Tag Archives: Christian Education

There’s Still Power In Grassroots Ministry

Grassroots or small ministry has become a dirty word amongst the people. These days, everybody wants to start at the top. Even those that are on the bottom have aspirations that are beyond their meager beginnings. It seems as if they haven’t even asked God if they’re where they’re supposed to be before telling God where they want to go. Nobody wants to plant anymore. We all want to go straight to harvest season.

Nobody wants to be that “little church on the corner” anymore, but little church principles are sorely needed these days. We need to reconnect with that sense of community that we once had as the church. It’s not that everybody knew your business, but there were some people that were concerned about your business, meaning that they cared about what you were going through.

These days, we seem to be isolated both inside and outside of the church. People want to be elevated these days, not so that they can be of greater service to the body, but so that they can be isolated from the body. Believe it or not, the higher you go within the body, the more you should be seen by the body, and not just on the screen, but on the scene. Jesus did His ministry amongst the people, not apart from them.

At the end of 2018, God arrested my attention once again concerning my little corner of the ministry world. I was wrapping up my 12th book and things were going well in my radio ministry. God told me to stay focused. It’s not that I wasn’t or that I was looking to go somewhere that He hadn’t ordered, but it seems as if God was making a preemptive strike on my conscience. He reminded me that He had me exactly where He wanted me in this little corner of the world. Keep writing. Keep delivering The Word across the airwaves. Keep preaching when called upon. Keep teaching when called upon. He reminded me that this is what’s need. A grassroots approach. Don’t turn to the left or right, and by all means, don’t look to see what others are doing. Do what you’ve been called to do.

I’ve taught in places where there were close to 100 people. I’ve preached before 300 people as well. I know, that may not seem like much to some, but I’m not here to exaggerate numbers. I’m on the radio each week in 6 states, potentially speaking to over 1 million people. I even have a podcast. However, some of my best days as a preacher/teacher have come in rooms where there were less than 10 people. There’s something about seeing the impact of the Word of God on people’s faces up close and personal that brings joy to my soul.

Many have perverted their God-given gifts because they’d rather be on a flyer than in the will of God. We can’t allow our ambitions to get in the way of His mission! Our call is to be more attracted to The Light than we are to the spotlight. Even if you’re on the flyer, why are you on the flyer? What are you bringing? We should never look to be the main attraction on God’s program. It should be our desire to be intentional servants.

The church has become more theatrical than therapeutic. It is the job of an entertainer to find out what people want and like and bring it to the stage, screen, or studio. It is the job of the church to identify what the people need and bring it to their attention, whether they like it or not. The fact is, pleasing in His sight isn’t always pleasing to our ears, but we must surrender anyway.

One of the things I find puzzling in ministry is that many of us know what’s not right, and yet, we continue to do it and encourage it. Even in our large spaces, we see the deficiencies in our people, and we continue to make them weaker. A challenging word isn’t just a word that challenges the faith of the believer as they pray for material increase. A challenging word is a word that echoes 1 Peter 1:16 which tells us to be holy because the God we serve is holy.

In my 2016 book “Are We Still Making Disciples”, I no doubt ruffled some feathers when I suggested that we care more about promoting our events and even ourselves than we do about making disciples, which is the primary function of the church. I made it clear then, and I’ll repeat myself here, I have nothing against promoting the church and having a marketing plan. However, I do have something against promoting us above the church.

Whether it be preacher, evangelist, praise team, singing group, or whatever, nothing should take precedence over Jesus. I stated that anything that happened in the church should be looking to do 3 things: Glorify God, get someone saved, and keep someone connected to God. The question was asked, if people leave your event, will they witness about Jesus or the event itself?

It was John The Baptist who said in the Gospel of John 3:30 that Christ must increase, but he himself must decrease. He wasn’t saying that so that he could end his ministry. He was saying that so that the focus of his ministry could have its proper preeminence. “Church” is still popularity driven, but evangelism is still very much a grassroots effort and souls will always be converted one by one, even if a group of people all get baptized on the same day. Even as 3000 were saved in Acts 2:41, we can’t lose sight of the fact that 3000 individual choices were made, and those 3000 were all there as a result of some grassroots efforts on the part of the Disciples.

