Be Weak for Christ

For many years, the imagery that ministry evoked in my mind could be likened to a scene described from a book on the tactics of Napoleonic warfare. I’ve imagined charging the battlefield William Wallace-style with sword in one hand and shield in the other while gritting my teeth as we slay the enemy one worldly influence at a time. Certainly the analogy has some truth to it, and yes, perhaps a little more grit and fortitude wouldn’t be such a bad thing in ministry. Scripture does seem to invoke these images in certain instances, after all.

Even still, I can’t help but entertain one nagging thought to which more and more ministry experience has lent credence. This thought just won’t let me embrace any mentality of triumphalism wholesale, even though I know the Lord’s absolute victory is ultimately guaranteed. Specifically, the hard truth for the minister is that he is altogether inadequate for the task he is given. What’s more is that the Christian in general is equally inadequate for the commission he has been given day-in and day-out.

I doubt I needed to tell you this. If you are a church planter, pastor, deacon, or elder, you likely have already felt the sting of defeat at one point or another. Maybe you, like myself, have felt disheartened because of the seeming ineffectiveness of our preaching or pastoring from time to time. Maybe a recent skirmish has left you without the sense of a clear-cut revival victory for which you had hoped and now that vigor for the fight you had has gone and you’re left feeling weak.

Truthfully, we feel weak… because we are weak.

That’s certainly not the message you are likely to hear in a church plant’s next Youtube fundraising video. It’s definitely not going to be advertised by most “personality” preachers who have veiled their need to tickle ears with a nominally Christian message. Even among the faithful, though, when was the last time you heard “Be weak for Christ” instead of “Be strong for Christ”? No, we routinely hear “Put on the armor and fight,” not “It’s ok to feel inadequate because, well, you are.” Such a message just doesn’t play well with our sense of pride, especially as ministers. And while the reality of our inadequacies often sounds fine to us as we preach our next salvation message, the pill is sometimes harder to swallow when we find out that they are just as prevalent in our ministries as well.

But take heart, because success in ministry, like our salvation, is not contingent on our adequacy. Amen.

In fact, an often overlooked tenant of Paul’s ministry was that the Lord desired that Paul be reminded of his weakness as a hedge against arrogance. Though we don’t know the specifics of the thorn in the flesh mentioned in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, we do know that this weakness was the very thing that put God’s power on a pedestal in the ministry and life of Paul. The sufficiency of grace became the unquestionable theme of the ministry of Paul, a man who found that his weakness is the suitable vehicle for the power of God to eclipse the inadequacies of man. For Paul, to be weak was to be strong in Christ. Therefore, weakness can be embraced. It is welcomed. It is celebrated, despite the sting with which it is packaged at times.

So, if you are feeling weak today, I want to leave you with a few thoughts for ministry:

  1. Embrace your weaknesses and inadequacies. Yes, the Lord empowers the man of God to complete the work of his calling, but there is freedom in knowing that the Lord does the empowering and it isn’t something we need to muster up from within ourselves.
  2. Don’t market your ministry or church as being without weakness. Why would we portray no weakness?! When we are weak, we are strong because that is when Jesus’ strength is all the more evident. It’s ok to want to do the best you can for the glory of God. Balance, however, is when you can see past the quest for a superlative to the higher calling of building the Kingdom, even when that means admitting that you are inadequate but Jesus is gracious.
  3. Rest in the knowledge that weakness is used by God. Moses had the speech impediment. Paul had the thorn. Charles Spurgeon battled deep depression. William Carey lost three children and faced his wife’s mental breakdown. Who among us is adequate? God uses the weak!

Josh Waltman is a preacher, writer, and evangelist at On Truth and Love, a preaching and teaching ministry based out of Lynchburg, VA. He is also a worship leader with The Worship Collective, an alternative worship band from Chester, VA.

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Loving the Homosexual Next Door

Recently, two gay men moved into a house across the street from a friend of mine. He’s Christian, married, and has 4 young children. He reached out to me for guidance. He’s not afraid, this is just new for him. Like me, he has been brought up in a fairly insulated, loving Christian home where protection from the world in many cases meant sheltering from the broken, confused, sick, different, and dirty. We understand we’ve been “called out” as people of God to be different, but we forget we’ve also been “sent back” and “set apart” for a purpose. We are on the earth to make disciples, but we’re too busy making distinctions.

