Should the Pastor Be Involved In the Finances of the Church?
The subject of church finances and the pastor’s involvement has long been a topic of discussion and controversy. Opinions and practices vary as to whether the spiritual leader of the congregation should be allowed unrestricted oversight, be completely uninvolved, or work with a board/advisory committee in the monetary business of the church. In rare cases there are those who have in place a “finance committee” that is independent of the pastor and/or the board. Who is responsible for the oversight and management of the church’s finances? Should the pastor, being the spiritual leader, have input into the financial matters of the church? Should not those to which we assign responsibility for spiritual and eternal matters also help in the management of the “unrighteous mammon?” While it is not recommended that the pastor or the spouse be the one(s) who count the offering, make the deposits, write the checks and balance the books, such is the case in many small congregations where no one in the church is willing or qualified to adequately carry out the assignment, nor does the church have the necessary funds to pay an accountant or a financial manager outside the congregation.
The subject of financial stewardship is addressed in Scripture through numerous proverbs, principals and stories, giving insight to the attitude, acquiring, accumulating, and the administrating of funds, yet ironically money matters are often the most problematic of churches. While good business principals must be exercised, the foundation of operation for the assembly must be that of faith, based on the truth of God’s Word. This necessitates that the overseer(s) of the church funds be both spiritually sound and financially savvy. According to Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible, “an overseer speaks of one or many to represent the highest person of authority and to exercise authority over whatever was designated. Included in this authoritative oversight was the idea of watching, directing, and protecting the master’s interests. The NT carries these ideas also in regard to men appointed to serve the church on behalf of Jesus Christ (Acts 20:28; Phil 1:1; 1 Tm 3:1, 2; Ti 1:7).”
Nehemiah 10:35-39 gives the record of God’s people pledging their support for the Temple while acknowledging their gifts would have the oversight of the priests and Levites. The Message says, “We take responsibility for delivering annually to The Temple of God the firstfruits of our crops and our orchards, our firstborn sons and cattle, and the firstborn from our herds and flocks for the priests who serve in The Temple of our God—just as it is set down in The Revelation. We will bring the best of our grain, of our contributions, of the fruit of every tree, of wine, and of oil to the priests in the storerooms of The Temple of our God. We will bring the tithes from our fields to the Levites, since the Levites are appointed to collect the tithes in the towns where we work. We’ll see to it that a priest descended from Aaron will supervise the Levites as they collect the tithes and make sure that they take a tenth of the tithes to the treasury in The Temple of our God. We’ll see to it that the People of Israel and Levites bring the grain, wine, and oil to the storage rooms where the vessels of the Sanctuary are kept and where the priests who serve, the security guards, and the choir meet. We will not neglect The Temple of our God.” Further evidence of the spiritual leadership overseeing the treasury of the Lord’s House is seen in Nehemiah 13:12-13. The New Living Translation says, “And once more all the people of Judah began bringing their tithes of grain, new wine, and olive oil to the Temple storerooms. I assigned supervisors for the storerooms: Shelemiah the priest, Zadok the scribe, and Pedaiah, one of the Levites. And I appointed Hanan son of Zaccur and grandson of Mattaniah as their assistant. These men had an excellent reputation, and it was their job to make honest distributions to their fellow Levites.”
Acts records the exponential growth of the first-century church resulting in deacons being assigned to distribute food to the poor, a ministry that was put in place by the apostles. Luke gives the organizational structure of this outreach in Acts 6:2-5a: “So the Twelve called a meeting of all the believers. They said, ‘We apostles should spend our time teaching the word of God, not running a food program. And so, brothers, select seven men who are well respected and are full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will give them this responsibility. Then we apostles can spend our time in prayer and teaching the word.’ Everyone liked this idea . . .” (NLT).
The biblical pattern shows without question that the pastor should be involved in the oversight of the church’s finances, however, Scripture also prescribes the attitude and actions of the pastor to avoid disqualification of influence and trust. It is interesting that Paul mentions this matter of financial prudence in his letters to Timothy and Titus while giving the requirements of the “bishop.” In 1 Timothy 3:1-7 he says, “This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.” While not specifically mentioned, Paul’s list calls for the man of God to demonstrate financial responsibility and integrity in matters such as, taking care of personal bills in a timely manner, living within one’s means, wise planning for the future, maintaining a good name in the community, consistently tithing and giving offerings, and exercising wisdom in their expenditures.
