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“The One Prevailing Promise of the Church”—Pt. 1 CHURCHES PREVAILING AGAINST THE DARKNESS

Flying in an airplane at night, and looking out the window, I am struck by the profound darkness that envelopes the Earth. Yet, in the midst of the darkness are pinpricks of light; homes, businesses, and places of worship, that pierce the darkness and provide a sharp contrast  to their surroundings. Some of the lights are clustered together in small luminous communities, and in some places the lights are so numerous, and the glow so great, as to virtually prevail against the pressing darkness.

Churches, yours and others, are like those pinpricks of light, placed in the midst of the darkness by the hand of God. Your church exists to pierce the darkness, poke holes in it, push it back, to prevail against it; doing what Christ, commissions, equips, empowers, and expects the church to do.  Needed are churches that will not stand for evil, but rather stand against it, communities of faith not holed up inside their holy fortresses, holding out until Christ returns, but holding forth the word of God like a beacon in the darkness. Prevailing churches don’t wring their hands in frustration, or shrug their shoulders with indifference. Instead, prevailing churches faithfully resist the forces of darkness, and rescue the perishing in the name of Jesus.

But, how does a church become a prevailing church? Whether newly planted or long established, a church shines in the darkness with the same basic elements. Building a church that prevail against the darkness is not easy, but it is basic as 1-2-3.  There is one prevailing promise, two prevailing priorities, and three prevailing principles that are key in building a prevailing church. Lets deal first with the one prevailing promise.

The experts have much to say about church growth, the life cycle of churches, and why and how they die. While no expert, I have for 35 years, studied, observed, and experienced church growth and non-growth. I love celebrating with churches that are reaping a harvest of souls, and experiencing a season of divine blessing. But, I am also familiar with the plight of plateaued and failing churches. I strategize and sympathize with churches, stuck in a downward spiral, and numerical free fall. I ache with pastors who hear, and vaguely understand, that the church they serve will probably never turnaround unless they are replaced. While human expertise is of value, and experience can be a wonderful teacher, I most of all want to hear from the word of God. Is there any hope for the failing church? What does the Bible say about prevailing churches?

Of course, the Bible has much to say about the church, but there is one overriding statement, a soaring promise, that glows brighter than all others for the church. The promise is simple but powerful; THERE IS VICTORY IN JESUS! Jesus said, “…I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). What hope! What a help! What encouragement for the church! The church belongs to Jesus. He is its foundation, founder, architect, cornerstone, and builder. Jesus, who gave sight to the blind, healing to the leper, legs to the paralytic, sanity to the maniac, life to the dead, and new life to those who trust Him, promises that His church will prevail against the darkness.

“Hound and Bear” was a book we often read to our children when they were young.  The hound was a mischievous, and silly character, while his good friend Bear was gentle, serious, and sensible. One day Hound decided to play a trick on Bear. When Bear went to sleep in his little house, Hound painted the bedroom window black. The sun was shining brightly when Bear woke up the next morning and looked out the window, but all he saw was the blackness. Thinking it was still nighttime Bear went back to sleep. After a while Bear became hungry, but because of the darkness he believed it was only 12 o’clock midnight instead of noon. Bear went back to bed and slept all day and the next night. The following morning Hound knocked on the door, and laughingly revealed the trick he had played on Bear.

Satan, too, is into tricks. But his schemes are no laughing matter. Satan has painted all the windows of the world black so no one can see the light. Without the light of the gospel, people exist in darkness, wasting their lives, ignorant of blessings of God. But we have the great promise of Jesus that Satan’s schemes will not prevail. The Lord has given the church the keys of the kingdom, with which we are to bind the darkness, and loose the light (Matt 16:19). If by faith, we trust Jesus to build the church, believe in His promise, follow His plan, and depend on His power, the church will prevail against the darkness of evil and the designs of the enemy. THERE IS VICTORY IN JESUS!

Part 2 will deal with 2 prevailing priorities of the church.