Sadly, many professors of Jesus have failed to properly love those with whom they disagree. I operate by the principle that Christians have no authority where they have not shown responsibility: stop correcting people you haven’t tangibly loved! Discipline without love feels like dictatorship. Jesus’ model for the treatment of those different than himself was something like this: service and healing, work and relationship, q & a times, trust and Truth. For your neighbors, the order matters. The five points below are what I wrote to my friend. I use homosexuality below because that’s context in which my friend was asking, you may choose to insert a different struggle, the principle is the same. The scope here is not a battle plan for Christians who are interested in legislating our way to a moral land. Politics and policy are important, just not primary, and they don’t transform and heal the heart. This is a reminder that primarily every Christian is a missionary, called to sacrificially love his neighbors; all of them, unconditionally, no matter how different they are from us.

1. Stop thinking of your neighbors as homosexuals – of course that’s their “sin”, but really they are fallen humans that need a Savior. What if they were straight, but drunkards, adulterers, verbal abusers, addicts, given to money and materialism, etc? Everyone has screwed up neighbors, most of us don’t have to look outside our own home. See them not as two men that have sex together, show grace by looking past their sin (like you do your family, brothers and sisters, spouse, etc.) and have compassion on them as sheep who are harassed and helpless, in need of a Shepherd. They are two men that see each other as savior/idol. You’ve got something better, and they are gonna see and feel it over time. Your job is to strategically, just like a missionary in a foreign land (because that’s what you are), show them the reality of God and the story of the Gospel. You can’t fix them, be released of that duty, only Jesus can change them. Show them what it means to follow Jesus, get them following too, and let the Holy Spirit soften their hearts and illuminate their minds with truth. Your neighbors aren’t sin incarnate, they’re sinners for whom the incarnate Christ died.

2. Be a friend, build relationship – These guys can be your friends. Honestly, they are probably hilarious and fun to hang out with, but who knows? They are your neighbors now, and it wasn’t an accident. Make them some cookies and prepare a card from your family with a picture, cell numbers, etc. Let them know you look forward to being friends and that they can call on you for anything if they need it. Friend them on Facebook, learn about them there, and invite them over for dinner. Make your house a city on a hill to them, a place they will see light, stability, grace, love, and truth. As you befriend them, it will build trust and relationship. Your life will become curious to them over time, then they’ll start asking questions about your life, faith, etc.

3. Integrate your lives with them – Only you will know how much integration is appropriate or even possible. The fact is, you need them, whether you think you do or not. Most of us live propped up, individualistic lives, ignoring community. We suffer for it. Not only are these guys valuable in God’s sight, they’re valuable to you. I’m sure they are talented guys, with some amazing God given strengths. One may be an artist, a musician, a writer, a banker, a designer, a gardner, who knows? Find out how they fit into your community and use that as a blessing for everyone. There should be a few things that you guys can share in common, like chickens, or gardening, mud runs, maybe hunting, camping or cooking, etc. Go and find out what they like, what their hobbies and interests are. Identify things in your life that might encourage or bless them, and offer it to them freely.

4. Don’t waste a perfectly good discipleship opportunity for your children – Don’t fear for your kids, they were given to you to bless your neighbor (Gen. 18). Your children will pick up on your fears and prejudices. The battle is going to be not devaluing your neighbors worth as humans and persons for whom Christ died because they live a way you deem inappropriate. You children won’t turn gay just because you have neighbors that you treat normally who are gay. It’s ok right now for them to know that they are just two men living together. But when “the talk” ensues, 10-12 years old-ish depending on each child’s maturity, that would be the appropriate time to disciple them through God’s standards for marriage, what your family believes, and what your neighbors have chosen. Be very open, honest, and direct with them about life, love, and missional living. It’s messy, but kids are smart, resilient, and teachable. Imagine what your children will be able to do for God at 18 years old after watching their parents lovingly minister to lost or hurting neighbors for 5-7 years of their young adult lives. And like Jesus, sit them down in between ministry endeavors to explain the Kingdom of God in stories, in power, and in truth.

5. Pray and Believe – Belief is going to drive action. The fact is, if you don’t believe God can transform them, you probably won’t pray for them or act in love on their behalf. It might take 20 years, but God can do it. Believe that he can, and let that belief lead to prayer and action. Don’t be bummed that your Christian hero, or your best friend didn’t move in across the street from you. That didn’t happen because you don’t need your Christian hero and your best friend. You have grown and matured, you’re in the peace-maker/persecution stage of the Be-attidues (cycle of discipleship), it’s now time to pour yourself out in service among the wandering souls, the culturally jaded, the misunderstood, the broken and sick. Remember… 1 Cor. 6:11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Who’s on First?

