Don’t Cuss A Little

One of my biggest regrets was allowing myself to incorporate bad language into my life in my late elementary years in public school. I remember a specific day when another student in my class said “You cuss? I thought you were a Christian.” The Holy Spirit smote my heart right then and there but unfortunately I would go through times when I would do well at cleaning up my mouth and other times when I did not throughout high school. I have worked years cleaning up my mouth but there are still some words that slip out especially when in shocking stressful situations. It’s not okay, and I’ve had to apologize more times than I can count. I don’t want to take bad words lightly like it’s no big deal when my kids hear them come out. I want them to know that the best thing they can do is not learn to cuss and say bad words. It’s uncomfortable to be the bad example.

I was recently disappointed in a Christian I follow online as she prided herself that she was the type of Christian who cusses a little and that if you didn’t like it then “peace.” She was fine with losing followers who might not like that. That kind of hurt my heart because I have admired and shared many of her posts. It sparked my thinking, I want to be a deeper Christian than that — I want to be motivated to be sharpened by the people I follow to be more holy, to be better than my old man, to love Jesus enough to eradicate the nonsense and not have the idle words in my vocabulary when I stub my toe or someone slams the brakes in traffic ahead of me. I don’t want to be a Christian who loves Jesus and cusses a little.

Challenge yourself if you are a lady who struggles with bad language to change your heart and your habits so you can be pleasing to God and others. It’s not all about people pleasing, when we say that our words should be pleasing to others. It’s that cussing and inappropriate conversations are offensive on many different levels. We know that what comes out of the mouth is an indicator of what is in the heart (Luke 6:45). That’s why heart maintenance is important and we must clean, clean, clean, the heart so that out of your mouth come the good and acceptable things that please the Lord. This is an area we can see victory. 

I know, I’m not a shining example of this yet, but I pray that as time goes on those temptations will become less and less and someday I’ll look back and notice that it’s been years since a bad word even came into my mind, much less my lips.

Lessons We’ve Learned From an Extended Ministry Transition

Lessons Learned From an Extended Ministry Transition

Ministry and transitions seem to go hand in hand, as time ticks on the ever-changing river of life goes on winding in and out, leaving ministry workers regularly relying upon God for His guidance. This article is pin-pointed to help those in a ministry transition between one job or service and the next, for those who may have months or years between “official” ministry titles and vocations. It’s not an entirely unique situation, although it may feel like it, to be in a holding pattern until the Lord makes clear the next path He would like you to travel.

Embrace a Short-Term Rest if Possible

I don’t know if you’re like us but when we travel on long road trips we often prefer to stop at rest stops, following the blue sign into the area, taking a bathroom break and allowing our 5 children to run around and stretch their legs. Transition times should be thought of as a Rest Stop, not a stopping place to get settled but a location where you can break away from the life you’ve lived and take a breather before stepping into the next place God is moving you.

We personally took a 2-month break to travel. First, we rented a cabin and spent several days in the mountains hiking with our then, four children. Next, we traveled to see family and ministry friends in between moving from one state to another. We had time and we had money because God had provided both of those things for us. It also happened because we made it a priority to rest and do something different. If your family needs rest, find a Rest Stop.

“Rest Stop” opportunities do not always become available to people because of pressing needs of financial means, housing, needing to move, etc. Whatever happens, at the very least pay attention to the next point…

Pray Before Moving Into Another Ministry Position Hastily

The Bible speaks about making hasty decisions (Proverbs 14:29, 19:2, 21:5, 28:20) and one of the worst things you can do is to hastily jump to what looks like an ideal opportunity just because you’re desperate for a place to work and live. Or because the opportunity you are presented with seems like the ideal opportunity you’ve been dreaming for. Not to burst anyone’s bubble, but all that glitters is not gold even in the ministry world.

You don’t want to find yourself compromising standards or convictions because you flew too quickly at the first offer presented. I’ve heard many stories about how people who had a bad ministry experience in their first ministry who quickly went on to another church to only have another bad experience because they did not know the pastor or ministry where they were going well enough. Others found that while the pay was good at their ministry position, it caused a lot of sacrifices in other ways they were not expecting.

I am sure most of us would never be guilty of praying too much about a situation (we don’t pray enough!) but family transitional times are KEY times to invest in solid and dedicated fervent prayer time. You want to have peace and confidence in knowing where God is leading you so that no matter what occurs in your next ministry experiences you can rest in the fact you followed God’s plan for you and not your own.

Waiting Is Not Easy

Waiting on God is not for the faint of heart. It is like the dog trained to sit still next to its master as its beloved ball is thrown into the grass. The dog waits eagerly and will move impatiently in that spot until told “Go fetch!” and it runs furiously to retrieve its prized toy and return it for another round. You may wait in anticipation with no ball to retrieve for a while, but it does not mean that your obedience in waiting is wrong or ill-timed.

