When I shared the last update with you, we were facing a potential option for a facility but it was not meant to be. We did meet with that church for 2 Sundays, and God showed us that a partnership was not in His plan. We did get to see the beauty of ethnic diversity within these services and got to enjoy things like a sound system and a facility more conducive for worship.
Our return to our current facility gave us clarity. What did we learn, and where do we seek to improve?
- We were reminded that we have a VERY unified church. Our core group is phenomenal. I am blessed to lead this precious group of people.
- We were reminded that kingdom work can be accomplished outside our walls. Three boys within one family gave their life to Christ through the ministry of another church. Their dad had the privilege of baptizing them this past weekend.
- Because of these new believers and our desire to see all people grow, we have strengthened our commitment to discipleship. God has blessed us with someone in our core group who is called to ministry and will be on unpaid staff (like me the lead pastor) as the pastor of discipleship and administration. We are excited about this.
- We are committed to finding workers to fill the voids in leadership of youth, children, worship, and first impressions. We have a great base for our worship ministry but would like to add singers and instrumentalists to that. We also need people to serve over media.
- We are committed to greater organization and communication. We want everything to be done decently and in order.
- For God to send us leaders for these ministries. I know that there are people hanging out in churches or sitting on the sidelines whose gifts are not being utilized. My commitment to refrain from “sheep stealing” still remains, but I will not turn away someone who is being drawn by God’s Spirit to help a new ministry get off the ground.
- For God to give us direction regarding the facility we rent. As I mentioned, it is not most conducive for worship. This past Sunday, we saw that there is not much room for growth. Our next option would almost cost triple what we pay now.
- For God to provide funding. Many church planters go into it with supporting churches, a core group with the big bucks, and many of the resources with which to launch. Based on studies, we are still at the pre-launch stage. We meet weekly, but we long for more. If God would lead you to give, you can click on the following link: https://tithe.ly/give?c=255461. We are so thankful for those who follow this blog who have already given. I cannot express my appreciation enough. We are very transparent about our stewardship, so please do not hesitate to ask questions about how we use God’s resources.
- For God to save the lost, for new believers to take the next step of baptism, and for people to become surrendered followers of Christ through Overcomers Church. We long for a fresh anointing of God’s power and know that nothing can be done apart from Him.
Thank you so much for your prayers! We want God to make an eternal impact, and it cannot be done apart from prayer.
Don’t you just love opinions? Everyone has one. The word opinion is defined as “a view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge.” With this definition in mind, I will gladly tell you that I hate opinions😀.
As a pastor, I and my family have had our share of scrutiny. People’s opinions have been from one extreme to another. One would say that I was a dictator while another would say I was a weak leader. One would say I longed to obey God while another thought I was a compromiser. One would say my family was great while another would say it was going to Hell in a hand basket. Opinions are most often formed with little to no knowledge of the full situation. My family and I have had our motives judged. What qualifies you or me to judge someone’s motives? The only One who can accurately see my heart and judge accordingly is the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the righteous standard, and He will not give two cents for someone else’s opinion of me or you when we stand before Him.
You may say that it is good to gather opinions. That’s great if you are picking clothing to wear. Once again, that is often based on someone’s likes and dislikes. What you and I need is godly counsel. You don’t need to go to someone about relationship advice who is extremely negatively opinionated. Some people are quick to tell you to get a divorce or break up with someone. Great conflict resolution skills, right? Don’t go to every loud mouth who freely gives his or her opinion. Find someone who walks with God and can give you a word from the Lord. Better yet, pray about it. Even if it is something as basic as who to purchase car insurance from, pray about it. Learn how to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit before you give your ear to Loudmouth Lucy.
I have gotten bad advice from people who gave opinions. Save yourself the heartache and wasted time by cracking your Bible open, studying it, and praying until you hear God speak. You’ll be glad you did.
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I have not kept it a secret that I have struggled with anxiety and depression for several years. It is a challenge, especially when pastors are expected to always be strong for everyone else and often do not find that anyone is strong for them.
Today, a church grieves the loss of its pastor to suicide. A wife grieves the loss of her husband. Children grieve the loss of a father. Parents grieve the loss of a son. While those who ascribe to poor and unbiblical doctrine want to preach him into Hell, the only thing that would have sent him there was to reject Christ as his Lord and Savior. You may not understand mental illness and have come to your own conclusions, but it’s real. Educate yourself!
