Moving a Church Toward Christ
Church leaders can become discouraged when their churches are not moving forward. Some churches are militant against change, but most churches today are composed of people who live in a world that is changing all the time. In the 21st century, we have learned to roll with change and even to see change as a good thing. Though this is not true of every church, a majority of people in most churches are at least somewhat open to new ways of doing things. Change is inevitable, so in the longer run, even in resistant churches, the inertia is on the side of the leaders seeking the church to move forward toward Christ.
Sometimes God will choose to use the simplest thoughts or ideas in a leader’s heart and mind to start moving a church toward Himself, especially when these ideas derive directly from Scripture. Such is the spirit of the following offering, some things to consider that our Lord might choose to use as they come from His Word.
You get what you pray for
You get what you pray for. Now this seems on its face to be self-evident. And it is. Yet the busyness of the business of church can reduce a pastor’s, a staff’s, and an entire church’s emphasis on prayer.
If a church will move toward Christ, it must be a praying people, for Jesus was a man who prayed consistently and at length. “Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.” (Luke 6:12)
It is his expectation that we will pray. Three times, introducing the Lord’s (Model) Prayer in Matthew 6:5-7, he said, “when you pray …” He assumed his followers would be praying. In Matthew 9:38, he commanded us, “Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” And he called on his disciples to pray always in Luke 21:36: “Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.”
Beyond his example and his commands, Jesus gave us promise in prayer. In John 16:23-24, Jesus said, “And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you. Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.”
A rough translation might be, “You get what you pray for.” Yes, it is important to interpret these verses correctly, but it is even more important to believe Jesus’ words and to practice what Jesus has commanded with promise. Whatever you are convinced Jesus wants to see in your church, begin to pray for it without ceasing, long into the night, and call others to join you in those prayers. No promise has been given in Scripture that if you do not ask for something, you will surely receive it. So ask and remember, “You get what you pray for.”
No promise has been given in Scripture that if you do not ask for something, you will surely receive it.
You get what you talk about
You get what you talk about. Have you ever wondered why Jesus talked so much? How about why the Bible has so many words? And why is the Gospel words? Why did God speak the world into existence? Jesus could have performed miracles and moved quietly through the crowds with few words, but he talked a lot. “And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people.” (Matthew 4:23)
Apparently, talking is in God’s plan. Spoken words are a vital part of the plan and ministry God has ordained. God created mankind to live and to move in the context of the spoken word. In fact, Jesus Himself is the Word. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1) When you get a chance, search the Gospels for the word Kingdom. In Matthew 4:17, we read, “From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, “’Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’” Jesus came to be King, to bring about the Kingdom, and he talked relentlessly about the Kingdom.
The primary ministry of a church leader is the spoken word. Certainly, the leader must live out what he speaks, but in God’s economy, His people respond to words spoken by God’s chosen leader. That seems to be why the Apostles taught us in the New Testament to preach the Word rather than simply to read the Word.
As a church leader, I must remember that in large measure, we will get what we talk about. If I believe God desires our church to be more evangelistic, then I need to talk about evangelism … consistently. Evangelism needs to show up in sermons, in announcements, in videos, in songs, in testimonies, in personal conversations, and, in short, everywhere. That does not require us to become obnoxious about any particular thing, but it does mean that we must be focused upon and talking about what God wants to see among us. And remember, you get what you talk about.
You get what you do
You get what you do. If we are praying and talking, we better be doing. In Matthew 5:16, Jesus commanded, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”
If a leader seeks an evangelistic church, he must heed Paul’s admonition in 2 Timothy 4:5, “But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”
As you listen to and heed the Scriptures and our Lord’s admonitions, remember, you get what you pray for, what you talk about, and what you do.