Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Saying Your Sorry

It is one of the hardest things for anyone to do, to say "I'm sorry".  Yet, in saying we are sorry we release the power of healing into relationships.  There are times in churches when the church should stop and say they are sorry.  Kenneth Quick has a couple of great books, "Healing the Heart of Your Church", and "Body Aches" that deal with this subject.

For biblical understanding of saying we are sorry for past mistakes or weakness in a church we can look at the way people like Daniel.  When Daniel was challenged in reading Jeremiah (Daniel 9), and realizing the 70 years of exile was soon to come to an end, he didn't rejoice.  Instead Daniel remembered why the people of Israel had been exiled to begin with.  He prayed for forgiveness of the past of his people. 

We can only release God's power to move upon us, as His people, if we have sat at His feet and examined ourselves in His love, His Word, and His Will.  I encourage you to take time to look at your own life.  Look at the ministry history of your church.  Give it all to Christ, and let Him free you to be the potential He has in mind for you.

Keep on the Journey with Christ today,

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Beyond the Corporate Church to Peoples Hearts

We live in a time of great change in our world. Many of us grew up in a society that promoted gaining wealth and power above all. It promoted the idea that bigger is better. Unfortunately this infiltrated into the realm of church and religion. The church is often a decade or more behind the society that we are trying to reach for Christ, and I worry that we are setting ourselves up for a tough road, with this regard. I am not saying we need smaller churches necessarily, but I think we need to reevaluate why and how we do ministry.

I have seen a great push in the past twenty years of ministry to local churches and denominations to be run as corporation. The business end of things often weighs against the spiritual and the care of people. Many meetings surround the care of buildings, properties, paychecks, and other business. We can all admit that there is a need of good business sense, but our priority in ministry is and must be The Gospel, and care of people. Peter, when being reinstated by Christ was not called to be a CEO, he was called to feed Christ's sheep.

While many in churches across America promote the "business model" of ministry, society in America is becoming fed up with Big Business. While many may want to simply set aside the people who spent much of last year protesting against corporate America, I think we in the church need to wake up and listen. People are not interested in being a number on our rolls. They are not desiring another place that wants their money. They are not seeking to be an unknown part of a huge conglomeration. They don't need more pressure to grow the corporation.

What people desire is to be heard, to be listened to in their greatest times of need. They desire someone to love them no matter what their past has been. They want to be a part of something that has sincere life changing meaning. The want and need a Savior who can help them through when the going get tough. They want honesty, truth, and hope.

We will always have business to care for in the church, but our priority must be Christ Crucified and Risen, and Loving People. We are not called to become "big business", but "broken hearted" for Christ. May we as leaders learn to follow Christ into the mission before us.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Taking Time For Transparent Reflection

How often do you take time away, just between you and God? When you are alone with God, are you as open and transparent with yourself as you should be?

I believe, as ministers we often get too busy with ministry and forget to take the needed time alone with God that we need. In Scripture, we see Jesus getting away to the mountains, we see prophets like Elijah and Moses led into extended times with God alone. It seems that through such times alone, God moves to change and mold their lives for the mission ahead.

I was recently reading through Isaiah 6, the call of Isaiah. It seems that Isaiah was spending one of those times alone with God, when God began to call him. In response to God's presence surrounding him Isaiah goes into a time of deep confession. Isaiah says, "Woe is me, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips" (Is. 6:4). This revelation is so important for Isaiah to be cleansed and prepared for the call God is giving him. God then cleanses Isaiah through touching him with the burning coal.

Ministers often build walls to protect their own psyche, which prevents them from being transparent before their congregations. We are pressured to live up to standards that seem nearly impossible, by some who we serve. In Protestant circles the church often leaves little room for true open confession and encouragement for anyone, but this is especially true of the minister. I wonder how often we forget to be transparent with God and ourselves, because we are pressured in such ways in our world?

God desires us to be fully transparent in His presence on a regular basis. When is the last time you opened yourself up to what God may want to cleanse you from? When is the last time you sincerely examined your life before the Lord? Are pressures of daily work and ministry preventing you from serious times of reflection with God?

We live in world where the fall of ministers to burnout, stress, loss of focus, and moral failure is rampant. Maybe it is time that we get serious with our own spiritual walk with the Lord. God desires our souls far above the ministries we are doing. Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 9 that he "made my body a slave, so that after preaching to others I myself will not be qualified" (1 Cor. 9:26). Have we kept ourselves in control and spent the time needed with God to face the challenges of carrying the Gospel into our world? Let us strive to be all that God wants us to be in following Him.