If someone you know or love is suffering with this, don’t dismiss it as attention-seeking behavior or something that is not legitimate. It is plaguing countless people. No one wants this. Of that, I can assure you. Know the signs. Hear the cries for help. Know the resources that are available.
I encourage you to pray for this pastor and all who are affected by his death. Furthermore, pray for all who suffer mental illness tonight. They did not choose this. Let’s pray tonight for a heightened awareness and determination to be present even when we don’t understand.
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This morning, I preached a different perspective of Luke 5:1-11 in comparison to an outline I have preached everywhere else for the last 11 years. As I was reflecting on seasons in our ministry since our first service in January 2017, I have noticed that the first Sunday after school is back in session is always a relaunching pad for us. With that in mind, I went to the one passage in Scripture where I remember the word “launch” very clearly. Jesus told Simon Peter to launch out into the deep for a large catch of fish. If I were to clarify the vision for this season of ministry for Overcomers Church, it would be “launch out into the deep” – deeper evangelism, deeper outreach, deeper intentional relationships with people (specifically those without Christ – not engaging in their activity but loving them where they are), deeper discipleship, deeper commitment, deeper organization, deeper worship, etc.
As I reflected and prayed over this passage of Scripture this week, I saw three levels of commitment in this passage. I asked us to analyze ourselves individually and collectively as a local body of Christ.
- Am I a spectator? Some of us are like the ones who came to hear Jesus preach. We’re curious. It’s a good Southern custom. We like the Sunday morning show. We like the pastor’s “talks”. We like to listen and watch, but that’s it. Don’t ask us to get wet or dirty. Spectators are just there to enjoy the experience.
- Am I semi-skeptical? I’m not talking about those who are not convinced that Jesus is the only way to salvation. I’m talking about those in the church who have enough faith to keep them out of hell but not enough faith to believe God for healing, provision, growth, intervention, breakthrough, etc. Many have saving faith but not sustaining nor serving faith. Simon Peter was a professional fisherman who knew the strategies of catching fish. When Jesus challenged his method, he was skeptical.
- Am I surrendered? While they were somewhat skeptical, they still obeyed. I want you to see some characteristics of surrendered people: they know they cannot grow alone (v. 7) – these guys recruited help because their catch of fish broke the net, and it was enough to cause two boats to sink. They are humble enough to admit they are wrong and repent of their wrong mindset, attitude, and actions (v. 8) – Simon Peter came back to Jesus and asked forgiveness for his lack of faith. Surrendered people know their mission – make disciples, baptize, and teach (v. 10). Surrendered people also leave distractions to follow Christ (v. 11).
Are you a spectator, semi-skeptical, or surrendered? I hope you are the third. To what kind of body of believers do you belong – the spectators, semi-skeptics, or the surrendered? Once again, I hope it’s the third. You can’t help the way your other Christian brothers and sisters are, but you can choose to be a thermostat rather than a thermometer. Don’t let others set your temperature. You change your atmosphere.
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I was reading a Facebook post from a pastor earlier this week. He was estimating that, due to decreased giving in churches, that most pastors would be bivocational within the next several years. Many are making this choice, and others are doing so by necessity. I am going to state some observations as to why I believe that churches are no longer able to “afford” their pastors.
- Buildings have become a priority. I was on staff in a church that had a $15,000 monthly mortgage payment. The facility was beautiful, but the price was too steep for a building that was only used for Sunday services and funerals. Declining churches are quicker to hold on to a building for sentimental reasons than to be more practical. If you can’t afford to keep the lights on, why dig a deeper hole for yourself?
- Although Scripture talks about giving financially, many will not give if they do not see a return on their giving. Unfortunately, an adequate return today has been defined by large crowds, well-rehearsed performances, and programs. What about people entering a relationship with Christ, being baptized, and growing in that relationship? Programs and the aforementioned things can be a means, but Jesus did not call the church to be a Broadway musical. It’s sad that even Christ’s finished work in Calvary has become a theatrical presentation more than the price paid for our salvation.
The big issue is not whether a pastor strictly makes a living through serving a church or if he has to have more than one job. I have a job and draw no compensation from the church. Scripture does encourage that the church financially take care of a pastor, but Paul worked another job. The New Testament churches would take collections for him, but he had a greater motive than money.
The church as a whole needs to revisit its priorities. The big priority is not paying the pastor. Let me be clear on that. Many churches exist for unbiblical reasons. That’s why many are closing.
