Let’s face it.
In pastoral ministry, there are some things that are just impossible.
What, for instance?
- You will never baptize someone who refuses to get into the water.
- You will never lead the man in the casket to the Lord.
- You will never accomplish your calling from God without the power of God.
Our team works hard to encourage and equip pastors in Georgia in their ministry of leading their church to be a reaching church.
I know, you would think that every pastor in Georgia wants to lead their church to be a reaching church.
But that’s another article for another day.
Like the last day before I retire.
However, across Georgia are thousands of men God has called and sent to love and lead the church they pastor to make an eternal impact on the lives of those in their community.
And they are laboring to do just that with a heart for God, in the power of God for the glory of God.
So if you are one of them, here are five things to avoid.
I call them impossibilities.
These five things make it improbable if not impossible to lead your church to be a reaching church. (I learned these the hard way. Let me save you the heartache.)
1. It is impossible to teach what you don’t live.
We can preach on sharing the gospel. We can teach personal evangelism models. But we won’t be able to effectively lead our churches in sharing the gospel until they see us practicing what we preach.
There is nothing more encouraging to a church family than for the pastor to introduce a new believer that he personally led to the Lord.
Max Barnett is what I call a master discipler. He taught me once, “You can no more teach what you don’t practice than you can come back from a place you’ve never been”.
That friends, is a great truth.
2. You can’t complete what you don’t start.
Ideas are one thing. But without fleshing them out by “planning the work and working the plan,” they will remain just that. An idea.
My wife has introduced me to a television series called “The Shark Tank.” It’s a group of billionaires who listen to people share their idea or a product in hopes of at least one of these billionaires investing money with them to make them successful.
One line from that show has stuck in my mind. “If you have a goal without a timeline, it is nothing more than a dream.”
When our team equips pastors with our 6-E strategy, we always say, “It starts with you, a calendar and a pencil.”
You have to be intentional and start somewhere or you will never see it become a reality.
3. You can’t shepherd your sheep from the office.
Dr. Larry Wynn is not only the VP of Church Revitalization and Evangelism, he is my boss and my friend. I have learned more about pastoring churches that reach people from listening to him than anywhere else.
Why? Because he has lived it.
Hebron Baptist Church was averaging about 75 in attendance when they called Larry to be their pastor. When he concluded his ministry there some 30 years later, they had thousands in attendance every Sunday and were consistently leading the state in baptisms.
One of his quotes has changed my ministry.
He tells pastors, “You can’t pastor a church from your office, you can’t reach people from your office, you can’t lead a church to grow from your office.”
Larry learned long ago that to pastor a reaching church, you must go where the people are and do your work among them.
Yes, you need time alone to study, pray and prepare sermons, and work on strategy. But there is no substitute for strong relational ministry with the people you pastor and the people you are seeking to reach.
4. You can’t harvest what you don’t plant.
I have friends in the timber business. They are intentional in helping land owners see the value of planting pine trees. Why? Without trees, there is no timber business.
You simply can’t harvest what you don’t plant.
Spurgeon said it best:
“I believe that those sermons which are fullest of Christ are the most likely to be blessed to the conversion of the hearers. Let your sermons be full of Christ, from beginning to end crammed full of the gospel. As for myself, brethren, I cannot preach anything else but Christ and His cross, for I know nothing else, and long ago, like the apostle Paul, I determined not to know anything else save Jesus Christ and Him crucified. People have often asked me, “What is the secret of your success?” I always answer that I have no other secret but this, that I have preached the gospel,—not about the gospel, but the gospel,—the full, free, glorious gospel of the living Christ who is the incarnation of the good news. Preach Jesus Christ, brethren, always and everywhere; and every time you preach be sure to have much of Jesus Christ in the sermon.”
5. You can’t accomplish what God doesn’t enable.
Reaching people is impossible without the work of the Holy Spirit.
We don’t convict people of sin, the Holy Spirit does.
We don’t regenerate lost people, the Holy Spirit does.
Without the enabling power of the Holy Spirit it is impossible to be effective or fruitful in leading a church to be a reaching church.
Jesus was intentional in Luke 24:49 – “And behold, I am sending the promise of My Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”
He knew that fulfilling the Great Commission of making disciples of all nations would be impossible without that divine power.
So being the pastor of a reaching church requires no less. We must be empowered and enabled by the Spirit of God to do that which, without Him, is impossible.
Now here is a point you simply can’t miss.
While the disciples were waiting for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit which they longed for, they continued doing work. In Acts 1 we see they got their hearts right with God, they got their hearts right with one another, and they organized for being a missional people by replacing Judas Iscariot with Matthias.
We believe in spiritual renewal. We believe there is a great need for revival.
But do not forsake the work of the ministry by simply waiting for revival to happen.
In other words, while we wait… let’s work!
They prayed, but they also worked. They promoted. They invited.
Jon Reed was the harvest evangelist (www.cogbe.org) they had invited to preach for the event. He shared with me, “On the first morning of the revival, the pastor’s daughter shared her testimony and was baptized. I didn’t even get to preach. I gave a simple altar call and 17 people confessed Christ.”
That week over 80 people made decisions for Christ.
Your evangelism ministries team here at the Georgia Baptist Convention are honored to encourage and equip pastors and leaders across our state to make much of Jesus and impact the lostness of Georgia.
Let’s partner together for all the possibilities that are before us in reaching Georgia with the gospel!