Preach to Transform Attenders to Embracers

Leaders in the church often do not really know what their attendee’s believe. Aside from our core leadership team and closest associates leaders often become disconnected from what broader groups of ‘believers’ really believe.

A significant number of people attend church having a level of faith that is only skin deep. They intellectually acknowledge Jesus, but have never received Him as the only way to eternal life. A recent survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life found 57% of people attending evangelical churches believe that many religions can lead to eternal life. I was personally shocked at that until I again read the survey results. It reported on the people who attend evangelical churches, not on people who embrace Biblical evangelical beliefs. Attending an evangelical church does not make you a believer in Jesus Christ as the Way, the Truth and the Life and the ONLY way to the Father.

It is critical that we as leaders do not become so far removed or so buried in the sand that we do not know those among us. We must preach to transform an attender to an embracer of the fullness of what Christ has for us.

Click here to read an article on using your Leadership abilities to influence those who are less committed.


Focus on Your Primary Calling

Paul tells us in Ephesians 4:11-13 the role of the 5 fold ministry gifts of pastor, apostle, evangelist, teacher, and prophet in building up the body of Christ. To effectively build up believers, all 5 gifts must be present, effective, and working without competition.

For instance, the teacher must not compete with the prophet or the teacher’s effectiveness will diminish. The prophet must not try to upstage the apostle or the prophet’s impact will diminish. Today there is no room for competition, but much room for complimenting the gifts. Focus on your primary call and you’ll be all God desired you to be.


Flowing in Maturity of Your Five-Fold Ministry Gift

Leaders in these last days must know what God has called them to be and do. Eph. 4:11-13 tells us the role of the 5 fold ministry gifts of pastor, apostle, evangelist, teacher and prophet. While we may have a little of each of these gifts in us, there will be one that is dominant in our ministry. It is that dominant gift that will flow most freely and result in greatest effectiveness for the kingdom of God.

For instance, the pastor may evangelize, but he should not play a major role as evangelist. Doing so will only diminish he primary call and effectiveness for the kingdom. He or she cannot afford diminished effectiveness in the last days. We must be focused and highly effective if we are to fulfill God’s call in our lives.


Closing the Series on Hearing the Voice of God

With this post I will close out the series on hearing the voice of God. As leaders we must hear His voice in these last days. Our maturity as leaders in the body of Christ is critical to leading others into maturity and stability based upon faith in what Jesus has done for us. Yes, as leaders we will make mistakes and thank God His grace is sufficient to take care of that for us personally and for those affected by our ministry.

As leaders, even mature leaders, we are a work in progress. We are being transformed by the renewing of our minds. We learn and grow each day in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. We hear the Father’s voice more clearly, more frequently, and in different ways than we did last year. While we may have our preferred way to hear from Him, we know He has many ways to speak and be heard.

As last day’s leaders, we desire to be hearers and doers of His Word, living and moving and having our very being in Him. Our Father is a Father of great grace, patiently nurturing us along our pathway of destiny, mercifully covering over our mistakes, and gently guiding us into all truth and understanding. The Holy Spirit is the great communicator of His voice to us, whether through His written word, angels, visions, the audible voice, the gentle whisper, or human messengers empowered by the gifts of the Holy Spirit. He is teaching us to hear His voice, leading us into stability of leadership, and bringing us into a greater dimension of effective ministry in the body of Christ. Praise be to His Name!!!


Avoiding the Pitfalls As We Operate in the Prophetic

Leaders often experience pitfalls as we operate in the prophetic realm of conveying God’s voice. As public leaders responsible to deliver straight, clear words from the Father’s heart, we should examine ourselves to avoid the pitfalls of this ministry. There are three pitfalls that can lead to "twisted gifted" prophetic words. They are:

  1. The desire to be awesome. Yes, leaders desire to be awesome even as God is awesome, but delivering a prophetic word through the grid of this desire will often lead to adding a little extra content or pizazz to it just to make sure everyone knows we are awesome.
  2. The desire to please. Yes, we may want to please someone with a word. We hear it coming out pleasing to the ears, but find it unproductive to the heart because it is tainted by the desire to please.
  3. Speaking from emotional turmoil, i.e. anger, pain, rejection. Giving a prophetic word through the gird of personal emotional turmoil is very challenging because our emotions can affect the content and delivery.

Spiritually mature prophetic people avoid these pitfalls most of the time, but seldom avoid them all of the time. Spiritually mature leaders will get over the desire to be awesome and the desire to please, but emotional crisis can occur at any stage of life. It is here that we must be attentive and examine our soul as we minister to others daily, weekly and monthly in our ministries. We can then avoid the pitfalls of the prophetic realm.


Discerning the "Twisted Gifted"

We know from 1 Corinthians 14:32 that the "spirit of the prophet is subject to the control of the prophet" meaning the messenger of God’s voice decides how, when, and where a prophetic word is given. However sometimes the gift comes with a human twist. We are not robots. This is a good thing!