As a Christian, we’re constantly warring between two sides of ourselves – the unrepentant flesh and the redeemed new creation. This war manifests itself in many aspects of our lives as the flesh tries to regain dominance, something which ultimately will never happen, in manners such as a temptation to lust or envy, or an urging to sin in some particular manner. No manner of temptation or urging to sin, however, can compare with the subtlety and destructive power of putting oneself first.

“Thou shalt have no other god before Me”

This is the first commandment and it is often the one most broken. I know in my life, the manner in which I hold my ideal priorities is

  1. God
  2. Family/My fiancee
  3. Work
  4. Myself

Yet so often I find myself slipping gradually into a cycle of, quite literally, reversing that list. I become most important, followed by my work, etc. In doing so, everything becomes about me – what I want to do, how I support my wants, who I use to get what I want, etc. This is a complete inversion and misapplication of my life.

Rather than myself, God should be first. My relationships should bring Him glory, not me my “needs”. My work should further His goals, or allow me to do so, not feeding my material wants. My person and actions should be glorifying to God and edifying to His body, the Church, not satiating myself with my own desires.

Church, can you see the danger of this gradual slide. This transition from God to self as the number one priority in each of our lives can and will render us inert, insular, and isolated, not moving, growing, and spreading the Gospel with those we interact with. This is exactly what Satan wants, to nullify the effect Christ has on us and, through us, the world and, by allowing ourselves to give in to this subtle reversal, we are playing right into his hands.

So, I ask you right now, where do your priorities lie? Are they where they need to be or have you, like myself and so many others, allowed your focus to be shifted towards yourself?

A current medical school applicant, James grew up on the missions field in Cape Town, South Africa. He graduated from Liberty University in May 2014 and is seeking, ultimately, to serve as a missionary doctor.  Read more from James at Third Culture Musings.

A Visible Kingdom in a Culture of Death

The culture of death has never been so visible. It’s every where you look today. The sanctity of life has lost all meaning.

Another black teenager dies in a drive-by and we just flip the newspaper page because it happened in the same section of town that last week’s shooting occurred. And oh, by the way, he was in a gang. “That’s just life in the inner city”, we say.

A man is arrested for shooting his wife in a fit of rage and we shrug because there was a history of domestic abuse and no one cared enough to intervene before things got out of control.

New abortion statistics are released and we grieve for a minute, decide to send $15 to our favorite pro-life candidate’s campaign, and we don’t think about it again until the next major election.

A terminally-ill cancer patient moves to a state where euthanasia is legal and we cry for a minute that she decided to take her own life but we do little to address the real issue.

We hear the stories about countless Mexican lives being lost due to their country’s ever-thriving drug industry and the only concern we have is “guard our borders better so they don’t come here.”

Christians lose their lives by the hundreds in Iraq and we pray for them before chalking it up to radical Islam doing what radical Islam does.

Ebola kills thousands of men, women, and children in West Africa and we irrationally freak out about the minuscule possibility that a handful of American kids on a mission trip on the other side of the same continent will bring the disease back home with them.

Where’s the concern? Why aren’t Kingdom people taking a stand for life?

In this Advent season, we celebrate the Kingdom coming near. The celebration of God sending his own essence in the person of Jesus to this condemned world to redeem all of humankind is what this season is all about.

Yet, even though Christ came and raised up a Church and taught it to be actively involved in all matters of life and death, it decides to stay in the periphery, paying politicians to deal with the issues rather than tackling them head-on.

Life matters. Every single person made in the image of God matters to God and thus should matter to us, His people.

Black, white, red, brown, yellow, illegal, elderly, diseased, unborn, mentally-ill, homeless, incapacitated, criminal–they all matter to God.

Where are the Kingdom people at times like this? Sure, there are ministries helping the hurting. In most cases, however, you have to look with a high-powered microscope to find Kingdom people.

The Kingdom is strong enough, viable enough, and populous enough to be extremely visible in these tumultuous times.

Kingdom always starts small. It all started with a baby in a manger. 30 years later it was Jesus plus the twelve. A few years later, 120 people carried the Kingdom mandate into the Upper Room. Soon thereafter, that 120 turned into 3,000. And it kept multiplying from there. 2,000-plus years later it should be much more than what we see.

Life and death is a Kingdom matter. Do what you can, where you can. Reach out. Do not be polarizing in a time when we should be incarnational.