In Titus 1:7-9 he says, “For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate; Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.” Peter also speaks to this in 1 Peter 5:1-3 saying, “The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.”
The King James wording, “filthy lucre,” actually means “indecent, dishonorable, sordid gain.” It speaks of the person who is eager to gain even if such gain degrades his moral character. This refers to a lover of money, also called covetousness, identified by Paul as idolatry in Colossians 3:5: “So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world.” It is incumbent to remember, our attitude toward money is actually a revelation of our attitude toward God.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gave the following warning about “mammon.” The wording of Matthew 6:22-24 in the NIV says, “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” May each of us be able to say like Paul in Philippians 3:17, “Dear brothers and sisters, pattern your lives after mine, and learn from those who follow our example.”
Article by Billy Nickell, District Secretary/Treasurer and Pastor Amarillo, First Family Church email@example.com
Ways To Make Sure Your Staff Succeed
I have spoken to many pastors throughout the years that have the attitude that their staff exists solely to make them successful. Having been part of a large pastoral staff for many years, I would have to agree that my role was to make my Senior Pastor as successful as possible in leading the church God had entrusted to his care. However, having also had the responsibility of leading a very large percentage of that same staff as the Executive Pastor, as well as leading my own staff as a Lead Pastor, I also know that the staff I lead needs certain things to succeed as they serve and fulfill their calling. The staff doesn’t just exist for the Lead Pastor; the Lead Pastor also exists for the staff.
Staff members are not looking for a perfect pastor. They just need someone who is willing to love them and care enough to help them succeed. This imperfect pastor (me) has discovered certain things that his staff needs to succeed.
- My staff needs to know that I care for them as individuals.
My role as a shepherd is not only to the congregation that I serve, but to the people the Lord has brought alongside me to help lead. In fact, I believe my primary responsibility is to the sheep we call “staff.” I need to know their strengths and weaknesses, their needs and wants, and how to best minister to their families. Simply stated, they need to know I love them.
- My staff needs to know where we are going as a church.
Most every called staff member longs to be a part of something bigger than himself or herself. More than just “doing church well.” I need to be able to communicate a vision (preferable future) worth following. A vision that obviously centers on the glory of God and emphasizes reaching out to people who are without Jesus.
- My staff needs to know that I value their voice in decision-making.
I learned a long time ago that I don’t have all the answers, nor am I the only one who hears from God. I may be the “quarterback” of the team, but I need input from the “receivers” and “linebackers” who have a different viewpoint of the field. When we buy into something together, we’ll make it happen together.
- My staff needs to know what I expect from them.
Most staff members want to do a great job, but if I’m not being very clear about what I want them to do how will they know if they’ve done it well? I can’t expect them to read my mind! It starts with a detailed job description and it’s continued with every specific assignment. I also have to make them aware of any expectations I may have from their family. I cannot assume they know what I expect.
- My staff needs to be empowered.
I cannot delegate responsibility without delegating authority. My staff needs to know that I will publicly stand behind any decision they make, even if I have to correct them for it privately. They cannot be afraid of making decisions that relate to their area of responsibility. Every decision does NOT have to come through me. My staff needs to know that I trust them, yet also realize that they will be held accountable and, when necessary, corrected. As Ronald Reagan famously said, “trust but verify”. Delegation without investigation is relegation.
- My staff needs to be corrected privately.
No one likes to be humiliated publicly. It creates a culture of fear that hinders creativity and initiative. ALL personal, job related correction should be done privately.
- My staff needs to be celebrated publicly.
Recognize a job well done. When a staff member has had a big win in their area of responsibility, I need to publicly appreciate him or her. Give them some extra time off if a particular task required extra time and energy. Recognize him/her in staff meeting. We always start off our staff meetings sharing “wins” in the church – specific examples of how God is changing lives in different ministries or by underscoring high impact events. We know that God is the One that does this, but He uses leaders!
- My staff needs a model worth following.
