…it is easier to be angry and pithy than to be Christlike and on mission. Such outraged approaches are self-destructive. Some of them are even contrary to what God calls us to as leaders of his church. We need to be constructive, offering Christians a vision for how to navigate outrage and be more effective in showing and sharing the love of Christ.
Stetzer, Ed. Christians in the Age of Outrage: How to Bring Our Best When the World Is at Its Worst (p. 2). Tyndale Momentum. Kindle Edition.
Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us! Then he picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah. Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! (Ephesians 2:4–9 The Message)
Titles and links to a few essential Ed Stetzer books:
“The poorest of all men is not the one without a nickel to his name. He is the fellow without a dream…[He is like] a great ship made for the mighty ocean but trying to navigate in a mill-pond. He has no far port to reach, no lifting horizon nor precious cargo to carry. His hours are absorbed in routine and petty tyrannies. Small wonder if he gets dissatisfied, quarrelsome, and “fed up.” One of life’s greatest tragedies is a person with a 10-by-12 capacity and a two-by-four soul.” ~Kenneth Hildebrand
(Quoted in Doug Clay, Dreaming in 3D: Finding and Following God’s Amazing Plan for Your Life (Springfield Mo: Influence Resources, 2011))
No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing. (Ephesians 2:10- The Message)
Titles and links to books by Doug Clay:
As we come to a close of a busy season in the Church Ministries Department, Nyree and I want to share our gratitude, for you! Looking back over the past several months of traveling across our state and holding several events, we want to say thank you to the many who have come and shown your support. Nyree and I do not take it for granted!
October began with the start of multiple locations for the Oklahoma School of Ministry. We were blessed with so many students returning to continue their courses and a great number coming in to start the first level. These students are tremendous assets to the Kingdom of God and will deepen the bench of many of our churches across the state!
Oklahoma Credentialed Women held their Fall Seminar at Tulsa Christian Chapel in October. Dr. Deborah Gill challenged the women with her anointed teaching and a plea to remember the Dream they were given when they were called. The ladies finished the day with a dynamic prayer time. Looking ahead, the OCW will be at Edmond Spring Creek February 16th, for the Spring Seminar with Crystal Martin, the National Women in Ministry Network Leader.
Light for the Lost began it’s annual tour, challenging churches to come alongside our missionary efforts around the world. As LFTL provides the evangelistic tools our missionaries need to effectively reach people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, there is still much to be accomplished. Thank you to each pastor and church for your continued support of LFTL and we look forward to great days of harvest in the days to come!
In December, our Senior Heritage Christmas event will be held at Bethesda OKC on December 1st. Beginning at 11:00 am, we will have a great lunch together with a concert by Russell Davis on the saxophone, followed by the Williamson Quartet! You can find more information online at okag.org/senior about how to register as well as additional poster downloads. It promises to be a fantastic day so plan to join us!
Our prayer for you during the month of November is that you will be blessed as you connect with family and friends over Thanksgiving. May we all be grateful for the relationships that God has gifted us with and cherish them with gracious hearts. From our family to yours, we love and appreciate you!
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8 (ESV)
Exiting the highway, we pulled up to the stop sign to make our turn. Standing beside the road was a man holding a sign, which read, “The Struggle is Real.” With those four words, he conveyed the reality that many people face who struggles day in and day out with poverty. While I don’t know his exact situation or the circumstances that brought him to that point in his life, I do know that for many, the struggle is real.
As a pastor and leader, casting vision and moving the church forward can often be a challenge, to say the least. We all know that vision is life-giving to a church, yet we also know that the struggle is real in moving a church toward its God-given purpose and mission. While there are a plethora of suggestions concerning how to move churches forward, the word of God is clear, we must be missional in purpose in order to be a healthy church.
This is not an idea that I came across because of my great creative mind, but because I was forced to think about the church and its purpose in a different way. I knew that the church was a sending organization and that its members must be involved in the ministry of the church, but moving people in that direction was challenging to say the least. However, I had a former pastor make a request that I couldn’t help but commit to.
When I became pastor of Tecumseh, the former pastor asked me to commit to keeping up the missionary support that had been established. While I knew that missions were an important part of the church, this critical ministry became the lifeblood of all that we were to do in the church, community, state and around the world. The problem came when I looked at the budget versus the pledges and realized that missions giving was not adding up to the monthly missions budget.
For a guy who likes for budgets to be balanced and that we build some cushion for future expenses, this became a challenge to me. Additionally, if we are going to encourage people to give, how do we motivate them to commit to the mission? So for the next 15 years, we made missions a priority. The residual result was not something that I had expected.
During that period of time, we never balanced the missions budget and I must say that I am glad we never did, because it not only became an important part of our church focus, but it also moved our church in a new direction. It brought new life to the church and ultimately helped us become healthier as a whole.
Here are some of the benefits of being a missional church:
1. It allows the church to see the world through God’s eyes. Seeing people through the eyes of God challenges the church to join together with what he is doing to reach the lost. Love, grace, and compassion become a defining characteristic of a missional church.
2. It allows the church to see the big picture of Kingdom work. We begin to see that the Kingdom of God is bigger than the local congregation and that we can easily affect the work by simply joining together in partnership with missionaries and ministries around the world. Missional churches have an outward focus and will do what it takes to see the Kingdom of God move forward.
3. It gives the church the responsibility for the mission. Missional churches will take the responsibility to fulfill the needs of others and when they do, they take ownership of ministry. Being missional brings people to a new level of generosity.
