According to Scripture, you are the next chapter in the life and ministry of Jesus. You were created to finish what Jesus “began to do and teach.” (Acts 1:1) And here is the kicker – what God achieves through you will be greater than what Jesus did. (John 14:12)
I want you to give these two promises some thought. Sit down and think about them. If you do, you’ll realize that God is counting on you to finish what Jesus started. And you can do it because his spirit has been given to you.
However, the reality of the average pastor’s ministry bears no resemblance to these promises. Most are caught in the trap of “we’re just a small church.” Or, “that’s impossible.” Or, “We’ve never done it that way before.” And so 80% of the churches in the U.S. are dying.
When was the last time you dreamed so big that it scared you and caused you to puke? Probably never. But wouldn’t it be fun if we did?
What’s wrong with a faith that teaches that all things are possible, but raises up pastors who are afraid to risk and seldom dream huge? How can that be? It’s because we don’t really believe the promises. Oh we say we do but our actions betray our lack of belief.
One of the things that has bugged me over the years is the realization that the vast majority of pastors are content with churches that are declining and conflicted. How can a person waste their life on a group of people that care only for the doors of the church to remain open long enough for there to be someone to bury them? How can the greatest power on earth, the Church, be relegated to a state of irrelevance? It couldn’t be if we really believed God’s promises and were willing to act on them no matter the consequence.
One of the questions I always ask the people I’m coaching is, “What would you have to start and stop doing if your church were five or ten times its size?” I ask this for two reasons. One, to get them to start and stop doing things that are keeping their leadership from being effective. Two, to expand their hopes and dreams for their church. People who dream big either make a mess of life or excel greatly. Either one is better than what we are getting from the majority of pastors in the U.S.
You may recall the movie Internet, where the anchorman stuck his head out the window and shouted to New York, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!”
Well that is what 80% of pastors need to do – shout out to the world, “I won’t take year after year of my church declining anymore. I won’t take any more of the backbiting and gossiping. I won’t take any more bullies getting their way in our church. I won’t take another person saying, ‘We’ve never done it that way before.’ I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!”
I feel sorry for the pastor who is in the midst of a dying or conflicted church. But I feel even sorrier for the pastor who puts up with it year after year and hasn’t blown his or her head off.
I can hear some of you saying, “Don’t talk about what I must do until you’ve walked in my shoes!” Well, friend, I have walked in your shoes. The church I was sent to had 35 members, and a dozen of them were left-wing bullies who wanted their own club where they could be big fish in a little pond. Eighteen months later, we had 250 in worship. Why? Because I told them “no more!” We are going to grow whether you like it or not, and don’t let the door hit you in the butt on the on the way out of the church. My first week, I had to fire the organist who was the wife of a member of the personnel committee, the most powerful committee in my denomination. Word began to spread that I might be a leader worth following.
Folks, if I could do it, so can you because “all things are possible through Christ.” Trust him to see you through the mess. And remember, God put you here to finish the work started by Christ.
Question: What are some practical ways for a pastor to begin living out the belief that “all things are possible through Christ?” Share your ideas in the Comments section below.