Staff members are not looking for a perfect pastor, but they are looking for and deserve a pastor with personal and professional integrity. That means having an authentic and growing walk with Jesus, not exaggerating stats, having a backbone with difficult people, expecting loyalty but also giving it, tithing my income, sharing Christ with people, etc. We must lead the way in modeling hard work, especially when it comes to being prepared to preach on Sundays. My staff can work hard all week (following up, calls, events, recruiting, etc.), and if I go up and lay an egg of a message because I didn’t prepare properly, everybody loses! Pastors, lead the way by your example. It’s what your staff needs!
Article by Nelson Gonzalez, First AG, Plainview, Texas. firstname.lastname@example.org
WHEN IS IT TIME TO BUILD?
Building programs in local churches can be a great blessing or a great hurdle and even a deterrent to God’svision for a congregation, if the timing is not right. Buildings are just tools to help us accomplish the work of God’s Kingdom. Sometimes we can get sidetracked into thinking we have accomplished much for God if we build a new building, but that can only be true if the “Great Commission Work” is demanding the need for that building. To answer the question, “When to Build?” let’s consider three things: The Mission, The Momentum, and The Money.
We all know the mission of any local church should be to evangelize, cooperating with Jesus in seeking and saving the lost, and then to disciple those we reach. When we excel in the mission of the church, allowing the Holy Spirit to use the local body of believers to lead others to Christ that will create a need for a church building or a bigger building. When a new congregation is being formed, renting a facility is a good and common practice. However in our society there seems to come a time when a new church needs its own building, designed to meet the unique needs of a church and also to make a statement to the city or town where the church is located that “we are here to stay.” Just having a need for a building is not enough. There also must be unity within the congregation so that a great majority are on board for the building program. Unity is developed by the pastor and his leadership team through the patient sharing of the God-given vision for the future of the church. Laying out steps that must be taken to see a building program through is very helpful in the process and should be done in baby steps at first.
Upward momentum in numerical growth is important when preparing for a building program. Spiritual excitement created by wonderful spiritual experiences in the church services will help with numerical growth and is a great momentum producer for the faithful members. Those experiences should be augmented by great balanced Bible teaching. This produces strong, mature, believers who can grasp the future vision of the on-going work. In other words, for a successful building program, the priority of the church should not be the “building program”, but should be the spiritual vitality of the people. The old saying, “strike while the iron is hot” is appropriate here. Churches go through cycles just like people do. When the mission and the momentum come together, the iron is getting hot.
Of course, money is a greatly needed commodity when building. Long before it is time to build, the pastor should lead his people who have caught the vision of the future to begin giving to a building fund. Some will see the need long before others and begin to give. The money in a building fund will be a great encouragement to everyone when the momentum comes and the vision spreads among the people. A plan to raise money – a capital stewardship campaign – is usually an integral part of a building program. If the building is to be completed, there must be a plan to have enough money to finish. An unfinished building because of insufficient funds can cause reverse momentum. Sacrifice is a strong but needed work when it comes to raising funds and the pastor must be willing to lead by example in sacrificial giving. “Not equal giving but equal sacrifice” is a good slogan to help all be involved regardless of their income. In a fund-raising campaign the pastor and building committee members and/or members of the church board must be able to answer questions and face some opposition while keeping a sweet spirit. Leaders must stay prayed up and keep the church services led by the Holy Spirit and Christ-centered, filled with love and compassion for people.
Some congregations should build because of a need to change locations for varied reasons. Others may need to build because their buildings are worn out and in need of repair and a new building is the best option. Regardless of the need for a new church building, the “mission” being fulfilled will bring the “momentum” needed to raise the “money” to get the job done.
Article by Pastor Eddie Lee, Harvest Christian Center, El Paso, Texas. email@example.com
Keeping Kids Safe in an Unsafe World
Our world becomes increasingly unsafe each day. From wars on the other side of the planet to bullying on the playground of our neighborhood school, children’s safety is one of the churches primary concerns.
Let’s focus on 3 tools we can use to keep kids safe in the dangerous times in which we live. Our first and most trusted tool is prayer. God says in Isaiah 33:6, “He will be the sure foundation for your times.” Because of this, we must make God the foundation of our ministry and of our teaching. Surrounding all we do in prayer, asking for God’s guidance and direction, seeking His wisdom and His creative thoughts, will help us to safeguard the children in our care. Churches in general have less than 40 hours a year, on average, to influence children and families. This makes it difficult to instill principles, to encourage spiritual growth and to feel like we are having a lasting impact. Prayer is the tool that multiplies our efforts exponentially.