God regenerated our human spirits to perfectly reflect His nature. He also gave us thinking minds to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus. He teaches us how His perfect nature can be reflected in what we say and do. The first level of responsibility with us as leaders is with what we say and do. The next level of responsibility is what we discern with our mind and spirit as prophetic words come through others.

We have personal accountability for what goes out and personal responsibility to discern what come in. For example, I have heard prophetic words that met the new covenant test of being God’s voice in content, but failed the new covenant test of reflecting the character of Christ in delivery. The words were challenging in a positive way, but delivered with anger and bitterness. As mature leaders we should be able to discern the content as valid but the delivery as tainted. I call this situation the "twisted gifted" word. It is a word that comes through a valid spiritual gift, but is twisted by soul imperfections as it is delivered. A spiritually immature person will be left confused by such a word that seems good, but sounds bad. We must discern the "twisted gifted" in ourselves and in others.


We Know In Part and We Prophesy In Part

For the past several weeks I've been encouraging leaders on hearing the voice of God. This topic is critical for the last days in which we live. We must hear the Father’s voice as we navigate through the minefields of personal and global circumstances.

I’m going to close out this topic focusing on our responsibility to be discerning in what we hear. We must recognize that we are all imperfect vessels of His voice. Yes, we are perfect in spirit, but imperfect in soul as we are being transformed by the renewing of our minds. Our soul and the souls of those around us are a work in progress. Just because someone gives a prophetic word saying ‘thus saith the Lord’ does not ensure the integrity, purity, or completeness of the Father’s heart on that subject. In addition, 1 Cor. 13:9 says we "know in part and prophesy in part," meaning we may not get the compete, uncompromised picture through prophecy even though we desire it.

A responsibility we have is to discern what we speak and what we hear, careful not to squelch the Father’s voice in the process. Wow! Sounds like a delicate balance, but it’s really not that hard. Even when you discern a word that may not be delivered with perfect integrity you must allow God to be God in the life of that person, in the life of the people who heard it, and in our lives as we discern it.


Be Open to Receive Ministry From the People You Lead

Leaders must be open and receptive to God’s voice through people we lead. We often get so focused on what we must say and do that we miss out on what the Spirit of God may be saying to us through others within our circle of ministry. We need people around us who flow in the gifts of the Spirit (1 Cor. 12:1-11). 

The speaking gifts (wisdom, knowledge, tongues, interpretation, prophecy) are very important conveyors of God’s heart to us very often through people whom we lead. We must be open to hear from Him through people that may be within our sphere of authority. I often benefit from prophetic words spoken in our church by people whom I lead. Earlier this year I received a prophetic word from someone in our church that led to decisions I later made. This is good. 

As leaders, we spend the vast majority of our ministry time with people whom we lead. If we aren’t open to ministry from them-- the very people we have helped develop, mentor, and restore--then we exclude a huge slice of human messengers the Father can use as His voice.


Hone the Edge of Your Ministry

The gifts of the Spirit as described in 1 Corinthians chapter 12 help leaders maintain an ‘edge’ in our ministry. They are critical conveyors of the voice of God to keep us sharp and alert as leaders in the body of Christ. The speaking gifts (wisdom, knowledge, tongues, interpretation, prophecy) all have a prophetic edge to convey the heart of the Father for our life, our ministry, our vision, our kingdom purpose. This prophetic voice is critical to honing our ‘edge’ as leaders. It is critical to making decisions.

For example, I was called to be a pastor in the late 1980’s. However, it was not until 2000 that a prophetic word brought back the edge to that call. It served as a launching pad for moving me into pastoral ministry. After pastoring part time (in addition to my regular full time job) for a couple years I became anxious, perhaps even overly anxious, to leave my secular career and spend more time pastoring. Again, a prophetic word from someone (who didn’t even know they were speaking prophetically) told me to hold off but I would know when the time was right. That word saved me from moving too quickly from one season of my life to the next. The word honed the edge spiritually to align me with God’s timing and season for ministry.

Leaders, allow the gifts of the Spirit to speak in your life and you will hone the edge of your ministry.


Leaders Need God's Human Messengers In Our Lives

Leaders need God’s human messengers in our lives. We need preaching, teaching, and prophetic words to minister to us, encourage us, and to keep us focused on our call and purpose in His kingdom. As leaders, we must keep our spiritual ears tuned to the Father’s frequency as we listen to the people in our church, our ministry, and our family. They can be the Father’s human messengers in surprising and specific ways.

I am reminded of a time when Deborah and I were ministering to children in a large church here in Denver. We had children’s church on Sundays and often used puppets to communicate a message to the kids. Our youngest daughter, Katie, was in children’s church at the time and received from our ministry. One Sunday after church she came to us very upset because the puppets were talking directly to her about something in her life. She was upset that we would use the puppets to speak to her in children’s church. She believed that the message from the puppets was designed specifically for her and we had given the message to the puppets. In reality, though, we had used a puppet skit previously written by someone else. It had not been written to speak to Katie, but it was so relevant and specific that it was the voice of God in her life!

So it is with people in your sphere of influence. God can use those around you to minister to you and be the voice of God, if you're willing to listen.