We often align our ministry thoughts with the common idea, “If you’re not moving you’re dead,” and the unsaid philosophy of accomplishment being a goal to be achieved greater than obedience. Patience is a fruit of the Spirit that must be trained and allowed to grow in the times of waiting for God to work and move you into the next place of service.

Backsliding While Waiting is a Danger

Backsliding can easily occur in a stepping out by faith process. Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1). When you cannot see faith and what it consists of on a daily basis, because it is intangible, it is easy to become backslidden. You can rest in what you know and get comfortable with the waiting process. Backsliding is a natural fleshly response away from spiritual growth. The longer the wait the more temptations you face, especially if you are no longer serving in a church regularly and your spiritual accountability has lessened.

Take the Next Step Toward Ministry

I don’t know where you are in your ministry transition, for us we felt like we stepped out in faith and looked at an open road before us, but we had no directional signs immediately telling us where to go. We knew rest and serving were in our hearts but we also had asked ourselves if there was an option God was taking us out of ministry altogether. We had no disqualifications from ministry to lead us to believe that the door would be closed for ministry forever and this is what God kept telling us through advice and preaching:

  • “The next step you take needs to move you toward ministry.”
  • “Don’t just settle because you have no answer, a secular job with no ministry involvement will be a hole you will become trapped in.”
  • “Remember and possibly move toward the burden you had in college toward specific ministries and/or places.”

When God kept confirming this truth we didn’t have to worry as much about what He wanted us to do, it became a matter of asking, “Where do you want us to serve?”

Join a Church and Serve

We spent five months discerning the Lord’s will on where He would have us go so we attended a small church for a while. Then, after we felt God moving us to my husband’s home state, we joined the church where my husband grew up and attended there for about six months. Then the Lord led us to help in a church planting ministry where we served for around 18 months. God recently moved us into an established ministry with my husband as the music and choir director. He does bi-vocational ministry work now.

The danger some ministry couples get into is that they think they can fly under the radar and church-hop to an extent visiting other ministries instead of finding a pastor and church. Visiting and attending can be good, an encouragement, but should only be done on a short-term basis.  We, even ministry folks, need to be a member of a local church for spiritual accountability and growth. Even if you are not fulfilling every role you ever did before in ministry, you can and should use your talents and skills in some way serving in a local church. It will keep your mind busy and your heart tied to God and His work.

Invest in Your Future

Rest Stops are great places to fill up your personal and spiritual gas tank. We personally used our couple time in the evenings discussing spiritual matters, goals, and desires for future ministry. We read books and internet articles to sharpen us as we waited. Think of yourself as a Bible student that can take time to study particular topics of interest or grow in areas needing attention. Whatever additions you can make into your spiritual life can be used in the future.

Invest in your family! During our transition we enjoyed our family time differently than when we had a full ministry schedule. This in it’s own way helped us reshape our family values and see particular needs in the hearts of our children that needed to be cultivated and attended to differently. Whether your kids are young or older, investing in your family is never a waste.

Don’t Compare Yourselves With Other Ministry People

Ministry transitional time is not the time to begin to compare  yourself or your experiences with what other people have done or are doing in their ministries. Biblically, in I Corinthians 10:12 this is explained as being unwise at all times , but the trap exists. “…but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.”

When in times of waiting it is easy to look at others while you are on the sidelines, comparing and wondering. You can begin asking yourself why another family may have left their ministry and received a new position quicker than you have. We cannot see from a human standpoint how God is working on our behalf. His mysteries lays out a path for a particular family in one way and designs another family’s place of service and ministry uniquely for Him, and are His secrets and His purposes. Don’t be jealous of your friends or other servants of God, don’t be mad at God, just trust in His timing and be thankful God is faithful to those who are His servants.

Conclusion

  • Rest if you can.
  • Pray fervently.
  • Wait well.
  • Don’t backslide.
  • Take the next step toward ministry.
  • Join a church and serve.
  • Invest in your future.
  • Don’t compare yourself with others.

These are the lessons we have learned from a ministry transition that took a lot longer than we expected. We hope someone will be able to take our lessons learned and be able to make sense and purpose of their own ministry transitional time. Keep in the Word friends and keep serving the Lord!

 

8 Things You Can Do to Help Your Local Church Planter

Church planting is a necessary and vital aspect for other churches to fulfill the Great Commission in reaching lost souls; particularly “home missions” in the United States. If you have a local church planter in your area, what are you doing to help them? My hope and desire is that you will not allow the men and women who are laboring in a new work to be an island to themselves, but rather be the shot in the arm and an encouraging and motivated force to help them keep going.

My family and I live in a metroplex where urban cities intertwine and the old suburban areas are no longer on the outskirts of town. Cityscapes of shopping centers and housing divisions are everywhere! The population here is continually growing and industry is thriving. Even with Baptist churches of all sizes in our area, God is calling men and women to our area to begin new works because the population growth is so rapid. Baby churches are scattered throughout the cities here, and the church where we help our pastor is one of them. Naturally, church planting and supporting church planters is a living burden on my heart since that is our life now.