Stand with the oppressed minority. Pray for the sick. Minister to the homeless. Serve the weak, downtrodden, and lonely. Reach into the ghetto. Help the illegal.

Every life matters. Every Kingdom-minded Christian is needed. Let’s do the work.

Joel A. Barker is a worship pastor, minister of the Gospel, blogger and church-planter-in-training from Chattanooga, Tennessee. Follow his Kingdom Voice Ministry blog at joelabarker.com.

Playing it safe ’til He comes

It’s as maddening as it is exhilarating. If you’re on the winning side there’s no greater sight. If you’re the loser, you’d rather stick a needle in your eye than watch as it plays out. It’s football’s Victory Formation.

When the outcome of a football game is no longer in question late in the game, the team with the lead usually goes into an offensive formation that completely protects the quarterback as he takes the snap and almost immediately takes a knee to just keep the clock running. The losing side usually has no timeouts left and no hope of a comeback when the winning side begins this formality.

The Victory Formation is the winning side’s way of making sure they don’t turn the ball over causing a potential miraculous comeback-win for the opposing side. The Victory Formation is playing it safe.

It appears that time may be getting short. The return of the Lord might not be that far away. There are signs all over the place.

Whether that means His return happens next year, next decade or even longer, we’re in the fourth quarter of time.

Because of this perceived shortness of time, many Christians seem content with running out the clock from the Victory Formation while a handful of ministers and leaders continue the trench-warfare that comes with snatching people out of the fire (Jude 1:23).

The hour is too late and the stakes are too high to live out our Christian faith from the Victory Formation.

Sure, it’s a safe way to play the game. There’s almost zero chance you’ll end up losing possession of the football. Might as well take a knee and run out the clock, right?

In Luke 19, Jesus gives the parable of the 10 talents. In the parable, Jesus says a man of noble birth was going away to become king and he gives 10 servants one talent each with the instruction “Occupy til I come.” Occupy meaning put this money to work or continue conducting business until I return as King.

The story continues with the nobleman returning to find one servant who earned 10 talents off the original amount given to him. The next servant had gained five. The final servant hid his only talent in a cloth and did nothing with his master’s money. He played it safe because he was scared of his master.

The telling reason Jesus gave this parable is all the way back in verse 11. Luke says “he went on to tell them a parable, because he was near Jerusalem and the people thought that the Kingdom of God was going to appear at once.”

So it’s possible the people had a penchant to play it safe since they thought the Kingdom coming in power was imminent. Maybe the underlying attitude among the followers was one of complacency or worse–safety.

Aslan, the Lion in C.S. Lewis’s classic children’s story The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe represents Jesus. As the inquisitive children ask about Aslan, Mr. Beaver replies, “Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

Lewis got that one right. Jesus is anything but safe. Following Him is anything but playing it safe. As a matter of fact, Jesus Himself said, “If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross every day, and follow me. (Luke 9:23)” Does carrying your own method of execution sound safe to you?

It’s not time to play it safe. It’s not time for the Victory Formation. There’s still a war over men’s souls. There is still a battle to fight. There’s still a devil loose.

Yes, we already have ultimate victory. But truly following the King is anything but safe.

Joel A. Barker is a worship pastor, minister of the Gospel, blogger and church-planter-in-training from Chattanooga, Tennessee. Follow his Kingdom Voice Ministry blog at joelabarker.com.

Finding Hope in the Church

Have you watched the news lately? I can’t say that I blame you if you haven’t. There really is nothing but bad news these days. Whether it’s ISIS or Ebola, it seems like civilization is going to Hell in a hand basket.

And with the renewal of the euthanasia debate in recent weeks, the faces of hopelessness have become even more real. In Oregon, one dear person–someone made in the image of God–chose to take her own life this week instead of enduring the painful duration of brain cancer.

I cannot imagine being in her shoes for even a second. But it’s clear that hopelessness has become the rule of the day.

Is there a better time than now for the Church to rise up and declare there is hope?

Perhaps the greater question is, can the Church rise up and declare the hope of the gospel?

In Colossians 1, the Apostle Paul begins to reveal his ministry to the church at Colosse. Paul wrote the letter from prison after hearing that the Colosse church had begun to believe a mixture of false doctrines. Among those beliefs was the heresy of gnosticism.

The Gnostic belief that reduced the role of Jesus from Saviour to just another source of knowledge, had quickly distracted believers in Colosse.