4. It gives life and vitality to the church. As we become a part of what God is doing in his Church, that he blesses our efforts. At the same time, we must recognize that becoming a missional church will put our focus on the Kingdom which will also affect how we minister locally.
While this list is not exhaustive and there is not enough room for further exposition of this idea, know that being missional has a lasting and life-giving effect upon your church and ministries. Some of the healthiest churches, both large and small, are missional in nature.
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I had the privilege of being a rural churches for most of my ministry and learned many valuable lessons along the way. I am thankful that God allowed us the opportunity to serve these churches and believe that there is incredible potential to what God can do through them.
When I ran across this article from Lifeway I had to share for all the rural church pastors out there! I enjoyed the article 5 Benefits of Pastoring a Rural Church and I hope that you will too. Would love to hear your feedback and any additional benefits that you are experiencing! Rural Churches Are Making It Happen!
Walking the District grounds one cool December morning, I was joined by 3 groups of geese. All total there were nearly 50 who were wandering along with me. Of course, they were not all that happy that I had joined them and told me so as I passed by. Despite their protest, I was content to enjoy their company while we walked.
It was interesting that as I entered into the vicinity of where they were, one of them sounded the alarm that I was in the area and soon others were joining in. In fact, it spread from group to group, making sure that they all knew that I was around. While some might call it noisy, I considered it a privilege to see God’s handiwork on full display.
When I came inside to write my article, I thought about the analogy that was presented in those geese (because as preachers we can make an analogy or illustration out of anything in life). These geese reminded me that God not only created us individually but also to be dependent upon one another!
Geese have incredible navigational skills as they migrate and I have always been amazed at God’s creative power to put within their nature, the ability to travel great distances, depending on the weather. At the same time, they are dependent upon one another to not only journey together, but to warn of any dangers they may encounter along the way.
As believers, we are dependent upon one another and on each other’s callings and gifts.
Paul jumps into the deep end when he instructs the Corinthian Church on their placement within the Kingdom and the Church. No doubt, the church was experiencing what many in our local congregations across the nation face…rugged American individualism.
Ok. They were not American, but the spirit of being independent is a part of our nature and can translate into our view of the Christian life. After all, we often elevate those who can go to the wilds of Alaska, live off the grid, hunt and eat wild animals, grow their own food, all while being filmed by a Discovery film crew.
Christ is sufficient for all of our needs and for the development of our Christian walk, yet Paul reminds us that we need one another. Not only to grow individually but also corporately.
Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. 1 Corinthians 12:27 (ESV)
This reminder can also translate beyond the individual congregation that you serve in, to the district, to our fellowship, and to the worldwide church. We Need One Another! It isn’t too far-fetched to say that our effectiveness as “The Body of Christ” is dependent upon our love for one another and our desire to see each church, pastor, leader, board member, volunteer, and congregant fulfilling their purpose in the Kingdom! When we love one another as Christ loves the church, there is no room for disdain, rivalry or competition, envy, inferiority or superiority, only love.
That love that God has placed in our hearts is graphically displayed through action and not just our words. Paul wanted the church to recognize that the gifting’s in the church were not for consumption, but for giving so that others would be blessed. In other words, it’s not about what others do for us, but rather what we do for them. We fulfill what God desires for His church when it is our consuming desire to see others succeed!
This coming year, I am believing for a unified effort to see that each church succeeds in fulfilling its purpose to be healthy and effective in their respective mission field. The Oklahoma District is fully equipped to serve the Lord, just as every church and believer is equipped. But like the local church, we depend on each one recognizing and honoring the gift that God has given and using it to lift one another!
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“In small towns, it is imperative that we do not import an unadjusted ministry methodology from an urban context into a small town context. I call this failure to contextualize “copy + paste.” It is a seductive trap that too many church planters and pastors fall into. It goes like this: something works somewhere and so it must work here.”
~Donnie Griggs (Small Town Jesus http://amzn.to/2BF0DKx)
When I began pastoring my first church, I remember visiting with people around town, inquiring about the church that they were a part of. While there were many who gave various responses to my questions, Baptist, Methodist, PCG, etc. one answer always confused me. “I go to Brother Rider’s church.” Funny, I pastored the church that Brother Rider led so faithfully for 51 years!
While that answer eventually transitioned to Pastor Chad’s church, in reality, I had accepted no ownership of the church in any way. Understanding that it is a response that people often give, attaching a pastor to the vision, ministry, and direction of the church, I never took it personally. I always thought it funny when my girls were asked by their friends “Does your dad own the church?”
Paul reminds Timothy and the church:
…I am writing these things to you so that, if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth. 1 Timothy 3:14–15 (ESV)
God, in His infinite wisdom established the church to accomplish His mission on earth. This Christ-led institution is the foundation of and primary communicator of the Gospel of Jesus Christ! We must never confuse the most important purpose we have of sharing the message of forgiveness, renewed relationship with God, and eternal life in Christ Jesus!
We as a church must preserve and practice the truth of God’s Word which was revealed through Jesus to those who have been commissioned to deliver the most important message in human history. How?
May the church of Jesus Christ fulfill it’s most important role in this day and age. Live and proclaim that Jesus is Lord of His Church!
What I am reading right now:
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God offers his compassion to those who realize their deepest need of Him. He cares for us with a heart of concern and mercy.
“The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, Exodus 34:6 (ESV)
During this holiday season, I am constantly reminded of God’s loving graciousness toward me. The fact that He sent His son for us in spite of the fact that we were not worthy, is a display of love of which is simply mind boggling. I am so thankful that God loves us enough to be gracious toward us and provides abundantly for our present and future needs. He has our best in mind and sometimes it is good for us to be reminded of it.