I’ll close with a story of a church that once averaged 600 in Sunday morning attendance. The community began to change, and internal struggles within the church led to decline. Sunday morning worship attendance eventually dwindled to 20 with a large 3-Story facility and over 90 percent of the space being wasted. They eventually sold the facility and rented an office space to continue the ministry. They were determined to stay open until their 100th anniversary. By that time, they were down to 12 people and had tons of money in the bank. Shortly after they reached that anniversary, they dissolved and disbursed the money to various ministries that were successfully accomplishing what Jesus commanded. This church refused to focus on what mattered, but they were able to use well over a million dollars to further the gospel.
If you are in leadership in a church, ask yourself why you do what you do. After an honest assessment, you may discover that you are there for the building, your personal reputation, or a legacy. Repent and go back to the work Jesus commanded for the church. If you refuse to repent, God may take measures you tried to avoid.
The last time I checked, it took 3 strikes to get you out in baseball. Not in life. I have noticed this, especially in small town life, that some may be quick to write you off over one wrong thing you did rather than the hundreds of things you may have done right. The same exists in all places, but it is easier to have notoriety in a small town. Date a playa, and you are automatically labeled a loose female. Get mad at the town gossip, and they will let everyone know how hateful you are.
I’m glad God isn’t that way! He doesn’t withhold love from you over one sin. Does it affect your fellowship? Yes. But God will not write you off and consider you useless over one thing. God doesn’t hold grudges, but He is a just God who punishes sin when we continue in it.
If you are spending your life with a long list of people you have written off because of one thing you didn’t like about them, be set free in Jesus’ name! God does not want you living in bondage to a Pharisee spirit. Reverse the picture for a minute. Someone may have written you off for one thing you have done. Wouldn’t you want the same grace and mercy from others that God extends to you?
Well this is a story all about how my life got flip turned upside down…I’m obviously not the Fresh Prince of Bel Air, but life has taken a series of twists and turns for me. From career change to divorce to blended family to financial struggles to several other things, the last almost 5 years could use a serious refund in a few areas. Can anyone relate? There are some things you would not change, while there are other things you would have rather not had happen?
All of these things threw me into an identity crisis of sorts. I was trying to find my new normal and trying to avoid anything that even closely resembled past hurts. These attempts have led to some extremes in my life that are on their way to balance.
Many of us get caught in this trap. We forget that our true identity is in Christ. We desire to be the most liked pastor or whatever applies to you. God didn’t call me to be liked. He didn’t call me to be a jerk, but I should not find it a strange thing if certain people don’t like me or my family. Some of that comes with the invisible bullseye that a pastor and family wear on them when they enter ministry. Not everyone liked Jesus, and they have even less reason to like me.
The truth is that is takes hardships to reveal true character. Character has been defined as being in the dark what you portray to be in the light. While these moments are painful, I would rather be real (even if it takes pain to cause it) than to keep up appearances and walk around with the best of the fakes.
My conclusion may be a bit juvenile, but there is a song from the animated movie “Cars” that highlights the practical lesson. It is not a Christian song, but I think you can relate if you have struggled with being the person others want you to be rather than the person God wants you to be. If you are on that journey of self-discovery, I pray that you find yourself.
It is so difficult for those of us who are impatient to see the hand of God in timing. I asked God to grow Overcomers at a rate with which I could keep up. He did that, yet I complained that it wasn’t fast enough. It always takes the perspective of another or others to help piece things together.
Tonight, I had dinner with the man I would call my right hand at church. God has gifted him in ways I lack. That’s how the body of Christ works. We discussed how our core families have been through different hardships, and Overcomers could not go to the next level without these hardships. In fact, our bond of unity is stronger now than it has ever been. I give God all the glory. I could not manufacture that. All of this came about when the enemy wanted to destroy what God has done.
Babbie Mason wrote these lyrics that I believe beautifully encapsulate the truth from Ecclesiastes 3 which says that God makes all things beautiful in its time. The song says, “God is too wise to be mistaken. God is too good to be unkind. When you don’t understand, when you can’t see His plan, when you can’t trace His hand, trust His heart.” He knows what is best for you. He loves you that much!
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I must be honest that I can be quick to doubt if I do not see God come through as quickly as I would like. That is when I have to step back and reflect on God’s promises. God has fulfilled every single promise that except for those pertaining to the end times. All the prophecies regarding Christ were fulfilled. All the promises about the Holy Spirit have come to pass. I can bank on who God is. So can you! He is your Provider! He is your Sustainer! He is your Shield! He is your Banner! He is your Peace! He is all you need!
I came across this song within the last few weeks. It is a beautiful reminder that God is faithful, and all His promises are Yes and Amen.