Our second tool is parents. We must partner with parents, equipping them to do their job as the primary spiritual teachers of their children. In Transforming Children into Spiritual Champions, George Barna writes, “Our national surveys have shown that while more than 4 out of 5 parents (85%) believe they have the primary responsibility for the moral and spiritual development of their children, more than two out of three of them abdicate that responsibility to their church.” We must help parents leverage the 3000 hours they have with their children each year to train their children to know, love and obey God.
Two of the most pressing dangers that pastors and parents must be aware of are:
Media – video games, music, TV shows, movies, pornography
Bullying – Peer pressure – suicide
Satan is specifically targeting children in order to destroy the upcoming generation. The violence and sexuality in almost every form of media is designed to strip away the innocence of our children and desensitize them to the presence of God. That violence spills over onto the school bus and the cafeteria but it also spills over into our children’s ministry classrooms, in the form of bullying and peer pressure to do wrong. Parents must be on their guard at all times because sin is subtle. Most TV shows expose our families to pornography. It has crept in so quietly that many times we have accepted these things without a fight. We wonder why children can’t sleep or have behavioral problems and many times it directly links back to what movies they have seen or what video games they are playing.
To keep our children safe, we must sound the alarm so that parents awaken to the plan Satan has and be alert to the perilous times in which we live. We don’t live in fear, we live by faith. Our lives built on God…the firm foundation. An important key for parents is to make sure there is no disconnect in the way they live their lives at home and in what they do at church. Tying the two together is a must! Making God the center of our everyday living is a goal and something we must be making progress in at all times.
Another way to affect children for good is to have meaningful conversations. Allowing children time to express their thoughts and to feel safe sharing what is happening at school, on the bus, when they are with friends, etc, is key to having insight into their lives. The number of children trying to commit suicide or self-harming in other ways is on the rise. Pastors and parents must be alert to the signs of these dangers. Being proactive through conversations and role-play of situations that could cause a child to feel emotionally boxed in enough to self-harm, is a great way to keep communication open.
A third tool we use to keep kids safe in an unsafe world is to provide the best children’s ministry possible in our churches. There must be a priority in finances, in recruiting of volunteers and in training so that some of the best resources are being poured into the ministry we provide for kids. Making the 40 – 50 hours we have each year count, must be a high goal. Children’s ministry isn’t babysitting – simply marking time until the service is over. It must be strategic in training children from the earliest age that church is about God. It’s where we worship him together, it’s where we learn to be more like Him in the way we act, think and live, and it’s where we encourage a love for God’s Word. Then we must help children and families take God home and live out obedient lives for Him. Helping parents read the Bible with their children at home must be a priority. Then we must encourage children to bring their Bible to church so they learn to use it in the worship setting. Helping families make God the center of their lives at home, not just an event in which they participate on Sundays, must be one of our highest priorities.
Safe in an unsafe world; at times it feels impossible. In those moments we remember what Jesus said in John 16:33. “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” We must instill the hope that Jesus brings in these unstable times!
Harvest Christian Center
An asset is defined as a useful or valuable thing, person or quality. Every minister, whether senior pastor, campus pastor, staff pastor, or volunteer, wants to be an asset to the ministry they are currently serving. Ask anyone who has been in ministry for any length of time, they certainly don’t want to be a liability to their organization.
Being on staff, I want to write this article specifically to staff pastors. There comes a time in every ministry when the self-evaluation needs to take place. Unfortunately, many times we wait until the length of time between victories is getting further and further apart. Evaluation time doesn’t have to come only when times are rough, it needs to happen when great things are happening. At Snyder First Assembly, we perform formal yearly evaluations to analyze ministries, or a minister’s effectiveness. This evaluation is not a substitution for weekly staff meetings. If they are off -track, there is still time to correct things. The same can be said for volunteers. Even though they are not paid staff, regularly scheduled evaluation needs to be done to gauge their performance. There are always areas in which we can all improve.
Whether you are facing a very positive reason for evaluation, or a negative reason, you need to ask yourself the question:
Am I an asset, or a liability?
