the results are those of a saved life.  A restored soul!  People might call it sloppy grace, but what you’ve done will not prevent me from showing mercy, grace, acceptance.  I will endeavour to lift you, encourage you and strengthen you out of the pit of despair and into the loving arms of Christ.

4. The greatest restorer is Jesus!

That’s why we call Him our Saviour.  He saves, restores, and makes us whole again.  He forgives and forgets. We have to get that one truth in our head. He forgives and forgets.  He is the healer of the broken hearted. Allow Him to take control!  Watch as God’s restoring power works in and through people’s lives – you will be moved and amazed at what He does.  What the devil made for evil, God will turn around and make for good.
Amen!

Remember forgiveness is not something we do for other people we do it for ourselves to get well and move on!
Restoration is about getting well and moving forward!
Failure is not final
He’s the God of the second chance!