The challenge for the church is that we recognize when we have become more popular than Christ and shift the focus. The moment they’re drawn by our name instead of the name of Jesus, we must shift the focus. Come off the flyer if you must or do away with it all together, but make sure that Jesus has preeminence. This may shrink the crowds, and dare I say, force us to be more grassroots in our approach to be sure that we’re drawing the right crowds for the right cause, but being set apart and peculiar doesn’t often lend itself to large crowds anyway.

It was the late singer John Lennon who famously said in 1966 that his band The Beatles were “bigger than Jesus”. People were outraged at such a statement and begin to ban The Beatles music in various places. However, the point Lennon was making went over their heads. He wasn’t suggesting that it was the goal of the band to be bigger than Jesus. He was pointing out the absurdity that they were probably more important to some Christians than their Savior.

The church is still facing this crisis because we’ve made some of the things that we do in our churches “bigger than Jesus”. Many won’t even attend a church function if it doesn’t seem like there’s a possibility that it will be standing room only. Worse yet, some ministry leaders won’t put on an event unless they believe they can draw a certain number of people or get certain people on program. I submit to you that if we sometimes do it small, we’ll find out who’s really coming for the right reason. You’ll find out who’ll come out for an event versus who’ll come out for an encounter!

We’ve rebelled against being small, but effective. In an effort to be seen by man, we’re missing the people that we’ve been commissioned to serve. Grassroots isn’t a dirty word. Small group Bible study isn’t an exercise in futility. We must always remember the basics. Believe it or not, God still has a heart for the remnant. He has yet to despise small beginnings. If you start small, but you start in His name, He’ll still do great things within your ministry. That little church on the corner still has power and she should never abandon her call.

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The Pew Needs To Read Too

There’s always been a great struggle in the church to get the congregation to read more often. There’s a need for them to open their Bibles more often than just Sunday morning when the Pastor gives his text. The desire is that the pew not only quotes Bible verses, but also studies their Bibles. Yes, we all need to study The Word. But what about supplemental reading that could be beneficial to the congregation? Not just a book full of motivational quotes and inspirational sayings, but books of Christian substance that can draw the believer into a closer relationship with God, and closer to the true call of Christians: Make Disciples!

Something that we as preachers often fall into is building our own libraries, but neglecting to help the pew build theirs. It is vastly important that preachers be well read because there is a lot of great scholarly writing available to us that wasn’t available to preachers in years past. However, what we must remember in our search for higher learning is that we can’t forget about the people we serve and the fact that they need something to read that isn’t necessarily as thorough as what we’re called to read, but just as important to their discipleship and their development.

What we as preachers are often doing when we’re reading is trying to sharpen our skills so that we may rightly divide The Word in a way that the congregation can receive from us. We’re trying to polish our sermons so that there may be some understanding on Sunday mornings. But there is a time where the pew will need more than sermon notes. They’ll need more than our three points and a close. The pew needs to read too.

When I began using my gift of writing exclusively for ministry, I thought my books would be popular amongst my preached brethren, but I soon found that such wasn’t the case. God revealed to me why that is. It wasn’t about any jealousy or animosity or anything like that, because there are some in the ministry that have purchased much of my work. It was about the fact that God didn’t call me to write to other preachers. He called me to help the pew. What I write is redundant to a knowledgeable preacher. It doesn’t appeal to them. However, the pew responds in a much different way. The pew receives it in a way that preachers wouldn’t necessarily. And that was God’s plan.

The fact remains that no matter how much the preachers learn from all of their reading and studying, at some point, the pew is going to have to do some reading and studying of their own if the dots are ever going to be connected. Not just their Bibles, but also some other well-written material to help them to make sense of what their pastors are teaching and preaching. Pastors can’t be insecure about this because the truth of the matter is, if they’ve had any type of advanced schooling, there was some supplemental material that aided in their understanding as well.

What was good for pastors and preachers (additional material) is no doubt good for the pew they’re charged with serving. The connection between the preacher and the pew is often missed because all aren’t committed to study. Additional training is always desired, but there must also be an effort on the part of the congregation to assist in their own growth. Pastors should always have some suggested reading for the pew. Something that may be remedial to them could be monumental in the growth of their congregation. The material is out there. The church as a whole must stop being resistant to it. Otherwise, false and sugarcoated doctrines creep in. The fact remains that if the church is really gonna grow as God intended, all of the study can’t be on the pastor’s shoulders alone. The pew needs to read too.