There are a few things to consider when asking yourself this question.
1) Control- Does every decision that gets made in my department have to go through me?
Being a staff pastor, you are likely in charge of more than one area in the church. You are probably in charge of home groups, Sunday School, Youth or kids activities, Wednesday night activities, etc. If every decision in each department has to be made with your approval, you are a liability to your church. Your ministry effectiveness is bottle-necked by your need for control. Allow those around you who are helping you in ministry to make decisions. Bad decisions, when done with the right motives, are better than non-decisions. Allow those working under you to take ownership of the church. When you have owners, you have leaders.
2) Communication - Do your volunteers know what your vision is for the department?
If your volunteers working with you cannot effectively communicate to others what the central vision of the church is, how will they make ministry decisions that point toward that goal? Does the vision for your department fall in line with the overall vision of the church? Good decisions get made when the pastor and volunteers are on the same page, working toward the same goal.
3.) Capability - Am I capable of doing this job effectively with my skills?
As a minister, I understand that if I were to be gone tomorrow, the work of the ministry would still continue. I don’t think that any of us think so highly of ourselves that no one else could do the job that we do. There is any number of people that I can think of, just off the top of my head that could do better at my job than me. Instead of it being a negative, it drives me to improve my skill set to match my job description. We have a staff member that is much better at socializing with members of the church than me. He knows people’s names that I have never even heard of that have visited the church. So, I have made an effort to be more social and visit people more often. If you are not willing to improve your skill set, maybe you could be more effective at a different position. I have seen it dozens of times. You take someone who is struggling to make it as a youth pastor in a town, they move somewhere else, and explode with growth! What happened? Did they suddenly develop skills that they didn’t have before? Of course not. The skills they possessed matched the capabilities needed at the position. Furthermore, conferences and seminars are a great way to gain insight and skill to do your job more effectively.
4.) Collaboration - Am I working in collaboration with those who are in ministry with me? If I’m not, how can I change that?
It has been stated that no man is an island. We must work together as a team, with the common goal in mind to reach people with the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. As a staff member, it is vital that you realize that you are on the same team as others who are also on staff. Youth is not in competition with kids church. Home groups are not in competition with a community outreach. We cannot afford to be Lone Ranger. Even Jesus told his disciples to pray for more workers, because the harvest is plentiful. There is a lot to learn from those around us. Older ministers can learn new ways of doing things from younger ministers. Younger ministers can learn how to stick it out in ministry, even when it would be easier to give up, from older ministers. And we can all learn from other staff members who do things differently than us.
We all have a part to play in the ministry. Whether you are an asset or a liability is up to you. You determine if you contribute to, or take away from, your effectiveness in the ministry.
2 Timothy 2:15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.
Snyder First Assembly
Talent vs. Passion
(How to have a worship team that actually leads in worship)
Worship & Outreach Pastor
1st Assembly of God, Lubbock, TX
For many years, music has long been a source of what I’ll call a “discussion” in the church. Some churches sing hymns. Some churches sing choruses. Some churches sing hymns but don’t use the hymnal (God forbid), but instead “sing it off the wall”. Some churches sing a mixture of old and new. Some will sing only the new stuff.
I’ve led in services where I’ve sung the old songs that people have requested and they STILL did not join in and worship, and I’ve led in services where I’ve sung the new songs that people have requested and THOSE people still did not join in and worship.
This blog that I’m writing today is not going to discuss THAT age-old argument. That’s for another time. What I want to discuss today is the “simple” (you can define that how ever you want) subject of talent vs. passion and how you and I can have a worship team that actually leads worship.
First, let’s define a couple of words. Talent means an individual or a group of persons with a special natural ability or aptitude. And passion means a strong or extravagant fondness, enthusiasm, or desire for anything. And just so you know, anytime in this context I use the word(s) worship team or worship band, I simply mean musicians AND singers.