Do you know if you have local church planters in your area? Do you know their names? Have you chosen to be a blessing to them? Are you their friend? Have you forgotten to keep in touch or pray for them like you promised? Lord willing, these ideas will help you find a way to be a blessing.

8 Things You Can Do to Help Your Local Church Planter

1. Fellowship and Food.  A church planter needs friends and friends aren’t real friends unless there is food involved!

Encourage a church planter by taking him out to a meal and talking with him and his family about their church work. Let them share their heart and listen. Pray with them. If you discern their family is needing more than a restaurant meal, then possibly provide them grocery money or a gift card to meet those needs.

2. Inclusion. Include your local church planter and his church in your large activities.

Consider inviting them to be a part of: church camp, luncheons, revivals, retreats, Bible studies, men’s and women’s meetings, etc. If their church is small they probably do not host their own spiritual growth activities and may miss participating in them. Everyone needs spiritual sharpening times to boost them in their day-to-day routines.

3. A Church Service Visit. Actually attend one of their church services!

A neighboring church had a combined afternoon service a few weeks ago and ended their daily services at 2 pm. Several families from their church traveled 30 minutes to attend our church services at 4:30 pm. Our pastor seemed to beam a special smile during his sermon that day. It was a boost in attendance from the two families in our church right now.

If you are able to see what is going on in their church plant, it will most likely burden your heart for church planting all over again. And if you can’t go, send a faithful family or two in your stead who will be a blessing.

4. Door-knocking and Outreach Help. Share a pair of feet, or two, or three, or 10!

It is a blessing to see other churches send families to help a church planter knock doors and pass out flyers before their very first service. Excitement buzzes in the air and there is a hope visitors will attend. Then, the first services comes and goes, often leaving one man to do his door-knocking alone with his family.

What if your church helped your local church planter regularly sending couples weekly to help? Or what if you designated at least two special visitation helps in your “Judaea” and helped sow seed in another man’s fields? I believe that in sowing you also would reap blessings when you see their fields begin to bear fruit.

5. Real Prayer. Don’t just say you will pray for someone… do it!

It’s common to take a person’s prayer card or tell someone you are praying for them and not think about them until that card falls out of your Bible or you see them again. Prayer letters hang in churches on bulletin boards as people pass by and names are written in bulletins as prayer requests and can still be overlooked.

Make your statement of saying you will pray for that church planter into real prayer for their ministry and family. Invest time in authentically praying for their needs and the souls they are meant to reach.

6. Peace. “Do all things without murmurings and disputings.” Philippians 3:14

Ruffled feathers show themselves when a pastor believes another man’s church is encroaching on his idea of where the “boundaries” or “lines” of his church outreach should be. Shun the temptation to become a jealous competitor if your local church planter is encroaching on your idea of where he should be. Set that aside and be peaceful. God adds to each local church as He sees fit and can work best with peaceful ministers who refuse competition, criticism, gossip, and hypocrisy. If you see him wave as you pass by.  And if there is a problem, just talk about it peacefully and see if you can come up with a solution.

Ladies, this can happen with us too. Find a way to push past any jealousies you may encounter and be a real friend and a blessing to the church planter’s wife.

7. More encouragement and understanding, less expectations.

It’s easy to shove people and ministries into a box and assume a pastor should be at a certain amount of members by a specific deadline. If you know a local church planter who is still struggling don’t write him off as a failure. He needs your support! If you are able, do what you can to help Him stay faithfully serving God’s call on his life. Church planters need local friends who will check on them, call them, listen, and not compare him with their own experience or with any other ministry.

8. Give Families. Yes, you heard that right, give people rather than dollars.

It’s easy to give dollars to a local church planter because you can see the need your area has for the gospel. Challenge yourself to give more than dollars and prayerfully consider giving families to them instead of your dollars. If you have an established church with faithful members you already know what a blessing it is to have help and trained workers who understand the Bible and obey it.

What would it do to a new ministry if they had a group of church members to help? Faithful people who were willing to give their tithes and offerings to the new church and help use their talents to reach people, and help disciple them are priceless. We know God loves a cheerful giver and encourages “give and it shall be given unto you…” Why do churches shirk from the idea when it comes to giving families? Do you believe He would supply the needs of your church if you asked a Sunday School teacher or deacon’s family to pray about moving their membership? God most certainly would! It could also be as easy as asking families who live nearer that ministry to consider supporting the church plant. Ask God if He might have you support your local church planter in that way. I know churches do not like to lose folks, but I would rather lose church members to helping another church than see another church plant die for lack of help.

All eight of these items are simply an extension of down-home hospitality and sharing your resources and kindnesses to those with the same Biblical mission you have to reach people for the gospel. The impact that caring can do on a church planter can mean the difference between their continuing on in God’s call or discouragement knowing there were people who could help but would not. Through God’s help you can be a blessing!