To this attitude, Paul asserted that God was using him to make known the full message of Christ–a message that was hidden in mystery to the Colossians because of their mostly Gentile background and their drift back into heresy.

Paul said the key to the mystery is “Christ in you, the hope of glory (Col. 1:27).”

What we have then in Colosse is a church in which Jesus had become a lesser thing. Christ was now just another means of knowledge unto salvation, rather than the hope of all the world.

It was a church that had become just like its surrounding culture.

Sound familiar?

Could it be that the world is hopeless because much of the church has become hopeless in our day?

Is the Church in America merely an empty shell in today’s culture?

The Church with Jesus Christ at its head is still the hope of the world.

Where Jesus is still the central theme, there’s still hope. Where His Lordship is still celebrated, there’s still hope.

Pastor, if Jesus has become a lesser thing in your sermons, your worship, and your everyday walk, please put Him back where he belongs.

The hopeless world cannot afford to have a hopeless church in this day.

Joel A. Barker is a worship pastor, minister of the Gospel, blogger and church-planter-in-training from Chattanooga, Tennessee. Follow his Kingdom Voice Ministry blog at joelabarker.com.

Questions To Ask When Searching for a Pastor/Leader

Oh no! We need a pastor, what do we do? Many, sadly, will follow a shallow corporate process and their own personal bias and emotion. After sorting through 300 resumes of hopefuls and after some fun drama, test sermons, an opinion from the people with the money, and some sort of vote, they’ll settle on the best person from the stack, for them. He’ll have an impressive job history, polished preaching skills, good doctrine, and all on the search committee will be convinced he’s the right one. He may in fact end up being an amazing, loving leader who faithfully pastors his church for years to come. Or, he’ll end up doing other things, like: maintain the status quo (safe guy), grow the church rapidly (ordained CEO), divide it (won’t deal with real controversy), become the identity of the church (bigger than Jesus at his church), or kill it (we brought him in, but we can’t make him leave). The difference is character. WHO IS THIS MAN? Why do we wait til the end of the process to ask the MOST important questions, while possibly weeding out men on paper who’s character and vision might have been exceptional. My concerns are not so much with the process of how many find a pastor, that will vary, but what happens within the process is utterly important. No matter how your church chooses to find a pastor, I believe the below questions are THE most important ones, and can NOT be left out of the process.

But, before asking the questions, a church must first look internally. The reason many of us have accountability is so that our friends can lovingly point out our blind spots. Churches need the same. Those months/years without a pastor is the perfect time to ask these questions. Where are we as a church, where are we headed, what do we need to change? Unless your church is perfect, there should be a humble answer to each of those questions. Bring in consultants from the outside, if needed, to identify clearly the health and direction of the church. Compare your church to the one in Acts, and the standards found in the Epistles. Chances are, your church needs serious reforming. We all do. A great word for healthy church change is “re-missioning”: moving a mature body of believers towards more biblical practices for church and for life. This is what you are hiring a pastor to do, primarily. Secondarily, yes, preach, visit, shake hands, administrate, etc, but foremost, you’re hiring a “lead follower of Jesus.” Hire the right guy and he’ll re-mission and reform your church towards a more Biblical approach to church and life. Really, these questions should not only be asked of pastors, but anyone in vocational ministry.

Now, to the questions.

1. Is he Qualified? – Step number one, know the man. Match his life against the qualifications in Titus 1 and 1 Tim 3, and be strict about it. Know his character. Know him as his wife and children know him. Ask him about sexual addiction, habits he has that he can’t break, areas where he struggles with moderation. Get honest and real from the beginning. Interview his wife and children, spend ample time at their house. During character reference calls ask specifically about his life away from church, if he has one. If he doesn’t disciple his wife and children well, if there is no measurable fruit in the family, move on to the next guy. The rest of the questions do not matter.

2. Is he teachable? – When we train and select elders for leadership, trait number one in every one has to be this one: humility. You are not hiring a senior King, in whom all will bestow unlimited power. You are hiring the greatest servant in your church, and humility and meekness do not hinder strong leadership, but compliment it. If you want to know if he’s teachable, ask him if he has ever been rebuked, about what, and how it went? Also, you can ask him, what are the biggest theological shifts that you’ve made in the last 5 years. A real leader is always reforming. Not wavering, but deepening his understanding of the scripture and it shows in his life and ministry. When a guy doesn’t reform along the way, you end up with a pastor for 20 plus years who becomes the cork on the bottle and wonders why there is no growth, lots of pressure, and lots of tension in his ministry. It might be because he’s not teachable and not reforming/repenting towards more Gospel centered church practices and living. Is he willing to work with and submit to a leadership team, whether it’s an elder board, or deacons, etc?