So let’s talk about talent vs. passion. In my 27+ years of full time ministry, I’ve worked with people that had passion but were lacking in the talent category and I’ve worked with people that had the talent but had no passion. It’s always wonderful to have musicians who have that special natural ability AND have a fondness, enthusiasm, and desire to worship as well. Notice I said it’s wonderful to have musicians…that have a desire TO worship. I didn’t say that’s it’s wonderful to have musicians…that have a desire to LEAD worship (be in front of the crowd). There is a difference. Anyone with a little bit of talent can get up in front of a crowd and sing some praise and worship songs. But it takes someone with true passion for God and His presence to get up in front of a crowd and lead them in worship and into the presence of God. In His presence is where broken hearts are mended, tired souls are renewed, and broken bodies are supernaturally healed. His presence must be paramount over everything. Now that is not to say that talent is relegated to the back seat. And here is where I may get into some trouble and offend some of you, but believe me, that is not my intent. If I’m in a service and someone is on stage “leading” in worship but are not equipped (haven’t learned adequately enough) to use the instrument they are supposed to be playing, it can be so distracting to the point of disrupting the worship. And that goes for vocals too. If someone can’t sing but is attempting to lead in worship, it can be so distracting as to disrupt the service as well.
Now before you send me all the Christian hate mail, let me explain a little further. I’m not saying that every male singer needs to sound like Chris Tomlin or Kristian Stanfill or every female singer needs to sound like Kari Jobe or Kim Walker-Smith. I’m not even saying that everyone needs to be able to sing and play like Israel Houghton. What I am saying is this: we as a church need to learn to place people in their area of gifting. If someone really can’t sing but can play keyboard, have them play keyboard. If someone really can’t play bass but can sing, have them sing. Place people in their area of gifting.
Once we have people placed in their area of gifting, then we can work on having a worship team that actually leads in worship. I can think of at least five things that will help a worship team lead in worship. It is most definitely not an exhaustive list, but is meant as a starting point to help you move forward as needed.
1. Pray for anointing
Ephesians 3:16 says, “I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit.
I pray for our team after each practice Wednesday night asking God to protect them, and that He will bring them back renewed supernaturally and ready to lead in worship on Sunday. Every Sunday morning, after our sound check and final practice, our worship team gathers for prayer. I ask all of the team to pray for anointing for the group, and to pray that God will anoint them as an individual. If we are not anointed when we are leading our congregations in worship, then all the talent and passion we may have will be to no avail. WE MUST HAVE THE ANOINTING!
2. Practice the music
2 Chronicles 34:12 says, “….other Levites, all of whom were skilled musicians.”
How do you think they got skilled? By practicing. Most people are not prodigies so they need practice. We cannot strive for perfection because no one is perfect. But we can strive for excellence. And how can we become excellent singers and musicians? By practicing. Don’t wait until right before service to put a set list together and don’t wait until right before service to practice. Prepare ahead of time. Jesus has been preparing a home for us for 2000 years now. Surely we can find an hour or two during the week to practice and prepare to help our congregation meet with God on Sunday through music.
3. Pursue after God
Psalm 146-150 speaks about pursuing the Lord through music and song. When you are in your service leading in worship, pursue after God yourself. ACTUALLY LEAD in worship. Raise your hands like you want the congregation to do. Clap your hands like you want the congregation to do. Close your eyes like you want the congregation to do. If you’re playing an instrument, pursue after God. Worship God yourself. If you are singing, pursue after God. Worship God yourself.
Exodus 20:3 says, “You must not have any other god but me.”
Psalms 136:1-3 says, “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! His faithful love endures forever. Give thanks to the God of gods. His faithful love endures forever. Give thanks to the Lord of lords. His faithful love endures forever.”
I am convinced that some people have made their worship (what I call their act of making good music) their goal and by virtue of that, their god. We must be careful to not “worship” worship. Worship through music is not the goal. Our Heavenly father is the goal. He is the one we are pursuing. Worship through music is just another tool to reach our Heavenly father. After we have prayed, practiced, and pursued after God, we MUST make sure that we praise God and thank Him for everything that is accomplished.
Blessings to you as you pray, practice, pursue, and praise our God.
Please feel free to comment or reply at firstname.lastname@example.org
All scriptures are taken from the New Living Translation.
I recently shared with our District Presbytery Board that praying in the Spirit is possibly one of the most under-utilized resources of the Pentecostal believer. I make this statement because we don’t pray in the Spirit as often we should. The Lord has recently been speaking to me and renewing in me a passion for praying in the Spirit!