“QUOTES OF NOTE” about Change……by Robert Beike

  1. “Watch out! You live in a sea of change. Never turn your back on the ocean or the currents of change.”—-Hans Finzel
  2. “It is difficult to change organizations. It is like tending the garden. When you relax, the culture goes back to the weeds.”—Ichak Adizes
  3. “The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from the old ones.” — John Maynard Keynes/Economist
  4. “A new idea is delicate. It can be killed by a sneer or a yawn; it can be stabbed to death by a quip and worried to death by a frown on the right man’s brow.” — Charlie Brower
  5. “The less I have to do with it, the less I like the idea.” — anonymous church member
  6. “We live in a weather map kind of world. It’s constantly changing. Be prepared for the change, or be prepared for the consequences.” — R. Beike
  7. “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” — Alvin Toffler
  8. “Blessed are the control freaks, for they shall inhibit the earth.” — Rev. Will B. Dunn in Kudzu comic strip
  9. Progress is often just a good idea away.” — John Maxwell
  10. “The Holy Spirit has a way of moving a church beyond its comfort zone.” — Bill Easum
  11. “Control is the sacred cow of established churches, and needs to be ground into gourmet hamburger.” — Bill Easum
  12. “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” — Leo Tolstoy
  13. “When your through changing, you’re through.” — Bruce Barton
  14. “The desire for safety stands against every great and noble enterprise.” — Tacitus
  15. “Man’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.” — Oliver Wendell Holmes
  16. “There is a huge difference in being stretched and just getting bent out of shape. God wants to stretch you.” — R. Beike
  17. “If it aint right shouldn’t we change it?”
  18. “Practice the ‘baby philosophy’– if something stinks, change it.”
  19. “(Leaders) have to architect the condition for right decisions to happen.” — Jim Collins
  20. “42% of pastors reported that the church board was the #1 source of resistance to the turnaround plan.” — John C. Larue Jr.
  21. “A church can become so rigid that it becomes brittle, resulting in chunks breaking off whenever there are attempts at alterations. Change requires malleability.” — R. Beike
  22. “You cannot change your destination overnight, but you can change your direction overnight.” — John Maxwell
  23. “…be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self…” —- Apostle Paul
  24. “New wine should be put into fresh wineskins.” — Jesus
  25. “…we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet…” — Apostle Paul

Part 2….50 WAYS TO LOVE YOUR LEADERS……by Robert Beike

October is Pastor Appreciation month, but here are the rest of the “50 Ways to Love Your Leaders” all year round.

 

21.  Allow them a weekend off to see how ministry is done elsewhere

22.  Give them a CD of their favorite music

23. Invite them to a ballgame

24.  Buy them some peanuts and Cracker Jack

25. Golf with them (just for laughs)

26.  Respect their day off

27.  Be on time for meetings

28.  Sit near the front during worship (its not as dangerous as it looks)

29.  Be kind to their spouse

30.  Serve with gladness, not grumbling

31.  Allow and encourage continuing education and training

32.  Treat them as called by God, not merely hired by the church

33.  Bring their favorite dessert to the next pot-luck dinner

34.  Have them in your home for fun and fellowship

35.  Consider a merit raise when possible

36.  Say, “Thank-you” when they have been of help

37.  Compliment them to others in their presence

38.  Recognize major ministry milestones (5, 10, 15, 20 yrs. etc)

39.  Provide a book allowance

40.  As much as possible, provide adequate compensation

41.  Short-circuit the rumor machine (You know, “put a sock in it”)

42.  Remember them at the holidays

43.  Upgrade technical resources

44.  Appreciate them for their strengths, and don’t beat them up for their weaknesses

45.  When you have an issue with them, sit down face-to-face and discuss it

46.  Focus on positive aspects of their ministry (skip the “roast-leader” at lunch time)

47.  Use your spiritual gifts in God’s kingdom for God’s glory

48.  Commit to grow spiritually

49.  Bring them an occasional cup of coffee and a donut (OK, maybe that’s not so loving in the long run, but you get the idea)

50.  Smile (Joy is contagious)

Part 1 — 50 Ways to Love Your Leaders….by Robert Beike

October is Pastor Appreciation month. In honor of church leaders, and in an effort to contribute to the cause, here are 50 ways to love your leaders all year round…part 1.

  1. Send them a card–this month & on their birthday.
  2. Celebrate their birthday. (even a small gesture like cake & ice cream)
  3. Recognize their wedding anniversary.
  4. Find ways to encourage them.
  5. Offer a sincere compliment. (think of something)
  6. Take notes when they speak. (doodling doesn’t count)
  7. Pray for them regularly.
  8. Buy or lend them a book that will benefit them. (Not just to make a point)
  9. Provide a Sabbatical. (And not a permanent one)
  10. Provide an occasional dinner out with spouse & family.
  11. Provide occasional child care.
  12. Provide a get-away; overnight or weekend.
  13. Give them an occasional bonus or “love offering.”
  14. Send them to a conference of their choice.
  15. Volunteer to help with some aspect of ministry.
  16. Provide some new office or study furniture. (Before the old collapses or becomes eligible for the National Historical Society)
  17. Compliment their children.
  18. Give them a gift card for clothing.
  19. Send them a thank-you card.
  20. Attend services regularly

…..to be continued

 

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