Challenges of Ministry in the Local Church
Ministry in the local church can be challenging, but it also can be wonderful. In my opinion, pastors and their spouses have some of the most difficult jobs in the world. But we serve a God who strengthens and supports us, and the key to overcoming with victory is to stay connected to Christ Jesus!
Jesus said in John 15: 5 NIV “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
My encouragement to every pastor and church leader today is to FINISH STRONG-
Col. 4:17 NIV "See to it that you complete the work you have received in the Lord."
2 Cor. 6:3 NIV “We put no stumbling block in any one's path, so that our ministry will not be discredited.”
The First Challenge is the Hunger for Revival- While God wants to move and restore His people in these days, we must not put our sail up for `every wind that blows.’ Pastors do great harm to their churches when they try to `import’ revival. Revival is a sovereign move of God! regardless of all the definitions of revival that are out there, the simplest definition of revival most of us can agree on is revive-re meaning "again" and vive meaning "to live"(to resuscitate)
What works in one church or region of the country, may not work in another place.
2. The Challenge to Change- In my travels, I visit churches, whose buildings, songs, decor and dress make me think I have stepped into a time warp. Everything seems to have gotten stuck in 1965. Now, there was nothing wrong with 1965, but at the time of this writing, today is---2008.
How can a young couple with children or a college student connect with these types of churches? They are saying, “Can I connect here, and fit in here? Will someone love me and relate to me?”
We face a challenge with musical styles. In fact, churches have divided and feuded over musical styles perhaps more so that any other issue in recent years. I might not like some of today's songs personally, but guess what?? Somebody likes them, and I want to reach that somebody! It’s not about me or what I like.
We have a mandate to reach the world. Society is changing. We must examine our traditions and see if they are of God or just of man. Traditions are fading. Families are changing.
The Gospel and God’s Word doesn’t change, but we must change to reach `all men’, as Paul said in 1 Cor. 9:22 NIV “To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.”
The message is always sacred, but the methods are not.- Many of the methods which we consider unchangeable are in fact, out-dated. Pipe Organs and pews were very popular in churches in the 3 or 4 centuries ago. Altars and mourner's benches also have their place, but trace back to customs which are hundreds of years old.
3. We Face a Compromise in Doctrine-
A recent survey showed that over 50% of Evangelical Christians believe that one can go to Heaven some other way than through Jesus Christ. (That’s heresy!)
John 14:6 NIV "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” He didn’t say, “I am one of many ways” or- "I am a Portion of Truth”. He didn’t say, “Choose the life you want to follow”…You see, Satan appears as an angel of light, deceiving even the very elect!
One of Satan's choice tools is `religious deception’.
Faith in the blood, the cross, and Christ's resurrection is what God accepts. We can only approach Him through this faith in the substitutionary work of Christ!
There is a compromise in doctrine among Christians- Some say, “People may leave you if you preach this doctrine”. People leave churches all the time; why not determine why they leave? If people leave a church because they were offended at the Word, they will be forced to deal with those issues by God; not man.
Multi-culturalism and a tolerance of all religions has `watered down’ the true message of salvation which is found in this verse---
Matt 7:13-14 KJV “For wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”
Proverbs 14:12 KJV “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.”
4. Complexity of Worship-
In today’s church, we minister to 3 or 4 generations at one time. This requires that we hear from God and be directed by His Spirit.
We face the challenge of traditional and contemporary. There are generational preferences in 1. Music 2. Video 3.Fellowship 4. Preaching Styles.
But God always embraces the OLD & the NEW (Elizabeth/Mary) (Elijah/Elisha)(Moses/Joshua - Aaron and Hur)
Young soldiers need old horses!
Each generation needs the other!!!
God is eternal, seeing the end as well as the beginning of all things! In the Old Testament, He reveals Himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and deals with man in this regard. Always `forward' thinking! As church leaders, we must also think generationally; looking forward and planning for the future...
The last verse of the Old Testament book of Malachi speaks of a day when God will send His Spirit to “Turn the hearts of Fathers to children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I smite the earth with a curse…” The opposite of a curse is blessing, signifying that there is blessing when we blend the generations in worship and the Word to advance the Kingdom of God!
5. Issue of Non-Biblical Preaching-
Testimonies, inspirational stories and motivational speaking all have their place, but we need the word of God! Hebrews 4:12 NIV “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”We need to hear about the blood, the cross, Heaven, Hell, the gifts of the Spirit.
2 Tim 3:16 NLT “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.”
6. How do we grow a Great Church?
How do we reach the lost? “Unless the Lord builds the house, the laborers build in vain”. “I will build my church”…Good preaching and teaching alone won’t get it done. God will have to build His house! We must desire to build a family, not just a crowd…
There is a combination of principles necessary for church's to grow. A. The correct bait is necessary to catch different types of fish! B. Every member is a minister. The doctrine of `the priesthood of the believer' teaches that we all have a responsibility to be trained, equipped and sent out into the work of the Lord!
At the turn of the century, David Boyd, a newspaper editor came from the East coast to be the head of the state’s university. The University of Oklahoma. But when he arrived, there was nothing. This was still Indian Territory,and there were no buildings, no teachers, books or even students. In fact, there wasn't a single tree within 30 miles of the site of the university.
When Boyd arrived, he got off the train, and was taken to the site of the future university. He looked around at nothing, but as he stood there on the Oklahoma prairie, he exclaimed, “Oh, the possibilities!’
He had 50 books in his trunk from which the university library began. Today, there are over 6 million books in the University of Oklahoma library.
No matter how small your beginnings and humble your situation, you can stand up and say, “Oh the Possibilities!” What seems impossible to man is possible with our God! Do we face Great Challenges? Yes, but we serve a Great God? Absolutely!!
Oh, the Possibilities!!
He is the God of Increase…More than Enough…El Shaddai! The All- Sufficient One!
He framed the world out of nothing, and hanged it on nothing…So He can do something with your life and with His church!
One day soon, He will say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant…you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many. Enter into the joy of the Lord!”