Consider with me some of the as-pects of this powerful resource which is available to every Spirit-filled believer! Jude tells us in verse 20 that praying in the Spirit builds our faith, “But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spir-it.” Donald Stamps made this state-ment about this verse in the Full Life Study Bible, “Build yourselves up: By praying in the Spirit. We must pray by the enabling power of the Holy Spirit, i.e., by looking to the Spirit to inspire, guide, energize, sustain and help us to do battle in our praying.” We must encourage people to pray in the Spirit on a regular basis.
Paul told the church in Corinth in his first letter to them, “I thank God that I speak in tongues more (often) than all of you” (I Corinthi-ans 14:18). Paul also stated, “He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself” (I Corinthians 14:18). Paul speaks of how that he prays in the Spirit and he prays with his mind, “For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful. So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my mind” (I Corinthians 14:14-15). In other words, he did both, he prayed in an unknown tongue and in his known language. We need to follow his example.
Another aspect of praying in the Spirit causes us to pray according to the will of God. Romans 8:26- 27 states, “The Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot ex-press. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spir-it, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.” I find that I do not always know what to pray in cer-tain situations but the Spirit knows exactly what the will of God is in every situation. So, instead of us praying with our limited under-standing, we can allow the Spirit to pray in accordance with God’s will. You cannot pray a more effective prayer!
Then we must create an atmos-phere of hunger for the things of God. In Matthew 5:6 Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.” As leaders, it is important that we allow our people hear us pray in the Spirit. It is not for the purpose of them imitating but for the purpose of instructing them.
Allow the infilling of the Holy Spirit to be renewed in you today and pray in the Spirit. I challenge you to create a hunger for the things of God, to remind people of the importance of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, and encourage them to pray in the Spirit!
*Unless noted, all scripture is from the NIV translation.
When we think of the spiritual discipline of fasting generally the first thing that comes to mind is going without a meal. However, the Bible is filled with many great examples of how we can give expression to this spiritual discipline.
Let’s consider what it means to fast. The Full Life Study Bible defines a fast as: “going without food in order to give greater attention to spiritual matters.” Fasting, is not to gain merit with God, rather it is to give expression to the fact that you are more interested in drawing closer to God than to the temporal pleasure brought about by whatever you are denying your physical body. Any time we give up one of the pleasures of this life, even though but for a season, it will better prepare us for all the Lord has in store for our lives. Yet, when we fast we can expect a reward from our Heavenly Father. Jesus told the disciples in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 6:18 that when a fast is con-ducted in a correct manner our Fa-ther, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. So there is great reward which can be expected when we follow the pattern in the Bible during our times of fasting. Donald Stamps, in The Full Life Study Bible, suggests that fasting can be called “prayer with-out words.”
Another aspect of fasting which needs consideration is that we can abstain from any number of things and commit this time to seeking after the things of God. For example, as a pastor, I would encourage our church to abstain from watching television for 20 days prior to a revival meeting and to pray 20 minutes a day specifically for the revival. We would call this our 20/20 Fast. This was always a challenge in our household with small children. Often, we would just unplug the television for the 20 days to avoid sitting down to relax in the evening and out of habit, turning on the television. There are many creative ways to encourage people to set aside additional time for greater spiritual matters.
It is clear that Jesus intended for His followers to fast. In Matthew 9:15 (NIV) when Jesus was questioned about why His disciples did not fast, He stated, “How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast.” We are living during the time of which Jesus spoke. The period of time between when Jesus has ascended to heaven and when He returns is the time Jesus said His disciples would fast. May we use fasting as one of our expressions of showing the Lord that we long for His return. Fast-ing can also be used as a tool to prepare ourselves for His coming and also a sign of sorrow for the sin and decay of our present world.
One final point to consider is how often should we fast? This is a personal issue. However, I believe that the correct response is often and regularly. Since fasting in the Bible is often connected to praying why would we consider it to be something that we just do, occasionally? I believe that it is safe to assume that, since Jesus often spent the night in prayer, it would include a time of fasting the evening meal in order to pray. Or when it speaks of Him arising a great while before day to go out to pray, He probably fasted breakfast that morning. So, fasting often and regularly does not seem to be out-side the realm of probability.
Allow the Holy Spirit to speak to your heart about the wonderful opportunity of drawing closer to the Master, through the spiritual discipline of fasting!