3. What is his vision for discipleship? – A Pastors number one duty is every Christians number one duty. And he should model this for the church. Make disciples; disciples who follow Jesus and lead others to do the same. A full time pastor should walk closely with 5-6 other guys, pouring himself into them as he follows Christ, until they can be sent out as missionaries, church planters, or become leaders within the church. One of the biggest tragedy’s is when a pastor focuses all efforts on preaching, running programs, and administration, discipling no one and not seeing to it that others are being discipled. You end up with a congregation of spectators and a burnt out pastor. One of the most glorious sights is a church full of disciples who are discipling each other to follow Jesus. That’s a healthy church.

4. What is his vision for church planting? – Church planting is the single greatest way the Great Commission is carried out on the earth. For newer churches and older churches that are rethinking church practice, this church planting thing may be down the road a ways. But it’s still a question that must be asked, and it’s a target every church should be aiming at. Ultimately, healthy churches multiply, if it’s not multiplying or in the process, it’s not healthy. Churches and Christians must multiply, just like everything healthy in nature multiplies, that’s the way God wired it. I like this excerpt from – http://www.exponential.org/news/the-true-fruit-of-a-church/ “What is the true fruit of an apple tree?” Schwarz replied, “It’s an apple, of course.” Then McGavran said, “You’re wrong. The true fruit of an apple tree is not an apple, but another apple tree.” The true fruit of a small group is not a new Christian, but another group; and the true fruit of an evangelist is not a convert, but new evangelists,” Schwarz writes, “and the true fruit of a church is not a new group, but another church; and the true fruit of a leader is not followers, but new leaders.”

5. Is he about growth or multiplication? – Growth is good, natural, and normal, but growth can also be abnormal and unhealthy too; wisdom knows the difference. Growth is never sustainable or permanent. Plants grow, they bear fruit, they die. Then, the “sent” fruit, it multiplies. Growth is something we must manage and think about, because it will happen. But good growth is never the focus, it’s a by product of Gospel healthiness, discipleship, and a whole Church. Pastors need a vision for multiplication. We don’t just want to grow a church, we want it to multiply. We don’t just want to grow believers, we want to multiply them. We don’t just want to grow teachers, leaders, servants, evangelists, the budget, etc; we want to multiply them; all for Kingdom advancement. When your potential, pastoral candidates are talking about ministry, listen in context. Is he mostly about growth, or multiplication?

6. Does he love the city? – There is a shift taking place in today’s churches, a good one. Pastor’s are realizing that there is no one church that will ever reach a city. That if it’s going to be done, it must happen in collaboration with other churches. Many pastors never think about either of these, Gospel partnership and collaboration, or the welfare of their city. A little over 200 years after the apostles died, almost the entire Roman world was Christian. Why? Not because great preachers were growing huge churches. Because people who had a heart for the welfare of the place they lived believed and carried out the Great Commission in small faithful ways in their city, discipling each other as they followed Jesus together. Churches in different cities were only separated by location, their mission was identical. Does he believe that Christians and churches must be collaborating in prayer, in outreach efforts, in ministry to the poor and needy, all under the banner of Christ? A pastor who doesn’t love his city is not going to look outside the 4 walls of his kingdom, he’s gonna tell you to go out and do it, but do nothing about it if you aren’t doing it. Find a pastor who honestly desires to make Christ known in his city, for their good and for God’s glory, and sees the church, discipleship, church planting, and collaboration with other area churches as the means to carry out this mission.

I believe if these visions are driving a pastor at a church, that as a by-product his sermons, his teachings, and his leadership and ministry will be powerful, passionate, and carried out with urgency. Resist the urge to hire someone polar opposite than the last pastor. Resist the urge to hire someone just like your childhood pastor. Resist the urge to hire someone just because they have letters after or before their name or have held positions of prominence. Resist the urge to hire a “great preacher” because he looks and sounds nice behind the pulpit. I would even say do not do the resume process, unless you want to weed through those 300 possibly desperate men looking mostly for a job and not really a life ministry. Work through networks of pastors and friends, and get recommendations and leads that way. PRAY, pray, and PRAY more. It would be ok if this process took a year or more; in light of eternity, and in hopes of years of fruitful ministry and multiplication, is there a reason to rush?